Do you remember Curly Watts (real name Kevin Kennedy) from Coronation Street? Well did you know that Johnny Marr once played in a band with him? Their short-lived band called the Paris Valentinos played a Silver Jubilee party back in 1977. Kennedy, who was Curly Watts for 20 years in the long running soap played bass guitar. Another future Smiths member Andy Rourke was also in the band which played covers of many things from Sam Cooke to Tom Petty. Their Jubilee gig was around the same time that Glen Voisey and me played our first ever DJ gig.
I realise that I’m a couple of days late with this post but I couldn’t let the passing of such a musical giant as Bobby Womack go without saying anything. The first music genre I really got into was soul music. I recall reading about the likes of Bobby Womack in Blues & Soul magazine in the early 70s. My lifelong friend Glen Voisey and me used to frequent an excellent, though long since defunct, record shop at Rayners Lane called The Bop Shop. They had racks and racks of second-hand vinyl and I remember buying Womack’s “Harry Hippie” and “Across 110th Street” on 7 inch vinyl without previously having heard either track. Initially I had just read how great the man was. I was not disappointed; “Across 110th Street” remains one of my favourite songs. How can anyone not love “The Poet II” album?
Bobby was not only a great singer and guitarist (Jimi Hendrix was a fan of his playing) he was also a great songwriter. Other people recorded some fantastic interpretations of his songs. Notably for me is Millie Jackson’s version of “If You Want My Love, Put Something Down On It”, which he wrote with his brother Cecil. The Rolling Stones clearly valued his talent having a big hit in 1964 with “It’s All Over Now” a song written by Bobby and Shirley Womack and recorded by one of Bobby’s early groups the Valentinos. Womack was also a great interpreter of other people’s songs too, his version of “California Dreamin'” is testament to that. Bobby has recorded and released great music for more than 50 years. he has worked with the likes of Sam Cooke back in the 60s right through to Damon Albarn with the Gorillaz and his last solo album “The Bravest Man In The Universe” released in 2012. Bobby will be sadly missed and my thoughts are with his family, friends and his legions of fans. Bobby Womack RIP
It’s December 10th, therefore it’s day 10 of the With Just A Hint Of Mayhem advent blog posts for 2013. It is also only just over two weeks to the arrival of the fat bearded bloke in the red suit who will fly in on a sleigh laden with millions of presents and pulled by at least one large inebriated (well he has got a red nose) venison steak called Rudolph. So you have by now figured out that todays songs have the number 10 in their titles.
First song of the day today is a 70s disco smasheroo released by Double Exposure on the Salsoul label in 1976. It is called “Ten Percent” and was according to some music historians the first ever commercially available 12″ single. Personally I had always heard that it was either “You + Me = Love” by Undisputed Truth or “Black Is Black” from La Belle Époque. In those heady days of 1976 I was a fledgling mobile DJ in partnership with my good friend Glen Voisey. I actually had the 12″ vinyl singles for all three of those songs at the time! “Ten Percent” made it to number 54 on the US Billboard charts. The band began recording the album that would include “Ten Percent” 38 years ago tomorrow. The album, which was recorded at the famous Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia was also called ‘Ten Percent’. In the 60s the band were called United Image and recorded some songs for the Stax label. The band included James Williams, Joseph Harris, Charles Whittington and Leonard ‘Butch’ Davis who had sung together since High School.
The second song for today is in my opinion a great deal of double entendre riddled and innuendo driven slice of humourous smut, and I love it. It is part of a series of pop reggae tunes from Englishman Judge Dread a former DJ, Debt Collector (for Trojan Records no less), Bouncer and bodyguard. Ladies and gentlemen and those of you who aren’t quite sure, I bring you “Big Ten”. This song reached number 14 in the UK charts in 1975, which is bloody good considering it was not allowed to be played on the radio. It was the last of six UK top 20 hits that the Judge had between 1972 and 1975. Judge Dread was actually Alexander Minto Hughes and he sadly died in 1998 aged just 52. When I was just a lad two regular Christmas presents that I was allowed to choose from my parents was one vinyl album and one vinyl single. being young and somewhat strapped for cash I always chose a double album as the album present; “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (Elton John), “Quadrophenia” (the Who) and “David Live” (David Bowie) were three of those choices. So I would like to publicly apologise to my Mum for being such a conniving little urchin. But more importantly I should apologise for choosing Judge Dread’s “Big Eight” as my single in at Christmas 1973. I was rather amused that my Mum had to go into the record shop and buy it without having any idea that it contained a whole selection of lewd and crude nursery rhymes. Sorry Mum!
Please allow me to paraphrase from an Elton John song for just a moment; ‘ho ho ho grab a beer, the bearded weirdy’s nearly here’. Yes folks in just a few days Old Saint Nick will be giving your chimney a good clean with his beard. Don’t worry if you don’t have a chimney, in that case he’ll just break into your house. Of course he is the only person who illegally enters your property and leaves stuff rather than taking anything, well not counting the odd tipple or mince-pie of course. Anyway it’s now December 20th and therefore day 20 of my ABC of Motown Advent calendar. Which brings us to the letter T. For me this was an easy choice. It’s “Take Me Girl I’m Ready” from the stellar band that was Junior Walker and the All Stars.
Surprisingly for me Junior Walker wasn’t his real name. When he was born in June 1931 in Blytheville, Arkansas he was called Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr. He played in a number of bands from the age of 14 including the Jumping Jacks and the Rhythm Rockers before settling on the All Stars. The band was spotted by Johnny Bristol who was friendly with Harvey Fuqua who had is own Harvey label. Fuqua signed the band in 1961 but they didn’t have much success until the Harvey label was bought by Berry Gordy to become part of his Motown empire.
Their first Motown hit was the timeless classic “Shotgun” which was written by Junior Walker and produced by Berry Gordy himself. It also featured Funk Brother James Jamerson on bass. That song reached number 4 in the US Billboard chart and was an US R & B number one in 1965. They had plenty more hits but the only one that equalled “Shotgun” in the charts was “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969, that song also hit number 13 in the UK. Sadly Junior died from cancer aged just 64 back in 1995.
“Take Me Girl I’m Ready” was originally an US hit in 1971 reaching number 50 in the Billboard chart. It was written by Pamela Sawyer, Gloria Jones and Johnny Bristol. Bristol produced the song which was arranged by Dave Van DePitte. It was a record I could never get hold of in my early teenage years, but then it was finally reissued in the UK in 1977. Obviously I bought it as soon as it came out. I no longer have the vinyl copy but I have it on CD and MP3.
I have blogged about this song before with regards to its appearance on a pub jukebox. Myself and a bunch of friends used to be regulars at the Windmill pub in Ruislip Manor back in 1977/ 78 and “Take Me Girl I’m Ready” was selection number 77A on the pub jukebox. Usually it was myself or my good friend Glen Voisey who were first at the jukebox and without looking we would always select 77A. However on one occasion I approached the jukebox as usual and fed my coins into it and then hit the buttons for 77A. I then started looking for what other tracks I would choose. After a few seconds of that scratchy stylus hitting plastic sound a familiar refrain started. However it wasn’t Junior Walker, much to my dismay and embarrassment it was “Save All Your Kisses For Me” by Brotherhood Of Man. My friends just started laughing and muttered about disowning me, but I was able to prove that I had indeed chosen 77A. The landlord stepped in to support me when he said that all the records on the jukebox had been replaced and the old tenant of 77A no longer lived on the machine. It was a devastatingly disappointing moment for me, but as they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’!
So without further ado please enjoy the former occupant of 77A on the Windmill pub jukebox in the late 70s; “Take Me Girl I’m Ready” from Junior Walker and the All Stars. This one goes out to Glen Voisey, Keith Plant, Chris Skinner, Neil Payne, Phil Isaacs and Jonesy (aka Bryan Jones)!
RIP the Windmill Pub in Ruislip Manor. It was built in the 1930s and closed down in 2006. Like many of my old haunts it has been knocked down or put to use other than as a pub.
Many of you know that Catwoman (a.k.a. Catherine Lee now Catherine Adamson) and I recently got married. As you might have guessed music did play quite a big part in the day, beyond just the choice of first dance. We chose a small but special group of songs for our guests to listen to while they were waiting for the beautiful bride to arrive and the ceremony to start. Those songs were;
We even chose the song for us to exit the ceremony room. That simply had to be “This Will Be” from Natalie Cole. We even managed a half decent jig on the way out of the room to that one!
We also chose a selection of swing type songs as background to the serving of champagne and canapés or as I like to say; fizzies n fod! The background music for the wedding breakfast (incidentally why is it called a breakfast when it’s not usually in the morning?) was carefully selected classic soul and Motown love songs. These two sets are included as a list at the end of this post.
Then of course it was time for the first dance, the title of which was also immortalised on my cufflinks for the wedding day. It had to be
the really beautiful Nick Cave ballad, “Into My Arms” Probably the only song I know that includes the phrase ‘interventionist god’ in its lyrics.
We hired a swing band for the evening; the truly excellent and very talented Chris Hilton Little Big Band. They did two sets of around an
hour each combining swing classics and swing arrangements of many other hits too. Their version of “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book was a real rocking party tune.
There was also a very special guest appearance after the bands first set. A long overdue set from the superstar DJs of the 70s ‘Bill
& Glen the Disco Men’ this was their first gig in more than 30 years. They had specially designed wigs and costumes. Well ok cheap T Shirts with their pictures on and tacky 70s wigs from the party shop. None the less the boys really rocked the joint with a storming set of pure 70s disco classics, many of which haven’t been aired in years. In case you were wondering, the Bill part of the team is me and the Glen part is my best buddy Glen Voisey. We went to Ryefield Primary School together in Hillingdon in the late 60s. It was my selection that managed to actually clear the dance floor though; personally in my defence I just feel that there was no one with enough class and taste to really appreciate the finer points of Mr Dooley Silverspoon’s amazing “Bump Me Baby” The full Bill and Glen set was;
“Boogie Nights” – Heatwave
“Get Dancin'” – Disco Tex And The Sex-O-Lettes
“Ain’t Gonna Bump No More” – Joe Tex
“Bump Me Baby” – Dooley Silverspoon
“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” – Sylvester
“Get Down Tonight” – KC & The Sunshine Band
“Rock The Boat” – Hues Corporation
“September” – Earth, Wind & Fire
In addition to all of this there were also two other musical related items on the day; one was a reading of the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Wedding Song” lyrics from the Planet Waves album. This was read by our good friend and wife of my best man, Caron Godbold-Derbyshire. (The other two readings were not music related but were superb none the less, so thank you also to Rachel Vernelle and Ruth Smethurst). The second of these musical pieces was a part of my speech at the end of the wedding breakfast. I wanted to do
something along the lines of what Peter Sellers did in the 60s with George Martin, when he recorded a version of the Beatles “A Hard Days Night” in the style of Laurence Olivier.
It took me ages to come up with the right song. I considered Kylie’s “I Should Be So Lucky” and “Love Is All Around” from the Troggs or Wet Wet Wet. But then the weekend before the wedding I saw Madness at the Reading Festival and I knew what song I was going to try in a Olivier style; it simply had to be “It Must Be Love”, and it was! I introduced that part of the speech as something Shakespearian, using some props; a cape and a skull. I kicked off with “Alas poor Yorrick…….” And then went straight into “It Must Be Love” in my
best Olivier style. I felt it could have worked really well or could have bombed completely. I think it went quite well, but obviously I would appreciate any comments from those of you who were there!
I should also add that my excellent Best Man, Mr John Williams also managed to include a little section from David Bowie’s “Heroes” in his speech!
Thank you for reading this far into what has been a rather self-indulgent post, but I hoped that you have enjoyed the music too. I would
also be interested to hear any stories you have of music used at weddings; be they your own or those of friends and family.
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?
It’s December 1986 and a song that was recorded nearly 30 years before makes it to the top of the chart and also 3 years after it’s singer died. Can you guess what we’ll find when we open the December 11th Cardboard flap on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar? It’s the truly stupendous Jackie Wilson with “Reet Petite”. Back in the 70s this was always one of the favourite songs of my mate Glen’s Dad Bill Voisey.
Jackie meets Elvis
Jackie Wilson was a truly gifted vocalist. How can people not be moved by “Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher And Higher” and “I Get The Sweetest Feeling“. In 1985 Wilson was mentioned in the post Lionel Richie Commodores hit “Night Shift” along with the likes of Marvin Gaye. Wilson was mentioned in quite a few songs and in fact “Reet Petite” was given reference in David Bowie’s “Red Money” from the 1979 album ‘The Lodger’. “Reet Petite” was number one for 4 weeks including the Christmas of 1986. Jackie’s cousin was Levi Stubbs Jr off of the Four Tops, probably one of my favourite vocalists of all time and very sadly missed.
The song also made the top slot in Ireland and Holland, enjoy the video below, after some other Jackie Wilson classics
A mixed bag of a post for you today, drawn from a few recent news stories. Firstly I would like to wish a posthumous 70th birthday to John Lennon. I find it incredible that it is now almost 30 years since he was cruelly gunned down in New York. Has that time gone quickly for you too? He is also in the news for something other than his birthday as well. The FBI have seized a set of Lennon’s fingerprints that he gave to New York police in 1976 as part of his green card application. The card was part of a memorabilia auction, but the FBI claim it is official government property and have taken it away. haven’t they got a big enough file on Lennon already? Frankly though, why go they need it, I mean he is unlikely to commit any crime is he? Read the story on the Beeb by clicking here.
Now for another very sad Beatles related story. The cast of Glee have now beaten the Beatles record of the most appearances on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart by a non solo act. They have a total of 75 compared to 71 for the Fab Four, they have also surpassed Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin who have 74 and 73 respectively. The only acts ahead of them right now are James Brown with 91 and Elvis Presley with 108. Click here to see the report.
It has been reported that soulful chanteuse Toni Braxton is filing for bankruptcy for the second time. She went bankrupt for the first time just 12 years ago. This time a heart condition caused her to cancel a number of Vegas shows. So I would like to wish her well in the sale of her assets and hope that she can soon ‘unbreak the bank’ and will soon be able to “Breathe Again“. I must confess that earlier this year I burnt the original and a few remixes of “Unbreak My Heart” for my good friends Glen and Jill. So now we know of Toni’s financial predicament I ought to as k them to buy the songs. Come on guys help the poor girl out!
Kurt Kobain’s letter in which he appears to rail against MTV is to be auctioned. He referred to the TV Channel as Empty TV and signed the letter as Kurdt Kobaineee. read about it at the NME by clicking here.
Finally for today it is now 25 years since A-ha released “Take On Me” accompanied by that wonderfully arty video featuring Morten Harket from the band along with Bunty Bailey off of Hot Gossip. Enjoy the video below and read all about it by clicking here.