With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“And they’re just dancing along to a perfect song at the disco” March 9, 2012


I have yet more sad news to report, Jimmy Ellis the iconic voice of Disco and Soul outfit the Trammps has died at a nursing home in South Carolina aged 74. His family has said that he had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He still sang live with the band as recently as 2010.

Ellis was the band’s stalwart against a backdrop of quite a few personnel changes. The last time the original members sang together was when they performed the classic “Disco Inferno” during their induction into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Many of you probably know them for that song alone, which benefited from its appearance on the soundtrack of the ‘Saturday Night Fever‘ movie. But they had many more great hits; including some classics that you can enjoy at the end of this post.

Incidentally their Dance Music Hall of fame took place on September 19th 2005 which would have been my Dad’s 74th birthday, but sadly he died in 2001.I often used to joke with my Dad before he died that we would play “Disco Inferno” at his cremation. In the end that didn’t happen, but we did laugh about it a lot. “Disco Inferno” was the band’s biggest US hit reaching number 11 on the Billboard chart and number 9 on the US R & B charts. Their biggest UK hit was “Hold Back The Night” which reached number 5 in 1976.

The extra ‘m’ in the band’s name allegedly came from the days when they used to sing on street corners. The police called them tramps and Jimmy Ellis said that he would prefer that they were high-class tramps and so added that extra ‘m’. Jimmy whose real name was James Thomas Ellis II began his singing career in a church gospel choir like many of his contemporaries. He went on to sing in a few bands including the Volcanoes and the Exceptions.

This is yet another sad loss for music and my thoughts go to Jimmy’s family, friends and fans. RIP Jimmy Ellis.

 

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am…..” January 4, 2011


It is with sadness that I bring you news of the death of talented Sottish singer songwriter Gerry Rafferty aged 63. He had a well documented battle with alcoholism and also supposedly ‘disappeared’ a couple of times in recent years. But even with all that 63 is still a relatively young age to go these days.

Most people will remember Gerry for the classic “Baker Street“, which reached number 3 in the UK and number 2 in the US. It’s 1978 parent album, ‘City To City‘ sold 5.5 million copies in the US and managed to top the US album chart in 1978, beating the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. He was also co responsible for another classic song “Stuck In the Middle With You” with Stealers Wheel from 1973. The two songs have achieved 5 million and 4 million radio plays respectively. In 1987 he also co produced one of my favourite songs, “Letter From America” by the Proclaimers. I am sure he will be sadly missed by his family, friends and fans. Gerry Rafferty RIP.

 

“Could it be the devil in me or is this the way love’s supposed to be?” August 10, 2010


This option would have been one hell of a lot safer

There is every possibility that some of you may see this as a sick choice of subject, so for that let me apologise up front. But as my good friend Fraser Matthews once said to me “Billy Boy, you are one sick puppy!” Anyway the story concerns this years 12th (and almost certainly last) annual Sauna World Championship. Basically it’s about who can stay in the sauna for the longest at temperatures of 110C. The two men who got through the heats (pardon the pun) this year were the reigning champion and five time winner Timo Kaukonen from Finland and Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy of Russia. After six minutes in the final officials noticed that there was something wrong. Ladyzhenskiy was dead and Kaukonen had suffered severe burns. Are people so bored that they have to see this as a sport? It’s bloody mental in my opinion. But here’s the sick part, it got me thinking about heat songs, so after you’ve read the story on the Beeb and the Guardian I hope you enjoy my heat selection!

Click here to read the story on the BBC

Click here to read the story on the Guardian

Some Like It Hot” – Power Station. Featuring one of the best white soul voices ever in my opinion, Robert Palmer and some random dudes off of Duran Duran (John Taylor and Andy Taylor) and some more randomers from Chic (Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards)

The Heat Is On” – Glenn Frey. Frey co wrote many of the Eagles greatest songs with Don Henley and also sang lead vocals on plenty of them. He once fronted a duo with J D Souther (in 1969) who were known as Longbranch Pennywhistle. “The Heat Is On” is taken from Beverly Hills Cop which starred Eddie Murphy

Hot, Hot, Hot” – Arrow.  An excellent party song which was written and produced by Montserrat musician, Arrow (aka Alphonsus Cassell). It has been covered by many people including David Johansen off of the New York Dolls using his Buster Poindexter alter ego

(Love Is Like A) Heatwave” – Martha & The Vandellas. A classic Motown track and one of the many hits penned by the Holland Dozier Holland writing team. The song was well covered by Linda Ronstadt. It was also used to great effect in the blood collection scene in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ which starred John Travolta.

Drop It Like It’s Hot” – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell. Snoop was known as Calvin Broadus although his parents did give him the nickname Snoopy because they felt there was a resemblance to the Charles Schultz creation.

Melt” – Siouxse & The Banshees. Her parents named her Susan Janet Ballion (although I have seen it noted as Dallion). Her Mum was a bilingual Secretary but her Dad had what must have been quite a unique job, he was a laboratory technician who milked serum from venomous snakes in the Belgian Congo!

Burning Love” – Elvis Presley. The song was written by Dennis Linde and first recorded by Arthur Alexander. Presley’s version came out in 1972. It is one of my favourite Elvis songs from his later years

Canned Heat” – Jamiroquai. Taken from the album ‘Synkronized’ the song reached number four in the UK Chart and made it to the top of the US Dance Chart. It was also used prominently in the film ‘Napoleon Dynamite’

Hot In Herre” – Nelly. Also known as Cornell Haynes Jr, Nelly had quite a prolific output in the noughties. This song title was somewhat deliberately misspelled a little like most of Slade’s early 70s output. The song uses the hook from Chuck Brown’s 1979 hit “Bustin’ Loose”

Disco Inferno” – Trammps. A classic disco song which was also featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I remember once talking to my Dad about having this song played at your funeral if you were being cremated. Well we never played it at my Dad’s funeral, but who knows? There might be room for it at mine! ;-)

 

“See that girl she does something to my chemistry” July 12, 2010


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.

The late, great Sugar Minott

 

“Eat your words but don’t go hungry, words have always nearly hung me” June 12, 2009


Hello once again dear readers. Did you read the news that according to an American company the one millionth English word is about to be born, well actually it is probably already filling nappies (or diapers if you wish) as we speak. Apparently a company called GLM based in Texas whose raison-daitre is to tell companies how many times they are mentioned on the Internet can also search for the appearance of any word. Their self created methodology in determining a new word says that it must have appeared 25,000 times on the Internet, there is no time period applied. This all seems somewhat like bollocks to me (I’m not swearing bollocks is an Anglo Saxon word, just ask the Sex Pistols and Virgin Records!). Many Lexicographers (now that’s a fantastic job title!) are unhappy with these colonial usurpers telling them how it’s done! I tend to agree, but only because most Americans don’t speak English ‘like what it is supposed to be spoken’ I mean come on, no ‘U’ in colour, pronouncing route incorrectly, then there’s schedule and tomato. Don’t even get me started on fanny OK! ;-) Seriously though please don’t take offence at this if you are American, feel free to take offense though :-) But if you’d like a slightly more serious view click here for the link to the BBC that carries the story. Then click here for the follow up, for indeed while I have been typing (admittedly it has taken nearly three days to complete this post!) the new word has been dumped kicking and screaming into a world that, frankly, neither wants it or needs it. Only a nerdy geek could have given birth to it. For I know the word and the word is……………… Web 2.0, I kid you not. The nearest rivals were Jai-Ho (from the Slumdog Millionaire movie) and nOOB (something to do with nerdy, geeky gamers I believe) All that hype and all we get is a couple of small turds plopping into the lexicon of life.

 Anyway I was thinking that a word related post might be interesting so here goes. Let’s kick off with the rather stupendous Tom Tom Club with the rather jolly “Wordy Rappinghood” Now I think Rappinghood would have made an excellent millionth word contender, how about you? Tom Tom Club I suppose really began as on offshoot of Talking Heads, I think nowadays the correct term might be side project! The band consisted of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz off of Talking Heads and a cast of many other noted musicians; Adrian Belew, Wally Badarou and the Compass Point All Stars to name just a few. Their earliest success came with the divine “Genius Of Love”. But they really broke big when the 12 inch versions of Genius and Rappinghood were issued and got a lot of club play in 1982. Their songs have been sampled by many people including Grandmaster Flash and Mariah Carey. The band also appeared on the Talking Heads live concert movie ‘Stop Making Sense’

camouflage was not that well understood by Tom Tom Club

camouflage was not that well understood by Tom Tom Club

Next up it’s the Gibb Brothers (OK the Bee Gees then) with “Words” Which was once given a depressingly dull makeover by the band that put bland into everything the rather shite (in my opinion of course) Boyzone. Sadly it gave Ronan and the boys their first UK number one. But if you’d like to hear some better covers of the song there are plenty out there. Check out some good covers from Rita Coolidge and Georgie Fame. You can find a great Bee Gees reference in the strangest place, there is an excellent parody of them in Blink 182’s video for “First Date” Speaking of the Bee Gees , I was walking to the train station earlier this week lost in my iPod and on came “Stayin’ Alive”, how I longed to be carrying a pot of paint so that I could make like Travolta’s Tony Manero in ‘Saturday Night Fever’. Sadly a laptop bag just doesn’t cut it, does it?

The Gibb boys prepare for the Christmas number one by wrapping themselves in Bacofoil like Turkeys

The Gibb boys prepare for the Christmas number one by wrapping themselves in Bacofoil like Turkeys

Then we have the boys that put Cod Piece back in the dictionary, Cameo with “Word Up” Which bizarrely in my humble opinion was covered by Korn! Click here to here the Korn version. The song was a massive hit for Cameo in 1986, the promo rounds were probably made much more memorable by Larry Blackmon’s polished red cod piece. For me Larry was one of only two people who have ever been able to pull off a cod piece (ooooooooh Matron!) The other one being Edmund Blackadder. The song also gets played in an Episode of the Simpsons entitled, appropriately for this post, ‘Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words’ where Lisa performs in a crossword competition. 

Mr Cod Piece 1986

Mr Cod Piece 1986

I haven’t mentioned the Beatles and Bowie for a while so how about the Beatles with “The Word” and Mr Bowie with the hardly ever played “Word On A Wing”. The Beatles song appeared on ‘Rubber Soul’ and in addition to the Fab Four also had George Martin playing the Harmonium. Bowie’s song appeared on the excellent ‘Station To Station’ album from 1976 and emanating from the Dame’s ‘Thin White Duke’ period. It was also a B side to the single version of “Stay” from the same album. It is a relatively religious song and written while Bowie was very much coke addled. It also coincided with the time Mr Jones began to wear a crucifix

John you may have more friends than me, but at least mine isn't a midget!

John you may have more friends than me, but at least mine isn't a midget!

I shall finish this post with the wonderful “ABC” by the Jackson Five. OK I know it’s not strictly a word but if you didn’t know your ABC you wouldn’t be able to make words would you? The song was a US number one and like the earlier “I Want You Back” was written by the mysterious Corporation. Not that mysterious though it was a Motown writing team that consisted of Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonso Mizell and Deke Richards. The song was backed with a cover of a lesser known Diana Ross And The Supremes song; “The Young Folks”

Before they could afford a tour bus the boys used alternative transport

Before they could afford a tour bus the boys used alternative transport

OK that’s all for now, but tell me your word songs, I can think of a couple more but I’d like to hear from you my dear readers!

 

 
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