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Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2

December 15th, 2023 1 comment



In July we celebrated the 80th birthday of Mick Jagger with the Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 1, which covered the first great period of the band. On December 18 we’ll mark the 80th birthday of Keith Richards, with all the by now clichéd memes about his longevity that this will involve. So here is the second Rolling Stones Songbook.

In the linernotes for Volume 1 I raised the subject of Stones lyrics that have aged even worse than Ronnie Woods’ dyed hairstyle. One such problematic track was sort of unavoidable on a mix that covers the Stones’ output of the 1970s. Brown Sugar is a rock masterpiece, but the lyrics are deplorable. They’re racist and sexist, and not only by the standards of a culture removed 50 years from the song’s origin.

Brown Sugar was racist and sexist in 1971 already. Oh, but the riff and the catchy whooping (and Jagger’s terrible diction) seemed to mask all that nastiness. The song couldn’t be excluded, but who the hell would be suitable to cover it on this mix? Happily, Little Richard stepped up in 1971 to solve that dilemma.

So he kicks off the proceedings, followed by a handful of soul covers which give credence to the idea that blues-fans Jagger and Richards had an authentic black musical streak in them. These include a track by Merry Clayton, who was the “backing singer” on Gimme Shelter. In truth, she was really the lead. Here she covers the song alone, without her original backing singers Jagger and Richards, but with Joe Sample on piano.

This collection marks the return of two acts that smell of novelty but are in fact quite wonderful. On the Beatles 1962-66 Recovered mix posted in March, the Finnish band Leningrad Cowboys teamed up with The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble to save Yellow Submarine from spoiling the barrel of Apple. Here they appear with a glorious cover of It’s Only Rock & Roll.

I’ve featured The Twang (not to be confused with the English indie band formed 20 years after this lot) a couple of times in the past. A German band of talented musicians, they turn all sorts of songs into country covers (as they will again on next week’s Christmas mix). Their countrification of pop and rick classics may sound like a joke that’s funny for ten minutes, but that would be to miss the point. Sure, there’s some tongue firmly lodged in the cheek in the reinterpretations, but these covers aren’t played for laughs, like a hillbilly (hillwilhelm?) Richard Cheese. The fine guitar solos on Sympathy For The Devil show that these guys aren’t joking.

At some point there will be a third Rolling Stones Songbook. In the meantime, I think the first two make for some very good listening.

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

1. Little Richard – Brown Sugar (1971)
2. Thelma Houston – Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1969)
3. Maxayn – You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1972)
4. Merry Clayton – Gimme Shelter (1970)
5. Labelle – Wild Horses (1971)
6. Jennifer Warnes – Shine A Light (1976)
7. Rod Stewart – Street Fighting Man (1969)
8. Gram Parsons & The Flying Burrito Bros – Honky Tonk Women (rel. 1976)
9. Linda Ronstadt – Tumbling Dice (1976)
10. Etta James – Miss You (2000)
11. Bettye LaVette – Salt Of The Earth (2010)
12. The Holmes Brothers – Beast Of Burden (1997)
13. Laurie Geltman – Sway (1992)
14. Taylor Dayne – Fool To Cry (2009)
15. Turin Brakes – Moonlight Mile (2004)
16. Over The Rhine – Waiting On A Friend (2010)
17. Yo La Tengo – Emotional Rescue (2016)
18. Leningrad Cowboys & The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble – It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (1994)
19. The Twang – Sympathy For The Devil (2003)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
Hank Williams
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Rolling Stones Vol. 1
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 2

December 12th, 2023 3 comments



The 1960s might have been the zenith of Christmas records, certainly in sheer quantity. Quality is a matter of taste, of course. And when it comes to Christmas music, good taste is really secondary to the spirit these songs can create.

With my 1970s German background, it is essential for me to get me a yuletide fix of Heintje’s Christmas album. I would not play the records of the Dutch child star under any other circumstances, even when I deep-dive into the shadiest nostalgia of late 1960s/early ‘70s schlager fare, as I might do when nobody can see me. But at Christmas, I cheerfully lift my Heintje blacklist, and damn well love it. You may recall that the lad featured last year on Any Major Polygot Christmas, crooning in Dutch.

Of course, in the avalanche of Xmas dross in the 1960s, there were many gems. Some feature on this second volume of Any Major 1960s Christmas (Volume 1 is here). The Phil Spector Christmas album, of course, is a stone-cold classic; two songs from it feature here. One features Fanita James, who died recently, as a third of Bob B Soxx And Blue Jeans. I expect she also did backing vocals on fellow Blossoms member Darlene Love’s wonderful Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

Another singer who was still with us last Christmas is Tony Bennett, who chips in with a great big band version of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

I have run The Flirtations’ superlative Christmas Time Is Here Again before, but it certainly bears repetition. Their appearance is preceded by a grooving instrumental version of Silver Bells by Booker T. & The MG’s. The mix also closes with a groovy wordless interpretation of Silent Night by jazz organist Jimmy Smith, who did a whole album of that sort of thing in 1965 (as did Booker T).

There are still three more mixes coming this month: another Christmas compilation (one for the “Bah Humbug” crowd), a new Songbook, and the annual Any Major Dance mix for you to party like it’s 1083 on New Year’s Eve.

By the way, after the death of Zippy, I have re-upped all past Christmas mixes, which was quite a project. If there is one I missed, let me know in the comments.

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

1. Booker T. & The MG’s – Silver Bells (1967)
2. The Flirtations – Christmas Time Is Here Again (1968)
3. Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (1963)
4. Aretha Franklin – Winter Wonderland (1964)
5. Tony Bennett – Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1968)
6. Burl Ives – A Holly Jolly Christmas (1965)
7. Sammy Davis Jr. – Christmas Time All Over The World (1965)
8. Dean Martin – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (1966)
9. Julius La Rosa – We Need A Little Christmas (1966)
10. The Ventures – Frosty The Snowman (1965)
11. The Beach Boys – Christmas Day (1964)
12. Glen Campbell – I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1968)
13. Marty Robbins – Christmas Time Is Here Again (1967)
14. Elvis Presley – If Every Day Was Like Christmas (1966)
15. Danny Thomas – The First Christmas (1967)
16. Bobby Goldsboro – A Christmas Wish (1968)
17. Andy Williams – The Christmas Song (1963)
18. Adam Faith – Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) (1960)
19. Marlene Dietrich – Candles Glowing (1967)
20. Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells – Blue Christmas (1963)
21. Bob B Soxx And Blue Jeans – Here Comes Santa Claus (1963)
22. The Supremes – My Christmas Tree (1965)
23. Stevie Wonder – One Little Christmas Tree (1967)
24. The Uniques – Please Come Home For Christmas (1966)
25. Solomon Burke – Presents For Christmas (1966)
26. The Staple Singers – The Last Month Of The Year (1962)
27. Baby Washington – White Christmas (1966)
28. James Brown – Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year (1966)
29. Jimmy Smith – Silent Night (1964)


More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

Any Major Santa Claus Vol. 1
The Originals: Christmas Edition
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Any Major Gals’ Christmas
Any Major Polygot Christmas
Any Major New Year’s
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2023

December 5th, 2023 5 comments

It seemed to be a fairly quiet month, without any really big-name deaths. Of course, with the Christmas season in mind, there was the passing Fanita James, who appeared on the Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album as a member of Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, and of Mars Williams, whose sax work we may hear this festive season on The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping. Then, just as November was about to fade into December, another Christmas song became a tribute, in the form of Fairytale Of New York. I must admit that no music death has hit me as hard as Shane MacGowan’s has since that double whammy of John Prine and Bill Withers in that cursed month April 2020.

The Great Poet
A couple of years ago, Shane MacGowan said in an interview: “I know that I’m going to live to be 88, at least, and I’m still going to feel cheated… but you can’t argue with death.” Death caught up with MacGowan at the age of 65. It was one of the less surprising news of a celebrity passing, but it landed a heavy punch nonetheless, at least for those who have been fans of The Pogues and MacGowan’s lyrics, many of which are pure poetry.

Even in his twenties, MacGowan looked like he was permanently at death’s door. It turns out, he was just ringing its bell and running away. By all accounts, he was the nicest kind of guys, though his battles with alcohol led to his ejection from The Pogues.

What MacGowan and The Pogues did for Irish folk music, at a time when many young Irish people were feeling alienated from it, is said to be immense. Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins recognised that when he issued a long and thoughtful statement on the passing of MacGowan, who was born in London as the son of Irish immigrants (his mother was a renowned folk singer).

MacGowan was not just a writer of songs; he was a poet. And those wonderful lyrics, though they can stand as poems in their own right, are really inseparable from that voice which could barely hold a tune. You don’t really want somebody else singing a MacGowan song (which is why I haven’t even entertained the idea of doing a Songbook). It might be competent, it might even be good, but the lyrics would lose some of their meaning. I cannot think of many singing songwriters of whom you can say that.

The Blossom
The girl-group hit He’s a Rebel is attributed to The Crystals, but the song was actually recorded by The Blossoms, a trio comprising Darlene Love, Jean King, and Fanita James, who has died at 85. The Blossoms started recording in the 1950s, but never hit the big time. They were, however, sought-after backing singers.

In 1959, they backed Sam Cooke on his Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha (admittedly not Cook’s finest moment). After singing the 1962 chart-topper He’s A Rebel (The Crystals were mortified by being credited for it), The Blossoms did backing vocals on many of the great Phil Spector recordings. They sung vocals on tracks like You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The Righteous Brothers, Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High, Doris Day’s Move Over Darling, Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, Betty Everett’s The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss), and many more.

In 1968, they provided backing vocals on Elvis Presley’s comeback TV special, and on the classic 1964 T.A.M.I. show, they backed Marvin Gaye.

Love (then still Darlene Wright) and James (then still Fanita Barrett) were also part of the trio Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, scoring a hit with Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah.

Throughout the 1960s, The Blossoms periodically released singles — including their own versions of Righteous Brothers hits they had appeared on, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Soul And Inspiration — but released only one album, a very good effort titled Shockwave in 1972. James remained a Blossom for almost all of the rest of her life.

The Joke Guitarist
The heading might mislead you to think that Geordie Walker was a novelty performer. That he most certainly was not. As lead guitarist of post-punk legends Killing Joke, he created his own distinctive sound. On the band’s biggest hit, 1985’s Love Like Blood, his three-note opening sounds like a riff from Bach.

Born as Kevin Walker — Geordie was a nickname referring to his northern English origins — he created his distinctive sound on a 1952 Gibson ES-295 hollow body electric guitar. That sound would find an echo in the works of a generation of rock guitarists. Walker later joined up with other post-punk stars for the “supergroups” Damage Manual and Murder Inc.

The Soul Sister
In 1971 Jean Knight had a huge hit with Mr Big Stuff, a song she had recorded a year earlier and which had found no takers until Stax decided to give it a release. It became a million-seller, and is still a go-to track for any movie or TV scene in which a man who thinks he’s a big shot needs some pegging down.

The New Orleans singer didn’t have hits for many years after but made a living from performing. In 1985 she returned to the charts with her version of the zydeco song My Toot-Toot. Denise LaSalle’s concurrent version was a hit in the UK, but Knight’s did better in the US.  According to the Stax Museum, Knight was the label’s top-selling female artist.

The Kool Drummer
Kool’ gang is slowly diminishing. With the death at 74 of drummer George ‘Funky’ Brown, there are now nine departed members. Of the great 1979-82 Kool & The Gang line-up, six of ten members have departed.

Brown was with Kool & The Gang from the band’s founding in 1963 till his death 60 years later. Until 1998 he played the drums and/or percussions, after that he stuck to percussions only. He also co-wrote many of their songs, including hits such as Ladies’ Night, Celebration, Big Fun, Jungle Boogie, Open Sesame, Jones vs. Jones, Take My Heart, and Summer Madness, and on his own the sublime Too Hot (which I had been playing literally minutes before I learnt of the man’s death).

The African Connection
Portugal has lost a wonderful singer in Sara Tavares, who has died of a brain tumour at the young age of 45. The daughter of immigrants from the African island nation of Cabo Verde, Tavares was 16 years old when she won a Portuguese TV singing contest in 1994, performing Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time. That same year, she won the national decider for Portugal’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the international contest she finished 8th.

Tavares fused the sounds of Portugal with those of Africa, especially the gentle Latin-tinged sounds of Cabo Verde, and jazz and pop.

The Woodstock Producer
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 was supposed to be a money-making operation. But as the crowds uncontrollably descended upon the farm in Bethel, NY, a voice announced from the stage that it would now be a free concert. That voice belonged to John Morris, the Woodstock production coordinator who has died at 84.

From the stage at Woodstock, Morris announced: “What it means is that the people who are backing this thing, who put up the money for it are gonna take a bit of a bath, a big bath. That’s no hype, that’s truth, they’re gonna get hurt. But what it means is that these people who put this thing here, have it in their heads … that your welfare and their welfare is a hell of a lot more important than the music is, than the dollar.”

Before he got involved with Woodstock, Morris was a concert producer for acts like Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and the Grateful Dead, working with the legendary Bill Graham. After Woodstock, he turned London’s venerable Finsbury Park Astoria cinema into the legendary Rainbow Theatre, with The Who the first of many acts who played there for the next ten years. The Who’s song Long Live Rock refers to that first Rainbow gig: “Down at the Astoria the scene was changing, bingo and rock were pushing out x-rating. We were the first band to vomit at the bar and find the distance to the stage too far”.

The Last Pacemaker
With the death of pianist Les Maguire, all members of the classic line-up of Gerry And The Pacemakers are gone. Gerry Marsden died in 2021, Les Chadwick in 20916, and Freddie Marsden in 2006.

The Liverpool band was the first to have UK #1 hits with each of their first three singles, How Do You Do It? (a song first earmarked for The Beatles), I Like It, and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Maguire had just joined the Pacemakers when the band merged with the still unknown Beatles, still with Pete Best, for a one-off performance at Litherland Town Hall as The Beatmakers. Maguire played the sax that night.

The Soul Brother
Last month I posted the South African pop classic Quick Quick by MarcAlex to mark the death of producer Ricky Wolff. On November 9, the first half of the soul duo passed on. Marc Rantseli died at 58 after two weeks in hospital. The Soweto brothers Marc and Alex had a few hits in 1989 and the early 1990s, but then things went quiet around them, despite collaborations with the likes of Hugh Masekela.

The Original
If you lived in Europe in the 1970s, you will have heard the brutally upbeat hit Y Viva Espana in many different versions, some more annoying than others, but all lowest common-denominator schlager fare. Somehow fittingly, the ode to Spain’s longevity emerged not from Franco’s torture cells but from that bastion of finest pop refinement, Belgium. Written by a pair called Leo Caerts and Leo Rozenstraten (the latter made up the word “eviva”, possibly having confused Italian with Spanish, as you do), it was first recorded in Dutch by Samantha, whose death certificate states her civil name, Christiane Bervoets.

Samantha had a long career in Belgium, releasing records between 1967 and 2008, almost all in Dutch, with rare forays into French and German.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.

Elvis with The Blossoms at his 1968 TV Special. Fanita James is second from right.

Bill Rice, 84, country songwriter and singer, on Oct. 28
Mickey Gilley – Here Comes The Hurt Again (1978, as co-writer)

Pelle Hökengren, 61, member of Swedish pop group Trance Dance, on Oct. 29
Trance Dance – Don’t Say Go (1987)

Aaron Spears, 47, American drummer on Oct. 30
Chaka Khan – One For All Time (2007, on drums)

Vic Vergeat, 72, Italian rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, on Nov. 1
Vic Vergat – Down To The Bone (1981)

Pierre Dutour, 91, French trumpeter, composer and conductor, on Nov. 1
Pierre Dutour – Modern Life (1974)

Michel Pilz, 78, German jazz clarinettist, on Nov. 2

Pete Garner, 61, bassist of The Stone Roses (1983–87), on Nov. 3
The Stone Roses – So Young (1985)

Manuel Castillo Girón, 83, Honduran singer-songwriter, on Nov. 4

Lolita Rodrigues, 94, Brazilian singer and actress, on Nov. 5
Lolita Rodrigues – Posso Esquecer (1977)

Anne Hart, 90, British actress and singer, on Nov. 5

Sean Martin, 26, singer-guitarist of English indie band The Night Café, announced Nov. 6
The Night Café – The Way Of Mary (2017)

Darlyn Morais, 28, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 6

Dino Piana, 93, Italian jazz musician, on Nov. 6

Heath, 55, bassist of Japanese rock band X Japan, announced Nov. 7
X Japan – Tears (1993)

C-Knight, 52, rapper with G-funk group The Dove Shack, on Nov. 7
The Dove Shack – This Is The Shack (1995)

Hannelore Auer (Kramm), 81, Austrian Schlager singer and actress, on Nov. 8

Thomas Fink, 88, German jazz musician, on Nov. 8

Marc Rantseli, 58, South African singer with duo MarcAlex, on Nov. 9
MarcAlex – My Love, My Life, My Everythin (1990)
MarcAlex feat. Hugh Masekela – I Want My Baby (1995)

Junko Ohashi, 73, Japanese singer, on Nov. 9
Junko Ohashi – Silhouette Romance (1981)

R.L. Boyce, 68, blues musician, on Nov. 9
R.L. Boyce – Coal Black Mattie (2023)

Johnny Ruffo, 35, Australian singer and actor, on Nov. 10

John Morris, 84, Woodstock co-organiser, on Nov. 10
Matthews’ Southern Comfort – Woodstock (1971)
The Who – Long Live Rock (1978)

Conny Van Dyke, 78, singer and actress, on Nov. 11
Connie Van Dyke – Oh Freddy (1963)

Angelita Vargas, 77, Spanish flamenco singer and dancer, on Nov. 11

Luis Carlos Gil, 72, singer with Spanish vocal group Trigo Limpio, on Nov. 11

Kan, 61, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 12
Kan – Ai Wa Katsu (1990)

Buzy, 66, French singer, on Nov. 14
Buzy – Baby Boum (1987)

Oladips, 28, Nigerian rapper, on Nov. 15

Karl Tremblay, 47, lead singer of Canadian folk group Les Cowboys Fringants, on Nov. 15
Les Cowboys Fringants – Les étoiles filantes (2004)

George ‘Funky’ Brown, 74, songwriter, drummer of Kool & The Gang, on Nov. 16
Kool & The Gang – Wild Is Love (1972, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Sugar (1976, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Ladies’ Night (1980, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Take My Heart (You Can Have It) (1981, also as co-writer)

Peter Solley, 75, English musician and producer, on Nov. 16
Fox – Imagine Me, Imagine You (1976, as member)
The Romantics – What I Like About You (1979, as producer)

Charlie Dominici, 72, heavy metal singer, on Nov. 17
Dream Theater – Status Seeker (1989, as lead vocalist and co-writer)

Christiane ‘Samantha’ Bervoets, 75, Belgian singer, on Nov. 17
Samantha – Helicopter U.S. Navy 66 (1970)
Samantha – Eviva España (1971)

Sara Tavares, 45, Portuguese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 19
Sara Tavares – Eu Sei… (1999)
Sara Tavares – One Love (2005)
Sara Tavares – Coisas Bunitas (2017)

Larry McKenna, 86, jazz saxophonist, on Nov. 19

Mars Williams, 68, rock and jazz saxophonist (Waitresses, Psychedelic Furs), on Nov. 20
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping (1981, as member)
The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink (1986, as member)

Chad Allan, 80, Canadian singer with Guess Who, Brave Belt, on Nov. 21
Chad Allan & The Expressions (Guess Who) – Hey Ho, What You Do To Me (1965)

Horacio Malvicino, 94, Argentine jazz and tango guitarist, composer, on Nov. 21
Horacio Malvicino – Los Mejores Momentos (1972)

Jim Salestrom, 67, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22

Jean Knight, 80, American singer, on Nov. 22
Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1970)
Jean Knight – Why I Keep Living These Memories (1970)
Jean Knight – My Toot Toot Long (1984)

Greg ‘Fingers’ Taylor, 71, harmonica player (Jimmy Buffet), on Nov. 23

Fanita James, 85, singer with soul group The Blossoms, on Nov. 23
The Blossoms – He Promised Me (1957, as member)
Doris Days – Move Over Darling (1963, on backing vocals)
The Blossoms – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (1969)
The Blossoms – Touchdown (1972)

Morten Omlid, 62, Norwegian blues guitarist, on Nov. 24

Julio Anderson, 74, Chilean folk-rock bass guitarist, on Nov. 25
Los Jaivas – Pregon Para Iluminarse (1975, as member)

Yngvar Numme, 79, singer with Norwegian pop group Dizzie Tunes, on Nov. 25

Les Maguire, 81, pianist of Gerry & The Pacemakers, on Nov. 25
Gerry & The Pacemakers – I Like It (1963)
Gerry & The Pacemakers – Ferry Cross The Mersey (1964)

Terry Venables, 80, English football player and coach, occasional singer, on Nov. 25
Terry Venables – What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? (1974)

Geordie Walker, 64, guitarist of Killing Joke, songwriter, on Nov. 26
Killing Joke – Requiem (1980, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Love Like Blood (1985, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Jana (1994, also as co-writer)

Jimmy Owens, 93, Christian music songwriter, on Nov. 26

Brian Godding, 78, Welsh rock and jazz guitarist, on Nov. 26
Blossom Toes – Peace Loving Man (1969, as member and writer)
Brian Godding – Happy Endings (1988)

Joseph Meo, jazz saxophonist, announced Nov. 27

Lanny Gordin, 72, Brazilian guitarist and composer, on Nov. 28
Lanny Gordin – Tomati (2001)

John Colianni, 61, jazz pianist, on Nov. 28
Mel Tormé – The Christmas Song (1992, on piano)

Scott Kempner, 69, rhythm guitarist of rock band The Dictators, on Nov. 29
The Dictators – What It Is (1978, also as co-writer)

Shane MacGowan, 65, singer and songwriter of The Pogues, on Nov. 30
The Pogues – Sally MacLennane (Live on the John Peel Show, 1984, also as writer)
The Pogues – The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn (1985, also as writer)
The Pogues – Thousands Are Sailing (1988)
The Pogues & The Dubliners – Whiskey In The Jar (1990)
Shane MacGowan & The Popes – The Song With No Name (1993, also as writer)


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Any Major Randy Newman Songbook

November 28th, 2023 4 comments

The master storyteller Randy Newman is turning 80 today (November 28), so here is a Songbook to celebrate his great body of work.

It seems absurd now, but when Randy Newman released his song Short People in 1977, there was an outcry about the singer’s supposed bigotry directed at people of diminutive height. The opening verse’s claim that “short people have no reason to live” somehow failed to alert the scandalised kneejerkers that they were witness to pretty obvious satire, albeit one by a quite tall man.

Had they done their due diligence, these critics would have known not to take Newman songs at face value, for he had already built up a repertoire of irony-rich songs, and he would continue that practice for many years, before he became the bard of the Toy Story franchise (from which I include only one song, You’ve Got A Friend In Me).

My favourite of these is 1983’s I Love L.A., whose declarative title and catchy tune moved the organisers of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles to use the Newman composition as a theme song. You can’t really blame them for that in their arrogant enthusiasm they missed the sendup. Though the put-downs in the opening verse and the line, “Look at that bum over there, man, he’s down on his knees”, did provide clues that this was not a love letter to the City of Angels.

Newman played it totally straight on He Gives Us All His Love. The message is unspoken — in the perception of Newman, who is an atheist, love is all God gives, but no practical solutions. One may enter into theological debates about that understanding, but some Christian singers, like Wanda Jackson, covered the track as a song of praise. I assume that in his beautiful version on this Songbook collection, jazz maestro Roy Ayers also sings it straight, since he is a professing Christian.

Other times, Newman’s satire is obvious, as on 1972’s Political Science, which proposes that the US nukes everything in the world, including South America, who “stole our name”, and Canada, for the crime of being too cold. But not Australia, “Don’t want to hurt no kangaroo. We’ll build an all-American amusement park there.”

Of course, Newman also wrote movingly and without sarcasm about relationships, the human condition, even about history. The final verse of Guilty, best performed by Bonnie Raitt, just gets to you: “You know you know how it is with me baby. You know, I just can’t stand myself. And it takes a whole lot of medicine, for me to pretend that I’m somebody else.”

Much as it is with Joni Mitchell, whose 80th birthday on November 7 I marked with an Any Major Joni Mitchell Songbook, it pays to listen to Newman’s lyrics. And much like Joni, the voice can be a distraction in doing so. This Randy Newman Songbook may provide relief for those who have difficulty with his unmellifluous voice and constipated delivery.

I think this collection of covers is great, obviously, and it might serve as a good introduction to Newman’s work for those who are not familiar with it. But it is good to invest time and patience in exploring Newman’s own recordings of these songs, because, like Joni Mitchell, Newman has been a genre-fusing innovator in the singer-songwriter field, drawing from pop, rock, blues, jazz and even ragtime — but not much from folk.

Newman has, of course, featured here before. One of my favourites of his, Birmingham, was on Any Major American Road Trip Part 2, but it doesn’t feature here because I’m not aware of cover versions. The same goes for The Story Of A Rock ‘n Roll Band, which was on A Life In Vinyl 1980. I Love L.A. was on A Life In Vinyl 1983 and Any Major American Road Trip Part 3, and Dayton Ohio 1903 on Any Major American Road Trip Part 6, Lousiana on Any Major Year, and I Think It’s Gonna Rain Again on Any Major Wonder Years. (All the American Road Trip and Life In Vinyl mixes are up again.)

Mama Told Me Not To Come featured in the version by Eric Burdon and The Animals in The Originals: The 1970s Vol. 2, and I Think It’s Going To Rain Today by Maxine Wheldon on Covered With Soul Vol. 10 and then by Grady Tate on Covered With Soul Vol. 24.

Tracks 1-23 are timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Includes home-sailedaway covers, and the above in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
2. Wilson Pickett – Mama Told Me Not To Come (1971)
3. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Living Without You (1972)
4. Blood Sweat & Tears – Just One Smile (1968)
5. Dusty Springfield – I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore (1969)
6. Cass Elliot – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (1972)
7. Bonnie Raitt – Guilty (1972)
8. Nilsson – Sail Away (1976)
9. Asleep At The Wheel – Louisiana (1978)
10. Everything But The Girl – Political Science (1993)
11. Neil Diamond – Losing You (2010)
12. Kim Richey – Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father (2006)
13. Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt – Feels Like Home (1999)
14. Johnny Cash – My Old Kentucky Home (Turpentine And Dandelion Wine) (1975)
15. Joe Cocker – Lucinda (1975)
16. Etta James – Leave Your Hat On (1973)
17. The Mills Brothers – Dayton Ohio, 1903 (1969)
18. Roy Ayers – He Gives Us All His Love (1970)
19. Irma Thomas – While The City Sleeps (1964)
20. Jackie DeShannon – Hold Your Head High (1964)
21. Alan Price Set – Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear (1967)
22. Tim Hardin – I’ll Be Home (1972)
23. Lou Rawls – Let’s Burn Down The Cornfield (1970)
24. Three Dog Night – Cowboy (1970)
25. The Doobie Brothers – Beehive State (1971)
26. The Marshall Tucker Band – Mr. President (1982)
27. Third World – Baltimore (1999)
28. OMC – I Love L.A. (1997)
29. John Martyn – God’s Song (1998)
30. Saint Etienne – Snow (1993)
31. George Jones & Kathy Mattea – You’ve Got A Friend In Me (1996)
32. Randy Newman – Rollin’ (1974)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Joni Mitchell
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Rolling Stones Vol. 1
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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Any Major Albums Of The Year: 1983

November 22nd, 2023 6 comments

I almost wasn’t going to do this review of my Top 20 albums of 1983. I don’t recall that year as a particular highpoint in the history of popular music, unlike the preceding year, for which I found it quite easy to compile the Albums Of The Year: 1982 mix (and difficult to exclude some contenders). But therein lies the challenge!

I managed a Top 20, and did so without the inclusion of albums many of my peers might have included, acts like The Police, Tears For Fears, Yes, Tom Waits, U2, Eurythmics, New Order, Cyndi Lauper or Talking Heads.

Still, there are a few entries in my Top 20 which I’d rate as outstanding pop albums, in particular Wham!’s debut album, aptly titled Fantastic, and Aztec Camera’s thoroughly lovely High Land, Hard Rain.  The Style Council’s mini-LP, Introducing…, is also nearly flawless.

It strikes me that only half of the acts in my Top 20 are from the US. There are soul acts — Al Jarreau, Womack & Womack, Randy Crawford — and soul-popster Lionel Richie, whose Can’t Slow Down is raised by the genius of All Night Long and the glorious jazz-funk groove of Love Will Fund A Way (which featured on Any Major Soul 1983), as well as jazz singer Carrie Smith. But there are only two non-soul/jazz US acts. Billy Joel, whose An Innocent Man was a constant companion back in 1983, and Randy Newman… only two non-soul acts.

One act here also featured on Albums Of The Year: 1973, which I posted in October: Billy Joel.

This mix is a good companion to Life In Vinyl 1983, which features seven of the acts on this list. All of the soul acts featured here also appeared on Any Major Soul 1983.

So, what are your albums of 1983?

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

1. Heaven 17 – Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry (The Luxury Gap)
2. Depeche Mode – Love In Itself (Construction Time Again)
3. David Bowie – Modern Love (Let’s Dance)
4. Spandau Ballet – Lifeline (True)
5. Wham! – Ray Of Sunshine (Fantastic)
6. Al Jarreau – Trouble In Paradise (Jarreau)
7. Rufus & Chaka Khan – Stay (Stompin’ At The Savoy)
8. Randy Crawford – In Real Life (Nightline)
9. Billy Joel – Leave A Tender Moment Alone (An Innocent Man)
10. Culture Club – Victims (Colour By Numbers)
11. The Style Council – Long Hot Summer (Introducing…)
12. Nick Heyward – Whistle Down The Wind (North Of A Miracle)
13. Aztec Camera – The Boy Wonders (High Land, Hard Rain)
14. Big Country – Chance (The Crossing)
15. Van Morrison – Higher Than The World (Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart)
16. Pink Floyd – The Fletcher Memorial Home (The Final Cut)
17. Randy Newman – Christmas In Cape Town (Trouble In Paradise)
18. Carrie Smith – Doin’ Things For Her (Only You Can Do It)
19. Womack & Womack – Love Wars (Love Wars)
20. Lionel Richie – The Only One (Can’t Slow Down)


Previous Albums of the Year mixes:
1971 Vol. 1
1971 Vol. 2

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Any Major B-Side

November 16th, 2023 18 comments

Any Major B-Sides

This mix of great b-sides to (mostly) hit singles was first run in August 2015. As usual, I set myself a few rules in selecting tracks. The b-side must not have become a hit after being flipped, as many classic songs have been. So, for example, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, originally the b-side to Substitute, doesn’t qualify. I also discounted double a-sides, such as Elvis’ Don’t Be Cruel which in some countries was an actual b-side (and here one might pick an argument whether I ought to have disqualified The Jams’ The Butterfly Collector). B-sides that are famous in their own right, such as The Beatles’ Rain or Beth by Kiss, or are famous album tracks were also excluded.

One track here actually was initially an a-side: The Beach Boys‘ Don’t Worry Baby was released in 1964 as the lead, backed with I Get Around. The radio DJs quite rightly flipped the single; as a consequence I Get Around was the a-side in countries outside the US.

Some singles had different b-sides in different countries. My German copy of Blondie‘s X-Offender was backed with Man Overboard, but in most countries the flip side was the excellent In The Sun. The single version was a shorter mix of the song that appeared on the debut album. The sublime X-Offender, which was a commercial flop, later appeared as a b-side itself, on the Rip Her To Shreds single.


Fleetwood Mac‘s Silver Springs is perhaps the finest non-hit, non-on-classic-album-featuring b-sides ever. Written by Stevie Nicks for the Rumours album, it was dumped for length, much to Nicks’ frustration, and instead used as a b-side to Go Your Own Way. On that great album, it would have been a highlight (maybe instead of Oh Daddy or Gold Dust Woman); latter CD releases include it as a bonus track.

Color Him Father — which featured on Any Major Fathers and Any Major Soul 1969 Vol. 1 — was the Grammy-winning 1969 hit for The Winstons, but it was the b-side that had the impact. The drum break of Amen Brother, an instrumental interpretation of Jester Hairson’s Amen song in the film Lilies of the Field, is said to be the most sampled piece of music ever. Played by Gregory Coleman, it’s 1:23 minutes into the song.

And that”s almost the length of Culture Club‘s That”s The Way. A longer version appears on the Color By Numbers album; the version included here is the actual b-side of Karma Chameleon, which ends rather abruptly before Helen Terry’s vocals kick in. I admit that on this mix, I’m using the LP version.

Al Green‘s Strong As Death has a tragic back story. Apparently he wrote the song for his girlfriend Mary Woodson and recorded it on the very day — 18 October 1974 — she threw a pot of boiling grits at the singer, causing the singer second-degree burns on his arms, stomach and back. She then ran to the bedroom and allegedly killed herself with Green’s gun (there are some who claim it wasn’t a suicide). It was this episode that made Green become the Singing Reverend. Other sources say Green recorded Sha La La (Make Me Happy), but that’s not as good a story as a lyric that goes: “We don’t have that much time, there’s no need in us crying. Hey baby, I’m in the mood for love.”


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

1. Blondie – In The Sun (1976 – b-side of X-Offender)
2. The Jam – The Butterfly Collector (1979 – Strange Town)
3. Depeche Mode – But Not Tonight (Extended Remix) (1986 – Stripped)
4. Culture Club – That’s The Way (1983 – Karma Chameleon)
5. Fleetwood Mac – Silver Springs (1977 – Go Your Own Way)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Shut Out The Light (1984 – Born In The USA)
7. Harry Nilsson – Gotta Get Up (1972 – Without You)
8. Steely Dan – Any Major Dude Will Tell You (1974 – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number)
9. Badfinger – Carry On Till Tomorrow (1970 – No Matter What)
10. Nancy Sinatra – The City Never Sleeps At Night (1965 – These Boots Are Made…)
11. The Beach Boys – Don’t Worry Baby (1964 – I Get Around)
12. The Walker Brothers – But I Do (1965 – Make It Easy On Yourself)
13. The Rolling Stones – Long Long While (1966 – Paint It, Black)
14. The Troggs – I Want You (1966 – With A Girl Like You)
15. The Winstons – Amen Brother (1969 – Color Him Father)
16. Otis Redding – The Happy Song (Dum Dum) (1966 – Open The Door)
17. Al Green – Strong As Death (Sweet As Love) (1975 – Oh Me Oh My)
18. Hot Chocolate – You’re A Natural High (1974 – Disco Queen)
19. KC & the Sunshine Band – I Betcha Didn’t Know That (1979 – Don’t Go)
20. Wham! – Blue (Armed With Love) (1983 – Club Tropicana)
21. David Bowie – Velvet Goldmine (1972 – on 1975 reissue of Space Oddity)
22. New Order – 1963 (1987 – True Faith)
23. The Smiths – Jeane (1983 – This Charming Man)
24. The Pogues – Wild Rover (1985 – Sally MacLennane)


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Any Major Joni Mitchell Songbook

November 7th, 2023 4 comments


On November 7, Joni Mitchell will turn 80 — and after that health scare a couple of years ago, we may be grateful for that.

I discussed Joni (it sounds a bit disrespectful to refer to her by surname only) in the notes for the Blue Recovered mix in 2021. At the time I called her voice “broccoli” — a vegetable I don’t like even as I appreciate its wholesome properties. Writing that prompted me to revisit Joni’s music in a bid to force my ears to eat their broccoli. It was a good detox; I still flinch at the high notes but defended them when Any Major Dudette — the broccoli eater in our house, as it happens — objected to their sound. In any case, as the 1970s went on, Joni’s voice got deeper.

This mix, as did Blue Recovered, highlights the room for interpretation Joni’s songs allow, despite being so personal. Nothing here is quite as reworked as the Nazareth’s The Flight Tonight on Blue Recovered, but the most surprising interpretation here is Neil Diamond’s Free Man In Paris, which moves between rock and Broadway. It’s great.

Diamond reappears in the bonus tracks with his lovely 1969 version of Both Sides Now. In the CD-R playlist that song is covered by the wonderful German singer Katja Ebstein, in whose diction even German sounds beautiful. Her interpretation and the arrangement is gorgeous; Michael Kunze’s lyrics are not a direct translation, but I imagine Joni would approve of them.

Steely Dan also had to tinker with lyrics in their superb take of Carey, in which the protagonist undergoes the necessary gender-swap to become a “Mean Old Mama”. Fagan and Becker recorded the song for a tribute album to Joni, but it wasn’t used. It was “rediscovered” last year.

In Herbie Hancock, an old pal of Joni’s appears here. Hancock collaborated with Joni during her jazz phase; in 2007 he roped in various vocalists for an album of his interpretations of Mitchell songs. Among these singers was the wonderful UK soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae, who gives the over-covered River just the right treatment.

An even older Joni pal was Tom Rush, who has the honour of representing the song I’d name as my “favourite” Joni Mitchell track: The Circle Game. The coming-of-age song was a more hopeful response to fellow Canadian Neil Young’s Sugar Mountain, which was full of angst about growing up.

Written in 1966, The Circle Game was first recorded by Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia and soon after released on single by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Tom Rush, whose support helped many folk artists — including Joni — break through, recorded it in 1968. Two years later Joni finally did it herself. Rush was the first to record two other Mitchell songs, Tin Angel and Urge For Going, both in 1968 (she recorded these herself in 1969 and 1972 respectively).

Urge For Going features here in the rather unexpected hands of Lee Hazelwood, who recorded it for his 1973 album I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, which also included covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Harry Chapin. Bob Dylan also features here, with the much-loved and also much-despised Big Yellow Taxi (a song on which I love Joni’s vocals). It is a pity that of everything that Mitchell has done, this slight song is her most famous. It’s a fine song, but it is neither her best nor her most representative — which is why, I suppose, it is so despised by many Joni fans.

The CD-R playlist closes with Richie Haven’s version of Woodstock, a song written by someone who wasn’t at the festival performed by somebody who was.

The bonus tracks include four tracks for which there was no space on the CD-R playlist, and for more which feature before by other acts.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-made covers on both sides now, and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Band with Joni Mitchell – Coyote (1978)
2. Bob Dylan – Big Yellow Taxi (1973)
3. Natalie Merchant – All I Want (1995)
4. Steely Dan – Carey (2001)
5. k.d. lang – A Case Of You (2004)
6. Herbie Hancock feat. Corinne Bailey Rae – River (2007)
7. Judy Collins – Chelsea Morning (1969)
8. Katja Ebstein – Beide Seiten (Both Sides Now) (1973)
9. Tom Rush – The Circle Game (1968)
10. Fairport Convention – I Don’t Know Where I Stand (1968)
11. Bonnie Raitt – That Song About The Midway (1974)
12. Gail Davies – You Turn Me On I’m A Radio (1982)
13. Three Dog Night – Night In The City (1971)
14. Lee Hazlewood – Urge For Going (1973)
15. Hoyt Axton – He Played Real Good For Free (1982)
16. Neil Diamond – Free Man In Paris (1977)
17. Stewart & Gaskin – Amelia (1991)
18. Richie Havens – Woodstock (2004)
19. George Michael – Edith & The Kingpin (2005)
20. Diana Krall – Black Crow (2004)
21. Claire Martin – Be Cool (1992)
22. Tim Curry – Cold Blue Steel And Sweet Fire (1979)
23. Barbra Streisand – I Don’t Know Where I Stand (1971)
24. Neil Diamond – Both Sides Now (1969)
25. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Chelsea Morning (1973)
26. David Crosby feat. Sarah Jarosz – For Free (2021)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Rolling Stones Vol. 1
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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In Memoriam – October 2023

October 30th, 2023 2 comments

Due to certain commitments, I’m posting the October In Memoriam before the month is out. Those passings that haven’t made it this month will be listed in the November instalment.

Among the notable deaths outside music was that of the world’s oldest dog. Bobi, a Portuguese Rafeiro do Alentejo dog, reached the biblical old age of 31 and thus had the longest canine life on record. His secret to long life was a cigar with a glass of port a day, and daily sex. The world’s oldest dog is now Spike, a 24-year-old chihuahua from Ohio, who is a celibate tee-total non-smoker.

Actually, Bobi’s owners say that their dog’s longevity was due to a “calm, peaceful environment” and consumption of fresh food rather than conventional dog food. He wasn’t neutered, so the daily sex part might be true…

The Isley Brother
In the Isley Brothers, Ronald usually took the lead, but sometimes Rudy Isley got his turn, as he did on the 1979 hit It’s A Disco Night. Rudy’s backing vocals and harmonies were essential to the Isley sound, as were his songwriting contributions to hits like Shout, It’s Your Thing, That Lady, Harvest For The World, and Fight The Power (on which he shared the lead with Ronald and O’Kelly).

Rudy released only one single outside the Isley Brothers, I’ve Got To Get Myself Together, a duet with backing singer Judy White. It was issued in 1970 and credited to Rudy & Judy.

Rudy, who in the 1970s was easily recognisable by sporting a pimp look, left the music industry in 1989 to become a Christian minister. He married Elaine Jasper (sister of later Isleys member Chris Jasper) in 1958; they remained together till Rudy’s death on October 11.

The Composer
In jazz circles, Carla Bley commanded great respect as an innivative composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. In 1957, at the age of 21, she married jazz pianist Paul Bley — they met when she was working as a cigarette girl at the famous Birdland jazz club. He encouraged her to pursue a career in jazz. She kept his name even after they divorced in 1967.

Carla saw herself foremost as a composer, and also wrote for others (including then-husband Paul). Above that, she also worked behind the scenes to organise the Jazz Composers Guild. Her most significant work was the triple-LP jazz opera Escalator Over The Hill, released in 1971. She recorded until 2020.

Actor Richard Roundtree was known as the übercool sleuth Shaft in the blaxploitation movies (the Any Major Blaxploitation collection is up again, by the way). While Roundtree has secured his place in movie history, his forays into the world of crooning is mostly forgotten.

Roundtree had a quite good voice with which he seemed to aim for the adult-oriented soul scene occupied by the likes of Grady Tate. Inevitably, there was a Blaxploitation funk track called The Man From Shaft, which isn’t bad. The 1972 album of the same title, Roundtree’s only LP, was produced by Eugene McDaniels, with backing singers including Les McCann, Barbara Massey, Jean DuShon and Debra Laws (whose brother Hubert chips in with flute work).

After that, Roundtree released two more singles, and that was it with the recording career.

The Beatmaster
The 7” single has run out for The 45 King, the beatmaster and hip hop producer known to his mom as Mark James. Born in the Bronx in 1961, The 45 King made his name in the 1980s with his tracks of beats sampled from mainly obscure 45 records.

The most famous of these is The 900 Number from 1987, which looped a piece of saxophone solo from Marva Whitney’s 1968 track Unwind Yourself. The English DJ Chad Jackson sampled The 900 Number on his 1990 UK #3 hit Hear The Drummer (Get Wicked).

The 45 King also produced many hip hop artists, including Rakim, MC Lyte, Gang Starr, Apache, Lakim Shabazz, and King Sun. His biggest hits in that field were Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life and Eminem’s Stan. He also produced acts like Queen Latifah, including her debut album All Hail The Queen. Jay-Z has called The 45 King one of the most important hip hop producers.

The Keyboardist
Session musician Paul Harris, who has died at 79, has appeared on several songs on Any Major Mixes, such as on Rusty Wier’s Texas Morning on Any Major Morning Vol. 1, Richie Havens’ Morning Morning on Any Major Morning Vol. 2, and Bob Seger’s Against The Wind, on which he plays the piano to such defining effect.

A one-time member of Stephen Stills & Manassas, The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and King Harvest, the multi-instrumentalist was best-known for his prolific session work. These included the piano on ABBA’s Voulez-Vous (which the band recorded in Miami),B.B. King’s definitive version of The Thrill Is Gone, and Mama Cass’ Dream A Little Dream, .

Other acts he backed were The Doors, Nick Drake, B.B. King, Judy Collins, Al Kooper, John Sebastian, Joe Walsh, Seals & Crofts, Poco, Maria Muldaur, Dan Fogelberg, John Cougar (Mellencamp), Andy Gibb, and Aerosmith, among many others. He was also an arranger (notably on Tim Hardin’s Simple Song Of Freedom), and producer.

The Reggae Founder
Keyboardist Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper had the distinction of having been a founder member of two legendary reggae groups, Inner Circle and Third World. He left the former in 1973 to co-found Third World. With that group, he created a string of classics, such as 1865 (96 Degrees In The Shade), Now That We Found Love (a cover of the O’Jays song), Cool Meditation, Talk To Me, Dancin’ On The Floor, and Try Jah Love.

Cooper also played with acts like Burning Spear, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Barrington Levy and Lenny Kravitz. Cooper also headed the department of Caribbean, Latin American and Jazz in the Popular Music Studies faculty at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Real Voice
Around 1970, there were several studio band projects run by British producers Roger Cook and Rob Greenway. One of them was Edison Lighthouse, another White Plains. The latter had a hit in 1970 with the catchy My Baby Loves Lovin’.

The question who sang the lead on that hit was long unresolved. For a long time, the popular narrative claimed it was session singer Tony Burrows, who also did lead vocals on Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) and other Cook/Greenway hits. Now it is widely acknowledged, and confirmed by Greenway, that the lead singer was the South African Ricky Wolff, who has died at 78, with Burrows doubling him on the chorus.

Wolff left White Plains in 1971 and went on to have a successful career as a musician in South African bands, especially soft rock band City Limits, and as a producer. In the latter capacity, he produced a local pop classic in Marcalex’s 1989 hit Quick Quick.

The Centenarian
Country singer Mervin Shiner did not have a glittering career; his two biggest hits — Peter Cottontail and Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me — were 73 years ago. But it is worth noting when a life of over a hundred years ends. Shiner racked up 102 rotations around the sun. In his young days, the Bethlehem Pennsylvania-born singer had some local success as a radio performer, appearing with his mother as a country and gospel duo.

Shiner, a honky-tonk singer and guitarist, started his recording career in 1949, and by 1955 his first (and quite prolific) run of singles, many of them novelty songs for kids, ended. Shiner, who also was a songwriter, returned to release three albums in 1969 and 1970, one of them a children’s Christmas album, the others including covers of songs like In The Ghetto and Teach Your Children, among the more conventional country fare.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.

Ricky Wolff, 78, South African singer of White Plains and producer, on Oct. 1
White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’ (1970, on lead or co-lead)
City Limits – Shouldn’t Fall In Love (1980, as member)
Marcalex – Quick Quick (1988, as producer)

Ron Haffkine, 84, producer (all Dr Hook hits), songwriter and manager, on Oct. 1
Cherry People – And Suddenly (1968, as producer)
Dr Hook & The Medicine Show – When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (1979, as producer)

Lutz Wollersen, 68, singer of German band Rudolf Rock & The Schockers, on Oct. 1
Lutz Wollersen – Wenn Engel Trauer tragen (1984)

Julian Bahula, 85, South African drummer, singer, composer, on Oct. 1
Jabula – Jabula Happiness (1975, as writer, bandleader and on drums)

Joy Webb, 91, singer of British Salvation Army pop group Joystrings, on Oct. 1

Dominique ‘Terracota’ Perrier, c.72, French electronic musician and composer, on Oct. 4
Space Art – Speedway (1977, as member and co-writer)

Bruno Filippini, 78, Italian singer, on Oct. 5
Bruno Filippini – L’amore ha i tuoi occhi (1965)

Ritchie Routledge, 73, singer and guitarist of UK pop group Cryin’ Shames, on Oct. 8
The Cryin’ Shames – Please Stay (1966)

Shinji Tanimura, 74, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Oct. 8

Buck Trent, 85, country musician and TV personality (Hee Haw), on Oct. 9
Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind (1967, on banjo)
Buck Trent – Buck’s Hee Haw Talkin’ Blues (1976)

Kevin Parrott, member of English duo Brian & Michael, songwriter, on Oct. 9
Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs (1977, as producer)

Hugh Friel, 71, drummer of Irish new wave group The Atrix, on Oct. 9
The Atrix – Procession (1981)

Jeff L’Heureux, 63, heavy metal musician, motorbike accident on Oct. 10

Rudolph Isley, 84, singer with The Isley Brothers and songwriter, on Oct. 11
The Isley Brothers – Shout (1959, also as co-writer)
Rudy & Judy – I’ve Got to Get Myself Together (1970, also as co-writer)
The Isley Brothers – You Still Feel The Need (1976, on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, 71, keyboardist of Third World, on Oct. 12
Third World – Talk To Me (1979)
Third World – Try Jah Love (1982)
Lenny Kravitz – Eleutheria (1993, on organ)

Aérea Negrot, 43, Venezuelan, Germany-based singer and electronic musician, on Oct. 12
Aérea Negrot – It’s Lover, Love (2011)

Frank Hocker, 66, German rock guitarist and singer, on Oct. 12

Ali Claudi, 80, German jazz, blues and Krautrock musician, on Oct. 12
Ali Claudi & Friends – Time (1975, also as writer)

Garry Mapanzure, 25, Zimbabwean singer, in car crash on Oct. 13

Gary Nuñez, 71, member of Puerto Rican bomba group Plena Libre, on Oct. 14
Plena Libre – Que Bonita Bandera (2012)

Jimmy LaRocca, 83, jazz trumpeter and composer, on Oct. 15

Carla Bley, 87, jazz composer and musician, on Oct. 17
Carla Bley & Paul Haines – Escalator Over The Hill (1971)
Carla Bley & Charlie Haden – The Ballad Of The Fallen
Carla Bley – Lawns (1987)

Dwight Twilley, 72, power-pop singer-songwriter, on Oct. 18
Dwight Twilley Band – I’m On Fire (1975)

Atsushi Sakurai, 57, singer of Japanese rock band Buck-Tick, on Oct. 19
Buck-Tick – Aku no Hana (1990)

Lasse Berghagen, 78, Swedish singer and songwriter, on Oct. 19

The 45 King, 62, hip hop DJ, producer and remixer, on Oct. 19
The 45 King – The King is Here! (1987)
Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love – Ladies First (1988, as producer)
Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life (1998, as producer)

Oscar Valdés, 85, Cuban singer and percussionist, on Oct.19
Irakere – Bacalao Con Pan (1974, as member and singer)

Arni Cheatham, 79, jazz saxophonist and flautist, educator, on Oct. 22

Gregg Sutton, 74, musician and songwriter, on Oct. 22
Sam Brown – Stop (1988, as co-writer)
Maria McKee – Breathe (1990, as co-writer)

Mervin Shiner, 102, country singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Oct. 23
Mervin Shiner – Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me (1949)
Mervin Shiner – Peter Cottontail (1950)
Merv Shiner – California Girl And The Tennessee Square (1969)

Angelo Bruschini, 62, English guitarist, on October 23
The Blue Aeroplanes – Angel Words (1991, as member)
Massive Attack – A Prayer For England (2003, as member)

Ricardo Iorio, 61, Argentinian metal singer and bassist, on Oct. 24

Richard Roundtree, 81, actor and soul singer, on Oct. 24
Richard Roundtree – Peace In The Morning (1972)
Richard Roundtree – Goodnight My Love (1973)

Steve Riley, 67, ex-drummer of W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns, on Oct. 24
L.A. Guns – Ballad Of Jayne (1989, as member)

Paul Harris, 79, rock keyboardist, on Oct. 24
Stephen Stills & Manassas – So Many Times (1973, as member)
ABBA – Voulez-Vous (1979, on piano)
Bob Seger – Against The Wind (1980, on piano)

Goa Gil, 72, electronic musician, DJ, and remixer, on Oct. 26

Rigo Star, 68, Congolese soukous guitarist and composer, on Oct. 26
Rigo Star – Rosalina (1985)


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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 4

October 24th, 2023 3 comments


After sitting out the annual murder songs mix for Halloween last year, here’s Volume 4. That’s now 86 songs about murders, with more still in line… All previous Murder Song links are working again, by the way, as are all Halloween links.

At this point I ought to issue a caveat: despite whatever flippancy might accompany this post, I’m not playing the subject of murder for easy laughs. I can’t, having lost a niece to her knife-wielding husband. The guy was mentally ill, so there’s that. But also, he refused to get help, so fuck that guy. He killed himself after stabbing my niece.

This year domestic abusers get their just deserts. The Dixie Chicks kill Earl — of course, it’s an Earl — who killed his wife, their friend. They make Earl disappear, so no body, no crime. That theme is recycled 20 years later by Taylor Swift in her excellent douchebag-killing song.

It’s all a lot Fried Green Tomatoes, the 1991 film in which a domestic abuser is disappeared. I am not advocating vigilante justice, and these songs should give us greater reason for thought than cheer. But at the same time, if the killers of men who abused women get away with it, I won’t cry about the injustice of it all.

It seems that Mr. Lee, a teacher, might have it coming from Harlem girl-group The Bobettes. In 1957, they were still singing adoringly about Mr. Lee (based on a real teacher, whom they had sought to diss in song, until Atlantic Records insisted on him being their crush. It featured on Any Major ABC of the 1950s). By 1959, they did a sequel, in which the hated Mr. Lee had to be shot.

Atlantic refused to release the track — which, as the first song, was written by the five Bobettes. So the group re-recorded it for Triple-X Record, and were having a minor hit with it. Then Atlantic sued for copyright infringement — of as song written by the Bobettes! — and had all stock of the record destroyed, releasing the version instead. Tragically, in 1980, a stranger stabbed Bobette Jannie Pought to death. She was 34.

Of course we also have the usual crimes of passion, though Norah Jones takes it to spooky limits with her song. Of these tracks, I think soul singer Bobby Marchan’s cover of Big Jay McNeely’s There Is Something on Your Mind is the best. His vocals are superb, especially the spoken bit.

One track here is not necessarily a murder song. It depends on your position on capital punishment. My inclusion of the Bee Gees song tips you off about where I stand on the subject. Taking a defenceless life is murder, and more so if the execution is a miscarriage of justice, as it is in Vicki Lawrence’s  The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia. At least the killing in Marty Robbins’ Big Iron is a fair fight. Happily the bad guy, with the 20 notches on his gun, loses.

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

1. Frank Sinatra – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (1974)
The Vic: Leroy, looking like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone
2. Bobby Darin – Moritat (Mack The Knife) (live, 1971)
The Vic: Louie Miller. He disappeared, babe
3. The Bobbettes – I Shot Mr. Lee (1960)
The Vic: Mr Lee, a good-looking sex-pest teacher
4. Bobby Marchan – There Is Something On Your Mind (1964)
The Vic: His girl and her lover, at least theoretically
5. Bee Gees – I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You (1968)
The Vic: A message-sending killer, on the electric chair
6. Vicky Lawrence – The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia (1973)
The Vic: Andy Warlord, a cheating sister-in-law, and an innocent man hung
7. Carole King – Smackwater Jack (live, 1973 or 1976)
The Vic: Smackwater Jack, after he killed the congregation
8. Martina McBride – Independence Day (1993)
The Vic: An abusive father and husband, in a fire
9. Dixie Chicks – Goodbye Earl (2000)
The Vic: Wife-killer Earl. His body disappeared…
10. Taylor Swift feat. HAIM – No Body, No Crime (2020)
The Vic: A generation later, another wife-killer disappears
11. Norah Jones – Miriam (2012)
The Vic: Miriam, getting it from the wife of her lover
12. Jenny Lewis – Jack Killed Mom (2008)
The Vic: Jack’s abusive mom
13. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – We Came Along This Road (2000)
The Vic: Another cheating wife and her lover
14. Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night (live, 1994)
The Vic: A cuckolded husband, beheaded in the woods
15. John & Audrey Wiggins – Memory Making Nights (1994)
The Vic: Ginger, before she could leave town
16. Waylon Jennings – Cedartown, Georgia (1971)
The Vic: His cheating wife, in Room 23
17. Paul Siebel – Louise (1970)
The Vic: Louise, a sex worker
18. Johnny Cash – Cocaine Blues (1969)
The Vic: Another unfaithful wife, after he took a shot of cocaine
19. Johnny Horton – When It’s Springtime In Alaska (It’s Forty Below) (1958)
The Vic: The singer, done for by Big Ed
20. Marty Robbins – Big Iron (1960)
The Vic: Murderous outlaw Texas Red, in a High Noon duel
21. Georgie Fame – The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
The Vic: One brave man, and then Bonnie and Clyde


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Any Major Albums of the Year: 1973

October 12th, 2023 2 comments

Following from the mixes paying tribute to my favourite albums of 1971 (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and 1972 — and 1982 — I continue the series of 50th anniversaries of great LPs.

In 1973 I was not yet an LP buyer, much as I’d love to claim that I bought Can’s Future Days at the age of seven. But I have caught up with that year.

My Top 20 of 1973 (or Top 25, if we include the five bonus tracks) includes a number of acts at the beginning of their success: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album, and also Hall & Oates, Linda Lewis, Billy Joel and Buckingham Nicks (who, of course, would become mega stars as members of Fleetwood Mac). Bruce Springsteen hit the road running with two albums (and then didn’t release another one for two years). John Prine issued his excellent sophomore album, though it was not as well received as his stunning debut two years earlier.

One can’t say that by 1973 Earth, Wind & Fire were obscure, but they were beginning to really break through with their two albums in 1973: Open Your Eyes and Head To The Sky. In keeping with my rule of only one album per artist per year, I picked the former for my Top 20.

Choosing between two albums can be tough. In the case of the recently late Linda Lewis, I really couldn’t decide between Lark and Fathoms Deep. Both are gorgeous albums, and one can do worse than to listen to them consecutively, as if they were a double LP. Gladys Knight & The Pips also released two album 1973. Both were in contention for my Top 20; if you merge the best tracks of these albums into one album, and you’d have an absolute soul classic. The same goes for the two Al Green albums of the year, and to some extent also the two Springsteen sets.

There are many other good albums that didn’t make the Top 25, but merit mention, by acts like Bobby Womack, The O’Jays, Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Freda Payne, The Temptations, and Claudia Lennear. 1973 was a golden year for soul music, clearly.

Aside from my indifference to Aladdin Sane, the obvious omission here is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. I must confess that I have never owned that album. Call me a Wish You Were Here man.

The best album cover of the Top 20 is that of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I have told the story of that cover, and also Recovered that double LP-set (meaning, each song consecutively in cover versions).

As I did for 1972 and 1982, I let the collection kick off with a track from my album of the year, which in 1973 is Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. Or I might choose as my Album of the Year the Save The Children live set, which features the cream of the era’s black acts. But, you know, I don’t allow compilations…

So, what are your albums of 1973?As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-larked covers and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Stevie Wonder – Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing (Innervision)
2. The Isley Brothers – If You Were There (3 + 3)
3. The Spinners – Ghetto Child (Spinners)
4. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Las Vegas Turnaround (Abandoned Luncheonette)
5. Linda Lewis – Reach For The Truth (Lark)
6. Judee Sill – Soldier Of The Heart (Heart Food)
7. John Prine – Sweet Revenge (Sweet Revenge)
8. Gram Parsons – Streets Of Baltimore (GP)
9. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone (pronounced ‘leh-’nérd ‘skin-’nérd)
10. Little Feat – On Your Way Down (Dixie Chicken)
11. Steely Dan – King Of The World (Countdown To Ecstasy)
12. The Fabulous Rhinestones – Freewheelin’ (Freewheelin’)
13. Buckingham Nicks – Crying In The Night (Buckingham Nicks)
14. Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion (Open Your Eyes)
15. Donny Hathaway – Love, Love, Love (Extension Of A Man)
16. Billy Joel – If I Only Had The Words (To Tell You) (Piano Man)
17. Paul McCartney & Wings – Bluebird (Band On The Run)
18. Elton John – Harmony (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)
19. Al Green – Stand Up (Call Me)
20. Marvin Gaye – Keep Gettin’ It On (Let’s Get It On)
Bonus Tracks
21. Sly & The Family Stone – Babies Making Babies (Fresh)
22. Roberta Flack – No Tears (In The End) (Killing Me Softly)
23. Isaac Hayes – Light My Fire (Live At The Sahara Tahoe)
24. Bruce Springsteen – Growin’ Up (Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.)
25. Albert Hammond – Everything I Want To Do (The Free Electric Band)


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