With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“Baby, it’s amazing just how wonderful it is, that the things we like to do are just the same” May 15, 2015


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As regular readers will know I am a 70s music fan. So I am always interested in 70s music trivia, particularly if it involves the UK charts. I was pleased to read a little bit of trivia that I don’t believe I have published before. There is only one British act who had at least one UK top 50 hit in every year of the 70s from 1970 to 1979. That band was Hot Chocolate. I haven’t been able to verify the next one but I understand Elvis Presley also achieved at least one top 50 UK hit for every year of the 70s.  Diana Ross almost made it, as she only missed the UK top 50 in 1972. Do you know of any other artists who have done this?

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Here are all of Hot Chocolate’s 1970’s UK top 50 hits (including their chart position), there is hardly a duff one among them in my opinion.

1970 “Love Is Life” 6
1971 “You Could Have Been a Lady” 22
1971 “I Believe (In Love)” 8
1972 “You’ll Always Be a Friend” 23
1973 “Rumours” 44
1973 “Brother Louie” 7
1974 “Emma” 3
1974 “Cheri Babe” 31
1975 “Disco Queen” 11
1975 “A Child’s Prayer” 7
1975 “You Sexy Thing” 2
1976 “Don’t Stop It Now” 11
1976 “Man to Man” 14
1976 “Heaven Is in the Back Seat of My Cadillac” 25
1977 “So You Win Again” 1
1977 “Put Your Love In Me” 10
1978 “Every 1’s a Winner” 12
1978 “I’ll Put You Together Again” 13
1979 “Mindless Boogie” 46

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“But someone picked you from the bunch, one glance was all it took” July 11, 2014


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One of my most favourite Motown songs is the Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back”. It’s a great song and it feels like it was made especially for the group. However it seems that whilst the Jackson boys made the song their own it was actually written for Gladys Knight and the Pips. I wonder what their version would have sounded like? Gladys had discovered the Jackson 5 and brought the group to the attention of Motown. But it is usually Berry Gordy‘s Motown teacher’s pet; Diana Ross that gets the credit for that.

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“His eighty eight key smile is so pleasant to see” April 3, 2013


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A 1877 Steinway Grand Piano has finally returned to Detroit after a long restoration. The piano was used for many years in Motown Studio B in the Motor City. It will be on display in the Motown Historical Museum along with some of the now unusable strings and hammers. The restoration was partly funded by Paul McCartney who played the piano along with Berry Gordy in New York last year shortly after the restoration.

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Can you imagine how many famous Motown artists have tickled the ivories on this beautiful instrument?  Click here to read the full report on the BBC website. A story about a Motown piano can really only have a couple of songs to go with it right? In my opinion one of them is very good and was produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from Chic and the other one was crap despite being produced by George Martin. What do you think?

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“My lonely days are over and life is like a song” January 20, 2012


I have some sad news to pass on, which by now you may already know; Etta James, soul singer extraordinaire has passed away after a long battle with leukaemia and dementia. The former Jamesetta Hawkins died just days before her 74th birthday. Unfortunately she was never as successful as some of her contemporaries such as Diana Ross. Personally I feel that Etta’s voice was streets ahead of Ms. Ross.

Etta seemed to be able to turn her voice to many different styles; soul, blues, rock and even some bawdy numbers. My lovely wife Catherine aka Catwoman wanted a special mention in this post as Etta’s “At Last” was the first song played after we signed the register at our wedding last September. That is one of many songs played that day that still mean a lot to us both.

Etta had a hard life being mostly abandoned to a number of carers by her 14-year-old mother after her birth in 1938. She also struggled against a serious drug addiction for many years. She has been the recipient of six Grammys including two for her earlier songs; the previously mentioned “At Last” and “The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)”. Both were Grammy Hall Of Fame Awards in 1999 and 2008 respectively for  qualitative or historical significance. “The Wallflower” was her only US R & B number one back in 1955 when she was still a teenager.

My thoughts go out to her family, friends and fans. RIP Etta James.

 

“We’ll laugh and I’ll tell you the story of love, how it is and the happiness in it baby” December 21, 2011


Just days away from the big day now. It’s nearly Christmas people and I hope you’re still being good or at least hiding your being bad evidence very well. It’s Day 21 of my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar which I believe makes it 21st December and therefore the letter U. So today we’ll be going somewhere where Santa will be very soon; your roof! Yes it’s the delightfully uplifting “Up The Ladder To The Roof” from the Supremes.

The song was the first single showcasing the vocal talents of new lead singer Jean Terrell who had replaced the departing Diana Ross. Which meant it was also the first single to be credited to the Supremes (i.e. minus the ‘Diana Ross and the’ bit) since “The Happening” in 1967. It was released in February 1970 and reached 10 in the US charts and number 5 in the UK. Coincidentally it was the first UK top ten hit for the group since “Reflections” from 1967.

The song was produced by Motown house producer Frank Wilson who featured on this advent calendar himself on December 4th, click here to read that post. Wilson co wrote the song with Vincent DiMarco and once again the music track was provided by those heroes of Motown the Funk Brothers. Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong were the other two Supremes. personally I have always thought that this was the best incarnation of the group, much better than the Diana Ross version. I have a liking for some songs that mention my name, not all of them though. But the B Side to “Up The Ladder To The Roof” was a pretty good example of a ‘Bill song’ it was called “Bill When Are You Coming Back”

Jean Terrell the lead vocalist for the song was often thought to be related to another Motown star, Tammi Terrell. But Tammi’s real surname was Montgomery and she was no relation to Jean Terrell. However Jean was related to Ernie Terrell a boxing champion who once went in the ring with Muhammad Ali. Ernie was her brother and he was WBA heavyweight champ, a crown he lost to Ali in 1967. Jean sometimes sang with his group Ernie Terrell and the Heavyweights.

 

“And from what we’ve heard you’ve always been a man of your word” December 16, 2011


We’re inching closer to that fine old Yuletide celebration good people of the blogosphere and I would like to help it be a really cool Yule with my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar. What do you think of it so far?…………. RUBBISH! Oh i see there are a few Morecambe and Wise fans out there. Anyway we’re now at December 16th and (rather obviously) it is day 16 of the advent calendar. It’s the letter P today and it is one of the few songs in the Motown canon that is effectively to Various Artists. the song in question is “Pops, We love You” or to give it’s full title “Pops We love You (A Tribute To Father)”

The song was written as a tribute to Motown Supremo Berry Gordy‘s father who had been his spiritual and business mentor and guide. he also did the same for many of the artists in Berry’s Motown family. Berry Gordy Jr’s Dad was named Berry Gordy Sr but was known by many very affectionately as Pops. (My dad shared a name with me, perhaps I should add the Junior bit to my name). The song was written and recorded as a special tribute in 1978 a short while after Pops died from cancer, a disease which he had fought for some time.

It was written produced by Marilyn Mcleod and Pam Sawyer and also formed the centrepiece of a ‘Pops, We love You’ album. The album bought Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye together as a duet for the first time since 1973’s ‘Diana and Marvin’ album. That song was called “I’ll Keep My Light In My Window”. Unlike that 1973 album they actually recorded the new song whilst in the studio together. They were joined on the Pops tribute song by Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder.

Berry wonders what exactly has landed on Diana's head

Marvin, Diana and Smokey recorded their parts together in Motown’s LA Studios. Stevie Wonder’s vocals were added later as he was bunkered down in another studio recording what was for me a very underrated and misunderstood soundtrack album called ‘Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants“.

Diana was very proud of her incredibly large muff

“Pops, We Love You” reached number 59 on the Billboard charts in the US and number 66 in the UK. It did make number 26 in the US R & B charts though. I used to own the 12 inch vinyl copy of the song, but now I just have a version on a Motown compilation CD. The song was also the last UK chart hit with Marvin’s name on it on the Motown label, but he did go on to score a few other hits on the Columbia label. Most notably with “Sexual Healing”. but for now I hope that you enjoy todays song “Pops, We Love You (A Tribute To Father)”

 

“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.

 

“I’ll Hold you close in my arms I can’t resist your charms” December 5, 2011


It’s December 5th folks, that’s now less than three weeks until the bearded weirdo in red arrives. That also means that it is now Day 5 of my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar and we’re up to the letter E. I have chosen a very popular song that actually is not really one of my own favourites. It’s “Endless Love” which was written by Lionel Richie who recorded it as a duet with Diana Ross. It was used as the theme tune to the Brooke Shields film of the same name.

It has been covered by many people, most notably, again as a duet, by Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross. The original was an US and Australian number one and reached number 7 in the UK. The Vandross Carey version only reached the chart summit in New Zealand. It reached numbers 2 and 3 respectively in the US and UK charts. Billboard once named the song as the greatest duet ever, I certainly don’t agree with that. What about Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” or Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”? (OK technically the latter isn’t really a duet unless you count it just as a Bowie Mercury duet)

So tell me dear readers what do you think is the greatest duet of all time?

 

“I want the world to know, got to let it show” November 5, 2011


I was reading an interview with Nile Rodgers off of Chic in the latest issue of The Word magazine. He is promoting the publication of his memoirs entitled ‘Le Freak‘. There were two parts in the interview that really sparked my interest. Firstly Nile has documented his recovery from cancer in his blog, ‘Walking On Planet C’ It’s really candid and very well written, click here to read it. I hope that Nile completely kills off the Big C and is able to produce even more great music.

Secondly Nile and his Chic cohort Bernard Edwards once produced an album by uber diva Diana Ross which included some great stuff; “Upside Down”, “My Old Piano” and “I’m Coming Out“. Whilst I don’t consider any of these to be Ms Ross’s career peak they sure as hell knock spots of that dreadfully awful song “Chain Reaction” which sadly made the top of the UK charts. Anyway I would like to focus on Mr Rodgers’ comments about “I’m Coming Out” which when you listen to it is such a very obvious gay song. According to Nile when Diana Ross asked about the sexuality of the song she was informed it wasn’t a gay song. However Nile also confirmed that it most definitely was a gay song when he revealed the inspiration for it. He had been at a transvestite club called the Gilded Grape and the call of nature took him to the urinal. It was here that he spotted three or four Diana Ross styled trannies! As soon as he got home he called Bernard Edwards and that is how “I’m Coming Out” was born!

Whenever Ms Ross meets Lil Kim she feels a right tit............ or is it a left one! Danger, Danger...... wardrobe malfunction!

 

“Well, here’s a poke at you, you’re gonna choke on it too” October 30, 2010


Almost certainly the world's scariest job

I chanced upon an amazing video the other day. It shows the two guys who make up the maintenance crew for a 1,786 foot radio antenna. If your scared of heights then you might not want to watch it. I can take any height as long as there is a good barrier between me and the drop, this tower doesn’t have that. Much of it is free climb and you have to take your toolbox which weighs 30 pounds with you. Frankly, and I apologise for being a bit crude here, but I could feel my testicles contracting with every step the guy took! I reckon I can live with any problems with public transport on my daily commute, because even the UK rail system is safer and more comfortable than these tower guys!

To be fair though, Batman and Robin always climbed without a safety rope too!

Like I’ve said so many times before this is a music blog, so I couldn’t finish without leaving you with a few very loosely related songs

“Stairway To Heaven” – Rolf Harris – The obvious choice would have been the Led Zep original, but that gets played quite a lot and Rolf’s version really is good fun don’t you think?

I Can See For Miles” – The Who – According to the narrative in the tower video the climbers can see 55 miles to the horizon. The song was written by Pete Townshend and was the only single to be taken from the band’s 1967 album ‘The Who Sell Out

Up The Ladder To The Roof” – Supremes- This song was written by Frank Wilson and Vincent DiMirco. It was the first Supremes single to feature new girl Jean Terrell who replaced Diana Ross. Personally I always thought Diana was the weakest vocalist in the group anyway. It reached the top 10 in the US and the UK. This video is worth watching for the costumes and dance moves even if you don’t like the song! I used to have this on 7 inch vinyl American import and I played it to death, even the B Side which was an ego boost for a young lad, as I was at the time. It was called “Bill, When Are You Coming Back

 

 
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