With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Mike Garson’s “A Bowie Celebration… Just For One Day” – Saturday January 9th 2021 January 19, 2021


I have watched a few streamed shows since this awful pandemic kicked in and like many of us I don’t believe that this type of show can ever replace real gigs. But for now this is all we have so let’s use it. As a huge Bowie fan for nearly 50 years I was obviously looking forward to this show. It was curated by the Dame’s long term piano man Mike Garson and included a wonderful range of Bowie alumni and a stack of special guests performing songs (around 40) from across the Starman’s career. It was an “as live” stream but incredibly well put together. The behind the scenes crew deserve a huge round of applause, they clearly did an amazing job, which in turn helped to provide us punters with three hours of classy Bowie themed entertainment.

First up was Duran Duran with their version of the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album opener “Five Years”, I have never been a huge fan of Simon Le Bon’s voice, but this was a staggeringly good version of an iconic song. Duran Duran really pulled this off with aplomb. Lzzy Hale off of Halestorm was aided and abetted by Tony award winning actress and singer Lena Hall for a wonderfully theatrical cover of “Moonage Daydream”, very much a star performance from Lzzy and Lena. I have been a Smashing Pumpkins fan for many years, so I was looking forward to Billy Corgan’s piano led take on “Space Oddity”. But I felt it wasn’t a great performance, I am really not sure that Billy’s voice suited the song in this setting. Sorry Mr Corgan! Perry Farrell took on “The Man Who Sold The World” partnered by his wife Etty Lau Farrell and it was a perfect spine tingling take on one of Bowie’s finest tunes. Next there was a bluesy run through a somewhat deep cut, “Bring Me The Disco King” by Anna Calvi. This was originally a track released as a part of 2003’s ‘Reality’ album. Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of Take That’s Gary Barlow, so I cringed a little when I saw his name on the list. But to be very honest the boy did good. Barlow didn’t choose an easy option and went with 1975’s “Fame”. A real Five Star performance from Mr Barlow.

Living Colour’s Corey Glover was spot on with his gorgeous run through of “Young Americans”. This was followed by one of my favourite songs from that period, “Can You Hear Me” performed by the obscenely talented Gail Ann Dorsey who played in Bowie’s band for many years. “Sweet Thing/ Candidate/ Sweet Thing (Reprise)” is a tough song to cover but Bernard Fowler, highly regarded backing vocalist who has supplied backing vox to the Stones among many others didn’t just cover the song, he owned it and frankly, blew me away. Possibly my favourite performance of the whole event. Charlie Sexton, a man who has played with an incredible number of music luminaries appeared next with a funky work out of the 1983 classic “Let’s Dance” the first of four songs by him on the night. Judith Hill, a woman who has worked with Michael Jackson, Prince and John Legend to name just a few was next with a haunting rendition of “Lady Stardust” backed by some beautiful piano from Mike Garson. “Changes” as reimagined by Macy Gray was epic, where have you been Macy, the world needs you. Kevin Armstrong who worked with Bowie in the 80s played a rather excellent version of the Mick Ronson arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” which was dedicated by Mike Garson, to the memory of Ronson, Bowie and all Bowie alumni that have passed away.

Jazz Singer Catherine Russell sang an arrangement of “Conversation Piece” from the ‘Space Oddity’ album that was completely unrecognisable from the original and for me that made it a perfect cover version, I loved it! Next up was the return of Charlie Sexton with a Stones style take on Bowie’s Stones pastiche “Rebel Rebel”. This is one of my favourite songs from Bowie and Sexton did a great job with it. Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot was on board for two songs and I was a little surprised at his first one, “Win” from 1975’s ‘Young Americans’ album. Surprised but definitely not disappointed, Joe’s voice was immaculate and accompanied by the kind of piano heaven we have come to expect from Mike Garson. For the second song in his brace of Bowie Joe Elliott rocked hard through a powerful performance of “Ziggy Stardust”. Taylor Momsen frontwoman of the Pretty Reckless had a film to accompany her rendition of one of my favourite Bowie songs, especially lyrically, “Quicksand”. She really did the Dame proud it was quite moving at times and I love the subtle touches of her film, and to finish having written Bowie’s name in the sand was special indeed. Charlie Sexton returned for two more songs “DJ” and “Blue Jean”. Both of them fine performances and in fact the latter has moved me to reappraise my view of Bowie’s 80s output which is in my opinion mostly his low point artistically. But on this evidence, perhaps “Blue Jean” isn’t so bad after all. I saw Michael C Hall in the lead role of Thomas Jerome Newton in the Bowie musical ‘Lazarus’ in London in 2016, he was rather wonderful in that and his incredibly moving version of “Where Are We Now” here was wonderful too.

Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins, ably supported by Dave Navarro played a lively and rambunctious “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide”. This segued into Corey Taylor doing “Hang On To Yourself” aided and abetted by Dave Navarro, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Chaney. But that segue included a nice little romp through “Little Fat Man” from Bowie’s appearance in Ricky Gervais’ ‘Extras’. Actor Gary Oldman was next accompanied by Mike Garson’s eloquent ivories for “I Can’t Read”. I liked that a lot! Jesse Malin’s “Jean Genie” really was top drawer, he aced it. The return of Gail Ann Dorsey brought with it a touchingly sublime take on “Srangers When We Meet”. The show then rocked out wildly with Peter Frampton on “Suffragette City” duties. This was followed by a brace of songs by a great friend and sometime collaborator of Bowie, Trent Reznor supported by Atticus Roos for “Fantastic Voyage” and “Fashion”. “Fantastic Voyage” which was never played often by Bowie was pretty darned good. Ian Astbury tackle “Lazarus”, he did well and put a lot of emotion into it, but I would also liked to have seen Ian tackle something more rock based, even a Tin Machine track maybe. YUNGBLUD poured his very essence into “Life On Mars” and it payed off in dividends, legendary keyboard player Rick Wakeman supported Mr BLUD. Long time Bowie fan Boy George was on top form for his medley of “Lady Grinning Soul”, “Time” and “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)”. Mr O’Dowd, great respect from me, you nailed it. I was particularly looking forward to Ian Hunter’s performance and I wasn’t disappointed. He kicked off with his Bowie tribute “Dandy” and finished, obviously, with my favourite Bowie song ever, “All The Young Dudes”. I have never been much of a fan of Adam Lambert but there is no denying that he really did “Starman” well, perhaps enough to make me an Adam Lambert fan, time will tell. Judith Hill returned to support Andra Day as they cranked up “Under Pressure” into something even more anthemic than Bowie and Queen managed originally. Bernard Fowler closed proceedings with a highly charged “Heroes” which included some rather excellent drumming from Nandi Bushell.

The credits rolled with a rather decent “Ashes To Ashes” instrumental. Let us not forget the great band members and Bowie alumni that performed throughout the event too, Mike Garson especially, thank you for putting this together Mr Garson. Other band members throughout the evening, that I haven’t already mentioned, were, I think, Guitar: Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard and Carlos Alomar Bass: Carmine Rojas, Mark Plati, Tony Visconti, Tony Levin, Emir Kasan, Erdal Kizcilcay Keyboards: Richard Cottle, Henry Hey; Drums: Alan Childs, Zach Alford, Sterling Campbell, Matt Chamberlain, Omar Hakim, Mark Guiliana, John Lousteau, Gregg Errico, Andy Newark; Backing vocals: Gaby Moreno, Everett Bradley, Robin Clark, Emm Gryner, Ava Cherry, Simon Westbrook; Percussion: Pablo Rosario; Sax: David Sanborn, Clare Hirst, Stan Harrison. I am sure I have missed some names, but thank you to one and all this was a very special event and Mr Bowie would have loved it!

All the photos and videos were found online. If they are yours and you would like a credit or want them taken down please let me know

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Play It Again Mayhem – “Haitian Divorce” – Steely Dan December 31, 2020


This is the sixth song in the Play It Again Mayhem series which began earlier this year. Check out the earlier posts by clicking here (Betty Wright), here (Elton John), here (Roxy Music)  here (The O’Jays) and here (John Miles). This one is another from the 70s, and it is from Steely Dan. This was the third single released from the band’s 1976 album ‘The Royal Scam’. It never appeared on the US charts but reached number 17 in the UK. The song is “Haitian Divorce” which takes it’s title and much of the story told in the lyrics from the easy divorces available in Haiti to foreigners, particularly Americans. It was so simple that it only needed one partner to be there and the divorce could be finalised in a matter of hours.

The song tells the story of a woman who goes to Haiti to get a divorce, she has a brief fling with a Haitian man, fails to get the divorce and nine months later gives birth to a half Haitian baby. The mention of Papa in the lyrics is interpreted in two ways. Firstly as her father telling her to go back and get the divorce, and secondly as the voice of Haitian ruler at the time, Papa Doc Duvalier, who encouraged divorce tourism. The song was written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. It was Becker who used a Talk Box on the song over Dean Park’s guitar. Perhaps the most famous proponent of the Talk Box was Peter Frampton on ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. Enjoy the song, I love the jazzy, laid back reggae feel of the track, Why not sing along too? The lyrics are copied below. Please not that the second video is by a rather good Steely Dan tribute band, Steely Damned II

Lyrics
Babs and Clean Willie were in love they said
So in love the preacher’s face turned red
Soon everybody knew the thing was dead
He shouts, she bites, they wrangle through the night
She go crazy
Got to make a getaway
Papa say
Oh – no hesitation
No tears and no hearts breakin’
No remorse
Oh – congratulations
This is your Haitian Divorce
She takes the taxi to the good hotel
Bon marche as far as she can tell
She drinks the zombie from the cocoa shell
She feels alright, she get it on tonight
Mister driver
Take me where the music play
Papa say
Oh – no hesitation
No tears and no hearts breakin’
No remorse
Oh – congratulations
This is your Haitian Divorce
At the Grotto
In the greasy chair
Sits the Charlie with the lotion and the kinky hair
When she smiled, she said it all
The band was hot so
They danced the famous Merengue
Now we dolly back
Now we fade to black
Tearful reunion in the USA
Day by day those memories fade away
Some babies grow in a peculiar way
It changed, it grew, and everybody knew
Semi-mojo
Who’s this kinky so-and-so?
Papa go
Oh – no hesitation
No tears and no hearts breakin’
No remorse
Oh – congratulations
This is your Haitian Divorce

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“We’ll build a glass asylum, with just a hint of mayhem” January 8, 2018


Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big David Bowie fan. This began in July 1972 when I witnessed that now-iconic performance of “Starman” on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. I was lucky enough to see him play live ten times from 1976 to 2004 and I still buy every release, and to be fair there have been many since his death nearly two years ago. I recently received the latest in the seven-inch vinyl picture disc series, the 40th-anniversary release of the “Beauty And The Beast” single. It has a terrific version of “Blackout” on the B Side. Today would have been the Dame’s 71st birthday, I know to many of you that probably sounds old, but it is only 12 years older than me! Obviously like many fans, I was saddened by his passing, but I am still somewhat freaked out by the amount of on-line Bowie fans that still speak of their despair at his loss, how they still wake up crying.

But enough of that morbidity, I do still celebrate the birthday of the late David Robert Jones. On a work day that means that I wear my David Bowie cuff links as I did today. I also received a few more David Bowie related books at Christmas, I think I now own around 70 in total. One of those Christmas presents was ‘David Bowie – A Life’ by Dylan Jones. Jones met and interviewed Bowie on many occasions and he uses that material along with old and new interviews with many people who were a part of the world of David Bowie. This includes the Spiders From Mars, Dana Gillespie, Bob Harris, Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton, Nina Simone, Mick Rock, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Bebe Buell and Coco Schwab to name just a few. The book is organised chronologically and is incredibly well put together. In my opinion it is beyond doubt the best Bowie biography for many years and easily the best to be published since his demise. It is tasteful and manages to unearth a few things that personally I had never read before; How he had tried to reform the Spiders From Mars in 1978 and how in the US in the early 1970s someone turned up at his hotel suite and offered him a still warm, dead body to have sex with. In respect of the latter he was apparently visibly shocked and upset and turned the offer down. When he lived in Mustique at a property he used to own there he often referred to one drink from the cocktail menu in Basil’s Bar as a Penis Colada.

This evening I have also dug out the magnificent Alan Yentob documentary ‘Cracked Actor’ from the mid-70s. It is a fascinating portrait of a talented man in a spiral of cocaine addiction and ensuing paranoia. In many ways it is a magnificent insider view of the transition from the Halloween Jack character of the post-apocalyptic tales on ‘Diamond Dogs’ into the white soul boy of ‘Young Americans’. If you have never seen it, whether you are a fan or not you should check it out. From just the social history perspective it is truly fascinating. This is a bit of a Bowie ramble I know, but I haven’t done a Bowie post for a while, well apart from the specific one about the song “Andy Warhol” back in December. I don’t really need an excuse to play some Bowie tunes, but a 71st birthday and the impending second anniversary of his death works for me. Let’s celebrate the Dame’s wonderful recordings together, what is your favourite David Bowie song? My top three favourites are currently; “Quicksand”, “Young Americans” and “Lady Grinning Soul“.

As a footnote the eagle-eyed readers and bat-eared listeners may have sussed out where I took the title of my blog from, go on take a guess!

 

“Fleet Street looked everywhere and the Police did too” a.k.a 10 Lords a leaping December 22, 2012


10_lords_leaping

As if I wasn’t struggling for space already my true love has now given me 10 lords a leaping. It was bad enough trying to keep the 9 ladies dancing still while I put them in storage yesterday, but these 10 Lords are even more feisty. Anyway you have probably worked out that it is now day 10 in my 12 days of Christmas series of posts; hence the 10 Lords a leaping. Unlike some of the earlier bird related gifts the Lords are not yet an endangered species, but given the movement for House Of Lords reform I’d like to think that they will be endangered in the future!

George-Harrison

I have selected two Lord related songs for you today. Starting with the first ever solo number one by a member of the Beatles. It’s none other than the Quiet One, George Harrison with “My Sweet Lord” which made it to the top of the charts in 1971 in the UK, US, Canada, Austria, Switzerland and Norway to name but a few. It returned to the number one spot in the UK in 2002 following the George’s death two months earlier. The song comes from what in my opinion is one of the best albums released in the 70s, ‘All Things Must Pass’. Too much has been written about the ridiculous plagiarism that was brought against Harrison over his songs apparent similarity to the Chiffons “He’s So Fine” so I’ll say no more on that.

georgeharrison__span

But what I find interesting is the stories and rumours about who may have played on the recording of the song. some of those stories include; Ringo Starr on tambourine, John Lennon on rhythm guitar, all four members of Badfinger taking part along with Gary Wright and some rhythm guitar parts overdubbed by Peter Frampton later. Harrison originally worked up the song with Billy Preston as part of a wish to write a gospel song. At one stage Harrison allegedly wanted to give the song to the famous gospel group the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

BEATLES FIRST US VISIT 1964

The song has been covered in the studio or in live performance by quite a diverse group of artists including; Richie Havens, Andy Williams, John Holt, Edwin Starr, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Julio Iglesias, Boy George, Osibisa, Nina Hagen and Jose Feliciano. There was also a somewhat cheeky “My Sweet Lord” cover released in 1975 by the Chiffons. Perhaps George should have sued them for that!

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The second song choice today is “Lord Lucan Is Missing” from one of my favourite acts of the 90s/ 00s, Black Box Recorder. The band never really set the charts alight, but they have always been a great live attraction, Sadly I have so far never seen them live. The studio nucleus of the band is Sarah Nixey, Luke Haines formerly of the Auteurs and John Moores once a member of the Jesus and Mary Chain. The song featured on the bands first album, ‘England Made Me’ from 1998. That album also contained a couple of great cover versions too; “Up Town Top Ranking” (Althea and Donna) and “Seasons In The Sun” (Terry Jacks).

black_box_recorder_2_1_

Since his disappearance in 1974 Lord Lucan has allegedly been sighted in every corner of the globe, none of these have so far proved to be real but included; France, Goa, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia and Colombia. Lord Lucan, or to give him his full name and title, Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, would have just turned 78 if he is still alive. Personally I think he is probably long dead. What do you think?

Blimey Freddie Mercury looks a bit grumpy doesn't he?

Blimey Freddie Mercury looks a bit grumpy doesn’t he?

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