When Smokey Robinson wrote “Being With You” he had hoped that with Kim Carnes would record it. But he soon learned when he played it to George Tobin who had been Kim’s producer that the pair no longer worked together. So Smokey recorded the song himself. It got as far as number 2 in the US chart. Ironically it was kept off the number one spot by “Bette Davis Eyes”, sung by Kim Carnes.
We’re inching closer to that fine old Yuletide celebration good people of the blogosphere and I would like to help it be a really cool Yule with my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar. What do you think of it so far?…………. RUBBISH! Oh i see there are a few Morecambe and Wise fans out there. Anyway we’re now at December 16th and (rather obviously) it is day 16 of the advent calendar. It’s the letter P today and it is one of the few songs in the Motown canon that is effectively to Various Artists. the song in question is “Pops, We love You” or to give it’s full title “Pops We love You (A Tribute To Father)”
The song was written as a tribute to Motown Supremo Berry Gordy‘s father who had been his spiritual and business mentor and guide. he also did the same for many of the artists in Berry’s Motown family. Berry Gordy Jr’s Dad was named Berry Gordy Sr but was known by many very affectionately as Pops. (My dad shared a name with me, perhaps I should add the Junior bit to my name). The song was written and recorded as a special tribute in 1978 a short while after Pops died from cancer, a disease which he had fought for some time.
It was written produced by Marilyn Mcleod and Pam Sawyer and also formed the centrepiece of a ‘Pops, We love You’ album. The album bought Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye together as a duet for the first time since 1973’s ‘Diana and Marvin’ album. That song was called “I’ll Keep My Light In My Window”. Unlike that 1973 album they actually recorded the new song whilst in the studio together. They were joined on the Pops tribute song by Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder.
Berry wonders what exactly has landed on Diana's head
Marvin, Diana and Smokey recorded their parts together in Motown’s LA Studios. Stevie Wonder’s vocals were added later as he was bunkered down in another studio recording what was for me a very underrated and misunderstood soundtrack album called ‘Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants“.
Diana was very proud of her incredibly large muff
“Pops, We Love You” reached number 59 on the Billboard charts in the US and number 66 in the UK. It did make number 26 in the US R & B charts though. I used to own the 12 inch vinyl copy of the song, but now I just have a version on a Motown compilation CD. The song was also the last UK chart hit with Marvin’s name on it on the Motown label, but he did go on to score a few other hits on the Columbia label. Most notably with “Sexual Healing”. but for now I hope that you enjoy todays song “Pops, We Love You (A Tribute To Father)”
Smokey and the Miracles really tried their best to help out in the promotion of my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar
Have you been good? Will Santa bring you lots of goodies (I mean as in presents as opposed to Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie of course)? I hope you are getting excited anyway as we’re now on day 15 of my ABC of Motown Advent Calendar, yes folks it’s December 15th and it’s the letter O. the song is from one of my favourite Motown voices, Smokey Robinson. It comes from his days with the Miracles and it is “Ooo Baby Baby”
The song was written by Smokey and Pete Moore of the Miracles. The strings were arranged by Pete Moore. As is usual with almost all Motown hits it was the supremely talented Funk Brothers who provided the backing. “Ooo Baby Baby” reached number 16 in the US chart in 1965. A cover version of the song by Linda Ronstadt hit number 7 in the US in 1979. sadly it never charted in the UK. It has been covered by many other artists in addition to Ronstadt; including Todd Rundgren, Ella Fitzgerald and Shalamar who covered it as part of their “Uptown Festival” hit from 1977. That recording was actually a medley of classic Motown hits.
Smokey’s real name is William Robinson Jnr. His Uncle Claude gave him the nickname ‘Smokey Joe’ when Smokey was a boy. Smokey initially thought of it as his cowboy name, but as he got older his Uncle explained that as young Master Robinson was quite light-skinned it was a name to remind him of his roots. He dropped the Joe part of the nickname when he was a teenager. A couple of Smokey’s children also have interesting names too. There is a son called Berry, named after Motown President Berry Gordy. Smokey was Vice President of the label from 1961 until 1988. He also has a daughter called Tamla named after a label from the Motown portfolio. Those Motown fans from the UK will be very familiar with the amalgamated name the label took in Europe where it was known as Tamla Motown.
He also gets a mention in a couple of hit songs too. Firstly there is the sublime “Genius Of Love” from Talking Heads offshoot the Tom Tom Club in 1981. Most notably though he was the main man in ABC’s 1987 hit “When Smokey Sings”
These two music deaths almost passed me by, they certainly didn’t seem to get much in the way of column inches in the UK press. But on July 6th Harvey Fuqua died of a heart attack aged 80 and on July 10th Sugar Minott died aged just 54, the cause of his death has not yet been announced but he was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2009. So I won’t let their passing go unmarked in my blog!
Harvey Fuqua in the Moonglows along with a very young Marvin Gaye
Harvey Fuqua first came to prominence in a group called the Moonglows along with a certain Mr Marvin Gaye. He had quite a musical pedigree. His Uncle, Charlie Fuqua was a member of the Ink Spots and he was also married to Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen. he was responsible for bringing the Spinners (aka the Detroit Spinners and the Motown Spinners in the UK) and Johnny Bristol to Motown. He went on to produce quite a few hits with Bristol. He worked closely with Marvin Gaye and it was Fuqua’s idea that Marvin record a series of duets with Tammi Terrell. He was the producer on Gaye’s first post Motown album ‘Midnight Love’ which featured the classic “Sexual Healing” In the late 70s Harvey discovered the late, great Disco artist Sylvester and produced two of his biggest hits; “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” My favourite Slyvester cut though is “Was It Something That I Said?” Mr Fuqua had such a rich musical history and career he will be sadly missed. Click on the song title to hear a great duet he did with the wonderful Etta James, called “If I Can’t Have You” (which incidentally is not the same as the Yvonne Elliman song of the same name from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Harvey Fuqua with Stella Ragland and Smokey Robinson
Lincoln Barrington Minott began his career as a member of the African Brothers in 1969. Here they are with “Hold Tight” from 1970. He went on to record with top Jamaican producers; Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd and Rupie Edwards. He relocated to the UK from Jamaica in 1980 and had his biggest UK chart success with a cover of an old Michael Jackson song “Good Thing Going” which reached number 4 in 1981. He recorded hundreds of tracks during his career. In 2006 he appeared on the Easy Stars album of Radiohead covers, titled ‘Radiodread’. He provided guest vocals on the track “Exit Music (For A Film)” Click on the song title for one of my favourite Minott songs, “Lovers Rock“. So like Mr Fuqua the music industry has lost another very talented man.
Hello once again dear blog readers. My blog has been going for around 7 weeks now so I thought I’d check some of the stats available on WordPress. Firstly here is the top 10 search items (and number of searches) that people have used and found their way here;
1 pink floyd 431
2 kate bush 157
3 johnny cash 123
4 johnny winter 88
5 george harrison 73
6 smokey robinson 69
7 the smiths 62
8 dire straits 43
9 the byrds 39
10 tim buckley 23
I’m really pleased to see that Kate Bush is doing so well, I’m also quite amazed by the sheer volume of Pink Floyd searches. If you found your way here from searching I’d love to hear from you! As she did so well here is a picture of the delectable Ms Bush
"Oh England My Leotard" perhaps?
Some of you may recall that we also ran an experiment some weeks ago to see if it was possible to drive people to the blog by including a particular phrase, that phrase being ‘Lily Allen Naked’. Well I can report some success, ‘Lily Allen Naked’ is in fact the 18th most popular search item ,with 13 searches , to arrive here. Although clearly all those 13 people (although it could be one person 13 times) will have been disappointed as there are no naked pics of Lily here. So apologies to you folks. I’d love to hear from you too, although obviously I’ll understand if you wish to remain anonymous 😉
Of all the many links I include in my posts I can also confirm that the two most clicked items have been the Myspace pages for ‘Soft Toy Emergency‘ (7 clicks) and my son Luke’s band ‘Steal The Smile‘ (9 clicks). click on their names to increase their total clicks.
OK enough of the stats, numbers excite me but perhaps not everyone! On to the tried and tested format and kicking off with a birthday. Mr Eric Clapton is 64 today. Did he ever cover the Beatles “When I’m 64”? Perhaps he should now! He has been a part of many bands in his time; the Roosters, Casey Jones and the Engineers, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes. Indeed he was also one of the few non Beatles to play on a Beatles song. He played guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. George Harrison returned the favour by guesting on the fantastic “Badge” by Cream. Click on the song title to see Eric with a live version of the song from the 80’s, watch out for Phil Collins on drums!
Eric discusses matrimonial time share plans with George
There are quite a few ‘onthisdays’ for March 30th starting with on this day in 1967 the photo session for the cover of the Beatles ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album took place at Chelsea Manor Studios
Just in case there is anyone on the planet that hasn't seen this album cover here it is again 🙂
Also on this day in 1976 the Sex Pistols played at the 100 Club in London for the first time. They began a weekly residency there in June 1976. One of my biggest musical regrets is that I turned down the opportunity to see the Pistols live in late 1976. They were playing at Brunel University near where I grew up. I’m sorry to say that I chose to stay in the pub!
The other guys always thought it was hilarious to set Glen's microphone stand too high for him
On this day in 1978 Paul Simonon and Nicky ‘Topper’ Headon off of the Clash were arrested in Camden Town, London after shooting pigeons with air guns from the roof of Chalk Farm Studios. It was later discovered that these were prize winning and very expensive racing pigeons. It required four police cars and a helicopter to make the arrest. The pairs fines totaled £800
Once they had established exactly where the Clash were they would avenge the death of their brothers by dropping pigeon shit bombs
Also in 1978 on this day U2 won £500 and a chance to audition for CBS Ireland in a talent contest which was held in Dublin and sponsored by Guinness. Strange fact of the day, Guinness, which I really enjoy, began life 200 years before I did!
Bono puts his hand up to attract the teachers attention as he desperately needs to pee
And finally on this day in 2000 Sir Michael Jagger off of the Rolling Stones paid a visit to his old school, Dartford Grammar. He was there to open a new arts centre bearing his name. He was quoted as saying that he spent the worst years of his life at school!
Mick's old school uniform clearly didn't fit him anymore
Well I guess yesterday says and awful lot about those regular readers and many of the new ones. I include one fart clip and the views reach their highest in the history of this blog, well I know that history only stretches 9 days, but even so. Some of you who know me may have heard this before, but I have a theory that one day we just wake up and we’ve become mature. How do we know? What are the signs? Well for me I reckon my wardrobe will be full of nylon shirts, polyester trousers, sensible slip on shoes, a flat cap and a proper anorak. But that won’t be the real sign, the real indication will be that fart jokes are no longer funny. I can happily point out though that even though I’m now 50 years young fart jokes are still bloody hilarious. oh and my wardrobe still has plenty of jeans, t-shirts and my Converse All Stars
So what did you all think of the Brits then? I’ve posted my thoughts separately so I won’t bore you with them here. You’ll find them just below this post.
So onto the usual mundane mishmash of Birthdays and Onthisdays and maybe some other stuff too. Firstly 19th February 2009 is the 69th birthday of the supremely talented Mr William ‘Smokey’ Robinson. Smokey is not only a gifted singer, songwriter and producer but he was also appointed Vice President of Motown Records by Berry Gordy in 1972, which was the year the company moved from Detroit to LA. Robert Zimmerman (that’s Bob Dylan to the uninitiated) once called Smokey “the world’s greatest living poet” just listen to some of Smokey’s excellent lyrics and you’ll see why. “Tears Of A Clown” is a lyrical masterpiece in my opinion especially the way he manages to mention Pagliacci, give it a listen. You know the drill, click on the songs title. But my favourite Smokey composition is “The Love I Saw In You (Was Just A Mirage)” , here it is by the Jackson 5.
Smokey and the boys at their Butlins, Bognor residency!
Today is also the 63rd birthday of Pierre Van Den Linden off of Focus a very successful Dutch rock band who were very big in the early 70s. They had two top 20 singles in the UK in 1973, “Sylvia” and “Hocus Pocus” He left the band in 1974 but joined up with Thijs Van Leer from the original band in 2004 and they continue to tour. Here are the band performing both songs on the UKs classic show the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ in 1972. Oh I should point out that Focus were largely an instrumental group apart from the odd bits of wordless vocalising and yodelling!
There is definitely some cymbalism in this picture!
The final birthday for today is that of Seal perhaps most famous for “Kiss From A Rose” He had his first his as ‘featuring seal’ when he did the vocals for Adamski’s UK number 1, “Killer” in April 1990. Seal rerecorded his own version and took it to number 8 in the UK in November 1991. Seal was given up at birth by his mother Adebisi to a white foster family in Essex although she took him back when he was four. His full name is Sealhenry Samuel. The scars on his face are from contracting the disease Lupus in his early 20s. Here is the video for the Adamski and Seal version of “Killer“. Don’t you just love the jaunty angle at which Adamski wears his baseball cap and doesn’t Seal look young? Mind you that is nearly 20 years ago now!
No one ever seemed to want go clubbing with Seal!
On this day in 1977 Manfred Mann’s Earthband were number one in the USA with a Bruce Springsteen composition “Blinded By The Light“. Click the song title to see and hear the band play it live on a 70s TV show. It was also, I believe, the first UK hit with a Bruce Springsteen song. The Earthband had a unique selling point for one of their early albums. They gave away a small piece of Wales with each copy of “The Good Earth” sold.
Manfred Manns Earth Band
Now this next one is a strange ‘On This Day’ for the story covers this day in 1972 AND 1994 and relates to the same song. That song is the classic “Without You”. On this day in 1972 it was a UK number one for Harry Nilsson and on this day in 1994 it was a UK number one again, this time for Mariah Carey. The original version of the song was recorded as an album track by Badfinger and was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of the band. Things ended very tragically for Pete and Tim, both committed suicide by hanging themselves in 1975 and 1983 respectively. On a brighter note it’s strange that whilst Harry Nilsson wrote some excellent songs his two biggest hits, “Without You” and “Everybody’s Talking” were both written by others. “Without You” has become something of a standard for balladeers on talent shows such as X Factor and American Idol to the extent that in 2008, Valentina Hasan, a contestant of Music Idol Bulgaria, sang her own version of “Without You” in extremely broken English. It came to be known as “Ken Lee,” the video of Hasan’s performance was a big hit on You Tube. So that you can make up your own mind here are four versions;
And almost finally for today, not quite a fart clip, but in the same region so to speak. On this day in 2004 Johnny Cash’s family blocked an attempt to use his classic song “Ring Of Fire” to promote haemorrhoid products. I can understand how they must have felt and I suppose they didn’t really need ‘piles’ of money either 🙂
Johnny shows the best way to treat haemorrhoids, don't forget to wash afterwards though!
And finally today here is another fart clip, a music related one in fact. But don’t worry this will not be a regular feature, maybe an occasional one though, especially if you have any music related flatulence clips. Anyway this is a track that came out in the late 70’s it was by Ivor Biggun and the Red Nosed Burglars and the song was “I’ve Parted (Misprint)” can you guess what the misprint was? The song never charted although it’s predecessor did, that was called “The Winkers Song (Misprint)” obviously back in those days we didn’t have spell check! Incidentally fact fans Ivor Biggun was in fact a made up name, his real name was Robert ‘Doc’ Cox and he is a British musician and former television journalist. He is perhaps best remembered for his appearances on the BBC programme “That’s Life” during the 80s.
Bye for now good people and the bad ones too, obviously!