With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

12 Days To Christmas – Day 11 – Grigori Rasputin December 23, 2017


This is the penultimate twelve days to Christmas post for the blog and we are clearly on day 11. Who is the famous character from history that is the subject of today’s song? well it’s the Russian mad, mystic monk known as Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. He was born in January 1869 into a peasant family in Siberia and was assassinated by a group of disgruntled noblemen in 1916 aged 47 who were a tad unhappy with his close relationship with Tsar Nicholas II. This was not the first time someone had attempted to assassinate Grigori, a peasant woman tried to kill him with a knife in 1914, but he survived after surgery. In the early 1900’s he effectively became the leader of a small, but growing, religious cult. It is alleged that this is how he came to the attention of the Russian Royal Family. The Royals believed that Rasputin had healing powers which he practised on the Tsar. Rasputin’s daughter Maria once worked as a lion tamer in the USA. In one X-Men story Rasputin was revealed to be an ancestor of Russian mutant Colossus.

Mastodon had a song about Rasputin on their ‘Crack The Skye‘ album from 2009. He was also depicted on the cover of albums by Electronic and the Smashing Pumpkins among others. But none of those are the source of todays song, for that we are going back to 1978 with Boney M; a classic, kitsch Euro Disco band. The single “Rasputin” went to number one in the charts in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France and Australia. It made it to number 2 in the UK. I don’t know if it ever made the Russian charts. Bobby Farrell the male member of the Boney M four piece has a strange and coincidental link with Rasputin. Bobby’s death occurred on the anniversary of, and in the same city, St. Petersburg as, the death of the mad monk, albeit 94 years later. German music artist Frank Farian effectively manufactured Boney M after he began to have some success with his own recordings under that name. He put the band together to front his songs. They went on to become mega successful hitting number one in album and singles charts across the world from 1976 to 1979. The song was included on the band’s 1978 album ‘Nightflight To Venus’.

Boney M get festive!

 

Jimmy Cliff – O2 Academy, Leeds – Monday 18th August 2014 August 19, 2014


Jimmy-Cliff_2604887b

I bought a couple of tickets for this gig on a whim a few weeks ago. I have always liked Jimmy Cliff and I still have a ‘best of’ and the soundtrack for ‘The Harder They Come’ in my collection. Back in the olden days I owned maybe half a dozen Jimmy Cliff 7 inch vinyl 45 rpm records. My lovely wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) came with me. But I had warned her that the Academy was not a seated venue.

Anyway the lack of seats was not a problem at all as this quickly became one of the best gigs either of us had ever been to. Jimmy is a true entertainer; magnificent stage presence, fabulous rapport with his audience, an amazing band and, even after all these years a wonderful voice. It’s so hard to believe that he has been recording and playing live for more than 50 years! He opened with the sparse but supreme “Bongo Man A Come” which he seamlessly blended into a cover of the classic Ethiopians song “Rivers Of Babylon”. The proper one that includes the Far-I references, not the bland and sanitised rubbish that Boney M had a hit with in the late 70s. from the off Mr Cliff had the whole audience eating out of his hands. When he said sing, we did. When he said shout, we did. When he said wave your hands, we did. When he said jump, we did. When he said clap, yes you guessed it, we did!

jimmy cliff

All the hits were there “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “Miss Jamaica”, “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, “Many Rivers To Cross”, “The Harder They Come”, “Sitting In Limbo”, “The World Is Upside Down”, “Hard Road To Travel” and an excellent “Vietnam” which he used as a chance to plead for world peace by replacing the chorus with references to other world conflicts and trouble spots; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and more.

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The cover versions that Jimmy has done over the years always seemed carefully selected and he performed them magnificently tonight. These included Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”, Johnny Nash’s “I Can see Clearly Now” and a rather excellent song from the Lion King, “Hakuna Matata”. Catwoman and I had sore feet by the end of the evening from all the fancy footwork we attempted. We danced the Ska, rocksteady, reggae and others like nobody was watching. There was some really mental dancing going on around us too. In fact the audience may have been more worn out than Jimmy Cliff at the end. He still looked fresh after remaining on stage for nearly two hours including three encores. When he comes back to dear old Blighty I will definitely be in the queue for tickets and I urge you to do the same. You will not be disappointed! And finally, please note that none of the pictures or the videos on this post were filmed by me. I was too busy enjoying the show! None f them are actually from this show either.

 

“Thrill me, let your kisses thrill me just like you alone can do” February 2, 2011


PJ gets his trousers MOT'd

I read two music related stories in the news today and I thought that maybe we should put the two protagonists in touch with each other to resolve a problem for one of them. It would appear that 60s star PJ Proby has been in court to deny £47,000 of benefit fraud. The 72-year-old is alleged to have committed the fraud between 2002 and 2008. He was charged under his real name of James Marcus Smith and the case was adjourned. He is due back at Worcester Crown Court on 30th March. Maybe his trousers used to split on stage in the past because he hid all his money in them.

So who can help PJ? Well a certain Chris De Burgh is selling a large portion of his mostly red wine collection and is expected to raise in excess of £200,000. More than enough to help out poor old PJ for a few quid. Go on Chris, give PJ a call, he’d love to hear from you! Interestingly I wonder if the promotion of the wine sale will include a new version of Mr De Burgh’s biggest hit; “Lady In Red Wine” anyone?

Click here to read about PJ’s problems and here to read about Chris’ grape juice. Incidentally “Lady In Red” is undoubtedly one of my least favourite songs, along with almost anything from Robbie Williams and Boney M. But seeing as some of you might actually like the song, you can enjoy the video below.

 

“Then one night some men of higher standing set a trap, they’re not to blame” December 31, 2010


Bobby Farrell RIP

Some interesting news and a strange coincidence for you on this last day of 2010. Amy Winehouse recently pocketed £1 million for a private gig in Moscow for a Russian tycoon, not bad for someone who hasn’t played a gig in ages. There were two other acts on the bill; Boney M and Ke$ha, quite a strange combination in my opinion. What do you think? A few days after that gig singer and dancer Bobby Farrell off of Boney M died in a St Petersburg hotel room after a gig in the city. It is understood that he had a history of heart trouble. The strange coincidence is that Bobby died in the same city as Rasputin and on exactly the same date. Now that is the strange coincidence given that one of Bobby’s big hits with Boney M was “Rasputin” Click here to read the story of Bobby’s death on the BBC. Regular readers will know that Boney M were never my favourite band, in fact they were a long way from it, but it is always sad when someone dies so young, so RIP Bobby. Here he is with Boney M and that very song (followed by songs from Amy and Ke$ha:

Amy looks for a safe place to hide her million quid

Meanwhile in the New Years honours list Annie Lennox wins an OBE while Trevor Horn godlike producer wins a CBE, congratulations to them both. Although I am unlikely ever to be offered a Royal honour I have made it very clear to my family and friends that I would turn it down, I cannot support an institution like the Royal Family. I find it strange that there are now a number of Knights of the Realm among the rock and pop aristocracy; Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and Sir Mick Jagger. Keith Richards has made it clear that he would never accept such and honour and David Bowie has already turned down the offer of royal honours a couple of times in the past. Watch Annie with the Eurythmics below along with a couple of classic videos for Trevor Horn productions.

Due to government budget cuts OBE winners were now awarded a cuddly toy rather than a medal

 

“While shepherds watch their flocks by night, they see a bright new shining star” December 22, 2010


So very nearly there now and definitely onto Christmas songs in my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar, it’s December 22nd people, are you excited yet? You’re not? Why not? Maybe checking out NORADs Santa Checker will help, click here to find it. In the meantime let me take you back to Christmas 1957, another one from before I was born. This is one of only three songs to reach the Christmas Number One spot more than once. It was also the first song to achieve it. The song in question is “Marys Boy Child” and at Christmas 1957 it was number one in the UK courtesy of the supremely talented Harry Belafonte.

Harry Belafonte with Martin Luther King Jr and Sammy Davis Jr

I remember my Uncle Ben, who incidentally had nothing to do with rice, playing “There’s A Hole In My Bucket” to me on his ukulele. Harry Belafonte had a hit with the song in 1961 as a duet with, according to Wikipedia, Odetta Holmes. However I thought he did the song with Eartha Kitt. My first experience of Eartha Kitt was as her sultry performance in the camp 60s TV version of Batman where she played Catwoman. With hindsight maybe that was the seeds of my sexual awakening!

Anyway Harry’s version of “Mary’s Boy Child” was number one for 7 weeks. Harry first recorded the song in 1956, although it wasn’t released as a single until the following year. The Caribbean island of St Kitts issued postage stamps featuring the song in 1983. It has been covered by many acts, including; Andy Williams, Roger Whittaker, Bryn Terfel, Harry Connick Jr, Three Degrees, Nat King Cole, Jim Reeves, Rolf Harris, Charlotte Church, Juice Newton and of course Boney M.

They didn't have much of a clothing allowance did they?

It was Boney M who took the song back to the Christmas number one spot in the UK at Christmas 1978, their version which formed a medley with “Oh My Lord” was number one for 4 weeks. Boney M were an incredibly successful band in the late 70s, but I really disliked them. They came to prominence when I first started out as a mobile DJ with my good friend Glen Voisey. Thanks to Glen’s brother Gary we were known as Bill & Glen the Disco Men. The group were really the brainchild of German record producer Frank Farian. Their first big hit was “Daddy Cool” which was just about ok, but for me “Brown Girl In The Ring” still resonates as one of my least favourite songs. What do you think of Boney M?

 

“Then you take my mind and you play with it all night” July 15, 2010


Wiley, was that beard drawn on by Etch-A-Sketch?

So if illegal free downloading is killing music, what is legal free downloading to it? Just ask UK Grime Star aka the Godfather of Grime aka Richard Cowie. Last Thursday he gave away 203 unreleased songs, it was such a big giveaway with such a big response that it caused a temporary meltdown on his web forum. But the fans seem to have loved it. Personally I think it’s a brilliant idea, although I suspect that his record company and management might not be so pleased. read the Wiley story in the Guardian by clicking here. This of course is in the same week that Prince gave away his new album for free with UK tabloid the Daily Mirror. Before you ask yes I did lower my standards and buy the tabloid simply to get a hold of the purple one’s new album, 20Ten. It’s actually rather good, especially as it just cost me the price of a tabloid and of course the shame of buying said tabloid. As for giving the album away free I’m sure Prince was paid a more than princely sum by the Mirror. Incidentally the Daily Mirror gave the album a five-star rating, hmmmmmmm I wonder why that was?

This year also sees the 5oth birthday of the Etch-A-Sketch. So why is that in a music blog I hear you ask? Well simply because a number of artists have created some excellent art on them including some music related works including Elvis and the Beatles which you can see below. Click here to read the Guardian story on this topic. The most well-known of these artists are Americans George Vlosich and Geoff Gagliardi. It’s quite amazing that this toy is that old and has hardly changed at all in that time.

Finally for today’s post I have to wish a very happy birthday to one of my favourite female singers of all time, the supremely talented Millie Jackson, she is 66 today. The first song of hers I ever owned was “My Man A Sweet Man” which I brought on 7 inch vinyl when I was about 12 years old. The song was quite a hit on the Northern Soul circuit in the UK. Later I really got into her albums, especially ‘Caught Up’ and ‘Still Caught Up’ If these had been recorded by a rock act they would have been even more highly acclaimed concept albums. The stories revolve around affairs and break-ups. I have seen her live just once, back in 1978 at the Victoria Apollo in London with my good mate Glen Voisey. If you’re reading this do you remember that show?

As a teenager I used to find this quite a sexy and alluring picture, now that’s an admission isn’t it?

Millie is short for Mildred and I definitely prefer Millie, obviously no disrespect for any Mildreds reading this of course. Her first really big hit in the US was “Hurts So Good” in 1973 and was featured in the blaxploitation movie ‘Cleopatra Jones’. There was also a great reggae cover of the song from Susan Cadogan in 1975. The ‘Caught Up’ album came out in 1974 and featured Millie’s superb cover of Luther Ingram’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Wanna Be Right” which became a million selling single and earned a grammy nomination too. In 1979 she recorded an album of duets with Isaac Hayes, ‘Royal Rappins’ which for me was ok but a long way from classic. She also recorded a hit duet with Elton John in 1985, the song was “Act Of War“. She has covered songs by artists as diverse as Merle Haggard (“If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday“), Boney M (“Never Change Lovers In The Middle Of The Night“) and Exile (“Kiss You All Over“). Unsurprisingly this is the first and possibly last mention of Boney M in  this blog.

This one too 😉

Millie was also a forerunner in the early days of rap, which was nothing like todays rap, but more like talking in the rhythm of the song and was normally a featured part of an album or song. One of the classic Millie raps was “Logs And Thangs“. She now has her own record label, Weird Wreckuds and was a radio presenter for many years in Atlanta. Some her album covers often appear in the worst ever covers lists, notably ‘Back To The Shit”. But forget the album covers, for me Millie always will be one of the greatest soul voices the world has ever seen. I hope you had a great birthday Millie!

Millie goes for the Royal Flush, but did she get to number 1 or number 2?

 

 
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