My Thang – James Brown – 1974

November 18, 2017

My Thang - James Brown - 1974 CoverWhat can you say? The Godfather of soul’s 1974 hit, My Thang…

james brown fax

  • Born in 1933, passed away in 2006; James Brown is called The Godfather of Soul because, for many people, he was the progenitor of soul and funk music.
  • Like many of his era, James’ career began as a member of the in the R&B gospel group, the Gospel Starlighters. During 1950s, they evolved into the Flames and James was the lead singer.
  • By the late 1950s they were known as The Famous Flames and began to find chart success with songs like Please, Please, Please and Try Me.
  • Many say James’ success was at its peak in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good), and It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.
  • It was during the late 1960s that he began to refine his style – a style which greatly influenced the development of funk music.
  • By the early 1970s, James was playing with his band, the J.B.s and funk was a real thing. During this time, he became known for songs which made commentary of social issues of the day – songs like the 1968 hit Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.
  • James holds the record for the most singles to reach the US singles chart without ever reaching #1 – 64 singles. He did, however, have 16 singles that reached #1 on the R&B charts.  Between 1959 and 2002, James released a phenomenal 66 studio albums and 15 live albums.
  • The closest James came to a #1 US hit was in 1965 when, I Got You (I Feel Good) reached #3.
  • James is an inductee into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • When Joel Whitburn analysed the Billboard R&B charts from 1942 to 2010, he placed James at #1 among The Top 500 Artists. He is also ranked seventh on the music magazine Rolling Stone’s list of its 100 greatest artists of all time. Rolling Stone also also cited James as the most sampled artist of all time.

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  • My Thang was written and recorded by James Brown. From the album Hell, it was released in April 1974.
  • The song borrows lines from another of James’ songs, Funky Drummer. James often borrowed lines from his songs that did not chart to incorporate into a new song.
  • My Thang spent two weeks at #1 on the US R&B singles chart and reached #29 on the US singles chart.
  • My Thang is sampled on a number of Hip-Hop songs, including Brand New Funk by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
  • My Thang lyrics.

my thang – james brown – 1974 – video

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The Candy Man – Sammy Davis Jr – 1972

November 10, 2017

The_Candy_Man_Sammy_Davis_JrFrom the perennial Christmas movie… what would Christmas be without reruns of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on the tele? – The Candy Man which was a 1972 hit for Sammy Davis Jr.

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  • Born into a show biz family, Sammy began his career when just three years old. He joined his father and Will Mastin to form the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally.
  • After WWII service – in which he was assigned to the Entertainment Special Services – Sammy returned to the trio.
  • Sammy’s solo career happened quickly. He became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at a West Hollywood bar after the 1951 Academy Awards.
  • He began his movie career in 1933, appearing as Rufus Jones in Rufus Jones for President, a short satirical musical. Sammy went on to appear in almost 40 movies, four stage musicals, and almost 30 television shows.
  • In all, Sammy released over 50 albums, with at least five different recording companies. Of his numerous singles, only two reached the US top ten; Something’s Gotta Give (1955) and The Candy Man (1972).  Two singles reached the UK top ten, Something’s Gotta Give and Love Me or Leave Me (both 1955).
  • The numerous awards won by Sammy include: a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Acheivement award (2001), a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Internationcal Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
  • In 1954, Sammy was in a life-changing auto accident. In it he lost his left eye.  From the time on he had a glass eye.  A year before the accident, his friend, comedian Eddie Cantor, had given him a mezuzah. Instead of putting it by his door as a traditional blessing, Sammy wore it around his neck for good luck. The only time he forgot it was the night of the accident.  Taking it as some sort of omen, Sammy converted to Judaism in 1961.
  • Sammy was a member of The Rat Pack, a group of artistes prominent in the 1960’s. The Rat Pack was made up of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, with the three first mentioned being considered the leaders.
  • Sammy was a victim of racism throughout his life, particularly during the pre-Civil Rights era, and was a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. One day on a golf course with Jack Benny, he was asked what his handicap was. “Handicap?” he asked. “Talk about handicap. I’m a one-eyed Negro Jew.”
  • Sammy died of throat cancer on May 16, 1990, aged just 64.

the candy man fax

  • The Candy Man, sometimes called, The Candy Man Can, was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The soundtrack version of the song was sung by Aubrey Woods, who played Bill the candy store owner in the film.
  • When lyricist Anthony Newley heard Aubrey Woods’ version for the first time, he was so appalled by the performance that he wanted to record it himself. He was convinced the song could win an Oscar if it was sung and produced properly.  The producers of the record refused his offer so Anthony suggest he dub his own vocal and still market the record under Aubrey’s name.  Again, he was refused.
  • Anthony did, however, record his own version prior to Sammy Davis Jr’s version.
  • The Candy Man’s best-known version is by Sammy Davis, Jr. It appears on Sammy’s album, Sammy Davis Jr. Now.  Sammy always said he didn’t like the song.
  • The Candy Man was Sammy’s only #1 US hit. Despite Sammy having songs in the UK charts, The Candy Man did not chart there.  Billboard ranked The Candy Man as the #5 song for 1972.
  • BVs on Sammy’s version were provided by the Mike Curb Congregation. They had previously released their own unsuccessful version.
  • So closely associated with Sammy is this song that, later in his career, he was often referred to as The Candy Man.
  • In 2014, Sammy’s lead vocals from the original 1972 recording were sampled to create a virtual duet with Barry Manilow. It appeared on Barry’s album My Dream Duets.
  • The Candy Man lyrics.

the candy man – sammy davis jr. – 1972 video

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I Can Help – Billy Swan – 1974

September 15, 2017

Billy Swan, I can Help 1974Remember this one? A simple rockabilly number that topped the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the US and Canadian country charts in 1974 – Billy Swan’s, I Can Help.

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  • Born in Missouri, USA, Billy Swan is one of those musicians whose life has been music.
  • Billy has played drums, piano and guitar, since he was a child and has been writing songs since back then too.
  • Clyde McPhatter gave Billy his first big break by recording one of Billy’s songs – Lover Please. It made it to #7 on the US charts.
  • That was back in 1962. Billy moved to Memphis to work on his music; he even worked on Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate for a while.  All the time he was improving his song writing skills and had his tunes recorded by artists like Conway Twitty, and Waylon Jennings.
  • By 1969, he was also producing records – he produced Tony Joe White’s Top Ten hit Polk Salad Annie.
  • A stint as Kris Kristofferson’s bass player followed before signing his own recording deal with Monument Records.
  • Billy’s first album included the title song I Can Help. It was a big hit, destined to become (like has happened to so many stars) his only top ten song.  Five albums and 18 singles followed, but none saw anything like the success of I Can Help.
  • Throughout the 70s and early 80s, Billy supplemented his solo career by continuing to tour as a member of Kristofferson’s band. He also recorded with Randy Meisner of The Eagles.
  • Today, Billy still makes a living as a backing singer and session musician.

i can help fax

  • I Can Help was written by Billy Swan and first appeared as the title track of his first album, released in July 1974.
  • The song hit #1 in around 15 countries across the globe including #1 in US and Canada, and #6 in the UK.
  • I Can Help was Billy’s only major hit single, although he had success as a songwriter for other artists and as a session musician.
  • I Can Help was recorded in just two takes (without overdubs) using an RMI organ that Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge had bought for Billy as a wedding gift.
  • Artists to cover this song included, Elvis Presley (on his 1975 album, Today), and Shakin’ Stevens (1994). Ringo Starr recorded I Can Help, but it was never released.
  • I Can Help appears in the moviesThor and Zootopia.
  • While the single version of the song is under three minutes long, the album version extends to just over 4 minutes, thanks to an organ solo ending.
  • I Can Help lyrics.

i can help – billy swan – 1974

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Harper Valley PTA – Jennie C. Riley – 1968

August 20, 2017

Harper Valley PTA - Jennie C. RileyOkay, not quite the seventies, but I heard this catchy little song the other day and couldn’t resist… Jennie C. Riley’s 1968 #1 hit, Harper Valley PTA.

jennie c. riley fax

  • Still performing today, as a 71 year old, Jennie C. Riley (born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson), had her biggest hit with her debut single, Harper Valley PTA.
  • Since the late 70s, she has focused on gospel music.
  • Initially struggling to make any impact on the country music scene, a demo tape of Jennie C. found its way to the desk of record producer Shelby Singleton. He was endeavouring to establish his own own label, Plantation Records, and loved her sound.  Introducing Jennie C. to a Tom T. Hall demo-song (Harper Valley PTA), he produced one of the best-known country music songs of all time.
  • Jennie C. is credited with starting something of a revolution in the world of country music. She quickly became known as much for her sex appeal and beauty as for her music.  While most her contemporaries were keeping a wholesome image by wearing gingham dresses, Jennie C. adopted the typical fashion on the late-1960s by wearing a miniskirt and go-go boots on stage.  Jennie C. later announced that she felt uncomfortable with this sexy persona and reverted to more modest attire.

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  • Written by Tom T. Hall, Harper Valley PTA was a 1968 #1 US and Canadian hit for US country singer Jeannie C. Riley.
  • Harper Valley PTA sold a staggering six million copies as a single.
  • Harper Valley PTA saw Jennie C. become the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the US Hot Country Singles charts with the same song, a feat that would go unrepeated until Dolly Parton‘s 1981 hit, 9 to 5.
  • It is said of Harper Valley PTA:

The country singer Margie Singleton asked Tom T. Hall to write her a song similar to Bobby Gentry’s Grammy-winning hit “Ode To Billie Joe”, which she had covered the previous year, and which Gentry wrote and recorded in 1967. The melody is essentially the same as that of the Gentry song, but Gentry seemingly was never informed or given any credit by Hall. After driving past a school called Harpeth Valley Elementary School in Bellevue, Tennessee, Hall noted the name and wrote “Harper Valley P.T.A.” about a fictional confrontation between a young widow Stella Johnson and a local PTA group who objected to her manner of dress, social drinking, and friendliness with town’s men folk. Jeannie C. Riley, who was working as a secretary in Nashville for Jerry Chesnut, got to hear the song and recorded it herself and it became a massive hit for her.

  • The song was later the inspiration for a 1978 motion picture and a short-lived 1981 television series, both starring Barbara Eden, playing the heroine of the song, Mrs. Johnson—who now had a first name, Stella.
  • Several other songs in the Harper Valley PTA album also told stories of some of the other characters from the song, including Mayor Harper, Widow Jones, and Shirley Thompson.
  • The classic Harper Valley PTA album cover shows a mini-dress-clad Riley—portraying Mrs. Johnson with PTA note in hand—standing beside a girl, who is portraying the teenage daughter of Mrs. Johnson.
  • Jeannie C.’s recording of Harper Valley PTA won a Grammy for the Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the pop field.
  • Harper Valley PTA lyrics.

harper valley pta – jennie c. riley – 1968 -video

harper valley pta – jennie c. riley – 1968 – video from movie

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Glen Campbell (1936 – 2017)

August 9, 2017

Glen C 2Glen Travis Campbell (April 22, 1936– August 8, 2017) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, television host, and actor. He is best known for a series of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, and for hosting a music and comedy variety show called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS television, from January 1969 through June 1972.

During his 50 years in show business, Campbell released more than 70 albums. He sold 45 million records and accumulated 12 RIAA gold albums, four platinum albums, and one double-platinum album.

One of the greats passed away todayRead Rolling Stones Magazine’s article here.


Blue Skies – Willie Nelson – 1978

July 9, 2017

Blue Skies Willie Nelson 1978Born in 1933, Willie Nelson released his first single in 1957. He became a regular on the US and Canadian country charts but barely featured on the singles charts, until his 1978 album Stardust – two #1’s and a #3 changed everything for Willie.

willie nelson fax

  • Willie is hailed as “one of the most recognised artists in country music,” and that is probably true; in fact, he may be THE most recognised artist in country music!
  • Willie was born in Texas, with music flowing through his veins – he wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Polka as their lead singer and guitar player.
  • After school, he endured a brief stay in the US Air Force before being discharged due to back problems.
  • He worked as a DJ in Texas radio stations and a singer in honky-tonk bars around the state.
  • In 1958, he signed a contract with D Records and wrote a number of songs that would become country standards, including Funny How Time Slips Away, Hello Walls, Pretty Paper, and Crazy.
  • In 1960 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music and, by 1962, had recorded his first album, …And Then I Wrote.
  • That success enabled Willed to sign with RCA Victor and join the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Believe it or not, Willie retired in 1972. He moved to Austin, Texas and tried to settle down but the music kept flowing.
  • He signed to Atlantic Records, then Columbia Records. It was here that he produced those great albums from the mid-late 70s, including Stardust.
  • During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like On the Road Again, and To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before, Willie joined the country band, The Highwaymen, alongside fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.
  • Willie continues to perform today. He has won twelve Grammy awards, including a lifetime achievement award; seven American Music Awards, nine CMA awards, five Academy of Country Music awards – in fact, it would appear, Willie has won every major award he’s ever been nominated for!

blue skies fax

  • Blue Skies was written by Irving Berlin in 1926. It was a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy.
  • The show, Betsy, ran for a mere 39 performances, but Blue Skies was an instant hit. On the opening night of the musical, the audience demanded 24 encores of the song.
  • In 1927, Ben Selvin had a hit with the song.
  • The same year, Blue Skies became one of the first songs to be featured in a talkie movie – Al Jolson sang it in The Jazz Singer.
  • Other artistes to sing or perform Blue Skies include: Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (1935), Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, and Count Basie, and Benny Goodman all recording it in 1946. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye performed the song in 1954’s White Christmas.  Jim Reeves sang it in 1962.
  • Best known in recent times is Willie Nelson’s 1978 recording from his album Stardust. This version was a #1 hit on the US country charts.
  • Blue Skies lyrics.

blue skies – willie nelson – 1978 – video

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Chanson D’Amour – The Manhattan Transfer – 1977

July 1, 2017

Chanson d'Amour The Manhatten TransferClassy a capella vocals – the Manhattan Transfer’s 1977 hit, Chanson D’Amour.

the manhattan transfer fax

  • Formed in New York in 1969, The Manhattan Transfer is a jazz vocal group.
  • There have been two editions of the Manhattan Transfer, with Tim Hauser the only person to be part of both. The first group consisted of Tim, Erin Dickins, Marty Nelson, Pat Rosalia, and Gene Pistilli. They released only one album – it was unsuccessful and the group broke up.  The second version of the group, formed in 1972, consisted of Tim, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Laurel Massé.
  • In 1979, after Laurel being badly injured in a car accident, Cheryl Bentyne joined the group. Then, in 2014, following Tim’s death, Trist Curless joined.
  • In 1975, the group released their eponymous album and hit the charts for the first time. The album included their first hit single, the gospel song, Operator.
  • In all, they have released 29 albums – the last in 2009 being a collection of Chick Corea music.
  • In 1981, the Manhattan Transfer made music history by becoming the first group to win Grammy awards for both popular and jazz categories in the same year with their hit, The Boy from New York City. In 1982, they won another Grammy – Best Jazz Vocal Performance for Route 66.  In all, they won eight Grammy’s.
  • In 1998, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
  • The Manhattan Transfer continue to tour today.

chanson d’amour fax

  • Chanson D’Amour, meaning Love Song, was written by Wayne Shanklin in the mid-1950’s.
  • Chanson D’Amour was first recorded by husband and wife duo, Art and Dotty Todd in 1958. Their version peaked at #6 on the US charts in 1958.
  • Charting concurrently with Art and Dotty were The Fontane Sisters who recorded a version of Chanson D’Amour and peaked at #12.
  • The Manhattan Transfer recorded the song in 1976 for their Coming Out album and, in 1977 reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • Cover versions have also been released by The Lettermen, The Muppets and The Nolans.
  • Chanson D’Amour was featured in the episode “The Pop Star”, the 1984 series finale of the long-running British sitcom Are You Being Served?
  • It also features on the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
  • Chanson D’Amour lyrics.

chanson d’amour – the manhattan transfer – 1977 – video

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