Friday, 30 December 2016

In Memoriam: 2016

January 6, Pat Harrington Jr, 86, actor
January 8, Otis Clay, 73, singer

January 10, David Bowie, 69, Rock icon

January 14, Alan Rickman, 69, actor
January 14, Rene Angelil, 73, husband and manager for Celine Dion

January 15, Dan Haggerty, 74, Grizzly Adams
January 17, Dale Griffin, 67, drummer for Mott the Hoople

January 18, Glenn Frey, 67, musician (Eagles)

January 23, Jimmy Bain, 68, musician (bass player)

January 25, Abe Vigoda, 94, actor

January 28, Paul Kantner, 74, musician (Jefferson Airplane)

January 28, Signe Toly Anderson, 74, musician (Jefferson Airplane)

January 29, Linus Maurer, 90, cartoonist
January 30, Frank Finlay, 89, actor

January 31, Terry Wogan, 77, TV & radio DJ
February 2, Bob Elliott, 92, Radio personality
February 3, Maurice White, 74, musician (Earth Wind & Fire)

February 12, Kim Williams, 69, singer/songwriter

February 15, Vanity, 57, Vanity 6 singer

February 17, Andrzej Zulawski, 75, filmmaker
February 18, Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, 55, actor
February 19, Harper Lee, 89, To Kill A Mockingbird author

February 19, Umberto Eco, 84, Italian author
February 22, Sonny James, 87, Country artist

February 28, Frank Kelly, 77, actor (Father Ted)
February 28, George Kennedy, 91, actor

March 1, Tony Warren, 79, Coronation St creator
March 4, Joey Feek, 40, half of country duo Joey + Rory

March 4, Pat Conroy, 70, author
March 8, George Martin, 90, producer: the Beatles & others

March 11, Keith Emerson, 71, musician (ELP)

March 15, Sylvia Anderson, 88, Lady Penelope (Thunderbirds)
March 16, Frank Sinatra Junior, 72, Sinatra’s singer son

March 17, Paul Daniels, 77, comedy magician
March 22, Phife Dawg, 45, lyricist, member of A Tribe Called Quest

March 23, Joe Garagiola Sr, 90, baseball player
March 24, Gary Shandling, 66, actor
March 29, Patty Duke, 69, actress, child star

March 31, Ronnie Corbett, 85, comedian, actor
March 31, Denise Robertson, 83, TV agony aunt
April 2, Leandro "Gato" Barbieri, 83, Jazz saxophonist

April 3, Erik Bauersfield, 93, Star Wars voice actor
April 6, Merle Haggard, 79, Country legend

April 10, Howard Marks, 70, author
April 12, David Gest, 62, TV personality
April 17, Doris Roberts, 90, actress (Everybody Loves Raymond)
April 20, Victoria Wood, 62, comedian, actress
April 20, Dwayne Washington, 52, basketball player
April 20, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, 46, WWE wrestler
April 21, Lonnie Mack, 74, Blues guitar great

April 21, Prince, 57, Pop icon

April 21, Guy Hamilton, 93, Bond director
April 24, Billy Paul, 80, R&B singer

May 1, Tommy Kono, 85, weightlifter
May 1, Madeleine LeBeau, 92, French actress
May 8, William Schallert, 93, actor
May 10, Gene Gutowski, 90, film producer
May 17, Guy Clark, 74, Country singer

May 19, John Berry, 52, Beastie Boys early member

May 19, Alan Young, 96, TV actor (Mister Ed)
May 19, Morley Safer, 84, correspondent
May 21, Nick Menza, 51, Megadeth drummer

May 24, Burt Kwouk, 85, actor (Pink Panther)
May 31, Carla Lane, 87, Liver Birds writer
June 3, Muhammad Ali, 74, boxing legend

June 6, Peter Shaffer, 90, British playwright
June 6, Theresa Saldana, 61, actress
June 10, Gordie Howe, 88, hockey player
June 10, Margaret Vinci Heldt, 98, creator of beehive hairdo
June 14, Henry McCullough, 72, Wings guitarist

June 15, Lois Duncan, 82, novelist
June 19, Anton Yelchin, 27, Star Trek’s Chekov
June 21, Wayne Jackson, 74, The Memphis Horns

June 23, Michael Herr, 76, screenplay writer
June 24, Bernie Worrell, 72, musician (Funkadelic)

June 27, Bud Spencer, 86, actor
June 28, Scotty Moore, 84, Elvis’s guitarist

July 2, Caroline Aherne, 52, comedian, actress
July 2, Michael Cimino, 77, director
July 16, Alan Vega, 78, musician (Suicide)

July 16, Nate Thurmond, basketball player
July 24, Marni Nixon, 86, actress (singing voice in many musicals)

July 25, Tim LaHaye, 90, Left Behind author
July 26, Youree Dell Harris, Miss Cleo
July 30, Gloria DeHaven, 91, actress
August 6, 2016 Pete Fountain, 86, Jazz clarinetist

August 13, Kenny Baker, 81, Star Wars’ R2-D2
August 14, Fyvush Finkel, 93, actor
August 15 Dalian Atkinson, 48, soccer player (Aston Villa)
August 15, Bobby Hutcherson, 75, vibraphonist

August 17, Arthur Hiller, 92, film & TV director
August 22, Toots Thielemans, 94, musician (harmonica)

August 28, Gene Wilder, 83, comedian, actor

August 28, Juan Gabriel, 66, Mexican singer/songwriter

August 28, Harry Fujiwara, 82, wrestler
August 30, Vera Caslavska, 74, gymnast
September 1, Jon Polito, 65, actor

September 5, Hugh O'Brian, 91, actor
September 7, Bobby Chacon, 64, boxer
September 8, Prince Buster, 78, Ska singer

This was inspired by him:

September 8, Johan Botha, 51, singer

September 8, Lady Chablis, performer
September 11, Alexis Arquette, 47, transgender actress
September 13, Jack Hofsiss, 65, director
September 16, Edward Albee, 88, playwright

September 16, W.P. Kinsella, 81, Canadian novelist
September 17, Charmian Carr, 73, Sound of Music’s Liesl

September 24, Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr, 68, zydeco musician

September 25, Arnold Palmer, 87, Golfer
September 25, Jean Shepard, 82, singer, Grand Ole Opry

September 25, Jose Fernandez, 24, baseball player
late September/early October, Rod Temperton, musician, songwriter

October 3, Joan Marie Johnson, 72, singer (The Dixie Cups)

October 9, Aaron Pryor, 60, boxer
October 11, Patricia Barry, 93, actress
October 13, Dario Fo, 90, playwright
October 14, Jean Alexander, 90, Corrie’s Hilda Ogden
October 15, Dennis Byrd, NFL defensive lineman
October 23, Pete Burns, 57, Dead or Alive chart star

October 24, Bobby Vee, 73, 1960s teen idol

October 29, Norman R. Brokaw, 89, talent agent for Elvis, Marilyn Monroe
November 4, Jean-Jacques Perrey, 87, French composer

November 7, Leonard Cohen, 82, Iconic singer & writer

November 11, Robert Vaughn, 83, actor

November 13, Leon Russell, 74, US Rock musician

November 14, Gwen Ifill, 61, news anchor
November 15, Holly Dunn, 59, Country singer

November 15, Mose Allison, 89, pianist/singer

November 16, Mentor Williams, 70, songwriter (Drift Away)

November 18, Sharon Jones, 60, singer

November 23, Ralph Branca, 90, baseball pitcher "shot heard round the world"
November 24, Colonel Abrams, 67, 80s singer/songwriter

November 25, Florence Henderson, 82, actress (Brady Bunch)
November 26, Ron Glass, 71, US TV actor
November 26, Fritz Weaver, 90, actor
November 28, Grant Tinker, 90, TV producer
December 1, Andrew Sachs, 86, actor (Fawlty Towers)
December 6, Peter Vaughan, 93, actor (Game of Thrones)
December 7, Ian Cartwright, 52, Wolves midfielder (soccer)
December 8, John Glenn, 95, First to orbit Earth
December 8, Greg Lake, 69, musician (ELP)

December 10, AA Gill, 62, writer & critic
December 10, Ian McCaskill, 78, TV weatherman
December 11, Esma Redzepova, 73, singer

December 11, Joe Ligon, 80, singer

December 12, Walter Swinburn, 55, Derby winning jockey
December 13, Alan Thicke, 69, TV actor
December 15, Craig Sager, 65, reporter
December 18, Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99, actress

December 24, Rick Parfitt, 68, musician (Status Quo)

December 24, John Barfield, 52, baseball player
December 25, George Michael, 53, singer/songwriter

December 26, Liz Smith, 95, actress
December 26, Alphonse Mouzon, 68, percussionist

December 26, Ricky Harris, comedian and actor
December 27, Richard Adams, 96, author
December 27, Carrie Fisher, 60, actress

December 28 Debbie Reynolds, actress

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel part 2

In 1973, both Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel released solo albums. They were both good, but Simon's was exceptional.

There Goes Rhymin' Simon came out in May 1973 to universal critical praise, as well as big success, peaking at #1 in Spain and Sweden, #2 in the US, #3 in Canada, #4 in the UK, #5 in France, #6 in Norway, #7 in Australia, and #10 in Japan. It was a case of all of the album's songs being great. It was also a case of all but one of the album's tracks being released as singles (A-sides or B-sides) somewhere in the world. We start off with the only track that wasn't released as a single, although it was just as good as the rest. Was a Sunny Day is a happy, effervescent song. This is a live version from 1984:

Lead single was Kodachrome, playfully referencing the film of the same name, as well as Nikon cameras. It peaked at #2 in the US and Canada, and at #8 in France.

The B-side was Tenderness, another Simon classic:

In the UK, Kodachrome was banned from the BBC, because of the trademarked name in the title. It was relegated to the B-side, while the A-side was Take Me to the Mardi Gras. It peaked at #7, thus becoming the third most popular solo hit ever for Paul in the UK.

In France and Australia Take Me to the Mardi Gras was coupled with Something So Right, and it was the latter that became a #10 hit in both countries. Here it is, live in 1992:

Here's Barbra Streisand's version:

Here's Annie Lennox's version:

The followup to Kodachrome was gospel-tinged Loves Me Like a Rock. It was another #2 hit for Paul in the US, as well as a #5 hit in Canada. It didn't do as well elsewhere.

Learn How to Fall was the B-side. You can catch it here:

Next single was American Tune (#35, US). The tune is based on a melody line from a chorale from Johann Sebastian Bach's St Matthew Passion, itself a reworking of an earlier secular song, "Mein G'müt ist mir verwirret," composed by Hans Leo Hassler. The lyrics offer a perspective on the American experience; there are references to struggle, weariness, hard work, confusion, and homesickness.

The B-side was yet another memorable song, One Man's Ceiling is Another Man's Floor. This is a recent live version:

Finally, a beautiful lullabye called St. Judy's Comet was a #9 hit in France:

Garfunkel released Angel Clare in September 1973. It was very well reviewed and very well received, peaking at #4 in Sweden, #5 in the US, #6 in Canada, #7 in Japan and #14 in the UK. Lead single All I Know, written by talented composer Jimmy Webb, made #9 in the US.

The followup single was Van Morrison's I Shall Sing, which reached #38 in the US.

Third single, Traveling Boy, was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols.

Old Man was a Randy Newman composition:

In 1974 he released a stand-alone single called Second Avenue (written by Tim Moore), which peaked at #34 US.

The guys were still in sync: they both released their next solo albums in October 1975. They both included their last joint effort, My Little Town, which we've heard the other day. Since Art's album was released a few days earlier than Paul's, let's start with that. The album Breakaway had mixed reviews, but still managed to be a sizeable hit (#6 Canada, #7 UK, #9 US, #16 the Netherlands, #18 Norway).

Lead single, Break Away, written by Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle, and containing backing vocals by David Crosby and Graham Nash, peaked at #28 in Canada and at #39 in the US.

Personally, I enjoyed the B-side even more: Disney Girls was written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys.

Art had only had two songs in the UK Top 20: However, they were both big #1 hits. The first was his cover of I Only Have Eyes For You, a 1934 song by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, which had already been a hit by Ben Selvin (in 1934), The Flamingos (in 1959), and The Lettermen (in 1966). Art's version also made #18 in the US.

Stevie Wonder's I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) was also released as a single:

Finally from this album, 99 Miles from L.A., written by Albert Hammond and Hal David is perhaps my favorite track:

Now, on to Paul Simon's offering: Still Crazy After All These Years was the bigger hit of the two, critically as well as commercially. It won two Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1976. It was also Simon's only solo #1 album in the US. It also made #6 in the UK, #8 in Canada and Norway, #9 in Sweden, #11 in the Netherlands, and #18 in Japan.

Lead single Gone at Last, with Phoebe Snow and The Jessy Dixon Singers, made #23 US.

Followup 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover was Paul's only #1 solo single in the US. It also made #1 in Canada and #2 in France.

My favorite is the title track. Still Crazy After All These Years. It peaked at #10 in France and Australia, and #40 in the US.

Because I know you want to hear it, here's Karen Carpenter's version of the song. It was released posthumously.

Paul's joint venture with Art, My Little Town, made #9 in the US.

Finally from this album, another good song, Have a Good Time:

Slip Slidin' Away is a 1977 song written and recorded by Paul Simon, from his compilation album Greatest Hits, Etc.. (US & Canada: #5, France: #15)

In 1978 Art made the album Watermark with Jimmy Webb. Here's the title track:

The hit single off this album was yet another collaboration with Paul Simon, as well as with James Taylor. It was Sam Cooke's (What a) Wonderful World (Canada: #5, US: #17).

Garfunkel's album for 1979 was Fate for Breakfast. Since I Don't Have You, a 1958 hit for The Skyliners, was a moderate hit for Art:

It was his next single, Bright Eyes, written by Mike Batt for the animated film Watership Down, which became a super hit. It spent 6 weeks at #1 in the UK, making it the biggest selling single of 1979. Other chart positions: the Netherlands and Ireland #1, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand #2, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway #3.

Paul Simon's fifth solo studio album, was released in 1980 and was titled One-Trick Pony. (Norway: #2, New Zealand: #6, the Netherlands: #8, Sweden: #9, France #11, the US: #12, Spain & Australia: #15, the UK: #17, Canada: #23, and Japan: #35).

A lively, lovely tune called Late in the Evening was the lead single, peaking at #6 in the US:

The B-side, How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns, was also noteworthy:

The title track was the next single, peaking at #40 in the US:

Garfunkel's last album of note was 1981's Scissors Cut: it contained Gallagher & Lyle's A Heart in New York:

Jimmy Webb's Scissors Cut:

... And Clifford T. Ward's Up in the World:

Art's final hit came in 1997 (#17, UK) with a cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's Daydream:

Back to Paul Simon: in 1983 he released Hearts and Bones. Allergies was the first single, but it only made #44 in the US.

It was two other songs, however, that stood out. Rolling Stone lauded Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War saying that it "ranks among the best Simon has written" and added:

"There they are, a Belgian surrealist painter, his old lady and their pooch, dancing naked in a hotel room, window-shopping on Christopher Street and getting dolled up to dine with "the power elite." [...] It's a hilarious and magical juxtaposition of images that's also touching, because Paul Simon obviously identifies with the figure of the grown-up, respectable artist irrevocably smitten with those Doo-Wop groups, "the deep forbidden music" that originally made him fall in love with Rock & Roll.

The other great song is The Late Great Johnny Ace. The song initially sings of the Rhythm & Blues singer Johnny Ace, who is said to have shot himself in a game of Russian roulette in 1954 (eyewitness accounts say otherwise). Simon goes on to reference former Beatle John Lennon, who was murdered on December 8, 1980, as well as referencing John F. Kennedy who was assassinated in 1963. The following year Beatlemania started, and Simon gives reference to both the Beatles as well as the Rolling Stones, where Simon was living in London at that time. In an interview Simon remembered that Ace's death was the "first violent death that I remember", and noted that Kennedy and Lennon became the "Johnny Aces" of their time with their subsequent murders.

In the mid 80s Simon embraced African culture and came up with his best solo album. Graceland (1986) was in the year-end Top Albums lists of most publications. It won two Grammy Awards, for Album of the Year and for Record of the Year. Its chart fortunes were great: (the UK, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland: #1, Germany: #2, the US and Austria: #3, Italy: #4, Finland: #6, Sweden and Norway: #13, and Spain: #15.)

Lead single You Can Call Me Al was one of the most successful ever. The names in the song came from an incident at a party that Simon went to with his then-wife Peggy Harper. French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who was attending the same party, mistakenly referred to Paul as "Al" and to Peggy as "Betty", inspiring Simon to write a song.

The next single was the title track. The lyrics deal with the singer's thoughts during a road trip to Graceland after the failure of his marriage to actress and author Carrie Fisher (RIP, you beautiful soul). The song features vocals by The Everly Brothers, and won the 1988 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Next single, The Boy in the Bubble, explores starvation and terrorism, juxtaposed with wit and optimism.

Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes was the album's fourth single. The song features guest vocals from the South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Under African Skies was the fifth and final single from Graceland. The song features guest vocals from Linda Ronstadt, who received top billing on the single release.

Finally from this album, Homeless was the first song recorded by Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo for Graceland. The song launched the international career of the South African group and introduced Zulu isicathimiya music to new western audiences. Shabalala provided the music, from the melody of a traditional Zulu wedding tune, and new Zulu words. Simon provided the English lyrics. The text has been taken as protest music, though Shabalala has said that the phrase "we are homeless" is similar to the words a Zulu uses when proposing to his bride.

The Rhythm of the Saints was released in 1990. Like its predecessor, the album gained commercial success and received mostly favorable reviews from critics.

Following the success of Graceland, on which he worked principally with South African musicians, Simon broadened his interests in diverse forms of music from around the world. He turned to Latin America for the musicians and rhythms which characterize much of this album, partnering with Afro-Brazilian superstars Grupo Cultural Olodum, masters of the heavily percussive sub-style of samba called Batuque or Batucada. The group's drumming is featured on the opening song and first single, The Obvious Child, Simon's last hit single.

Brazilian singer-songwriter Milton Nascimento co-wrote Spirit Voices and contributed some vocals.

Can't Run But refers to the Chernobyl incident:

The Cool, Cool River is about the state of the world:

Paul's next studio album, Songs from The Capeman, was released in 1997. It contains Simon's own performances of songs from the Broadway musical he wrote and produced called The Capeman augmented by members of the original cast. The songs retell the story of Salvador Agron, who was known as the "Capeman". A departure musically from his earlier work, the album features Doo Wop, Rock 'n' Roll and Puerto Rican rhythms. The stage show was a commercial flop, losing $11 million, and the album did not sell well. It peaked at #42 on the Billboard 200, the lowest chart position in Simon's career. Here's Can I Forgive Him:

You're the One was released in 2000 and became his first successful studio album in 10 years. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2001, with Simon becoming the first artist to be nominated in that category in five consecutive decades (1960s-2000s). (In 2006, Paul McCartney became the only other artist to match this feat with Chaos and Creation in the Backyard). Here's Old:

... And here's the title track:

His next studio album, called Surprise (2006), was inspired by the fact of being over sixty years old – an age that he turned in 2001 and that he humorously referred already on his single Old, from the You're the One album. Wartime Prayers became one of the most celebrated tracks of the album and later a concert favorite.

Father and Daughter, which managed to give Simon his only (so far) Oscar nomination, since it was featured in the animated movie The Wild Thornberrys Movie, also managed to reach #31 in the UK, becoming Simon's only appearance as a solo artist on the British singles charts after 1990.

Finally, Outrageous, co-written with Brian Eno, one of the most promoted and particularly distinctive songs from the album, was released as the third single.

For his 2011 album called So Beautiful or So What, he reunited with former collaborator and record producer Phil Ramone. Getting Ready for Christmas Day was the first single, and it's quite appropriate that we listen to it now, even if Christmas have just passed:

The Afterlife humorously describes a recently deceased individual standing in line to meet with his heavenly creator.

Finally, his latest album Stranger to Stranger was released six months ago. The album received wide critical acclaim. It represented Simon's highest-ever debut on the Billboard 200, at #3, and reached #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Wristband creates a narrative around a Rock musician unable to gain entry into his own concert because he lacks the wristband required.

The Werewolf centers around a werewolf, also an angel of death, who is looking for victims. The song's origins came from Simon and his band experimenting with slowing down the tempo of a recording they made of the Peruvian percussion instrument Cajón, the Indian instrument gopichand, and hand claps.

Finally, The Riverbank was inspired by a teacher that Simon personally knew who was slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.