I realise that I’m a couple of days late with this post but I couldn’t let the passing of such a musical giant as Bobby Womack go without saying anything. The first music genre I really got into was soul music. I recall reading about the likes of Bobby Womack in Blues & Soul magazine in the early 70s. My lifelong friend Glen Voisey and me used to frequent an excellent, though long since defunct, record shop at Rayners Lane called The Bop Shop. They had racks and racks of second-hand vinyl and I remember buying Womack’s “Harry Hippie” and “Across 110th Street” on 7 inch vinyl without previously having heard either track. Initially I had just read how great the man was. I was not disappointed; “Across 110th Street” remains one of my favourite songs. How can anyone not love “The Poet II” album?
Bobby was not only a great singer and guitarist (Jimi Hendrix was a fan of his playing) he was also a great songwriter. Other people recorded some fantastic interpretations of his songs. Notably for me is Millie Jackson’s version of “If You Want My Love, Put Something Down On It”, which he wrote with his brother Cecil. The Rolling Stones clearly valued his talent having a big hit in 1964 with “It’s All Over Now” a song written by Bobby and Shirley Womack and recorded by one of Bobby’s early groups the Valentinos. Womack was also a great interpreter of other people’s songs too, his version of “California Dreamin'” is testament to that. Bobby has recorded and released great music for more than 50 years. he has worked with the likes of Sam Cooke back in the 60s right through to Damon Albarn with the Gorillaz and his last solo album “The Bravest Man In The Universe” released in 2012. Bobby will be sadly missed and my thoughts are with his family, friends and his legions of fans. Bobby Womack RIP
Janis Joplin’s classic song “Mercedes-Benz” was written by her after she saw Bobby Womack‘s 1970 600 Series Mercedes. She recorded the song with Bobby Womack and died later that same night. Hopefully not because she was depressed about not having a Mercedes.
There was also a reminder about how recently segregation existed in the USA, certainly and sadly well within my lifetime. But two little things took my interest. One is that Bobby’s favourite word is love and his greatest fear is cats. Surely he has to record a cover of the Cure‘s “Love Cats”. Have you heard his award-winning album ‘Bravest Man In The Universe’ yet? You should have, what’s keeping you? But is it right that the bravest man in the universe is scared of cats?
They say that August is the silly season for news don’t they? well here’s a story in the UK media that clearly shows that there can’t be much else happening in the country. Apparently the government is urging local councils to reduce the number of street signs and bollards and the like. Did you know there is a car park in Salisbury with 63 bollards and only space for 53 cars? Nor did I. Did we need to know? I doubt it. Has that information been life changing for any of us? Not bloody likely. The government line on this is being headed by the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles (what a great name!) and isn’t it pleasing to see that the focus of our wonderful (NOT!) coalition government is focussing on the big issues. Personally I think it’s a load of bollards! Read the story here
So now let’s get back to music and have some streets and sign related tunes, feel free to contribute your own;
“Signs” – Snoop Dogg featuring Charlie Wilson and Justin Timberlake. In my opinion one of Mr Timberlake’s finest performances, a long way from the Mickey Mouse Club that’s for sure. It was produced by the Neptunes and made it to number two in the UK charts in 2004. The lyrics draw from the Gap Band’s “Early In The Morning” from 1982 and Cheryl Lynn’s 1978 hit “Got To Be Real”
“No Matter What Sign You Are” – Diana Ross and the Supremes. This was originally intended as the last single from the girls before diva Diana went solo, but it didn’t sell too well and failed to make either the UK or US top 20. Sadly it wasn’t even the Supremes who sang on it. Diana took the lead but the backing vocals were provided by a session group called the Andantes rather than Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong
“Streets Of London” -Ralph McTell. Ralph first recorded the song in 1969, but it wasn’t released as a single in the UK until 1974. What could be described as a timeless classic it has been recorded by more than 200 artists
“Where The Streets Have No Name” – U2. The video was filmed on the roof of the Republic Liquor Store in downtown LA in homage to the Beatles performing live on the roof of the Apple Building in Saville Row for the Let It Be film.
“Somewhere In America There’s A Street Named After My Dad” – Was (Not Was). I have always loved this band and this is a great song, the video on the link also includes some excellent photographs from Charles Cushman. The key band members were often assumed to be brothers largely because they called themselves Don and David Was. However the truth is that David Was was really David Weiss and Don Was was really Don Fagenson
“On The Street Where You Live” – Nat King Cole. I didn’t really appreciate Mr Cole until I got older, probably because my parents liked him when I was a teenager and it’s not cool to like what your parent’s like is it? This song is actually taken from the musical ‘My Fair Lady’ which is one of Catwoman’s favourite musicals.
“Across 110th Street” – Bobby Womack. Taken from the blaxploitation movie called, unsurprisingly, ‘Across 110th Street’. The song also featured on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Jackie Brown’
“‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” – Jam. This song was the B Side to the Jam’s 1978 single “David Watts” which was a cover of a Kinks song. Paul Weller apparently listened to a lot of Kinks stuff prior to recording the ‘All Mod Cons’ album. The video in the link is taken from the band’s appearance on the sadly missed Old Grey Whistle Test on the BBC
“Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty. In the early 70’s as part of Stealers Wheel with Joe Egan, Gerry had a hit with “Stuck In The Middle With You” which was later used in the movie Reservoir Dogs. However it’s “Baker Street” that he is most remembered for and that’s no wonder as it’s a great song.
“53rd & 3rd” – Ramones. This video is a live recording with Rancid. The song was written by Dee Dee Ramone and is about an area of New York that was a major haunt for male prostitutes and rent boys. There have been suggestions that Dee Dee worked there himself in his youth.
So here we are on another UK Public Holiday weekend and guess what? It’s raining. Someone once said to me that there is an easy way to tell when it’s summer in the UK. Do you know how? Well it’s quite simple really, the rain is warm! So here I am stuck indoors so I thought I’d put together a slightly random post that captures a lot of the stuff I have been meaning to blog about for a while, so here goes.
Firstly way back on the 13th May I finally got to see my son Luke play a gig with his band Steal The Smile. They were the second band on that night in the FaceBar at Reading. The band on before them were, and I’m being nice here, in need of an awful lot more practice. Apologies to the bands that followed, but we left for some scoff at TGI Fridays! Steal The Smile played a great six song set which included some of their older and newer stuff along with the obligatory Blink 182 cover. I can tell you that all the boys in the band are looking forward to seeing Blink at the Reading Festival in August. It was a real pity that Steal The Smile were once again badly let down by a promoter in that they had to hang around for three hours for a sound check that never actually materialised and by the time they played there were nowhere near as many people as there could have been. The band wasn’t paid for this gig, but I bet the promoter was! What is it with promoters, and I use the term loosely here, who simply book a venue and some bands and do bugger all else? Is it a stupid assumption that promoters ought to promote? I think not! So if there are any good promoters out there (i.e those with brain cells that at least run into double figures) then get in touch with the boys and book them! You can find them on Facebook and MySpace. Keep visiting too, as there is a revamp being lined up and possibly a lot of new stuff!
Steal The Smile live at the FaceBar in Reading May 13th 2010
There were a couple of quite amusing moments during their set. Firstly the sound guy was trying to speak to them over the sound of the music and clearly couldn’t make himself heard. It did make me wonder how much he actually knew about sound! So finally Luke just gave the instruction “Articulate” like a rock n roll Dalek, needless to say there was still no response from Mr Sound. The other part was just before the final song when Luke said “This is the point in the show where I usually tell the audience how beautiful they are. But with a large part of the audience being my Dad it seemed a bit strange” Johnny then made a point of telling me that he thought I was beautiful, hmmmmm I worry about the drummer! Finally on Steal The Smile for now, it’s not too late to get hold of an exclusive free song from them, just click here for a previous post of mine to get your mitts on it!
Next up Glastonbury has lost U2 this year thanks to Mr Hewson’s back problems, which were apparently quite serious. Anyway there is a little silver lining in that their replacement will be the Gorillaz. In their current incarnation the Gorillaz contain not one, but two, former members of the best band ever; the Clash! yes Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are both in the touring band and bizarrely wearing sailors hats as part of the new album Plastic Beach’s nautical theme. I think I may have to get a hold of some tickets for their tour later this year. Read the BBC article on the revised Glasto line up here. Below you can watch the video for the first single from Plastic Beach, it’s called “Stylo” and features Damon Albarn, Mos Def and Bobby Womack
On May 24th there was the news of the tragic death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray aged just 38. I have taken some stick from many Slipknot fans in the past for using an incorrect picture of them without masks, but whilst that has been a bit of fun and banter I am sure all fans of the band are pretty upset and hurt by his death. To lose a music hero is not pleasant, I know how I felt on hearing about the death of John Lennon, Bob Marley and Joe Strummer. So my sympathies go to Paul Gray’s friends and family and to all Slipknot fans around the world. In his memory here are the band with the video for “Psychosocial”
Yesterday saw the sad news that Gary Coleman the diminutive star of the US sitcom ‘Diffr’nt Strokes has died. He had kidney problems all his life which meant he never grew above 4 feet 8 inches. His most famous catch phrase from the show was “What you talking about Willis?” Willis being his older brother in the show. Hed was clearly popular in the music fraternity too as the testimonials on the NME report of his death show. Kind words from Blink 182, Janet Jackson and Katy Perry
And finally for this post, have you seen the new Miike Snow video, for his song ‘The Rabbit’? It’s really strange. It has a bearded kid and a re-enactment of a 2 Live Crew album cover. Click here to see it. Let me know what you think of it
Hello good people of Blogworld and welcome to the 4th March 2009 unless of course you use a different calendar! In which case….. Just Hello 🙂
So let’s get on with the show shall we? Here we go with todays birthdays Bobby Womack is 65 today so at least he’ll get a free bus ride “Across 110th Street” now! For a period in the late 50’s/ early 60’s Bobby was the guitarist in the late great (l’s & g’s ra ra ra!) Sam Cooke’s band. His own group, the Valentinos were signed to Cooke’s record label. The Valentino’s final hit in 1964 which reached only number 94 in the US charts is a song that many of you probably know. It was the prophetically titled (for the Valentinos at least) “It’s All Over Now” which was a UK number 1 for the Rolling Stones. In a bizarre twist of fate (well in my opinion anyway) after the murder of Sam Cooke in 1964 Bobby married his widow Barbara. The couple divorced in 1970 at about the same time Bobby met Sly Stone (of Sly & the Family Stone fame) and embarked on a drugs and groupies binge, with Mr Stone, that apparently lasted for much of the 70’s. Bobby made a triumphant return to music in 1981 with the classic album “The Poet”. I for one can’t get enough of the great voice of Mr Womack so have a two for the price of one offer, well ok they’re both free! Firstly “Across 110th Street” followed by “Harry Hippie”
Bobby really liked to live the song when the audience requested a cover of "Lady In Red" (This caption was supplied by CatWoman!)
It is also the 32nd birthday of the leader of the Lemonheads Mr Evan Dando. The trio had a hit in 1993 with a splendid cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs Robinson” Evan also made a great lyric change at the request of the BBC when performing the song “Big Gay Heart” on ‘Top Of The Pops’. If you’re offended by sexual wording please skip to the next item in the post! You have been warned ok! A particular lyric in the song reads “I don’t need you to suck my dick” which for the show was changed to “I don’t need you to duck my sick”. Some would say gross, I say pretty funny, but then I’m told that I do have a mind like a sewer 😉
Here are Evan and the boys performing that cover of “Mrs Robinson” on UK TV show ‘The Word’ Incidentally whatever happened to Dani Behr?
He had eaten the same amount of lemons as the rest of the band so why wasn't he as tall as the other guys?
No comment (just in case someone burns my CD collection!)
For actual proof that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus click here 😉
Also on this day Glenn Hughes from the Village People died of lung cancer aged just 50. If you’re interested he was the one dressed as a biker and had an enormous tache. The group were very much manufactured in that French Composer Jacques Morali had heard Victor Willis (the cop) singing backing vocals in a studio and offered him the chance to front a new sound he was creating. He was the voice on the first self titled Village People album in 1977. Hughes himself was first spotted by Morali while working as a toll collector at the Brooklyn Tunnel. Here are the boys with a classic slice of 70’s disco “In The Navy” For the fact fans, did you know that the US Navy almost used this song as part of a recruitment drive? Well they did used to say ‘all the nice girls (or perhaps boys) love a sailor’ didn’t they?
Y M C LEGO anyone?
And finally on this day in 2003 Sian Davies aged 23 a Cliff Richard fan from Wales had her hifi equipment seized after numerous complaints from her neighbours that she was constantly playing Cliff Richard’s music at loud volumes. She was fined nearly £1,000. In all two CD players, a midi system, a record player, two cassette players, five speakers , 80 CD’s and 155 cassettes were confiscated by the authorities. Surely it would have been cheaper to make her buy some headphones? Sir Cliff’s management company said that they did not condone anyone causing a noise nuisance but were ‘delighted’ that Sir Cliff had such a young fan. Delighted? I was more shocked and surprised, but then to each their own at least she wasn’t playing Robbie! Perhaps Sir Cliff also thought that Sian was a bit of a “Devil Woman”
When asked if he had heard the noise Sian Davies had been making he replied "Yes, I heard it through the grapevine"