There are so many examples of great music out there, and over the years I have developed a core of favourite musicians and songs (not necessarily recorded within my lifetime) which I would like to share in this blog post.
This post will have a look at the first group of ten, in no particular order, and with no link between them.
Les Paul and Mary Ford, “How High The Moon”. Recorded in 1951 by the husband and wife duo who did a lot to popularise new technicological ways of recording including double tracking. Many modern guitarists cite Paul as a major influence. This song showcases those tricks, and is a good example of their style.
Roger Whittaker, “A Special Kind of Man”. In 1974 this was the B side of Whittaker’s major hit, “The Last Farewell”, which was covered by Elvis Presley. Whittaker’s brand of folksy gentleness, and occasional whistling, made him very popular in the easy listening section.
Dave Berry, “This Strange Effect”. Written by Ray Davies, but never officially recorded by The Kinks, this haunting ballad from 1965 is my favourite of his songs, although I would also recommend “The Crying Game” and “Mama”. The video here is a lot of fun as it shows fan hysteria in the 60s. Berry is still performing today, and even predated Michael Jackson in his slinky use of one-glove wearing.
Goldie, “Goin’ Back”. A song best known for the Dusty Springfield version released shortly afterwards in 1966. Goldie’s version fell foul of lyric changes not pleasing the songwriters Goffin and King, but it is rather sweet, I think. I heard this for the first time when the compilation CD ‘Goin’ Back’ was released.
Rainbow, “Gates of Babylon”. One of the best rock bands, this was from their early days (1978) before becoming more commercial. Big epics were the order of the day, and this is one of their best, with the trio of Ritchie Blackmore (1945- ) on guitar, Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010) on vocals, and Cozy Powell (1947-1998) on drums. This isn’t the version that appeared on their ‘Long Live Rock and Roll’ album, but a live version that was made into a promo video.
The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Originally recorded in 1971, this live performance was filmed in 1978 and released as part of the film “The Kids Are Alright”, by which time drummer Keith Moon had died and the band’s future seemed questionable. They continued with Kenney Jones, but it was never quite the same. This video shows how great they were, but also take a look at their performances at Woodstock and the Isle at Wight a few years earlier.
Tom Jones, “Green, Green Grass of Home”. In 1967 Jones had already been recording for a few years, and his signature style had already developed. This is definitely one of his best songs, and this video certainly shows a country vibe. Still going strong, I’d say in some areas his voice has even improved!
Joe Cocker, “You Can Leave Your Hat On”. I could have picked his iconic Woodstock performance of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends”, but this version of Randy Newman’s song is just fab. The video is from 9 1/2 Weeks, of course, and the year is 1986. Cocker sadly passed away in 2014, but his fabulous soul voice lives on. Video slightly NSFW.
Eric Clapton, “Wonderful Tonight”. Patti Boyd had a number of love songs written for her (the other major one was George Harrison’s “Something”, written for the Beatles). This song dates from 1977 and it is one of my favourite slow songs. There is a longer 8 minute version around but I prefer this version which is usually on radio playlists.
Bee Gees, “I Started A Joke”. This group of siblings is often remembered for Barry’s falsetto singing, but good though that is, I always liked Robin’s rather strange phrasing and delicate voice, which is showcased well here in a song from 1968 (but performed here in 1997). Robin died in 2012, his twin Maurice having passed away in 2003, but the music of the Bee Gees, notably their songs for the soundtrack of ‘Saturday Night Fever’, endure.