With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas – Fibbers, York – Tuesday 13th December 2016 December 21, 2016


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I last saw Martha Reeves many years ago, maybe late 70s or early 80s I guess. Probably in some cheesy nightclub in Luton or Dunstable. No doubt it was accompanied by chicken in a basket. While my memory of that night is not too clear I do recall that her singing voice was superb. So the opportunity to see her again in my adopted home town was not one that I was going to miss, especially at Fibbers which is a fantastic little venue. But before I talk about the magnificent Miss Martha Reeves let me tell you about the very talented support act. Eve Simpson is a singer songwriter from Newcastle with a collection of heartfelt, heartwarming and powerful songs. She sang them beautifully accompanied just by her acoustic guitar. I was captivated by this exceptionally bright performer. She put on a great show in spite of some of the audience being more interested in talking throughout her set. I always find it strange when people ignore a support act, but hey to each their own. Those talkers missed a treat! I was lucky enough to speak to Eve and her Mum and they are both lovely ladies. I bought a copy of Eve’s EP ‘Shelter’ and I have played it at least a dozen times already. You really need to check out Eve.

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Anyway so the main event is clearly what everyone was here for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Martha was making music from around the time that I was born and had their first chart action when I was still only four years old. If I have half the energy that Martha has when I am 75 I will be ecstatic. She was on stage for around 90 minutes, with the Vandellas who are now made up of two of her sisters; Lois and Delphine Reeves. The band was a really tight and skilled unit too. Martha really knows how to work an audience and her between song chat was highly entertaining.

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All the classic Motown hits were on show including; “Come And Get These Memories” and “Nowhere To Run”. My particular highlight was a stunning version of my favourite Martha and the Vandellas song, “(Love Is Like A) Heatwave”. But “Dancing In The Street” was a very close second. To hear Martha sing that song live really exposes how embarrassing the Bowie and Jagger version was in 1985. The audience pretty much danced the whole night long, I certainly did, spending most of my time right in front of the stage. The song that brought out the best ‘dance like nobody is watching’ moment in me was definitely “Jimmy Mack” and their superb run through of the Jackie Wilson classic “Higher And Higher”. Their version of Marvin Gaye’s gorgeous “What’s Going On” was beautiful in its extended jazz jam style too. The most emotional point was, I think, the stunning and soulful “No One There” which was written by Johnny Bristol.

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At the end of the show Martha, Lois and Delphine came out to meet the fans and sign some photographs and CDs. Obviously I wasn’t going to miss that. I had them all sign the two CDs and group picture that I bought. I was also able to have a little chat with Martha herself. I thanked her for the show and told her how impressed I was that she was drinking a pint of Guinness. I also told her that I have always felt that her version of Van Morrison‘s “Wild Night” is in my opinion the best ever cover of a Van Morrison song. She gave me a big smile for that! I for one will definitely being going to see Martha the next time she tours in the UK and I suggest that you do the same. You will not be disappointed!

 

“I’m a hot air balloon, I could go to space” November 18, 2016


Pharrell Williams in Adidas

Did you know what Pharrell William’s had in his mind for his modern classic “Happy”? I love the song but I never knew what his tune recipe was. Apparently he asked the mix engineer to make it sound like a combo of three distinct things;

  • Tamla Motown
  • “Hey Ya” by Outkast
  • Phil Collins

Did he achieve that? Personally I think that he did, how about you?

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“It’s not safe loving you this way but from your arms I can’t stay” December 17, 2011


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.

 

“Now girls you should know these things right off the back” December 14, 2011


It’s December the 14th, are you getting excited about Yuletide yet? Have you been good? Does Santa know what you want for Christmas? I hope the answer is yes to all those questions. It does mean that we have arrived at day 14 on my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar. Would you like to know what is behind the flimsy cardboard shield today? I’m sure you do; well it is the letter N and the song in question is “Needle In A Haystack” by the Velvelettes.

The song was written by William Stevenson and Norman Whitfield. The song was produced by Whitfield and was the groups first big hit in 1964 when it reached number 45 in the US Chart. It was released on the VIP label which was part of the Motown family. The group consisted of Bertha Barbee McNeal and her cousin Norma Barbee, Mildred Gill Arbor and her sister Carolyn (aka Cal) and Cal’s friend Betty Kelly when they formed in 1961. Cal became the lead singer.

The follow-up single was “He Was Really Saying Something” later covered by the less talented (in my opinion at least) Bananarama in the 80s. Betty Kelly left the group later in 1964 to join Martha and the Vandellas. The Velvelettes biggest UK hit was “These Things Will Keep Me Loving You” which reached number 34 in 1971, two years after the group had disbanded.

 

“Could it be the devil in me or is this the way love’s supposed to be?” August 10, 2010


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!

Click here to read the story on the BBC

Click here to read the story on the Guardian

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! 😉

 

 
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