Don’t Leave Me This Way – Thelma Houston – 1976

October 26, 2017

thelma-houston-dont-leave-me-this-way-1976Singer, actress, Grammy Award winner – Thelma Houston had a 1976 #1 hit with Don’t Leave Me This Way.

thelma houston fax

  • Born Thelma Jackson in Leland, Mississippi, by the time she was 23, Thelma Houston was married, had two children, and was signed to Dunhill Records.
  • Her first album, released in 1969, was produced by Jimmy Webb.
  • In 1971, she signed with Motown Records with little success.
  • As well as singing, Thelma loved acting. In 1974 she featured in The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, playing various characters during the show’s skits.  When the show was cancelled she worked on producing demo recordings and performing at small venues.
  • She also took acting lessons while working on her musical career. It was a slow climb for her: she recorded Do You Know Where You’re Going To which was set for single release when it was pulled and the song given to Diana Ross to serve as the theme song for the movie Mahogany.  She sang backing vocals for Jermaine Jackson on his album My Name Is Jermaine.
  • Then in 1976, Thelma Houston released her third album, Any Way You Like It. The first single from that album, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ 1975 song Don’t Leave Me This Way, went straight to #1.  It won Thelma a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance in 1977.  She never had another top ten single.
  • Thelma still performs, however. She recently toured with Nile Rodgers and Chic.
  • She has appeared in half a dozen films and a number of television programmes, along with being featured on a number of movie soundtracks.

don’t leave me this way fax

  • Don’t Leave Me This Way was written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert.
  • The song has charted three times, first in 1975 as a hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass – #3 in the US and #5 in the UK. Next in 1977 as a #1 US hit for Motown artist Thelma Houston in 1977 (peaked at #13 in the UK. Then a third time for British group the Communards in 1986 (#1 in the UK and #40 in the US).
  • Thelma Houston’s version was originally to be recorded by Diana Ross as a follow-up to Love Hangover. It was handed onto Thelma – some justice after she’d lost Do You Know Where You’re Going To to Diana.
  • Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Thelma’s version became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities of the west.
  • The song appeared in the stage show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and in the movie, The Martian (2015).
  • Cher has also covered the song in her live shows.
  • Don’t Leave Me This Way lyrics.

don’t leave me this way – thelma houston – 1976 – video

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Woodstock – Matthews Southern Comfort -1970

October 8, 2017

matthews-southern-comfort-woodstock-1970A great song recorded by a number of 70s artists – this the ’70 version of Woodstock by English band, Matthews Southern Comfort.

matthews southern comfort fax

  • Iain Matthews was a singer with Fairport Convention before forming his own band, Matthews Southern Comfort.
  • Influenced by both rock and roll and folk music, Iain Matthews performed mainly as a solo act, although he was a member of Fairport Convention during the early period when they were heavily influenced by American folk rock.
  • Iain led the bands Plainsong, Hi-Fi, No Grey Faith, More Than a Song, and Matthews Southern Comfort.
  • The latter were one-hit-wonders with the 1970 hit, Woodstock.

woodstock fax

  • Woodstock was written by Joni Mitchell and included on her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon.
  • Woodstock has been covered by both Matthews Southern Comfort and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
  • The song was first released by Joni as a B-side to her hit, Big Yellow Taxi. Joni said she wrote the song from what she had heard from then-boyfriend, Graham Nash, about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival. She had not been there herself, since she was told by a manager that it would be more advantageous for her to appear on The Dick Cavett Show.
  • A month before Joni’s folky version, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released a rocker version as the lead single from their 1970 Déjà Vu album.
  • About three months after the two US releases of Woodstock, the song became an international hit thanks to Matthews Southern Comfort who performed to song on the Live in Concert programme broadcast live by BBC Radio 1 on June 28, 1970. Iain Matthews tells the story of how his band required an additional song for their set on the scheduled radio session.  Woodstock was his suggestion – Iain had purchased Ladies of the Canyon album earlier that week.
  • Matthews Southern Comfort’s version was received so well that the BBC contacted Matthews’ label Uni Records. The label suggested they add the song to the newly recorded Matthews Southern Comfort album, Later That Same Year.  Iain declined to mess with the completed album, but agreed to have them release the song as a single.
  • The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young version of Woodstock peaked at #11 on the US charts. The Matthews Southern Comfort version peaked at #23 in the US but spent three weeks at #1 in the UK.
  • Woodstock lyrics.

woodstock – matthews southern comfort – 1970 – video

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Tom Petty 1950 – 2017

October 3, 2017

Tom petty

One of the true greats of rock music, Tom Petty, has passed away following a heart attack.  After a premature announcement by the LAPD, Tom’s family has now announced that he has gone – truly a rock ‘n’ roll great!

Read Rolling Stone Magazine’s tribute here.


Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band – 1976

September 28, 2017

Couldn't Get it Right - Climax Blues Band - 1976From a band celebrating its 50th year in the business; Couldn’t Get It Right, Climax Blues Band’s 1976 hit.

climax blues band fax

The Climax Blues Band (originally known as the Climax Chicago Blues Band) have nothing to do with Chicago! They are a British blues rock band formed in Stafford, England, in 1967 and still active today – thought with none of the original line-up.

The original line-up was: vocals and harmonica Colin Cooper (1939–2008), guitar and vocals Pete Haycock (1951–2013), guitar Derek Holt (b. 1949), bass and keyboards Richard Jones (b. 1949), drummer George Newsome (b. 1947), and keyboardist Arthur Wood (1929–2005).

The band became the Climax Blues Band in 1972, apparently after some pressure from the American band Chicago.

Climax Blues Band released at least 17 albums but only two singles making it into the top 20 in either the US or UK.

couldn’t get it right fax

  • When the Climax Blues Band were told by their record label that their 1976 album Gold Plated lacked a standout track, the boys wrote, Couldn’t Get It Right.
  • Released in the UK in October 1976 and the US in February 1977, the song became the band’s greatest hit; peaking at #10 in the UK and #3 in the US.
  • In an obituary for band member Pete Haycock, the Independent wrote of the song:

[Couldn’t Get It Right] transcended the clichés of the road-song genre and incorporated several of their trademarks, including the vocal harmonies of Haycock and Holt behind Cooper’s lead, and Haycock’s guitar being played in unison with Cooper’s saxophone, to create a concise gem of a single equal to the best work of the Doobie Brothers or Ace.

  • Bands to record cover versions of Couldn’t Get It Right include, Fun Lovin’ Criminals on their 1999 album, Mimosa; and Stockholm Syndrome on their 2004 album, Holy Happy Hour.
  • Couldn’t Get It Right lyrics.

couldn’t get it right – climax blues band – 1976 – video

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Stay With Me – Faces – 1971

September 21, 2017

Stay with Me - Faces - 1971A supergroup made up of super-musicians at the beginning of lifelong stardom – The Faces and their 1971 hit, Stay with Me.

faces fax

  • In 1969, when Small Faces lead singer/guitarist Steve Marriott left to form Humble Pie, the remaining band members – Ian McLagan (keyboards), Ronnie Lane (bass guitar), and Kenney Jones (drums and percussion) – added Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Rod Stewart (lead vocals) to their ranks and renamed themselves Faces. Ronnie and Rod had come from Jeff Beck Group.
  • The new name wasn’t universally accepted; hoping to capitalise on the Small Faces’ earlier success, their record company urged the band to keep their old name. The band declined.  They argued that the personnel changes meant they were now a group very different from the Small Faces.  As a compromise, the band’s debut US album was credited to the Small Faces, while subsequent albums appeared under their new name – Faces.
  • In its first phase, the band was together from 1969 – 1975. They recorded four albums, the latter two being the most popular; A Nod is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse (#2 in the UK and #6 in the US), and Ooh La La (#1 in the UK and #21 in the US).  They released 11 singles with varying success.  The most popular being, Stay with Me.
  • Faces have had more than one reunion, the latest being in the middle of the 2010s, with Mick Hucknall filling in on lead vocals in Rod’s absence.
  • Post-Faces, the band members have had varied successes: we know what’s happened to Rod; Ronnie Wood too – he joined the Rolling Stones; Ronnie Lane had a modest solo career that ended prematurely when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (he died in 1997); Kenney Jones joined The Who after the death of Keith Moon.

stay with me fax

  • Stay with Me was written by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood and was recorded by their band Faces for the 1971 album A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse.
  • Stay with Me has also appeared on various Faces compilation albums and on albums by both songwriters.
  • Stay with Me peaked at #6 on the UK singles chart and #10 on the US singles chart.
  • Stay with Me lyrics.

stay with me – faces – 1971 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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Walter Becker (1950 – 2017)

September 4, 2017

Walter Becker

Walter Becker, legendary guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of Steely Dan passed away on September 3, 2017. 

Steely Dan bandmate, Donald Fagen, issued a memorial letter praising Walter’s talent and remarking that he was,

…smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter… He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny.

 Donald also said,

I intend to keep the music we created together alive.

 Read the full Rolling Stone obituary here.

 steely dan – my old school – 1973 – video

steely dan – fm (no static at all) – 1978 – video