With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“I wait in the darkness of my lonely room, filled with sadness, filled with gloom” a.k.a five gold rings December 17, 2012


12_days_five_gold_rings_photo_cut_outs-p153986407977769856bfnwk_400

It’s now day 5 of my 12 days of Christmas series and that can only mean one thing right? Well five things actually and all of those are gold rings. Yes, on the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five gold rings. Go on admit it you sang that line in your head just like it goes in the tune didn’t you? Had you bought your five gold rings in 1970 they would now be worth considerably more. In December 1970 gold was valued at £15.64 an ounce, earlier this month its value was £1,060.95 an ounce. Some interpretations of the 12 days of Christmas suggest that the gold rings are in fact goldspinks which as old name for a goldfinch. However I have based my choice of songs on the gold rings and I have two great songs for you.

Apr 311

Firstly we go to the King, kind of appropriate for Christmas don’t you think? Yes it’s Elvis Aaron Presley with “Wear My Ring (Around Your Neck)”. The song was written by Bert Carroll and Russell Moody and was released in 1958. Up to that point Elvis had achieved a string of ten consecutive number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, but this song stalled at number two. It made it to number three in the UK. Did you know that Elvis’ father Vernon’s middle name was Elvis or that his mother Gladys’ middle name was Love? You didn’t? Well you do now. It has been said that Elvis once entered an Elvis lookalike contest and only came third. However whilst this is a great story that is probably all it is. It was an item printed in the Weekly World News which is about as reliable in the truth department as the National Enquirer or perhaps the Sunday Sport in the UK.

elvis_meets_vader

Freda+Payne

The second of this posts songs is the soul classic “Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne. It was a million seller in 1970 where it reached number one in the UK but only number three in the US. It was also her biggest hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It was released on the Invictus label which had been set up by the Holland Dozier Holland team after they left Motown. “Band Of Gold” was written by Edythe Wayne and Ron Dunbar but it was produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier. The lead guitar on the song comes from Ray Parker Jr and two former Motown backing vocalists provided vocal backing for Freda. Those backing vocalists were Joyce Vincent Wilson and Telma Hopkins, both later went on to join Tony Orland as part of Tony Orlando and Dawn. Did you know that Freda’s sister Scherrie was a member of the post Diana Ross Supremes for a while? When I began as a mobile DJ back in the 70s some of the advice I received from an old sage of a DJ was to never play this song at a wedding reception as it is all about break up. That’s true but hell it’s a great dance track isn’t it. So I must confess to the world that I have indeed played the song at wedding receptions.

fredapayneinpinkgown

Two Goldfinches, the whereabouts of the other three are currently unknown!

Two Goldfinches, the whereabouts of the other three are currently unknown!

 

“It’s not safe loving you this way but from your arms I can’t stay” December 17, 2011


Today is the 17th December which means we need to open the cardboard door marked number 17 on my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar. Wow, time really has flown since the Jackson 5 on 1st December hasn’t it?As it’s day 17 that must mean it is the letter Q. That has been quite a tough letter for the calendar. How many Motown songs do you know that begin with Q? Well there is at least one and it’s the fabulous Northern Soul stomper “Quicksand” from Martha and the Vandellas.

It is yet another classic written by the Holland Dozier Holland team. Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier produced the song which was released on the Gordy label in the US in 1963, it was actually only their third US hit. It was once again the fabulous Funk Brothers who provided the music track. The song was a follow-up to the girls previous big hit “(Love Is Like A) Heatwave”. I think it is quite reminiscent of that song too.

Martha Reeves unsurprisingly sang lead vocal and was backed by the Vandellas who at that time were Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard. The song never charted in the UK but reached number 8 in the USA. Martha turned 70 this year and she has also been quite prominent in the local politics in the home city of Motown; Detroit. She served as a Council Woman for the city from 2005 to 2009. She is the third child in a family of 11. There were two groups featuring her before she came to be a big part of Martha and the Vandellas. Those groups were the Sabre-Ettes and the Fascinations.

Now take a listen to a bonus track “(Love Is Like A) Heatwave” and then tell me whether you think it bears any similarity to “Quicksand” which follows it here.

 

“I’m no longer just another face in a crowd” December 9, 2011


Here we are at day 9 and therefore December 9th of my Christmas Advent Calendar. Today marks the second appearance of the fabulous Four Tops in my ABC Of Motown themed calendar for 2011. The song is “I’m In A Different World” and was written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and R Dean Taylor. Holland Dozier Holland had written most of the Four Tops biggest hits. This was the last Four Tops song that any of the HDH team had anything to do with.

It was recorded in 1968 shortly before Holland Dozier Holland left Motown over a dispute about royalties. They went on to form the Invictus label and had many hits with artists such as Freda Payne and Chairmen Of The Board. It only made number 51 in the US and just 27 in the UK charts.

The Four Tops were allegedly scheduled to board the Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. However they had a late recording session the night before and overslept. The flight was later brought down by a terrorist bomb over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Strangely enough John Lydon and his wife Norah were also meant to be on that flight. They were delayed because Norah took a long while to pack.

 

“Red light, green light, speeding through the dark night” December 7, 2011


We’re up to the letter G in my ABC of Motown Christmas Advent Calendar, which means that today is December 7th. Todays song is from the, in my opinion, very much underrated Richard Dean Taylor. He is better known. He is a Canadian and was born in Toronto in 1939, which makes him 72, just like yesterday’s featured artist Jimmy Ruffin.

Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, R. Dean Taylor, Don Gooch

Taylor signed with Motown in 1964 as a songwriter. His first single was scheduled to be”My Ladybug (Stay Away From That Beatle)” which was deemed unworthy of release. His biggest success as a writer or cowriter at the label was with songs such as “I’ll Turn To Stone” by the Four Tops and “I’m Livin’ In Shame” from Diana Ross and the Supremes. One of his biggest hits was actually one that he didn’t have a hand in writing. It was “There’s A Ghost In My House” which was written by the classic Tamla Motown writing team of Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier aka Holland Dozier Holland.

Strangely enough todays song in the advent calendar is “Gotta See Jane” which Taylor wrote with Brian Holland. It reached number 17 in the UK charts in 1968. It has been covered by both the Fall and Golden Earring (enjoy those versions below). The song was released on Motown’s Rare Earth subsidiary in the USA.

 

“All men need someone to worship and adore” December 2, 2011


It’s December 2nd and time to open the next little compartment of my ABC of Motown Christmas Advent Calendar. At the risk of sounding a little Sesame Street today is the letter B. To match that I have chosen a song from my favourite Motown group of all time; the Four Tops. The song is “Bernadette”. It was one of the many classics written by the writing team of Lamont Dozier, Brian and Eddie Holland (a.k.a Holland Dozier Holland). Inevitably it was the Motown house band the Funk Brothers that played on the track.

The song has an excellent false ending which has a short silence before the emotive vocals of Levi Stubbs kick the song back into action. It reached number 4 in the US charts in 1967 and number 8 in the UK. Sadly the Four Tops are no more with Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir being the only surviving member.

 

“You can call me up and have a date any old time” February 1, 2011


I know I’m a little late with this post but last week saw the death of Gladys Horton. She died on 26th January aged just 65 after suffering a stroke last year. She was the lead singer of the Marvelettes and was just 15 when she recorded “Please Mr Postman” with the group. Sadly they were never as successful as that other Motown girl group in the UK, I mean the Supremes. But Gladys had a very strong and distinctive voice. Gladys was orphaned aged only one year old and was brought up in foster care in Detroit.

The group was originally called the Marvels until Berry Gordy advised that they change it to the Marvelettes. The group was also the first Motown act to be offered what went on to become on of Holland, Dozier, Holland‘s biggest hits. The girls turned it down, the song was “Where Did Our Love Go” which was recorded by the Supremes and the rest as they say is history. The group may always be best known for “Please Mr Postman” (famously covered by the Beatles in 1963 and the Carpenters in 1975) but they also recorded some classic Motown songs, some of which you can enjoy below. My particular favourite is “Beechwood 45789“. Who knows how things had turned out if the Marvelettes had recorded that Supremes song? Farewell and RIP Gladys Horton.

 

“Could it be the devil in me or is this the way love’s supposed to be?” August 10, 2010


This option would have been one hell of a lot safer

There is every possibility that some of you may see this as a sick choice of subject, so for that let me apologise up front. But as my good friend Fraser Matthews once said to me “Billy Boy, you are one sick puppy!” Anyway the story concerns this years 12th (and almost certainly last) annual Sauna World Championship. Basically it’s about who can stay in the sauna for the longest at temperatures of 110C. The two men who got through the heats (pardon the pun) this year were the reigning champion and five time winner Timo Kaukonen from Finland and Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy of Russia. After six minutes in the final officials noticed that there was something wrong. Ladyzhenskiy was dead and Kaukonen had suffered severe burns. Are people so bored that they have to see this as a sport? It’s bloody mental in my opinion. But here’s the sick part, it got me thinking about heat songs, so after you’ve read the story on the Beeb and the Guardian I hope you enjoy my heat selection!

Click here to read the story on the BBC

Click here to read the story on the Guardian

Some Like It Hot” – Power Station. Featuring one of the best white soul voices ever in my opinion, Robert Palmer and some random dudes off of Duran Duran (John Taylor and Andy Taylor) and some more randomers from Chic (Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards)

The Heat Is On” – Glenn Frey. Frey co wrote many of the Eagles greatest songs with Don Henley and also sang lead vocals on plenty of them. He once fronted a duo with J D Souther (in 1969) who were known as Longbranch Pennywhistle. “The Heat Is On” is taken from Beverly Hills Cop which starred Eddie Murphy

Hot, Hot, Hot” – Arrow.  An excellent party song which was written and produced by Montserrat musician, Arrow (aka Alphonsus Cassell). It has been covered by many people including David Johansen off of the New York Dolls using his Buster Poindexter alter ego

(Love Is Like A) Heatwave” – Martha & The Vandellas. A classic Motown track and one of the many hits penned by the Holland Dozier Holland writing team. The song was well covered by Linda Ronstadt. It was also used to great effect in the blood collection scene in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ which starred John Travolta.

Drop It Like It’s Hot” – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell. Snoop was known as Calvin Broadus although his parents did give him the nickname Snoopy because they felt there was a resemblance to the Charles Schultz creation.

Melt” – Siouxse & The Banshees. Her parents named her Susan Janet Ballion (although I have seen it noted as Dallion). Her Mum was a bilingual Secretary but her Dad had what must have been quite a unique job, he was a laboratory technician who milked serum from venomous snakes in the Belgian Congo!

Burning Love” – Elvis Presley. The song was written by Dennis Linde and first recorded by Arthur Alexander. Presley’s version came out in 1972. It is one of my favourite Elvis songs from his later years

Canned Heat” – Jamiroquai. Taken from the album ‘Synkronized’ the song reached number four in the UK Chart and made it to the top of the US Dance Chart. It was also used prominently in the film ‘Napoleon Dynamite’

Hot In Herre” – Nelly. Also known as Cornell Haynes Jr, Nelly had quite a prolific output in the noughties. This song title was somewhat deliberately misspelled a little like most of Slade’s early 70s output. The song uses the hook from Chuck Brown’s 1979 hit “Bustin’ Loose”

Disco Inferno” – Trammps. A classic disco song which was also featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I remember once talking to my Dad about having this song played at your funeral if you were being cremated. Well we never played it at my Dad’s funeral, but who knows? There might be room for it at mine! 😉

 

 
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