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In Memoriam – August 2022

September 7th, 2022 6 comments

This In Memoriam drops a bit later than usual due to travel commitments. In as far as this unpaid gig is concerned, the travelling couldn’t have been worse timed (though it otherwise was a great trip), for August was harvest time for the Reaper, with ‘60s soul taking a hit in particular. Especially poignant: The Seekers’ lead singer Judith Durham died just ten days after Tom Springfield, the man who wrote all those hits that made her and The Seekers so famous in the 1960s. Tom’s life story is also quite something… Also worth noting: The Grim Reaper claimed the singer of a band called Grim Reaper.

The Cricket
The music has finally died with the passing of the final surviving member of Buddy Holly’s Crickets. Jerry Allison, who has died at 82, was the man who gave Holly’s great hit Peggy Sue its title. Buddy initially had as the song’s heroine Cindy Lou, but Allison asked him to rename it Peggy Sue, because that was the name of his estranged girlfriend — and future wife. This earned Allison a songwriting credit, and quite rightly, because Holly couldn’t have made those percussive P and G sounds with the name Cindy. The drummer also co-wrote That’ll Be The Day (credited) and Not Fade Away (uncredited).

Allison stuck to drumming on the Crickets’ records, but also tried his hand at singing — which clearly was not his most potent power — on a couple of singles. In 1958 he released the single Real Wild Child — a song he had heard Johnny O’Keefe play on stage in Australia — under the moniker Ivan, and with Buddy Holly on guitar. It featured on Any Major ABC of the 1950s. His second single, with a b-side titled That’ll Be Alright, was released, coincidentally, the day after Buddy Holly died in the plane which Allison didn’t take.

After Buddy’s death in 1958, bassist Joe B. Mauldin (died 2015) and guitarist Niki Sullivan (died 2004) soon left the group, but Jerry successfully continued the Crickets franchise — which Mauldin rejoined in 1976 — performing until his retirement in 2016. The Crickets were no hit machines, but they were influential, releasing original versions of future hits, such as I Fought The Law (written by guitarist Sonny Curtis, on The Originals: The Classics) and More Than I Can Say (Curtis and Allison, The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1)

The Hitmaker
With the brothers Holland, Lamont Dozier formed a veritable hit-machine for Motown. The landmark hits Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote and produced for acts like The Supremes, Four Tops, Martha And The Vandellas are listed in the notes for Holland-Dozier-Holland Songbook, which dropped a week after Dozier’s death.

It was with Motown that the young Dozier got his first break as a singer, releasing a few singles, mostly co-written by Berry Gordy, on the subsidiary Anna label, first as Lamont Anthony and eventually under his own name. These went nowhere, but by 1962 Gordy teamed the young singer up with another young vocalist, Brian Holland, who’d already scored hits as the co-writer of Please Mr Postman and Little Stevie Wonder’s Fingertips. They released some singles as a duo that went nowhere. But the two were also put to work behind the scenes, being entrusted especially with the hitherto luckless teenage trio The Supremes. They had little success, until Brian’s brother Eddie, also a Motown recording artist, joined them as lyricist.

After falling out with Berry Gordy, Holland-Dozier-Holland founded their own label, Invictus, in 1970. There their charges included the Freda Payne, Chairmen Of The Board, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Flaming Embers, Glass House, Honey Cone. They produced and co-wrote hits — for contractual reasons as Edith Wayne — such as Band Of Gold, Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything’s Tuesday, Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup), Sunday Morning People, or Westbound No. 9.

On that label Dozier released his biggest solo hit, Why Can’t We Be Lovers, a US #9. In 1973 he split from the Holland brothers and released a string of very good solo albums, including the acclaimed and pleasingly-titled Black Bach, with Dozier featured on the cover in the form of a bust. In 1977 he released Going Back To My Roots, later covered to great success by Odyssey (Dozier’s original featured on Any Major Originals: Soul Vol. 1)

Later in his career he worked with Phil Collins on his Grammy-winning song Two Hearts and the Four Tops’ (quite awful) Loco In Acapulco, and wrote the musically great but lyrically awkward Invisible for Alison Moyet.

The Sandy
The musical career of Olivia Newton-John in many ways followed the way of her character in Grease. First there was the clean-cut Sandy Olsson from Australia singing about the banks of the Ohio in such a way that few noticed that she was wholesomely trilling about a murder. Then Livvy flicked her tongue, said “Tell me about it, stud”, and did songs like Totally Hot and Physical, which were not about the agreeable properties of a spicy vindaloo or bracing aerobics. Totally Hot featured on Any Major Disco Vol. 2.

She was already a well-known singer when she represented Britain in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with a gospel-flavoured song, Long Live Love. While Swedish entry ABBA won, Newton-John finished joint 4th (The story of that Eurovision is recounted on the ABBA Recovered mix post)

Like Sandy, Olivia was never in the cool crowd. She hung out with Cliff Richard, after all. But she came from a pretty cool family. Born in Cambridge, England, her maternal grandfather was German Nobel-awarded scientist Max Born. Her father, Bryn Newton-John, worked on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park during World War 2. In that position, he arrested the leading Nazi Rudolf Hess.

The Guitar Wrecker
If you hear a guitar on any of those legendary Phil Spector records of the 1960s, chances are that you’re hear Bill Pitman playing, usually alongside fellow guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and Hal Blaine on drums. If the ukelele opening of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head puts you instantly in a good mood, thank Pitman for that.

The session guitarist, who has died at 102, played on innumerable hits alongside his colleagues from the Wrecking Crew collective. While the members of bands like The Beach Boys, The Monkees or The Association were doing other things, the Wrecking Crew recorded their music. In the case of the Beach Boys, it was under Brian Wilson’s direction. He had Pitman play on the Pet Sounds album and on hits such as Good Vibrations.

The Wrecking Crew once even stood in for The Byrds, doing the instruments on their debut hit single, Mr. Tambourine Man. Pitman was on guitar that day. The other session-Byrds were Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (bass), Jerry Cole (guitar) and Leon Russell (keyboards).

And we can thank Pitman for Phil Spector the Producer. Pitman’s only ever guitar lessons pupil was a teenage Phil, back in the 1950s. It was Pitman who advised Spector that he wouldn’t cut it as a professional jazz guitarist. Spector took his advice and became a songwriter, arranger and producer instead.

Like many other Wrecking Crew members, Pitman made his start in jazz, backing acts like Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Buddy Rich, Orrin Tucker and others. His father had been a musician, and Bill wanted to become a musician already at the age of five, in 1925. Coming from that generation and background, the pop and rock music Pitman helped to create was really foreign to him. The running joke was that if Pitman didn’t like a recording, it was sure to become a hit.

Apart from appearing on pop hits and as sideman on jazz records, Pitman also played on countless movie and TV scores, including (for TV) Star Trek, Bonanza, Ironside and (most recognisably) The Wild, Wild West, and (on film) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paint Your Wagon, M*A*S*H, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dirty Dancing and Goodfellas.

The Impression
Before there was The Impressions, there was The Roosters, founded in Chatanooga in 1958 by Sam Gooden with the brothers Arthur and Richard Brookes. By 1960, they had recruited Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield in Chicago and changed their name. In 1962 Butler and the Brookes brothers left to reduce The Impressions as a trio, with Mayfield, Gooden and Roosters alumnus Fred Cash. When Mayfield left in 1970 to be replaced by Leroy Hutson, and when Hutson left to be replaced by a string of other lead singers, Gooden and Cash remained in the band throughout until The Impressions’ farewell tour in 2018.

Gooden rarely took the lead on the group’s songs, but was often prominently heard on call-and-response songs, such as the gospel-tinged It’s All Right. With Gooden’s death at 87, Cash is the last surviving member of the classic 1962-70 line-up of The Impressions.

The Jazz Giant
One of the giants of jazz whose names is known mainly to fans of the genre has died at 93. Creed Taylor produced a Who’s Who of Jazz from the 1950s onwards, and in the 1960s he helped bring the bossa nova to the US, producing the landmark 1963 album by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto which featured The Girl From Ipanema. He’d produce many more records by those two legends, as well as by Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Two years earlier, Taylor had produced Ray Charles’ landmark album Genius + Soul = Jazz. In the 1960s he founded CTI Records, on which (or its subsidiary Kudu) he nurtured the careers of jazz fusion greats such as of George Benson, Grover Washington Jr, Bob James, Hubert Laws, Stanley Turrentine, Eumir Deodato, Walter Wanderley, and others.  Also produced by Taylor on CTI were acts like Chet Baker, Gabor Szabo, Milt Jackson, Paul Desmond, Patti Austin, Yusef Lateef, Jeremy Steig, and Nina Simone. He also produced Esther Philips hit disco version of What A Difference A Day Makes.

Among others he produced before that on labels such as ABC Paramount, MGM, A&M and especially Verve were — deep breath now — Chris Connor, Herbie Mann, Kal Winding, Quincy Jones, Lambert Hendricks & Ross, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Gene Ammns, Sonny Stitt, Cal Tjader, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Anita O’Day, Pat Thomas, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Smith, Coleman Hawkins, Kenyon Hopkins, Wes Montgomery, Willie Bobo, Johnny Hodges, Donald Byrd, Jackie & Roy, Little Eva, Roland Kirk, Nat Adderley, Milton Nascimento, Eric Gale, Idris Muhammad, Phil Upchurch, Keith Jarrett, Roland Kirk, and many others.

The Seeker
In the 1960s, Judith Durham was the global voice of Australian pop as the lead singer of The Seekers. The group found their breakthrough in 1964 after making an impression on board of a cruise liner sailing from Australia to the UK. Instead of returning down under as planned, they stayed in the UK, and went on to put together a string of international hits. These included six UK Top 10 hits, including two #1s (I’ll Never Find Another You and The Carnival Is Over, both in 1965). Their biggest hit worldwide was Georgy Girl in 1965.

Durham left The Seekers in 1968 to start a solo career, with no great chart success outside Australia, while band member Keith Potger went on to have a string of hits with The New Seekers. The latter had a hit in 1971 with a song from a Coca-Cola ad; in 1966 The Seekers had recorded a different commercial for the brand, with Durham on vocals.

The Hitwriter
Just ten days before Durham, the writer of all those hits for The Seekers died at 88. Tom Springfield started his string of 1960s hits as a member of The Springfields, which featured his sister Mary, better known as Dusty Springfield, on vocals. They had a number of UK hits, and broke in the US with the country-ish Silver Threads And Golden Needles.

Born Dionysius Patrick O’Brien to Irish parents in London, Tom trained in the 1950s to be a spy, for which he had to immerse himself in Russian culture. The spy thing didn’t work out, but it inspired him in his songwriting, especially in his second-most famous song, The Carnival Is Over (the most famous, obviously, is Georgy Girl).

Springfield retired from music in the early 1970s.

The Girl Band Pioneer
R&B pioneer Della Griffin has died at 100, having made her greatest contribution to music in the 1950s. In 1951 she was the leader of one of the first R&B girl groups, The Enchanters (not to be confused with the 1960s doo-wop band of that name), which Griffin served as lead singer and as drummer — at a time when women were not expected to swing the sticks. Griffin also played the alto saxophone and piano.

The Enchanters released a string of records on Jubilee in 1951/52, but soon two of the foursome left the group. The other half, Griffin and Gloria Alleyne (later more famous as Gloria Lynne) carried on as The Dell-Tones. The new group released a number of records on Brunswick and toured extensively, but never broke through. In 1957, Griffin and some variation of the ever-changing Dell-Tones line-up joined forces with doo-wop pioneers The Orioles to form a The Kings And Queens, releasing one single. Soon the members of the Dell-Tones went their own ways, with Griffin taking time out from music in an (unsuccessful) bid to have a family. While Griffin never had children, she fostered more than a dozen children, many of whom would visit her daily till her final day.

After returning to music in the 1960s, Griffin was mainly a stage performer rather than recording artist, and having moved into jazz, with a voice more than reminiscent of that of her friend Billie Holiday. Her first solo record came out only in 1978, produced by The Orioles’ leader Sonny Til. Three more albums followed in the 1990s.

The Motown & Stax Singer
She was the first female singer to be signed to Berry Gordy’s Tamla label and had The Miracles and The Marvelettes backing her, but Mable John, who has died at 91, never broke through on the Motown roster. After Gordy let her go in 1962, she joined The Raelettes, Ray Charles backing singers, until in 1966 she signed for Stax. John had some success there with her Porter/Hayes-penned debut single, Your Good Thing (Is About to End), but never broke through. In 1968 she rejoined The Raelettes until leaving secular music for gospel in 1973. John returned briefly in 1991 on Motown’s UK subsidiary, Motorcity, with a very good dance record titled Time Stops.

Mable John featured on the Any Major Soul mixes covering 1960-63, 1966 and 1967.

The Soul Sister
On the same day as Mabel left us, fellow underrated soul singer Inez Foxx departed at the age of 79. Foxx made her name as an explosive live act with her brother Charlie. They made a breakthrough early in their career in 1963 with Mockingbird, their soul reworking of a famous lullaby, which — like many of their singles, credited only to Inez. It would be covered later by the likes of James Taylor & Carly Simon and Aretha Franklin. The Foxxes couldn’t replicate the success of that #7 pop hit, perhaps hamstrung by an unmerited perception that they were a novelty act.

Inez also co-wrote The Drifters hit I Love You 1000 Times with then-husband Luther Dixon. She recorded until the mid-1970s, including a very good solo album, At Memphis, in 1973. A track from that features here and another on Any Major Soul 1973: Vol. 1.

The Composing Pianist
If you have seen a film made in the past 50 years, you very likely will have heard at some point the work of film score composer and pianist Michael Lang (not to be confused with the Woodstock impresario of the same name who died in January). He recorded more than 2,500 film scores, and worked as a musician with virtually every major film composer, including John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, Henry Mancini, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein, Dave Grusin, John Debney, Jerry Fielding, Bill Conti, John Barry, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, Randy Newman, and Hans Zimmer.

Lang also served as sideman and session pianist to many stars, including Leonard Cohen, Seals & Crofts, Cass Elliott, Harry Nilsson, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, Herb Alpert, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Preston, Judy Collins, Lalo Schifrin, Stan Getz, Tom Waits, Jose Feliciano, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Vince Gill, Milt Jackson, Frank Zappa, Lee Ritenour, Bud Shank — and Lamont Dozier, who followed Lang three days later.
The Rhinestone
In August I posted the Any Major Party mix, including The Rhinestones’ Party Music. A week later Rhinestones singer and guitarist Kal David died. He also featured on The Rhinestones’ One Time Love, which opened the Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 12, which dropped earlier this year.

Born David Ruskin, he first made music in the early 1960s as the leader of a Chicago band called Kal David and The Exceptions. Fellow members included Peter Cetera, who’d later join Chicago, and Marty Grebb, who’d join The Buckinghams. David and Grebb (who died in January 2020) would find each other again in The Fabulous Rhinestones.

Before that, David and future Poco guitarist Paul Cotton (In Memoriam – July 2021) recorded a couple of albums as Illinois Speed Press. With the Fabulous Rhinestones/Rhinestones, he released three very good but commercially less than successful albums. With his wife, Lauri Bono, he recorded several more albums. He also backed other musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, John Mayall, BB King, Johnny Rivers and Robbie Dupree.

Since 1995, David voiced the animatronic lounge singer Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café at Walt Disney World.

The Condor Pasa
When in 1965 Simon & Garfunkel played at the Théâtre de l’Est parisien in Paris, they shared the bill with a Peruvian folk outfit called Los Incas, who played a tune called El Condor Pasa. Paul Simon was so taken with the sound of Los Incas that he became friends with the frontman, Polish-born Jorge Milchberg, and even toured with the band. When Simon asked Milchberg about El Condor Pasa, he was told that it was Milchberg’s arrangement of an old folk tune. So Simon wrote English lyrics which he and Garfunkel recorded their vocals over Los Incas’ base track.

Milchberg, who has now died at 93, had not been clear on the facts. El Condor Pasa had in fact been written in 1913 by Daniel Alomía Robles and originally recorded by Orquesta del Zoolagico (featured on Any Major Originals: The Classics); Milchberg has rearranged the tune, demonstrably not an old folk song, in 1963. After an amicable court case — Simon was gracious about it, as was only right, and the Robles family absolved him of any responsibility — the writing credit went to Robles, Simon & Milchberg.

The Mystery
It is fitting that her death went unreported for almost a month, because Q Lazzarus was the most elusive of artists, literally so. In the 1980s, the singer born as Diane Luckey performed with her backing band The Resurrection (of course) while she was also gigging as a taxi driver.

One day, film director Jonathan Demme got into her cab. At the time, she was playing a demo of her song Goodbye Horses, in preparation for a recording session the next day. Demme was impressed by the song, and upon learning that the artist was his driver herself, Demme became a fan.

In 1986, he used her song The Candle Goes Away in Something Wild. Two years later, he featured Goodbye Horses in Married To The Mob, and again in 1991 in Silence Of The Lambs (the scene in which where serial killer Buffalo Bill applies make-up in front of a mirror). In Philadelphia, Demme used Q Lazzarus’ cover of the Talking Heads’ Heaven.

Despite all that exposure, Q Lazzarus never had a recording contract. After Philadelphia, she simply vanished for two decades. Not even her friends knew where she was, and locating her became something of an obsession for some. She was rediscovered in 2019 by documentary-maker Eva Aridjis — when she was a passenger in a cab Q Lazzarus was driving! They became friends, and Aridjis began putting together a documentary on the singer; it will now appear posthumously.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Q Lazzarus, c.62, cult singer, on July 19
Q Lazzarus – Goodbye Horses (1991)
Q Lazzarus – White Lines (1991)

Tom Springfield, 88, English musician and songwriter, brother of Dusty, on July 27
The Springfields – Silver Threads & Golden Needles (1962, as writer)
Jean DuShon – I’ll Never Find Another You (1965, as writer)
The Seekers – Georgy Girl (1967, as co-writer)
Dusty & Tom Springfield – Morning Please Don’t Come (1970, as writer)

Dod Copland, 59, lead singer of Scottish punk band Toxik Ephex, on July 28
Toxik Ephex – Final Epitaph (1991)

Nicky Moore, 75, singer of English metal group Samson, on Aug. 3
Samson – Life On The Run (1982)

Margot Eskens, 82, German Schlager singer, on Aug. 4
Margot Eskens (with Jonny Dane) – Cindy, oh Cindy (1959)

Sam Gooden, 87, singer with soul group The Impressions, on Aug. 4
The Impressions – It’s All Right (1963)
The Impressions – Woman’s Got Soul (1964)
The Impressions – Aware Of Love (1967, on lead vocals)

Sandy Dillon, 62, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 4

Michael Lang, 80, pianist and composer, on Aug. 5
Herb Alpert – Rise (1979, on electric piano)
Lionel Richie – Wandering Stranger (1982, on piano)
Natalie Cole & Nat King Cole – Unforgettable (1991, on piano)

Young Slo-Be, 29, American rapper, shot on Aug. 5

Judith Durham, 79, singer of Australian folk-pop group The Seekers, on Aug. 5
The Seekers – A World Of Our Own (1965)
The Seekers – Things Go Better With Coca-Cola (1966)
Judith Durham – The Olive Tree (1967)

Diego Bertie, 54, Peruvian singer and actor, on Aug. 5
Imágenes – Buenos Tiempos (1988, as member)

Daniel Lévi, 60, French singer-songwriter, on Aug. 6
Daniel Lévi – l’envie d’aimer (2000)

Torgny Söderberg, 77, Swedish songwriter, on Aug. 6

David Muse, 73, saxophonist and keyboardist of soft-rock band Firefall, on Aug. 6
Firefall – Just Remember I Love You (1977)

Gord Lewis, 65, guitarist of Canadian rock band Teenage Head, discovered on Aug. 7
Teenage Head – Some Kinda Fun (1982)

Darryl Hunt, 72, bassist with The Pogues, on Aug. 8
The Pogues – Lullaby Of London (1988)

Olivia Newton-John, 73, British-Australian singer, on Aug. 8
Olivia Newton-John – Till You Say You’ll Be Mine (1966)
Olivia Newton-John – A Little More Love (1978)
Olivia Newton John & Cliff Richard – Suddenly (1980)

Lamont Dozier, 81, soul songwriter, producer and singer, on Aug. 8
Lamont Anthony – Let’s Talk It Over (1960, as performer)
The Supremes – Baby Love (1964, as co-writer and co-producer)
Lamont Dozier – Let Me Start Tonite (1974)
Alison Moyet – Invisible (1984, as writer)

Ray Majors, 73, English rock singer and guitarist, announced Aug. 9
Ray Majors – Leave Me Be (2000)

Jussi Hakulinen, 57, Finnish singer-songwriter, on Aug. 9

Della Griffin, 100, R&B and jazz singer and drummer, on Aug. 9
The Enchanters – I’ve Lost (1951, on lead vocals)
The Kings & Queens – I’m So Lonely (1957, on lead vocals)
Della Griffin – But Beautiful (1978)

Abdul Wadud, 75, jazz and classical cellist, on Aug. 10
Michael Franks – Living On The Inside (1978, on cello)

Karina Vismara, 31, Argentine folk singer-songwriter, on Aug. 10

Bill Pitman, 102, Wrecking Crew session guitarist, on Aug. 11
Jeri Southern – Isn’t This A Lovely Day (1958, on guitar)
The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron (1963, on guitar)
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking (1966, on guitar)

Darius Campbell Danesh, 41, Scottish singer-songwriter, on Aug. 11
Darius – Colourblind (2002)

Zelito Miranda, 68, Brazilian singer, on Aug. 12

Keith Jamieson, 74, Australian country singer-songwriter, on Aug. 12

Egle Martin, 86, Argentine singer and actress, on Aug. 14
Egle Martin – El Dombe (1970)

Rico, c.51, Scottish singer-songwriter, on Aug. 14
Rico & Gary Numan – Crazier (2004)

Svika Pick, 72, Polish-born Israeli singer and songwriter, on Aug. 14
Dana International – Diva (1998, as co-writer)

Butch Thompson, 78, jazz pianist and clarinettist, on Aug. 14

Tokollo Tshabalala, 45, member of South African kwaito trio TKZee, on Aug. 15
TKZee – We Love This Place (1998)
TKzee – Fiasco (2000)

Hans Magnusson, 73, saxophonist of Swedish dansband Thorleifs, on Aug. 15

Steve Grimmett, 62, singer of English heavy metal band Grim Reaper, on Aug. 15
Grim Reaper – Never Coming Back (1985, also as co-writer)

Kal David, 79, rock and blues guitarist and singer, on Aug. 16
Illinois Speed Press – Here Today (1969, as member)
The Fabulous Rhinestones – Living On My Own Time (1972, as lead singer and writer)
Kal David & Lauri Bono – Are You Lonely For Me Baby (2018)

Roy Tyler, singer with The Gospel Hummingbirds, announced Aug. 17
Gospel Hummingbirds – That Same Thing (1991)

Eva-Maria Hagen, 87, German actress and cabaret singer; mother of Nina, on Aug. 16
Eva-Maria Hagen – Und als wir ans Ufer kamen (1981)

Rolf Kühn, 92, German jazz clarinettist and bandleader, on Aug, 18
Rolf Kühn & His Orchestra – Playmate (1974)

Warren Bernhardt, 83, jazz pianist, on Aug. 19
Warren Bernhardt – Manhattan Update (1980)

Ted Kirkpatrick, 62, drummer, songwriter of Christian metal band Tourniquet, on Aug. 19

Jorge Milchberg, 93, founder of Peruvian folk bands Los Incas & Urubamba, on Aug. 20
Los Incas – El condor pasa (1963, also as arranger)
Urubamba – Kacharpari (1981, also as co-writer)

Helen Grayco, 97, jazz singer, actress, on Aug. 20
Helen Grayco – Teach Me Tonight (1954)

Monnette Sudler, 70, jazz guitarist, on Aug. 21
Monnette Sudler – Other Side Of The Gemini (1990)

Zalo Reyes, 69, Chilean singer, on Aug. 21

Robert Williams, 72, Greek singer and composer, on Aug. 21
Robert Williams – I Believe You’re The One (1978)

Fredy Studer, 74, Swiss jazz drummer and percussionist, on Aug. 21

Jaimie Branch, 39, jazz trumpeter and composer, on Aug. 22

Jerry Ivan Allison, 82, drummer of The Crickets and songwriter, on Aug. 22
Buddy Holly and The Crickets – That’ll Be The Day (1957)
Ivan – That’ll Be Alright (1959)
The Crickets – My Little Girl (1963)
Nanci Griffith – I’ll Move Along (1997, on percussions)

Stuart Anstis, 48, ex-guitarist of British metal band Cradle of Filth, announced Aug. 22

Margaret Urlich, 57, New Zealand singer, on Aug. 22
Margaret Urlich – Slipping Away (1999)

Piotr Szkudelski, 66, drummer of Polish rock band Perfect, on Aug. 22

Creed Taylor, 93, jazz producer, founder of CTI Records, on Aug. 23
The Creed Taylor Orchestra – Out Of This World (1960)
Ray Charles – One Mint Julep (1961, as producer)
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Desafinado (Off Key) (1963, as producer)
Grover Washington – Mister Magic (1975, as producer)

Carlo Nuccio, 69, drummer, on Aug. 24
Tori Amos – Precious Things (1991, on drums)

Kimmo Blom, 52, Finnish singer, announced Aug. 25

Joey DeFrancesco, 51, jazz organist and saxophonist, on Aug. 25
Joey DeFrancesco feat. Joe Doggs – But Not For Me (2003; Doggs is Joe Pesci)

Mable John, 91, soul singer, on Aug. 25
Mabel John – Who Wouldn’t Love A Man Like That (1960)
Mable John – Same Time, Same Place (1967)
Mable John – Time Stops (1991)

Inez Foxx, 79, soul singer, on Aug. 25
Inez & Charlie Foxx – Mockingbird (1963)
Inez & Charlie Foxx – Tightrope (1967)
Inez Foxx – Let Me Down Easy (1973)

Luke Bell, 32, country singer-songwriter, discovered on Aug. 29

John Duckworth, 79, drummer of garage rock band Syndicate of Sound, announced Aug. 29
Syndicate Of Sound – Rumors (1966)

Ted Butterman, 87, Dixie jazz trumpeter, on Aug. 31

Mark Shreeve, 65, British songwriter, electronic music composer with Redshift, on Aug. 31
Mark Shreeve – The Ice Queen (1986)

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Any Major Laurel Canyon

August 25th, 2022 5 comments

Rarely, if ever, has so much musical talent been concentrated in one suburb as it was in the decade between the mid-1960s and mid-70s in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

A popular residential area for film stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood, by the late 1960s Laurel Canyon had become a bohemian refuge, a place where hippies did lots of drugs and wore few clothes.

The pioneer denizen was Frank Zappa, but the sounds that came out of Laurel Canyon were mostly folk and rock and folk-rock. Zappa, The Doors and Alice Coopers were musical outliers amid the likes of Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliott or James Taylor, or even popsters like The Monkees’ Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz.

Queen Bee of Laurel Canyon

The queen bee was Cass Elliott of The Mamas and the Papas — whose producer, the legendary Lou Adler, also lived there. Her parties were the place to be, according to virtually every alumnus. At one of these parties, Cass suggested that David Crosby of The Byrds should team up with Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of The Hollies, believing that their voices would go well together. The idea, as it turned out, was inspired.

Nash would later write a song about life on Laurel Canyon. Our House, on CSN&Y’s Déjà Vu album, was written about his domestic bliss with girlfriend Joni Mitchell. The two even home-recorded a demo of the song. But by the time Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded it, Mitchell had dumped Nash. In fact, during the recording of Déjà Vu, all four members were nursing broken hearts (in Crosby’s case due to a tragic bereavement).

If Cass Elliott was the social locus of Laurel Canyon, with Dolenz’s home running a close second, then Joni Mitchell might have been the artistic leader. She’d even make an album about Laurel Canyon, sensibly called Ladies Of The Canyon.

As word spread about this musical refuge, more musicians moved in. In the 1970s, this was also accompanied by a different kind of drug culture, with cocaine supplanting weed and acid as the favoured form of substance use. The extended Summer of Love was ending in Laurel Canyon as well, with external events like the Manson Murders darkening the good vibes.

Tragic Singer

Not every member of the Canyon set became big stars like Joni Mitchell or James Taylor. Sadly, gifted artists like Judee Sill or Linda Perhacs never broke through and today are widely forgotten, unjustly so. Perhacs debut album in 1970 remained her only one for 44 years.

The extravangantly gifted Judee Sill, perhaps best-known for her song Jesus Was a Cross Maker, might be Laurel Canyon’s most tragic singer. In her young days, she was engaged in criminal activities, including robberies. She mended her ways in reform school, where she picked up an interest in Christianity which would find expression in her songs. Moving to LA, she soon experimented with drugs, picking up a heroin addiction (which led her to a stint in jail in the 1960s).

As a person Sill was troubled, as a musician, however, she excelled. Nash and Crosby appointed her as their opening act on tour, through which she landed a recording contract. She recorded two fine albums, but to no commercial success. Injuries from car accidents, health problems and drug abuse followed her until a drug overdose killed Sill in 1979.

Laurel Canyon on LP Covers

A couple of famous album covers were shot in Laurel Canyon. The cover photo Carole King’s Tapestry was taken in the living room of her house at 8815 Appian Way (the story of that cover is told in the Tapestry Recovered post).

The cover of Crosby, Still & Nash’s eponymous album, the one with the beaten-up sofa on a porch, was taken at a random house Graham Nash had discovered in Palm Avenue (between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards). The shoot, by Henry Diltz, was great, but there was a snag: the trio had yet to decide on the order of their names in the supergroup. When they decided on the Crosby-Stills-Nash order, their positions on the couch photo were in the incorrect order. So a couple of days later, they piled into the car to reshoot the image, in which the members would sit in the correct order — but when the group got there, the house had been torn down. In the end, they just went with that perfect shot, sitting order notwithstanding.

Diltz was a major contributor to the excellent 2020 two-part documentary Laurel Canyon, which features rare photo and video material. A great companion piece is the 2019 documentary Echo In The Canyon, which was a project of Jakob Dylan, which connects the Laurel Canyon scene with contemporary musicians.The mix is sequenced to fit on a standard CD-R, if you take tracks 1-25, but there are seven more songs to enjoy. It includes home-smoked covers and the above as an illustrated linernotes PDF. PW in comments.

1. Jackie DeShannon – Laurel Canyon (1969)
2. The Mamas & The Papas – Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) (1968)
3. The Byrds – Eight Miles High (1966)
4. Love – Orange Skies (1966)
5. Buffalo Springfield – Sit Down I Think I Love You (1966)
6. Joni Mitchell – Ladies Of The Canyon (1970)
7. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Our House (1970)
8. Judee Sill – Crayon Angels (1971)
9. Jackson Browne – Jamaica Say You Will (1970)
10. Carole King – Sweet Seasons (1970)
11. Dave Mason – Just A Song (1970)
12. Little Feat – Fool Yourself (1973)
13. Bonnie Raitt – Too Long At The Fair (1971)
14. Carly Simon – The Right Thing To Do (1972)
15. James Taylor – Blossom (1970)
16. Linda Perhacs – Sandy Toes (1972)
17. Poco – Just For Me And You (1971))
18. Eagles – Peaceful Easy Feeling (1972)
19. America – Lonely People (1974)
20. Ned Deheny – On And On (1973)
21. The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band – Border Town (1974)
22. Mama Cass – Make You Own Kind Of Music (1969)
23. Flying Burrito Brothers – Sin City (1969)
24. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Charity (1969)
25. The Monkees – For Pete’s Sake (1969)
Bonus Tracks:
26. The Turtles – So Happy Together (1966)
27. Three Dog Night – Never Been To Spain (1971)
28. Linda Ronstadt – Long Long Time (1970)
29. Fleetwood Mac – Landslide (1975)
30. John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – Laurel Canyon Home (1968)
31. The Doors – Love Street (1968)
32. Alice Cooper – Living (1969)

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Holland-Dozier-Holland Songbook

August 16th, 2022 4 comments

The death on August 8 of Lamont Dozier calls for a retrospective of songs he wrote with Brian and Eddie Holland. Dozier is the first of that trio to leave us.

With the brothers Holland, Lamont Dozier formed a veritable hit-machine for Motown — more than that, they were pivotal in creating the Motown sound of the 1960s.

For Martha And The Vandellas, they wrote and produced hits such as Heat Wave (their first hit in 1963), Nowhere To Run, Come And Get These Memories, and Jimmy Mack.

For the Four Tops, they created Reach Out I’ll Be There, Baby I Need Your Loving, It’s the Same Old Song, Standing In The Shadows of Love, I’ll Turn To Stone, Bernadette, 7 Rooms Of Gloom, and You Keep Running Away.

For Marvin Gaye they wrote How Sweet It Is and Can I Get A Witness; for The Miracles it was Mickey’s Monkey, for Jr. Walker & The All Stars (I’m A) Roadrunner, for The Isley Brothers This Old Heart Of Mine, for The Elgins Heaven Must Have Sent You, and for R. Dean Taylor they wrote There’s A Ghost In My House.

And they made The Supremes. Look at this list: Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, You Keep Me Hanging On, Stop In The Name Of Love, Reflections, I Hear A Symphony, Come See About Me, The Happening, Forever Came Today, Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone, and more.

Lamont Dozier, left, with the Holland brothers.

After falling out with Berry Gordy, Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1968 and founded their own label, Invictus. There their charges included the Freda Payne, Chairmen Of The Board, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Flaming Embers, Glass House, and Honey Cone, producing and co-writing hits — for contractual reasons as Edith Wayne — such as Band Of Gold, Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything’s Tuesday, You’ve Got Me Dangling On A String,  Sunday Morning People, Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup), or Westbound No. 9.

On that label Dozier also released his biggest solo hit, Why Can’t We Be Lovers, a US #9. In 1973 he split from the Holland brothers, with lawsuits following. Dozier said his legal issues with the Hollands, and with Berry Gordy before that, were not personal, just business.

Of the three, Dozier went on to have the greater success, but divided they never reached such heights as they did together in that decade from 1963-72.

With an eye to my CD-R length rule, this collection covers only the Motown phase. If you ask nicely, I might put together a post-Motown mix of Dozier compositions, with and without the Hollands.

The covers here are quite fascinating, none more so than Dozier’s 2004 interpretation of Baby Love. Here the man who co-wrote the song for three teenage girls wrestled with his composition 40 years later, as a man in his early 60s. He reworked the song to great effect.

Motown let different acts on their roster record the same songs, to see which version would provide the hits. That way, we have The Supremes try their hand at the Four Tops’ I Can’t Help Myself, and The Isley Brothers doing The Supremes’ I Hear A Symphony. The Four Tops’ version of Reflections came later, on 1970’s remarkable Still Waters Run Deep album.

Barry White, meanwhile, took The Four Tops’ Standing In The Shadows Of Love, and gave it a thorough reworking. On the bonus track, Margie Joseph does something similar to Stop! In The Name Of Love.

The most unusual interpretation — other than maybe the great cover of Come See About Me by the Afghan Whigs — might be that by Matt Monro, who took The Happening into the realms of jazz vocals. Which raises the question: Why did Frank Sinatra never sing Holland-Dozier-Holland songs?

Companion mixes to this collection may be Covered With Soul: Motown Edition Vol. 1 and Covered With Soul: Motown Edition Vol. 2. I might also commend to you The Originals: Motown Edition, but that features only one Holland-Dozier-Holland track, which shows how they almost always got it right the first time.

As mentioned, CD-R length, plus home-produced covers. The above text is included in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Jam – (Love is Like A) Heat Wave (1979)
2. Soft Cell – Where Did Our Love Go (1981)
3. The Afghan Whigs – Come See About Me (1992)
4. Fleetwood Mac – (I’m A) Road Runner (1973)
5. Wild Cherry – Nowhere To Run (1976)
6. Z. Z. Hill – Can I Get A Witness (1972)
7. O.C. Smith – Baby I Need Your Loving (1974)
8. Wilson Pickett – You Keep Me Hangin’ On (1969)
9. Tami Lynn – Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone (1972)
10. Barry White – Standing In the Shadows Of Love (1973)
11. Lamont Dozier – Baby Love (2004)
12. Michael McDonald – Reach Out, I’ll Be There (2004)
13. Nicolette Larson – Back In My Arms, Again (1979)
14. James Taylor – How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (1975)
15. Matt Monro – The Happening (1967)
16. José Feliciano – My World Is Empty Without You (1968)
17. Laura Nyro & Labelle – Jimmy Mack (1971)
18. The Isley Brothers – I Hear A Symphony (1966)
19. Barbara Randolph – I Turn To Stone (1968)
20. Four Tops – Reflections (1970)
21. The Supremes – I Can’t Help Myself (1966)
Bonus Track:
Margie Joseph – Stop! In The Name Of Love (1971)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
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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Any Major Party

August 9th, 2022 3 comments

 

Summertime is party time. I was thinking of that when I mused about the best-ever movie about a party. Superbad might the funniest (and one of the best about real friendship), and some people might swear by Belushi comedies or John Hughes films or 1960s beach flicks involving Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. After due consideration, I regard Dazed And Confused as the greatest film about partying. In fact, I think it’s really a documentary.

But you’re not here to read about my preferences in the domain of films, but for the music. So here is a mix of songs about parties. They must be, or at least pretend to be, about get-togethers. And I limited an endless list by allowing only songs that have the word “party” in the title, and even avoided the one most people will have thought of first, because at my parties, no tears! Not much more to it, so everybody, it’s time to party down.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-boogiedowned covers, and this whole post in PDF. PW in comment.

Marvin Gaye – It’s Party Time (1962)
The Party Vibe: Boogie down with endurance. “We can shake it, we can take it, woo!”

The Show Stoppers – Ain’t Nothing But A Houseparty (1968)
The Party Vibe: Architecturally instructive. “They’re dancing on the ceiling, they’re dancing on the floor.”

Curtis Mayfield – Party Night (1976)
The Party Vibe: Food, dance, possibility of sex. “Having cheese and wine, dancing all the time.”

Dee Dee Sharp Gamble – Let’s Get This Party Started (1980)
The Party Vibe: Expectant. “Don’t you want to get funky?”

Raydio – It’s Time To Party Now (1980)
The Party Vibe: Talking, fronting, man-chasing. “But whatever you’re here for, you’ve got to get on down.

Gloria Gaynor – Anybody Wanna Party? (1978)
The Party Vibe: Prelude to hot lurve. “I could dig some slow dance, I could dig some girl-meets-boy.”

Luther Vandross – Bad Boy/Having A Party (1982)
The Party Vibe: Joyfully destructive. “The chandelier downstairs has fallen.”

Rhinestones – Party Music (1975)
The Party Vibe: Eclectic. “Moving with the masters, Motown to Ravel.”

Jona Lewie – You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties (1980)
The Party Vibe: Dull. “At last I met a pretty girl, she laughed and talked with me. We both walked out of the kitchen and danced in a new way.”

Dar Williams – Party Generation (1997)
The Party Vibe: Nerdy. “And he said, ‘Don’t you know the game Kazaam? It’s a better game’.”

Rick Nelson – Garden Party (1972)
The Party Vibe: Celeb-filled. “Everyone was there, Yoko brought her walrus.”

Don Gibson – Give Myself A Party (1958)
The Party Vibe: Masturbatory. “I’m gonna give myself a party and serve old memories.”

Elvis Presley – Party (1957)
The Party Vibe: Zoological. I’ve never kissed a bear, I’ve never kissed a goon, but I can shake a chicken in the middle of the room.”

Claudine Clark – Party Lights (1962)
The Party Vibe: Lonesome. “Oh, everybody in the crowd is there. Ooh, but you [Mama] won’t let me make the scene.”

The Pixies Three – Birthday Party (1964)
The Party Vibe: Platter-spinning. “I got the latest records we all know and we can dance to the radio.”

Stevie Wonder – The Party At The Beach House (1964)
The Party Vibe: Grammatically incorrect. “You’re gonna see all of your friends you haven’t seen since school begins.”

Tami Lynn – At The Party (1966)
The Party Vibe: Is this a party? “If I show you how to shimmy will you show me how to shout… shake it up and shake it down.”

Jay W. McGee – When We Party (Uptown, Downtown) (1982)
The Party Vibe:
Peaceful. “And there’s never any trouble ’cause we know what we come for.”

Harari – Party (1981)
The Party Vibe: Groovin’. “Everybody was dancing and rocking. My feet got the message too.”

Prince – Partyup (1980)
The Party Vibe: Anti-war. “I don’t want to die, I just want to have a bloody good time.”

The Holmes Brothers – Stayed At The Party (2013)
The Party Vibe: Regretful. “If it was dry, I’d smoke, if it was wet, I’d drink it.”

Alexander O’Neal – When The Party Is Over (1987)
The Party Vibe: Hopeful. “There’s no need to leave when the party’s over.”

Allen Toussaint – When The Party’s Over (1973)
The Party Vibe: Winding down romantically. “When the party’s over and everybody’s gone, we can trip out to a space where we can be alone.”

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In Memoriam – July 2022

August 2nd, 2022 4 comments

There were no real “headline deaths” in July, but there were many fascinating stories — the musician who was stolen from his family; the hip hop artist executed by a military junta; the guy who wrote the James Bond theme and had to fight for that recognition; the hit singer who first helped eradicate polio and later became the first black game show host in the US; the centenarian who once played for both Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa; the actress who has died while the biggest current film is still on circuit…

The Stolen
At a time when the cultural genocide of indigenous people by colonialists  — and their descendants, right up well into the past century — is in the global spotlight, not least thanks to Pope Francis’ huge apology in Canada for the Catholic Church’s involvement in it, the death of Archie Roach is poignant. Roach, an Aboriginal Australian, wrote a moving and instructive song about cultural genocide in 1988, titled Took The Children Away, and released it in 1990 as his debut single.

He wrote from personal experience, having been part of the “Stolen Generations” who were victims of a racist Australian policy that was implemented from 1905 until the 1970s, whereby indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in orphanages. Roach was taken from his family at the age of 2. He never saw his mother again, though as an adult he eventually reunited with his family. He spent his life as an activist for the rights of indigenous people. It is to Australia’s shame that this is still necessary.

As a musician, Roach enjoyed a high reputation. Apart from headlining his own tours, he was a support act for Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith. Between 1990 and 2020, Roach released 10 studio albums, two live album, and a soundtrack.

The Delfonic
With the death of William ‘Poogie’ Hart, both  classic line-ups of the great soul trio The Delfonics are down to just one man standing, Hart’s brother Wilbert. The brothers founded The Orphonics, which would be renamed The Delfonics after they were signed by legendary producer Thom Bell — after Poogie’s talent was spotted in a barber shop.

William Watson co-wrote most of The Delfonics’ songs with Bell, including soul standards such as La-La (Means I Love You), Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), and Ready Or Not Here I Come. On The Delfonics records, William Hart did the falsetto and high tenor voices.

The Sinatra Favourite
Frank Sinatra’s favourite horn player has died at 101. Vincent DeRosa was one of the few musicians Sinatra ever publicly praised. De Rosa, who started used career as a young teenager in 1935, backed Sinatra for many years, including on that great run of records in the 1950s.

DeRosa played in big bands and as session man for jazz acts in the 1950s like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Mel Tormé, Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee, and Julie London, and later fusion artists like David Axelrod, Lalo Schifrin, Chuck Mangione, Stanley Clarke, Horace Silver, Jean-Luc Ponty and Stanley Turrentine.

He played for pop, soul and rock acts such as The Monkees, Fifth Dimension, Harry Nilsson, José Feliciano, Frank Zappa, Tower of Power, Rita Coolidge, The Temptations, Neil Diamond, Boz Scaggs, Minnie Riperton, Earth Wind & Fire, The Emotions, Glen Campbell, Natalie Cole and many others.

DaRosa also played on countless film soundtracks, including many classic ones with Henry Mancini, who composed his Oscar-winning theme to the film Days of Wine and Roses with DeRosa in mind. You’ll have heard DeRosa play in the scores of films such as Carousel, Oklahoma, The Ten Commandments, The Music ManThe Magnificent Seven, My Fair LadyHow The West Was Won, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Doctor Dolittle, Jaws, Rocky, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Heaven Can Wait, E.T., Psycho 2, Romancing The Stone, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Empire Of The Sun, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Back To The Future 2, Dances With Wolves, Edward Scissorhands, and more.

The All-Rounder
Few people can boast a resumé that includes having helped to eradicate polio, going on to have charting hits, then become the first black game show host in the US, and a film, TV and stage actor. This was the extraordinary trajectory of Adam Wade. Born in 1935, Wade was first a lab assistant with Dr Jonas Salk on the polio research team before he began a singing career, in which he took Nast King Cole as his inspiration. In 1961, he had three US Top 10, country-flavoured hits: Take Good Care Of Her, As If I Didn’t Know, and The Writing On The Wall.

His music career fizzled out, but in 1975 Wade became the first black host of a TV game show, Musical Chairs. Later he hosted a talk show, Mid-Morning LA. He was a regular on soap operas and sitcoms, appeared in a number of Blaxploitation movies, and had success as a stage actor in musicals. In 1977 he returned to music with a rather good self-titled soul album.

The 007 Composer
You know the tune the moment you hear it. The word “iconic” is these overused and too often criminally misapplied, but the James Bond Theme is just that: iconic. It was written by Monty Norman, who had died at 94. “Hold it right there,” you might exclaim at this point, “the theme was the work of John Barry!” Yes and no. The tune was written by Norman, despite Barry’s protestations to the contrary. Two libel suits have confirmed Norman’s authorship; he had based it on a piece he had written some years earlier for an unproduced musical. Barry arranged the tune to make it so instantly recognisable. See Norman play the theme on his piano.

Born as Monty Noserovitch in London, Norman started out as a big band singer with several orchestras, including Ted Heath’s. in the 1950s and into ’60s, but began composing in the late ’50s. In 1962 he wrote the theme and score for the first Bond film, Dr. No. By then he had written, as lyricist or composer, several stage musicals, including the English version of Irma la Douce and Expresso Bongo, which has been described as the first rock & roll musical. Other musical hits include Songbook (or The Moony Shapiro Songbook in New York) and 1982’s Poppy.

The Hit Writer
If you were going to soundtrack a film about Britain in the 1960s, you might end up using tracks written by Alan Blaikley, who has died at 82. The best-known of these hits, created with Ken Howard, are Have I The Right? for The Honeycombs and The Legend Of Xanadu for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (both UK #1s), and Me And My Life for The Tremeloes. For Dave Dee and his friends, Blaikley and Howard wrote a string of other Top 10 hits from 1966-68: Hold Tight, Hideaway, Save Me, Okay!, Zabadak, and Last Night In Soho.

Howard and Blaikley were also the first British composers to write for Elvis Presley, including his hit I’ve Lost You. They also wrote and produced The Bay City Roller’s original version of Manana, which appeared on Any Major Hits of 1972 Vol. 2 which I posted last month. They also wrote two West End plays and several TV themes.

Before he became a hitmaker, Blaikley produced radio programmes on BBC, in the course of which he interviewed C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Enid Blyton. And between 1981 and 2003, Blaikley was a psychotherapist.

The Hayes Pianist
When Isaac Hayes started as a young, aspiring musician, Sidney Kirk was struggling alongside him. It was Kirk, who has died at 78, who spotted the newly-opened American Sound Studio in Memphis, encouraging Ike to audition for owner Chips Moman. Hayes did, and released his first (unsuccessful) record in 1962. Kirk, meanwhile, left Memphis for the US Air Force. One day, Kirk’s sister received a call from a club that wanted Sidney’s services as a pianist for a New Year’s Eve gig. With the piano man being away, his sister arranged for Hayes to get the gig. Despite his limitations as a pianist, Hayes won over the audience, and kicked off a glittering career.

By the time Kirk returned from the Air Force, Hayes had made a name for himself at Stax as a songwriter and producer of note, and he had started his recording recording. As soon as Kirk was available, he was drafted into Ike’s band, playing keyboards and piano on several Hayes albums (including Shaft) and on stage (including the famous Wattstax performance). Kirk also backed acts like Dionne Warwick, Albert King, Rufus Thomas, and Denise LaSalle.

The Happy Monday
With his brother Shaun on lead vocals, bassist Paul Ryder, who has died suddenly at 58, enjoyed cult status with Manchester rock band Happy Mondays. While the band scored only two UK Top 10 hits, both reaching  #5 in 1990, they spearheaded the “Madchester” scene, which drew from rock, psychedelia, funk and Northern soul. By 1993 The Happy Mondays had split, just as their heirs arrived to ride the Brit Pop wave. The group reunited periodically, mostly but not always with Paul Ryder on bass.

The Big Mama
Movie-goers may have seen Shonka Dukureh in the film everybody seems to talk about, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. In the film, she played Big Mama Thornton, the blues singer who originally performed Hound Dog. On July 21, Dukureh died suddenly at the age of 44, while the film that promised her breakthrough was still on circuit.

The singer was planning to release her debut album, in the blues genre. Previously she had been a backing singer, on stage with acts like Nick Cave, Mike Farris, Jamie Liddell, and singer-rapper Doja Cat.

The Executed Dissident
In 2000, Phyo Zayar Thaw and his band Acid released Burma’s first hip-hop album, which featured thinly-veiled criticisms of Burma/Myanmar’s regime. 22 Years later, Thaw was executed by the regime, as a dissident.

After co-founding an anti-regime activist youth movement called Generation Wave, Thaw was detained and tortured in 2008, and then sentenced to jail, serving his term until 2011. A year after his release, Thaw, by then 31 years old, won a seat in parliament for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. The February 2021 coup ended that career.

In November, Thaw and other activists were arrested and in a mock trial in January sentenced to death, on charges of plotting terror acts against civilians. On July 23 it was announced that Thaw and three other activists had been executed by hanging.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Irene Fargo, 59, Italian singer and stage actress, on July 1
Irene Fargo – Come una Turandot (1992)

Tristan Goodall, 48, songwriter, guitarist of Australian roots band The Audreys, on July 2
The Audreys – Banjo And Violin (2006, also as co-writer)

Antonio Cripezzi, 76, singer and keyboardist of Italian pop band I Camaleonti, on July 3
I Camaleonti – Applausi (1968)

Alan Blaikley, 82, English songwriter, arranger and producer, on July 4
The Honeycombs – Have I The Right (1964, as co-writer)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Bend It (1966, as co-writer)
Elvis Presley – I’ve Lost You (1970, as co-writer)

Manny Charlton, 80, lead guitarist of Scottish rock band Nazareth, on July 5
Nazareth – Bad Bad Boy (1973)
Nazareth – Love Hurts (1974)

Van Christian, 62, singer and guitarist of rock band Naked Prey, on July 5
Naked Prey – One Even Stand (1988, also as writer)

Mark Astronaut, singer of British punk band The Astronauts, on July 7
The Astronauts – Back Soon (1981)

Adam Wade, 87, pop singer and game show host, on July 7
Adam Wade – As If I Didn’t Know (1961)
Adam Wade – Keeping Up With The Joneses (1977)

Barbara Thompson, 77, English jazz saxophonist, on July 10
Barbara Thompson – Little Annie-Ooh (1979)
Marti Webb – Take That Look Off Your Face (1980, on saxophone)

Chantal Gallia, 65, Algerian-born French singer, on July 10

Monty Norman, 94, English composer, on July 11
Cliff Richard & The Shadows – The Shrine On The Second Floor (1960, as co-writer)
The John Barry Seven – James Bond Theme (1962, as composer)

David Dalton, 80, British-born founding editor of Rolling Stone, on July 11
The Unfolding – Play Your Game (1967, as vocalist and writer)

Edana Minghella, 63, British jazz singer, on July 13

Michael James Jackson, 65, American music producer, on July 13
Pablo Cruise – Island Woman (1975, as producer)
Kiss – Lick It Up (1983, as producer)

B. Crentsil, 78, Ghanaian high-life singer, composer and guitarist, on July 13

William Hart, 77, singer with soul band The Delfonics and songwriter, on July 14
The Delfonics – Can You Remember (1968, also as co-writer)
The Delfonics – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) (1970, also as co-writer)
The Delfonics – Think It Over (1973, also as writer)

Paul Ryder, 58, bassist of English rock band Happy Mondays, on July 15
Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro (1990)
Happy Mondays – Sunshine And Love (1992)

Ruba Say, 56, rock musician, on July 16

Idris Phillips, 64, guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter, on July 16
Dawud Wharnsby feat. Idris Phillips – Let It Go (2011, on guitar and as co-writer)

César ‘Pupy’ Pedroso, 75, Cuban pianist and songwriter, on July 17
Los Van Van – Calla Calla (1988, as member and writer)

Héctor Tricoche, 66, Puerto Rican salsa singer-songwriter, on July 17
Héctor Tricoche – En Cuba No Falta Nada (2007)

Povl Dissing, 84, Danish rock singer and guitarist, on July 18

Dani, 77, French singer, actress and model, on July 18
Dani – Papa vient d’epouser la bonne (1969)

Vincent DeRosa, 101, jazz and soundtrack horn player, on July 18
Harry James and his Orchestra – The Man With The Horn (1947, on French horn)
Ella Fitzgerald – You’re An Old Smoothie (1959, on horns)
The Monkees – Someday Man (1969, on French horn)
Boz Scaggs – What Do You Want The Girl To Do (1976, on horns)

George Kinney, singer of psychedelic rock band Golden Dawn, on July 18
The Golden Dawn – My Time (1968, also as co-writer)

Henkie, 76, Dutch singer, on July 19

Michael Henderson, 71, soul singer and jazz bass guitarist, on July 19
Miles Davis – Black Satin (1972, on bass guitar)
Michael Henderson – Won’t You Be Mine (1977)

Jody Abbott, 55, drummer of rock band Fuel, on July 20
Fuel – Falls On Me (2003)

Frankie Davidson, 88, Australian singer, on July 20

Shonka Dukureh, 44, blues singer and actress (Elvis), on July 21
Ashley Cleveland – Going To Heaven To Meet The King (2009, on backing vocals)
Shonka Dukureh – Hound Dog (2022)

Núria Feliu, 80, Spanish singer and actress, on July 22

Zayar Thaw, 41, Burmese politician and hip hop artist, executed on July 23
Nitric Acid – Generation Driven By Faith (c.2011, as performer and writer)

Vittorio De Scalzi, 72, singer of Italian prog-rock band New Trolls, on July 24
New Trolls – Un’Ora (1970, also on guitar and as co-writer)

Bob Heathcote, 58, bassist of metal band Suicidal Tendencies, on July 24

Sandy Roberton, 80, British record producer, on July 25
Steeleye Span – Fisherman’s Wife (1970, as producer)

Darío Gómez, 71, Colombian Música popular singer, on July 26
Darío Gómez – Mejor Es Que Te Marches (1992)

Sidney Kirk, 78, soul keyboard player, on July 27
Isaac Hayes – Never Gonna Give You Up (1971, on piano)
Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (1973, on keyboard)
Lou Bond – Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards (1974, on organ)

JayDaYoungan, 24, rapper, shot on July 27

John Grenell, 78, New Zealand country singer, on July 27
John Grenell – Dance All Night Down (Otago Way) (1990)

Mick Moloney, 77, Irish folk musician, on July 27

Bernard Cribbins, 93, English actor and novelty song singer, on July 27
Bernard Cribbins – The Hole In The Ground (1962)

Pino d’Olbia, 87, Italian singer, on July 27

Jim Sohns, 75, singer of blues-rock group Shadows of Knight, on July 29
The Shadows of Knight – Oh Yeah (1966)

Ulises Eyherabide, 55, Argentine rock musician, on July 29

Archie Roach, 66, Australian singer-songwriter, on July 30
Archie Roach – Took The Children Away (1990)
Archie Roach – Love In The Morning (1993)
Archie Roach – It’s Not Too Late (2016)

Raymond Raposa, 41, Indie singer-songwriter as Castanets, on July 30
Castanets – No Voice Was Raised (2005)

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Best of Any Major Summer

July 20th, 2022 3 comments

For us in the southern hemisphere, it’s winter. Though where I am, it’s a beautiful day today; the sun is shining, the windows are open, and it’s 23 degrees Celsius. Still, brrrr…

On the other side of the planet, where most of you, the readers, reside, it’s summer. Some of you might be suffering heatwaves; some might even enjoy those, as a relief from summer rains.

So to keep you in the sunshiney mood, here’s a Best of Any Major Summer collection, drawn from the five Any Major Summer and three Any Major Beach mixes. All these mixes are still up, as well as all five summer mixes in two convenient parcels.

Are these 23 tracks really the “best” of the 170+ songs on those eight seasonal collections? Well, it’s subjective; some are obvious and inevitable summer song choices, others may be a bit more unexpected. On another day, I might have chosen some other songs — and I add seven of those that didn’t make the cut as bonus tracks — but this compilation certainly captures the summer vibe. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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

1. Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (1977)
2. Jay Ferguson – Thunder Island (1977)
3. Billy Idol – Hot In The City (1982)
4. The Style Council – Long Hot Summer (1983)
5. Chris Rea – On The Beach (Summer ‘88) (1988)
6. The Blackbyrds – Hot Day Today (1974)
7. Osibisa – Sunshine Day (1975)
8. Sly and the Family Stone – Hot Fun In The Summertime (1969)
9. War – All Day Music (1971)
10. Seals & Croft – Summer Breeze (1972)
11. Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City (1966)
12. Young Rascals – Groovin’ (1967)
13. The Beach Boys – All Summer Long (1964)
14. Martha and the Vandellas – Dancing In The Streets (1964)
15. Ann Cole – Summer Nights (1958)
16. Sam Cooke – Summertime (1959)
17. Pat Boone – Love Letters In The Sand (1957)
18. The Drifters – Under The Boardwalk (1964)
19. Mungo Jerry – In The Summertime (1970)
20. First Class – Beach Baby (1974)
21. Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On (2006)
22. Sheryl Crow – Soak Up The Sun (2002)
23. Jens Lekman – A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill (2005)

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Previously in Any Major Summer & Beaches
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Any Major Hits from 1972 – Vol. 2

July 12th, 2022 2 comments

Here’s the second mix of Hits from 1972, Volume 1 having dropped in January. While the first mix was mostly US-centric, this one reflects the UK and/or European experience, even as some of these songs were also hits in the US. And by hits, I also mean Top 30 numbers, for these too received airplay. As always, the songs are collated not for their high musical merit, though none are included because I think they’re rubbish — I like them all. The idea is to capture the vibe of the year, and perhaps to place pop standards by the likes of Bowie or T. Rex in their charting context.

The opening track was a novelty hit for funk band The Jimmy Castor Bunch, the title of which describes certain sections of the US political establishment quite perfectly. Advisory warning: the lyrics do not enlightened gender politics. It was a Top 30 hit in the US and in West-Germany, but did not chart in the UK.

One track here charted in neither US nor UK, but was a hit in Europe. Proudfoot was a South African band quickly put together after their big hit was recorded! Their hit Delta Queen was recorded by a group of session musicians which included the legendary producer and songwriter Mutt Lange on bass and future Yes member and film score composer Trevor Rabin on guitar. When the song caught on, new personnel was quickly assembled to become a band that continued to have some success. Delta Queen was a big hit in the Low Countries, and a Top 30 hit in West-Germany, where French singer Ricky Shane recorded a German cover, which became a bigger hit than the original.

No relations to the South African at are Blackfoot Sue, not to be confused with Southern Rock band Blackfoot. A British foursome, Blackfoot Sue had one UK #4 hit, the featured Standing In The Road, and another track later that year which scraped into the Top 40. And that was it for Blackfoot Sue as far as hits were concerned. They had minor success in the US and UK in 1977 with an Arif Mardin-produced album on which Cissy Houston did backing vocals.

Dutch band The Cats on a poster in the German ‘Bravo’ magazine in September 1972.

 

Before they became teen idols, the Bay City Rollers aimed to be a serious pop band. In 1972 they released their single Mañana, written by Alan Blaikley (who died last week) and Jen Howard. The line-up included Nobby Clark on vocals, and from the incarnation that made girls faint, only the two Longmuir brothers — the two guys least likely to make little girls’ hearts race faster — were present. Mañana was later re-recorded with Leslie McKeown on vocals, but it was the Clark-led version that was a hit in West-Germany.

One of the biggest stars on the German music scene was Vicky Leandros, the Greek-born and Hamburg-based singer who won the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg with the superb Apres Toi. The song became a hit in various languages; in the UK it was titled Come What May (in Germany it was called Dann Kammst Du). Leandros became internationally know in 1967 when she came fourth in the Eurovision with the excellent L’amour Est Bleu, which became a worldwide hit in Paul Mauriat’s easy listening version. Both Leandros songs feature on Any Major Eurovision.

Two songs in particular remind me of my very first days of schooling. One is the plaintive One Way Wind (which is not about flatulence) by Dutch band The Cats (named after a creature that can be flatulent). Between 1968 and 1983, The Cats were perhaps the biggest act in the Netherlands, with 18 Top Ten hits there, including five #1s, and twenty-nine Top 20 hits. But their international breakthrough was One Way Wind in 1972. In West-Germany, the world’s third-biggest singles market, it reached #4. Follow-up Let’s Dance did even one rung better.

The other song that reminds me of my first school-day is the synth instrumental Popcorn by Hot Butter, a much-covered song originally by Gershon Kingsley (see Any Major Originals – The 1970s Vol. 2). In Hot Butter’s version, it was a Top 10 hit all over the world, also in the US and UK. In West-Germany it topped the charts for here weeks. Hot Butter was really Stan Free, an American jazz musician, composer, conductor and arranger, plus a bunch of session musicians.

1972 was the year when the Moog synthesizer settled in the music charts. British band Chicory Tip claim to have been the first to use it on a UK chart hit. The stomping Son Of My Father may well have been, but Chicory Tip were hardly the innovators they claimed to be. Their version is a faithful cover of the original by Giorgio Moroder, who wrote it in Germany with singer Michael Holm, who first released the song in German.  The story is also told in Any Major Originals – The 1970s Vol. 2.

Finally, there was Marc Bolan of T. Rex. In his Children Of The Revolution, he sings: “I drive a Rolls Royce ’cause it’s good for my voice”. Being a passenger in a Mini was less so…

So, what were the hits that soundtracked your 1972?

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

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-popcorned covers, and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in Comments.

1. The Jimmy Castor Bunch – Troglodyte (Cave Man)
2. Deep Purple – Never Before
3. Jo Jo Gunne – Run Run Run
4. Blackfoot Sue – Standing In The Road
5. Slade – Mama Weer All Crazee Now
6. T. Rex – Children Of The Revolution
7. David Bowie – Starman
8. Lindisfarne – Meet Me On The Corner
9. Bee Gees – Run To Me
10. Don McLean – Vincent
11. Python Lee Jackson feat. Rod Stewart – In A Broken Dream
12. The Fortunes – Storm In A Teacup
13. The O’Jays – Back Stabbers
14. Chi-Lites – Oh Girl
15. The Stylistics – I’m Stone In Love With You
16. Vicky Leandros – Come What May
17. The Cats – One Way Wind
18. Proudfoot – Delta Queen
19. Elton John – Crocodile Rock
20. John Kincade – Dreams Are Ten A Penny
21. Bay City Rollers – Mañana
22. Middle Of The Road – Bottom’s Up
23. Chicory Tip – Son Of My Father
24. Hot Butter – Popcorn

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Any Major Hits from 1944
Any Major Hits from 1961
Any Major Hits from 1970
Any Major Hits from 1971
Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1

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In Memoriam – June 2022

July 5th, 2022 4 comments

As I trawl the corners of the interwebs for the monthly music deaths, I sometimes come across the passing of other interesting people which I might otherwise have missed. One of them is the death at 95 of Ms Ann Turner Cook on June 3. She was an author, but that wasn’t her best claim to fame: she was and still is the infant on the branding of Gerber range of baby foods, having modelled for it in 1928 without knowing much about it. Her identity was revealed only 50 years later, in 1978. A teacher before she became a crime novelist, Ann had four children — I like to think they were all fed Gerber products.

The Duo’s Half
The man who put the Seals in Seals & Croft has departed. Jim Seals, who died at 79, was half of a duo that followed in the folk-rock stream of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the soft rock of Poco, but also adding influences from other genres, especially soul. Seals and Darrell “Dash” Crofts were more than harmonising singer-songwriters; both were multi-instrumentalists, with Seals playing guitar, saxophone and fiddle, and Crofts (still going at 83) drums, mandolin and keyboards. The pair had a string of hits, though their best moment might have been when the Isley Brothers turned Seals & Crofts’ 1972 hit Summer Breeze into a stone-cold soul classic, driven by a blazing guitar solo.

The duo split, having been dropped by Warner Bros., in 1980, reuniting briefly twice, in 1991 and 2014. After1980, Seals retired from music and moved with his family to Costa Rica, where he became a coffee farmer.

The Hair Man
The Hippie culture found its expression on stage in the musical Hair. First staged in October 1967 — the Autumn of Love — work on its script began already in 1964, when even hip men were still sensibly coiffured. Hair was written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, with the latter principally the lyricist. Rado left us in June at the age of 90. Ragni, his friend since they met while acting on an Off-Broadway stage in 1964, died in 1991.

A drama graduate, James Radomski spent two years in the US Navy, then did post-grad work at the Catholic University of America in DC. He studied acting under Lee Strasberg, recorded his own songs with his band James Alexander and the Argyles, staged his first Broadway production in 1963, and played Richard the Lionheart in the original Broadway production of The Lion in Winter. All that before Hair made its debut.

Rado’s post-Hair work included the much-adapted anti-war musical The Rainbow Rainbeam Radio Roadshow, or just Rainbow.

The Theme Singer
Her 1989 song Falling served as the theme of Twin Peaks, though stripped of her vocals. With Julee Cruise’s ethereal vocals, it went on to become a hit. She also had a role in the cult series, as a bar singer, in the pilot episode and the one in which the killer is revealed.

A frequent collaborator with film composer Angelo Badalamenti — who with Twin Peaks director David Lynch wrote Falling — Cruise had her first big break in 1985 with Mysteries Of Love, which featured in another Lynch project, Blue Velvet.

Cruise released four albums between 1990 and 2011, but collaborated widely, acted on stage, and toured with the B-52’s in the 1990s as replacement for Cindy Williams. And it was a B-52’s song, Roam, that was playing when she gently died by suicide on June 9, at the age of 65.

The Disco Man
As a songwriter, producer and arranger, Patrick Adams enjoyed success in soul, disco and dance music. In the ’70s and ’80s, he wrote for or arranged or produced for soul acts like Black Ivory, Candi Staton (including her hit When You Wake Up Tomorrow), Eddie Kendricks, Jimmy Ruffin, The Main Ingredient, Ben E. King, Melba Moore, The Salsoul Orchestra, Ray Charles, Sharon Brown, Skipworth & Turner, and many others.

In disco, he wrote and produced Musique’s horticultural classic In The Bush, and co-wrote Inner City Express’ Dance And Shake Your Tambourine. He also worked with the Gary Toms Empire and Herbie Mann in his disco phase.

In 1991, his song Touch Me, which he co-wrote in 1984 for Fonda Rae, was a global hit for British singer Cathy Dennis. In 1997, his Keep On Jumpin’, originally a hit for Musique, became a big dance hit for Todd Terry feat. Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown (the latter having been a member of Musique).

Adams also engineered for acts like Keith Sweat, Eric B. & Rakim, Heavy D. & The Boyz, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, and a young R. Kelly.

The Harmonica Man
You will have heard Tommy Morgan’s harmonica many times, if not on record then in films or on TV. Morgan died at 89 three days after the 80th birthday of Brian Wilson, for whom he played on the Pet Sounds album and on Good Vibrations.

Morgan’s harmonica can be heard in the themes of Sanford and Son (Quincy Jones’ The Streetbeater) and Rockford Files, and on countless scores, including the Grammy-winning one of the mini-series Roots. It is estimated that he played on 600 film scores, from Giant in 1955 via Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Rosemary’s Baby in the ’60s, Blazing Saddles in the ’70s, The Color Purple and The Right Stuff in ’80s, to Dances With Wolves and The Shawshank Redemption in the ’90s, and Lincoln and Monsters Inc. in the new millennium.

Morgan played his first session as a 17-year-old in 1950, for the Andrews Sisters. Apart from Good Vibrations, he played on hits such as the Carpenters’ Rainy Days And Mondays, The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise, The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, Linda Ronstadt’s Skylark, and on records by the likes of The Monkees, Roy Orbison, The Bee Gees, Merle Haggard, Randy Newman, Mac Davies, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, James Taylor, Michael Jackson. He was a backing musician on the Elvis ’68 comeback special, and if you hear any harmonica on those Phil Spector Wall of Sound productions, they are most likely Morgan’s.

The Hair Bassist
As far as I can determine, bassist Alec John Such is the first member of Bon Jovi to pass on. Such was a member of the classic line up from 1983 to 1994, which means he played on such hits as Livin’ On A Prayer, You Give Love A Bad Name, Wanted Dead or Alive, Bad Medicine, Born To Be My Baby, I’ll Be There For You, Lay Your Hands On Me, Living In Sin, Bed Of Roses, and Always.

The Hitmaker
Almost 16 years after his death was falsely reported, songwriter Paul Vance departed for good. Vance was the co-writer and often producer of hits such as Perry Como’s Catch A Falling Star, Brian Hyland’s Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (which Vance was inspired to write by his daughter, who was too shy to wear a bikini, itsy bitsy or otherwise), Johnny Mathis’ What Will Mary Say, The Cuff Link’s Tracy,  Clint Holmes’ Playground In My Mind, and David Geddes’ Run Joey Run (which featured Vance’s bikini-shy daughter Paula on the female vocals).

The Soul Multitasker
Multiple Grammy-winner Bernard Belle, brother of soul singer Regina, was a pioneer of New Jack Swing in the 1990s, in collaboration with Terry Lewis. He co-wrote and/or produced for acts like Michael Jackson (including Remember The Time), Hi-Five (including I Like the Way [The Kissing Game]), Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Patti LaBelle, Glenn Jones, Aaron Hall, Jaheim, Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure, and, of course, his sister.

After becoming a born-again Christian, he worked in gospel music, with acts like Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Blackstreet, and BeBe & CeCe Winans.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Paul Vance, 92, songwriter and producer, on May 29
Perry Como – Catch A Falling Star (1957, as co-writer)
The Detergents – Leader Of The Laundromat (1964, as co-writer)
Paul Vance – Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad) (1966, also as co-writer)

Kelly Joe Phelps, 62, blues musician, on May 31
Kelly Joe Phelps – Lead Me On (1994)

Dave Smith, 72, synth pioneer, inventor of Midi, on May 31

Deborah McCrary, 67, singer with gospel band The McCrary Sisters, on June 1
The McCrary Sisters – Skin Deep (2013)

Leroy Williams, 85, jazz drummer, on June 1

Hal Bynum, 87, country songwriter and singer, on June 2
Kenny Rogers – Lucille (1977, as co-writer)
Hal Bynum – Last Summer (1998)

El Noba, 25, Argentine cumbia singer, in traffic accident on June 3

Grachan Moncur III, 85, jazz trombonist, on June 3
Grachan Moncur III – Thandiwa (1965)

Trouble, 34, rapper, shot on June 5

Alec John Such, 70, bassist of Bon Jovi, on June 5
Bon Jovi – Runaway (1984)
Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine (1988)
Bon Jovi – Bed Of Roses (1992)

Mikhail Vladimirov, 55, guitarist of Russian rock bands Mify, Chizh & Co, on June 6

Jim Seals, 79, half of soft-rock duo Seals & Crofts and songwriter, on June 6
Seals & Crofts – We May Never Pass This Way (Again) (1973, also as co-writer)
The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze (1973, as co-writer)
Seals & Crofts feat. Carolyn Willis – Get Closer (1976, also as co-writer)

Eric Riebling, 59, bassist of rock band The Affordable Floors, on June 8
The Affordable Floors – The Red Room (1988)

Wolfgang Reisinger, 66, Austrian jazz percussionist, on June 8

Julee Cruise, 65, singer and musician, on June 9
Julee Cruise – Falling (1989)
Julee Cruise – In My Other World (1993)

Dario Parisini, 55, Italian guitarist and composer, on June 9

Commander Tom, German DJ and producer, on June 9
Commander Tom – Attention (2004)

FBG Cash, 31, rapper, shot on June 10

Amb. Osayomore Joseph, 69, Nigerian high-life pioneer, on June 11
Osayomore Joseph – Idami (2022)

Dawit Nega, 34, Ethiopian singer and musician, on June 12

Gabe Baltazar, 92, jazz alto saxophonist, on June 12
Anne Richards & The Stan Kenton Orchestra – It’s a Wonderful World (1961, on alto sax)

Joel Whitburn, 82, music historian, on June 14

Big Rude Jake, 57, Canadian musician, on June 16
Big Rude Jake – Swing Baby! (1996)

Ken Williams, 72, soul singer, songwriter, producer, on June 17
Peaches & Herb – The Ten Commandments Of Love (1968, a co-producer)
The Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool (1973, as co-writer)

Gian Pietro Felisatti, 72, Italian producer and songwriter, on June 18

Brett Tuggle, 70, rock keyboardist and songwriter, on June 19
David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise (1987, as co-writer and on keyboards)

Jim Schwall, 79, member of blues group Siegel–Schwall Band, on June 19
Siegel-Schwall Band – You Don’t Love Me (1967)

Dennis Cahill, 68, guitarist of US/Irish folk group The Gloaming, on June 20
The Gloaming – Casadh an tSúgáin (2016)

James Rado, 90, playwright and composer (Hair), on June 21
Ronald Dyson & Company – Aquarius (1967)
Petula Clark – Good Morning Starshine (1970)

Artie Kane, 93, film score composer, on June 21

Edgar O. de Haas, 92, jazz bassist, on June 22
Peter, Paul & Mary – Polly Von (1963)

Patrick Adams, 72, disco & R&B producer, arranger and composer, on June 22
Black Ivory – Can’t You See (1976, as arranger)
Musique – In The Bush (1978, as writer and producer)
Cathy Dennis – Touch Me (All Night Long) (1991, as co-writer)

Paulo Diniz, 82, Brazilian singer, on June 22
Paulo Diniz – Pingos de amor (1971)

Massimo Morante, 69, guitarist of Italian prog-rock band Goblin, on June 23
Goblin – Chi (1976)

Tommy Morgan, 89, harmonicist and session musician, on June 23
Tommy Morgan – Off Shore (1958)
The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (1969, on harmonica)
Quincy Jones – The Streetbeater (1973, on harmonica)
James Taylor – Caroline I See You (2002, on harmonica)

Bernard Belle, 57, soul producer and songwriter, on June 23
Michael Jackson – Remember The Time (1992, as co-writer)
Glenn Jones – Call Me (1992, as co-writer and producer)

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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)

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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

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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)

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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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