Today 08:41 PM

John Perrone aka Midnight Johnny - RIP

Andy Skurow has just posted on his Facebook that John Perrone has died. I can only speculate at the cause of death as no details are known as yet.

RIP John :(
Today 08:38 PM

A Fun Find - Autographed Mary Wells "Two Lovers" LP

Hi friends,

Being forced to be home all day due to the current crisis in our country, I've been going through things. I was surprised to find that I own an autographed Mary Wells "Two Lovers" LP. I have no recollection of buying it. In fact, I'm wondering if I might not have noticed the autograph, or thought it was the owner's signature or something, because usually I would recall something like that.

Anyway, I thought I would post it so you could all enjoy it. It looks authentic to me. What say you? Anyone know her signature well enough to know?
Today 07:59 PM

Motown and Ready Steady Go!

There were two interesting programmes on UK BBC4 last night about a tv music series that ran from 1963-66.

The Story of Ready Steady Go! (1 hour)
This included (I assume) recent short clips of interviews with Martha Reeves and Mary Wilson, shame that there was no time to show more. The progamme also showed clips of the Motown 1965 bus tour of the UK. Performances included Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing In The Street" and "Heat Wave", the Supremes "Baby Love", Stevie Wonder "Kiss Me Baby", plus Dusty and Martha enjoying themselves during "Wishin' and Hopin'"

The Best of Ready Steady Go! (1 hour)
This contained 25 songs, mostly uncut, but which included 6 Motown songs: Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing In The Street", Stevie Wonder "Kiss Me Baby", Temptations "My Girl", Marvin Gaye "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You", the Miracles "You Really Got A Hold On Me" plus Martha and Dusty again with "Wishin' And Hopin'"

Fabulous early B&W footage.

Back in 1985, C4 broadcast 13 compilation episodes of RSG plus the two specials - Motown and Otis Redding which I still have on VHS. I was hoping that since the surviving episodes or some of them had been acquired from Dave Clark (of Dave Clark Five fame), there may have been something new included last night. Sadly, the answer is no, as it all seems to have come from the Motown Special edition.
Today 03:44 PM

Bill Withers has passed!


RIP to one of my all time favorites! I hope he finds his “Grandma’s Hands” up there.
Today 05:23 PM

50 years ago : The Originals Were On The Radio With Their Biggest Pop Charter:

Peaking at #12 on The Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1970 was this Marvin Gaye written and produced follow-up to BABY I'M FOR REAL (#14)


noteworthy : the shared leads
Today 03:54 PM

How Bill Withers Defined Soulful Selflessness


"He treated his utterly distinctive voice as a vehicle, not a centerpiece, and wrote songs about everyday lives with remarkable compassion.

The music of Bill Withers radiated a quality that’s rare in pop songs and, really, anywhere else: selflessness.
It’s in the subjects that Withers, who died on Monday, chose to sing about: his grandmother’s hard-won wisdom in “Grandma’s Hands,” the suicidal regrets of a failed husband in “Better Off Dead,” and in one of his most indelible songs, “Lean on Me,” a churchy pledge of unconditional help and compassion.
Perhaps it was because Withers was already a grown-up, in his early 30s, when his recording career started. He was raised in a large family in West Virginia coal country, served in the Navy and worked factory jobs before getting the chance to record. He hadn’t been sheltered from the everyday lives that he would write about.

Withers’s most triumphant years, the early 1970s, were also an idealistic time for soul music. Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire and others were writing community-minded songs that melded urban realism and utopian aspiration. Withers could be every bit their peer, particularly in the ways he brought big issues down to personal stories, like his portrait of a badly wounded Vietnam veteran, “I Can’t Write Left-Handed.” And when he wasn’t observing outside characters, Withers could also depict the deepest jealousy, loneliness and melancholy, in songs like “Who Is He (And What Is He to You),” “You,” and his despondent megahit, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” a model of profound simplicity.

His voice was at the center of every song, reedy and gritty, strong enough for preacherly declamations and smooth enough to carry a lover’s endearments. Yet he chose to treat that utterly distinctive voice modestly — as a vehicle, not a centerpiece. He sang his stories with down-home fervor, but he was also more than willing to let the sense of the words dissolve into rhythm and incantation, into impulses and feelings.
Withers made it seem — with deep-rooted knowledge and virtuoso skill — that each song was creating its own borderless style and groove on the spot, steeped in but never beholden to blues, gospel, country, jazz, folk, rock or any other defined idiom. Imagine Withers’s voice removed from songs like the defiant “Use Me,” and the grooves he devised (with his top-notch studio bands) nearly capture the mood on their own — though Withers’s vocals would also engage those grooves with every phrase.

Withers was ill-used by a recording business that second-guessed his songwriting. In his acceptance speech at his long-belated 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, he defined A&R, record label jargon that stands for artists and repertoire, as “antagonistic and redundant.” After his 1974 album “+‘Justments,” filled with brooding songs about love gone wrong, Withers and his new label, Columbia, recast him as a more conventional romantic crooner. He had some suavely commercial moments: “Lovely Day” in 1977, which for its final minute flaunts one almost impossibly sustained note after another, and “Just the Two of Us,” which appeared on a 1980 album by the saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.

Withers’s musical ingenuity lingers on his later albums in some eccentric rhythm tracks and sly chord progressions — and he did manage to resist making disco. But the joyful, risky self-invention of his early albums had given way to professionalism. He made his last album in 1985, then earned a living from his publishing catalog, refusing offers to record again.
The Withers album to savor is the one he recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1972. He brought a band of first-call studio musicians and gathered all of his best early material, seasoned by serious touring. Songs that had been limited to three minutes in studio versions get a chance to groove longer and harder: “Use Me” rides a backbeat of audience handclaps to syncopated ecstasy, and tops that with a reprise. Withers’s voice had a rawer tone than his studio performances without sacrificing any improvisational subtleties.

And the songs were populated not with one singer’s ego, but with friends, relatives, lovers, rivals and, in an all-out 13-minute, key-changing, wah-wah throwdown, a week in the life of an entire neighborhood, “Harlem.”
It’s not about Withers; it’s about music where everybody lives.'

He treated his utterly distinctive voice as a vehicle, not a centerpiece, and wrote songs about everyday lives with remarkable compassion.

Bill Withers began his recording career in his 30s, which meant he hadn’t been sheltered from the everyday lives he would write about.Credit...Jake Michaels for The New York Times

By Jon Pareles

  • April 4, 2020


Ralph Terrana

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