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In October, the monthly intros quiz consisted of  US #1s; now it’s British chart-toppers from 1957 to 1988. Not all of them are classics but sufficiently well enough (except number 19, which only people living in Britain in 1986 would know). All songs are in chronological order of reaching the top of the UK charts.

As always, each of the 20 intros is 5-7 seconds in length (OK, one is only four seconds). I will post the answers in the comments section by Monday, so please don’t post your answers. If you can’t wait till then to find out what the blasted number 10 is, please feel free to e-mail me or, better, message me on Facebook. If you’re not my FB friend, click here and become one.

Intros Quiz – US #1s edition.mp3


More Intros Quizzes

Inevitably, I missed a few dead musicians in the In Memoriam series. I picked up three as I perused the AM, Then FM blog. In my defence, two of those were actors who occasionally sang, but I had thought of both while driving, and then forgot to include them. But how I could forget Sam Butera when I trumpeted his death on my regular message board? And then I came across a few more. As I have stressed, I make no claims of having compiled a complete list of music’s departed in 2009.

So will you please add the following to your In Memoriam folder:

Sam Butera,81, influential tenor saxophonist and arranger with Louis Prima’s backing band The Witnesses, on June 3.
Sam Butera & the Witnesses – Bim Bam.mp3

Ricardo Montalbán, 88, actor who appeared in several musicals, on January 14.
Ricardo Montalbán – Chihuahua Choo Choo.mp3

Mercedes Sosa, 74, Argentian folk singer and anti-fascist activist, on October 4.
Mercedes Sosa – La Maza.mp3

Blossom Dearie, 84, jazz vocalist and pianist, on February 7.
Blossom Dearie – Give Him The Ooh-La-La.mp3

Dickie Peterson, 63, lead singer and bassist of psychedelic rock band Blue Cheer (whose cover of Summertime Blues is sometimes called the first heavy metal song), on October 12.
Blue Cheer – Summertime Blues.mp3

Bud Shank, 82, jazz saxophonist and flautist, on April 2.
Bud Shank – I Am The Walrus.mp3

Rowland S Howard, 50, member of Australian band The Birthday Party and Nick Cave sideman, on December 30.
The Birthday Party – Nick The Stripper.mp3

Patrick Swayze, 57, actor and some-time singer, on September 14.
Patrick Swayze – She’s Like The Wind.mp3

Brittany Murphy, 32, actress who sometimes sang, on December 20.
Brittany Murphy – Somebody To Love.mp3

* * *

In Memoriam Vol. 1
In Memoriam Vol. 2
In Memoriam Vol. 3

Keep up with pop deaths on Facebook

Darren of the Inveresk Street blog rightly pointed out that most of the musicians who died in 2009 featured in the two previous posts lived to a ripe age. As every year, there were exceptions. Poor Taylor Mitchell, for example, was only 19 and had just released her debut album when she was attacked and killed by coyotes. Others who died young in 2009 included Jeff Hanson (31), Steven Gately (33), guitarist Jack Rose (38), Chris Feinstein of The Cardinals (42), Vic Chesnutt (45), Jay Bennett (45) and, of course, Michael Jackson (50) (EDIT: as well as former Nick Cave sideman Rowland S. Howard on December 30). Granted, it’s not a death epidemic of 1970/71 proportions. I’ve tried to pay tribute to a few forgotten people in pop, including session musicians of whom we may know nothing but whose work we know well. What would When A Man Loves A Woman be without Barry Beckett’s keyboard, and Motown without the Funk Brothers, whose drummer Uriel Jones died in 2009?

* * *

Barry ‘The Bear’ Beckett, 66, soul keyboard player, producer and A&R man, on June 10
(Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman)

Jeff Wingfield, 69, briefly lead guitarist of The Left Banke, on June 11
(The Left Banke – She May Call You Up Tonight)

Bobby Graham, 69, British session drummer who appeared on classics such as The Kinks’ You Really Got Me, Petula Clark’s Downtown and the song featured here, on September 14
(Dusty Springfield – I Only Want To Be With You)

Larry Knechtel, 69, guitarist and keyboard player of Bread (the guitar solo on Guitar Man is his) who as a session man collaborated with Phil Spector on the Wall of Sound productions and played the piano on Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, August 20
(Bread – The Guitar Man)

Vic Chesnutt, 45, singer-songwriter, on December 25
(Vic Chesnutt – You Are Never Alone)

Tim Hart, 61, singer with folk-rockers Steeleye Span, on December 24
(Steeleye Span – John Barleycorn)

James Gurley, 70, guitarist of Big Brother & the Holding Company and Janis Joplin’s ex-lover, on December 20
(Big Brother & the Holding Company – Combination Of The Two)

Mick Cocks, guitarist with Rose Tattoo (and the fourth member of the group to die since 2006), on December 22
(Rose Tattoo – Fightin’ Sons)

Kelly Groucutt, 63, bassist of the Electric Light Orchestra whose backing vocals can be heard on the featured track, on February 19
(ELO – The Diary Of Horace Wimp)

Stephen Gately, 33, singer and former member of Boyzone, on October 10
(Stephen Gately – New Beginning)

Hank Crawford, 74, jazz and R&B saxophone player, on January 29
(Hank Crawford – Wildflower)

Dan Seals, 67, half of cumbersomely named soft rock duo England Dan & John Ford Coley, on March 25
(England Dan & John Ford Coley – Some Things Don’t Come Easy)

Winston Mankunku Ngozi, 66, South African jazz master, on October 22
(Winston Mankunku Ngozi – Lagunya Khayelitsha)

Louie Bellson, 84, legendary jazz drummer, on February 14
(Louie Bellson – Hot)

Les Paul, 94, guitar inventor and virtuoso, on August 13
(Les Paul – Meet Mister Callaghan)

Yvonne King, 89, of the King Sisters (not the King Singers!), on December 13
(The King Sisters – Sweet Leilani)

Soupy Sales, 83, comedian, on October 22
(Soupy Sales – My Baby’s Got A Crush On Frankenstein)

Jimmy Boyd, 70, juvenile star of the 1950s who sang the original of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, on March 7
(Frankie Laine & Jimmy Boyd – Tell Me A Story)

Duke D’Mond, 66, singer with English comedy troupe The Barron Knights, on April 9
(The Barron Knights – A Taste Of Aggro)

Renato Plagiari, 66, half of the one-hit wonders Renée & Renato and the voice of the UK’s late ’70s Just One Cornetto commercial, on July 27
(Renée & Renato – Save Your Love)

Maurice Jarre, 84, film composer, on March 29
(Maurice Jarre – Doctor Zhivago Theme)




In Memoriam Vol. 1
In Memoriam Vol. 2

More Mixes

Keep up with pop deaths on Facebook

In Memoriam Vol. 2

Here is the second part of musicians who died in 2009. Part 3 will follow early in the new year. I make no claims of having arrived at a complete and exhaustive list of musicians who left us the past year. Some I didn’t include because their names or output is unfamiliar to me, or just not my scene; and a few I left out because I have no music by them, and could not find any.

Finally, in response to an e-mail, the photo gallery follows the order in which people are listed. So Dave Dee is on the top left, Uriel Jones next to him, MJ (listed third) left second from top and so on.

* * *

Dave Dee, 67, of ’60s hit group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on January 9
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)

Uriel Jones, 74, drummer of Motown backing band collective The Funk Brothers, who played on songs such as Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Trough The Grapevine, The Temptations’ Cloud Nine, and the song below, on March 24.
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967)

Michael Jackson, 50, pop singer and former childstar with the Jackson 5 (the b-side of whose 1971 hit I’ll Be There features here), on June 25
Jackson Five – One More Chance (1971)

Bob Bogle, 75, member of surf rock band The Ventures, on June 14
The Ventures – Scat In The Dark (1970)

Billy Powell, 59, Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist, on January 28
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man (1973)

Ron Asheton, 60, guitarist of The Stooges, found dead on January 6
The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog (1969)

Lux Interior, 62, frontman of punk legends The Cramps, on February 4
The Cramps – Human Fly (1978)

Johnny Jones, 73, leader of The King Casuals, alma mater of Jimi Hendrix, on October 14
Johnny Jones & the King Casuals – Purple Haze (1968)

Jim Dickinson, 67, R&B singer with The Jesters, pianist (on songs such as the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses) and producer, on August 15
The Jesters – Cadillac Man (1966)

Clinton Ford, 77, English skiffle and country singer, on October 21
Clinton Ford – Huggin’ And A Chalkin’ (1962)

Al Alberts, 87, member of the Four Aces, on November 27
Four Aces – Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (1955)

Hank Locklin, 91, country legend, on March 8
Hank Locklin – Send Me The Pillow You Dream On (1960)

Liam Clancy, 74, last surviving member of the hugely influential folk group The Clancy Brothers, on December4.
The Clancy Brothers – The Leaving Of Liverpool (1964)

Mike Seeger, 75, folk singer, brother of Peggy and half-brother of Pete, on August 7
Mike Seeger & Paul Brown – Way Down In North Carolina (1996)

Chris Feinstein, 42, bassist of alt.country band The Cardinals, on December 14
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Follow The Lights (2007)

Jeff Hanson, 31, high-voiced singer-songwriter, on June 5
Jeff Hanson – Now We Know (2005)

Rudy Cain, 63, singer and founder of The Delfonics and Blue Magic, on April 9
The Delfonics – Ready Or Not Here I Come (1968)

Fayette Pinkney, 61, member of The Three Degrees, on June 27
Three Degrees – Dirty Old Man (1973)

Eric Woolfson, 64, Alan Parsons’ sidekick in the Project who took lead vocals on the group’s biggest hit, Eye In The Sky, on December 2
The Alan Parsons Project – Sirius/Eye In The Sky (1982)

Jack Rose, 38, virtuoso guitarist, on December 5
Jack Rose – Kensington Blues (2005)


In Memoriam Vol. 2


In Memoriam Vol. 1

Keep up with pop deaths on Facebook

More Mixes

About the only reason why I still bother to watch awards shows is to catch the sequence of people who have died since the last show (and of late successive shows have contrived to fuck that up by going for “artistic” camera angles which don’t hep the TV viewer in identifying dead people). Here is my In Memoriam section, with mix-tapes, for 2009, including only musicians, in three parts. The second will run next week, and the third early in the new year to accommodate late entries. so please don’t shout at me for having failed to pick up that the little singer of the Jackson 5 has died; he’ll feature in the second instalment. Feel free, however, to shout at the Grammys for omitting many of the departed musicians I will highlight

The order of musicians does not run in the chronology of death, but is dictated randomly by the requirements of mix-tape sequencing — and the total aptness of leading with the Jim Carroll song as the theme of the mix. The songs featured on the mix should remind us what a debt we owe to those who have gone, and in some cases how much we are going to miss them, or cause us regret that we did not get to know them better.

Rest in Peace, y’all.

* * *

Jim Carroll, 60, post-punk musician and writer of The Basketball Diaries, on September 11.
The Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died (1980)

Willy DeVille, 58, punk musician, on August 6
Mink DeVille – Just To Walk That Little Girl Home (1980)

Al Martino, 82, crooner and actor (Johnny Fontane in The Godfather), on October 13
Al Martino – To The Door Of The Sun (1974)

Ellie Greenwich, 68, Brill Building songwriter and occasional singer, on August 26
Ellie Greenwich – I Can Hear Music (1973)

Rusty Wier, 65, country singer and songwriter, on October 9
Rusty Wier – High Road, Low Road (1976)

John Martyn, 60, singer-songwriter, on January 29
John Martyn – Ways To Cry (1973)

Jay Bennett, 45, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, ex-Wilco member, on May 25
Jay Bennett & Edward Burch – Forgiven (2002)

Taylor Mitchell, 19, Canadian singer-songwriter, killed by coyotes on October 28
Taylor Mitchell – Don’t Know How I Got Here (2009)

Mary Travers, 72, folk singer and a third of Peter, Paul & Mary, on September 16
Mary Travers – Five Hundred Miles (1973)

Gordon Waller, 64, half of ’60s duo Peter & Gordon (represented here with a Lennon/McCartney composition), on July 17
Peter & Gordon – I Don’t Want To See You Again (1964)

Estelle Bennett, 67, member of The Ronettes and sister of Ronnie Spector, on February 11
The Ronettes – Silhouettes (1962)

Dewey Martin, 68, Buffalo Springfield drummer, on January 31
Buffalo Springfield – Sit Down, I Think I Love You (1966)

Billy Lee Riley, 75, rockabilly singer on Sun Records (sometimes backed by Jerry Lee Lewis on piano, as on this song), on August 2
Billy Riley – Pearly Lee (1957)

Gale Storm, 87, actress and singer born Josephine Owaissa Cottle, on June 27
Gale Storm – Dark Moon (1957)

Huey Long, 105, last surviving member of the Ink Spots (whom he joined in 1944), on June 10
Ink Spots – To Each His Own (1946)

Chris Connor, 81, jazz singer born Mary Coutsenhizer, on August 29
Chris Connor – They All Laughed (1957)

Kenny Rankin, 69, pop and jazz singer, on June 7
Kenny Rankin – Sunday Kind Of Love (1975)

Koko Taylor, 80, blues singer, on June 3
Koko Taylor – I Don’t Care No More (1985)

Johnny Carter, 75, R&B singer with The Flamingos and The Dells, on August 21
The Dells – The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind) (1971)

Leroy Smith, 56, funder and keyboardist of UK soul group Sweet Sensation, on January 15
Sweet Sensation – Sad Sweet Dreamer (1975)

Viola Wills, 69, soul singer who made a comeback as disco diva, on May 6
Viola Wills – Gonna Get Along Without You Now (1979)

Eddie Bo, 79, funky blues legend, on March 18
Eddie Bo – We’re Doing It (The Thang Pt1) (1970)


In Memoriam Vol. 1


Keep up with pop deaths on Facebook

More Mixes

You can finally exhale: here are my top 20 albums of 2009. Apart from the two top spots, the order is rather random. Ask me in ten minutes’ time, and Grizzly Bear or M. Ward might sit at number 3 and 4. I’ve put sample tracks of each album on a mix; the song titles appear at the end each abstract.


1. Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter
I didn’t expect Hawley to top his majestic 2005 album Coles Corner. A profoundly soulful pop symphony with accomplished and unusual instrumentation, Truelove’s Gutter may very well be the best album of the decade.
(Open Up Your Door) Homepage

2. Ben Kweller – Changing Horses
Kweller at last finds his sound (changing horses?) with an outstanding country album that provides an antidote to the corporate side of the genre. An absolute joy.
(Gypsy Rose) Homepage

3. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
Wilco are incapable of releasing a bad album. The eponymous album will probably not go down in the band’s history as a classic, but it’s solid quality.
(You And I) Homepage

4. Brandi Carlile – Give Up The Ghost
It took me a few listens to realise just how good an album this Rick Rubin-produced effort is. Stay-At-Home Indie Pop put it better than I could: “Anthemic, brash, cool… the abc of Brandi, and I could go on to devilish, euphoric, fresh but fragile, and beyond (to gargantuan, hoarse-heavenly, incandescent), but all I want to really do is pathetically declare my love.” But will you still do so when Brandi gets that first clutch of Grammys, Indie-Pop? See if you can guess, without googling, with whom Carlile duets on Caroline.
(Caroline) Homepage

5. Farryl Purkiss – Fruitbats & Crows
The South African singer-songwriter dude returns three years after his excellent full debut with rockier effort. Purkiss draws his influences widely but manages to create his own coherent, late night sound.
(Seraphine) Homepage

6. Elvis Perkins – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Here’s what I wrote earlier this year: Imagine Dylan as an indie artist, but with an appealing voice. There is a bit of an experimental edge to it, which in the wrong mood can be annoying, but exhilarating in the right mood.
(Doomsday) MySpace

7. Prefab Sprout – Let’s Change The World With Music
Released 17 years after it was actually recorded, this is supposed to be Paddy McAloon’s lost masterpiece. It’s not a masterpiece, but a damn good, and very accessible album, on which McAloon is on a bit of a God trip.
(Last Of The Great Romantics) MySpace

8. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
Pitchfork calls the New Pornographer “a force of nature”. Hackneyed turns of phrases, even when they intend to pun on an album title, sometimes are just the most appropriate. Case is so much a force of nature that listening to the album can leave the listener exhausted.
(People Got A Lotta Nerve) Homepage

9. Monsters of Folk – Homework
I should love this. Two Bright Eyes guys, M. Ward and the singer of My Morning Jacket, and a batch of very good songs. It’s a fine album, and yet it fills me with a sense of unease, the same vibe I got from the Travelin’ Wilburys (and one song here sounds like a Wilburys track!). And yet, I keep returning to Homework
(Man Named Truth) Homepage

10. Peasant – On The Ground
This deserved more of a buzz. Nicely crafted guy-with-guitar stuff that recalls Joshua Radin and, yeah, Elliot Smith, with a bit of Simon & Garfunkel. A lovely cool-down album.
(Fine Is Fine) MySpace

11. Eels – Hombre Lobo
E offers nothing much new here, but, hey, it’s an Eels album, and does everything you want an Eels album to do. That’s enough for me.
(That Look You Give That Guy) Homepage

12. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Beguiling and frequently surprising. It’s an aural extravaganza. Now, which Ben Folds does Two Weeks borrow its riff from?
(Two Weeks) MySpace

13. Mindy Smith – Stupid Love
Indie-Pop may be in love with Brandi Carlile; I declare my (admittedly promiscuous) love for the likewise deceptively named Mindy Smith. Stupid Love, it must be said, is not as breathtaking an album as Mindy’s debut, One Moment More, but it has Mindy’s beautiful voice and pleasant enough songs.
(What Went Wrong) Homepage

14. Bob Evans – Goodnight Bull Creek
I’m a great fan of Evans’ 2006 sophomore album, Suburban Songs. Like that set, Goodnight Bull Creek was recorded in Nashville. Creek lacks the immediately catchy songs of the previous album, but has a much richer, textured production.
(Brother, O Brother) Homepage

15. Jason Paul Johnston – Willows Motel
Solid country, recalling Prine rather than Twitty. And just when I think Johnstone has settled into predictable country mode, he pulls something that makes me think, “What the fuck was that?”
(She’s A Friend) MySpace

16. Marissa Nadler – Little Hells
Again, to quote myself: I am not acquainted with Nadler’s previous effort; apparently it is gloomier than Little Hells. Well, this one isn’t a courtjesters’ convention of heedless madcappery either. It is, however, a beautiful, hypnotic album which draws much of its inspiration from medieval, cloistered sounds.
(Rosary) Homepage.

17. M. Ward – Hold Time
Here Ward draws from the heritage of country and soul, from the Beach Boys and from Spector — the choice of two covers affirm the retro vibe: an excellent cover of Buddy Holly’s Rave On, a less than brilliant rendition of Hank Williams’ Oh Lonesome Me (featuring Hank Sr’s namesake Lucinda). The production is polished, the sound a lot more mainstream than previous albums
(Rave On) Homepage

18. Loney, Dear – Dear John
Our Swedish homestudio-bound genius returns with another magical multi-layered chamber-pop epic which is at once orchestral and, largely thanks to the man’s voice, intimate.
(Airport Surroundings) Homepage

19. Micah P Hinson – All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers
I am not a big fan over covers albums. Usually they are self-conscious about doing something “different” with a song, or issue redundant carbon copies. Cover albums work when the performer is idiosyncratic, so unique that he or she need not try to make a song sound differently. Johnny Cash pulled it off; and for the most part Hinson does so here, where he takes on the likes of Sinatra (My Way, the ambitious fucker!), Leadbelly, Holly, Dylan, Beatles and John Denver, armed mostly only with his trusty guitar and croaking voice.
(This Old Guitar) Homepage

20. Laura Gibson – Beasts of Seasons
Pitchfork nailed it when their reviewer called the singer-songwriter Gibson’s music as “far better suited to a fireplace and a cup of warm apple cider than to your local Starbucks”. Beasts of Seasons is bleak and beautiful.
(Funeral Song) MySpace



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