portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Classic songs of all time . . . this one by Carole King

On this day in music history: July 31, 1971 - “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Carole King, it is the biggest hit for the Boston, MA born singer, songwriter and musician. After the major breakthrough success James Taylor has with his second studio album “Sweet Baby James” in 1970, he and producer Peter Asher (Peter & Gordon) return to the studio in January of 1971 to begin recording the follow up. While working on his third album, Taylor contributes background vocals and guitar to his friend Carole King’s album “Tapestry”, which she is working on at the same time. King records the song “You’ve Got A Friend” on her album first, and after hearing it, James asks if he can record it for his album and King says “yes”. Issued as the first single from Taylor’s third album “Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon” in May of 1971, it quickly becomes an instant classic and a mainstay on top 40 pop radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on June 5, 1971, it reaches the top of the chart eight weeks later. “You’ve Got A Friend” also wins Taylor his first Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, as well as winning songwriter Carole King the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year in 1972. “You’ve Got A Friend” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves

On this day in music history: July 30, 1988 - “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, topping the Mainstream Rock chart for 4 weeks on June 25, 1988, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on August 6, 1988, and peaking at #30 on the R&B singles chart on August 13, 1988. Written by Steve Winwood, Will Jennings, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Handsworth, Birmingham, UK. Following the huge success of his multi-platinum selling and multiple Grammy winning album “Back In The High Life”, Steve Winwood leaves Island Records, his label home of over twenty years when Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Records offers the musician a lucrative contract with the label. When Winwood begins work on his first album for his new label, he collaborates once again with lyricist Will Jennings, having co-written several hits together including “While You See A Chance”, “Valerie”, “The Finer Things” and “Higher Love”. The pair write seven of the new album’s eight songs including the title track “Roll With It”. Heavily influenced by R&B music throughout his life, and having recently relocated to Tennessee after meeting and marrying his second wife Eugenia, Winwood begins writing a song with a strong Memphis Soul/Motown feel that becomes “Roll With It”. When the track is recorded, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love (aka The Memphis Horns) are recruited to play on the song. Released in late May of 1988, as the first single and title track to his fifth solo album, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #53 on June 11, 1988, it races to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Roll With It” receives a pair of Grammy nominations in 1989 including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Record Of The Year. Not long after the single tops the charts, Jobete Music and BMI, recognizes the similarities between “Roll With It” and Jr. Walker And The All Stars’ 1966 hit “(I’m A) Road Runner”, and award a co-writing credit to the songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland as well as back and future royalty earnings on the song.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves
7 & 9
On this day in music history: July 30, 1968 - The Beatles begin recording “Hey Jude” at Abbey Road Studios in London, in Studio Two. Written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon - McCartney), McCartney is inspired to write the song (originally titled “Hey Jules”) while driving over to visit band mate John Lennon’s five year old son, Julian and former wife Cynthia at their home in Weybridge, Surrey. Paul begins writing the song to console Julian after his parents have separated and are in the process of getting divorced. Though McCartney later states another inspiration for the song is his recent break up with long term girlfriend actress Jane Asher, John Lennon also feels that Paul is speaking (indirectly) to him in the song as he has begun his relationship with Yoko Ono at this time. The rehearsal sessions are filmed and are first seen on the NBC network program “Music! Experiment In Television”, providing a rare glimpse of the band working in the studio. The master take of the song is recorded at Trident Studios in Soho the next day. For the recording, McCartney plays Trident’s Bechstein grand piano, which over time appears on numerous landmark recordings including ones by Elton John, David Bowie and Queen. “Hey Jude” becomes The Beatles biggest single spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over four million copies in the US alone.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves

Monday, July 30, 2018

Silvana Mangano, 1948, photo by Pasquale De Antonis
Sylvano Mangano

She made a big splash with Bitter Rice I Riso Amaro in 1949. Most audiences probably know her best for Pasolini’s Teorema and Visconti’s Death in Venice (she plays the boy Tadzio’s mother see below)

Again a bench mark early song that affected me but bought by my old school friend Leo who played this at certain landmark events upon my inner journey if you get my drift! Leo was a peerless guitarist who could pretty much play anything he set his mind to and especially favoured playing perfect Hendrix amongst others and with his family and younger brother Leon we miss him all the time . . . . . 
We loved this . . . . . . 

On this day in music history: July 29, 1968 - “Hush” by Deep Purple is released. Written by Joe South, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the British hard rock band from Hertford, Hertfordshire, UK. Formed in March of 1968, the original line up includes guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, drummer Ian Paice, bassist Nick Simper and lead singer Rod Evans. Originally calling themselves Roundabout, the band change their name to Deep Purple taking it from the title of the standard best known in its version by brother and sister duo Nino Tempo and April Stevens. The name is suggested by Ritchie Blackmore, as song is a favorite of his grandmother. Deep Purple are quickly signed by EMI Records in the UK, and to Tetragrammaton Records in the US, a newly formed record label co-owned by comedian Bill Cosby and his manager Roy Silver. Working with producer Derek Lawrence (Outlaws, Wishbone Ash), the band begin recording their first album at Pye Studios in London in April of 1968. Not having enough material of their own, the band fill out their album with several covers including the song “Hush”. Written American guitarist Joe South (“Games People Play”, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”), it is originally recorded by singer Billy Joe Royal (“Down In The Boondocks”) in 1967. One of the main hooks “hush, hush… though I heard her calling my name…”, South takes inspiration from an old gospel song in which the lyric is originally written as “Hush I thought I heard Jesus calling my name”. Royal’s version stalls at #52 on the Hot 100 in October of 1967. Deep Purple record their version of “Hush” on April 21, 1968, with a dramatic re-arrangement, giving it an aggressive and hard rocking edge. Released first on EMI’s Parlophone Records imprint on June 21, 1968, the record fails to chart in their home country. Issued in the US on Tetragrammaton five weeks later, it fares decidely better. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on August 17, 1968, it leaps up the chart, peaking at #4 on September 21, 1968. The accompanying album “Shades Of Deep Purple” also performs well, peaking at number twenty four on the Billboard Top 200. An instant classic, “Hush” establishes Deep Purple as one the premier British hard rock bands, paving the way for other iconic British bands that follow including Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The band revisit their first hit in 1988, recording a new version of “Hush” for the album “Nobody’s Perfect”, with the remake peaking at #62 on the UK singles chart and #44 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. The original version is used in numerous films including “Apollo 11”, “When Strangers Appear” and “Beyond The Sea”. Deep Purple’s version of “Hush” is also sampled by the Beastie Boys on their single “Hey Ladies” in 1989. Due to threat of a lawsuit, the original sample is removed from the album and single releases of the song, but remains intact on the audio track for the music video.
thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves
Interestingly (says you!- ED) The Doors version of 'Light My Fire' was not the first time I heard this song! My brother, Steve, liked Jose Feliciano and had bought an album with his cover version on it and it was a minor hit over here before we heard the real thing. 

I discovered the Doors as I have said before either through my dear old school pals Mike Bristow - from Portland Oregon who was over here on a short time spell at my school as his doctor father was doing some work in the UK or and I say or Alan Bateman who introduced me to a wide range of West Coast Americana like Country Joe and The Fish, Love's 'Forever Changes' and more besides. One of them and I have tried checking always assuming it was Mike who compelled me to got the see The Doors at the Roundhouse in what I thought was 1968 but was really 1969 and life was never the same again. Now Mike who had definitely introduced me to Frank Zappa, Clear Light amongst others and he assures me it wasn't him who convinced me to play hooky from school that day to see them so there is really only Alan who was the brother of someone who went to school with me then, his younger brother Keith, and he was a grammar school boy who's bright intelligence drove him to research American music of the sixties. I have photos of the area around the Round House and head shops along Portobello road of the period but that is my only proof . . . . . . I still have my vinyl copy of the first album along with most others and a copy of the single too. I still have many vinyl bootlegs also and was once offered a considerable amount of money for one of them from a woman in LA who had a Stingray car who's number plate was 'L.A. Woman' she said and she considered that Jim was very much still alive . . . . . I stopped corresponding with quite of few of these folks around about then . . . . . .

On this day in music history: July 29, 1967 - “Light My Fire” by The Doors hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison, it is the biggest hit for the L.A. based rock band. Composed mainly by guitarist Robby Krieger, it is credited to the entire band when he brings the unfinished song into the studio (in August of 1966 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA), for the other band members to expand upon. The nearly seven minute long track is edited down to under three minutes for single release when it receives heavy airplay as an LP cut. The edited mono single version also presents the song at its originally recorded speed. The more commonly heard stereo LP version was mixed at a slightly slower speed due to an error made during the mixing process. Released as the second single from the bands self-titled debut album in May of 1967, it quickly becomes a radio staple. Entering the Hot 100 at #93 on June 3, 1967, it reaches the top of the chart eight weeks later. Shortly after The Doors top the chart, they are invited to perform their number one hit on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 17, 1967. The censors at CBS ask the band to change the lyric “girl we couldn’t get much higher”, to “girl, we couldn’t get much better”, feeling that the original lyric is a drug reference. Jim Morrison initially agrees, then sings the original line anyway during the live broadcast. The move infuriates host Ed Sullivan, leading him to permanently banning The Doors from the top rated variety show. Only a year after the original version “Light My Fire” tops the chart, it becomes a major hit again, when it is covered by musician Jose Feliciano. His version peaks at #3 on the Hot 100 in August of 1968. The song is recorded numerous times over the years by several artists including Shirley Bassey, The Four Tops, Johnny Mathis, Nancy Sinatra, Stanley Turrentine, Al Green, Minnie Riperton, and Amii Stewart to name a few. The jazz/R&B duo Young-Holt Unlimited (“Soulful Strut”) record an instrumental version in 1969, which is widely sampled in later years, most notably as the basis of Above The Law’s hit “Untouchable” in 1990. The Doors’ original recording is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. “Light My Fire” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves

Sunday, July 29, 2018

SUNDAY MUSICS . . . . . . . .


for Leo . . . . . who with his wife Michelle first sang it to me

Saturday, July 28, 2018

(from the wonderful blog Music Italy 70)
I have an immense affection for Syd Barrett and his tragic lifestory. I adored the first album I found with him on and it remains a favourite in my top thirty albums for sure in the unique 'The Piper At The Gates of Dawn' [the title taken from a favourite book, Kenneth Grahame's 'The Wind In The Willows' - being the title of the seventh chapter and reference to Pan]. There but for powers and circumstances beyond our control I empathise with Syd's experience and have lost friends to drug use so that I ended up working in the field of rehabilitation of people damaged by such life choices whatever that had propelled them that way. 
I have discussed here earlier what happened to later Pink Floyd albums and the time I stopped following the band around the time of 'Dark Side of The Moon' which I found obvious and hollow and the execrable 'The Wall' but Syd's 'Bike' and 'See Emily Play', 'Arnold Layne' 'Lucifer Sam' etc etc still haunt me and I am given to singing 'Bike' at times of stress (if only in my head, fortunately) . . . . . . . shine on you crazy diamond indeed


Something tells me and I am not quite sure what but that the Grateful Dead were probably quite loud

Friday, July 27, 2018

If you listen to one thing today . . . . . . . . . 

Thanks to my early teenage fascination with Dr John and thus the maestro Professor Longhair and then Tuts Washington and Archibald hisself, my interest in Nawleans piano players is extensive and it concludes the semi-legendary Mr James Booker of whom the doctor said:

“the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced,”

once again the wondrous Aquarium Drunkard turns up trumps today so check this out you won't be disappointed!

 . . . . . . . . then listen to this

Can't wait to get a copy of this and hope it comes out in the UK as soon as in the USofA!?

Vinyl Me Please

'Tico Tico' is a standard instrumental classic like few other. A Brazilian choro song it has been covered by many and varied artists over the years but it dates from 1917. Most popular in the forties when people like The Andrews Sisters covered it . [Fess did like an Andrews Sisters song which is where he got 'Rum N Coca Cola' from] Professor Longhair could do almost schmaltzy melodies and rumba style major chord tunes like 'Crawfish Fiesta' and 'Rum & Coca Cola' but 'Tico Tico' here by Booker is a sheer delight too IMHO. Such melodies could be corny but in their hands they aren't. The melody is one it seems like you have always heard before [and probably have!) but in Booker's hands it is peerless. The delicacy of the runs and trills are just plain spellbindingly beautiful.

check out the full article here at Aquarium Drunkard
Naturally Peter G at his peak and this we bought on release was no exception turn it RIGHT up!

On this day in music history: July 26, 1986 - “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Peter Gabriel, it is the biggest hit for the British singer and songwriter. Influenced by 60’s soul music, especially the Memphis soul sound pioneered by Stax Records, Gabriel hires the Memphis Horns (Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson) to play on the track, as well as features former Ikette P.P. Arnold, Dee Lewis and Coral Gordon on background vocals. Other musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Manu Katche (drums), and David Rhodes (guitar) also play on the track. The songs highly innovative and award winning music video directed by Stephen R. Johnson (“Pee Wee’s Playhouse”) also features contributions from the Aardman Animation Studio (“Wallace & Gromit”) and the Brothers Quay. The video is filmed using a stop motion camera technique in which Gabriel’s movements and lip synch are filmed one frame at at a time while lying on his back, under a sheet of plate glass for up to sixteen hours a day for eight days. The process is painstaking and slow, and the clip takes over a month to complete. Released as the first single from Gabriel’s fifth studio album “So” in April of 1986, “Sledgehammer” becomes an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on May 10, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The video for “Sledgehammer” wins an unprecedented nine MTV VMA awards (still the record holder for the most wins in a single year), and by 2011 becomes the most played clip in the history of the channel. "Sledgehammer" is later sampled by 3rd Bass as the basis of their hit single “Pop Goes The Weasel” in 1991.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Michael Philip Jagger (in Dartford, Kent, UK) July 26, 1943 - Singer, songwriter and The Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger . Happy 75th!


Brian that is . . . . . 


New sounds . . . . . . . .well an EP

“Watch a Single Swallow in a Thermal Sky, and Try to Fit Its Motion, or Figure Why it Flies” - Brian Eno

thanks to only ambient there is a new Eno EP available

“Wind In Lonely Fences” - Brian Eno & Harold Budd

“Written, Forgotten” - Brian Eno

from a favourite album:

“Under Stars”// Brian Eno // Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks

“Understars II” - Brian Eno


Watched this Stanley Kubrick film again last night and what a scorcher of a movie it is!

R Lee Ermey who passed away this year won the part of the Drill Sergeant because he was the real deal and Kubrick used all of his notes from his audition and used about 50% of his dialogue as is!

The songs of the times: