With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“Walks around all day long singing this song” June 30, 2014


bobby womack 09

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-Womack_510x317

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

 

“I got a story I want to tell gather round me” December 9, 2012


bobbywomack

The Guardian published an excellent Q & A with Bobby Womack recently. I won’t list the whole article, but if you want to read it just click here. There were a couple of interesting mentions of Wilson Pickett and Sam Cooke. Apparently Mr Cooke liked to wear Estee Lauder.

albarnwomac

There was also a reminder about how recently segregation existed in the USA, certainly and sadly well within my lifetime. But two little things took my interest. One is that Bobby’s favourite word is love and his greatest fear is cats. Surely he has to record a cover of the Cure‘s “Love Cats”. Have you heard his award-winning album ‘Bravest Man In The Universe’ yet? You should have, what’s keeping you? But is it right that the bravest man in the universe is scared of cats?

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“With your bonuses and expenses you shovelled down your throat. Now you bit the hand that fed you Dear God I hope you choke” January 3, 2012


I’d like to thank my friend Stuart O’Hara for suggesting the theme of this post. Edwyn Collins once said ‘too many protest singers, not enough protest songs’. Strangely that was a lyric from his 90s hit “A Girl Like You” which doesn’t seem to be a protest song itself. That dear reader is the thrust of this blog post; where are all the protest singers and protest songs? The world economy is collapsing, riot and revolution is rife, wars and indiscriminate bombings are commonplace and UK politics is at best inept and the USA is trillions of dollars in debt and dancing with the idea of electing an idiotic republican candidate far more stupid than even Dubya was. So where are all the protests from the music world?

Aside from the fact that a legitimate protest song would probably not get played on mainstream radio and would need to ‘go viral’ on-line, where the hell are they? Where are this generation’s Woody Guthries, Pete Seegers, Bob Dylans and Billy Braggs? OK I know there have been a few good attempts since the Specials summed up Britain in song in 1981 with “Ghost Town”. Notably “Killing In The Name Of” from Rage Against The Machine and perhaps “American Idiot” from Green Day. But what happened to the establishment/ ‘the man’ being scared of rock music? It’s all become too corporate and bland.

U2 and Coldplay have tried to use their muscle to protest against various wrongs in the world, but frankly are their hearts really in it? Radiohead have supported the free Tibet campaign amongst others, but could they do more? Dylan is getting too old, Bragg doesn’t have the fanbase size required (but is still flying the flag), Springsteen and Weller have been quiet of late on the protest front and Marvin Gaye, Marley, Lennon and Strummer are sadly no longer with us.

The environment must be right for a new movement to shake up the old order just like punk did in the 70s and rave and grunge did in the 80s and 90s. The charts are stuffed full of manipulated, impresario created pop muppets; Little Mix, Matt Cardle, Olly Murs etc. It is time to stand up and be counted good people of the blogosphere. We need some strong protest songs to unite all those fighting for freedom and change. Let’s shake up that complacent bunch of career politicians in Westminster and political ivory towers across the world. Frank Turner, Show Of Hands, Neil Young you can do this we need you now! Will somebody please step forward?

In the meantime here are some classic protest songs. I would love to hear your opinions of protest songs and singers;

 

“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 🙂

 

“I drank the potion she offered me, I found myself on the floor” March 4, 2009


Hello good people of Blogworld and welcome to the 4th March 2009 unless of course you use a different calendar! In which case….. Just Hello 🙂

So let’s get on with the show shall we? Here we go with todays birthdays Bobby Womack is 65 today so at least he’ll get a free bus ride “Across 110th Street” now! For a period in the late 50’s/ early 60’s Bobby was the guitarist in the late great (l’s & g’s ra ra ra!) Sam Cooke’s band. His own group, the Valentinos were signed to Cooke’s record label. The Valentino’s final hit in 1964 which reached only number 94 in the US charts is a song that many of you probably know. It was the prophetically titled (for the Valentinos at least) “It’s All Over Now” which was a UK number 1 for the Rolling Stones. In a bizarre twist of fate (well in my opinion anyway) after the murder of Sam Cooke in 1964 Bobby married his widow Barbara. The couple divorced in 1970 at about the same time Bobby met Sly Stone (of Sly & the Family Stone fame) and embarked on a drugs and groupies binge, with Mr Stone, that apparently lasted for much of the 70’s. Bobby made a triumphant return to music in 1981 with the classic album “The Poet”. I for one can’t get enough of the great voice of Mr Womack so have a two for the price of one offer, well ok they’re both free! Firstly “Across 110th Street” followed by “Harry Hippie

Bobby really liked to live the song when the audience requested a cover of "Lady In Red" (This caption was supplied by CatWoman!)

Bobby really liked to live the song when the audience requested a cover of "Lady In Red" (This caption was supplied by CatWoman!)

It is also the 32nd birthday of the leader of the Lemonheads Mr Evan Dando. The trio had a hit in 1993 with a splendid cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs Robinson” Evan also made a great lyric change at the request of the BBC when performing the song “Big Gay Heart” on ‘Top Of The Pops’. If you’re offended by sexual wording please skip to the next item in the post! You have been warned ok! A particular lyric in the song reads “I don’t need you to suck my dick” which for the show was changed to “I don’t need you to duck my sick”. Some would say gross, I say pretty funny, but then I’m told that I do have a mind like a sewer 😉
Here are Evan and the boys performing that cover of “Mrs Robinson” on UK TV show ‘The Word’ Incidentally whatever happened to Dani Behr?

He had eaten the same amount of lemons as the rest of the band so why wasn't he as tall as the other guys?

He had eaten the same amount of lemons as the rest of the band so why wasn't he as tall as the other guys?

On this day in 1966 John Lennon made his now famous or indeed infamous (depending on which side of the fence you’re on) statement about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus. Anyway the verbatim quote from that article is ‘Christianity will go,’ he said. ‘It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first-rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.’ Click anywhere on it for the full article, which is from the ‘Evening Standard’ a UK newspaper. It caused barely a ripple of interest in the UK when it was published but when it reached the US all hell broke loose (no pun intended by the way). In my opinion John had every right to say what he said, for me that is what freedom of speech is about. The furore his remarks created in the US led to mass anti Beatle rallies and the burning of Beatle records and memorabilia. I would love to know what the people who did this felt they had achieved apart from release more toxins into the environment. It’s almost as bad as all the people who burned copies of the Harry Potter books without reading them, idiots! OK rant over, what does everyone else think of this particular Beatles incident? Just to recap you can see the Beatles press conference that covers this issue if you click here

No comment (just in case someone burns my CD collection!)

No comment (just in case someone burns my CD collection!)

For actual proof that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus click here 😉

Also on this day Glenn Hughes from the Village People died of lung cancer aged just 50. If you’re interested he was the one dressed as a biker and had an enormous tache. The group were very much manufactured in that French Composer Jacques Morali had heard Victor Willis (the cop) singing backing vocals in a studio and offered him the chance to front a new sound he was creating. He was the voice on the first self titled Village People album in 1977. Hughes himself was first spotted by Morali while working as a toll collector at the Brooklyn Tunnel. Here are the boys with a classic slice of 70’s disco “In The Navy” For the fact fans, did you know that the US Navy almost used this song as part of a recruitment drive? Well they did used to say ‘all the nice girls (or perhaps boys) love a sailor’ didn’t they?

Y M C LEGO anyone?

Y M C LEGO anyone?

And finally on this day in 2003 Sian Davies aged 23 a Cliff Richard fan from Wales had her hifi equipment seized after numerous complaints from her neighbours that she was constantly playing Cliff Richard’s music at loud volumes. She was fined nearly £1,000. In all two CD players, a midi system, a record player, two cassette players, five speakers , 80 CD’s and 155 cassettes were confiscated by the authorities. Surely it would have been cheaper to make her buy some headphones? Sir Cliff’s management company said that they did not condone anyone causing a noise nuisance but were ‘delighted’ that Sir Cliff had such a young fan. Delighted? I was more shocked and surprised, but then to each their own at least she wasn’t playing Robbie! Perhaps Sir Cliff also thought that Sian was a bit of a “Devil Woman

When asked if he had heard the noise Sian Davies had been making he replied "Yes, I heard it through the grapevine"

When asked if he had heard the noise Sian Davies had been making he replied "Yes, I heard it through the grapevine"

 

 
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