With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

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


THE-JACKSON-5-the-jackson-5-37001371-500-590

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.

GladysKnight.Pips_

 

 

“I wish the world were truly happy living as one” December 24, 2011


Happy Christmas dear readers and good people of the blogosphere. This is the last post in my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar. It’s the 24th December and technically that means the letter Y, but I’ll throw in X and Z for free along with a couple of Motown Christmas songs. The big bearded dude in red arrives on his venison powered sleigh tomorrow. I hope that you get everything you want this Christmas and more importantly I hope that you have a really enjoyable Yule.

The first song for the letter X has been a tough one to find. But I have found one, I know hardly anything about it so if you have any information feel free to get in touch. I do feel like I’ve cheated you a little though, the song is called “Xmas Twist” although the chorus uses the proper phrase ‘Christmas Twist’. The song was released by a group calling themselves the Twisting Kings. So clearly no cynical tie-in with a popular dance craze then! The song was written by Berry Gordy and Barney Ales. Gordy was the producer for the song which was released in November 1961. It can be found on a couple of compilation albums to my knowledge; #A Motown Christmas Volume 2′  and ‘The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 1 1959-1961’ released in 2001 and 2005 respectively.

For the letter Y I have chosen a song from a superb act who haven’t yet appeared in this ABC of Motown. It’s Gladys Knight and the Pips with “You Need Love Like I Do (Don’t You)”. The most memorable line up from the Pips included her brother Merald ‘Bubba’ Knight and two of her cousins; Edward Patten and William Guest. Her first pitch at fame came when she won a local TV talent show aged 7 in 1952.Gladys and the Pips were the first Motown act to record the classic song “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” which they took to number two in the US charts. In their early Motown career they were the opening act for Diana Ross and the Supremes. It is alleged that Diana had them kicked off the tour because Gladys and the Pips were far more powerful a talent and probably a very tough act to follow.  “You Need Love Like I Do” was an US hit in 1970 reaching number 25 in the Billboard charts and number 3 in the US R & B charts. It never charted in the UK. The song was another from the talented song writing partnership of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. It was also recorded by the Temptations.

The final song from my ABC of Motown selection is a rather well-known album track from the Commodores who made an appearance in this Advent Calendar with the letter J on December 10th, click here to read it. The song is “Zoom” and should not be confused with the Fat Larry’s Band song of the same name. It was never released as a single in the US but made it to number 38 in the UK charts in 1978. The album it came from was released in 1977 and in the US it was called ‘Commodores’ whilst in the UK it was called ‘Zoom’. The song was written by Lionel Richie and Ronald LaPraed from the band. The album also included two other Commodores classics in “Brick House” and “Easy”. Fergie sampled “Zoom” on her ‘Duchess’ album on the track “All That I Got (The Make-Up Song)”

Finally let me wish you a Happy Christmas once again and to finish please enjoy two of my favourite Motown Christmas songs from the Jackson 5 and then Stevie Wonder.

Incidentally if you’d like to know the songs that came before in the ABC of Motown Advent Calendar, here they are;

  1. ABC – Jackson 5
  2. Bernadette – Four Tops
  3. Cloud Nine – Temptations
  4. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) – Frank Wilson
  5. Endless Love – Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
  6. Farewell Is A Lonely Sound – Jimmy Ruffin
  7. Gotta See Jane – R Dean Taylor
  8. How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You – Marvin Gaye
  9. I’m In A Different World – Four Tops
  10. Just To Be Close To You – Commodores
  11. Keep On Truckin’ – Eddie Kendricks
  12. Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson
  13. Money – Barrett Strong
  14. Needle In A Haystack – Velvelettes
  15. Ooo Baby Baby – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
  16. Pops We Love You – Various
  17. Quicksand – Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
  18. Rockin’ Robin – Michael Jackson
  19. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
  20. Take Me Girl I’m Ready – Junior Walker & the All Stars
  21. Up The Ladder To The Roof – Supremes
  22. The Night – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (this is the only one based on artist name rather than song)
  23. War – Edwin Starr
 

“Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused” May 17, 2011


A revolution is taking place in Matehuala in the north-west of Mexico. This is not a violent or political revolution, it’s a footwear revolution. It’s not women’s shoes we’re talking about, it’s mens boots! A few dance troupes in the area have taken to wearing heavily customised and very, very pointy boots. But they’re not simply pointy-toed, many of them are immaculately decorated with lights and sequins.

It appears that they are also creeping into the southern US States as well. Indeed it is also said that they make the wearer look a little sexy! Really? more like a little twat in my opinion. They could put clown shoes out of business.Let’s just hope that they don’t take off over here in the UK. Although to be fair you could probably sail across the Atlantic in one of them. So let me know what you think of them. Are they shoeperb or just a load of cobblers?

Anyway as I have said on many occasions this is a music blog, so here are a few shoe related songs for your entertainment (yes I do know that the second one is a Christmas song, but who cares?). Feel free to let me know what your favourite footwear related songs are (Mickey I’ve left an obvious Kate song open for you!);

 

“They’re singing Deck The Halls, but it’s not like Christmas at all” December 24, 2009


I thought I would share with you a little project I undertook on Facebook during December. I called it my Advent Calendar of Uncovered Cover Versions. It is repeated here exactly as it appeared daily on my Facebook pages. I hope that my regular Blog readers enjoy it and that you all enjoy a wonderful Christmas and a brilliant 2010

December 1st

OK so the advent calendar is all about uncovering something good each day leading to Christmas right? So Ithought I would try to do something slightly related and try and post a cover version each day until Christmas. Starting today 1st December with Patti Smith’s version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit

December 2nd

December 2nd of my advent uncovered cover versions project (did you like yesterdays?) Todays is Florence and the Machine with an excellent cover of the Source featuring Candi Staton’s “You Got The Love“…….. enjoy!

December 3rd

and so on to Day 3 of my under the cover versions advent project. The top tune for today is a cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Oops I Did It Again’ by the rather talented Richard Thompson. What do you think of it?

December 4th

Day 4 (December 4th) of the Advent Calender uncovered cover versions project (or obsession) of mine 🙂 Under the little cardboard flap today you won’t find some cheap and bland chocolate. Instead you will find Jimi Hendrix playing what in my opinion is the greatest cover version of all time. It’s Jimi’s version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” recorded at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970 … enjoy!

 December 5th

 It’s December 5th and here is Day 5 in my advent uncovered cover versions project. This one is a real doozy! It’s Richard Cheese covering the rather spiffing Blink182 song “What’s My Age Again?” I love this one, what do you think?

 December 6th

 December 6th and day 6 of my Advent oncovered cover versions project. Today it’s the turn of Suzi Quatro with an Elvis classic “All Shook Up” . I chose this one because it is even in the news today. Check the story here

 December 7th

 It’s December 7th and therefore Day 7 of my Advent uncovered cover versions. Today’s is a bit obvious, but nonetheless a great cover. It’s Jacko’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ as done by the fantastically named Alien Ant Farm

 December 8th

 It’s December 8th and therfore Day 8 of my Advent Calendar Uncovered Covers project. Today’s was an easy choice really. On the 29th anniversary of his death this is John Lennon with a great cover of Ben E King’s “Stand By Me” I love this song

 December 9th

 Hello again peeps, it’s the 9th December which brings us to song number 9 in my Advent Calendar uncovered cover versions. Todays is a bit of an indulgent one in that it is a cover of the excellent Pendulum’s “Blood Sugar” by my son Luke’s band Steal The Smile. Enjoy!

 December 10th

 Hello folks. December 10th and obviously day 10 of my Advent uncovered cover versions project. Todays is one of my favourite songs as covered by my favourite band ever! It’s the Clash with Junior Murvin’s “Police And Thieves

 December 11th

 It’s Friday December 11th and therefore it’s Day 11 in the Advent uncovered cover versions project. Today it’s the turn of Me First And The Gimmee Gimmees (and let’s face it no covers project would be complete without them). This is their version of the Olivia Newton John hit written by John Denver “Take Me Home Country Roads” By the way this is NOT a country version!

 December 12th

 December 12th and halfway through Advent calendar time, so onto Day 12 of my Advent uncovered cover versions project. Today’s is a must have as far as cover versions go. It’s Nouvelle Vague with an excellent cover of the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart“. Enjoy

 December 13th

 December 13th and the thirteenth cover version of my Advent Uncovered Covers Project. Today’s is one of my most favourite cover versions ever. It’s the late, great Jeff Buckley with a live version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (You may know it as the one that was somewhat massacred by Alexandra Burke last Christmas courtesy of Mr Cowell! This version really is the dog’s testicles though, what do you think?

 December 14th

 December 14th and strangely enough Day 14 of my uncovered cover versions project. Today’s is sung by someone who in my opinion the greatest female singer ever (very sexy too). Yes it’s Kate Bush with her version of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing

 December 15th

 Day 15 in my Advent Calendar of uncovered cover versions. Todays is perhaps one of the strangest. It is the Deep Purple Classic “Smoke On Water” a true guitar shop classic as played by Senor Coconut and his Orchestra. Go on give it a listen, you know you want to 🙂

 December 16th

 Day 16 of the Advent uncovered cover versions project and today is a song that many people often don’t realise is a cover. It’s the Beatles with their excellent version of the Isley Brothers song “Twist And Shout“. Listen to this and you’ll see just how weak Olly Murs version from the X Factor was!

 December 17th

 It’s already Day 17 in my Advent Calendar Uncovered Cover Versions project. Today’s song is performed by the Section Quartet and it’s a great instrumental orchestral cover of the brilliant Muse song “Time Is Running Out

 December 18th

 Day 18 of my Advent uncovered cover versions project and I thought it was about time for a Christmas song. This is a cover of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” for a whole myriad of charities and it features some brilliant bands and artists (well in my opinion) Fucked Up, Tegan & Sarah, Bob Mould, the wonderful Yo La Tengo and many, many more 🙂

 December 19th

 Day 19 of my Advent uncovered cover versions and thanks to the inclement weather I nearly missed this one (but more of that story another day!). Todays song may surprise some of you. It’s Marvin Gaye with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” which was in fact a cover of the original hit by Gladys Knight. Personally I prefer Marvin’s version!

 December 20th

 It’s now Day 20 of my Advent Uncovered Cover Versions project. This one is especially for the boys at Chris’ 50th last night (so that’ll be me, Glen, Neil, Phil and obviously Chris! Apologies from Bryan and Keith sadly!) The song goes back to the mid 70’s and was originally done by the Glitter Band. It’s “Let’s Get Together Again as recorded and mixed by the Human League. If you’d like to hear the original here it is

 December 21st

 And on to Day 21 (that’ll be 21st December then!) in my Advent uncovered cover versions project. Today’s song is the Oasis classic “Wonderwall” as sung by the brilliant Ryan Adams (not Bryan ok!!) Apparently Noel Gallagher thinks that Ryan’s arrangement is even better than his own. For the hell of it here is the link to the Mike Flowers Pops version too!

December 22nd

Day 22 of my Advent Uncovered Cover Versions Project and there will be more Christmas songs included but not today. The selection for December 22nd is the Foo Fighters with a cover of the rather good Wings song “Band On The Run

December 23rd

Day 23 of my Advent Calendar Uncovered Cover Versions Project, that means just one more day after this! So I decided to make today and tomorrow Christmas songs as the big Chrimbo thingy is upon us. Obviously I was always going to use this one. It’s “Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy” from Bing Crosby and David Bowie

December 24th

It’s Christmas Eve and here it is, the final song in my Advent Calendar Uncovered Cover Versions Project (until next year anyway!) It is a song that originally featured on the Phil Spector Christmas Album from 1963 (Incidentally that album was released the day JFK was killed!) It is “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” originally by Darlene Love and played here by U2. The original song is my favourite Christmas song by a long way. Happy Christmas everyone and I hope that Santa brings you what you wish for Joriginally by Darlene Love and played here by U2. The original song is my favourite Christmas song by a long way. Happy Christmas everyone and I hope Santa brings you what you wish for 🙂

 

“and the more I find out the less I know” May 4, 2009


This is the first in a not particularly regular series of posts covering some of my most favourite and in some cases poorly recognised artists. First up it’s Mr Johnny Nash. Johnny, despite his greatest success coming with reggae was actually born in Houston Texas on August 19th 1940. Like many of his contemporaries he sang in the choir at his local Baptist Church in his childhood and youth. He became a regular on a local television show called ‘Matinee’ in 1953 where he mainly performed covers of current hits. In another potential big break he entered a talent contest in the early 50’s where he eventually lost out to none other than the mighty Joe Tex. In 1956 he began a seven-year run of appearances on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and tv shows. Godfrey claimed to have ‘discovered’ Nash. Perhaps in the same way that Diana Ross ‘discovered’ the Jackson 5, she didn’t and it was in fact Gladys Knight. Johnny’s recording career began in the fifties when he signed a deal with ABC-Paramount and released his debut single “A Teenager Sings The Blues” Indeed he even had some US hits. Notably a cover of the Doris Day song “A Very Special Love” in late 1958 and also “The Teen Commandments” The latter was actually a collaboration with Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV. ABC had tried to market Johnny as another Johnny Mathis which led to him becoming disillusioned and did nothing to enhance his fledgling career. In my opinion this suggests that even in the 50’s the record labels would still opt for the easy route. ABC had a handsome black crooner on their books so they thought the easiest step would be to market him just like another handsome black crooner; Johnny Mathis. I feel that both had very distinct voices and should have been developed and promoted as individuals.

An Early Shot Of Johnny Nash

An Early Shot Of Johnny Nash

This disillusionment with the record industry saw Nash take his first steps in what could have been a very successful parallel career as an actor with a starring role in the film “Take A Giant Step”. It turned out to be his only starring role. He played a black teenager raised in white neighbourhood who struggles to fit in. Johnny won a Silver Sail award from the Locarno International Film Festival for his performance. The film’s Executive Producer was Burt Lancaster. It was filmed in 1958. As far as I am aware there has never been a DVD release. In 1960 he appeared in the movie ‘Key Witness’ alongside the supremely talented Dennis Hopper which received some good reviews and a degree of critical acclaim in Europe. After this he made a return to the recording studio where he recorded a string of middle-of-the-road tunes. None of these singles (which included releases on the Warner Brothers, Groove and Argo labels amongst others) were able to even dent the charts so once again his singing career began to tail off. Eventually he recorded the R & B song “Let’s Move And Groove Together” in 1965. This reached the dizzy heights of the US R & B top 5. But perhaps much more significantly for Nash the record became a massive hit in Jamaica. He embarked on a promotional tour of Jamaica in 1967. In a follow up trip he recorded the single “Hold Me Tight” which was based around a very strong reggae groove. This recording was made at Byron Lee’s (off of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires) Federal Studios. The single was released on the JAD label, which Nash had set up with producer Arthur Jenkins and businessman Danny Simms. The label’s name was made up of the first letter of the owner’s first names. The song reached the top 5 in both the US and the UK. He also reached the top 40 again with a reggae cover of the late great Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” which has more recently been covered by the talented Miss Amy Winehouse. In the same period he also had a hit with a cover of the Bill Johnson song “You Got Soul” Sadly JAD folded in the early 70’s. Click here to listen to Johnny’s “(I’m So) Glad You’re My Baby” from 1967 and a cover of “Ole Man River” which I had never heard until I started researching this post, just click the title for that one 🙂

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Hold Me Tight" album

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Hold Me Tight" album

After “Cupid” went higher in the UK chart (no. 6) than it did in the US (no. 39) Nash decided to move to the UK in 1971. That year he became the first artist to have a major hit with a Bob Marley composition, the classic “Stir It Up” This was the first Johnny Nash single I ever bought and it also made me search for more of Bob Marley’s music too. Nash had met the Wailers while visiting Jamaica in the late 60’s. Nash was impressed enough to sign Bob, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh to an exclusive deal with JAD records. He also produced a number of songs for the band. By the time he released “Stir It Up” Nash was signed to CBS/ Epic Records. The follow up was the classic “I Can See Clearly Now” which was a top ten hit in the UK and went to the top of the charts in the US where it stayed for four weeks. Click here to see Johnny performing the song on Bert Sugarman’s Midnight Special TV Show in 1973. Many people have covered the song. Notably Jimmy Cliff for the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ and perhaps rather strangely, given that he was blind, Ray Charles. Following his success with a reggae influenced sound Johnny moved to Jamaica in 1972 where I believe he still owns a recording studio. The Wailers had backed Johnny on some of the recordings he made in 1971/72 and John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick who also played with Free was a contributor to the ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ album. One of Bundrick’s songs and indeed one of my favourites from that album was “The Fish And The Alley Of Destruction” This has strangely been left off the extremely hard to find CD reissue of the album. Click here to listen to Johnny perform the excellent “Cream Puff”

The cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" album

The cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" album

After this success in the early 70’s Nash had yet another chart hiatus despite releasing what I believe to be his best album “My Merry Go Round” in 1973. This has now been reissued on CD, you really should make every effort to buy it! He was back in the charts in July 1975 where he reached number one in the UK with the song “Tears On My Pillow” Contrary to some sources on the internet this was not a cover of the Little Anthony And The Imperials song of the same name nor is it the same song that Kylie Minogue released a few years back. The song was originally called “I Can’t Take It” and was written by Ernie Smith a Jamaican singer/songwriter

The cover of my favourite Johnny Nash album "My Merry Go Round"

The cover of my favourite Johnny Nash album "My Merry Go Round"

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Tears On My Pillow" album

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Tears On My Pillow" album

Johnny had a few more chart hits in the 70’s, notably with another Sam Cooke cover “(What A) Wonderful World” he was known to be recording with engineer Andy Bradley at Sugarhill Studios in Houston in 2006, although this might have been remastering old material rather than recording anything new. He seems to have retired now although I would love to hear from someone who can tell me that isn’t the case. In the meantime I think it’s a travesty that his back catalogue has largely been ignored for CD reissue. “My Merry Go Round” and “Tears On My Pillow” were both reissued in 2007 and apart from a number of compilations that’s about it. Surely it’s about time all of the Nash albums were reissued on CD I for one would buy them all! Those reissues should also include an album he recorded with Kim Weston in the late 60s and also the score he recorded for a Swedish movie in 1971. Who knows if it hadn’t have been for Johnny maybe Bob Marley and indeed reggae wouldn’t have proved so successful and durable as it did. I’m not religious in any way but if I did believe in angels I reckon they would sing with a voice like the wonderfully talented Johnny Nash!

Johnny Nash with Andy Bradley at the Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas in April 2006

Johnny Nash with Andy Bradley at the Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas in April 2006

I would like to finish this post with my favourite Johnny Nash single “There Are More Questions Than Answers

If you’re a fellow Johnny Nash fan feel free to get in touch 🙂

 

 
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