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Any Major Hits from 1972 – Vol. 1

January 25th, 2022 1 comment

 

1972 was the year I started school. More importantly, it was the year I bought my very first record, at the age of 6. Officially, I’ll claim that “it probably was something like Spoon by Can or Soul Makossa by Manu Dibangu, bought the same day I got Miles Davis’ On The Corner LP”. In reality it was this minor masterpiece of genre-shattering innovation and revolutionary fervour.

I was already keen on music, and at 5-6 years old, my interest was becoming keener. It helped that my mother and older siblings were buying records. My mother bought Poppa Joe by The Sweet, my older sister Elton John’s Crocodile Rock, another sister Beautiful Sunday by the English singer Daniel Boone and Chicago’s Saturday In The Park — though the latter wasn’t a hit in Germany, and Chicago wasn’t generally her style. I suspect a boyfriend bought it for her. And my older brother had a way of turning current hit songs into comedy by changing their lyrics into doggerel which I found amusing, in the way 5-6 year-olds find that kind of thing entertaining. One of them was Dr Hook’s Sylvia’s Mother, which itself was supposed to be comedic in its deliberate overwroughtness.

I can’t say I remember all, or even most, of the songs on the two Any Major Hits from 1972 mixes that are running this year (Volume 2 will drop later this year). But it was a good year for hit singles, as evidenced by the fact of two mixes for 1972.

This first mix concentrates on records that were at least Top 20 hits in the US; the second will cover the UK/Europe. But there was some of cross-pollination, in both directions. Alice Cooper’s School’s Out, The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses and the Carpenters’ I Won’t Last A Day Without You were actually bigger hits in the UK than they were in the US. UK acts on this mix are the above-mentioned Daniel Boone, The Hollies and Badfinger (who were also the originators of the Nilsson hit Without You, as covered in Any Major Originals – 1970s)

Talking of Crazy Horses”: It was a rather unusual song for the otherwise rather tame Osmonds. For one thing, teen idols singing about the environment — the titular equines refer to cars, with their polluting properties. So long before Greta, there was Donny! For another thing, it was young Donny who came up with that crazy whinnying sound on his keyboard. He was not just a pretty face with big teeth.

In compiling these things — we’ve already covered 1970 and 1971 as well as 1961 and 1944 — the idea isn’t really to pick the best hits of the year, or a representative cross-section — though some songs here may be among the year’s best and the mix may reflect the sound of the era — but a selection that captures the vibe of the year in focus, with some songs now classics and others rather forgotten by time.

If you dig the feel of 1972, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1972 (other years are available, too).

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-singalonged covers. The text above is included in an illustrated PDF booklet. PW in comments.

1. Alice Cooper – School’s Out (US #7 / UK #1 / GE #5)
2. The Osmonds – Crazy Horses (US #14 / UK #2 / GE #2)
3. Raspberries – Go All The Way (US #5)
4. Chi Coltrane – Thunder And Lightning (US #17)
5. Chicago – Saturday In The Park (US #3)
6. Malo – Suavecito (US #18)
7. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Too Late To Turn Back (US #2)
8. The Staple Singers – I’ll Take You There (US #1 / UK #30)
9. Looking Glass – Brandy (US #1)
10. Eagles – Witchy Woman (US #9)
11. Three Dog Night – Never Been To Spain (US #5)
12. The Gallery – Nice To Be With You (US #4 / GE# 28)
13. Mac Davis – Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me (US #1 / UK #29)
14. Seals & Croft – Summer Breeze (US #6)
15. Harry Nilsson – Without You (US #1 / UK #1 / GE #12)
16. Carpenters – I Won’t Last A Day Without You (US #11 / UK #9)
17. Joe Simon – Power Of Love (US #11)
18. Michael Jackson – I Wanna Be Where You Are (US #16)
19. Jackson Browne – Doctor My Eyes (US #8)
20. Badfinger – Day After Day (US #4 / UK #10)
21. Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light (US #16)
22. The Hollies – Long Cool Woman (US #2 / UK #32 / GE #15)
23. Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday (US #15 / UK #21 / GE #1)

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Any Major Hits from 1944
Any Major Hits from 1961
Any Major Hits from 1970
Any Major Hits from 1971

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Any Major Favourites 2021 – Vol. 2

January 18th, 2022 1 comment

I previously posted Volume 1 of the Any Major Favourites 2021, which collects one track from each of the playlists I posted in the past year (except the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes).

Of this lot here, I think I was most pleased with the Any Major Shakespeare mix, of songs that features common phrases introduced by The Bard (“In my mind’s eye”, “My salad days”, “The wheel is come full circle”, that sort of thing). I really hope that an enterprising English teacher might find use for this mix as a class project.

1971 was a remarkable year for albums.  I recovered three of them — Carole King’s Tapestry, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue — and managed to put together a very credible Top 40 of albums from that year, over two volumes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2).

I’m still running the Buy Me A Coffee thing, whereby readers can express their appreciation for my work by, well, “buying me a cup of coffee”. An encouraging number of people have kept me running in caffeine — and helped to build up the fund to cover the costs of running this site (hosting, domain renewal, really bloody expensive hacker protection subscription etc). Thank you, thank you, thank you, beautiful Any Major Readers! And please keep commenting! Even a “Enjoyed that, thanks” (or a “What the hell was that crap, you idiot?”) is welcome feedback!

If you still need to catch up with the mixes of 2020, they are reviewed in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.For your convenience and future reference, these CD-R length mixes include the text above and links below in an illustrated PDF.

1. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Roll Me Away (1983)
The Roy Bittan Collection

2. Crowded House – When You Come (live) (2006)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (35-56)

3. The Pogues – A Rainy Night In Soho (1986)
Any Major Rain

4. Van Morrison – And It Stoned Me (1970)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (18-34)

5. Johnny Cash feat. Tom Petty – Solitary Man (2000)
Neil Diamond Songbook

6. Tift Merritt – Hopes Too High (2008)
Any Maj’r Shakespeare

7. Everything But The Girl – Goodbye Sunday (1988)
Any Major Week Vol. 3

8. SWV – Weak (1992)
Any Major Soul 1990-1992

9. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (Extended Mix) (1980)
Any Major Disco Vol. 9 – Party Like It’s 1980

10. The Jones Girls – I Just Love The Man (1981)
Any Major Soul 1981

11. Sister Goose And The Ducklings – Super Shine #9 (1973)
Any Major Blaxploitation Tracks

12. Donny Hathaway – What’s Goin’ On (1971)
Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On LP Recovered

13. Baby Huey – A Change Is Going To Come (1971)
Any Major Albums 1971 – Vol. 2

14. The Crusaders – Keep That Same Old Feeling (1976)
Any Major Fusion Vol. 1

15. Elvis Presley – What A Wonderful Life (1962)
Any Major Movie Elvis

16. Brook Benton – Another Cup Of Coffee (1964)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 3

17. The Jive Five – My True Story (1961)
Any Major Hits from 1961

18. Maurice Chevalier – Le sous-marin vert (1967)
Any Major Beatles in French Vol. 2

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Any Major Favourites 2021 – Vol. 1

January 10th, 2022 2 comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May this new year see the end of this damn pandemic — it was good only for my Any Major Pandemic mix — and may your 2022 be filled with undiluted happiness and uncompromisingly good health!

As every year, the mixes of the past year (excluding the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes) are revisited by the choice of one favourite song from them — like an annual Greatest Hits of Any Major Dude. I hope it is useful to provide a link to the relevant mix in the playlist, so that you might discover a compilation here or there which you might have missed. If you still need to catch up with the mixes of 2020, they are reviewed in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (this series goes back to 2015).

I haven’t bothered to measure which mixes were the most popular, but the two Beatles in French mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) attracted great feedback. Maurice Chevalier doing Yellow Submarine was something of a revelation. There will be more Beatles in foreign languages collections coming up.

The one series I had hoped would get some feedback was the countdown of the Top 75 pop acts, according to myself and Rolling Stone. Did everybody just think, “Yeah, Any Major Dude got all placings spot on”? Surely not.

I had the biggest fun with this year’s Not Feeling Guilty mix, the 11th in the series of soft-rock and AOR numbers from the 1970s and early ’80s. All featured artists had names you might find in a teachers’ register, so I had some fun making a “Our Teachers” gallery for the Any Major Dude High yearbook 1979/80, with Mr D. O’Day as the principal (see it here).

And which mixes have I personally played the most? Well, I had Any Major Hits from 1971 from May on frequent rotation (as I still had the Hits from 1970 installment from 2020). Don’t be surprised if there are not one but two follow-ups covering 1972. The 1961 version on this theme was really enjoyable as well. The Jimmy Webb, Neil Diamond and Barry Gibb Songbooks also had plenty of spins (as is currently the set of Carole King songs, which will drop in February). And for a while I played little else but the mix of tracks from Blaxploitation movies.

Part 2 of this collection follows later. So, which mixes did you enjoy last year?For your convenience and future reference, these CD-R length mixes include the text above and links below in an illustrated PDF.

1. Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray (1992)
Any Major ABC of the 1990s

2. Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998)
Any Major Dude Kills Fascism

3. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands (1987)
Life In Vinyl 1987 Vol. 2

4. Turley Richards – You Might Need Somebody (1979)
Any Major Originals – Soul Edition Vol. 2

5. Alan O’Day – Undercover Angel (1977)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 11

6. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love (1971)
Any Major Hits from 1971

7. Dusty Springfield – Magic Garden (1968)
Jimmy Webb Songbook Vol. 3

8. Joy – Paradise Road (1980)
Any Major ABC of South Africa

9. Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion (1975)
Any Major Live Festival – Soul Vol. 1

10. Richard ‘Dimples’ Fields feat. Betty Wright – She’s Got Papers On Me (1981)
Any Major Soul 1981

11. Prince – A Case Of You (2007)
Joni Mitchell’s Blue Recovered

12. Marlena Shaw – So Far Away (1972)
Carole King’s Tapestry Recovered

13. P.P. Arnold – Bury Me Down By The River (1969)
Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 1

14. Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (57-75)

15. Judee Sill – The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown (1971)
Any Major Albums of 1971 – Vol. 1

16. Simon & Garfunkel – America (1968)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (1-17)

17. Cisco Houston – The Killers (1968)
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 3

18. Michèle Torr – Et le l’aime (1965)
Any Major Beatles in French Vol. 1

19. Mocedades – Eres Tu (1973)
Any Major Eurovision

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Any Major Disco Vol. 10 – Party Like It’s 1981

December 30th, 2021 1 comment

I call this mix “disco”, but by 1981, we are really in the post-disco era. The “Disco Sucks” movement thought it had vanquished disco, and as a commercial force in the US charts, disco had indeed virtually disappeared. Kool & The Gang’s Celebration was the only song of a disco heritage to top the US charts (one might, on a quibble, add Blondie’s Rapture). Even Nile Rogers was virtually in hiding.

But the genre wasn’t dead; it just kept evolving, and in different directions, with a growing emphasis on keyboards, synth, and drum machines, as well as a greater influence of hip hop. And it wasn’t called disco. Within a year or three, the brothers, sons and daughters of disco — Michael Jackson, Prince, Lionel Richie, Madonna, Whitney Houston — were the world’s biggest stars. And Nile Rogers would bounce back, producing mega hits for the likes of David Bowie, Madonna and Duran Duran.

Disco was dead, but for dance music, 1981 was a mighty year, and one that set the scene for all dance music of the 1980s.

The closing track, Heartbreak Hotel, is by The Jacksons, who had ridden the disco wave to good effect. And Heartbreak Hotel was at the centre of one of my favourite articles about music and journalism, from 1980 by English writer Danny Baker, writing for the New Musucal Express. Titled “The great Greenland mystery”, it concerns a press conference held in LA by The Jacksons to promote their Triumph album (the one with the soaring Can You Feel It). The subject matter lends itself to the bizarre, of course. For the most part of this pretty lengthy article, the Jackson angle is at once central and peripheral.

From experience, I know that Baker’s portrayal of the presser is hilariously accurate — especially so in the context of entertainment writing, as I experienced during a brief excursion into the field in the ’90s. And I suppose every entertainment hack has met guys like the hapless Yoshi, who takes centre-stage in Baker’s very funny piece

Here are the pertinent excerpts, transcribed for your reading pleasure. The whole lot is also in the illustrated PDF which is included in the package with the CD-R length mix and home-shaken-up covers.

Danny Baker, back in the day

I LOVE press conferences. Nobody says anything for the first ten minutes and then, when someone does, questions fly about in little spurts. In the gaps, hungry hacks eye up and down their comrades’ columns to see if someone is going to ask a question a split second before they open their own cake-holes, thus shutting down their own effort in its first syllable.

Then there’s the all-out strain to see who can project the best image of the seen-it-all pressman. Never admit it’s your first PC. Also sort out where the majors are present. No one wants to admit they’re from the Basildon Non-Ferrous Metals Weekly when you’re sandwiched between the Times and the Telegraph.

It’s wonderful to spot potential questioners. You can see their lips moving as they run over and over the question, ironing it out a full quarter-hour before popping it. And worse! If some bastard creep gets in your query first, they usually get approving nods from all around and you feel like screeching, ‘But I was going to ask that!’

[pre-PC preparations]

Then there’s the well-used but still fresh-looking notepad that on every page has the standard four lines of shorthand at the top. You have to rattle a pencil around your teeth — never chew it! — until you get an ‘idea’. Then you add another half line of shorthand culminating in finally slamming your notebook shut with a disturbing air of confidence. Then you just sit back, arms folded, surveying the lesser hacks who’ve yet to complete the preliminaries.
[…]
Once the artists enter you’re treated to a stampede of photographers — forming tight bundles like mating-crazed frogs. […] All the smudges yell ‘This way please, Cecil’ even though Cecil never does. They usually nick a glance from somebody else’s successful bid.
Before photographers do all this, they pick straws to see who will be the one who goes around behind the artists and takes a shot or two of All The Other Photographers Taking Photos of Cecil. The runner-up gets to be the essential smudge who stands firm snapping away after the others have retreated. He carries this on until a bouncer leads him away.
[…]
If you meet someone you know at a press conference, you always ask each other what you’re doing here. The you both decide ‘It’s a giggle’, the subject is only fit to be sent up, and ask who was that berk who asked such and such a question halfway through. Then you destroy the berk’s paper.

Michael Jackson and his brothers have entered, “all sporting huge jamtart sized sunglasses”.

The questions are real tat. ‘Ven fill hue be wisiting Sweden, Michael?’ ‘Are you a close family, Michael? (to which the family Michael showed a keen drollery in snapping back ‘No Sir’), ‘Can you give us information about your new record?’ It was pretty bleak until this one poor wretched Japanese-looking bloke committed the cardinal sin of any press conference — he tried to crack a joke. Oh, but he did. Y’see, there’s a track on their new LP called “Heartbreak Hotel” and this bloke — who had little command of English anyway — thought he had cooked up a real zinger.

‘Ah, Michael’, he stuttered, seizing his chance. ‘Ah if you had not been a hit with your LP, ah, would you have gone to, ah, Heartbreak Hotel?’

In the ensuing silence, the wind blew, crickets chirped and you could hear the guy swallow hard as the apologetic grin froze on his chops. It turns out nobody understood him. Tito asks him to repeat the ‘question’. ‘Ah, Michael, i-if your LP had n-not been success…w-would you have, ah, have gone t-to Heartbreak Hotel?’

By now most of us hacks have caught on to what’s being said and the less valiant turn away and clear their throats. The guy is still grinning although he has stopped blinking by now and is wobbling perceptibly.

A Jacksons aide steps in. ‘Er, Yoshi, what do you mean?’
‘Ah Michael. If your album h-h-had not been su-su-success wouldyouhavegonetoHeartbreakHotel?’

Michael shakes his head and Jackie tries. ‘OK, I got Heartbreak Hotel but that was on our LP — what’s it got to do with Michael?’

Poor Yoshi is drenched in flop-sweat. He is darting his eyes around looking for an ally. His neck has gone to semolina and his palms perspire like the Boulder dam.

‘I-I-I’m playing with words you see.’
Nobody sees and Yoshi’s grasp of the lingo falls an inch short of the word ‘joke’.
‘P-P-Playing with words…words.’

The eyes of the world are burrowing deep inside that tweed jacket of his. He’s trembling like a sapling in monsoon and smoke is starting to belch out of his ears. Then a voice at the back ends the torture. ‘I think the guy’s trying to make a funny.’
‘Yis! Yis! That’s it!’ babbles the released spirit. ‘I’m making funny! Funny!’

As he begins to appeal for clemency, the final cruel blow sounds. Amidst the unnecessary sighing the aide says: ‘Hey Yoshi. This is a press conference, man. Save the funnies, huh?’

The dumb questions resumed but I couldn’t take my eyes from the broken Japanese. Ruined, he never heard another word all afternoon. Today, I suspect he sits in a bathchair in some far off sanatorium, grey-haired and twitching, mumbling to anyone who will listen: ‘The words. Playing with words you see…is funny.’

______________

Pity poor Yoshi. Personally, I reckon he bounced back. So, here’s what people danced to on New Year’s Eve 40 years ago — if they had a good DJ.

So, from me, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your 2022 be corona-free and  filled with good health, good fortune and much love!

1. Bill Summers & Summers Heat – Call It What You Want
2. Carl Carlton – She’s A Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)
3. Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove
4. Cheryl Lynn – Shake It Up Tonight
5. Brothers Johnson – The Real Thing
6. Patti Austin – Do You Love Me
7. Melba Moore – Take My Love
8. Sister Sledge – All American Girls
9. B B & Q Band – On The Beat
10. Change – Hold Tight
11. Southern Freeze – Freeez
12. Odyssey – Going Back To My Roots
13. Champaign – Can You Find The Time
14. Chaka Khan – What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me
15. Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper
16. The Jacksons – Heartbreak Hotel

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Any Major New Year’s

December 24th, 2021 2 comments

How has your 2021 been? Mine? A mixed bag: the pandemic has screwed me over financially (the Rainy Day Fund? Gone), and my health is trying to tell me that I’m getting older. But I’m still loved and I’m still loving. Be that as it may, 2021 can very much piss off, and take that pandemic with it.

So, as we may look forward to a better new year, with the hope it won’t be our last, here’s a mix of New Year’s Eve songs, a week before we do our Auld Lang Synes.

I have managed to compile it without the help of U2, but a couple of obvious tracks have to feature (hello ABBA). Still, I expect that this collection contains some pleasant surprises (one of them being three songs with the same title being sequenced to follow one another, quite unintentionally).

And that’s what I’m hoping for in 2022: pleasant surprises for all of us, and an end to the nightmare of the past two years.

In that spirit, I wish you a good slide into the new year, as the Germans say.

And do pop in on Tursday for the annual year-end disco mix — or post-disco, if we want to pick nits, since it covers songs to boogie on down to from 1981.

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

1. Eagles – Funky New Year (1978)
2. Charles Brown – Bringing In A Brand New Year (1964)
3. The Cameos – New Year’s Eve (1957)
4. The Coolbreezers – Hello Mr. New Year (1958)
5. Jo-Ann Campbell – Happy New Year Baby (1958)
6. The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year (1968)
7. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne (1981)
8. Barry Manilow – It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve (1977)
9. ABBA – Happy New Year (1980)
10. Carole King – New Year’s Day (2011)
11. Mary Chapin Carpenter – New Year’s Day (2012)
12. Taylor Swift – New Year’s Day (2017)
13. Tom Waits – New Year’s Eve (2011)
14. Harry Connick Jr. feat. George Jones – Nothin’ New For New Year (2003)
15. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Happy New Year (1953)
16. Mary Harris – Happy New Year Blues (1935)
17. Vera Lynn – The Happiest New Year Of All (1946)
18. Mae West – My New Year’s Resolutions (1966)
19. The Heartbeats – After New Year’s Eve (1957)
20. Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – New Year’s Resolution (1967)
21. Nancy Wilson – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (1965)
22. Paddy Roberts – Merry X-Mas You Suckers (And A Happy New Year) (1962)
23. Franklin MacCormack – My New Year’s Wish For You (1948)

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Any Major Hits from 1961

November 25th, 2021 1 comment

 

One last anniversary mix before we leave the Year 2021, a date which must have seemed like the calendar of science fiction 60 years ago, when all the songs on this collection were hits. Where are those flying cars we were promised?

Unlike the Any Major Hits from 1971 mix, which drew from both US and UK (and European) charts, the 1961 selection is very US-centric, though some of these songs charted in Britain, too. It was a strange time for pop music, it seems — an interregnum after the frenzy of Rock & Roll and the advent of the British Invasion, the innovation of bands like The Beach Boys, the rise of soul music and Motown, the anarchic power of garage rock. Within five years, there’d be The Beatles’ Revolver album and Brian Wilson’s Good Vibrations (five years ago, in our money, is 2016). Within six years, there’d be Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend doing violence to guitars on stage at Monterey. In 1961, you didn’t see Dick Dale smashing his Fender or Duanne Eddy setting his Gretsch on fire!

But let the record also show that the music of 1961 was the context in which Lennon & McCartney and their cohorts were consumers. In don’t dare to guess how many of these featured songs they knew, but they certainly listened to early Motown, represented here by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and other R&B records. And Ricky Nelson’s featured Everlovin’, a cover of a record by the Australian band The Crescents, has all the hallmarks of the early Beatles sound. Did George Harrison know the song? Well, it did reach #23 in the UK. And even 35 years later, Van Morrison based his song Days Like This on The Shirelles’ 1961 hit Mama Said.

Of course, at the risk of stating the blatantly obvious, the 1960s were a time of rapid epochal change in the West. But 1961 doesn’t seem part of the 1960s. And some of the music here illustrates this. The musical Grease is generally accepted to be set in 1959, the movie in 1958 (both set at the fictional Rydell High School, named after Bobby Rydell, one of the artists on this mix). Almost any of the tracks here could have featured among the covers on the soundtrack of Grease, the movie.

And one track here was virtually copied for the closing number of Grease, We Go Together, with its doo wop-inspired nonsense lyrics. Barry Mann’s Who Put The Bomp set a template for the Grease song, with its “Boogity boogity boogity” and “Bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop”.

Both songs include the line “Rama lama ding dong” (slightly adapted in the Grease number). That was, of course, the title of the hit for doo wop band The Edsels. I don’t know whether Mann borrowed from the Edsels or they from Mann (who’d become one of the great Brill Building songwriters with his wife, Cynthia Weil). Either way, it sounds more 1950s than 1960s.

Doo wop was still big in 1961, and now black artists actually had hits with their songs, rather than white artists cashing in on their talent. By 1961, the US charts were far more integrate than they had been in the 1950s. On this mix, about half the acts are black. Among them are The Pips, featuring the young Gladys Knight on lead vocals.

I’ll leave you with an observation about vocal styles on two tracks on this mix:  When the UK singer Helen Shapiro recorded her international mega-hit Walkin’ Back to Happiness, she was 14 but sounded twice her age. But when the recently late Sue Thompson had a hit with Sad Movies, she was 36 but sounded like she was 14.

In other words, Thompson was old enough to be Helen’s mother — and in 1961, pop music has something of a mother obsession. On this collection, we have Mama issuing sound counsel to Smokey Robinson and The Shirelles, is lied to by Sue Thompson, provides Kenny Dino (in the bonus tracks) with guilt-inflicting information, and Ernie K-Doe has trouble with his mother-in-law. Still, the CD-R length mix ends with daddy coming home.

So, yes, there are two playlists: the CD-R length one and another with the 18 bonus tracks. I won’t list them, but I’ll point out one: The Impressions’ Gypsy Women, which in its original version already captures the sound of ’60s soul, and so is very much ahead of its time. Other acts among the bonus tracks include Farts Domino, The Shadows, Roy Orbison (with a song that sounds like Only The Lonely recycled), Elvis, Bobby Darin, and a young Tony Orlando.

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-ramalamadingdonged covers. The text above is included in an illustrated PDF booklet. PW in comments.

1. Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again
2. Bobby Lewis – Tossin’ And Turnin’
3. Chris Kenner – I Like It Like That (Part 1)
4. The Drifters – I Count The Tears
5. Eddie Cochran – Weekend
6. Ray Peterson – Corinna Corinna
7. The Everly Brothers – Walk Right Back
8. Don Gibson – Sea Of Heartbreak
9. Patsy Cline – I Fall To Pieces
10. Sue Thompson – Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)
11. Brenda Lee – Emotions
12. Connie Francis – Where The Boys Are
13. Helen Shapiro – Walking Back To Happiness
14. The Jive Five – My True Story
15. The Shirelles – Mama Said
16. Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do
17. LaVern Baker – Saved
18. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Shop Around
19. Sam Cooke – That’s It-I Quit-I’m Moving On
20. Bobby Rydell – Good Time Baby
21. Del Shannon – Runaway
22. The Edsels – Rama Lama Ding Dong
23. The Chimes – I’m In The Mood For Love
24. Ricky Nelson – Everlovin’
25. Barry Mann – Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)
26. The Dovells – Bristol Stomp
27. Bobby Vee – Run To Him
28. Curtis Lee – Pretty Little Angel Eyes
29. The Pips – Every Beat Of My Heart
30. Ernie K-Doe – Mother-In-Law
31. The Belmonts – Tell Me Why
32. Shep and The Limelites – Daddy’s Home

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Previously in Any Major Hits:
Any Major Hits From 1944
Any Major Hits From 1970
Any Major Hits From 1971
Life In Vinyl 1981

Life in Vinyl Series

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Any Major Beatles In French Vol. 2

November 18th, 2021 9 comments

 

 

Here’s the keenly-awaited second volume of The Beatles in French. How do I know it is keenly-awaited? Because The Beatles in French Vol. 1 was unexpectedly popular, with some readers saying they can’t wait for Volume 2.

This second volume covers the French versions of Beatles songs from years 1965 to 1970, or from Rubber Soul to Let It Be. And this means that the new volume includes the French cover of the one Beatles song which practically every Beatles fan of any rank wants to hear performed in French: Michelle. Or, in the case of the cover version, Michel, for in the 1966 rendering by Danielle Denin, Michelle becomes a Michel, and Danielle inserts herself into the proceedings as well. Cependant, les mots vont-ils encore bien ensemble en Français?

The first mix covered the Beatles output over just three years, and the second covers almost six. The compulsion to cover The Beatles was clearly driven by the Yé-yé sub-culture; once that faded, the need to record Beatles songs apparently diminished. One might think that the more mature Beatles songs might lend themselves to the stylings of the chanson, but that doesn’t seem to have panned out that way. There a few exceptions: Johnny Hallyday, still rocking furiously on Volume 1, pulls Girl into that direction on his 1966 recording, Eddy Mitchell (whom we met on Vol. 1) gives us a hint of how good a Gilbert Bécaud version of Fool On The Hill might have been, and Canada’s Gérard Saint Paul shows why The Long And Winding Road is really a chanson. But was there no chansoneer to tackle Something?

If it is your opinion that it is impossible to drag the regrettable Yellow Submarine from the bottom of the ocean, I commend to you the cover by veteran entertainer Maurice Chevalier, who gives the maritime vessel a new coat of paint, and is now travelling on the Green Submarine.

Almost all songs here are more or less contemporaries of the Beatles originals. Anne-Renée took her time, releasing her take of You Won’t See Me nine years after the original appeared on Rubber Soul. By far the newest cover kicks off this mix: Drive My Car, covered in 1998 as Tu peux conduire ma bagnole by German-French synth-pop duo Stereo Total, whose singer Françoise Cactus we lost in February this year.Comme toujours, la compilation est programmée pour tenir sur un CD-R standard, comprend des pochettes faites maison, et ce texte au format PDF. Mot-de-passe dans la section Commentaires.

1. Stereo Total – Tu peux conduire ma bagnole (Drive My Car) (1998)
2. Anne-Renée – Je veux savoir (You Won’t See Me) (1974)
3. Stone – Seul (Norwegian Wood) (1966)
4. François Fabrice – Les Garçons sont Fous (Think For Yourself) (1966)
5. Danielle Denin – Michel (Michelle) (1966)
6. Johnny Halliday – Je l’aime (Girl) (1966)
7. Erick Saint Laurent – Eleonor Rigby (1966)
8. Renée Martel – Entre tes bras (Good Day Sunshine) (1969)
9. Johnny Hallyday – Je Veux Te Graver Dans Ma Vie (Got To Get You Into My Life) (1966)
10. Olivier Despax – Dis-Moi (Here, There And Everywhere) (1967)
11. Maurice Chevalier – Le sous-marin vert (Yellow Submarine) (1967)
12. Les Blue Notes – Tout peut s’Arranger (We Can Work It Out) (1966)
13. F.R. David – Il est plus facile (Strawberry Fields) (1967)
14. Dominique Walter – Penny Lane (1967)
15. Donald Lautrec – L’amour quand tu es là (With A Little Help From My Friends) (1969)
16. Le 25ième Regiment – Lucie Sous un Ciel de Diamants (Lucy In The Sky…) (1967)
17. Erick Saint-Laurent – C’est Devenu Un Homme (She’s Leaving Home) (1967)
18. Marcel Amont – Dans 45 ans (When I’m 64) (1967)
19. Les Baronets – La même chanson (Your Mother Should Know) (1968)
20. Eddy Mitchell – Le fou sur la colline (The Fool On A Hill) (1968)
21. Les Intrigantes – Hello, Goodbye (1968)
22. Bruce Huard – Lady Madonna (1968)
23. Francoise d’Assise & Michel Pagliaro – Hey Jude (1968)
24. Patrick Zabé – Oh! Darling (1969)
25. Marie Jane – Suis-moi (Two Of Us) (1972)
26. Gérard Saint Paul – Let It Be (1970)
27. Gérard Saint Paul – Le Long Chemin Vers Toi (The Long and Winding Road) (1970)

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Any Major Albums of the Year: 1971 Vol. 2

November 9th, 2021 5 comments

Here’s a second lot of “best albums of 1971”, following on from the Top 20 of that year’s LPs. On any other day, half of these albums might have made it into the Top 20, especially the Baby Huey album, which provides the stand-out track on this collection. Huey’s psychedelic cover of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come is quite extraordinary; I doubt that Cooke had any references to “funny cigarettes” in mind when he wrote the song.

The album, The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend, was released posthumously: James Ramey, as Baby Huey’s mom knew him, died at 26 on 28 October 1970.

For the past 30 years, you’ve been lucky if a your favourite act released a new album every two years; in 1971 it was not uncommon that an act would release two a year. Two such acts feature on both volumes of the best albums of 1971: Isaac Hayes (Black Moses and the Shaft soundtrack) and Carole King (Tapestry and Music, the latter released as the year ended).

I might have afforded a much less known singer the same accolade: soul singer Margie Joseph, who released a pair of superb soul albums in 1971: Makes A New Impression and Phase II. I picked the latter, but there’s little to separate these two sets.

One album that just slipped into the Top 40 is Stevie Wonder’s Where I’m Coming From. It’s a mere training run for that incredible sequence of Wonder albums that would start with 1972’s Music Of My Mind.

Obviously I was too young to buy any of these albums in 1971 (as a five-year-old, I’d probably have bought something by Dutch child-singer Heintje). But by the time I was 18, I had three of them: Led Zep’s unnamed album (generally called IV), The Who’s Who’s Next?, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. And possibly Little Feat’s eponymous debut on tape.

These two mixes serve as good companions to Any Major Hits from 1971 and Any Major Soul 1971.

As always, CD-R length, home-nostalgiaed covers, text in illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Who – Behind Blue Eyes (Who’s Next?)
2. Led Zeppelin – Misty Mountain Hop (IV)
3. Sly & the Family Stone – Family Affair (There’s A Riot Going On)
4. Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter 23 (Freedom Flight)
5. Baby Huey – A Change Is Going To Come (The Baby Huey Story)
6. Stevie Wonder – If Your Really Love Me (Where I’m Coming From)
7. Carole King – Carry Your Load (Music)
8. Rod Stewart – (Find A) Reason To Believe (Every Picture Tells A Story)
9. David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things (Hunky Dory)
10. Serge Gainsbourg – Ballade De Melody Nelson (Histoire de Melody Nelson)
11. Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat (Songs Of Love And Hate)
12. Little Feat – Strawberry Flats (Little Feat)
13. Don McLean – Empty Chairs (American Pie)
14. Dolly Parton – The Way I See You (Coat Of Many Colors)
15. Carpenters – Let Me Be The One (Carpenters)
16. The Stylistics – Betcha By Golly, Wow (The Stylistics)
17. Margie Joseph – That Other Woman Got My Man And Gone (Phase II)
18. Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (Shaft)
19. S.O.U.L. – Soul (What Is It)
20. The Persuasions – Good Times (Street Corner Symphony)

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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 3

October 26th, 2021 5 comments

It’s Halloween this week, and to scare the children, here’s the third mix of Murder Songs. I didn’t post one last year, when the pandemic was claiming so many lives. But this year, death by Covid is mostly a matter of choice, at least in countries where vaccinations are freely available. So here we go.

These compilations of murder songs are a bit like a TV crime shows such as Law & Order. At least in some of the cases featured in the songs, the killers have been brought to justice. In some songs, that justice is distributed through the death penalty, which in itself could be defined as a form of murder (in that a person who is defenceless and doesn’t pose an immediate threat is being put to death by people who have the tools to perform that function, usually to extract a firm of retribution).

A couple of songs tell stories that describe acts which amount to vigilante justice. One can’t really justify that sort of thing, of course, but it is quite satisfying when Stagger Lee gets shot in the balls or the killer of Nell in the Cisco Houston song gets his comeuppance. I fear that there’s a bit of Charles Bronson in even the most liberal among us.

Some of our killers here are filled with remorse, and some with none at all. There seems to be a thread of mental illness issues in most of these cases — or all, if psychopathy is a mental illness.

In almost all of these songs, presented from various perspectives, there is a story being told that teaches us something about the human condition. Even the nasty Guns n’ Roses song is a reflection of an uncomfortable reality.

Happy listening!

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

  1. Blondie – Youth Nabbed As Sniper (1978)
    The Vic: Random people, by a sniper
  2. The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays (1979)
    The Vic: Two adults at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego
  3. Bruce Springsteen – Johnny 99 (1986)
    The Vic: A night clerk, while Johnny was drunk and sad.
  4. Richard & Linda Thompson – Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed? (1982)
    The Vic: She. Could’ve been suicide, but they found some fingerprints right around her throat…
  5. Johnny Cash – Delia’s Gone (1994)
    The Vic: Delia. In real life: 15-year-old Delia Green, shot by Mose Houston, also 15, on Christmas Eve 1900.
  6. Grateful Dead – Stagger Lee (1978)
    The Vic: Billy DeLions, thrower of a lucky dice. Here a Delia gets justice.
  7. Robert Cray – Smoking Gun (1986)
    The Vic: An unnamed woman, shot by a paranoid jealous partner.
  8. Barry Manilow – Copacabana (At The Copa) (1978)
    The Vic: Why, Tony, of course.
  9. Eminem feat. Dido – Stan (2000)
    The Vic: Stan’s pregnant girlfriend, tied up in the trunk…
  10. Alice Cooper – Killer (1971)
    The Vic: Do we know? Here the (unrepentant) killer goes off to be executed.
  11. Guns n’ Roses – Used To Love Her (1988)
    The Vic: A complaining girlfriend. The national anthem of Misogynia.
  12. Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Name Of This Thing Is Not Love (2004)
    The Vic: A fling, according to the self-justifying murderer.
  13. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – Poor Ellen Smith (2020)
    The Vic: Poor Ellen Smith, shot through the heart. 20 years on, the killer gets out of jail.
  14. Cisco Houston – The Killer (rel. 1968)
    The Vic: Blake, the murderer of Nell.
  15. Kingston Trio – Tom Dooley (1958)
    The Vic: Unnamed victim, stabbed by Tom Dooley.
  16. Charley Pride – The Banks Of The Ohio (1968)
    The Vic: The only woman he loved, killed by the singer himself.
  17. Big Tom and The Mainliners – Life To Go (1973)
    The Vic: The singer’s honky-tonk friend, 18 years ago.
  18. Doc & Merle Watson – The Lawson Family Murder (1971)
    The Vic: Charlie Lawson’s family. On Christmas Eve. Why? Nobody knows.
  19. Momus – Murderers, The Hope Of Women (1988)
    The Vic: Sweet Fanny Adams, his wife.
  20. Rosie Thomas – Charlotte (2002)
    The Vic: Charlotte, a victim of domestic abuse.

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Any Major Blaxploitation Tracks

October 12th, 2021 5 comments

Last month filmmaker and musician Melvin Van Peebles died, so this is a good time to launch a mix of music from the Blaxploitation genre which Van Peebles helped pioneer with his 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.

There are lots of opinions about Blaxploitation movies: some see them as having given African-Americans a presence in film that previously had been lacking; others see them as a denigration of black dignity, much like gangsta rap in the 1990s. The NAACP was critical of many those movies, seeing unwelcome racial stereotypes and a glorification of crime and violence in them, while other leaders saw these movies as vehicles for Black Pride.

I wouldn’t like to offer my opinion on those arguments because, as a white man, it isn’t my place to do so. But there cannot be no blanket opinion about a genre that had many sub-genres. It wasn’t all movies about gritty drug dealers, pimps, junkies, vigilantes and private dicks who are bad mutha-shut-your-mouths, the kind which Quentin Tarantino would later appropriate and fetishize. There were also flicks of comedy, horror, martial arts, nostalgia, musical and so on.

I have enjoyed some films in that genre, including the gritty street movies. Especially as time capsules of a particular time and setting, even the less brilliant ones are fascinating. Some have greater artistic merit and production values than others, but the soundtracks tend to be quite outstanding, regardless of the quality of the movie. It is a happy circumstance that the era of Blaxploitation — roughly 1968 to 1978 — coincided with a creatively fertile period in soul and funk music.

Some of these soundtracks are rightly famous: Isaac Hayes’ Shaft, Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street, Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. In the case of the latter, Mayfield went as far subverting the tone of the movie, which took an agnostic view on the morality of the drug trade. Mayfield stakes out his position clearly: pushing dope for The Man is bad, and, as he sings in No Thing On Me, “You want it funky, but you don’t have to be no junkie”. But since most of Mayfield’s tracks were instrumentals in the film, with lyrics added for the soundtrack album, that message didn’t resound in the cinemas.

From Superfly, I’ve opted to include Freddie’s Dead, which on the single release was described as the movie’s theme song, presumably because it plays over the opening sequence.

Blaxploitation soundtrack music is usually associated with funky guitars, wah-wah pedals, driving basslines, and brass and/or flutes. It’s fair to say that these elements are common, but this mix shows that these soundtracks mustn’t be reduced to cliché.

Many of the acts here are well-known, but who were Sister Goose And The Ducklings? One (pretty great) song on the soundtrack of 1973’s Gordon’s War is the extent of their recording career, it seems.

For once, this mix doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R (it comes in at 1h45min), but it does includes home-shafted covers, this text in an illustrated PDF file, and a collection of posters of the films featured on this mix. PW in comments.

1. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street (Across 110th Street) (1972)
2. Barry White – Somebody’s Gonna Off The Man (Together Brothers) (1974)
3. James Brown – Slaughter’s Theme (Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off) (1973)
4. Willie Hutch – Mack Man (Got to Get Over) (The Mack) (1972)
5. Isaac Hayes – Truck Turner Main Title (Truck Turner) (1974)
6. Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead (Superfly) (1972)
7. Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man (Trouble Man) (1972)
8. Millie Jackson – Love Doctor (Cleopatra Jones) (1973)
9. Edwin Starr – Don’t It Feel Good To Be Free (Hell Up In Harlem) (1973)
10. JJ. Johnson feat. Martha Reeves – Willie D (Willie Dynamite) (1974)
11. Dennis Coffey – Congress Six (Black Belt Jones) (1974)
12. Roy Ayers with Dee Dee Bridgewater – Coffy Is The Color (Coffy) (1973)
13. Monk Higgins & Alex Brown feat. Barbara Mason – Sheba, Baby (Sheba, Baby) (1975)
14. The Originals – Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Sugar Hill) (1974)
15. Sister Goose And The Ducklings – Super Shine #9 (Gordon’s War) (1973)
16. The Hues Corporation – There He Is Again (Blacula) (1972)
17. Lyn Collins – Mama Feelgood (Black Caesar) (1973)
18. Melvin Van Peebles – Mojo Woman (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) (1971)
19. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (Shaft) (1971)
20. Mary Love – Power Of Your Love (Dolemite) (1975)
21. The Dells – No Way Back (No Way Back) (1976)
22. Willie Hutch – Foxy Lady (Foxy Brown) (1974)
23. Grant Green – The Final Comedown (The Final Comedown) (1972)
24. Rose Royce – Car Wash (Car Wash) (1977)
25. Rudy Ray Moore – The Human Tornado (The Human Tornado) (1976)
26. Don Julian & The Larks – Shorty The Pimp (Shorty The Pimp)(1972)
27. The Impressions – That’s What Love Will Do (Three The Hard Way) (1974)
28. H.B. Barnum – Hit Man (What You’re Gonna Do) (Hit Man) (1972)
29. Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Time Is Tight (UpTight) (1969)
30. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street, Pt. 2 (Across 110th Street) (1972)

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