This is the thirteenth song in the Play It Again Mayhem series which began back in 2020. It might be the thirteenth entry, but it is lucky for one artist and for you because you get to hear another great tune. Check out the previous entries along with this new one in the Play It Again Mayhem Spotify Playlist, click here to take a listen! Once again this one goes back to the 70s, which remains my favourite era for music, 1972 in this case. In fact, 75% of the Play It Again Mayhem songs are from the 1970s so far. This is one of just a few recordings made by two-thirds of the classic Motown songwriting team of Holland Dozier Holland. The song features Lamont Dozier and, I think, both Brian and Eddie Holland. It is called “Why Can’t We Be Lovers” and was released as a single in 1972. It missed the US Billboard charts but made it to number 9 on the US R&B chart. In the UK it sadly only made it to number 29. It was issued on the writing teams Invictus label which also had big hits with Freda Payne and Chairmen Of The Board among others. It is probably one of my favourite love songs, although it is more a song of unrequited love.
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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.
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.
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.
Two Goldfinches, the whereabouts of the other three are currently unknown!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Motowngirl 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.
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!
“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! 😉
Nick - "Dave, will this coalition hurt?" Dave - "Not really, but you may feel a little prick!"
Is the UK’s new coalition government the brave new world that some of the media are suggesting? It is the first for many years and indeed it is the first time The Party Formerly Known As The Liberal Party (TPFKATLP) has been represented on the cabinet. But in essence the country is being run once again by a significant number of toffs. Some 72% of the cabinet were schooled at Westminster, Eton and other exclusive schools and most of those are also Oxbridge Graduates. Personally I feel cheated, for the first time in quite a while I voted Lib Dem rather than Labour as I felt that Nick Clegg’s party ideals were closest to Labours. But then he goes and does a deal with Dangerous Dave. Sure he sided with the party that got most votes, but bear in mind that nobody really won this election. The Tories got 36% of the vote, but that equates to just 23% of those eligible to vote. To make matters worse if it all goes wrong I can’t wear my ‘Don’t Blame Me I Voted Labour’ badge, because I didn’t.
Will this government move us closer to proportional representation? I honestly doubt it, because the Tories and Labour have most to lose from it so they will angle any referendum questions their way I suspect. Am I being overly cynical? Maybe. But here’s another one, the Lib Dems said that they would not proceed with a replacement for Trident, but now that Dave and Nick are all cosied up the Lib Dems will concede on that. Hold on a cotton pickin’ minute here, why has no-one stated the bloody obvious. This government will bring in austerity measures to achieve public spending cuts saving £6 billion. Now according to reports of Trident costs that I have read Trident’s replacement will cost anywhere from £76 billion to £130 billion. So why not scrap Trident and take the £6 billion from there and then pay all the rest of us (except bankers) obscene bonuses with the remaining money. But that won’t happen either as banking reform will be handcuffed as it will be led by George Osborne rather than Vince Cable.
Anyway rant over, because frankly what the hell can I do about it now? Bugger all that’s what! Also this is ostensibly a music blog so let’s get on with that element shall we? Taking the theme, appropriately from another new government story. Dangerous Dave Cameron has apparently banned people from using their mobiles and Blackberrys in meetings and I commend him for that. (Read about it here) Where I work I wish someone would take that extra step and ban bloody meetings though, it’s no wonder that nothing get’s done in most organisations when most of us are sat on our arses in meetings all day!
So back to the point, the banning of phones in government meetings, here are a somewhat eclectic six telephone related songs, (one for each Lib Dem member of the Liberative Cabinet, feel free to suggest your own
and you thought the first mobile phones were big!
“Telephone Line” – ELO. This is probably one of my favourite ELO songs, I always preferred their slower numbers. I went off them when Jeff Lynne just seemed to want to be the Beatles, even before Oasis did. But in their time they did record some classic songs though
“Hanging On The Telephone” – Blondie. This was a cover version the original was by the Nerves (click here to listen). I reckon that quite a few people didn’t know that. I suppose I could have chosen “Call Me” as well. I saw Blondie in the 90’s when “Maria” went to number one in the UK. It was at the Reading Rivermead with my very good friend Jes (Jeremy Hyde to his folks). Anyway the band had played a couple of songs from the new album and we were standing a little way from the stage, then they launched into “Hanging On The Telephone” and I remained were I was whilst Jes was dragged forward by the crowd surge. The next thing I could see was Jes right near the front of the stage pogoing his heart out. He has always had a bit of a thing for Debbie Harry though, in fact he once confided in me that our boss Jane reminded him of Ms Harry. But more of that another day perhaps!
“Vibrate” – Rufus Wainwright. This is taken from Rufus’ excellent album ‘Want One’ which was the first of his that I bought. I love the guys voice, which sometimes reminds me of the late, great Jeff Buckley. he is the son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon once wrote a song called “Rufus Is A Tit Man” which turned out to be completely wrong as Rufus is gay. If my son Luke was around when I put a Rufus Wainwright CD on he always referred to him as Rufus the Doofus, I thought you might want to know that
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” – Four Tops. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t love Levi Stubbs’ voice, for me it’s an immaculate soul voice. Whilst most of the Four Tops biggest hits were written by the classic teaming of Holland Dozier Holland this one wasn’t. It was co written by Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones. That’s the very same Gloria Jones that wrote and originally recorded, “Tainted Love” which became Soft Cell’s biggest hit. She also went on to become Marc Bolan’s girlfriend and was driving the car in which he died in September 1977
“Alexander Graham Bell” – Sweet. Mr Bell is credited with inventing the telephone and allegedly he wouldn’t have one in his study as he felt it was an intrusion, that seems a little strange to me. Also his mother and his wife were profoundly deaf, so his invention was never going to benefit them was it?
“Telephone Man” – Meri Wilson. Meri specialised in double entendre type songs of which this, her biggest hit (oooooooh Matron!) is a good example. Sadly she died in a car crash aged just 53 in 2002
Good morning/ afternoon/ evening/ night everyone. Incidentally it’s morning for me, I so wanted to sleep but I couldn’t so I’m up before 7am on a Sunday morning. Is that an age thing perhaps? Do I need less sleep now I’m older? OK so before I start I recently borrowed the DVD of ‘Wall-E’ and finally watched it last night, now that is a superb movie. If you haven’t seen it yet shame on you! Here is the Peter Gabriel song “Down To Earth” from the film.
I love this little dude 🙂
OK so now let’s get back to business as nearly normal, starting with a few birthdays. Brian Holland of the classic Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland is 68 today, 15th February. He is one of the Hollands in the team (obviously…doh!) along with his brother Eddie and Lamont Dozier. The guys wrote at least 25 US number one singles in a phenomenal career. Check out the Four Tops with “Reach Out I’ll Be There” probably my favourite HDH song. When they left Motown, somewhat acrimoniously in the 60s they went on to set up Invictus Records and wrote another string of hits. It has been alleged that the songs they wrote for the ‘Chairmen Of The Board’, one of Invictus’ most successful groups, would have been recorded by the Four Tops had HDH stayed with Motown. Listen to “Give Me Just A Little More Time” and tell me if you think it would have worked as a Four Tops song. I’m sure it would! And here for the hell of it is the Kylie Minogue version…. and why not?
2 x Hollands + 1 Dozier = Classic Motown
The second and final of the birthdays today is that of Denny Zager (off of Zager and Evans) who is 65 today (according to my books, but Wiki says 18th February), will he live until the year 2525 we wonder though! Yep the Zager and Evans duo could almost define the “One Hit Wonder” phrase (it’s such a shame that Robbie W didn’t stop at one hit!) with their classic 1969 hit “In The Year 2525” The song was at number one in the US charts when Apollo 11 reached the moon in July 1969.
Zager and Evans - "In The Year 2525"
On this day in 1968 the Lennons and Harrisons arrived in India to study meditation with the Maharishi. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr arrived 4 days later. Ringo left shortly afterwards claiming that it was like a stay in a Butlins Holiday Camp. John Lennon went on to write about their experiences with the Maharishi in the song “Sexy Sadie” from the White Album. He apparently changed the title from it’s original “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie” at the request of George Harrison. It was also the last song that Lennon wrote on that trip to India
The Fabs in Rishikesh, India with the Maharishi (aka Sexy Sadie)
On this day in 1961 the Marcels recorded the classic (yes I know yet another classic!) “Blue Moon” Click on the song title to hear the song and watch a most bizarre film accompanying it, it even features Spongebob Squarepants! But back to the Marcels, the group were named after a popular early 60s hair style the Marcell Wave and the lead singer was the wonderfully named Cornelius Harp. That has to be one of the best names in the history of rock!
And finally for today a couple of bands for you to check out and I would love to know what you think of them. Firstly a band I went to see on Tuesday night this week at Fibbers in York. It’s the second time I’ve seen them and they are rather excellent, they are called “Lights In The Sky” check them out on MySpace www.myspace.com/litsband
Also check out Steal The Smile too, they are my son Luke’s band, they’ve written some excellent songs and are looking for gigs, so if any promoters are reading this get in touch with them! Check them out on MySpace www.myspace.com/stealthesmile