With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“You’re gonna hear electric music Solid walls of sound” March 24, 2014


Elton's got balls!

Elton’s got balls!

Don’t you just love Elton John’s “Bennie And The Jets” from his 1973 double albumGoodbye Yellow Brick Road‘? I certainly do. I knew that it wasn’t a live recording but the applause included on the track makes it sound as though it is. Did you know that the applause wasn’t even recorded at an Elton gig? In fact it is drawn from recordings of the audience clapping and shouting at Jimi Hendrix’s Isle Of Wight festival set in 1970.

1344350759690_4041473I know of another occasion where that kind of thing has happened too. The sound of the crowd used on the title track of David Bowie’sDiamond Dogs‘ album is actually the applause taken from a live album by the Faces! Can any of you offer any similar gems?

 

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“I was playing rock and roll and you were just a fan”


EltonJohnThe synthesiser intro to Elton John’s magnificent (in my opinion) “Funeral For A Friend”, the opening track on the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ album, was recorded by David Hentschel an engineer and, obviously, a synthesiser player. Apparently Elton only heard it for the first time after it was finished.

funny-Spider-Man-Elton-John-biggest-fan

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“Dread blew off and made I laugh” – Advent day 10 December 10, 2013


6511486615_a4228ff0d8_zIt’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.

1293019_111015151402_double_exposure_ten_percent_fFirst 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.

21185124The 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!

 

Elton John – Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate Tuesday June 5th 2012 June 5, 2012


Some months ago when Elton John announced a UK tour of some places that never seem to get big rock stars performing the list included the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate. So as I live just down the road and as Sir Elton is now 65 I thought I had to get tickets for me and my wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman to regular readers. I love Elton’s music, especially the early stuff, but until today I had never seen him live. It was well worth the wait and the ticket price.

The support act was the amazing 2Cellos, which does exactly what it says on the tin. The act consists of two cellists from Croatia; Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. If you had said to me before today that two guys playing cello could be really exciting and create an amazing rock sound I may well have laughed at you. But frankly these guys are outstanding. They played three covers; Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”, U2’s “With Or Without You” and an electrifying version of “Purple Haze” the Jimi Hendrix classic.

Just as we all thought they were about to start another song Elton and his band took the stage and raced right into “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting“. 2Cellos remained with the band for that and many other songs during Elton’s incredible two and a half hour set. He seemed to show no sign whatsoever of his recent illness and really seemed to be enjoying himself. The band who included long time Elton stalwarts Nigel Olsson on drums and Davey Johnstone on guitar. These guys have played together for more than 40 years now and I think that trust and knowledge of each other really shows.

The backing vocalists could undoubtedly be an act in their own right including; Rose Stone a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone and the sister of Sly and Freddie Stone and also Tata Vega who produced some terrific albums for Motown in the 70s. Having started the set with a superb rocker the band followed up with “Bennie And The Jets” and “Levon”. I was really pleased with the eclectic set list Elton had chosen. It included many of his biggest hits along with some of those that are not heard as often. Those included two fantastic selections from the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ album; “Funeral For A Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding” and “Grey Seal” and the gorgeous “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” from ‘Madman Across The Water‘. I was disappointed to see so many people head for the bar and the toilets when Elton played “Hey Ahab” from his recent collaboration with the supremely talented Leon Russell.

Most of the crowd were out to have a good time and the rain didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Although it was quite ironic to be listening to “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” when the weather had created the effect that the sun had never really come up! There was an element in the crowd that seemed to fit with the stereotypical breed of Harrogate snob. They seemed to be there more for the social occasion, to drink Pimms and most importantly to be seen. One bloke and his wife/ partner asked us to swap seats with him so that he could sit near his friends. We refused largely because they had been getting up and going in and out of the grandstand during the whole show (well the part they stayed for anyway). But it was interesting that five minutes after our refusal all his ‘friends’ left without telling him! I named him Mr Yo Yo Bollocks.

There were two ladies who spent most of the show dancing around and trying to get everyone else up, including the security guards. They were draped in a ‘we love Elton’ Union Jack and seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, but I suspect that their hangovers may be huge. It took “I’m Still Standing” to get everyone up, most of whom stayed up for the rest of the show. When Elton and the band left the stage it was hard to figure out what the encore would be as they had played some many classics, but of course it was the beautiful “Your Song”. Preceded by Elton signing a whole bunch of autographs for those at the front.

Elton John is a talented musician, a gifted songwriter, a real showman and a consummate performer. There are not many people around that can match him I believe. It is nearly 39 years since I saw my first ever gig (Jackson 5 at the Wembley Empire Pool in 1973 if you’re interested!) and todays show is easily in my top 5 ever. If you are going to one of the shows on this tour I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. If you’re not then do whatever it takes to get a ticket; sell your grannie, send your kits out to clean chimneys or get your dog to wine ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ (OK probably too late on the last one). And finally thank you for a great gig Elton!

I have no film from tonights show (I was enjoying myself too much to get my phone out) so here is a clip of Elton playing “Your Song” from a couple of years back, followed by 2Cellos with their version of “Smooth Criminal”

 

“When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on” October 3, 2010


A recent survey undertaken by PRS for Music sought to discover the songs that make us men cry. A total of 1,700 men were polled and the results make somewhat interesting reading I think. The top ten is shown below, with a few comments from me. Click here to read a report on the results in the UK free newspaper, the Metro.

1. Everybody Hurts – REM – A great REM song taken from the classic ‘Automatic For The People‘ album. It was written by drummer Bill Berry, although he didn’t play drums on the track, that was done by a drum machine. He also said that the song was aimed at teenagers. In 2006 the song was voted 4th in a poll by Channel 5 to discover ‘Britain Favourite Break Up Songs’
2. Tears in HeavenEric Clapton – A very sad song in many ways. Clapton wrote it with Will Jennings after the death of his four-year old son Conor in 1991. The boy fell from the window of a friend’s apartment in New York
3. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen – Now this one is a classic and has been covered by many artists. X Factor winner Alexandra Burke reached number one in the UK with, at best a very mediocre working of the song and at its worst would easily make music purists cry. In my opinion the best version is easily that of the late, great Jeff Buckley and that version can indeed bring tears to my eyes
4. Nothing Compares 2 USinead O’Connor – She will always have my respect for tearing up a photo of the pope on US TV, I bet that made a few people cry with rage though. It reached number one in the UK in 1990. The song is actually a cover version of a song written by his royal purpleness, Prince. It was recorded and released by the Family in 1985, this was simply a vehicle to enable Prince to release more of his material.
5. With or Without YouU2 – This was the first single from ‘The Joshua Tree’ in 1987 and became their first US number one song.
6. The Drugs Don’t Work – The Verve – This was the band’s most successful UK single and reached number one in 1997, having been released the day after Princess Diana died. It was written by lead singer Richard Ashcroft about his own drug habit and also about the death of his father.
7. Candle In The WindElton John – I really do prefer the original version of this song, it was about Marilyn Monroe and was taken from the album ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ However, sadly, in my opinion, the version that most people remember is the rewritten version for Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, although in its defence it did raise millions for charity. Incidentally I reckon that must be the first time Princess Diana has been mentioned more than once in any of my posts.
8. Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen – Bruce wrote this for the first mainstream movie to tackle HIV/ AIDS, ‘Philadelphia’ from 1993. The song won the best original song Oscar. It reached number one in many countries, although not in the US or UK. It has also been known to occasionally open my tear ducts too.
9. Unchained Melody – Todd Duncan – whilst the article lists the Todd Duncan version, which was taken from the 1955 prison film; ‘Unchained’ it is probably the Righteous Brothers version that most people know. That version was recorded in the sixties but became a massive hit again when it was used in the 1990 film ‘Ghost’. It has been recorded by more than 500 artists including, Jimmy Young, Elvis Presley, the Supremes, U2, the Smashing Pumpkins and there was also an excruciatingly bad version by Pop Idol muppet Gareth Gates.
10. AngelsRobbie Williams – As regular readers of this blog know, I am definitely not a Robbie fan and I particularly dislike this song. I really don’t get it, I mean “I’m loving angels instead”? Instead of what exactly?

There are a few songs that can make me blub, many by Johnny Nash, Bob Marley and Jeff Buckley. But perhaps the one that does it the most is “Sailing” by Rod Stewart. It was always my Dad’s favourite song and we played it as his funeral back in 2001. What songs make you cry?

Finally let me finish with a classic video for one of my favourite songs about crying. It’s “Cry” by Godley and Creme

 

 
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