It’s the weekend! ‘Sunny’ by Bobby Hebb. Enjoy.
I had one of these this weekend – a hungover and slightly paranoid ‘Sunday Morning’. “Watch out, the world’s behind you, there’s always someone watching you.” ‘Sunday Morning’ is off Velvet Underground’s classic 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico. The song kicks off the album. And the first sounds are the Sugar Plum Fairy keyboards of John Cale. It’s a captivating start – to the week.
Released in 1966, ‘Black Is Black’ was the debut single by Los Bravos. It was covered by a number of acts, but was notably translated into Johnny Halliday’s repertoire in the same year. Those frenchies were sensible enough to include an upbeat (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) rhythm that Earl Van Dyke and his Funk Brothers would have been proud of. Also, most topically, the video is reminiscent of my daughter’s Christmas dance extravaganza this weekend. Have a great week.
In soul circles, Luther Ingram’s 1966 recording on the HIB Records is just as famous for its call-to-dance instrumental B-side ‘Exus Trek’. Essentially the same track with vocals, ‘If It’s All The Same To You Babe’ also benefits from an incredible backing band – reputedly the Funk Brothers, Motown’s house band, moonlighting with a couple of session violinists. Popcorn Wylie wrote the track and it was recorded in Golden World Records, Detroit.
I am embarrassed to say that I was first introduced to ‘Canto de Ossanha’ by alternative rapsters Jurassic 5. I like their cover a lot, but it’s not a scratch on Baden Powell’s original take that featured as the opening track on Powell and Vinicius de Moraes’ 1966 long player Os Afro-Sambas. As the title suggests, this was ground zero for afro sambas. You can hear the influence it had on the global music scene. Do take some time to watch the YouTube clip – a virtuoso.
I began and end the week with songs so ingrained in my make-up, that it is hard to put into words how they may have shaped ‘my music’. I might just have to take this sublime number with me to my proverbial desert. Off the equally brilliant Pet Sounds, the track features layering of vocals, instruments, strings, organs, harpsichords, flutes and what sounds like sleigh bells and some clippety clops. And god only knows what gave those straight-laced boys the audacity to start off a song: “I may not always love you”. Divine intervention. The Beatles’ were listening here, there and everywhere. Have a great weekend.
I went to a talk by Lars Ulrich last week as part of the Metallica’s publicity around their new movie Metallica: Through the Never. It was on the invite of a good friend and so I took the opportunity to remind myself of their heyday sounds. I continue to be more interested in their show than their music and so was happily surprised to hear ‘L’Estasi dell’Oro’ at the start of a Moscow production of ‘Enter Sandman’ in 1991. Written by Ennio Morricone for the Sergio Leone film The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, the original and unparalleled ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ features the vocals of Edda Dell’Orso. Metallica have covered it many times themselves. No comment.
After losing the composer credits to his band The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, Richard Ashcroft commented, “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years.” It seems there is a fine line between honouring and plagiarising. The Verve had even negotiated a licence to sample Andrew Oldham Orchestra’s own derivative of The Rolling Stones’ song ‘The Last Time, but The Verve’s success and extensive sampling had proved too much. Ashcroft’s credits were reassigned to Jagger and Richards, who obviously needed the money from any associated settlement.
Dance comes in many forms. Continuing the run of vintage sounds from 1966, next up we have this rare Northern Soul classic from The Steinways. Despite the downbeat title, ‘My Heart’s Not In It Anymore’ has got a contrasting upbeat rhythm to match the best of Motown. And the YouTube video makes for a surreal partnership. Happy New Year!
Subscribers will have seen some accidental pre-releases of some dance sounds I have been pulling together to mark NYE. Apologies for the clumsiness! Garage rock in the sixties was one of those scenes, like punk a decade after it, in which you didn’t need to have a band full of talented musicians to take part. As such, it tended to be repetitive, catchy and great fun. ’96 Tears’ is a classic example. Happy New Year.
After a slow morning in the snowy Alps, I am smiling at the reports of nighttime queues for the Boxing Day sales at Next in Kingston, my home town. Before I left for the mountains, I could not help but notice that TK Maxx were using this absolute classic boost their festive footfall. Released a year after the success and confidence that is Otis Blue, Redding would again create an entirely new form through cover. Previously recorded by Aretha and Sam Cooke, ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ would benefit from Booker T. & the MG’s support, Isaac Hayes’ arrangements and Redding’s vocal powers. Incomparable. “Sock it to me.”
‘Tell It Like It Is’ is a song penned by George Davis and Lee Diamond, but known as Aaron Neville’s, who released it as a single in 1966. Apparently, Art Neville said, “Bro, this is the shit right here,” on hearing the song. Goodness knows what the The Meters front man thought of Aaron’s ‘Hercules’ – the funk masterpiece that got me thinking about Aaron Neville after yesterday’s post. But the truth is that he would never trump ‘Tell It Like It Is’. The vocals are a cut above.
Stevie Winwood had good taste. His evident R&B-inspired sound was more rhythm than the bluesy sound of most of his contemporaries. This was never more brilliantly flaunted in their use of the baseline from Homer Banks’s ‘A Lot Of Love‘. ‘Gimme Some Lovin” was released in 1966 and had a renaissance in 1980, when featured in John Landis’s ‘Blues Brothers’. The influence of Ray Charles was clear to hear.