Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two more sendings off

My thanks to Dave C for alerting me to the fact that two more soul men have joined the great chorus in the sky: Charles Smith, founder member and guitarist with Kool and the Gang, and Chicago soul singer Emmanuel Laskey, a favourite with Northern soul fans. Who will be next?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Miracles mystery + RIP TOTP

Can anyone answer a query for me? I have two copies of More love by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles on Tamla Motown TMG 614 released in 1967. The B-side of one is Come spy with me, while the other copy has Swept for you baby on the B side. The 2004 edition of the Rare Record Guide states that the version with Come spy with me was withdrawn, but the 2006 edition says that it was the Swept for you baby version that was withdrawn. Which is correct - and why was it withdrawn?
Meanwhile it's RIP to TOTP after 40 odd years. It's a long way from Jimmy Savile and Tony Blackburn to the show of recent years and I have no doubt that it has outlived its shelf life. Unlike early rock and roll shows like 6-5 Special, Oh Boy and Ready Steady Go I somehow doubt that Top of The Pops will be remembered as ground breaking. Back in the days of Pan's People it was required viewing, if somewhat predictable, but now it looks dated and I guess it just went on too long.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Some more top tens

Once again, here are my personal top twns from around this date in 1960 to 1965. Some embarrassing ones in 1960 I'm afraid (I was young, impressionable etc etc...):
June 23, 1960: 1. Please don't tease - Cliff Richard; 2. Wonderful world - Sam Cooke; 3. When Johnny comes marching home - Adam Faith; 4. What a mouth - Tommy Steele; 5. Good timin' - Jimmy Jones; 6. Down yonder - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 7. That's love - Billy Fury; 8. Walking the floor over you - Pat Boone; 9. Angela Jones - Michael Cox; 10= True love ways - Buddy Holly, and He'll have to go - Jim Reeves.
June 23, 1961: 1. I feel so bad - Elvis Presley; 2. Baby I don't care - Buddy Holly; 3. That's why - Donnie Brooks; 4. It keeps rainin' - Fats Domino; 5, Weekend - Eddie Cochran; 6. Stick with me baby - Everly Brothers; 7. That old black magic - Bobby Rydell; 8. Running scared - Roy Orbison; 9. Pasadena - Temperance Seven; 10. Hello Mary Lou - Ricky Nelson.
June 22, 1962: 1. The crowd - Roy Orbison; 2. Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon; 3. Here comes that feeling - Brenda Lee; 4. Having a party - Sam Cooke; 5. Number one man - Bruce Channel; 6. Soldier boy - The Shirelles; 7. I can't stop loving you - Ray Charles; 8. How is Julie - The Lettermen; 9. I was born to cry - Dion; 10. It keeps right on a-hurting - Johnny Tillotson.
June 24, 1963: 1. Da doo ron ron - The Crystals; 2. Shake a hand - Jackie Wilson & Linda Hopkins; 3. Surfin' USA - The Beach Boys; 4. Black cloud - Chubby Checker; 5. Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley; 6. It's my party - Lesley Gore; 7. Rocking crickets - Rocking rebels; 8. Bird's the word - The Rivingtons; 9. Mad goose - Piltdown Men; 10. Blue on blue - Bobby Vinton.
June 22, 1964: 1. When you walk in the room - Jackie DeShannon; 2. Evenin' - Jimmy Witherspoon; 3. Bama lama bama lu - Little Richard; 4= Black night - Arthur Alexander, and I get around - The Beach Boys; 6. Every little bit hurts - Brenda Holloway; 7. Lonely heart - Carl Perkins; 8. Romeo and Juliet - The Reflections; 9. Dimples - John Lee Hooker; 10. My guy - Mary Wells.
June 18, 1965: 1. Help me Rhonda - The Beach Boys; 2. I can't help myself - The Four Tops; 3. Voodoo woman - Bobby Goldsboro; 4. I've been loving you too long - Otis Redding; 5. Something you got - Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown; 6. Tonight's the night - Solomon Burke; 7. Mr Pitiful - Otis Redding; 8. Woolly bully - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs; 9. It ain't me babe - Johnny Cash; 10. Maggie's farm - Solomon Burke.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Postman Fred

Freddie Gorman, one of the lesser known Motown pioneers, has died. He was working appropriately as a postman prior to co-writing the Marvelettes classic Please Mr Postman in 1961 with Holland Dozier and Holland. (Interestingly the original Fontana single that I have credits Dobbins, Garrett and Brianbert as songwriters. I wonder who they were!) Apparently Freddie met Berry Gordy delivering mail to his mother's house and went on to record a number of solo records for the Ric Tic label as well as writing sings for other Motown acts including the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye and the Four Tops. He achieved greater fame with the Originals who had a major hit with Baby I'm for real. Sadly I never saw Freddie live, although I believe he performed at a Northern soul gig in Manchester a few years back.
Since writing this I came across the following on Wikipedia which explains the songwriting puzzle:
In early 1961, The Marvelettes (then known as "The Marvels") arranged an audition for Berry Gordy's Tamla/Motown label. Marvels member Georgia Dobbins needed an original song for their audition , and got a blues song from her friend William Garrett, which she then reworked for the group. Dobbins left the group after the audition and was replaced, Gordy renamed the group and hired "Brianbert" - Brian Holland and Robert Bateman's songwriting partnership - to rework the song yet again. Freddie Gorman, another songwriting partner of Holland (before Holland became part of the Holland-Dozier-Holland team) was also involved in the final reworking. The song features Marvelettes lead singer Gladys Horton hoping that the postman has brought her a letter from her boyfriend, who is away at war. Marvin Gaye played drums on the Marvelettes' recording of this song. Songwriting credits for "Please Mr. Postman" seem to have changed over the years. The original Tamla 45 single for the Marvelettes' version credits "Dobbins/Garett/Brianbert" as the songwriters, and credits "Brianbert" as producer. The original With the Beatles album cover credited it to just Brian Holland. The 1974 Beatles discography book All Together Now credits it to Holland, Bateman, and Berry Gordy. The 1992 Motown boxed set Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection credits Dobbins, Garrett, Holland, Bateman, and Gorman as the composers. As of 2006, the Songwriters Hall of Fame credits "Please Mr. Postman" to just Holland, Bateman, and Gorman.

Friday, June 16, 2006

More on Johnny Paris

Following The Vinyl Word entry of May 13 on the death of Johnny Paris, of Johnny of the Hurricanes, I've received this update from Sonja Reuter, Johnny's widow:
Just received the full autopsy report on John two days ago. It confirmed his death due to splenectomy, pneumonia and sepsis. It also mentioned inflammation in the panceas area. Again no remarks about cancer or leukaemia, it is now definitely ruled out. We are relieved, as cancer would always be something you need to worry in family lines, which would be devastating for his children. But it also leaves us desperate, because this man really did not need to die if the doctors would have caught the severity of his conditions in time, he was too young and in November 2005 still too strong to end up the way he did. It is a crying shame.Sonja Reuter (widow of Johnny Paris)
Thanks for the information Sonja and for reading the blog.
New readers should make a point of reading two excellent publications:
UK Rock magazine (proprietor and editor John Howard)
Tales From The Woods (founder and editor Keith Woods)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Justin time

They say that everyone remembers where they were when they heard that John F Kennedy had been shot. That's hardly true today as most people weren't even born in November 1963. I do remember it however, as I was 17 at the time. I arrived at the Justin Hall, West Wickham, Kent, for the regular Friday night gig and was immediately told the shocking news. It's not an event that I am ever likely to forget, and it compares, for me, with the first news of other shocking deaths, such as that of Elvis (a brief 'and finally' item at the end of News at Ten), Sam Cooke (a two line stop press item in the Evening News), John Lennon (breakfast radio), and Princess Diana (an early morning car boot sale in Barnet).
The Justin Hall Friday gig was a typical early 60s dance, with a live group, a motley selection of girls dancing round their handbags and spotty youths like myself trying to pluck up courage to pick one of them up. There were some pretty good local bands playing there though, including the Konrads, with a very young David Bowie, and the Herd, with an even younger Pete Frampton. The repertoire of these bands, like all others of the time, consisted mostly of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Coasters numbers. They weren't great, but they were adequate. Occasionally, if finances allowed, I would go Up West with friends to The Scene or The Flamingo, but most weeks the Justin Hall sufficed. The highlight of 1963 in the area was 'Wickham goes pop' - an early attempt at a music festival - comprising four hours of local groups, including the Tru-beats (forerunners of The Herd), the Konrads and other forgotten groups (according to Chris Groom's book 'Rockin' and around Croydon') such as The Rebounds, The Psykons, Del and the Panthers (I seem to remember that Del had a very flash American car) and the Constrees, which apparently comprised members of the 45th Beckenham Scout group, which I had earlier belonged to. Innocent days - I don't remember much in the way of drugs - not even Purple hearts - at the Justin Hall, but exciting in its own way. And we even had Gene Vincent performing there once.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Top tens 1960-65

More personal top tens from around this date 1960-65:
June 9, 1960: 1. Good timin' - Jimmy Jones; 2. Down yonder - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 3. That's love - Billy Fury; 4. Let the little girl dance - Billy Bland; 5. Three steps to heaven - Eddie Cochran; 6. Wonderful world - Sam Cooke; 7. You'll never know what you're missing - Emile Ford; 8. Robot man - Connie Francis; 9. Got a girl - Four Preps; 10. He'll have to go - Jim Reeves.
June 9, 1961: 1. Feel so bad - Elvis Presley; 2. That old black magic - Bobby Rydell; 3. Hello Mary Lou - Ricky Nelson; 4. Running scared - Roy Orbison; 5= Travelling man - Ricky Nelson, & Stick with me baby - Everly Brothers; 7. Temptation - Everly Brothers; 8. Weekend - Eddie Cochran; 9. I'll step down - Garry Mills; 10. Buzz buzz a diddle it - Freddy Cannon.
June 13, 1962: 1. The crowd - Roy Orbison; 2. Number one man - Bruce Channel; 3. How is Julie - The Lettermen; 4. Palisades Park -Freddy Cannon; 5. That's old fashioned - Everly Brothers; 6. Soldier boy - The Shirelles; 7. I was born to cry - Dion; 8. The man who shot Liberty Valance - Gene Pitney; 9. I can't stop loving you - Ray Charles; 10. My real name - Fats Domino.
June 11, 1963: 1. Da doo ron ron - The Crystals; 2. It's my party - Lesley Gore; 3. Falling - Roy Orbison; 4. Mad goose - The Piltdown Men; 5. Black clowd - Chubby Checker; 6. It's been nice - Everly Brothers; 7. Another Saturday night - Sam Cooke; 8= Rocking crickets - Rocking Rebels, & This little girl - Dion; 10= Road runner - Count Victors, There goes my heart again - Fats Domino, and This empty place - Dionne Warwick.
June 9, 1964: Bama lama bama lu - Little Richard; 2. Romeo and Juliet - The Reflections; 3. When you walk in the room - Jackie DeShannon; 4. Dimples- John Lee Hooker; 5. Evenin' - Jimmy Witherspoon; 6. My guy - Mary Wells; 7. Tell me what I can do - Tony Orlando; 8. No particular place to go - Chuck Berry; 9. You're a wonderful one - Marvin Gaye; 10. Can you do it - The Contours.
June 7, 1965: 1. Help me Rhonda - The Beach Boys; 2= Mr Pitiful - Otis Redding, and Voodoo woman - Bobby Goldsboro; 4. I've been loving you too long - Otis Redding; 5= Something you got - Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown, and I can't help myself - The Four Tops; 7. It ain't me babe - Johnny Cash; 8. From all over the world - Jan & Dean; 9. The price of love - Everly Brothers; 10. People get ready - The Impressions.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Billy's in his bag

One of the greatest keyboardists of the pop and soul era has died aged just 59. Billy Preston was a teenage prodigy, playing with Little Richard's band at the age of 15. An early instrumental hit was Billy's Bag and his organ playing on Sam Cooke's Little red rooster was exceptional. He went on to make some fine instrumental LPS (eg The most exciting organ ever) and enjoy success as a soul singer in the 70s. He backed just about everyone who was anyone from the Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin and is best remembered as being the 'fifth Beatle', having met the Beatles in Hamburg in 1962 and played on Let it be and Get back. Drug abuse limited his career, but Billy Preston was undoubtedly one of the most influential instrumentalists of the 60s and 70s.
Farewell also to Johnny Grande, keyboardist and one of the founders of Bill Haley's Comets.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sam's still the man

It was a surprise to hear Sam Moore being interviewed this morning on Radio 4's Today Programme of all places. He's released a new CD called Overnight Sensational with numerous guest stars, but clearly still hasn't got over the drug fuelled ill feeling that led to the break up of Sam and Dave. He's pissed off too about the lack of recognition resulting from the Blues Brothers' revival of Soul Man and as for today's black music he says it all sounds the same. Where are the distinctive voices of the past like Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Little Willie John, Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Sam and Dave he asks. Where indeed?

Monday, June 05, 2006

My pet hates from A to Z

What are the things that really piss you off these days? Here are mine - and apologies to Mr Angry if I've pinched some of his:
A -Automated call centres. I don't really care if they're in Birmingham or Bangalore - what really gets me is the unending string of options, followed by music, followed by that ominous buzz as the line goes dead.
B - Blair and Brown. Who, at the end of the day, gives a shit. Brown will probably just turn out to be Blair without the charisma.
C - Christian fundamentalists. If I want to watch porn or Jerry Springer the Opera just leave me alone.
D - Dance music. Have you been to a club lately? Don't unless you want to become deaf and bored by the repetition of that beat beat beat beat...
E - England hooligans. Please let's just enjoy the World Cup.
F - Food scares. Is there anything that isn't dangerous to eat?
G - Global warming. OK so the world is getting warmer. Good - it's been cold for too long.
H - Humps. Road humps, traffic calming measures, high kerbs - councils clearly have too much money. There's a never ending stream of 'road improvements' designed to make life difficult for motorists.
I - Iraq war apologists. How can anyone - even Tony Blair - possibly defend this obscenity any more?
J - Japanese food. Raw fish - urgh..
K - Kebabs. Does anyone eat a doner kebab when they're sober?
L - Lithuanians. Nothing against Lithuanians per se, but I hear more people speaking eastern European languages in London these days than English.
M - Moslem extremists. Cartoons of Mohammed, women so oppessed they can't even display a smile - why do we tolerate it?
N - Northerners. OK, so I used to live up north - but I don't intend going back.
O - Obese people. We are fast catching up with the US as the fat capital of the world. Give up those burgers you fat gits.
P - Parking. There is nowhere to park these days without risking a £100 fine. Come the revolution all traffic wardens will be lined up against the wall and shot.
Q - Queen. Well, the queen's greedy relatives really - plus the late Freddie Mercury's band who are equally despicable.
R - Remembrance Day. This annual acceptance of the 'glories' of war makes me puke.
S - Speed cameras. Need I say more? Another money making scheme, which contributes to accidents as motorists are forced to slow down.
T - Tabloids. The Sun, Mirror, Star, Express, but especially the Mail and its right wing rantings about asylum seekers, criminals etc etc.
U - US imperialism. Any nation that can allow an imbecile like George W free rein is heading for self destruction.
V - Virtual reality. Give me real reality any time.
W - White supremacists. Not just the BNP, but every pub bore who thinks he's superior in some way to someone whose skin is darker than theirs.
X - X rated videos. Why rate them X when they are so tame? In fact, why do we still have censorship in this country?
Y - Yobs. Youth today is revolting - go to any town centre on a Friday or Saturday night and see for yourself.
Z - Zenophobia. Asylum seekers, foreign criminals, cleaners without visas - it's all grist to the Daily Mail's mill, whether they're contributing to the country or not.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Six out of 100 ain't bad

Despite owning a great many albums, I find that only six of the 100 greatest albums voted for by readers of NME have a place in my collection. The list is dominated by albums from the last 20 years although the Beatles predicably did well with four of the top 14. There was no place for soul legends such as Otis Redding, Al Green, Sam Cooke or Wilson Pickett. No place for rockers like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry or Fats Domino. Not even a place for Elvis. That's not surprising given NME's readership, but it also reflects the fact that Elvis and co come from an era when what mattered was singles. LPs were often an irrelevence comprising a couple of hit singles and ten cover versions, although there are many great LPs that are missing from the list. One of these days I will get round to making a list of my own top 100, but that's for another day. So what are the six that made it both into the NME list and my collection? Highest placed was Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys at number 22. There were two Bob Dylan albums in the NME list - Blood on the Tracks and Blonde on Blonde - while the others were The Velvet Underground and Nico, Forever Changes by Love and What's Going on by Marvin Gaye.