Archive for the ‘Session Players’ Category

The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

May 21st, 2015 12 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

One could call session drummer Jim Keltner the fifth ex-Beatles Beatle: he drummed for John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, for all three in the studio and live on stage. He was in Lennon”s circle during the famous “lost weekend”, and partnered Ringo behind drums during Harrison”s Concert for Bangladesh.

Keltner might be best remembered for his association with three Beatles, but the list of artists with whom he has played is staggering. Apart from the artists featured on this mix and the second volume, those he drummed for on record include:

like Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Seals & Croft, Carl Tjader, Bonnie & Delaney, Leon Russell, Freddie King, Boots Randolph, Yoko Ono, Sergio Mendes, Don Everley, Earl Scruggs, Donovan, Andy Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Frankie Valli, Dion, Keith Moon, The Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Rick Springfield, Shankar Family, José Feliciano, Harry Chapin, Chuck Girard, Bette Middler, Mr Big, Ian McLagan, Neil Diamind, Bill Wyman, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Chi Coltrane, Lowell George, Carol Bayer Sager, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Jimmy Cliff, Melissa Manchester, Lalo Schifrin, Alice Cooper, Rickie Lee Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Roberta Flack, Leo Kottke, Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Don Henley, Irene Cara, Duane Eddy, Maria McKee, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, JD Souther, Aaron Neville, Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, Johnny Winter, Toto, Toni Childs, Marc Cohn, Lionel Richie, Nick Lowe, Aimee Mann, Mick Jagger, The Waterboys, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Al Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Chris Isaak, Buddy Guy, Traveling Wilburys, Jack Bruce, Crosby Still, Nash & Young, Rufus Wainwright, Boz Scaggs, Dan Fogelberg, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pink Floyd, Matthew Sweet, Ray Charles, Melissa Etheridge, The Charlatans, Lucinda Williams, The Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Ryan Adams, Robbie Robertson, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon, Cassandra Wilson, She & Him, Joseph Arthur, Michael Bublé, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples, Alexi Murdoch, John Mayer”¦

And that list isn”t even complete.

He played on classics such as Nilsson”s Without You and Ringo Starr”s Photograph, though he didn”t play on Bill Withers” Ain”t No Sunshine, as some people say. According to the man himself, he observed Al Jackson play drums on that song; Keltner did play on Better Off Dead, a song with just about the most devastating end to an album.

Keltner appeared on many albums which also featured past Collection subject Jim Gordon, and a few which also included work by Hal Blaine or Bernard Purdie (for links take a look at the end of this post).

On several records he played alongside saxophone session man Bobby Keys (another close Lost Weekend Lennon friend), who died last December, and who is the only non-drumming session man so far to have had a mix in this series. Of the tracks featured here, he and Keys play together on two: on BB King”s Ain”t Nobody Home and on Nilsson”s version of Many Rivers To Cross (arranged by John Lennon and with Ringo Starr co-drumming). On the Keys collection, Keltner also appeared on Carly Simon”s Night Owl and Martha Reeves” Storm In My Soul (Keltner also drums on Reeves” version of Dixie Highway on the Any Major Roads mix).

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His early interest was in jazz, and although his first outing as a session man was backing a pop group (Gary Lewis and the Playboys on She”s Just My Style), most of his early credited work was for jazz artists like Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader.

It was his involvement with Delaney & Bonnie and Leon Russell that broke him in the world of rock. First Joe Cocker, always astute in appointing session players, engaged him. Very soon almost everybody else did, from Booker T Jones to Carly Simon to BB King to Barbra Streisand “” the latter for her version of Lennon”s Mother.

While Keltner had played on several covers of Lennon”s Beatles songs, he didn”t drum for Lennon until the Imagine LP in 1971 (on Jealous Guy and I Don”t Wanna Be A Soldier). On Lennon”s next three albums of original material (Mind Games, Some Time In New York and Walls And Bridges), Keltner did all the drumming duties, as he did on several Yoko Ono outings. He also played drums in the 1975 New York concert which was released a few years after Lennon”s death.

As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. John Lennon – #9 Dream (1975)
2. Art Garfunkel – Break Away (1975)
3. Jackson Browne – Ready Or Not (1973)
4. Rita Coolidge – That Man Is My Weakness (1971)
5. Bobby Womack – Superstar (1975)
6. Bob Dylan – Knockin” On Heaven”s Door (1973)
7. Harry Nilsson – Many Rivers To Cross (1974)
8. Dave Mason – If You”ve Got Love (1973)
9. Jim Price – You Got The Power (1971)
10. Carly Simon – Waited So Long (1972)
11. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
12. Steely Dan – Josie (1977)
13. Roger Tillison – Old Cracked Lookin Glass (1971)
14. BB King – Ain”t Nobody Home (1971)
15. Bobby Lester – Freedom (1972)
16. Bill Withers – Better Off Dead (1971)
17. Claudia Lennear – Goin” Down (1973)
18. Hoyt Axton – Good Lookin” Child (1974)
19. Ringo Starr – Goodnight Vienna (1974)
20. George Harrison – Try Some Buy Some (1973)
21. Warren Zevon – Things To Do In Denver When You”re Dead (1991)
22. Roy Orbison – She”s A Mystery To Me (1989)


Previous session musicians” collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection

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The Bobby Graham Collection

April 23rd, 2015 13 comments

Bobby Graham Collection

Some session drummers build up a colossal body of work over many years of tireless slog, but English drummer Bobby Graham did so in the space of three or so years before going away to do his own thing. In that time he drummed on pop classics such as You Really Got Me, Downtown, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Gloria, The Sun Ain”t Gonna Shine Anymore, Tossin” And Turnin”, I Only Want To Be With You, Green Green Grass Of Home and loads more.

As part of the British equivalent of The Wrecking Crew “” which also included the likes of Jimmy Page (yes, that one), Big Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick, Andy White “” Graham played on 13 UK chart-toppers and 40 more Top 5 hits, all within a couple of years of one another. He claimed to have played on 15,000 tracks “” many of those presumably in the genre that was his first love, jazz “” and nobody has challenged that number. It is not without cause that the producer Shel Talmy described Graham as “the greatest drummer the UK has ever produced”.

His reputation, built up as part of producer Joe Meek”s set-up, was such that by 1962 Brian Epstein reportedly asked Graham to replace Pete Best in The Beatles, probably without John, Paul and George”s knowledge. The North Londoner, then just 22, turned Epstein down since he was a member of a group that was more famous than The Beatles, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers.

label_collection_2As a session drummer, Graham took over Mick Avery”s part when The Kinks recorded their double whammy of 1964 hits, You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. (Avery played the tambourine.) His drumming at the end of Them”s Gloria “” Morrison was not happy about the presence of session musicians “” was something quite new.

Graham might also have played on the Dave Clark Five”s Glad All Over, although Clark denied that. According to Graham, Clark didn”t want to produce and drum at the same time, and so roped in Graham, telling him to keep his drumming simple, so that Clark could reproduce it in concerts.

After 1966, Graham first worked in France, without great success, and then moved to the Netherlands, where he stayed until 1971. By then he had acquired a debilitating alcohol addiction. Having beaten that, he produced Christian music bands, then opened a North London record shop named The Trading Post, produced training videos and gigged in a jazz band. He died on 14 September 2009 of stomach cancer, aged 69.

Read more about Bobby Graham.

label_collection_1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes banged-together covers. PW in comments.

1. The Outlaws/Joe Meek – Crazy Drums (1961)
2. The Ivy League – Tossin’ and Turnin’ (1965)
3. Herman’s Hermits – Silhouettes (1965)
4. The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
5. Petula Clark – I Know A Place (1965)
6. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1966)
7. Francoise Hardy – Je n’attends plus personne (1966)
8. Lulu – Here Comes The Night (1964)
9. Them – Gloria (1964)
10. The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night (1964)
11. Jimmy Page – She Just Satisfies (1965)
12. The First Gear – A Certain Girl (1964)
13. The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down (1964)
14. The Sneekers – Bald Headed Woman (1964)
15. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1964)
16. Rod Stewart – Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (1964)
17. Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Candy Man (1964)
18. Joe Cocker – I’ll Cry Instead (1964)
19. Chad & Jeremy – Yesterday’s Gone (1963)
20. Marianne Faithfull – Come And Stay With Me (1965)
21. The Fortunes – Here It Comes Again (1965)
22. Dave Berry – The Crying Game(1964)
23. David & Jonathan – Lovers Of The World Unite (1966)
24. The John Barry Seven – Zulu Stamp (1964)
25. Antoinette – Jenny Let Him Go (1964)
26. Brenda Lee – What’d I Say (1964)
27. Adriene Poster – Shang A Doo Lang (1965)
28. The Bachelors – No Arms Can Ever Hold You (1964)
29. The Brook Brothers – Trouble Is My Middle Name (1963)
30. Billy Fury – In Summer (1963)
31. Bobby Graham – Zoom Widge And Wag  (1965)


Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection

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The Bobby Keys Collection

December 8th, 2014 8 comments

Bobby Keys Collection

Saxophonist Bobby Keys, who died on 2 December just a couple of weeks short of his 71st birthday, may be best remembered for his contributions with the Rolling Stones, but he also appeared on hundreds of records by others, including some of the biggest names in rock.

His death came a day before that of Ian McLagan, the keyboard player of the Small Faces, with whom Keys collaborated on Faces records, on McLagan solo LPS, and on occasion with both serving on session duty on records by others.

Keys also crossed paths in the studio with the two Wrecking Crew drummers featured in this series, Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon, especially the latter.

Bobby Keys was born on 18 December 1943 in Slaton, Texas, and began his music career as a teenager, hanging out with neighbour Buddy Holly and touring with the likes of Bobby Vee and Little Eva. He claimed to have played the saxophone solo on Elvis” Return To Sender, but that story is unlikely. Certainly, RCA has no record of his participation (with that in mind this mix includes only songs that specifically credit Keys).

bobby keys gallery

In the 1960s he worked in the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, where some of the greatest soul was produced. It”s also where the Rolling Stones recorded their Sticky Fingers album in 1970, which features Keys on Brown Sugar (recorded in one take), Bitch, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and I Got The Blues. The year before he made his debut for the Stones on Live With Me, from Let It Bleed.

He had first met the band in 1964, but it was an encounter with Mick Jagger at a Delaney and Bonnie session in the late 1960s that initiated the long relationship with the band, with whom he”d be touring till the end of his life.

He got on well with the Stones personally; Keef and he were born on the same day and had a close bond, which included meeting rock & roll clichés like throwing TV”s out of hotel windows. This month Richards called Keys “greatest pal in the world”¦ We were thick as thieves.” Read his appreciation HERE.

Jagger and Keys also had a close personal friendship. But in the mid-“˜70s Keys was fired from the Stones backing band for missing gigs after Richards found him with a bathtub filled with Dom Perignon champagne, a French lady of uncertain virtue and a stash of hash. Still, he maintained a loose relationship with the Stones over the years until he rejoined their roster of backing players in 1982. He toured with them on every tour  until this year.

Keys was also close to the ex-Beatles, especially with John Lennon, in whose famous “lost weekend” Keys played his partying part, having previously played with the Plastic Ono Band on tracks like Power To The People. He also played for Ringo Starr (on whose Ring O” label he released the funky Gimmie The Key) and George Harrison.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments (you are invited to leave a comment there).

1. Bobby Keys – Gimmie The Key (1975)
2. Martha Reeves – Storm In My Soul (1974)
3. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (1971)
4. Warren Zevon – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (1976)
5. Ringo Starr – Photograph (1973)
6. Barbra Streisand – Space Captain (1971)
7. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
8. Graham Nash – There’s Only One (1971)
9. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
10. Delaney & Bonnie – When The Battle Is Over (1969)
11. Faces – Had Me A Real Good Time (1970)
12. Humble Pie – Big George (1971)
13. John Lennon – Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (1975)
14. Harry Nilsson – Down (1971)
15. Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane – Tonight’s Number (1976)
16. Keith Moon – Back Door Sally (1975)
17. Third World War – Working Class Man (1971)
18. B.B.King – Caldonia (1971)
19. Eric Clapton – Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (1971)
20. Audience – Seven Sore Bruises (1972)
21. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)



Previous session musicians’ collection (all drummers, so far):
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2

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The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2

May 29th, 2014 8 comments

Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2

This is the second part of the Hal Blaine collection.

Blaine obviously was a polished and imaginative drummer. He appeared on countless songs we now regard as classics, from The Ronettes” “Be My Baby” to Sonny & Cher”s “I Got You, Babe” to The Mamas and the Papas” “California Dreaming” and The Byrds” “Mr Tambourine Man” to The Association”s “Never My Love” to The Supremes” “The Happening” to Dean Martin”s “Everybody Loves Somebody” and the two Sinatras” “Something Stupid” to the Carpenters” “Close To You” to Neil Diamond”s “Song Sung Blue” to Barbra Streisand”s “The Way We Were” and so on. He drummed for artists as diverse as Count Basie, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Steely Dan and, er, The Partridge Family.


Wrecking the Partridge Crew: (from left) Larry Knechtel, Tracy Partridge, Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Joe Osborne and Mike Melvoin.

Wrecking the Partridge Crew: (from left) Larry Knechtel, Tracy Partridge, Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Joe Osborne and Mike Melvoin.


Blaine was also an innovator in percussive sound effects. That big banging sound in Simon & Garfunkel”s “The Boxer”, after the “ley-la-ley”, is Blaine sitting at the bottom of an elevator shaft hitting a snare drum (a better story has it that it”s the sound of a refrigerator landing at the bottom the elevator shaft). To “Bridge Over Troubled Water” “” as much the opus of Wrecking Crew keyboard man Larry Knechtel as it is for Art Garfunkel “” Blaine contributed not only the beautifully judged drums but also the distant percussion sounds by slamming snow chains on to the cement floor of a microphone storage room (coming in at 3:05).

On Dean Martin”s “Houston”, featured on Volume 1, Blaine spontaneously used a glass ashtray, its content of old cigarette butts hurriedly emptied, for a drum to create the sound of a hammer hitting an anvil.

Herb Alpert”s “A Taste Of Honey” was saved by the drummer, at least in Blaine”s version. Apparently the recording just didn”t want to come right until Blaine”s bass drum beats after the slow intro signaled the introduction of the horns.

Incidentally, Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco’s son Denny has produced an excellent documentary on the session collective his father was part of. It was completed, but could not be released because there were not enough funds for the licensing of the music. A appeal was successful, so it can now be seen on very limited release. More money is needed for a DVD release; US citizens can make tax-deductable contributions. Read more about the film and upcoming screenings, and how to make a donation or buy merchandise HERE.


cover gallery

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

1. Meat Loaf – Whatever Happened To Saturday Night (1974)
2. Mama Cass – It’s Getting Better (1969)
3. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – A Taste Of Honey (1965)
4. Jackie Lomax – Baby You’re A Lover (1969)
5. Harpers Bizarre – Come To The Sunshine (1967)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Crystals – He’s Sure The Boy I Love (1962)
8. Sam Cooke – Another Saturday Night (1963)
9. Connie Francis – Where The Boys Are (1960)
10. Lorne Greene – Ringo (1964)
11. Mason Williams – Baroque-A-Nova (1968)
12. The Monkees – A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (1967)
13. Paul Revere & the Raiders – Hungry (1965)
14. Love – Andmoreagain (1968)
15. Neil Diamond – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (1970)
16. America – Don’t Cross The River (1975)
17. Harry Nilsson – Foolish Clock (1977)
18. Steely Dan – Any World (That I’m Welcome To) (1975)
19. Tanya Tucker – Lizzie & The Rainman (1975)
20. Rosanne Cash – Baby, Better Start Turnin’ Em Down (1979)
21. Leonard Cohen & Ronee Blakley – True Love Leaves No Traces (1977)
22. Albert Hammond – Down By The River (1975)
23. Captain & Tenille – Honey Come Love Me (1975)
24. Ray Charles – A Girl I Used To Know (1966)
25. Gerry Mulligan – The Lonely Night (1965)


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Previous drummer collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1

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The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1

April 24th, 2014 24 comments

Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1

In the past few months we”ve encountered great session drummers and the songs they played on: Bernard Purdie, Ricky Lawson and Jim Gordon (see links at the end of the post). The godfather of all session drummers, by force of the number of classic hits he played on, probably is Hal Blaine. Bruce Gary, the late drummer of “70s band The Knack, memorably said that he was disappointed to learn his 10 favourite drummers were all Hal Blaine.

You”ll have heard Blaine on at least 40 number one hits (some of which are featured on this and the upcoming second mix), and he appeared on more than 150 top ten hits (ditto). By his own estimate, he has played on more than 35,000 songs, scores and jingles. Blaine also holds a special record. He appeared on six consecutive Grammy Records of the Year, from 1966-71: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass” “A Taste of Honey”; Frank Sinatra”s “Strangers in the Night”; The 5th Dimension”s “Up, Up and Away”; Simon & Garfunkel”s Mrs. Robinson”; The 5th Dimension”s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”; and Simon & Garfunkel”s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

Blaine, it is said, gave the collective of LA-based session musicians the name The Wrecking Crew, though bass guitarist Carol Kaye disputes this, or that the collective was ever even known by the name. The Wrecking Crew had other great drummers in the already featured Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner (favourite drummer of both Lennon and Dylan) and the very great Earl Palmer, but Blaine”s CV towers above them all.

Born Harold Belsky in 1929 into modest circumstances in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, Blaine learnt his craft from watching great jazz drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich performing live. Surviving a fire in a circus in Hartford at the age of 15, and tending to its victims, propelled young Hal to pursue his great dream: to become a musician. Soon after the fire, the Belsky family moved to California. While the parents stayed in Santa Monica, Hal moved in with his sister in San Bernardino. There, he formed a band with high school buddies, playing his first gigs. As a professional he would musically return to San Bernardino by way of a hit song he played on: Jimmy Webb wrote “Up, Up And Away” about a balloon ride he took in that town.

At the age of 19, Blaine became a professional drummer. That is, he did so as a soldier, serving two years in Korea in an army band. Coming home, he made the most of the G.I. Bill, which subsidised ex-soldiers” further education, and enrolled in the Roy C. Knapp School of Percussion in Chicago, where he learnt the technical skills of drumming as well as to read music “” a most useful skill for a drummer who wanted to play as part of an arranged assemble.

After graduation he played on Chicago”s club circuit before returning to California in 1957, where he joined a respected jazz combo, the Carol Simpson Quartet. This engagement led to a big break: he was asked to join the band of teen idol Tommy Sands, as drummer and road manager. He stayed with Sands for three years, gaining much experience both on the road and in the studio. Hanging around the Capitol studios led to recording gigs with the likes of Connie Francis (he played on her hit “Where The Boys Are”) and Patti Page.

The next big break came in 1961: playing on Elvis Presley”s “Can”t Help Falling in Love”. He”d go on to play on Elvis” records throughout the 1960s. You can see him drumming behind Elvis in the marvellous clip of “I Don”t Wanna Be Tied” from Girls! Girls! Girls!.

Blaine and colleagues during a Spector session.

Blaine and colleagues during a Spector session.

Soon Blaine became a key component in the development of Phil Spector”s Wall of Sound. Few drum beats have been as influential and instantly recognisable as those Blaine played to open The Ronettes” “Be My Baby”. It was one of those happy accidents: Blaine says he actually played the wrong beat at the beginning, and just stuck with it throughout the recording. He also played on Spector classics such as The Crystals” “He”s A Rebel” (with Darlene Love uncredited on vocals), The Ronettes” debut hit, “Walking In The Rain”, and the greatest Christmas pop album of all time, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector.

From Spector”s studios, Blaine moved on to The Beach Boys, who had always drawn from Wrecking Crew players. One of them, guitarist Glen Campbell, even joined them as a temporary member on tour.. Blaine”s first record with them was “Little Deuce Coupe” in 1963, giving Dennis Wilson more free time for surfing. Blaine played on all but three tracks on Pet Sounds “” the title track, “Here Today,” and “I”m Waiting For The Day” on which young Jim Gordon got his break “” as well as on hits such as “Good Vibrations”. He also drummed for Beach Boys” soundalikes and Brian Wilson pals Jan & Dean, including on their classic hits “Surf City” and the eerily prophetic “Dead Man”s Curve” (Jan Berry was seriously hurt in a car crash, not far from the actual Dead Man’s Curve, in 1966).

In between, Blaine and other members of the Wrecking Crew, served as the house band at the famous T.A.M.I. Show, backing many of the acts appearing on the bill of the 1964 concert that was turned into one of the great concert films (though he didn”t back the Rolling Stones nor James Brown). Blaine and fellow collective members also played for Elvis on his 1968 “comeback” TV special.

Blaine”s incredible run of hits kept coming through the 1960s and early “70s. The last big hits, in 1975/76, were Captain & Tenille”s “Love Will Keep Us Together” (which it did, until recently), John Denver”s “I”m Sorry” and Diana Ross” “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?”.

As gigs dried up for the Wrecking Crew, Blaine kept going doing unglamorous work, such as playing on ad jingles. But he was never a forgotten man. In 2000 he (and Earl Palmer) were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

cover gallery

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

1. Nancy Sinatra – Drummer Man (1969)
2. The Mamas & The Papas – I Saw Her Again Last Night (1966)
3. Simon & Garfunkel – A Hazy Shade of Winter (1968)
4. P.F. Sloan – From A Distance (1966)
5. The 5th Dimension – Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)
6. The Association – Windy (1967)
7. Sonny & Cher – The Beat Goes On (1967)
8. The Grass Roots – Midnight Confessions (1967)
9. Barry McGuire – Eve Of Destruction (1965)
10. Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice (1966)
11. Jan & Dean – Dead Man’s Curve (1964)
12. The Ronettes – Be My Baby (1963)
13. The Supremes – The Happening (1967)
14. Duke Baxter – I Ain’t No School Boy (1969)
15. Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High (1966)
16. Thelma Houston – I Just Gotta Be Me (1969)
17. Dusty Springfield – The Other Side Of Life (1973)
18. Carpenters – Goodbye To Love (1972)
19. Partridge Family – Brown Eyes (1971)
20. Spanky And Our Gang – Like To Get To Know You (1967)
21. Johnny Rivers – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1966)
22. Bobby Darin – Don’t Make Promises (1966)
23. Dean Martin – Houston (1965)
24. Petula Clark – My Love (1965)
25. Elvis Presley – Bossa Nova Baby (1963)
26. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In) (1968)
27. T Bones – No Matter What Shape (My Stomach Is In) (1966)


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Previous drummer collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2

March 13th, 2014 9 comments


In the first post for The Jim Gordon Collection we followed the great Wrecking Crew drummer”s path from California drumming prodigy to his tour with the Everly Brothers and breakthrough on the Beach Boys” Pet Sounds to his great contribution to Clapton”s “Layla” via the piano coda.

By the early 1970s, Jim Gordon was a sought-after drummer. His exceptional talent aside, he was a reliable professional. He was also very likable and popular, to all appearances straight-laced and eternally sunny. The facade disguised an imbalanced psyche. Since childhood Gordon had heard voices. They tended to be benign, but in flashes they began to exhibit a dark side, especially when Gordon was drinking heavily and taking drugs, which he began to do at an increasing rate.

But few knew about the darkness. Everybody was puzzled when, during the recording of Joe Cocker”s Mad Dogs & Englishmen LP, Gordon punched his girlfriend, Rita Coolidge, leaving her with a black eye. She dumped Gordon immediately.

But that was an aberration. Gordon continued to contribute to great albums: Harry Nilsson”s Nilsson Schmilsson, Lennon”s Imagine, Traffic”s The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, Steely Dan”s Pretzel Logic, Jackson Browne”s The Pretender, and so on.


But things were changing. As the 1970s hit their home stretch, session drummers were beginning to be displaced by new-fangled electronic devices. And Gordon”s inner demons started to manifest themselves more loudly, especially in concert with LSD and heroin, both of which were steady companions of Gordon”s journey through the “70s, and speedballs, a nasty mixture of heroin and cocaine.

His behaviour became, as one might expect, increasingly erratic. The combination of mental illness and crazy drug abuse had already cost him two marriages. Now it began to kill his career. An invitation to join Bob Dylan on tour fizzled out, jobs became rare, and his impulse to drum dissipated. Gordon knew he had a problem. He repeatedly sought psychiatric help and intervention foor his abuse of drugs and alcohol. It didn”t help. The voices had taken over and were destroying his life. Apparently the loudest of these voices in the head was that of his mother, Osa Gordon.

On 3 June 1983 a psychotic Jim Gordon drove to his 72-year-old-mother”s home, rang the doorbell, pushed her inside the house and bludgeoned her to death with a hammer and a knife. The next day, when police came to Gordon”s home to inform him of the killing, he tearfully confessed.

Jim_GordonThe 1984 trial accepted the diagnosis that Gordon had acute schizophrenia, but due to a California law his lawyers could not enter an insanity plea. Gordon was found guilty of second-degree murder.

In 1994 Gordon told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his memories of the killing: “When I remember the crime, it”s kind of like a dream. I can remember going through what happened in that space and time, and it seems kind of detached, like I was going through it on some other plane. It didn”t seem real.”

Jim Gordon was denied parole in 2013 and remains interred at a psychiatric prison in California as “a danger to society if released from prison”, owing to what the court papers described as his resistance to court-ordered medication and counselling. His next chance for freedom is in 2018.

As I said in part 1, this a profoundly tragic story: for Jim Gordon, certainly for Mrs Gordon, for their family and friends, and for music”¦

Read Kent Hartmann”s excellent The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll”s Best-kept Secret (2012) for more about Jim Gordon and other greats from the session musician collective.

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

1. Albert Hammond – The Free Electric Band (1973)
2. B.W. Stevenson – Shambala (1973)
3. Gordon Lightfoot – Carefree Highway (1974)
4. Jackson Browne – Here Come Those Tears (1976)
5. Carly Simon – We Have No Secrets (1972)
6. Roger McGuinn – Lost My Driving Wheel (1973)
7. Derek and the Dominos – Bell Bottom Blues (1970)
8. Hall & Oates – Sara Smile (1975)
9. Marlena Shaw – Rose Marie (Mon Cherie) (1975)
10. Maria Muldaur – Midnight At The Oasis (1973)
11. Stephen Bishop – Never Letting Go (1976)
12. Jos̩ Feliciano РHitchcock Railway (1968)
13. The Incredible Bongo Band – Apache (1973)
14. Alice Cooper – I’m The Coolest (1976)
15. Phil Ochs – Kansas City Bomber (1972)
16. Sammy Johns – Chevy Van (1975)
17. Donovan – Life Goes On (1973)
18. The Sunshine Company – Look, Here Comes The Sun (1968)
19. Seals & Crofts – See My Life (1969)
20. Johnny Rivers – Rockin’ Pneumonia (1972)
21. Mary McCreary – Soothe Me (1974)
22. Barbra Streisand – Beautiful (1971)


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Previous drummer collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1


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The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1

February 27th, 2014 16 comments


There are a few things you need to know about the great drummer Jim Gordon. He played on such classics as “You”re So Vain”, “Sara Smile”, Seals & Croft”s “Summer Breeze” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”. He wrote and played that gorgeous piano coda on “Layla”. And he bludgeoned his mother to death.

Gordon, who once ranked alongside such giants as Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer in the roster of drummers in the session musicians” collective known as the Wrecking Crew, is still a guest of the US government at the California Medical Facility, a psychiatric prison in Vacaville. The fact of his current domicile tips us off that Gordon”s is a profoundly tragic story, not just a sensational tale of a man gone bad.

Jim Gordon was born in 1945 and grew up in California”s San Fernando Valley. At the age of eight he built his first drum set, from trash cans. The kid showed such talent that his middle-class parents bought him a proper drum set and sprung for lessons by a professional drummer. By the time he was 15, Jim was already regarded by many as a prodigy. When he graduated from high school, UCLA offered him a musician scholarship. To the understandable consternation of his parents, he decided to hit the road instead, with the Everly Brothers on their 1963 tour of England.

Returning from the tour, Jim played for local bands and profited from small session jobs, like doing some percussion work for Sonny & Cher and the Everly Brothers. His talent was gradually attracting notice, until in March 1966 the big break came: Brian Wilson invited Jim, still only 20 years old, to play on the Beach Boys album that would become Pet Sounds (on which Hal Blaine, his mentor, did most of the stick work). Within a couple of years, Gordon ranked as an established member of the Wrecking Crew, playing with Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Byrds, José Feliciano, Mason Williams, and helping Linda Ronstadt get her break with the Stone Poneys.


As the 1960s turned into the 1970s, he played on some groundbreaking albums, such as George Harrison”s All Things Must Pass and Joe Cockers” Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Among his steady gigs was that of drumming for the Delaney & Bonnie & Friends scene. Among Delaney & Bonnie”s pals was Eric Clapton. When Clapton decided to form Derek and the Dominos, Gordon was appointed the drummer. Clapton had high regard for Gordon, considering him the greatest rock drummer in the world “” greater even than fellow Cream alumnus Ginger Baker! But it was as a pianist that Gordon made his most decisive contribution to the Clapton canon.

The sessions for “Layla” had gone very well. Clapton and Duane Allman had created a rock guitar anthem for the ages. But Clapton was at a loss as to how to end the thing. Then he heard Gordon doodling on the piano. He loved the chords the drummer was playing, and decided that this was exactly what was needed to play out the song. And he asked Gordon to play the piano part on the recording. And so the most famous bit of music one of the greatest drummers ever played was on the piano”¦

We”ll continue the story of Jim Gordon “” for which I have drawn especially from Kent Hartman”s excellent book The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll”s Best-kept Secret (2012) “” with Volume 2.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes coverts. PW in comments. Fans of Earth, Wind & Fire will be interested in the arrangement of the Thelma Houston track.

1. Mason Williams – Classical Gas (1968)
2. The Everly Brothers – Hello Amy (1964)
3. The Beach Boys – I’m Waiting For The Day (1966)
4. The Byrds – Wasn’t Born To Follow (1968)
5. The Dillards – Reason To Believe (1968)
6. The Stone Poneys – Different Drum (1967)
7. Mama Cass – California Earthquake (1970)
8. John Lennon – Power To The People (1971)
9. Leon Russell – Alcatraz (1971)
10. The Friends Of Distinction – Grazing in The Grass (1969)
11. Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker – Got To Get You Into My Life (1975)
12. Minnie Riperton – Simple Things (1975)
13. Bill LaBounty – Lie To Me (1975)
14. Steely Dan – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (1974)
15. Art Garfunkel – The Same Old Tears On A New Background (1975)
16. Joan Baez – Please Come To Boston (live, 1976)
17. Chi Coltrane – Let It Ride (1973)
18. The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band – Believe Me (1974)
19. Crosby Stills & Nash – Marrakesh Express (1969)
20. George Harrison – Let It Down (1970)
21. Traffic – Rock & Roll Stew (1971)
22. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends – They Call It Rock & Roll Music (1970)


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Previous drummer collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2

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The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2

January 30th, 2014 3 comments

Ricky Lawson Collection 2

A couple of weeks ago I posted the first part of the two-part anthology of the great session drummer Ricky Lawson, who died on 23 December 2013 at the age of 59. This is the second part.

Peruse this tracklisting, revisit that of the first mix, and then look at the list of artists for whom Lawson drummed, but do not feature in the mixes. The man had an impressive CV.

When you look at the tracklisting for this mix, you”ll see a cryptic clue. The gruff-voiced singer”s people has DMCA-happy handlers. Or, who knows, maybe he spends the heart of Saturday nights trawling through music blogs. He (or, indeed, she) who waits will hold on to see how it”s going to end.  I usually don”t post that singer”s songs, but in view of this being a tribute to the drummer on the featured song, I will make an exception.


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

1. The Jacksons – Things I Do for You (1978)
2. Bobbi Walker – Come Back Lover, Come Back (1982)
3. Lenny Williams – Changing (1984)
4. Roy Ayers – Vibrations (1976)
5. Tania Maria – Just Get Up (1986)
6. John Mellencamp – Walk Tall (2004)
7. Gruff Friend of the DMCA – $29.00 (1978)
8. Steely Dan – Gaslighting Abbie (2000)
9. Robben Ford – North Carolina (1979)
10. Merry Clayton – When The World Turns Blue (Melodies Of Love) (1980)
11. The Pointer Sisters – Where Did The Time Go (1980)
12. Dianne Reeves – Better Days (1987)
13. Phil Perry – Call Me (1991)
14. Faith Evans – Never Gonna Let You Go (1999)
15. Bill Cantos – Cool Drink Of Water (1995)
16. Toots Thielemans feat Lionel Richie – Nothing Else Matters (2000)
17. Ricky Lawson feat Bridgette Bryant – I Will Be Here Waiting For You (1997)


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The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1

January 9th, 2014 6 comments

Ricky Lawson Collection 1

When drummer Ricky Lawson died at the age of 59 just before Christmas, we lost one of those musicians whose work we have known, or even loved, but whose identity few have sought to establish “” the lot of many session musicians.

As this mix and a second volume will show, Lawson played on many great tracks. None was as popular and also widely despised as Whitney Houston”s version of “I Will Always Love You”. His single bass drum beat before Whitney launches into her hyperpyrotechnical wailing must rank as one of the most famous single drum beats in pop.

Lawson was born in Detroit in 1954. He was surrounded by music; his uncle, Paul Riser, was an arranger with Motown”s in-house band, the Funk Brothers. It was his uncle Paul who lent Ricky his first drum set. Ricky played in a school band and for an outfit called The Sons of Soul. His break came after being discovered by Stevie Wonder, through whom he landed a gig with Roy Ayers (he would drum for Stevie only many years later). This led to collaborations with another fusion great, George Duke, who also died in 2013.

ricky_lawsonHe played for and with many great musicians, many of whom feature on the two Ricky Lawson mixes. Among those who will not feature on these are Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Babyface, Earth Wind & Fire, Mariah Carey, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, India.Arie, Bette Midler, Harry Nilsson, Smokey Robinson, Patrice Rushen, Beyoncé, Dennis Edwards, Johnny Gill, Teena Maria, Rod Stewart, Toto, Regina Belle, George Benson, Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Howard Hewitt, The Emotions, DeBarge, Rockwell (on “Somebody’s Watching Me”), Boney James, Tevin Campbell, Bobby Brown, Gladys Knight, The Winans, Ramsey Lewis, and Lionel Richie. If you caught Michael Jackson on his Bad tour, you will have seen Lawson behind the drums.

Lawson was also a co-founder of the jazz-fusion band The Yellowjackets, with whom he won a Grammy in 1987 for the song “And You Know That”, which he also co-wrote.

His final conscious moments were spent, suitably, behind the drums. He was performing on stage in LA on 13 December when he suddenly became disoriented as he suffered a brain aneurysm. He was kept on life-support for ten days; on 23 December it was switched off.

By every account, Ricky Lawson was a thoroughly nice guy, a widely-liked, humble model professional.

Lawson is the second drummer whose work I have anthologised; the first was Bernard Purdie (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and soon I plan to feature another great session drummer with a most remarkable story.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-highhatted covers are included. PW in comments.
1. Sweet Cream – Pretty Little Black Boy (1978)
2. Al Jarreau – Teach Me Tonight (live, 1985)
3. Randy Crawford and Yellowjackets – Imagine (live, 1982)
4. Anita Baker – Soul Inspiration (1990)
5. Kevin Moore – Rainmaker (1980)
6. Phil Upchurch – When And If I Fall In Love (1982)
7. George Duke – Sugar Loaf Mountain (1979)
8. Flora Purim – Sarara (1979)
9. Maze feat Frankie Beverly – Back In Stride (1985)
10. Deniece Williams – Black Butterfly (1984)
11. Keith Washington – Kissing You (1991)
12. The Dramatics – It Ain’t Rainin’ (On Nobody’s House But Mine) (1980)
13. Sister Sledge – Smile (1983)
14. James Ingram – I Don’t Have The Heart (1989)
15. Michael McDonald – Ain`t No Mountain High Enough (2003)
16. France Gall – La minute de silence (1996)


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The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2

September 19th, 2013 6 comments

Purdie 2

The first mix of tracks featuring the great drummer Bernard Purdie concentrated on his contributions to soul and jazz; this mix is more eclectic. There is still great soul (even today, I still adore Cheryl Lynn”s “You”re The One”) and jazz (Herbie Mann, Gene Ammons), but there is also material that comes from a rock and folk tradition, by the likes of Robert Palmer, Steely Dan and Cat Stevens. And then there is a fantastic slice of gospel from Marion Williams, and a long-unreleased masterpiece by Dusty Springfield.

It’s worth mentioning that Purdie is doing drumming duties here for another fne drummer, Grady Tate, a man with a voice so wonderful that it is good that he did not limit himself to beating the skins.

Some have commented that they cautious about believing any claim Purdie makes about tracks he has played on, referring to Purdies” reported boast about having played overdubs on early Beatles tracks. He certainly did overdub Pete Best in the sessions for the Tony Sheridan album on which the pre-Ringo Beatles played. His claim to have played on early Beatles records requires verification.

On almost all songs on the two mixes Purdie has received official credit. Where possible, I have verified these on Discogs.

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

1. Cornell Dupree – Teasin’ (1974)
2. Joe Cocker – I Get Mad (1974)
3. Robert Palmer – How Much Fun (1974)
4. Steely Dan – Deacon Blues (1977)
5. Cat Stevens – 100 I Dream (1973)
6. Grady Tate – Sack Full Of Dreams (1969)
7. Dusty Springfield – In The Winter (1974)
8. Cheryl Lynn – You’re The One (1978)
9. Roy Ayers – Melody Maker (1978)
10. Herbie Mann – What’s Going On (1971)
11. Quincy Jones – Oh Happy Day (1969)
12. Letta Mbulu – Music Man (1976)
13. Joe Bataan – I’m No Stranger (1972)
14. Freddie McCoy – Funk Drops (1966)
15. Marion Williams – Wicked Messenger (1971)
16. Ronnie Foster – Sweet Revival (1973)
17. Hummingbird – Fire And Brimstone (1976)
18. Hall & Oates – I’m Just A Kid (Don’t Make Me Feel Like A Man) (1973)
19. Gene Ammons – Feeling Good (1969)
20. Mongo Santamaria – Baby What You Want Me To Do (1968)


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