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Any Major ABC of Canada

June 28th, 2022 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET IT! or HERE!

PREVIOUS ABCs:
ABC of 1950s
ABC of 1960s
ABC of 1970s
ABC of 1990s
ABC of 2000s
ABC of Soul
ABC of Country
ABC of Christmas
ABC of South Africa

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

Brian Wilson Songbook

June 21st, 2022 3 comments

 

 

Yesterday, on June 20, Brian Wilson turned 80, just two days after his fellow songwriting genius Paul McCartney, who was the subject of a Songbook last week, turned 80 himself. How were the stars aligned (if you subscribe to that kind of thing) that June 1942 to create two such man within two days of one another?

Wilson and McCartney (and his fellow Beatles) ran a pop music innovations race in the mid-1960s, a serious but friendly competition that spurred each other to greater heights. If a winner must be declared, then it is McCartney, who kept going with some great work while Wilson collapsed under the weight of his own ambitions, and fragile mental health. Crucially, where McCartney had the support, even if often troubled, of his fellow Beatles, who shared in the processes of artistic growth, Wilson had to contend with those, in the band and commercial departments, who still wanted fun fun fun songs about hot cars ‘n’ tanned gals.

 

The Beach Boys and their striped shirts. Brian Wilson is front right.

 

When Wilson heard The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album in 1965, he immediately wrote God Only Knows (with Tony Asher), the first track for what would become the Pet Sounds albums. That album, in turn, motivated The Beatles to up their game — from the already astonishing Revolver album — to create Sgt Pepper’s.

Four months before that album was released in June 1967, The Beatles had released Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Forever. Reportedly, when Wilson heard that song, he broke down and cried, saying: “They got there first!” That was quite a concession from the man who by then had already produced the stroke of eternal genius that is Good Vibrations.

Wilson’s attempt to top Sgt Pepper’s — and let’s cut a sad story short — ended in artistic and personal decline following the stressful production of the aborted Smile project, and the disastrous reception of what turned out to be the compromise album, Smiley Smile. Wilson completed that project in 2005 with the release of his Smile album.

In the studio during that productive mid-‘60s period, Wilson didn’t even have the Beach Boys with him. His “band” comprised various members of the Wrecking Crew, the collective of highly professional session musicians. One of them, guitarist Glenn Campbell, actually became a member of The Beach Boys in their touring formation. Carl and Dennis, Jardine and Love would come in to lay down vocal tracks — and, of course, their harmonies were integral to the Beach Boys sound. Mike Love would co-write some songs, though in many cases, the extent of his contributions is a matter of diverging memories.

Actors like De Niro and Pacino have their ways of getting into character; Wilson was a method musician, once even filling his home studio with sand to recreate a beach (as if a feature of beaches is grand pianos just standing there). By then he had already experimented with LSD — a year before that drug reached The Beatles — and other drugs. The riff for California Girls came to him after his acid trip.

The progress in Wilson’s songwriting was as spectacular as that of The Beatles. Between the plagiarised Surfin’ USA in 1963 (for which Chuck Berry rightly got a co-writing credit) and the intricate but appealing Wouldn’t It Be Nice were only three years.

 

So here we have the Brian Wilson Songbook. Nancy Sinatra’s version of California Girls from a 2003 album, features the backing vocals of Brian Wilson and ex-Beach Boy Jeffrey Foskett. Nancy’s version opens this set, so suitably the first voice we hear is Brian Wilson’s. And Wilson closes this collection with a cover of his own song from 2005’s Smile album, Surf’s Up. The Nancy Sinatra track was co-produced by the legendary Billy Strange, who arranged These Boots Are Made For Walking, as well as Duane Eddy and The Ventures, who in turn had influenced the Beach Boys.

Wilson originally offered Don’t Worry Baby to The Ronettes, and was profoundly inspired by their hit Be My Baby. They didn’t record it because Phil Spector declined it. Instead The Beach Boys recorded in 1964. Wilson once said he thought it was their finest moment. It later was a hit for BJ Thomas. Thirty-odd years after Spector vetoed Don’t Worry Baby, Ronnie Spector finally recorded it, co-produced by Joey Ramone, a fan of both The Ronettes and The Beach Boys. The Ramones themselves feature later in the mix with Surfin’ Safari.

Spector might have rejected Wilson’s composition, but fellow Capitol signing Sharon Marie recorded Wilson and Mike Love’s Thinkin’ ’Bout You Baby, which Wilson also produced and arranged, with another Wilson/Love composition, The Story Of My Life, on the flip-side. It was not a success, nor was the previous year’s Wilson job Run-Around Lover. The Beach Boys rejigged Thinkin’ ’Bout You Baby and recorded it as Darlin’ in 1967.

If we have ever wondered what ABBA might have sounded like if they had been The Beach Boys, Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s Swedish cover of Wouldn’t It Be Nice gives us a hint. She recorded it for her 1975 Swedish language LP Frida Ensam, which was produced by Benny Anderson, another genius of arrangement, with Björn Ulvaeus on guitar. The album also included the original version of ABBA’s Fernando (featured on Any Major Originals: 1970s).

There are some Beach Boys songs that are impossible to cover well, unless you change the whole structure of it. Good Vibrations is a good example of that. The original is one of pop music’s towering achievements; covering it straight is to punch upwards, even if you do it competent, as Todd Rundgren did in 1976. So I’ve opted for the 1975 cover by The Troggs, which deconstructs the original’s entire arrangement, and does to it what William Shatner had done a few years earlier with other hits, though The Troggs do it with greater discipline and restraint than old Cap’n Kirk. I doubt I’ll ever love what The Troggs did with it, but it’s good fun fun fun.

The same applies to I Get Around; the psychedelic version by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra — whose version of the Rolling Stone’s The Last Time (featured on the Copy Borrow Steal mix) gave the Verve’s Bitter-Sweet Symphony its hook — is joyfully mad.

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

1. Nancy Sinatra – California Girls (2003)
2. The Carpenters – Fun, Fun, Fun (1973)
3. Anni-Frid Lyngstad – Skulle de’ va’ skönt (Wouldn’t It Be Nice, 1975)
4. Johnny Rivers – Help Me Rhonda (1975)
5. Ronnie Spector – Don’t Worry Baby (1999)
6. Bruce Springsteen – When I Grow Up To Be A Man (live, 1985)
7. Dave Alvin – Surfer Girl (2006)
8. Rumer – The Warmth Of The Sun (2015)
9. Linda Ronstadt – In My Room (1996)
10. Andrew Oldham Orchestra – I Get Around (1965)
11. The Troggs – Good Vibrations (1975)
12. Bobby Vee – Here Today (1966)
13. P.P. Arnold – God Only Knows (1968)
14. Carmen McRae – Don’t Talk (1967)
15. Sharon Marie – Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby (1964)
16. Jan & Dean – Surf City (1963)
17. The Surfaris – Be True To Your School (1964)
18. Nick DeCaro – Caroline, No (1969)
19. Nazareth – Wild Honey (1976)
20. David Garland – I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (1993)
21. Kirsty MacColl – You Still Believe In Me (1981)
22. Wall Of Voodoo – Do It Again (1987)
23. The Rubinoos – Heroes And Villains (2002)
24. The Smithereens – Girl Don’t Tell Me (1995)
25. Ramones – Surfin’ Safari (1993)
26. Frank Black – Hang On To Your Ego (1993)
27. Brian Wilson – Surf’s Up (2005)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
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
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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

Ziggy Stardust Recovered (1972)

June 9th, 2022 8 comments

Ziggy

Next week, on June 16, it will be 50 years since the release of David Bowie’s landmark album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I recovered that album some years ago, and posted the story behind the cover to go with it. I’m reposting that story with that first Ziggy Stardust Recovered mix — but I have made a NEW Ziggy Stardust Re-recovered mix. So download them and mix-and-match to your preference.

There is a sweet irony in the cover picture of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: the alien superstar is photographed in a seedy sidestreet in London’s West End, not a glitzy glamour spot. Instead of shining brightly in a metallic science fiction wonderland, the monochrome photo is hand-coloured in the way of postcards from the turn of the last century.

The cover holds not the promise of the story we are coming to hear, but its denouement: Ziggy has come back down to earth as David Bowie. There’s trash, there’s rain, there’s a bin, there’s the sign of the furrier K. West, where the fiction of left-handed Ziggy and the fact of Bowie, holding his guitar right-handed, come together.

Or that’s how I choose to see it. The story of Ziggy Stardust is vague enough to let you project your own ideas upon it. In fact, by writing about the cover, by stripping away a veneer of its mystique, I may be depriving you, if you do not know the story of the cover, of your ability to freely project. Read on at your own peril.

What we will find is that the story of the cover is rather ordinary. The photo was taken on a cold January night in 1972 in Soho’s Heddon Street, then an insalubrious sidestreet, but today a fashionable pedestrian zone. The photographer was Brian Ward, who had studio in the street.

He took 17 photos that night, including the back cover shot of Ziggy/Bowie in the telephone booth. The front cover pic was taken at house number 23, under the big sign for K. West. Apparently Bowie turned up (with a posse of two girls), posed for a few minutes, and quickly disappeared into the rainy night, leaving Ward to develop his black-and-white photos. Did Bowie feel like Ziggy in “Five Years”? “It was cold and it rained and I felt like an actor.”

ziggy-bwThe winning shot was colourised, giving the jumpsuit a blue hue when it was, in fact, green. Have look at all 17 photos of the session at the Five Years site (from which I’ve borrowed one here).

As for the signs on the wall? They were for Paquerette Dresses (4th Floor), Ramar Dresses Ltd (3rd Floor), International Wool Secretariat, Cravats Ltd (main entrance), and T.H. Ferris (2nd Floor)

So, to mark the Ziggy anniversary, here are the two track-by-track mixes of Ziggy covers. Every track of the album is performed in sequence by various artists. On the first Ziggy Stardust Recovered mix, two tracks are by Bowie himself. One is from the famous Hammersmith Odeon concert at which he killed off Ziggy Stardust — obviously the final track, Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide — the other a new mix of the largely uncovered Star. In fact, there’s a third Bowie number: The Arnold Corns was a Bowie project on which he test-drove some Ziggy tracks a year before he gave birth to the alien superstar. They feature on both the Ziggy Stardust Recovered and Ziggy Stardust Re-Recovered mixes. One song on the album was a cover itself: It Ain’t Easy was a Ron Davies song. The cover of that on the Recovered mix also precedes the Ziggy LP.

Obviously, each mix will fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made home-ziggied covers, but the text above is included in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

ZIGGY STARDUST RE-RECOVERED
1. Old 97’s – Five Years (2010)
2. Cerys Matthews – Soul Love (2006)
3. The Chameleons – Moonage Daydream (2002)
4. Culture Club – Starman (1999)
5. Claudia Lennear – It Ain’t Easy (1973)
6. Midge Ure – Lady Stardust (2008)
7. Cuff The Duke – Star (2013)
8. The Arnold Corns – Hang On To Yourself (1971)
9. Def Leppard – Ziggy Stardust (1995)
10. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Suffragette City (1986)
11. Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide (2000)

ZIGGY STARDUST RECOVERED
1. The Polyphonic Spree – Five Years (2002)
2. Marti Jones – Soul Love (1986)
3. The Arnold Corns – Moonage Daydream (1971)
4. Leningrad Cowboys – Starman (2006)
5. Three Dog Night – It Ain’t Easy (1970)
6. Seu Jorge – Lady Stardust (2005)
7. David Bowie – Star (40th Anniversary Mix) (1972/2012)
8. Contraband – Hang On To Yourself (1991)
9. Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust (1982)
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Suffragette City (2012)
11. David Bowie – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (live) (1973)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

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Categories: Album cover art, Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 2 (Bearded Edition)

May 20th, 2022 2 comments

 

To coincide with Barry Gibb’s 75th birthday on September 1 last year, I posted Volume 1 of the Barry Gibb Songbook. Here’s Volume 2, covering the years after 1975, when the Brothers Gibb stumbled into disco to become their supposed kings (it’s a discussion for another day why they most certainly were not).

The falsetto disco era brought the Gibbs much fortune, but at the end of it, they — much as Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards — were not wanted any longer as headliners. And like the Chic collective, the Bee Gees moved into the background, writing and producing mid-tempo stuff for adult acts like Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and, later, Diana Ross.

While the early-era Bee Gees were eminently coverable, as we saw on Volume 1, the disco stuff was more difficult to reinterpret. It’s no accident that two of the Bee Gees’ greatest disco-era hits —Night Fever and Tragedy (I wasn’t going to use the Steps cover of Tragedy, thank you) — are missing here. On the other hand, in the hands of the gifted, the disco stuff could be covered to great effect. Exhibit A: Chaka Khan’s slow-burning take on Jive Talking.

I also found no takers for the Streisand ballad Woman In Love, which was rather overplayed when it came out (Babs features here with the infinitely superior Guilty). Even Too Much Heaven has rarely been well covered. In the end, it was a toss-up between the reggae version by Claudette Miller or the cover by serial-coverer Bunny Chanel, the recording moniker used by Filipina actress Helen Gamboa. Chanel’s lush arrangement and warm vocals won out, but Miller’s lovers rock version is included as a bonus track..

A word about the beards designation: let it serve as a rough guide. Of course Barry sported beards for some time during the Volume 1 period, and was clean-shaven for some of the disco years. But latter-day Barry certainly was more often than not luxuriously hirsute.

That dealt with, here’s the conclusion of the Barry Gibb Songbook, which in large part is also the Maurice and Robin Songbook. So it makes perfect sense to issue this second volume on the 10th anniversary of Robin’s death, which we mark today, on May 20.

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

1. Barbra Streisand feat. Barry Gibb – Guilty (1980)
2. Candi Staton – Nights On Broadway (1977)
3. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Jive Talkin’ (1975)
4. Foo Fighters – You Should Be Dancing (2021)
5. Tavares – More Than A Woman (1977)
6. Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams – Emotion (1978)
7. Bunny Chanel – Too Much Heaven (1979)
8. Andy Gibb & Olivia Newton-John – Rest Your Love On Me (1980)
9. En Vogue – How Deep Is Your Love (2003)
10. Nick Lowe – Heartbreaker (2018)
11. The Twang – Staying Alive (2018)
12. Feist – Inside And Out (2004)
13. Vivian Reed – Shadow Dancing (1979)
14. Melba Moore – You Stepped Into My Life (1978)
15. Donnie Elbert – Love So Right (1977)
16. Dionne Warwick – All The Love In The World (1982)
17. Diana Ross – Chain Reaction (1986)
18. The McAuley Boys – I Just Want To Be Your Everything (1996)
19. Bee Gees – If I Can’t Have You (1977)
Bonus Tracks:
Garth Taylor & Melanie Louw – Islands In The Stream (2003)
The Salsoul Strings – More Than A Woman (1978)
Lionel Hampton – You Should Be Dancing (1978)
Claudette Miller & The Ebonies – Too Much Heaven (1977)
Connie Smith – I Just Want To Be Your Everything (1977)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
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
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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

Any Major Teen Dreams

May 12th, 2022 36 comments

(This mix was originally posted in 2015)

Any Major Teen Dream

The stuff of teenager-oriented pop has occupied me lately, with the birth of the Bravo Posters site on which I post a few posters a day from old editions of Germany’s Bravo magazine. I think it’s fair to say that when we look back on our teenage obsessions with pop music, the questions that will evoke the most nostalgic vibes are what your first record was, and which posters you had hanging on your wall.

Your first record most probably was not cool. But ask your music-loving friends about the first record they bought, chances are that everybody else bought something really sophisticated. They were eight and bought, depending on their generation, Kind Of Blue, Sly & the Family Stone, Big Star, Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys, or NWA’s F*ck Da Police. They might even tell the truth, so you feel like a bit of a chump if you first record was “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”, “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” or “Ice Ice Baby”.

I confess: for years I did not acknowledge that the first record I bought was a German Schlager hit by Roy Black (not his real name) teaming up with a nine-year-old Norwegian girl named Anita. The single, it must be said, was aimed squarely at my demographic at the time, the five-year-old, and at grandmothers, like mine, who financed my debut vinyl purchase. Couldn’t you have guided me to buy Black Sabbath instead of Roy Black, granny?

For a long time I was also embarrassed to admit that my first English-language record was by the Bay City Rollers. Today I feel no more embarrassment at that than if my first single had been an obscure Northern Soul classic. While the late Roy Black may still lack cool, the passage of time has forgiven the Bay City Rollers for their droll tartan outfits and for being adored by barely pubescent girls. The Ramones admitted a long time ago that they took inspiration from the teen-orientated bubble-gum pop promulgated by Leslie, Woody, Alan, Eric and Derek. The rest of us have taken a little longer to appreciate that BCR weren’t as awful as their trousers led us to believe. And so I’ll pronounce while flinching only slightly: I was a BCR fan, even though I was a boy. And I liked Woody the best.

The phenomenon of teen idols precedes the advent of Rock & Roll. There was Bing Crosby, who charmed the girls and their Moms in the 1930s. Then came the Bobbysoxers who screamed for young Frank Sinatra from Hoboken, NJ. Then came rock. Elvis provided many a young girl with her first experience of celebrity-inspired wet knickers. But these were singularities, quite extraordinary performers. True, the combination of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s ascent and the Bobbysoxer legacy (among other social events) created a wave of singers marketed directly to the teen market: the likes of Troy Donahue, Fabian, Frankie Avalon or Paul Anka in the US, Marty Wilde in Britain, or Peter Kraus in Germany.

But arguably the real teen revolution came with the ’60s and Beatlemania. It was a whole new deal which inspired a new culture of teen idolatry; some accidental, some manufactured to cash in on the Beatles.

teen dream gallery 1Early teen idol prodigies of the1960s included Billy J Kramer (whose “Bad To Me” was written by Lennon & McCartney) in Britain, The Monkees in the US, and Herman’s Hermits in both countries. Like the Backsteeet Boys or the Spice Girls and their ilk 30 years later, The Monkees were an assembled group calculated to appeal to diverse constituencies within the projected fanbase. The Beatles provided the template: Paul, the cute happy one; John, the tough cynical one; George, the quiet serious one; Ringo, the pet. And the calculation obviously worked; the Monkees were huge, thanks to their image, and their records were great, thanks to brilliant song selection and the seasoned session musicians of the Wrecking Crew.

In the early 1970s, the pretense of musical authenticity evaporated in the US. The Archies had a worldwide hit in 1969/70 with “Sugar Sugar” (as song The Monkees had turned down). Based on the comic, they weren’t even the group. Where The Monkees were a literary equivalent of a photo novel, The Archies actually were a cartoon. The fiction wouldn’t stop there. The Partridge Family was a TV band, backed by the flair of, again, the Wrecking Crew, and the beauty of the talented David Cassidy and, for the boys, Susan Dey. Things would become charmingly peculiar when the Brady Bunch, whose kids weren’t musicians even in the fiction of the show, started releasing records. At the same time, some groups didn’t bother with instruments, even if one or the other minor Jackson 5 did parade with a guitar occasionally, if that could be choreographed into the dance routine.

In Britain, the teen-oriented acts were more credible. T Rex, the Sweet or Slade played their own instruments and produced some fantastic pop whose appeal conquered the linits of age. Other acts were clearly manipulated or manufactured for marketing purposes. Questions remain about how much Woody, Eric, Alan and Derek contributed to the Bay City Rollers on record (we do know that Leslie did sing, and Alan, Eric and Woody wrote a good number of songs).

Based on the template of the early ’70s, UK record label bosses tried to cash in on presenting acts like Hello and Slik (featuring future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure) as the teen dreams they did not aspire to be. The calculation bombed. Hello and Slik were one hit wonders, groups like the Dead End Kids and Buster never took off, BCR disintegrated slowly after Leslie McKeown left (to be replaced by Duncan Faure of South African teeny giants Rabbit), Sweet grew beards and dabbled with prog rock, Dave Hill of Slade shaved his head, and punk happened. The teen dream was dead. Out of punk grew the New Romantic movement, and with it Smash Hits, giving rise to a new generation of organically grown teen idols: Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet.

In the US, the family idols gig — Jacksons, Osmonds, “Partridge” — slowly lost its lustre. As the late ’70s neared, the pursuit was on for the next pretty boy in the mold of David Cassidy. And so teens were introduced the charms of David’s half-brother Shaun (whose 1977 song provides the title for this mix), Leif Garrett (like David, a child TV star), Andy Gibb and, of course, John Travolta. The time would come for the rise of the boy band, in the US and Britain, with The Monkees and the Bay City Rollers providing a template, but minus the pretense of members playing instruments in terms of personnel selection, and the Jackson 5 inspiring the idea of four or five chaps harmonising their choreography.

teen dream gallery 2

With all that in mind, here is the Any Major Teen Dreams mix, featuring acts that featured on the postered walls of pre-and freshly-pubescent kids, and were marketed as such, between 1963 and 1978.  As ever, the lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lipsynched covers. You might also enjoy the Any Major Teenagers mix of songs about, well, being teenagers.

Now my question to you: what was the first single you bought?

1. The Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1963)
2. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)
3. Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today (1966)
4. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966)
5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
8. Bobby Sherman – Little Woman (1969)
9. The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save (1970)
10. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
11. Sweet – Co-Co (1971)
12. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
13. David Cassidy – Daydreamer (1973)
14. The Osmonds – Love Me For A Reason (1974)
15. David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star-old (1974)
16. Hello – Tell Him (1974)
17. Bay City Rollers – Rock & Roll Love Letter (1975)
18. Slik – Forever And Ever (1976)
19. John Travolta – Let Her In (1976)
20. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
21. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA (1977)
22. Buster – Love Rules (1977)
23. Shaun Cassidy – Teen Dream (1977)

GET IT! or HERE!

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Categories: Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 2

April 28th, 2022 1 comment

 

All she ever wanted to be was a suburban housewife, and yet she wrote some of the greatest hits of the early 1960s, and in a second career released one of the great albums of all time. She inspired Lennon-McCartney, having written as bunch of hits by the time her contemporaries started to record theirs. Carole King wrote or co-write so many sings that her career merits a second Songbook, following on from Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 1.

Carole King framed her music around the lyrics created by her songwriting partners — chiefly one-time husband Gerry Goffin and later Toni Stern — or, of course, by herself. Sometimes the melody would be at odds with the lyrics. Take Good Care Of My Baby is far too jolly — but what a tune. It features here in King’s demo version. More often, the melody would give the lyrics their character. Think of Natural Woman, whose gorgeous melody complements those beautiful lyrics (written by a man, Gerry Goffin, and performed on this mix by a man, Bobby Womack), or the percussive thrusting melody of I Feel The Earth Move.

I love King as a singer. I love that intimate, slightly imperfect voice and its economic application. That impeccable phrasing. So it’s rather a pity that King did not record all those great hits of the early and mid-1960s herself: Up On The Roof, I’m Into Something Good, One Fine Day, Chains, The Loco-motion and so on. We have an idea of how that might have been when a decade after it was a #1 for The Shirelles (when King was still 18!), she recorded Will You Love Me Tomorrow on Tapestry. Or, of course, listen to her 1962 single It Might As Well Rain Until September.

Before her solo career, King had a shot at vocal stardom as the lead singer of The City — with future husband Charles Larkey and future Tapestry collaborator Danny Kortchmar — but King’s reluctance to play live and distribution troubles prevented their one album from becoming a hit. But what a star King might have been even before Tapestry (for which she also the Tapestry Recovered mix).

But in those the division of labour was still entrenched: songwriters wrote the songs, singers sang them. Funny enough, it was those guys whom King had inspired — Lennon-McCartney, Brian Wilson — and those whose work opened the way for auteur albums like Tapestry — Dylan et al — who were at the spearhead which broke down that old way of doing things.

In any case, King was not interested in being a pop star. During the Brill Building days, her vision of life was to be a mother in the suburbs. And after Tapestry, she was drawn to the rural life in Idaho (not undramatically; her lifestory had its share of commotion). So here we have the reluctant music legend who resides in music history as one of pop’s greatest treasures

As on Volume 1, the bulk of the songs here were written with Gerry Goffin (tracks 1-3,6-7,10-11,14-24). Others were written with Toni Stern (4 and 8), and the rest were all Carole on her own (5,9, 12-13). The track by The Isley Brothers incorporates their own Keep On Walkin’. There are more covers of Carole King songs on the Brill Building Covered mix.

So, here’s the first lot of Carole King compositions. The lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-locomotioned covers and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Little Eva – Some Kind-A Wonderful (1962)
2. The Chiffons – One Fine Day (1963)
3. The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday (1967)
4. The City – Now That Everything’s Been Said (1968)
5. Johnny Rivers – So Far Away (1971)
6. Bobby Womack – Natural Man (1973)
7. Isaac Hayes – Hey Girl (1986)
8. The Isley Brothers – Sweet Season/Keep On Walkin’ (1972)
9. Rita Coolidge – Walk On In (1981)
10. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Never Born To Follow (1996)
11. Nick Lowe – Halfway To Paradise (1977)
12. Jo Mama – Smack Water Jack (1971)
13. Anne Murray – Beautiful (1972)
14. Roberta Flack – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1971)
15. Turley Richards – Child Of Mine (1971)
16. Paul Davis – When My Little Girl Is Smiling (1971)
17. Sandie Shaw – The Right To Cry (1969)
18. Dusty Springfield – No Easy Way Down (1969)
19. Percy Sledge – So Much Love (1966)
20. The Drifters – At The Club (1965)
21. Betty Everett – I Can’t Hear You (1964)
22. Everly Brothers – Chains (1962)
23. The Righteous Brothers – Just Once In My Life (1965)
24. Carole King – Take Good Care Of My Baby (1961)
BONUS TRACK:
Gene McDaniels – Point Of No Return (1962)
Crusaders – So Far Away (live) (1981)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

More Songbooks
More Cover Mixes
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Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Life in Vinyl 1988

April 21st, 2022 2 comments

 

In the 1980s, South Africa suffered shit like apartheid — we didn’t know it yet, but by 1988 that cockroach was soon about to turn on its back and die — but it also had sunshine and a great phenomenon called record libraries. These shops, the most famous chain of these called Disque, were like record stores, except there you could hire records, both latest releases and a great selection of old LPs cutting across genres.

It was a great way of test-driving albums: like them, and buy them in a proper record shop; don’t like them, don’t buy them — and maybe tape them (they might grow on you). Apart from test-driving new releases, these record libraries provided fantastic ways of getting into older music — I remember getting into acts like Little Feat and Van Morrison by that route as a teenager in 1982/83 — or exploring genres I wasn’t familiar with.

Obviously, the record companies and shops didn’t like these places. Hometaping was killing music, as we can see by the absence of music today. I murderously home-taped, but I bought more records because of these shops than I might have otherwise. In 1989 they were finally declared illegal.

The record libraries may explain my genre-hopping ways, which is quite evident on this mix of records I bought in 1988. There’s the indie stylings of Bjork on The Sugarcubes’ hit, the protest folk of Tracy Chapman, the stadium rock of U2 and INXS, the soul music of the unjustly non-famous UK singer Keni Stevens and his compatriot Mica Paris. The mix could also have included jazz fusion and dance tracks.

There are some LPs from this set I longer own: they were lost (The Primitives), weeded out (The Church, U2), or warped in the sun (Will Downing). Some I’d happily listen to if they came on, others I’d not bother (Hothouse Flowers, Tanita Tikaram). A few I still play on occasion: Everything But The Girl’s gorgeous Idlewind, Tracy Chapman’s stunning eponymous debut album, Keni Stevens’ You, and The Pogues’ If I Should Fall From Grace With God.

I think 1988 was the last year when I bought new-release LPs at such a rate and in such diversity. 1989 was a pretty bad year for music, and in 1990 I bought mostly records to play in my role as party DJ. By 1991 vinyl was being phased out in South Africa, and I never fell in love with CDs.

I am adding a bunch of surprise bonus tracks to this lot. So, here is the vibe round my place 34 years ago!

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

1. The Primitives – Crash
2. Aztec Camera – Somewhere In My Heart
3. Prefab Sprout – Cars And Girls
4. The Sugarcubes – Birthday
5. The Housemartins – There Is Always Something There To Remind Me
6. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Colours
7. The Pogues – Streets Of Sorrow/Birmingham Six
8. The Church – Under The Milky Way
9. Hothouse Flowers – Don’t Go
10. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
11. Everything But The Girl – Love Is Here Where I Live
12. Sade – Love Is Stronger Than Pride
13. Keni Stevens – 24-7-365
14. Will Downing – A Love Supreme
15. Mica Paris – My One Temptation
16. Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution
17. Fairground Attraction – Find My Love
18. Tanita Tikaram – Good Tradition
19. Toto – Pamela
20. U2 – Angel Of Harlem

GET IT! or HERE!

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 12

April 12th, 2022 2 comments

 

 

I have previously expressed my disdain for the term “yacht rock” to describe… well, the kind of music featured in the Not Feeling Guilty series, whose name itself is a play on another hated phrase, “guilty pleasures”. But this 12th volume does sound like sunshine and wind in your hair (if you have any). Like you might experience on a yacht.

Though, since most of us are not oligarchs, the sun and wind effect might be more likely achieved by driving in an open-top car. But since most of us aren’t rich, we may need to make do with riding on a bicycle on a sunny day while playing this mix. But that, in turn, creates health-and-safety problems: firstly, you ought to wear helmet on your hair, and secondly you should be alert to traffic noises, unadulterated by the great music on this collection. Either way, the term yacht rock is crap, even if the music it describes evokes beautiful summer days and sweet summer nights.

On this collection we meet again several acts that featured on previous mixes, and a number which enter the series at this stage. One of these in an English act from Manchester, Sad Café. The featured song, Every Day Hurts, was a UK #3 hit in 1979. Lead singer Paul Young (not that one) later became co-lead singer with Paul Carrack in Michael + The Mechanics. Carrack, in turn, had been the lead singer of Ace, another English band which featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1 and Vol. 5.

The lead singer of The Doobie Brothers makes a solo appearance here. Having left the band in 1982, Patrick Simmons had a bit of a hit with the disco track So Wrong (and it was). The featured track, Why You Givin’ Up, is from the same album, Arcade. You can almost hear Michael McDonald in that song (there is another song on which you actually do hear McDonald, but more on that later).

Also not exactly obscure, Felix Cavaliere makes his first appearance here. The former singer and organist of the Young Rascals had a successful soft-rock period, scoring a hit in 1980 with Only A Lonely Heart Sees, which is on my Not Feeling Guilty shortlist, but I doubt it will ever feature. The far superior featured track is from 1975.

That’s the same year The Rhinestones issues their eponymous album which includes the happiness-inducing One Time Love. The group was led by Kal David (formerly of Illinois Speed Press) and Harvey Brooks (Electric Flag) and for their first few excellent albums went by the name of The Fabulous Rhinestones. Their R&B-flavoured rock was popular with the critics but that didn’t translate to commercial success. For their last album in 1975, without founding member Marty Gebb (formerly of The Buckinghams) as a permanent member, they dropped the “Fabulous” from their name.  We encounter Kal David a few songs and five years later, doing backing vocals on Robbie Dupree’s It’s Too Late.

It’s a pity Homi & Jarvis released only one album. On their one effort, in 1983, they were backed by some fusion heavyweights, including Marcus Miller, Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour. English-born Amanda Homi, who was of Indian descent, had a lovely voice with an impressive range, reminiscent of Deniece Williams. It was well-complemented by the soft-rock stylings of Brian Jarvis. Homi never achieved commercial success, but has made a career of picking up musical traditions from countries as various as Greece, Jamaica and Senegal.

South Africa’s Karl Kilkillus featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4 with the excellent Another Shore. Here is the rare flip-side. At the time Kikillus was a popular radio DJ, and he’d go on to become a popular TV presenter of South Africa’s only pop videos show in the 1980s. To my knowledge, he recorded nothing else.

The mix closes with a track from 1980 by the Canadian band Straight Lines. They went on to have a big hit in 1982 with the ballad Letting Go. But when the follow-up singles flopped, the band split later that year. By the time Straight Lines won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) for Letting Go in 1983, they no longer were together. Everybody Wants To Be A Star — but they weren’t.

As promised when I posted the Carole Bayer Sager Songbook, here’s her original of It’s The Falling In Love, which is better known in Michael Jackson’s version on Off The Wall. Carole Bayer Sager’s version, which is gloriously arranged, features Michael McDonald on backing vocals.

Bayer Sager co-wrote a few tracks on the album from which Melissa Manchester’s Just Too Many People comes from, titled Melissa, but this featured track was written by Manchester united with producer Vini Poncia. Another track on that album is Party People, with The Rhinestones on backing vocals (they also recorded it on their album).

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R for that retro CD player in the car you’ll cruise down the summer roads as you play this superb mix. Home-sailed covers are included, as well as an illustrated PDF with all the bumph above. PW in comments.

1. The Rhinestones – One Time Love (1975)
2. Felix Cavaliere – Never Felt Love Before (1975)
3. Rita Coolidge – You (1978)
4. Heat – Whatever It Is (1980)
5. Average White Band – For You, For Love (1980)
6. Robbie Dupree – It’s A Feeling (1980)
7. Brooklyn Dreams – Fallin’ In Love (1980)
8. David Roberts – Never Gonna Let You Go (1982)
9. Karl Kikillus – Fallen Angel (1983)
10. Patrick Simmons – Why You Givin’ Up (1983)
11. Homi & Jarvis – I’m In Love Again (1983)
12. Carole Bayer Sager – It’s The Falling In Love (1978)
13. Terence Boylan – Shake It (1977)
14. Pages – If I Saw You Again (1978)
15. Sad Café – Every Day Hurts (1979)
16. Bill Champlin – Gotta Get Back To Love (1981)
17. Melissa Manchester – Just Too Many People (1975)
18. America – You Could’ve Been The One (1980)
19. Exile – Take Me Down (1980)
20. Straight Lines – Everybody Wants To Be A Star (1980)

GET IT! or HERE!

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

Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

April 1st, 2022 12 comments

Angels cover

Recently I stumbled on this mix from 2015, ad found I enjoyed it very much. And with Easter approaching, the subject matter of angels seems to fit. Originally this mix was part of ther SAVED! series, even though this lot of songs is not particularly riffing on religious themes, even though angels are very much part of religious (and pagan) dogma.

So this mix of songs addresses the subject of angels from different perspectives: as those ethereal beings with wings, of course, but also as goodhearted people, love interests and metaphors. Unlike the angels in heavy metal, who must either bleed or fall or are evil, those represented here mostly are doing saving through acts of love — and that also suits the theme of Easter.

And I managed to cobble together this mix without resort to Robbie Williams, U2, The Eurythmics or Sarah MacLachlan, nor songs about one-night stands. I even had to leave some good songs out. What is remarkable, though, is that three songs about angels here were released posthumously: those by Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.

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

1. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
2. The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels (1990)
3. Delbert McClinton – Sending Me Angels (1997)
4. Aretha Franklin – Angel (1973)
5. Abba – Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (1981)
6. Martina McBride – Wild Angels (1995)
7. Glen Campbell – Angel Dream (2008)
8. Rilo Kiley – The Angels Hung Around (2007)
9. Jordan Trotter – Angels By My Side (2008)
10. Mindy Smith – Angel Doves (2004)
11. Cry Cry Cry – Speaking With The Angel (1998)
12. Jack Johnson – Angel (2008)
13. Chris Rea – God Gave Me An Angel (2000)
14. David Sylvian – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels (1987)
15. Emmylou Harris – Angel Band (1987)
16. Bob Dylan – Three Angels (1970)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Hall Of Angels (2009)
18. The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Angel Band (1955)
19. Hank Williams – Angel Of Death (rel. 1954)
20. Edna Gallmon Cooke – Angels, Angels, Angels (c. 1950)
21. The Crew-Cuts – Angels In The Sky (1955)
22. Bobby Helms – You Are My Special Angel (1958)
23. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1959)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous SAVED! mixes

Categories: God Grooves, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Elton John & Bernie Taupin Songbook

March 24th, 2022 10 comments

 

Just a couple of hours ago as I write this, Elton John’s 1985 hit Nikita came on the car radio. I hadn’t heard that song for a long while, and I was grateful for that, in as far as I paid the wretched song’s absence in my life any attention. I dislike it now as much as I did when I first heard it in November 1985. And it’s not like I was anti-Elton back in 1985. I bought Act Of War, his duet with Millie Jackson, on 12” that summer, unheard. Which was a mistake. I also bought the follow-up to Nikita, a record called Wrap Her Up featuring the late Wham! bassist Deon Estus. That, too, has not aged well.

Some years later, Elton John had his first solo UK #1 with Sacrifice, a turgid number for the CD generation. Nothing the erstwhile Reg Dwight has produced since has impressed me, other than Hakuna Matata from The Lion King.

In fairness, the man produced some great songs in the 1980s, before he offended with Nikita. I’m Still Standing is a superb piece of songwriting, arrangement and vocal performance (plus, it had a great video). I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues was vintage Elton. And I did like Passengers, in the way of nursery-rhyme-pop. That was intended as an anti-apartheid song, though you had to be told it was to know. Perhaps it was Elton’s way of saying sorry for having helped legitimise apartheid by playing at Sun City in 1983. Which is a lot more than what Queen, The Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Millie Jackson, Status Quo or Rod Stewart did.

But very little of what Elton John produced in the 1980s comes close to the incredible run of songwriting genius which he and lyricist Bernie Taupin put together from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. And it is this run of genius this collection of covers of John/Taupin songs celebrates, by way of marking Elton John’s 75th birthday on March 25.

So, all of these songs are from the 1970s, except one bonus track: I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, performed by Major Schiffer & Majories Bundeswehr Showband — a band of the German army. It appeared on a 1985 album titled Tanzweltmeisterschaft (Dancing World Championship). It is surprisingly okay, with the vocals soulful and the arrangement competent, with a heartfelt sax solo. One might have expected a Bundeswehr Showband to go the easy listening route, maybe a bit like James Last, but with more oomp than oomph. Well, not so.

There are plenty of easy listening covers of Elton John’s 1970s tunes; none feature here. But some tracks just don’t have many good covers. Candle In The Wind, for example, is a song so Elton that it’s very difficult to re-interpret well. I suspect the present version, by Sandy Denny, is about the only good cover of the song. For Daniel, I had to go to France (alas, I knew of no good Spanish covers).

Bernie Taupin and Elton John in 1971. (Wikipedia/PD-PRE1978)

Some John/Taupin classics are missing altogether, such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. The former has already featured on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered set (though I do recycle two tracks from that collection here), so I didn’t recycle that version. And I didn’t expect to find a great cover of Crocodile Rock, the first Elton John song I loved, long before I even knew who the guy was. My older sister had the single, and I loved it as a seven-year-old (mainly the falsetto bits).

An unusual number of covers here are live versions: Neil Diamond reworks Rocket Man (superbly), Ben Folds does Tiny Dancer, Brandi Carlile does Sixty Years On with the Seattle philharmonic orchestra, Heart do the gorgeous Seasons, and George Michael eclipses Elton John in his stunning rendition of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me from Live Aid, guesting on Elton’s set. The latter is also far superior to the hit version from 1995. The Live Aid version invariably gives goosebumps (and how about that drummer?).

In the 1970s, much was made of the rivalry between Elton John and Rod Stewart; they more lately had a bigger feud about some slight by someone over something or other that was said. On his fine Gasoline Alley album, Rod covered Elton’s 1970 song Country Life, with Jack Reynolds (aka Harry) from the rock band Silver Metre on backing vocals. And then Rod borrowed a little bit of 1970’s The Greatest Discovery (covered here by The Lettermen) for his song The Killing Of Georgie.

One song here is not a cover: Snookeroo was written by John & Taupin for Ringo Starr, who in the US titled it No No Song. Elton John provides the count-in and plays the piano on the song.

Quite a few songs here may be unfamiliar to those who have followed Elton John’s career only casually. By my count, only ten of the featured 28 tracks were UK single releases. Elton John fans, I hope, will enjoy the interpretations of the lesser-known songs; and those who don’t may well be turned on to Elton John’s incredible run of great albums between 1970 and 1974 or 1975 (in my view, everything from 1970s eponymous album to at least 1975’s Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy).

As always, CD-R length, home-tinydancered covers, and the above in PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
2. George Michael – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (1985)
3. Ben Folds – Tiny Dancer (2002)
4. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Philadelphia Freedom (1991)
5. Billy Paul – Your Song (1972)
6. Walter Jackson – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (1977)
7. Latimore – Take Me To The Pilot (1973)
8. Bo Diddley – Bad Side Of The Moon (1971)
9. Al Kooper – Come Down In Time (1971)
10. Rod Stewart – Country Comfort (1970)
11. Marie Laforet – Daniel (1974)
12. Sandy Denny – Candle In The Wind (1977)
13. Square Set – Friends (1972)
14. Colin Blunstone – Planes (1976)
15. Neil Diamond – Rocket Man (1978)
16. Heart – Seasons (1995)
17. Mandy Moore – Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (2003)
18. Brandi Carlile – Sixty Years On (2011)
Bonus:
Lee Ann Womack – Honky Cat (2018)
Ringo Starr – Snookeroo (1974)
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77 – Where To Now St Peter (1976)
Kate Taylor – Ballad Of A Well Known Gun (1971)
Three Dog Night – Lady Samantha (1969)
The Letterman – The Greatest Discovery (1971)
Mary McCreary – Levon (1974)
Diana Ross – Harmony (1976)
Major Schiffer & Majories/Bundeswehr Showband – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (1985)
Solomon Burke – Three Psalms For Elton (1972)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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