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In Memoriam – February 2024

March 4th, 2024 3 comments

Some deaths sort of intersect with my plans: In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the first of the Hits from 1974 mixes. Among the tracks on that collection is Redbone’s Come And Get Your Love. This month we lost Butch Rillera, who played the drums on that song.

Carole King had cause for grieving in January, with two deaths which were not announced until early February. Her frequent songwriting partner, the lyricist Toni Stern passed away on January 17; then Hank Ciralo, sound engineer on almost all of her 1970s albums (including Tapestry), died on January 31.

One entry here might surprise. Carl Weathers was a famous actor, playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky series of films. Just recently I saw him on a repeated binge of the great TV series The Shield, on which Weathers had a couple of cameos as a disgraced ex-cop. Weathers tried his luck at being a soul singer, but released only one single, in 1981. It was a rather good soul number, which he had co-written. I’d like to have heard more from Weathers.

 

The Jam Kicker
In the late 1960s, there had never been a band quite like MC5 (which stood for Motor City Five). They had a raw, forceful high-energy sound, which made use of feedback and loud guitar solos, with lyrics that were militantly left-wing, and could include profanity (“Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”). They performed as part of the anti- Vietnam War protests outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that were met with rioting police.

MC5 foreshadowed, inspired and influenced the punk scene that would emerge a few years later. Playing that aggressive lead guitar was Wayne Kramer, who has died at 75. Now only drummer Dennis Thompson is still with us of the classic MC5 line-up.

MC5 didn’t last long. Subjected to government harassment, radio bans and some retailers refusing to stock their records, the band broke up in 1972, though several reunions followed. Kramer was part of those.

After MC5, Kramer was involved in a number of musical projects, including playing with Was (not Was), Bad Religion, Pere Ubu and Mudhoney. And he spent four years in jail in the 1970s for pushing drugs. This was referred to in The Clash’s song Jail Guitar Doors.

Later in life, Kramer composed music for TV and film, was still involved in social justice activism and advocacy for young musicians, and remained a frequent guest at other acts’ shows, such as Rage Against The Machine, the 1990s successors to MC5.

The Last Spinner
With the death at 85 of baritone singer Henry Fambrough, all members of the classic line-up of The Spinners are gone. Frambrough was a Spinner from the group’s founding in 1954, and apart from a military-forced gap of two years in the early 1960s, he remained with the band until April last year — a stretch of 69 years.

After he returned from the army, The Spinners were signed to Motown. It was a fallow period with no hits; Frambrough served much of it as a driver for Berry Gordy’s mother.

When success came, on Atlantic, in the 1970s, Frambrough was one of the group’s three leads.

The Can Singer
With the death of Damo Suzuki, only one member of the classic early 1970s line-up of Krautrock legends Can is still alive, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt. Japanese-born Suzuki was Can’s lead singer from 1970-73, arguably their most prolific and certainly commercially most successful period. Aside from providing lead vocals, Suzuku also co-wrote material, including the chart hit Spoon and the classic Vitamin-C.

Born in Kobe, Japan, Suzuki came to West Germany in the mid-1960s. He was spotted busking in Munich by Can bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who invited him to first overdub the recorded vocals of departed singer Malcolm Mooney and then to join the band.

After leaving Can, Suzuki became a Jehovah’s Witness and retired from the music business. Having left the Witnesses, he returned to music in 1983, with German experimental rock band Dunkelziffer and The Damo Suzuki Band, and in the 1990s with Damo Suzuki’s Network.

The Flagwaver
The first time I ever heard a Toby Keith song, it was not a happy experience. His angry patriotic song Courtesy Of The Red, White, & Blue, written in reaction to 9/11, was a perfect articulation of The Ugly American as perceived by so much of the rest of the world. It soundtracked George W Bush’s illegitimate war on Iraq. Ironically, despite having supported Bush, Keith voiced his opposition to that invasion.

Keith’s politics were complicated. A long-time Democrat, he left the party only in 2008, though he still endorsed Obama. By 2016, he played for Trump.

Keith was a huge star in country music. Of the 69 singles he released after his 1993 debut, 42 made the Billboard Country Top 10, and 20 topped those charts. In the 2000s, he crossed over. Of 37 singles released between 1999 and 2012, only two failed to make it into the Billboard Top 100 charts, 15 reached the Top 40 (none made it into the Top 10, though). The subject matter of most of these records revolved around alcohol and women who were either easy (and fond of a drink) or too much work for a catch like Toby.

 

The Wailing Bassist
Without the bass, reggae is only half a thing. Playing the bass for The Wailers on those Bob Marley records from 1970 to his death in 1981 was Aston Barrett, who went by the nickname Family Man — thus dubbed before he even had the first of his 41 children.

Barrett, a multi-instrumentalist who mentored Robbie Shakespeare of Sly & Robbie, also played on records of other acts, such as Lee Perry, The Upsetters, Peter Tosh (including on Legalize It), Taj Mahal, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Horace Andy, Max Romeo, King Tubby, Bunny Wailer, Dillinger, Al Campbell, Bunny Lee, The Paragons, and many others. He also produced Benjamin Zephaniah’s Free South Afrika, which featured on In Memoriam – December 2023.

Barrett lost a lot of money in 2006 when he unsuccessfully sued Island Records and the (not always lovable) Marley family for unpaid royalties to the tune of £60 million. The court found that Barrett had signed away his rights to any further royalties in a 1994 settlement, for which he had received a few hundred thousand dollars.

The Wailing Guitarist
Three days after Barrett died, his some-time colleague Donald Kinsey left us at age 70. Born in Gary, Indiana, Kinsey was a guitarist in the touring line-up of Bob Marley and The Wailers. In 1976, Kinsey was standing near Marley when assassins tried (and failed) to take the singer’s life at his home. Kinsey avoided being hit by using his guitar case as a shield from the bullets.

Kinsey was on guitar duty, alongside Barrett’s bass, on Peter Tosh’s Legalize It, as well as on some Burning Spears records.

In 1984, Kinsey joined his father, Big Daddy Kinsey, and his brothers in The Kinsey Report, a blues-rock band.

The Tich
You’d think that in a group whose name consists of five names, the last-named guy is something of an afterthought. But that would do injustice to Ian “Tich” Amey of English 1960s popsters Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. It was in fact Tich who co-founded the future multi-moniker band with Dozy, known to his mom as Trevor Davies.

With Dave Dee on lead vocals and Tich on lead guitar, the band had a string of hits in the UK and Europe, including Bend It, Hold Tight, Save Me, Zabadak!, I’m Okay and the UK chart-topper The Legend of Xanadu. Tich left the band briefly a couple of times in the 1960s, but remained with it until 2014. There have been two more Tichs in the band since.

In 1974 Amey released an album with John “Beaky” Dymond and Peter Mason under the moniker Mason, and then was in a band called Tracker. After 1976 he rejoined Dozy, Beaky and Mick permanently.

Of the original line-up, only Beaky and Nick survive.

The Banjo Stoneman
To a generation of US television viewers, Roni Stoneman was best known as the gap-toothed character Ida Lee Nagger on the country music comedy show Hee Haw. But above that, she was an accomplished banjo player, performing mostly with her siblings and, in the early days, father as The Stoneman Family or Stonemans, which won the CMA award for best group in 1969. In the 1970s she released a handful solo singles, none of which were successful.

The Stoneman Fanily had a link to the pioneering days of country music, long before that term (or bluegrass) was even invented. Their father and initial frontman Ernest Stoneman was among the first musicians of the genre to have a hit, in 1924 with The Sinking Of The Titanic. Alas, Stoneman lost all the wealth he had built up in a lucrative career during the Great Depression, at the far end of which Roni was born in 1938. She was one of 13 siblings who lived into adulthood (ten others died in infancy or childhood). All but one are now gone; mandolin player Donna is the last survivor.

 

The Viral Fighter
In January, Cat Janice knew that the cancer, which she had beaten once before, would soon take her, at the horribly young age of 31. So she speed-released her new song, Dance You Outta My Head, on January 19 and wrote the rights to it over to her seven-year-old son, so that he would benefit from the revenue it will create. The video went viral. Four days after releasing the song on Tik Tok, she went into hospice. Just over a month later, on February 28, she passed away.

The career of the woman born in 1993 as Catherine Janice Ipsan was brief. A classically-trained musician, she released two albums, the first in 2014, and had two of her songs featured on TV shows, Selling Sunset and Redneck Island. Her family says there are more songs waiting to be released.

Cat, who worked as a geospatial information scientist and studied towards a master’s degree in coastal geology, had first been diagnosed with cancer in early 2022. After chemo treatment, she was declared free of cancer. A few months later, it returned — alas, fatally.

The Sun Drummer
Having toured with rock & roll pioneers Billy Lee Riley and Conway Twitty, drummer Jimmy Van Eaton became a session musician on Sun Records. There he drummed for acts like Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Warren Smith, Charlie Rich, Dickey Lee, Charlie Feathers and others — and especially Jerry Lee Lewis. Among the latter’s tracks on which Van Eaton swung the sticks was Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On. Lewis called him “The creative rock ‘n’ roll drummer”.

After a brief attempt at a solo career, Van Eaton got married, packed in the rock & roll business, and joined the workforce, eventually becoming an investment banker.

On the side he played with a gospel outfit called The Seekers, with whom he released an album. In 1980 he joined Jerry Lee Lewis in a rockabilly revival project, and in 1998 he released a solo album.

The Quarryman
A friend of Paul McCartney’s since they were 11-year-olds in 1953, pianist John ‘Duff’ Lowe was asked to join The Quarrymen, the proto-Beatles, in 1958. During his two years with the band, Lowe was part of the line-up that recorded a vanity single comprising two songs, Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be The Day and In Spite Of All the Danger, a McCartney & Harrison composition. Lowe held on to that single until 1981, when he sold it to Paul McCartney.

Lowe left The Quarrymen to join another Liverpool group, which was led by future TV actor Ricky Tomlinson (the dad in the great The Royle Family). He’d periodically join later iterations of The Quarrymen.

The Non-hanging DJ
When I lived in London in the 1980s, a radio DJ to whom I took a visceral dislike was the hugely popular Steve Wright, who has died at the age of 69. The obituaries reveal the man to be of good heart and less reactionary ways than many of his BBC colleagues. Wright had a line in comedy which in our age won’t wash — witness his 1984 “comedy” single The Gay Cavalieros. I won’t inflict that on you (what I do inflict on you is bad enough).

The story goes that Morrissey of The Smiths wrote the song 1986 Panic, with its chorus of “Hang the DJ”, in righteous outrage after hearing Wright following news on the nuclear disaster by playing Wham!’s I’m Your Man. The first reports of Chernobyl were on April 28; Panic was recorded in May, so that’s a very quick turnaround. I suspect that the story might be less than iron-clad accurate: The Wham! Song had been a hit five months earlier, so no longer on BBC1’s playlist in later April 1986. Johnny Marr has said the story is largely true but exaggerated. So did Wright inspire a Smiths hit? I guess Wright was pleased at the idea of having needled Morrissey, and enjoyed the ensuing feud.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.

 

Toni Stern, 79, songwriter, on Jan. 17
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, as co-writer)
Denise LaSalle – It’s Too Late (1972, as co-writer)

Hank Cicalo, 91, recording engineer, on Jan. 31
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, as chief engineer; see above)
Meat Loaf – Whatever Happened To Saturday Night (1975, as chief engineer)

Carl Weathers, 76, actor and occasional soul singers, on Feb. 1
Carl Weathers – You Ought To Be With Me (1981, also as co-writer)

Wayne Kramer, 75, guitarist, singer and songwriter with rock band MC5, on Feb. 2
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams (1969, also as co-writer)
MC5 – Miss X (1971, also as writer)
Was (Not Was) – Wheel Me Out (1980, on guitar)
Wayne Kramer – Poison (1995, also as writer)

Robert ‘Corky’ Stasiak, recording engineer, on Feb. 2
Kiss – Love Gun (1977, as engineer)

Steve Brown, 66, British musician, songwriter and producer, on Feb. 2
Rumer – Am I Forgiven (2010, as producer, co-writer and on bass and keyboards)

Marcelo Yzurieta, 49, Argentine singer, guitarist and composer, on Feb. 2

Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, 77, Jamaican reggae bassist (The Wailers), on Feb. 3
Family Man Barrett – Soul Constitution (1971, also as writer)
Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey (1975, on bass)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Waiting In Vain (1977, on bass, and as co-engineer)

Virginia López, 95, Puerto Rican singer, on Feb. 3
Virginia López – Tu Me Perteneces (1960)

René Toledo, 66, Cuban jazz fusion guitarist, on Feb. 5
René Toledo – Bahia (1995)

Harold Jefta, 90, South African jazz saxophonist, announced Feb. 5
Abdullah Ibrahim – Township One More Time (1998, on alto sax)

Butch Rillera, drummer (Redbone, The Trademarks), announced Feb. 5
Redbone – Suzi Girl (1973, as member on drums)

Toby Keith, 62, country singer and songwriter, on Feb. 5
Toby Keith – How Do You Like Me Now (1999)
Toby Keith & Willie Nelson – Beer For My Horses (2003)

John Quara, 99, jazz guitarist, on Feb. 6

Donald Kinsey, 70, blues and reggae guitarist and singer, on Feb. 6
Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman No Cry (Live At The Roxy, 1976) (on guitar)
Peter Tosh – Apartheid (1977, on guitar)
The Kinsey Report – Full Moon On Main Street (1987, also as co-producer)

Pablo ‘Dead Dawg’ Grant, 26, German rapper with BHZ and TV actor, on Feb. 6

Henry Fambrough, 85, baritone singer with The Spinners, on Feb. 7
The Spinners – That’s What Girls Are Made For (1961)
The Spinners – Ghetto Child (1973, on co-lead)
The Spinners – If You Can’t Be In Love (1976, on lead)

Tony Middleton, 89, doo wop, soul and jazz singer, on Feb. 7
The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956, as lead singer)
Tony Middleton – Keep On Dancing (1969)

Mojo Nixon, 66, musician, radio DJ and actor, on Feb. 7
Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper – Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child (1989)

Bill Allred, 87, jazz trombonist, announced on Feb. 8

Damo Suzuki, 74, Japanese-born singer of Krautrock band Can, songwriter, on Feb. 9
Can – Vitamin C (1972, also as co-writer)
Dunkelziffer – I See Your Smile (1984)
Damo Suzuki’s Network – Terry White Meets J.B. (2001)

Jimmy Van Eaton, 86, rock & roll drummer, singer and producer, on Feb. 9
Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1957, on drums)
Jimmy Van Eaton – Beat-Nik (1960, also as co-writer)
Jerry Lee Lewis – Hillbilly Fever (J.M. Van Eaton Speaks) (1961, on drums)

Renata Flores, 74, Mexican pop singer and telenovela actress, on Feb. 9
Renata – Mi Novio Juan (1966)

Frank Howson, 71, Australian singer and theatre/film director, on Feb. 9
Frankie Howson – Seventeen Ain’t Young (1969)

Fritz Puppl, 79, guitarist of East German rock band City, on Feb. 10
City – Am Fenster (1977)

Randy Sparks, 90, founder of The New Christy Minstrels and songwriter, on Feb. 11
The New Christy Minstrels – Green, Green (1963, also as co-writer)
The Back Porch Majority – Southtown U.S.A. (1966, as leader and producer)

Juris Kulakovs, 65, member of Latvian rick group Pērkons, on Feb. 12

Steve Wright, 69, English radio DJ, comedy singer, on Feb. 12
Steve Wright & The Sisters Of Soul – Get Some Therapy (1983)

Eddie Cheeba, 67, hip hop DJ, on Feb. 13
Eddie Cheba – Lookin’ Good (Shake Your Body) (1979)

Kerry ‘Fatman’ Hunter, 53, jazz drummer, on Feb. 13
New Birth Brass Band – I Ate Up The Apple Tree (1997, on snare drum)

Alan Tomlinson, 74, British free jazz trombonist, on Feb. 13

Jussi Raittinen, 80, Finnish rock musician, on Feb. 13
Eero ja Jussi & The Boys – Balladi kanuunasta (1966)

Johanna von Koczian, 90, German actress and schlager singer, on Feb. 13

Ian ‘Tich’ Amey, 79, lead guitarist in Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Feb. 15
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Zabadak! (1968)
Mason – When Freedom Comes (1973)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – She’s My Lady (1974)

Paul Schmeling, 85, jazz pianist, on Feb. 15

Fritz Hinz, 68, drummer of Canadian metal band Helix, on Feb. 16
Helix – Rock You (1984)

Dex Romweber, 57, half of roots rock band Flat Duo Jets, on Feb. 16
Flat Duo Jets – My Life, My Love (1980)
The Dex Romweber Duo – Nowhere (2011)

Cynthia Strother, 88, half of vocal duo The Bell Sisters, on Feb. 16
The Bell Sisters – Bermuda (1951, also as writer)

Etterlene DeBarge, 88, gospel singer, songwriter and matriarch, on Feb. 16
Reverend William Abney – Walk Around Heaven All Day (1975, on lead vocals)

Bhen Lanzarone, 85, pop and TV soundtrack composer, arranger, on Feb. 16
The Brothers – Are You Ready For This (1975, as co-writer and arranger)

Bobby Tench, 79, British guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger, announced Feb. 19
Jeff Beck Group – Short Business (1971, as member on lead vocals)
Linda Lewis – On The Stage (1973, on guitar)

Larry Ballard, 77, country singer and songwriter, on Feb. 19
Larry Ballard – Silver Eagle (1976, also as writer)

Judi Pulver, 77, pop singer, songwriter and keyboardist, on Feb. 20

David Libert, 81, member of pop group The Happenings, music exec, on Feb. 20
The Happenings – I Got Rhythm (1967)

Roberto Darvin, 82, Uruguayan singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Feb. 20
Roberto Darvin – Jacinto Vera (1976)

Getachew Kassa, 79, Ethiopian singer and percussionist, on Feb. 21

Kiev Stingl, 80, German rock musician and author, on Feb. 22
Kiev Stingl – Der Sommer ist längst vorbei (1975)

Vitalij Kuprij, 49, Ukrainian-born keyboardist (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), on Feb. 21
Ring Of Fire – Shadow In The Dark (2001, as member)

John Lowe, 81, English pianist with The Quarrymen, on Feb. 22
The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day (1958)
The Quarrymen – In Spite Of All The Danger (1958)

Roni Stoneman, 85, bluegrass banjo player and singer, cast member of Hee Haw, on Feb. 22
The Stoneman Family – Dark As A Dungeon (1968)
The Stonemans – According To The Plan (1970, as member on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Tina Rainford, 77, German pop singer, announced Feb. 23
Tina Rainford – Silver Bird (1976)

Shinsadong Tiger, 40, South Korean K-Pop producer and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Apink – No No No (2013, as producer and co-writer)

Laurence Canty, 74, British jazz bassist and author, announced Feb. 23

Juana Bacallao, 98, Cuban singer and dancer, on Feb. 24
Juana Bacallao & Combo Pepé Delgado – La Chismosa (Rumba)

Georg Riedel, 90, Czechoslovak-born Swedish jazz bassist and composer, on Feb. 25

Bigidagoe, 26, Dutch rapper, shot dead on Feb. 25

Peter ‘Peetah’ Morgan, 46, singer with Jamaican reggae band Morgan Heritage, on Feb. 25
Morgan Heritage – Unjust World (1994)

Martin Weiss, 62, German gypsy-jazz violinist and guitarist, on Feb. 25

Jaakko Teppo, 71, Finnish singer-songwriter, on Feb. 26

Cat Janice, 31, American singer-songwriter, on Feb. 28
Cat Janice – Pricey (2018)

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Any Major Nicky Hopkins Collection

February 22nd, 2024 9 comments

 

 

Some time ago, a follower of this little corner of the Internet requested that I add pianist Nicky Hopkins to the series on session musicians. It was a good idea.

On February 26, Hopkins would have turned 80. Sadly, he never got to experience the advance of old age. He died on September 6, 1994, at the age of 50, after an operation relating to his lifelong battle with Crohn’s disease. Matthew Sweet’s Swan Song, on which Hopkins appeared, was released a year earlier. Its title and timing made it the natural closing track for the CD-R playlist.

In his time, English-born Hopkins’ versatility and adaptability made him one of the most sought-after session pianists and keyboardist. On the English scene in the 1960s alone he played with acts like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds, Cat Stevens and, especially, The Rolling Stones.

In the US he backed acts like Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Lee Hazlewood, The Steve Miller Band, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Art Garfunkel, Gene Clark, Jerry Garcia Band (of which he briefly was a member), Martha Reeves, Tina Turner, Climax Blues Band, Carole Bayer Sager, Jennifer Warnes, Eddie Money, Meat Loaf, The Jayhawks and others.

Hopkins had a particularly close relationship with The Rolling Stones, to the point that he was something of an adjunct member. He played on all their studio albums from 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Request to Tattoo You in 1981, except for 1978’s Some Girls. It’s fair to say that Hopkins played a substantial role in shaping the Stones’ sound.

The Who also valued Hopkins highly. His presence was central on 1971’s pivotal Who’s Next album. Pete Townshend would have liked him to join The Who full-time, politely inviting Hopkins: “If you would ever like to join a band, we’d love to be considered first.”

He played the electric piano on The Beatles Revolution (the rock version), and later Hopkins played on solo records of all four Beatles, mostly for Lennon but for Paul not until 1989.

Hopkins was an innovator in rock, on par with many of the great names of the era. He was technically brilliant, versatile and creative. His piano could be gentle and melodic, but it could also be powerful, driving a song. His creative input and musical ideas helped shape the songs of many artists he worked with.

The playlist closes with a band Hopkins of which was a member. In 1967, he joined the Jeff Beck Group, which had as its lead singer Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood on bass and future session man Micky Waller on drums. After that, from 1969-70, Hopkins was a member of US psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. All the time he still did session work. One client was Jefferson Airplane, with whom he appeared at Woodstock.

Hopkins released three solo albums in his time. The first was an easy listening effort titled The Revolutionary Piano Of Nicky Hopkins in 1966. In 1973 and 1975 two more albums followed, The Tin Man Was A Dreamer and No More Changes. Among the session players on the former was saxophonist Bobby Keys, himself the subject of a Any Major Collection.

Keys played on many sessions with Hopkins, including several Stones songs and the featured Martha Reeves track, a rousing cover of Van Morrison’s Wild Night. That recording also had Jim Keltner on drums, himself the subject of two Collections (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Hopkins played with Keltner on several John Lennon songs (including the hit #9 Dream). Hopkins, Keltner and Keys were all playing on the featured Carly Simon track.

All previous Session Players’ Collections are up again. As always, the playlist is tied to fit on the standard CD-R (that is, without the bonus tracks), and includes home-slurred covers and the text above in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Beatles – Revolution (1968)
2. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers (1969)
3. The Who – Getting In Tune (1971)
4. Nicky Hopkins – Shout It Out (1973)
5. Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)
6. Rod Stewart – You’re In My Heart (1977)
7. Martha Reeves – Wild Night (1974)
8. Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966)
9. Cat Stevens – Matthew & Son (1967)
10. Nilsson – Joy (1972)
11. New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Loud Loud Music (1972)
12. Lee Hazlewood – The Night Before (1970)
13. The Steve Miller Band – Never Kill Another Man (1970)
14. Joe Cocker – I Can Stand A Little Rain (1974)
15. John Lennon – How (1971)
16. Climax Blues Band – I Love You (1980)
17. Brooklyn Dreams – A Moment In Time (1980)
18. Badfinger – Lost Inside Your Love (1979)
19. Eddie Money – Gimme Some Water (1978)
20. Tina Turner – The Acid Queen (1975)
21. Matthew Sweet – Swan Song (1993)
BONUS TRACKS:
22. Meat Loaf – More Than You Deserve (1981)
23. Jennifer Warnes – You’re The One (1976)
24. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
25. Quicksilver Messenger Service – Just For Love (Part 1) (1970)
26. The Easybeats – Heaven & Hell (1967)
27. Jeff Beck – I’ve Been Drinking (1968)

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Previous Session Musicians:
The Roy Bittan Collection
The Larry Carlton Collection
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Louis Johnson Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Joe Osborne Collection
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ringo Starr Collection

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Any Major Bizarre Beatles

February 16th, 2024 9 comments

 

With this month’s 60th anniversary of The Beatles’ invasion of the US with their three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, it seems suitable to recycle (with a couple of tweaks) this collection from 2014, which testifies to the hype there was around the band.

 

The Bulldoggs – John, Paul, George & Ringo (1964)
The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. It was seen by over 73 million viewers. They returned the following week, and on February 23, the show screened a recording from the February 9 session. And just like that, Beatlemania had gripped the US. A pair of British songwriters, Bill Crompton and Morgan Jones, took it upon themselves to educate the US public about their four compatriots by way of a rather poor pastiche of the Beatles sound, drawing on assorted yeah-yeah-yeah’s, whooo’s and Paul-screams and guitar chords which would be a staple of the new genre of Beatles-related songs.

The Hi-Riders – Stamp Out The Beatles (1964)
Obviously, not everybody was excited about these shaggy-haired louts from England invading the godfearing US of A to corrupt the virgins of the Land of the Free. It is said that Elvis Presley’s ever-charming manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, produced pro- and anti-Beatles merchandise to cash in on the split sentiments. By June 1964, The Hi-Riders arrived on the scene to deliver the promise to stamp out The Beatles. History shows that The Hi-Riders succeeded in their scheme, and went to on to become the biggest band in the world. Sixty years later, a blog named after a Steely Dan song compiled a playlist called Any Major Bizarre Hi-Riders.

Sonny Curtis – A Beatle I Want To Be (1964)
Given The Beatles obsession with Buddy Holly, it must have been a pretty cool tribute when Buddy’s successor as singer of The Crickets surfed the Beatles Invasion wave. Sonny Curtis, in the song he co-wrote with Lou Adler, even samples bits of their music as he sings and raps about “A little British bug from across the way, talks like Southern USA”. Curtis educates the listener about history (and in 1964, the year 1956 must have seemed a lifetime ago): “Remember what happened when Elvis came? One little wiggle and the whole world changed. So mamas and papas lend me your ear, lock up your daughters ’cause a Beatle is here.”

Bonnie Jo Mason (Cher) – Ringo, I Love You (1964)
A future star recording Beatles-related material under a different name was Cher, who in 1964 sought to buy into the Zeitgeist by declaring her love for the drummer. Before her brief stint as Bonnie Jo Mason, Cherilyn Sarkasian sang backing vocals on classics such as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, The Chiffons’ Da Doo Ron Ron and the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling — and it was the producer of those songs, Phil Spector, who co-wrote and produced Ringo, I Love You. After that, she recorded as plain Cherilyn and in a duo as Cleo to Sonny Bono’s Caesar. Within just over a year of releasing Ringo, I Love You, Sonny & Cher were stars. The flipside of the Ringo anthem was an instrumental titled Beatles Blues, a deliberately bad song placed on the B-side to deter DJs from ignoring the A-side, as they often did. The ploy backfired: apparently radio DJs were thrown by Bonnie Jo’s deep voice and refused to play what they thought was a gay declaration of affection for the Beatles drummer..

Ella Fitzgerald – Ringo Beat (1964)
There were loads of Ringo-themed songs in the mid-’60s, apparently some 50 of them. They included The Rainbows’ My Ringo, Christine Hunter’s Santa, Bring Me Ringo, Treat Him Tender, Maureen by Angie & The Chicklettes, Al Fisher & Lou Marks’ Ringo Ringo Little Star, Three Blond Mice’s Ringo Bells, The Whippets’ Go Go Go With Ringo, Neil Sheppard’s You Can’t Go Far Without A Guitar (Unless You’re Ringo Starr), Ringo Did It by Veronica Lee, I Want To Kiss Ringo Goodbye by Penny Valentine, and Bingo Ringo by Daws Butler (who voiced Huckleberry Hound). Even Ella Fitzgerald got in on the act with Ringo Beat, a rather nice number written by Ella herself (one of her 27 compositions), which naturally features a “yeah yeah” reference and namechecks other contemporary popsters..

The Young World Singers – Ringo For President (1964)
Released in August 1964, the Young World Singers in their cover of the vile Rolf Harris’ song sought to offer an alternative to Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater in that year’s elections for US president, evidently oblivious to the rule that disqualifies those not born in the United States from standing as candidates. And since Ringo was a Kenyan Muslim… In any case, it is doubtful that Ringo, who has acknowledged his limitations in intellectual pursuits, would have been a great president (though the US voters elected a man of even less cerebral qualities to the presidency in 2004).

Of course, it wasn’t cleverness the Young World Singers and the others engaged in the Ringo For President campaign were looking for in their candidate: “He’s our candidate ’cause he makes us feel so great. We could talk about war out on the big dance floor. Oh my gee, oh my gingo…if I could vote, I’d vote for Ringo!” Asked at a press conference in August 1964 about the Ringo For President campaign, Starr admitted: “I’m not sort of politically minded.” Asked whether he would appoint the other Beatles to his cabinet, the conversation descends into a typical Beatlesque farce, with George interjecting: “I could be the door”, and John nominating himself to serve as the cupboard.

Don Bowman – The Other Ringo (1966)
In the early ’60s, there was a popular cowboy hit titled Ringo, recorded by Bonanza star Lorne Green (the Cartwright patriarch), which Don Bowman parodied to coincide with the height of Beatlemania. Bowman notes the death of the old Ringo and the rise of the Beatle by the same name. He seems to be taken particularly with the length of Ringo’s hair. Bowman, who died in 2013, was a country singer, comedian, TV presenter and DJ who recorded this rather amusing novelty number for his 1966 LP titled Funny Way To Make An Album, which also included a song called Freddy Four Toes. Bowman clearly did not compromise his comedy with artistic credibility: other LPs were titled Fresh From The Funny Farm (1965), Recorded Almost Live (1966), Support Your Local Prison (1967) and Still Fighting Mental Health (1979).

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Dick Lord – Like Ringo (1965)
Don Bowman wasn’t the only one to make the connection between Lorne Greene’s hit and the Beatles drummer. The magnificently-named Dick Lord was not a porn actor but a comedian. At the time of recording Like Ringo, Dick Lord was a close friend of the great Bobby Darin. In the song, Dick Lord’s girlfriend is rather obsessed with the Beatles drummer, and Dick Lord’s exasperation at being rejected by the obsessed fan turns to ingenuity as he adopts the Ringo look. Eventually Dick Lord’s girlfriend returns to Dick Lord, informing him tearfully that her Ringo infatuation is over. A great punchline awaits, and I shall not spoil it..

The Bon Bons – What’s Wrong With Ringo? (1964)
A persistent rumour has it that the Bon Bons were the Shangri-Las by another name. It is, alas, not true. What’s Wrong With Ringo was released before the Shangri-Las’ debut single, Remember (Walking In The Sand), was issued on Red Birds Records in September 1964. The Ringo song was released on the Coral label, the Decca subsidiary that had also issued records by Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline and The Vogues, but never had the Weiss and Ganser sisters under contract.

The Ringo song was not the Bon Bons’ only release; also in 1964 Coral issued the follow-up single Everybody Wants My Boyfriend. Anyway, the question of the song’s title concerns the shortage of Beatles songs sung by Ringo. It seems the record-buying public did not share their concern, and so ignored this quite catchy girl-group record (which includes, of course, the “yeah yeah yeah yeah” thing).

The Swans – The Boy With The Beatle Hair (1964)
The Twiliters – My Beatle Haircut (1964)
When The Beatles arrived at JFK Airport in New York in February 1964, they held a press conference, with a Pan Am sign providing the backround. An intrepid reporter asked whether the boys would get a haircut during their stay in the States. John, Paul and Ringo just about avoided responding with the words: “Fuck off.” George Harrison deadpanned: “No, I had one yesterday.” The obsession with the Fabs’ mushroom-heads was intense. Little did those who were exited about these hairdos know what hirsute transgressions were to come before the next Olympics would be held.

Buying into that obsession about hair were a soul duo called The Swans and the better-known doo wop group The Twiliters. The Swans were Jeanne and Tina Thomas, and their song about the boy with the Beatle hair was co-written by Kenneth Gamble, future Philly soul supremo. Jeanne/Tina adore the boy with the Beatle hairstyle and wish he’d come and talk to her at school. Maybe the by is the lead singer of The Twiliters, who will defy all to continue wearing his Beatle haircut.

Frank Sinatra – Maureen Is A Champ (1968)
This tribute to Mrs Ringo is not only a great novelty item, but also something of a historical artifact: it’s the first record to be catalogued on the Beatles’ Apple label — its number being Apple 1 (Hey Jude was the first Apple release, but it wasn’t catalogued). Only a few copies, some say only one, of Maureen Is A Champ were made on acetate before the master tape was destroyed, because this was a private recording to mark Maureen’s 22nd birthday.

Maureen was a big Sinatra fan, so a train of events was set in motion, apparently by Beatles business manager Peter Brown, which involved the great Sammy Cahn rewriting Lorenz Hart’s lyrics for The Lady Is A Tramp, and Frank Sinatra — who by that point was a Beatles fan (and covered several of their songs) — singing the reworked number, with Cahn on piano. We can assume that when Ringo presented his wife with that special record on 4 August 1968, she probably was quite pleased.

Rainbo (Sissy Spacek) – John, You Went Too Far This Time (1968)
Before she became famous as an actress, including her singing role as country singer Loretta Lynn, Sissy Spacek tried to become a folk singer, releasing a solitary single under the trite moniker Rainbo (which she apparently disliked) before being fired by her label for not being a best-seller. The John whom Sissy Rainbow addresses on this breathtakingly bad record would be Mr Lennon, and his transgression would be letting it all hang out post-coitally on the cover of Two Virgins, his avant garde nonsense recorded with Yoko Ono, who also appears naked on the cover.

Sissy loves John and forgives him many things, but she is not one who would endorse exhibitions of public nudity — and in this particular instance I am inclined to concur with her, purely on aesthetic grounds. John and Yoko were not attractive naked people. But if Lennon went too far on a record sleeve, then Spacek (and the chaps who wrote this bizarre thing, John Marshall and Ronald Dulka) overstepped the boundaries of musical decency with that chorus, which supposedly was meant to evoke the Beatles sound.

In 1983 Spacek released a full country album, titled Hangin’ Up My Heart. She was fully clothed on the cover.

Mystery Tour – Ballad Of Paul (1969)
Terry Knight – Saint Paul (1964)

The initial Paul Is Dead rumour preceded the release of Abbey Road by a week. The album’s cover “confirmed” that Macca was indeed dead, but the story began with an error-filled student newspaper article publishd on 18 September 1969 by one Tim Harper for the Drake University’s Times-Delphic. From Harper’s fertile imagination sprang a wild conspiracy theory which caused quite a hysteria. There is an 8-CD series of radio recordings covering in detail the reaction to Paul’s death. The moderately talented Mystery Tour (yes, Mystery Tour) explained why the evidence of Paul’s death, with reference to the Abbey Road cover, of course (apparently left-handers are incapable of smoking with their right hand). We also learn that “John Lennon is a holy man [who]provided lots of clues” as to the conspiracy of Paul’s death and its cover-up. This site has all the answers: it was them Rolling Stones wot dun Paul in, Constable.

Record producer and general music pusher Terry Knight’s single came out before the Paul Is Dead hoax started. He had met the Beatles at a fraught time during the White Album sessions in 1968. Convinced that the Beatles would break up soon, he wrote Saint Paul. His single was released in May 1969, before Harper’s article. Once the rumour had gathered pace, however, Knight’s single was presented as an obituary to Paul, feeding the rumour mill further. Knight himself became the subject of obituaries when he was murdered in 2004 while protecting his daughter from a clearly unsuitable boyfriend.

Mae West – Twist And Shout (1967)
Mae West – Day Tipper (1967)

We’re having Mae West warbling Twist And Shout, so how might the septuagenarian top that? Why, by doing Day Tripper, of course. Her interpretation, as it turned out, was unnecessary, because time has shown the Beatles’ original to be quite adequate, even without the sub-Jimi Hendrix antics at 1:13, which morph into a Chuck Berry-lite solo, and Ms West’s seductive moanings. Her 1966 cover of From Me To You appeared on Please Please Me Recovered.

Big Daddy – A Day In The Life (1992)
Big Daddy aren’t really bizarre; they are inventive re-interpreters of Beatles songs. Still, one has to arrive at the idea to cover A Day In The Life in the style of Buddy Holly, and have balls of steel to end the song with what sounds like a crash.

Keith Moon – When I’m Sixty-Four (1976)
In 1976, The Who’s drummer and Beatles pal Keith Moon contributed his take on McCartney’s music hall number to a documentary titled All This and World War II. The docu scored World War II footage with covers of Beatles songs, by some of music greatest names of the time, including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Status Quo, Leo Sayer, Bryan Ferry and so on. And Keith Moon, who quite cleverly recreated the recorded sound of the 1920s for McCartney’s music hall number from Sgt Pepper’s. Except that even in the 1920s, singers were expected to be able to hold a tune. As for the documentary, the concept was to contrast the innocence of The Beatles’ music with the harsh realities of war. Which is an idea one can have but need not necessarily put into practice.

Peter Sellers – She Loves You (1965)
Peter Sellers — a Goon Show alumnus, of course — recorded a series of comedy versions of Beatles songs, some funnier than others, in 1965. His masterpiece is his teutonic take on She Loves You, performed in the character of Dr Strangelove, whose 60th anniversary we are also observing this year (“She said you hhhuuurrrrt her so”… “Gut!”). Recorded some time around 1965, it was released only in 1981..

Peter Sellers – A Hard Day’s Night (1965)
Sellers performs A Hard Day’s Night in the manner of Laurence Olivier as Shakespeare’s Richard III. Released as a single in late 1965 (backed with his take on Help), it reached #14 in the British charts in early 1966. It was obviously too early for Nazi spoofs.

Mrs Miller – A Hard Day’s Night (1966)
Bless Mrs Miller. She was serious and entirely unironic about her singing, but also possessed the self-awareness to know that she was a bit of a joke. She did her limited best, and was aware that there was no consensual admiration of her singing chops. Though she never intended to create comedy — she was motivated to disseminate her art widely as a way of inspiring others — she knew that her cult status was based on listeners deriving amusement from her stylings. Her version of Hard Day’s Night is notable for her lapses in timing and the aggressive licence she takes with reaching the right notes.

The Woofers And Tweeters Ensemble – Love Me Do (1983)
The torture began with an outfit called The Bulldogs, and it ends with canines barking Love Me Do, supported by assorted farm animals. It’s one of the better musical moments on this collection.

This collection fits on a standard CD-R (if you really must), includes a home-whooo’d covers, and the above text in PDF. PW in comments.

GET IT!

More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)

Categories: Beatles Tags:

Any Major Love Vol. 2

February 8th, 2024 1 comment

 

 

Just in time for your mix-tape needs on Valentine’s Day, here’s a new collections of love songs that say it best when you say nothing at all.

This mix is marked Volume 2, but my numbering is a little bit all over the place. There is a Any Major Love Volume 1, of course. But after that, I compiled a Any Major Love Songs in Black & White mix, which might have been Vol. 2, but wasn’t. And last year I made a Any Major Forever Love mix, to mark a season of weddings I was going to attend in 2023. That, too, might have been Vol. 2, but wasn’t.

So this is Volume 2, and here I set myself a goal: to include only songs that came out since Any Major Dudette and I have been together. So the oldest track here is from 1994 (when we had been together for a few years already), Sarah McLachlan’s lovely Ice Cream, and the youngest is from 2018. The Dudette and I have been together for a pretty long time, and we’re still going strong.

If you are with the one you love, I congratulate you. If you lost the one you loved, I hope you’ll find a new love (if that’s your desire). If you are yet to find your love, or a new love, good luck. And if you’re a voluntarily celibate, rock on!

Perhaps one of the less ecstatic mixes might speak for you: Any Major Impossible Love, when you and the other cannot be together, or Any Major Unrequited Love. All mixes have been re-upped.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-cuddled covers (the photo is by Abdul Gani on Unsplash). PW in comments.

1. Mayer Hawthorne – Finally Falling (2011)
2. Ron Sexsmith – Whatever It Takes (2004)
3. Michelle Featherstone – Rest Of My Life (2007)
4. Mindy Smith – It’s Amazing (2004)
5. Richard Hawley – Baby, You’re My Light (2001)
6. Josh Rouse – Wonderful (2006)
7. Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life (2005)
8. Neil Diamond – Save Me A Satuday Night (2005)
9. Rumer – Slow (2010)
10. Alicia Keys – If I Ain’t Got You (2003)
11. Corinne Bailey Rae – Call Me When You Get This (2006)
12. The Weeknd – Die For You (2016)
13. Daniel Caesar feat. H.E.R. – Best Part (2017)
14. Kacey Musgraves – Love Is A Wild Thing (2018)
15. Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing At All (1995)
16. Sarah McLachlan – Ice Cream (1994)
17. Jonatha Brooke – Because I Told You So (1997)
18. The Weepies – Somebody Loved (2004)
19. Mason Jennings – Ballad For My One True Love (2000)
20. Josh Kelley – To Make You Feel My Love (2004)
21. The Crimea – Lottery Winners On Acid (2005)
22. Jens Lekman – You Are The Light (By Which I Travel Into This And That) (2004)

GET IT!

Previously in Any Major Love:
Any Major Love
Any Major Forever Love
Any Major Love in Black & White
Any Major Unrequited Love
Any Major Impossible Love

More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Songs About Love Tags:

In Memoriam – January 2024

February 2nd, 2024 6 comments

On Saturday, January 14, I kicked back by watching Back To The Future, for the 256th time (it might have been the 257th; I’ve lost count). One thing struck me: if today we were to travel 30 years into the past, as Marty McFly does, we’d travel to 1994. Instead of The Ballad of Davy Crockett playing from a record store in Hill Valley, we might hear Bump n’ Grind by that nice R Kelly blaring out of a car. In 1985, the 1955 #1 song felt like it wasn’t just from another time but from another planet. As I watched, I pondered on just how perfectly chosen this pretty awful song was.

After I watched Back To The Future, I assumed my regular position on the musicians’ death watch. And whose name came up, having died at the age of 98 the previous day: Bill Hayes, the chart-topping singer of The Ballad Of Davy Crockett.

The year 2024 has started off in a hectic manner. Here’s hoping that in the coming months the Reaper will relent!

The Shangri-La
One of the seminal moments in pop is the 1964 Shangri-Las hit The Leader Of The Pack. On lead vocals on the classic record was 15-year-old Mary Weiss, who has gone to the great candy store in the sky at the age of 75.

Mary, her sister Betty and the twins Mary Ann and Margie Ganser formed the group in 1963 in New York, naming it after a local restaurant. They soon were discovered and after releasing a record that flopped, they came within the ambit of the Brill Building, and things took off. In 1964 they had a hit with Remember (Walking In The Sand), written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. It also had Mary on lead vocals (she and Betty shared lead responsibilities).

For a while, The Shanri-Las were huge. They supported The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in concerts. By 1968, however, they broke up and Mary Weiss left the music business, going into architecture and interior design, where she built a successful career.

The Songstress
The obituaries led with her 1968 hit California Soul having been sampled by many hip hop acts, but to her fans, Marlena Shaw was so much more than that. The singer effortlessly traversed soul, jazz and blues, sometimes on the same album. The only singer I can think of who was her equal in that regard was Nancy Wilson.

Shaw was only 10 years old when she made her stage debut, at the legendary Apollo in Harlem. She was introduced by her uncle Jimmy Burgess, a bandleader who taught the girl proper jazz phrasing. She went on to record a few jazz tracks on Chess, and toured with Count Basie.

But her first hit was as soul track, the Ashford & Simpson composition California Soul. The 1969 album on which it appeared, The Spice of Life, is superb, with her co-writes Woman Of The Ghetto and Liberation Conversation the stand-out tracks, in my opinion.

A string of fine albums followed, but no big hits. Shaw gained some attention with her 1974 Marlena Shaw Live At Montreux album; her long version of Woman Of The Ghetto on that set has also been liberally sampled. The following year she released the brilliantly titled Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?, her best-selling album, and maybe her best. On it, she added funk influences to her broad repertoire.

She released her final album in 2003. By my rough count, Shaw has featured on around 25 Any Major Mixes.

The Singer-Songwriter
Trivia question: Who were the only three women to perform solo at Woodstock in 1969? One of them was singer-songwriter Melanie, who has died at the age of 76. Melanie’s performance was unscheduled, standing in after the Incredible String Band (understandably) refused to perform during the rainstorm.

She later had her first hit with a song she wrote about the experience of seeing audience members lighting candles during her set, titled Lay Down (Candles In The Rain). It featured on Any Major Woodstock.

The singer born in New York as Melanie Safka was especially successful in Europe, though she had global hits with songs such her cover of The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday and her self-written Brand New Key (which got banned on some radio stations for supposed sexual innuendo involving locks and keys). Her What Have They Done To My Song Ma became a big hit in a German version by Daliah Lavi in 1971. Oh, if only Edith Piaf had lived to sing it!

By 1974, her charting career was over, but she kept recording and performing for the rest of her life. At the time of her death, Melanie was working on an album of cover versions.

And the trivia question? The other two woman were Joan Baez (six months pregnant) and Janis Joplin.

The Svengali
I remember my thoughts when I found at, at the age of 12, that the brains — and in two cases, the voice — behind Boney M was Frank Farian. “That lame schlager singer?” I thought. Before he invented Boney M, thus joining the firmament of German disco, Farian had been a marginally successful singer of German song. He had only one really big hit, a cover of Dickey Lee’s Rocky, in 1976. By then he was already producing Boney M, giving voice to dancer Bobby Farrell and — our man was nothing if not versatile — female dancer Maizie Williams.

Boney M really started in 1975 as a studio project when Farian recorded a pretty good disco reworking of Prince Buster’s 1967 song Al Capone, retitled Baby Do You Wanna Bump. Released under the name Boney M (in tribute to a popular TV series of the time), it took off, so Farian assembled the foursome that would go on to have a string of global hits.

A decade or so later, Farian scored even greater success with Milli Vanilli. We know how that story ended. When the scandal blew open, the question should have been: “With Farian’s history, why are you surprised?”

There was a bit of hypocrisy in the overreaction to Milli Vanilli. Nobody ever complained that bands like The Association or even the early Byrds didn’t play the instruments they pretended to have played on record. Nobody complains that the singer we saw on TV acting to be fronting White Plains on their hit My Baby Loves Lovin’ wasn’t the singer on the record (as discussed in the In Memoriam of October 2923 – https://halfhearteddude.com/2023/10/in-memoriam-october-2023/). That sort of thing wasn’t unusual at a time of session people releasing records before there was even a band.

If the Milli Vanilli records were good — and one can debate that — then did it really matter whether or not the singers were the pretty dancing boys. A different ethic applies to the live concerts, which turned out to expose the boys. But those idiots who litigated the “fraud” of Milli Vanilli records? Seriously?

The Hutch
Actor David Soul is best remembered as the guy with the shittier car in Starsky & Hutch, but for a brief time, he was a chart-topping singer (competing with Boney M). In 1966, half a century before it became a reality show concept, the man born David Solberg appeared on the Merv Griffiths Show wearing a mask, calling himself The Covered Man, and released a record under that name.

In 1977, the man born as David Solberg was the best-selling artist in the UK, having scored two #1 hits with the soppy ballad Don’t Give Up On Us (also a US #1) and the superb country-tinged Silver Lady, which sandwiched a #2 hit, Going In With My Eyes Open. Another Top 10 hit followed in late 1977/early 1978, and a #12 hit in mid-1978 closed off Soul’s brief but bright chart career.

Subsequent releases in the 1980s did no business, except for a minor bit in the Netherlands and Belgium with the schlager-like Dreamers.

In 2004, Soul returned the stage in London, talking the lead role in Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Chuck D’s Favourite Jouralist
In August 2021, I asked the English music journalist Neil Kulkarni for permission to use his comments on the passing of Charlie Watts, which he happily gave. Two-and-a-half years later, Kulkarni is featuring in this series as the subject of a mini-obit.

Kulkarni was a sharp writer, in intellect and words, for the Melody Maker, The Quietus, The Wire and many other UK-based publications, print and digital. As one of the very few music journalists of colour in the UK, Kulkarni took the fight to the institutionalised racism he found everywhere. That was how he got the Melody Maker gig: by writing a letter accusing the weekly of perpetuating racism by excluding artists of colour. The letter was brilliantly written, and the editor gave Kulkarni his shot at changing things.

Kulkarni not only wrote about music, but made it as well, being a member of indie trio Moonbears, on vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass. So while I normally do not feature journalists in this series, Neil qualifies by dint of his band (he would have featured anyway, I suppose).

Over the past few years, he was one of the panellists on the mind-bogglingly great Chart Music podcast, recording an episode live on stage in Birmingham just a couple of weeks before his sudden death. Among the fine panelists on Chart Music, Kulkarni was the least guarded one, freely talking about his upbringing and his life (on which he also wrote a book). For all his caustic writings, and for all the personal tragedies he had suffered, he exuded a joy of life that found expression in a wonderful laugh. That laugh, that joy, was extinguished when Neil passed away at 51 from a heart attack on January 22.

Widowed himself in 2018, he leaves two orphaned teenage daughters. His long-time friend and fellow music journalist David Stubbs set up a crowdfunding campaign on the day he learnt of Neil’s death. It is an astonishing mark of the affection and respect many people had for Neil Kulkarni that within three days, £35,000 pounds had been raised to safeguard the future of his children. The appeal is ongoing.

And get this: Upon learning of Kulkarni’s death, Public Enemy’s Chuck D tweeted a tribute by way of a drawing he made of Neil, from memory. How many music journalists have that kind of impact on legends of the game?

I recommend Simon Price’s excellent obituary on The Quietus website.

The Drum Innovator
If Hal Blaine or Earl Palmer were not available, Frank DeVito might have been the Wrecking Crew drummer whom producers might call on. So DeVito played on many of the early Phil Spector productions, usually on percussions. He also appeared on recordings by 1960s acts like Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys (including Surfin’ USA), Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream…), Sam Cooke (Shake), Dick Dale, Ricky Nelson, The Ventures, The Monkees and others. And in 1968, he backed Elvis on his televised Comeback Special, playing bongos in the rock & roll segment.

But his pedigree was established long before that. In the 1950s and early ’60s, DeVito backed or performed with jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Buddy DeFranco, The Mills Brothers, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and others.

He played drums on The Mills Brothers’ 1952 classic Glow-Worm, and backed Frank Sinatra on record (tracks like Witchcraft, So Long My Love, and Summer Wind) and on stage (including Sinatra’s 1957 live album).

After his session career wound down, DeVito became an innovator of musical instruments and drum accessories, founding Danmar Percussion in 1970. In his workshop, he would find solutions for drummers who struggled to create a particular sound or faced other problems.

The Politician
I cannot imagine many greater entries on a composer’s resumé than having written a country’s national anthem. Angolan guitarist, singer and songwriter Ruy Mingas, who has died at 84, had that privilege when his composition “Angola Avante” was chosen as his country’s national anthem following its liberation from Portuguese colonialism in 1975.

Mingas then went into politics — in a country that was marked by civil war, fanned by apartheid South Africa and the US on the one side, and the Soviet Union and Cuba on the other. He had already been prominently involved in the struggle for independence, on a diplomatic level. In 1979 the former athlete became Angola’s first minister for sports, and after ten successful years in that portfolio, he served for five years as the ambassador to Portugal.

The Theme Composer
British and European TV viewers of the 1960s and ’70s have quite likely heard the music of British composer Laurie Johnson.

Johnson, who has died at 96, was the composer and in most cases bandleader of TV themes such as The Avengers, This Is Your Life, Animal Magic, Jason King, The New Avengers, The Professionals and more. He also wrote the main theme for Dr Strangelove.

His only UK chart success was with a theme he didn’t write. With a tune titled Sucu Sucu, which served as the theme for the rather short-lived spy series Top Secret, he reached #9 in 1961.

The Krautrocker
As a founding member of Amon Düül II, Chris Karrer was a pioneer of what would become the Krautrock genre, the German art-rock movement of the 1970s. Amon Düül were founded in 1967 in Munich’s radical countercultural art commune scene. Karrer, who was studying fine arts there, played guitar, violin and saxophone for the band, and provided vocals. He was also a composer.

Amon Düül released their first album in 1969. A year later, they wrote the score for the film San Domingo for which they were awarded the Deutscher Filmpreis, the German Oscars.

After Amon Düül split for the first time in 1981 (they reformed in 2010), Karrer released a solo albums and contributed to jazz-rock band Embryo. More solo albums followed in the 1990s, on which Karrer experimented with diverse influences, such as flamenco and sufism.

The Suffragette
It is quite remarkable that of the four principal adult actors in 1964’s Mary Poppins, three were alive when 2023 turned to 2023. A few days into the new year, the Banks children’s mother Glynis Johns joined Mr Banks’ David Tomlinson in the afterlife, at the grand age of 100.

South African-born Johns had only one song in the film, Sister Suffragette. Later she was the first singer to perform the classic Send In The Clowns in the 1973 Broadway musical A Little Night Music; for which she won a Tony. Stephen Sondheim wrote the song specifically for Johns, to compensate for her inability to hold a long note; that is why the song is structured in short phrases and questions.

The Fusing Swede
ABBA fans will want to check out the Ainbusk Singers’ song Lassie, Sweden’s Christmas #1 in 1990, which was co-written and produced by Benny Andersson. He composed the music, while the text was written by Marie Nilsson, who has died 62. I would wager that on his deathbed, Benny will not regard that as his proudest musical moment, but its folk tune and sentimental lyrics about a lonely girl who met the eponymous dog clearly had popular appeal.

Ainbusk (they dropped the “Singers” part of their name in the late 1990s) were a pop-folk group of four women singers, including Marie and her sister Josefine, who died in 2016. They often covered English songs in Swedish, incorporating the folk music of their country in their interpretations.

The Football Legend
Just over a year ago we lost Pelé, the greatest attacking football (or, for our US viewers, “soccer”) player of his generation and possibly all time; on January 7 the greatest all-round player of all time, Franz Beckenbauer, joined the Celestial XI. And like Pelé, Beckenbauer tried himself as a singer, which explains why he appears here.

In 1966/67 the young player, still only 21, released two singles. Neither as a hit, but the flip-side of the first of them, went on to become something of a cult number, a song titled Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (Nobody can break up good friends). The b-side of the follow up had a suitably clichéd title: One-Nil For Love. Thankfully Beckenbauer subsequently pursued his sporting talent rather than his warbling aspirations.

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.

Jay Clayton, 82, avant-garde jazz singer and educator, on Dec. 31
Jay Clayton – You Taught My Heart To Sing (2001)

Chris Karrer, 76, guitarist and composer with German rock band Amon Düül II, on Jan. 2
Amon Düül II – All The Years Round (1972)
Amon Düül II – Emigrant Song (1975)
Chris Karrer – Bolero Moro (1994)

Tawl Ross, 75, rhythm guitarist of Funkadelic (1968-71), on Jan. 3
Funkadelic – Super Stupid (1971, also as co-writer)

Quinho do Salgueiro, 66, Brazilian samba singer, on Jan. 3

David Soul, 80, actor and singer, on Jan. 4
David Soul – The Covered Man (1966)
David Soul – Silver Lady (1977)
David Soul – It Sure Brings Out the Love in Your Eyes (1978)

Glynis Johns, 100, South African-born British actress, on Jan. 4
Glynis Johns – I Can’t Resist Men (1954)
Glynis Johns – Sister Suffragette (1964)
Glynis Johns – Send In The Clowns (1973)

Ruy Mingas, 84, Angolan composer, singer, guitarist and politician, on Jan. 4
Ruy Mingas – Mu Cinkola (1970)
Ruy Mingas – Pango Dia Penha (1974)
Angola Avante (National anthem of Angola) (as composer in 1975)

Marie Nilsson Lind, 62, singer with Swedish pop band Ainbusk, on Jan. 4
Ainbusk Singers – Lassie (1990, also as lyricist)
Ainbusk Singers – Varje steg du tar (Every Breath You Take) (1993)

Morfi Grei, 64, Spanish rock singer, on Jan. 4

Mike Ross-Trevor, British recording engineer, announced Jan. 5
Fleetwood Mac – Black Magic Woman (1968, as engineer)
Culture Club – Victims (1983, orchestral overdub)

Del Palmer, 71, English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist for Kate Bush, engineer, on Jan. 5
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) (1985, on fretless bass)

Gene Deer, 59, blues, rock and country musician, on Jan. 5
Gene Deer & The Blues Band – Just Shoulda’ Lay’d Off’a The Booze (1998)

Larry Collins, 79, half of duo The Collins Kids, guitarist, songwriter, on Jan. 5
The Collins Kids – Hop, Skip And Jump (1957, also on guitar)
Tanya Tucker – Delta Dawn (1972, as co-writer)

Terry Goldberg (aka Tom Parker), organist of UK blues-rock band Mark Leeman 5, on Jan. 6
Mark Leeman 5 – Portland Town (1965)

Amparo Rubín, 68, Mexican singer and lyricist, on Jan. 6

Iasos, 76, Greek-born new age musician, on Jan. 6
Iasos – Aries (1975)

Sarah Rice, 68, theatre actress and singer, on Dec. 6
Sarah Rice – Green Finch And Linnet Bird (1986)

Tony Clarkin, 77, guitarist and songwriter of UK rock band Magnum, on Jan. 7
Magnum – It Must Have Been Love (1988, also as writer)

Germana Caroli, 92, Italian singer, on Jan. 7
Germana Caroli – Ehi tu! (1954)

Jacky Boyadjian, 79, French jazz musician (Les Happy Stompers), on Jan. 7

Franz Beckenbauer, 78, German football legend, schlager singer, on Jan. 7
Franz Beckenbauer – Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (1966)

Guy Bonnet, 78, French singer, composer and author, on Jan. 8
Guy Bonnet – Marie Blanche (1970, also as co-writer)

Phill Niblock, 90, avant-garde composer and filmmaker, on Dec. 8

Gian Franco Reverberi, 89, Italian film composer and musician, on Jan. 8
Gianfranco & Gianpiero Reverberi – Nel cimitero di Tucson (1968, as co-composer)

Diego Gallardo, 31, Ecuadorian singer-songwriter, shot by stray gangster bullet on Jan. 9

James Kottak, 61, hard rock drummer, on Jan. 9
Scorpions – 10 Light Years Away (1999, as member)

Audie Blaylock, 61, bluegrass singer and guitarist, on Jan. 10
Audie Blaylock and Redline – (Is This) My Destiny (2019)

Sigi Schwab, 83, German jazz musician, on Jan. 11

Annie Nightingale, 83, pioneering English BBC disc-jockey, on Jan. 11

Bill Hayes, 98, singer and actor, on Jan. 12
Bill Hayes – Ballad Of Davy Crockett (1955)

Anthony Holt, 83, baritone with English a cappella group The King’s Singers, on Jan. 12

Jo-El Sonnier, 77, country and Cajun singer-songwriter and accordionist, on Jan. 13
Jo-El Sonnier – No More One More Time (1987)

Jerry Coker, 91, jazz saxophonist and educator, on Jan. 15

Enrique ‘Zurdo’ Roizner, 84, Argentine drummer, on Jan. 14
Kevin Johansen + The Nada – El Palomo (2004, on drums)

Dana Ghia, 91, Italian actress and singer, announced Dec. 15
Dana Ghia – Per tutta la vita (1959)

Ernst August Wehmer, 72, singer of German punk band Rotzkotz, announced Jan. 16

Laurie Johnson, 96, English film & TV composer and bandleader, on Jan. 16
The Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Sucu Sucu (Theme from ‘Top Secret’) (1961)
The Laurie Johnson Orchestra – ‘The New Avengers’ Theme (1976, also as composer)

Serge Laprade, 83, Canadian singer and broadcaster, on Jan. 17

Slim Pezin, 78, French guitarist, arranger and conductor, on Jan. 18
Voyage – From East To West (1977, as member on guitar, percussions, and as co-writer)
Mylène Farmer – Maman à tort (1984, on guitar)

Silent Servant, 46, Guatemalan-born techno DJ and producer, on Jan. 18

The Soft Moon, 44, rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 18
The Soft Moon – Far (2015)

Katelele Ching’oma, 32, Malawian musician, on Jan. 18

Mary Weiss, 75, lead singer of The Shangri-Las, on Jan. 19
The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand) (1964, on lead vocals)
The Shangri-Las – I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965, on lead vocals)
The Shangri-Las – Take The Time (1967, on lead vocals)

Marlena Shaw, 81, soul and jazz singer, on Jan. 19
Marlena Shaw – Liberation Conversation (1969, also as co-writer)
Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (live) (1974, also as co-writer)
Marlena Shaw – Loving You Was Like A Party (1975)
Marlena Shaw – Ma/Go Away Little Boy (1977)

Charles Austin, 93, jazz saxophonist and flutist, composer, on Jan. 19
Joe Gallivan & Charles Austin – Cry Of Hope (1976, also as composer)

Pluto Shervington, 73, Jamaican reggae musician, singer, producer, on Jan. 19
Pluto Shervington – Dat (1975, also as writer)

Charles Boles, 91, jazz pianist, on Jan. 19

Frank Shea, 93, jazz and R&B drummer, on Jan. 20
Willis Jackson & Brother Jack McDuff – Backtrack (1967, on drums)

Charis Kostopoulos, 59, Greek singer-songwriter, on Jan. 20

Philippe ‘Fifi’ Combelle, 84, French jazz drummer, on Jan. 20
Toots Thielemans – Talk To Me (1961, on drums)
Georges Moustaki – Ma Liberté (live) (1970, on tabla)

Neil Kulkarni, 51, music journalist, podcaster and member of Moonbears, on Jan. 22
The Moonbears – Waxheads (2013, also as co-writer)
The Moonbears – Do This To Death (2016, also as co-writer)

Frank DeVito, 93, session drummer and percussionist, on Jan. 22
The Mills Brothers – The Glow-Worm (1952, on drums)
Frank Sinatra – Witchcraft (1957, on drums)
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A. (1963, om drums)
Elvis Presley – Trouble/Guitar Man (live (1968, on bongos)

Margo Smith, 84, country singer, on Jan. 22
Margo Smith – Still A Woman (1978)

Sergei Yefremenko, 51, singer-guitarist of Russian ska band Markscheider Kunst, on Jan. 22

Melanie Safka, 76, singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 23
Melanie – Look What They’ve Done To My Song Ma (1970)
Melanie – Brand New Key (1971)
Melanie – Didn’t You Ever Love Somebody (1983)

Black Kappa, 46, Jamaican rapper, on Jan. 23

Frank Farian, 82, German singer, songwriter, producer, svengali, on Jan. 23
Frank Farian – Rocky (1975)
Boney M. – Baby Do You Wanna Bump (1975, as Boney M.)
Boney M. – Ma Baker (1977, as producer and on vocals)
La Bouche – Fallin’ In Love (1994, as producer)

Anders ‘Dagger’ Sandberg, 55, singer of Swedish dance band Rednex, on Jan. 23

Anders Lampe, 59, guitarist of Danish pop band Bamses Venner, on Jan. 24

Shelley Ganz, lead singer, rhythm guitarist of garage band The Unclaimed, announced Jan. 24
The Unclaimed – Time To Time (1980)

Conrad Chase, 58, actor, singer and reality TV personality, announced Jan. 25

Bruno Amstad, c.59, Swiss jazz singer, on Jan. 25

Michael Watford, 80, house music singer, on Jan. 26
Michael Watford – So Into You (1994)

Michel Hausser, 96, French jazz vibraphonist, on Jan. 26

Dean Brown, 68, jazz fusion guitarist and singer, composer, on Jan. 26
Dean Brown – Feed My Jones (2004, also as writer)

Lillebjørn Nilsen, 73, Norwegian folk singer-songwriter, on Jan. 27

Franco Tozzi, 79, Italian singer, on Jan. 29
Franco Tozzi – I Tuoi Occhi Verdi (1965)

Tony Cedras, 71, South African jazz multi-instrumentalist, on Jan. 29
Pacific Express – Look At The Smile (1979, as member on keyboards)
Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (live) (1991, on keyboard)

Yuri Ilchenko, 72, singer and guitarist with Russian rock bands Mify, Zemlyane, on Jan. 29

Hinton Battle, 67, stage musical and TV actor, dancer and soul singer, on Jan. 30
Hinton Battle – Is It Too Late (1986)

Chita Rivera, 91, stage and TV actress, singer, on Jan. 30|
Chita Rivera – Ten Cents A Dance (1962)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 13

January 25th, 2024 4 comments

 

Lately I have found that at times when I am at a loss as to what music to put on, the Not Feeling Guilty series is a convenient go-to. I’m still playing Vol. 11 and Vol. 12, and now Volume 13 joins the rotation. All previous volumes have been re-upped to Mega.

The playlist features several names that have featured frequently in this series. Leading them are soft-rock heavyweights Bill LaBounty (on eight mixes) and Robbie Dupree (seven times). Jim Messina turns up for the fourth time (once with Kenny Loggins), as does the Little River Band. David Pack appears as a solo artist for the second time, but as singer of Ambrosia he featured another four times. The superbly named Jim Photoglo (it’s his real name) features for the third time.

But a couple of well-known names debut on this collection: Eric Carmen is overdue, but Dusty Springfield is a rather unexpected inclusion. In 1978, the English singer released a soft rock album of variable quality. The session musicians included guitarist Jay Graydon, fresh from playing that great solo on Steely Dan’s Peg.

Karla Bonoff also makes her debut in this series. The backing crew on her song Personally is impressive: Eagles Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmitt are on backing vocals (Glenn Frey was supposed to produce), Carole King sidekick Danny Kortchmar on guitar with Andrew Gold, who also plays the percussion, David ‘Hawk’ Wolinski of Rufus & Chaka Khan on organ, Al Stewart’s saxophonist (on albums like Year Of The Cat and Time Passages) Phil Kenzie, and on drums Russ Kunkel, a legend among folk-rock and soft-rock dummers (in 1971 he played on Tapestry AND Blue!).

Russ Kunkel was married to Nicolette Larson at the time. His ex-wife, Leah Kunkel, also features on this mix. The younger sister of Cass Elliott was born as Born Leah Cohen. She had little commercial success, despite being championed by Art Garfunkel. She recorded only two albums. She featured on the Any Major Jimmy Webb Songbook Vol. 2. She now works as a lawyer.

Also coming for the first time is David Lasley, whom we lost in December 2021. But a song he wrote featured in this series before: Boz Scaggs’ JoJo (it was on Vol. 2). Lasley’s high tenor voice was heard as backing vocals of various hits by Chic (such as Dance Dance Dance and Everybody Dance), Odyssey (such as Native New Yorker) or Sister Sledge (We Are Family, Lost In Music, He’d The Greatest Dancer, Thinking About You). He also backed acts like James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Garland Jeffreys, Boz Scaggs, Cher, Tim Curry, Valerie Carter, Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford, Teddy Pendergrass, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Rita Coolidge, and especially his close friend Luther Vandross. Lasley and Vandross did a lot of the back-up singing together, especially on the Chic collective’s songs. Luther did backing vocals on Lasley’s 1982 solo album, though not on the featured track.

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

1. Little River Band – Lonesome Loser (1979)
2. Jim Messina – Do You Want To Dance (1978)
3. Karla Bonoff – Personally (1982)
4. Robbie Dupree – Are You Ready For Love (1981)
5. Bill LaBounty – Didn’t Want To Say Goodbye (1982)
6. Eric Carmen – End Of The World (1978)
7. Bruce Hibbard – All Of Me (1980)
8. Jim Photoglo – Beg, Borrow, Or Steal (1980)
9. Leah Kunkel – Step Right Up (1979)
10. John O’Banion – Love You Like I Never Loved Before (1981)
11. David Pack – That Girl Is Gone (1985
12. Jeff Lorber – It’s A Fact (1982)
13. Niteflyte – If You Want It (1979)
14. Dusty Springfield – Living Without Your Love (1978)
15. Larry Lee – Don’t Talk (1982)
16. John Valenti – Why Don’t We Fall In Love (1976)
17. David Lasley – Never Say (1982)
18. Pieces – Heaven Must Have Made You (1979)
19. Kazu Matsui Project feat. Robben Ford – Standing On The Outside (1983)
20. Dr Hook – Sharing The Night Together (1978)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 11
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 12

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Any Major Favourites 2023 – Vol. 2

January 18th, 2024 1 comment

Here’s part 2 of my review of stuff I posted in 2023. It was a year in which I cut back on my output a bit, owing to other commitments. Here’s hoping that this hear will be a bit easier.

In the Any Major Favourites 2023 Vol. 1, I mentioned which of 2023’s Songbook mixes got extra spins on my virtual turntable. Of other mixes, the two volumes of Hits from 1973 (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) got a lot of play, as did the two recycled Any Major Morning mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) — perennial favourites since I first posted them during the reign of Queen Victoria. A third volume in that series will drop this year.

Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 2 was another favourite, and one I could play with no complaints from Any Major Dudette. I also played the Any Major Soul 1983 mix more often than many of its predecessors. And the Any Major Favourite mixes are always happy go-to places.

In the new year, I hope to come up with a few more original mixes and want to pick up from a few previous ones, such as Any Major Southern Rock, and get a new Not Feeling Guilty mix out — time (and, to be honest, sometimes motivation) permitting, of course. This mix also include a PDF with the links below, for later reference. PW in comments.

1. Junior Campbell – Sweet Illusion (1973)
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 2
2. The Temptations – Papa Was A Rolling Stone (live) (1973)
Song Swarm: Papa Was A Rolling Stone
3. Bobby Marchan – There Is Something On Your Mind (Parts 1 & 2) (1964)
Any Major Murder Sings Vol. 4
4. Billy Preston – All Things Must Pass (1970)
Any Major George Harrison Songbook
5. Lucky Peterson – Purple Rain (1997)
Any Major Prince Songbook
6. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly (1999)
Any Major Forever Love
7. Jon English – Play With Fire (1976)
Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 1
8. Rusty Wier – Texas Morning (1974)
Any Major Morning Vol. 1
9. Katja Ebstein – Und wenn ein neuer Tag erwacht (1970)
Any Major Schlager
10. Isaac Hayes – I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love In Love With You) (1973)
Any Major Hank Williams Songbook
11. Luther Vandross – A House Is Not A Home (1980)
Any Major Bacharach/David Songbook Vol. 2
12. Shine – So Into You (1983)
Any Major Soul 1983
13. Chaka Khan – We Can Work It Out (1981)
Beatles Recovered: The Beatles 1962-66
14. Art Of Noise feat. Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens – Yebo! (1989)
A Life In Vinyl: 1989

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Any Major Favourites 2023 – Vol. 1

January 9th, 2024 6 comments

The past year saw the sudden disappearance of Zippyshare, so I spent much time in 2023 migrating material to a new external host. That one works better and is faster than the previous option. Unlike Zippy, however, it offers no stats, so I have no idea which mixes are popular and which are not.

My Facebook page (make friends at facebook.com/amdwhah) offers some indication, but the numbers of “likes” and “shares” tend to be steady. So while in the past I could observe that, for example, the Songbook mixes did well, without the stats I don’t know, and the lack of comments suggests that readers may be fed up with them. Or they quietly love them. I have no idea.

This year, I’ve done Songbooks on Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Burt Bacharach/Hal David, Sly Stone, Prince, Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, Hank Williams and twice The Rolling Stones (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Too much? I don’t know. But I’m having big fun compiling these things and listening to them (this year especially the Mitchell, Newman and Stones mixes). So there’ll be more in 2024, to mark special birthdays or recent deaths.

I was thinking of a Led Zeppelin Songbook to mark Jimmy Page’s 80th birthday on January 9, but didn’t get around to it. What that tells you is that there is a list!

So, as every year since 2015, here’s the first of two mixes containing tracks from mixes posted in the past year (excluding the In Memoriams, which in themselves are a great way of discovering a few gems), with links to the relevant posts, so you can catch up with stuff you might have missed. This mix also include a PDF with the links below, for later reference. PW in comments.

1. Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride (1972)
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 1
2. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (1967)
Any Major Blue-Eyed Soul
3. Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes – Respect (1969)
Tina Turner Sings Covers
4. Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band – Life And Death In G&A (1975)
Any Major Sly Stone Songbook
5. Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982)
Any Major Disco: Party Like It’s 1982
6. Claudia Lennear – Let It Be (1971)
Beatles Recovered: The Beatles 1967-70
7. Bonnie Raitt – Guilty (1972)
Any Major Randy Newman Songbook
8. Tom Rush – The Circle Game (1968)
Any Major Joni Mitchell Songbook
9. Linda Lewis – Reach For The Truth (1973)
Any Major Albums of the Year: 1973
10. Fleetwood Mac – Silver Springs (1977)
Any Major B-Sides
11. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise (1972)
Any Major Morning Vol. 2
12. Eric Clapton – Looking At The Rain (1977)
Any Major Gordon Lightfoot Songbook
13. Jennifer Warnes – Shine A Light (1976)
Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2
14. Sheriff – When I’m With You (1982)
Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 2
15. Sheryl Crow – Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely (2013)
Any Major Telephone Vol. 4

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In Memoriam – December 2023

January 2nd, 2024 4 comments

We have entered the mid-2020s now. WTF? Do you realise that 2040 is as soon as 2008 is recent? In 2008, this blog was already going and listed twice on The Guardian’s blog-roll of recommended sites. I doubt it’ll still be going in 2040 (or whether humanity will still be going).

Anyway, here’s the list of December 2023’s dead and their music — a busy old month. That’s true even outside music. The death in December that hit the hardest was that of actor André Braugher on December 11. In my view, he was one of the great actors of his generation, especially in his masterful portrayal of Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life On The Streets.

The Wingsman
Often unjustly seen as merely the third wheel on the Wings tandem that was Paul and Linda (or as the foreman of the other two transient members), Denny Laine was a loyal lieutenant to McCartney’s creative genius. At times the multi-instrumentalist contributed with his songwriting, most famously as the co-writer of the record-breaking single Mull Of Kintyre (a song he later re-recorded on a solo album of Wings songs).

Laine befriended McCartney when his band, The Moody Blues, toured with The Beatles in 1965. The same year, having sung lead on the group’s 1964 breakthrough hit Go Now, Laine left The Moody Blues, and formed a couple of bands, but to no great effect. He also played in the supergroup Ginger Baker’s Air Force before hooking up with McCartney to form Wings.

The Jazz Innovator
In jazz pianist Les McCann, who has died at 88, we have lost a pioneer in soul-jazz who helped shaped the sound of jazz in the 1960s and ’70s. He fused his improvisational jazz techniques with R&B, soul, blues and gospel, creating often catchy grooves that could cross over. In the early 1970s, he was one of the first musicians to make extensive use of the synthesizer in jazz.

McCann, a dynamic live performer, often incorporated social and political themes in his work.

His 1969 live album with saxophonist Eddie Harris, Les McCann Ltd. in San Francisco, is considered a landmark recording in the soul jazz. It produced a hit with the anti-Vietnam War hit Compared To What, a song written by his pal Gene McDaniels which McCann had previously recorded in 1966. It also appeared on Roberta Flack’s debut album; a year later McCann would duet with Flack on his soul album Comment — and the great pianist even had Flack contribute on piano to several tracks.

McCann was also an accomplished artist and photographer.

The Smothers Brother
Half of comedy duo Smothers Brothers is now gone, after the death at 86 of Tom Smothers. The act — first a folk-duo before switching to comedy with musical interludes — didn’t travel well outside America, but in the US they were legends. In the 1960s they had their own comedy TV show, which was cancelled because of their political content and countercultural leanings.

After it was cancelled in 1969, the show won an Emmy Award for Best Writing. Tom was the show’s lead writer, but asked not to be listed in the nomination because he knew that his name was controversial. The academy corrected thus by presenting Tom with an Emmy four decades llater. The Smothers Brothers were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2010.

Tom was the left-winger of the duo, with brother Dick more moderate in his politics. Tom was on stage at the legendary Monterey Festival in 1967 to introduce acts, and was part of the live recording of his friend John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance during the Montreal Bed-in, which was released as a single. See the clip here.

He also had the pleasure of being punched by Bill Cosby, who took exception to being told that he did not involve himself enough in the struggle for civil rights. Who knew that Cosby was not a nice guy?

Tom Smothers also appeared in a number of films.

The Shooting Star
Since scoring a huge hit in South Africa with her superb 2011 debut album Loliwe, the country’s second-fastest selling album ever, Afro soul singer Zahara was one of her country’s most popular singers, performing in Xhosa and English. By the time she died after a short illness at the absurdly young age of 36, the singer-songwriter and guitarist had released five studio albums, and a live set. She won 17 South African Music Awards.

Born as Bulelwa Mkutukana in a shantytown in East London, Zahara (her stage is Arabic for “blooming flower”) was a sensation when she burst on to the scene, and was even invited to perform for Nelson Mandela at his home, shortly before his death in December 2013.

Her second album came out in 2013, but then tragedy struck in the form of the murder of her brother in 2014, which sent her into a depression and battles with alcohol addiction, which caused the liver damage that eventually killed her.

The Hard Rocker
As the co-founder of Canadian rock band April Wine, Myles Goodwyn was the band’s lead singer and principal songwriter, and usually producer or co-producer, leading the group from its founding in 1969, through the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, to its final concert on March 2, 2023, in Truro, Nova Scotia. He released 16 studio albums with April Wine, and two albums as a solo artist.

Earlier this year, Goodwyn was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, where he resides alongside the likes of Robbie Robertson, Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson, whom we have also lost in the 12 months preceding his death.

The Jazz Master
As a young man in 1957-58, Willie Ruff played for Miles Davis on the French horn; a decade or so later, he backed Leonard Cohen on the bass, and soon after Shuggie Otis and the post-Morrison Doors.

He almost made it on to Joni Mitchell’s great Blue album, but the take of River on which he contributed with the French horn wasn’t used. He also played on unused versions of Urge For Going and Hunter; the three tracks finally were released in a box set in 2021.

Aside from releasing two solo albums and 16 with jazz pianist Dwike Mitchell (a lifelong friend after they met in 1947 in the army), Ruff backed acts like Lionel Hampton, Gil Evans, Oscar Peterson, Quincy Jones, Milt Jackson, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Stitt, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Les McCann, and many others.

Before he even started recording, Alabama-born Ruff had earned a Master’s degree in music from Yale University. From 1971 until 2017, when he retired at the age of 86, he was a professor at Yale, teaching music history, ethnomusicology, and arranging. Wikipedia tells us: “Ruff’s classes at Yale, often with partner Dwike Mitchell, were free-flowing jam sessions: roller-coaster rides through the colours of American Improvisational Music. The duo could play in the style of most notable jazz artists and related styles.”

He was also a founding director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship Program at Yale, a school-based initiative established in 1972, which is estimated to have reached 180,000 young people in its first 30 years.

The Songwriter
She never had her big breakthrough but Essra Mohawk became something of a cult figure and other singers had success with songs she wrote. Things might have been different for the early Zappa collaborator, who was born in Philadelphia as Sandra Hurvitz. In 1969, she was supposed to perform at Woodstock, but her manager messed up that opportunity.

Essra took the stage surname from her husband, producer Frazier Mohawk (née Friedman). Between 1969 and 2017 she released 14 album. She also wrote for other acts, scoring hits with 1986’s Change Of Heart by Cyndi Lauper and Stronger Than The Wind by Tina Turner, and did backing vocals for acts like Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, and Carole King.

The Dub Poet
British-Jamaican poet Benjamin Zephaniah was best-known for spoken word poetry and writings, and maybe his forays into acting. A well-known public figure in Britain, Zephaniah was also an energetic activist and commentator on social and political issues. In 2008, The Times listed him among Britain’s top 50 post-war writers

His poetry and activism found a platform in his recorded music. Between 1983 and 2018 he released about a dozen dub poetry albums, some of them collaborations with others, dealing with themes such as racism, inequality, and social justice.

The Bossa Nova Pioneer
The kicked-back variation of samba which we call bossa nova didn’t have a name yet when composer Carlos Lyra contributed to its rise. He was part of a group of musicians around the popular singer Sylvia Telles whom a journalist dubbed “the Bossa Nova group”. That was in 1957, and the name stuck. Two years later, Lyra wrote for the singer who would come to personify the genre like few others, João Gilberto.

Lyra collaborated with the likes of Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Geraldo Vandré.

The Hitwriter
When Richard Kerr put music to Scott English’s lyrics for the song Brandy, he had no way of knowing that he had just written one of the big hits of the 1970s and the 2000s. It did little business for Scott English, but retitled as Mandy, it was a massive hit for Barry Manilow in 1974, and again for Westlife in 2003.

Manilow would have hits with other Kerr song: Looks Like We’ve Made It and Somewhere In the Night; the latter was also a hit for Helen Reddy. Kerr also wrote the memorable tunes for hits like Dionne Warwick’s I’ll Never Love This Way Again (originally recorded by Cheryl Ladd) and, earlier in his career, Blue Eyes, a UK #3 hit for Don Partridge in 1968.

The Funkster
Even if you are not familiar with the eight-album solo output of soul-funkster Amp Fiddler, or his work in the 1980s and ’90s with George Clinton, you’ll have heard him play keyboards on hits such as Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, Charles & Eddie’s Would I Lie To You, or Brand New Heavies’ Dream On Dreamer.

Fiddler also backed acts like Warren Zevon, Was (Not Was), Prince, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Jamiroquai, Maxwell, Angélique Kidjo, Leon Ware, Corinne Bailey Rae, Qwestlife, Meshell’ Ndegeocello and others.

The ’50s Singer
Born as Lorraine DiAngelis, Lola Dee recorded under two names in the early and mid-1950s, though she had been signed to her first recording contract as a 16-year-old in 1944. Adopting her mother’s maiden name, she had some success as Lola Ameche, scoring Top 30 hits with Pretty Eyed Baby and Hitsity Hotsity in 1951.

As Lola Dee she had a couple more hits, selling a reported half a million with a version of The Platters’ Only You in 1955. By 1957 her recording career was over. Lola Dee, who could sing in almost any genre, toured with the likes of Bob Hope, Johnnie Ray, and Jimmy Durante. She kept performing until the late 1970s

The First Drummer
It’s a story of what might have been… When AC/DC recorded their first single in 1974 — a glam number titled Can I Sit Next To You, Girl — the band’s original drummer was Colin Burgess. The drummer had already tasted some success with the band Master’s Apprentice, with whom he had three Australian Top 20 hits.

Burgess didn’t last long in AC/DC. He was fired for being drunk on stage (he claimed his drinks had been spiked). Successor Phil Rudd was on the drums when Can I Sit Next To You Girl was re-recorded for the High Voltage album, with Bon Scott on vocals instead of original singer Dave Evans.

In a twist of fate, Burgess met Bon Scott at the Music Factory in London on the night in February 1980 when the singer died, becoming one of the last people to speak with Scott.

The Tennis Pro
If ever there was an all-rounder, Torben Ulrich was one. The father of Metallica’s Lar Ulrich had a long career as a tennis player, from 1940s to the latter parts of the 1970s, becoming the oldest-ever Davis Cup player in history, representing Denmark. He reached the 4th round of the US Open on four occasions between 1953 and 1968.

In between, he was also a writer for Danish jazz magazines and newspapers, and was the co-editor of a literary magazine. Several books of his writings on various subjects have been published. Ulrich also appeared in a couple of films, and directed a few more. At the age of 82, he directed a dance project in Seattle. He was also an internationally exhibited artist.

In the 1950s, Ulrich played the clarinet in a Dixieland jazz band. Half a century later, he released the first of five free jazz albums, between 2005 and 2021.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.

Roy Gerson, 64, jazz pianist and actor, on Dec. 2
Roy Gerson – Somebody Loves Me (1992)

Myles Goodwyn, 75, lead singer, guitarist, songwriter of April Wine, on Dec. 3
April Wine – Tonite Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love (1974, also as writer and co-producer)
April Wine – Child’s Garden (1977, also as writer and producer)
April Wine – Enough Is Enough (1982, also as writer and co-producer)

Vlado Pravdić, 73, Bosnian keyboardist of Yugoslav rock band Bijelo Dugme, on Dec. 4
Bijelo Dugme – Selma (1974)

John Hyatt, c.63, singer of English post punk band The Three Johns, on Dec. 4
The Three Johns – Brainbox (He’s A Brainbox) (1985)

Denny Laine, 79, musician and singer (Wings, Moody Blues), songwriter, on Dec. 5
The Moody Blues – Go Now (1964, on lead vocals)
Ginger Baker’s Air Force – You Wouldn’t Believe It (1970, as member and co-writer)
Wings – Time To Hide (1976, on lead vocals and as writer)
Denny Laine – Mull Of Kintyre (1996, also as co-writer)

Mama Diabaté, 63, Guinean singer and musician, on Dec. 5
Mama Diabaté – Djouya (1993)

Lils Mackintosh, 68, Dutch jazz and blues singer, on Dec. 5
Lils Mackintosh – On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1997)

Jimmy Villotti, 79, Italian jazz musician, on Dec. 6
Jimmy Villotti – Drin Drin (1993)

Michel Sardaby, 88, French jazz pianist and composer, on Dec. 6
Michel Sardaby – Gail (1965)

Lola Dee, 95, pop singer, on Dec. 7
Lola Ameche – Rock The Joint (1952)
Lola Dee – Altar Of Love (1954)

Benjamin Zephaniah, 65, British poet, writer, actor, dub recording artist, on Dec. 7
Benjamin Zephaniah – Free South Afrika (1986, also as writer and on percussions)
Benjamin Zephaniah – Wake Up (1996)

Teresa Silva Carvalho, 88, Portuguese singer, on Dec. 7

Ramón Ayala, 96, Argentinian poet and singer, on Dec. 7
Ramón Ayala – El Mensú (1976)

Terry Baucom, 71, bluegrass singer and banjo player, on Dec. 7
Boone Creek – Dixieland (1977, as member on banjo)

Nidra Beard, 71, singer with disco trio Dynasty, on Dec. 8
Dynasty – I Don’t Wanna Be A Freak (1979)

Cayle Sain, 31, drummer of metal band Twitching Tongues, on Dec. 10

Jimmy Ayoub, 70, drummer of Canadian band Mahogany Rush, on Dec. 10
Mahogany Rush – Land Of 1000 Nights (1975)

Chuck Stern, 44, frontman of experimental rock band Time of Orchids, on Dec. 10
Time of Orchids – Darling Abandon (2007)

Essra Mohawk, 75, folk singer-songwriter, on Dec. 11
Essra Mohawk – I’ll Give It To You Anyway (1970)
Essra Mohawk – Openin’ My Love Doors (1974)
Cyndi Lauper – Change Of Heart (1986, as writer)

Zahara, 36, South African Afro soul singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Dec. 11
Zahara – Ndize (2011)
Zahara – Bhekile (2013)
Zahara – Nqaba Yam (2021)

John ‘Rambo’ Stevens, English producer and manager, on Dec. 11

Richard Kerr, 78, English singer and songwriter, on Dec. 11
Scott English – Brandy (1972, also as composer)
Richard Kerr – Somewhere In The Night (1976, also as composer)
Dionne Warwick – I’ll Never Love This Way Again (1979, as composer)

Jeffrey Foskett, 67, singer, songwriter, producer (Beach Boys), on Dec. 11
Jeffrey Foskett – Sunshine All The Time (1997)

Ole Paus, 76, Norwegian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12

Jerry Puckett, 84, session guitarist, engineer, on Dec. 12
King Floyd – Groove Me (1971, on guitar and as engineer)

Travis Dopp, guitarist of punk band Small Brown Bike, on Dec. 13

Giorgos Tolios, 58, drummer of Greek alt.rock band TRYPES, on Dec. 14
ΤΡΥΠΕΣ – Το Τρένο (1993)

Rüdiger Wolff, 70, singer, songwriter, actor and TV presenter, on Dec. 14
Rüdiger Wolff – Wohin geh’n wir (1983)

Bob Johnson, 79, guitarist, singer and songwriter with Steeleye Span, on Dec. 15
Steeleye Span – Alison Gross (1973, on lead vocals)
Steeleye Span – Edward (1986, as writer and on lead vocals)

Guy Marchand, 86, French actor and singer, on Dec. 15
Guy Marchand – Ça vous laisse perplexe (1965)

Tim Norell, 68, Swedish musician, songwriter and producer, on Dec. 15
Secret Service – Cutting Corners (1982, as member on guitar and co-writer)

Pete Lucas, 73, bass guitarist of The Troggs (1974-2022), on Dec. 16
The Troggs – Feeling For Love (1977)

Carlos Lyra, 90, Brazilian singer, composer and Bossa Nova pioneer, on Dec. 16
Sylvia Telles – Menina (1954, as writer)
João Gilberto – Maria Ninguém (1959, as writer)
Carlos Lyra – Chora Tua Tristeza (1964, also as writer)

Óscar Agudelo, 91, Colombian singer, on Dec. 16

Colin Burgess, 77, Australian rock drummer, on Dec. 16
Master’s Apprentices – Because I Love You (1971, as member)
AC/DC – Can I Sit Next To You, Girl (1974, as member)

Manny Martínez, 69, ex-drummer of punk band The Misfits, on Dec. 16

Mike Maxfield, 79, songwriter, guitarist of English band The Dakotas, announced Dec. 17
The Dakotas – The Cruel Sea (1963, also as writer)
Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)

Amp Fiddler, 65, funk musician, composer and producer, on Dec. 17
Prince – We Can Funk (1990, on keyboards and backing vocals)
Brand New Heavies – Dream On Dreamer (1994, on keyboards)
Amp Fiddler – Possibilities (2003)

Lewis Pragasam, 66, Malaysian jazz fusion drummer, on Dec. 18

Susanna Parigi, 62, Italian singer-songwriter and pianist, on Dec. 18
Susanna Parigi – Grazie alla vita (2016)

Russell Hunter, 76, drummer with UK rock bands Pink Fairies, Deviants, on Dec. 19
The Deviants – You’ve Got To Hold On (1968, also as co-writer)
The Pink Fairies – The Snake (1971, also as co-writer)

Ronnie Caryl, 70, English guitarist and singer, on Dec. 19
Ronnie Caryl – You Got It (1983, also as writer)

Bram Inscore, 41, electro-pop musician, songwriter and producer, by suicide on Dec. 19
Troye Sivan – Youth (2015, as co-writer and co-producer)

Eric Moyo, 41, Zimbabwean gospel singer, on Dec. 20

Torben Ulrich, 95, Danish tennis player, writer and free jazz musician, on Dec. 20
Torben Ulrich in CLINCH – Preface (2004)

Laura Lynch, 65, singer-bassist of the Dixie Chicks (1990-93), in traffic accident on Dec. 22
The Dixie Chicks Cowgirl Band – The Thrill Is In The Chase (1993, also as co-writer)

Ingrid Steeger, 76, German comedian and occasional singer, on Dec. 22
Ingrid Steeger – Der Schneemann (1975)

Lisandro Meza, 86, Colombian singer and accordionist, on Dec. 23

Willie Ruff, 92, jazz musician and educator, on Dec. 24
Miles Davis – Summertime (1958, on French horn)
Willie Ruff – Sheffield Blues (1968)
Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne (1968, on bass)
Joni Mitchell – River (with French Horns) (1970, rel. 2021, on French horn)

John Cutler, 73, engineer and producer, on Dec. 24
The Grateful Dead – Touch Of Grey (1987, as co-producer and engineer)

David Freeman, 84, bluegrass producer and historian, on Dec. 25

Tom Smothers, 86, half of comedy duo The Smothers Brothers, actor, on Dec. 26
The Smothers Brothers – Down In The Valley (1962)
The Smothers Brothers – Long Time Blues (1965)
Plastic Ono Band – Give Peace A Chance (1969, as backing singer)

Tony Oxley, 85, English free jazz drummer, label founder, on Dec. 26

Mbongeni Ngema, 67, South African playwright and composer, in car crash on Dec. 27
Mbongeni Ngema – Freedom Is Coming (1992, as writer, producer, arranger and on horns)

Michael Gibbons Jr, guitarist with metal band Leeway, on Dec. 27

Tommy Talton, 74, guitarist, singer, songwriter with country-rock band Cowboy, on Dec. 28
We The People – You Burn Me Up And Down (1966, as member and writer)
Cowboy – 5’ll Getcha Ten (1971, also as writer and on lead vocals)

Pedro Suárez-Vértiz, 54, singer-songwriter with Peruvian rock band Arena Hash, on Dec. 29

Les McCann, 88, jazz pianist and singer, artist, on Dec. 29
Les McCann Ltd. – Too Close for Comfort (1961)
Les McCann & Eddie Harris – Compared To What? (1969)
Les McCann feat. Roberta Flack – Baby Baby (1970)
Les McCann – Harlem Buck Dance Strut (1973)

Sandra Reaves-Phillips, 79, actress, writer and singer, on Dec. 29

Maurice Hines, 80, dancer, jazz singer and actor, on Dec. 29
Maurice – I’ve Never Been In Love Before (2000)

Sam Burtis, 75, jazz musician, on Dec. 29

Klee Benally, 48, guitarist of Native-American alt.rock group Blackfire, on Dec. 30
Blackfire – Mean Things Happenin’ In This World (2003)

Torsun Burkhardt, 49, singer and bassist of German electropunk band Egotronic, on Dec. 30

Shmulik Bilu, 71, member of Israeli vocal group Milk & Honey, on Dec. 31
Milk And Honey – Hallelujah (1979)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Party Like It’s 1983

December 28th, 2023 1 comment

The year 1983 marks the time when I set foot in a nightclub for the first time. I had turned 17 a few weeks earlier, and managed to pass for 18, and thus the legal drinking age.

I might have thought that I was big enough to drink, and with having experienced my first hangover at the age of 15½ years, I might have supposed myself to be an experienced imbiber of alcoholic beverages. Like most 17-year-olds, I was neither.

How many Rum & Colas I knocked back that night, I cannot remember – nor much else – but I suspect that my binge did not create a rum shortage in the club, or even in the bottle. It was not my last heroic confrontation with devil alcohol in a club setting, but that first encounter with Rum & Coke cured me of that particular concoction; an aversion that has retained currency even 40 years later.

This mix of dance tracks that came out in 1983 provides a partial soundtrack to those nascent days of clubbing. Two of them scored my experiences in early 1984: Weekend Special by Brenda (Fassie) & The Big Dudes is a stone cold South African classic. How it failed to become an international hit is difficult to understand, even allowing for the cultural boycott of South Africa and the associated lack of promotion.

Last Night The DJ Saved My Life reminds me of a club named Charlie Parker’s, which was not a jazz club but a disco whose popularity didn’t correlate with the music it played or its uninspired decor. In fairness, the club was aimed at an older crowd than my teenage self. I didn’t like the song much then; today I love it.

There is a lot of dance music from 1983 that has aged poorly, especially with the overindulgent use of stabbing synths and grating electric guitar that might have sought to attract (or at least pacify) the “Disco Sucks” constituency of idiots. What we have here represents the more timeless corner of 1983 dance music.

The mix also acknowledges the rise of Hi-NRG, the child of disco which, like a crucial strand of disco, emerged from gay clubs. An early star of the genre was Miquel Brown, whose song So Many Men, So Little Time was a companion piece to It’s Raining Men (the latter doesn’t feature here). A couple of years later Brown’s daughter, Sinitta, had a gay club hit with So Macho.

The mix opens with Love Town by Booker Newberry III, a singer we lost in April this year.

As a little bonus, all seven Any Major Funk mixes are available now in one package. Get it here! 

There are many previous Disco and Party Like It’s … mixes to revisit; I think all links are live. This mix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home Rum&Coked covers, and the above in PDF format. PW in comments.

I hope your 2023 was great, or at least bearable, and that your 2024 will spectacularly joyful, peaceful and healthy.

1. Booker Newberry III – Love Town
2. Oliver Cheatham – Get Down, Saturday Night
3. Second Image – Can’t Keep Holding On
4. Skyy – Show Me The Way
5. Brenda & The Big Dudes – Weekend Special
6. Phil Fearon & Galaxy – Dancing Tight
7. Freeez – I.O.U.
8. Indeep – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
9. Shannon – Let The Music Play
10. Miquel Brown – So Many Men, So Little Time
11. Toni Smith – (Oo) I Like The Way It Feels
12. Michael Henderson – You Wouldn’t Have To Work At All
13. D Train – Keep Giving Me Love
14. Midnight Star – Wet My Whistle
15. Earth, Wind & Fire – Fall In Love With Me
16. S.O.S. Band – Just Be Good To Me

GET IT!

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Categories: Disco, Mix CD-Rs Tags: