Ian McLagan of The Small Faces Joins Ronnie and Steve

It was so sad to hear that Ian McLagan passed away on Wednesday, after suffering a stroke.

Ian was most well known as the keyboard player for two of my favourite bands, the Facesand the Small Faces. His distinctive Hammond B3 organ sound was a massive part of the British 60’s sound.

Sadly this leaves Kenney Jones as the only surviving member of the seminal 60’s pop group the Small Faces. Lead singer and guitarist, Steve Marriott, died in a house fire in 1991. Bass player and songwriter, Ronnie Lane, succumbed to Multiple Sclerosis six years later.

Unlike the other members of the Small FacesIan came from the west side of London. He was not a founder member of the band, but was recruited when they had issues with their original keyboard man, Jimmy Winston, after their first two singles.

The Small Faces manager, Don Arden enlisted McLagan on a trial period in 1965, at £30 per week. He told him that he would get an equal share, once the trial was over. He did! He then got £20 per week, which is what the others were getting, despite playing gigs almost every night, for which Arden was raking in £1,000 per show.

When Steve Marriott quit the Small Faces in 1969 Ian McLagan stuck with Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones. They recruited Rod Stewart and Ron Wood from the Jeff Beck Group. They dropped the “Small” part of their name, partly because Stewart and Wood towered over the original members by several inches.

The Faces were even more successful than the Small Faces, especially in America, where the Small Faces never really broke, mainly due to their management concentrating on ripping them off at home.

Ian McLagan was something of a second string song writer in both bands, falling behind Marriott, Lane, Stewart and Wood, who wrote the majority of their hits. But he did have songs included on their albums, as well as having numerous co-writing credits for both bands. There is of course no questioning the contribution of his piano and organ sounds to the success of both the Faces and Small Faces.

After the Faces split in 1975 Mac continued to work with the individual members from time to time, joining Ronnie Wood on the Rolling Stones 1978 album Some Girls and in Ronnie’s side project The New Barbarians.

He released two solo albums in 1979 and 1980 that both received good reviews, but neither sold well.

As well as working with his old mates, Ian became a session player and backup musician, working with such notables as Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and Bruce Springsteen, amongst many others.

In 1997, McLagan joined Billy Bragg‘s band, The Blokes and toured extensively with him, as well as performing and co-writing songs on his 2002 album England, Half English.

McLagan moved to Austin in Texas and released a third solo album with his Bump Band. This band really kicked him into action, releasing Rise and Shine in 2004 and three albums in 2008 Here Comes Trouble, the concert album Extra Live, and Spiritual Boy, a tribute to his former band mate Ronnie Lane.

His final album United States was released earlier this year. Mac famously said that a retired musician was a corpse.

Ian wrote an autobiography, All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History, in 2000. He added to it and reprinted it in 2013.

Mac married Keith Moon’s ex-wife Kim Kerrigan in 1978. But tragically she died in a car accident in Austin in 2006.

RIP Ian, you are in good company.

Save the Last Dance for Doc

You May not Have Heard of Doc Pomus but His Music is the Soundtrack to Our Lives.

One of the most popular dance songs of all time was written by a man with Polio, who could not dance.

Doc Pomus is little known outside of the music industry, but this prolific songwriter wrote some of the most well known songs of the early Rock ‘n Roll era, including 25 songs for Elvis Presley and hits for The CoastersThe DriftersThe SearchersDion and the Belmonts and so many more.

Still not ringing any bells? Well how about the songs?

A Teenager in LoveSave The Last Dance For MeThis Magic MomentTurn Me LooseSweets For My Sweet, (a hit for the Drifters and then the Searchers), Little Sister(Marie’s the Name) His Latest FlameMess of Blues and Viva Las Vegas. Sound familiar?

As well as these hits, Doc Pomus wrote songs for, or collaborated with, Ray CharlesDr John (AKA “Mac” Rebennack), Willy DeVilleB.B. KingIrma ThomasMarianne FaithfullCharlie RichPhil SpectorJerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to name a few. A pretty impressive CV for someone most people have never heard of, don’t you think?

So who was Doc Pomus and what was his story?

Let me tell you…

Doc Pomus was born Jerome Solon Felder in Brooklyn, New York, on June 27, 1925, the son of Jewish immigrants. He contracted polio when he was 6 years old and as a result relied on crutches or a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

He became a fan of blues music after hearing a Big Joe Turner record as a teenager, adopted the stage name Doc Pomus and began performing as a blues singer.

This was incredibly rare for a white Jewish man at that time. In fact, he said that more often than not, he was the only Caucasian in the clubs, but that as a Jew and a polio victim, he felt a special “underdog” kinship with African Americans. While in turn, the audiences both respected his courage and were impressed with his talent. He recorded over 40 songs as a singer in the 1940s and ’50s and sang in a thousand blues clubs.

But in his early thirties he wanted to get married and realised that he could never support himself and a family as a singer. So he decided to become a songwriter and enlisted his long term piano-playing partner, Mort Shuman, as his collaborator. Their collaboration mostly involved Pomus writing the lyrics and Shuman the melody, but occasionally each worked on both.

They got themselves an office in New York’s legendary song writing HQ, The Brill Building and proceeded to churn out the hits.

A Teenager in Love was a huge hit for Dion and the Belmonts

A Teenager in Love was originally called ‘Oh To Be A Teenager in Love’, but Docrealised that teenage love was not that great, it was full of angst and hence the lyrics that so many teenagers felt an affinity with.

The Dion version of the song reached number 5 on the American Billboard chart, but in May 1959, it held three positions in the British Top 20, the other two versions were by Marty Wilde and Craig Douglas.

It has subsequently been covered by artists as diverse as Bob Marley and The WailersSimon and GarfunkelThe FleetwoodsHelen ShapiroConnie Stevens and the Mutations on The Muppet Show in 1976, Less Than Jake in 2002 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the same year.

The story of Save the Last Dance for Me is rumoured to be based on Doc’s wedding day experience, where he was unable to dance with his wife, because of his polio, so he encouraged her to dance with his friends and male family members.

Ben E. King and the Drifters recorded This Magic Moment in 1960, reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was covered in 1969 by Jay and the Americans and this time went to number 6. It has since been used in the film The Sandlot and the television show The Sopranos, not to mention recently in an ad for the TAB in Australia. Ooops! Sorry we did mention it.

Pomus and Schuman were recruited to provide some of the humongous number of songs that Elvis Presley was required to record during his moviemaking days. They contributed over 20 songs, among them Little SisterViva Las VegasMess of Bluesand one of my personal favourites (Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame.

Doc was driving in his car one day and was struck by the sounds of the car horns blaring. When he got to the studio, he attempted to assimilate the sound of the horns and wrote an introduction to a song he initially called “A Crowded Avenue”. Later, the work progressed with Mort Shuman. A chorus was added and the name of the song was changed to Can’t Get Used to Losing You. It became one of the biggest hits for Andy Williams, in 1963.

In the mid 60’s Doc had a quite serious accident, when he was tipped out of his wheelchair after hitting a crack in a New York pavement. A low period in his life followed, his marriage broke up, his partnership with Mort Shuman ended and his fortunes took a downturn. Everyone seemed to be recording their own songs and the demand for his material waned.

He took a break from song writing and became a professional gambler, for a decade. But he eventually realised that having his apartment full of degenerate gamblers was not the ideal way to bring up his kids.

He partnered with Dr John (Mac Rebennack) and Willy DeVille and wrote gems for both of them and B.B. King.

This one is a favourite Mink DeVille song of mine that Willy wrote with the Doc.

Doc was always a champion of down on their luck musicians and others. He often held court in various bars, restaurants and the foyers of the hotels that he lived in, welcoming the night people of New York.

One such musician was Jimmy Scott (AKA Little Jimmy Scott ) and Doc wrote to Billboard magazine bemoaning the fact that too often the music business waits until someone is dead to declare how great they were and that someone should give Jimmy a record deal.

Ironically, Jimmy Scott sang at Doc’s funeral and as a result was signed to Sire Records and regularly worked with Lou Reed thereafter.

Doc died from Lung Cancer in 1991 and his funeral was said to be the most astonishing, touching music funeral New York ever saw. His own music was played gospel style and Jimmy Scott’s performance of Someone to Watch Over Me brought the crowd to tears.

The 1995 album Till the Night is Gone: A Tribute to Doc Pomus
features recordings of fourteen of Doc Pomus’s songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Hiatt, and Roseanne Cash. That has got to be worth checking out.

Blues and Soul Singer Bobby Blue Bland Dies at 83

It seems that we have posted far too many of these obituaries lately, but unfortunately we are in an era when the originators of the most powerful forms of music are reaching their time.

 

It was sad to hear of the passing of Bobby Blue Bland, a name that many young music fans may not be familiar with. But have no doubt, he was one of the best and most influential blues and soul singers of all time.

If you don’t believe me, check out some of the video clips that we have included in this tribute and the names of the musicians who have recorded his songs.

We have reproduced the obituary By Erin Coulehan of Rolling Stone Magazine below

Bobby “Blue” Bland, the blues and soul singer of songs such as “Further on Up the Road” and “Turn on Your Love Light,” died yesterday in Memphis. He was 83. According to Bland’s son, the blues singer died of complications from an ongoing illness, The Associated Press reports.

Bland was known as the “Sinatra of the blues” thanks to his smooth vocals, and was also influenced by Nat King Cole. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and was known as one of the last living connections to the roots of blues.

“He brought a certain level of class to the blues genre,” said Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, son of musician and producer Willie Mitchell.

After moving to Memphis when he was a teenager, Bland co-founded the Beale Streeters, a group that included B.B. King and Johnny Ace. Following a stint in the U.S. Army, Bland recorded in the mid-Fifties with Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, who launched the careers of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, but it wasn’t until later in the decade that Bland found success.

His first hit came in 1957 with “Further on Up the Road” which reached Number One on the R&B charts. He earned the nickname “Little Boy Blue,” taken from one of his songs, from his lovelorn subject matter, which yielded a string of hits including 1960′s “I’ll Take Care of You” and 1961′s “Turn Your Love Light On” that became hits in the early 1960s.

Although he wasn’t as widely known as some of his blues contemporaries, his songs were influential: rockers including Eric Clapton and David Bowie recorded Bland’s tunes at the beginning of their careers.

“He’s always been the type of guy that if he could help you in any way, form or fashion, he would,” his son, Rodd Bland, said.

If you are a fan of true roots music, or any kind of soulful music, do yourself a favour and check out Bobby Blue Bland and his contemporaries.

Recording equipment and instrumental effects may have been limited back then, but musicians have been trying to recreate that soulful feel ever since those old black and white days.

RIP Bobby Blue Bland, your music will live on.

Two Great Names Leave Us

Womack and Presley Join the Heavenly Chorus

This week saw the passing of two great names of popular music. Cecil Womack was most famous for his success in the 80’s, in partnership with his wife Linda Womack as Womack and Womack, but Cecil had been successfully writing and performing music since 1953. The Telegraph in the UK gave us the following obituary:-

Born on September 25 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio, Cecil Womack was the son of a steelworker who also sang and played guitar in a gospel group. Cecil and his older brothers — Curtis, Harry, Friendly and Bobby — formed The Womack Brothers in imitation of their father’s group, and as a child Cecil quickly proved proficient on guitar and piano.

Impressed by The Womack Brothers, their father abandoned his own group to sing with his sons, and the six Womacks were soon singing in churches across the Mid-West. In 1953 they opened for The Soul Stirrers, which featured the rising star Sam Cooke. Once established as a solo star, Cooke would sign The Womack Brothers (without their father) to his label, changing their name to The Valentinos and insisting that they sing secular music.

The Valentinos began releasing boisterous R&B singles that exhibited their excellent harmonies, instrumental prowess and songwriting. In 1964 they had an R&B hit in the United States with It’s All Over Now, which was quickly covered (even more successfully) by The Rolling Stones, giving the British band its first UK No 1 and first hit in America. The song had been written by Bobby Womack, who later recalled: “I was still screaming and hollering right up until I got my first royalty cheque. Man, the amount of money rolling in shut me right up.”

Cooke was shot dead in late 1964, and without his support The Valentinos disbanded soon afterwards. Bobby Womack — who had been working as Cooke’s guitarist — married his widow, Barbara, and developed a very successful career as songwriter, session guitarist and, eventually, solo artist. In 1966 Cecil married the Motown singer Mary Wells, for whom he wrote and produced several songs; they went on to have three children together.

Meanwhile, Bobby’s marriage to Barbara had ended disastrously when she discovered that he was having an affair with her daughter Linda, who was still a teenager; Bobby had to flee the family home at the end of a gun barrel.

In 1976 Cecil and Mary Wells divorced, and the next year he married Linda Cooke. Together the couple penned hits for The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle, George Benson and Teddy Pendergrass, for whom they wrote one of his biggest hits, Love TKO. In 1983, as Womack & Womack, they secured a recording contract with Elektra. The duo’s 1983 debut album, Love Wars, won wide critical acclaim, while the title track was a hit in both America and Britain .

In 1987 Womack & Womack moved to Island Records, and their 1988 album Conscience turned out to be the most successful of their career, with the single Teardrops reaching No 3 in the UK charts and proving a huge hit worldwide.

Womack & Womack’s songs combined musical intelligence with fine harmony vocals and supple instrumentation. Yet the couple never managed to capitalise fully on Teardrops’ success, and their 1991 album Family Spirit failed to chart. Not long afterwards, following a visit to Nigeria, Cecil and Linda claimed to have discovered ancestral ties to the Zekkariyas tribe, and they adopted the names Zeriiya (Linda) and Zekuumba (Cecil) Zekkariyas; in 1993 — under the name House of Zekkariyas aka Womack & Womack — they released an album called Transformation to the House of Zekkariyas, which featured their final UK Top 50 hit, Secret Star.

You could easily make a film about the history of the Womacks and they probably will, but fortunately Bobby Womack is still a living the legend, so it may not happen yet.

Reg Presley was from the same era as Cecil Womack and was the lead singer of The Troggs, who notched up seven big hits in the 60’s, most famously Wild Thing. Once again The Telegraph provides a comprehensive obituary, here’s an excerpt from it:-

The Troggs’ vertiginous climb to fame had spanned 18 months, a relatively brief period during which they achieved all seven of their British chart successes, including Any Way That You Want Me and With a Girl Like You; thereafter the band’s popularity hit a sticky patch which lasted in excess of 40 years.

This slow descent from celebrity was dramatically interrupted in 1994, however, when Presley’s composition Love is all Around, a Top 10 hit for The Troggs 27 years earlier, was covered by the Scottish group Wet Wet Wet and used on the soundtrack of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. It reached No 1 and remained there for what seemed an eternity – in fact, 15 weeks.

Reginald Maurice Ball – his unenviable pseudonym was given to him in 1965 by the celebrated publicist Keith Altham – was born in Andover, Hampshire, on June 12 1941. After school he joined the building trade, where he began a career as a bricklayer – a job he abandoned only when Wild Thing entered the Top 10 in 1966. The group’s name, an abbreviation of Troglodyte, was intended to communicate rugged sexuality. Unfortunately, as Presley observed, the title served instead as a gateway to derision.

“Paul McCartney,” he complained, “would always refer to me as ‘Reg Trogg’.”

The Troggs’ brief but intense flirtation with mainstream success was engineered by Larry Page, who turned to production after mixed reactions to his own short-lived performing career as “Larry Page the Teenage Rage”. It was Page who had the idea of persuading The Troggs to record Wild Thing. The song, which would become an anthem for Jimi Hendrix, was written by James Wesley Voight, younger brother of the actor Jon, under the name of Chip Taylor.

Presley recalled: “When I heard those lyrics: ‘Wild thing. You make my heart sing. You make everything groovy,’ I just thought: ‘Oh my God. What has Larry done to us?’”

Page dressed his protégés in loud striped suits and urged them to maintain an impeccable image offstage. Presley, a moderate drinker who smoked, by his own estimation, an average of 80 a day for most of his life, never took illegal drugs. But Page was also particularly insistent that the group refrain from swearing. With time, the musicians found this stricture more difficult to adhere to.

Wild Thing, With a Girl Like You and Any Way That You Want Me were outstanding singles which inspired a host of performers, including Iggy Pop. The late American writer Lester Bangs even went so far as to publish a 25,000 word eulogy to The Troggs, which hailed them as the godfathers of punk and called their music “holy”. At one point Bangs, whose critical instincts occasionally betrayed his prodigious consumption of narcotics, compared Reg Presley to Marcel Proust.

In 1987, when his fortunes were hardly at their zenith, Presley was hailed by Bob Dylan on the set of Richard Marquand’s film Hearts of Fire, in which the leader of the Troggs was appearing as an extra. “I had this guitar around my neck,” Presley told a reporter. “Dylan recognised me. He came up and said: ‘How long have you been playing the guitar?’ I said, ‘All bloody afternoon, mate.’”

Before he first fell ill with a serious stroke in September 2010, The Troggs had been entertaining large audiences at festivals in Belgium and Germany, countries where their legacy was especially well-appreciated.

Deep Purple Keyboard Player Jon Lord dies in London

NineMSN reports that Jon Lord, founder member and keyboard player for classic rock band Deep Purple, has died in London.

Jon Lord‘s distinct Hammond organ was as much part of the Deep Purple sound as Richie Blackmore‘s guitar or Ian Gillan‘s vocals. He of course spent more time in the band than both of them, Gillan not being in the original lineup and Blackmore not being in the reformed band of more recent years.

As well as Deep PurpleJon Lord spent time in many other bands, both before and after his Purple career. They included Paice, Ashton & LordThe Artwoods with Ron Wood‘s brother Art, Whitesnake, The Flower Pot Men and he played piano on The Kinks‘ debut hit, “You Really Got Me.” He never restricted himself to heavy rock either, playing everything from Classical and Jazz to Pop music.

Here’s a clip of the signature tune that he will always be associated with. Jon can only really be seen towards the end of this clip, but it’s a good live version and his hands and playing are featured from the beginning.

English rocker Jon Lord, who founded Deep Purple and co-wrote their most famous song, Smoke On The Water, has died aged 71.

The Leicester-born keyboard player, who had pancreatic cancer, died in London on Monday.

A statement on his website said he had passed “from Darkness to Light”.

The statement said Lord was “surrounded by his loving family” when he died.

Last year, Lord told fans he was “fighting cancer and will therefore be taking a break from performing while getting the treatment and cure”.

In a message on his website dated August 9, 2011, he added: “I shall of course be continuing to write music – in my world it just has to be part of the therapy – and I fully expect to be back in good shape next year.”

Lord started playing the piano in his family home and took classical music lessons before turning to jazz and rock’n’roll.

He moved to London at 19 to go to drama school, but was soon playing piano in pubs and bars and in 1964 joined cult blues band the Artwoods – formed by Ronnie Wood’s brother Art.

The band were critical favourites but never translated that into commercial success and split up.

Lord then went on tour with manufactured psychedelic pop combo The Flowerpot Men, who had scored a hit with Let’s Go To San Francisco, before joining Deep Purple in 1968.

The heavy rockers sold more than 100 million albums – many featuring Lord’s classically inspired keyboards.

But their most famous song was the simple Smoke On The Water with its trademark riff….More at Deep Purple’s Jon Lord dies at 71

Chancellor Connection For Daryl Hall

The British Telegraph Newspaper reports that the most famous half of Hall and Oatesis related to their own Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I have been a fan of Daryl Hall and Hall & Oates for many years but I was not aware that he had married into the British political hierarchy.

You might know that Daryl Hall wrote or co-wrote 11 songs that topped the Billboard chart, that he appeared at Live Aid and on the We Are The World single with John Oates, and that Hall & Oates are one of the most successful duos in rock history with over 60 million albums sold. However, it may surprise you to learn that he’s related by marriage to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

“Yes, I travel in unusual circles,” Hall confesses. “George Osborne and his wife Frances are my cousins. But I’m not gonna talk politics with George.”

Born in Pennsylvania in 1946, and raised in the school of Philadelphia soul alongside writers/producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell, Hall has been in the front line of American music for 40 years, but there’s a distinctly English streak running through his story. He’s now married to Amanda Aspinall, daughter of the late zoo-owner and gambling tycoon John Aspinall, and, as stepfather to March and Orson, has become a family man for the first time.

“I have an English family and I’ve lived in England for years,” says Hall. “Amanda and I have been married for three or four years. They’re extraordinary people, and I have a great family.”

One of Hall’s passions is restoring historic properties on both sides of the Atlantic, which is why we meet at his antique terraced house in Kensington. Meanwhile, over in upstate New York, he also owns a sprawling upmarket estate in the Revolutionary War Georgian Colonial style, and it’s from one of its outbuildings that Hall broadcasts his internet show, Live From Daryl’s House. With its mixture of newer artists and veterans, including Booker T Jones, Smokey Robinson or Todd Rundgren, the monthly programme has been acclaimed, with artists clamouring for an invitation to appear.

If you have not caught Daryl‘s Internet show Live form Daryl’s House I would highly recommend that you do. He has a great house band (literally) and some of my favourite shows have been those featuring Smokey Robinson, Eli ‘Paper Boy’ Reed and Cee Lo Green. It was the first place I discovered the sensational Grace Potter and I am yet to catch last month’s show which featured Jason Mraz and that is high on my to do list.

The Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary

“Is everybody ready?”
“Ladies and Gentlemen the greatest rock and roll band in the world, The Rolling Stones.”

The famous intro from The Rolling Stones 1970 live album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! Not the intro they used at their first ever gig at the Marquee Club in London, which was 50 years ago today.

Whether or not you believe that The Stones are the greatest rock and roll band in the world, they are certainly longest surviving and one of, if not the most influential. So many front men have tried the moves like Jagger and guitarists to live like Keith, often with tragic results. Very few ever came close to the human riff himself. Probably the closest was so close they eventually made him a Rolling StoneRon Wood joined the band in 1976 after the departure of Mick Taylor and Brian Jones before him and has now stayed longer than both of them combined.

It’s probably true to say that The Stones best songs and albums were released in the 60’s and 70’s, but they still put on great shows (even if they are often supplemented by a full backing band) and sell more tickets than almost anyone. Their Bigger Bang Tour was the second highest grossing tour of all time, raking in more than $550 million.

There is talk that they will retire this year, but there is no confirmation so far. In fact the picture below is their first together in four years and other reports say they are rehearsing again.

Andrew Loog Oldham, The Rolling Stones first manager was a great publicist and promotions man and decided to launch The Stones as the antithesis of the clean cut and more wholesome Beatles. They certainly lived up to that image, with Mick and Keithboth being arrested for drug possession in their early days and some sensational Sunday paper revelations of Marianne Faithful (Mick‘s girlfriend at the time, or Keith’s, or maybe both) being found naked under a rug when the Police raided them.

They remain at least anti-establishment enough to have avoided an appearance at the Queens Diamond Jubilee Concert and the embarrassment of their teeth rattling like Cliff Richard, lisping like Elton John or Mick’s voice having gone like Sir Paul McCartney’s. If they did receive an invite to that society event you can be sure that Keith Richards would have knocked it back, he has still not got over Mick Jagger accepting his knighthood.

If The Stones are rehearsing for one last hoorah, it has got to be worth getting along to, if they come near you. Everyone has to have seen The Rolling Stones at least once and to say you saw their final tour is something you can put on your tombstone. But if they did go down to the crossroads and do the deal with the devil, maybe they will be touring for another 50 years.

An update, 3 months later, the Rolling Stones have been in the studio and released their best single in a long time, here’s the clip of Doom and Gloom with lyrics from Youtube.

Darren Percival – A Tribute to Ray Charles Review

The Voice Runner Up Releases his First Album

Darren Percival, the runner up to Karise Eden in Australia’s version of The Voicethis year, released his album this week, A Tribute to Ray Charles. Well the whole story is there in the title, the Album features 15 of Ray Charles most well known songs performed really well by Mr Percival.

Like Karise’s album it is an unusual choice for a first off mainstream album. Karise’s album was a collection of covers, with one exception, from various artists and mainly songs that she performed on The Voice. Similarly Darren’s album is all covers, but all by one of the best songwriters and performers of the last century.

I understand why the record companies go for this type of album. They want to cash in on the success of the TV show and want to give the public something very accessible and, after all, the TV show was all about singing covers. But it does add to the feeling among “real musicians” that this type of TV talent show is selling out and has no musical integrity.

In Darren’s case I can fully understand the safety stance of the people behind the album. I have listened to some of Darren’s pre The Voice songs and although he has some very good songs, not all of them are easily accessible to the masses, or radio friendly. This kind of explains why a man of 40 something, with such a great voice, has not reached a wider audience before now.

Now a few words for those readers, who may not be as familiar with Ray CharlesRaywas a blind piano player and singer who had a string of hit songs in the 50’s and 60’s many of which are covered on this album. Ray was a pioneer of soul music and some believe the man most responsible for developing the genre. As well as having a great soul voice Rayplayed piano and keyboards and was a great musical arranger and band leader.

Ray Charles never restricted himself to soul music alone, he sang jazz, blues, R&B and even country music. He continued to perform pretty much right up until his death in 2004 and continued to be popular. He was also a musician’s musician and the greats loved to sing with him. Two of his most popular albums in his last years were Genius Loves Company and Genius and Friends (released after his death) which feature duets with Norah Jones, James Taylor, Elton John, Chris Isaak, May J Blige and George Michael to name a few.

If you like this album and I am sure you will, you should check out the movie Ray which stars Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, if you haven’t caught it already.

OK back to Darren Percival’s album, the track list is:

• 01. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
• 02. I Can’t Stop Loving You
• 03. I Got A Woman
• 04. Georgia On My Mind
• 05. Hit The Road Jack
• 06. Drown In My Own Tears
• 07. Unchain My Heart
• 08. Shake A Tail Feather
• 09. Busted
• 10. Your Cheatin’ Heart
• 11. Night Time Is The Right Time
• 12. Ain’t That Love
• 13. What Would I Do Without You
• 14. You Don’t Know Me
• 15. What’d I Say

Darren’s The Voice co-competitors Prinnie Stevens and Mahalia Barnes are featured on three tracks, as is Australian jazz musician / multi instrumentalist James Morrison.

Darren’s voice is great and the songs are classics. If you liked him on The Voice you will like this album, I have no doubt. The backing musicians are faultless too.

The stand out tracks, for me, are Night Time is The Right TimeYou Don’t Know Me and What’d I Say.

It is a good album and many people will play it regularly, but I prefer artists to make their own mark before they release an album like this.

That said, I wish Darrren the best of luck. There is no doubt that he is a talented musician and deserves whatever comes to him. We will undoubtedly be seeing him on TV again soon promoting the album.

You will find other tracks and albums from Darren Percival and Ray Charles that you may be interested in below

Road to Destruction – Elliot Brown

This is something new for us and may be a one off, as it was not part of the original mission for this site. But here is a review of an album from an unsigned artist. Elliot Brown wrote to me and sent me a copy of his album and asked me to review it. It has been a while, as I have been so busy and I apologise to Elliot for that. But here are my thoughts on the album, for what they are worth. I hope both you and Elliot are happy with them.

Elliot Brown is a singer/songwriter from New Zealand whose music has been described as Alt-country and folk rock, but the sounds on this album are very diverse and will appeal to a wide range of musical tastes.

There are 13 tracks on the album my favourites are:-

Cruel Mother / Down by the Greenwood Side-e-o – This song has a Celtic come Irish, or olde English folk song feel, which should come as no surprise as it is described on the sleeve notes as a “traditional British didactic song”. For the un-informed, like myself, didactic is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities. Elliot is joined by Hariet Ellis on vocals for some great harmonies. The song really reminds me of 70’s British folk rock acts like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and Pentangle

Gospel Plow – Is a gospel country song. It’s very lively with “some mighty fine pickin’ and a singin’ “ as the blind record producer in the movie Brother Where Art Thou? Said on hearing the Soggy Bottom Boys sing I Am A Man Of Constant SorrowGospel Plow has a similar feel to that song, It’s probably just the country gospel thing and the driving beat with some great Fiddle work from Dave Kahn.

This is not the version on the album.

Please Mister Paramedic – This one took a couple of listens to grow on me, but now I like it a lot. It has some nice drum and bass sounds.

Soldier’s Joy. – This is very much an old cowboy era American country folk tune, with heavily featured fiddle. You can imagine it being played at a barn dance in one of the old cowboy films of the 50’s or 60’s.

Banjer Pickin’ Man – Similar style to Soldier’s Joy, but with a bigger band and dance hall sound, with it’s harmony chorus and more great fiddle work and of course the Banjer.

Billy the Kid – Is a folk ballad, telling the story of the infamous outlaw and gunman. It has a one man busker kind of feel.

Road to destruction – Another one man style performance from Elliot. It’s a good driving song about the ills of strong liquor.

Fire on the Weather Bubble – Has a reggae beat with a geographically non-specific vocal, there maybe some Jamaican effect in there.

Unfortunately that was where my copy of the CD started to crackle then dropped out all together. So I only got to hear some of Some Promises Have Been Made To Me , which sounded promising, and none of L7 or Shiloh, which has a nice moody black and white video clip on Youtube.

I really enjoyed the album and I believe that most people who get to hear it will too.

Elliot Brown’s music is available from his website http://www.elliotbrownmusic.com/and his Youtube Channel http://www.youtube.com/Rogermiler

Essential Tools for Home Music Production

Most musicians record at home these days, mainly because it is quick and easy and now well within the financial grasp of most. It’s great to be able to produce demos and get your ideas recorded as you want to hear them, but you can also produce professional quality recordings that are ready for distribution without breaking the bank.

USB Audio Interface

To get started you will need a method of connecting all of your microphones and instruments to your computer. There are lots of USB audio interface devices around for under $100 that will allow you to connect one or two instruments and/or microphones. But if you are serious, you are going to want to connect four input sources and you can do this with excellent quality equipment for around $200. All of these devices include high quality recording software, as used in the major studios.

Here’s a sample of some well priced quality units that you can buy wherever you are located.

Studio Monitors

You really should have good quality active/powered studio monitors that will deliver true, accurate sound results. A second low-cost output device, like a boom box, is also useful to ensure parts of your mix don’t disappear on cheaper sound systems.

These affordable monitors would be ideal.

*** We have just added some Great Deals on Studio Monitors from our Australian Supplier. 7 different monitor types from 5 different manufacturers. Save up to $180. If you are in Australia and want a monitor now best to get over there and grab them while they are cheap.***

Stand-Mount Condenser Microphones

Even though they can be used for a wide variety of situations, large diaphragm microphones are most often used for capturing warm recordings of studio vocals. Small diaphragm microphones are better for drum overheads or acoustic string instruments. For a basic singer-songwriter set up, try a large diaphragm condenser for the vocals and a small diaphragm for an acoustic guitar.

Here are some ideal mikes of both types.

Acoustic Foam

Let’s face it nailing egg crates to the wall really does not cut it when you are trying to get that perfect sound mix. You can achieve the right sound environment with strategically placed acoustic foam. It’s not expensive and can be easily sourced below.

MIDI controllers

Finally, a MIDI controller is the best way to create a physical connection between the music in your brain and the technology that you record with. Whether you are tracking keyboards, pads, strings or electronic drum parts, add a human element to your recordings with a quality keyboard or drum MIDI controller.

With this sort of set up you are going to create the type of demos that are going to be listened to more than once, or even quality sounds that are ready to be pressed and sold.

What are you waiting for? Get clicking and you could have your own home studio in action in a matter of days.

Boss Micro BR-80 Digital Recorder (B-Stock)
The pocket-sized Boss BR-80 eight-track recorder has everything you need: a 1/4″ guitar input, built-in effects, eBand backing tracks, USB output, and more.
Was $189.95

Casio PX-130 88-Key Digital Stage Piano Review and Deal of the Day Finder

The Casio PX-130 88-Key Digital Stage Piano, which is sometimes referred to as the Casio Privia PX-130, is equally suitable at home, in church, in school or in the studio, not just on stage. As well as the Tri-Sensor 88-note scaled hammer action keyboard, it has all new grand piano samples and built-in speakers, with 2 x 8 Watts of output power, to fill any room with sound.

Players of the Casio PX-130 88-Key Digital Stage Piano love the responsive keyboard that feels just like an acoustic piano, as well as the natural sound. In fact one seasoned player said “If you are thinking about buying an acoustic piano for your home, do it only for the value of a classic piece of furniture, not for the sound.”

Of course a digital piano offers so much more than an acoustic piano at a much more affordable price. The Casio PX-130 88-Key Digital Stage Piano features include:-

• 16 built in tones, which can be combined if you wish
• Four digital reverbs
• Four Choruses with brilliance and acoustic resonance settings
• Duet Mode, whereby the keyboard can be split in two equal ranges for teacher and student, or simply a novel dual playing experience

Two headphone sockets for tuition or dual playing
• Built in Metronome
• Two track recorder to record what you play and playback later for teaching/learning or simply recording your songs and ideas.
• The optional SP-32 Pedal Board exactly replicates an acoustic grand piano providing pedals for soft, sostenuto and damper.
• A simple plug and play interface with your computer, via the PX-130 USB Midi interface. Once connected to your computer the Casio PX-130 provides a perfect controller for a wide variety of music software, as well as the ability to move songs and sounds between your computer and the PX-130s flash memory.

In addition to the SP-32 pedal board an optional CS-67 custom wooden stand is available to add style and elegance as well as holding your PX-130 at ideal level and providing an even more piano like experience.

We have great pricing below for a range of Casio Privia Pianos from suppliers around the world.

A Grand Revolution
The new PX-150 represents a significant step in the continuing evolution of the Privia digital piano line. A combination of a new keyboard action and a powerful new sound engine provide a new level of detail, nuance and expression for a superior grand piano experience in the lightweight and stylish design that Privia is known for.

Right now with Free Stand, Free Pedal Unit and Free Delivery

Easy Home Recording

Would you like to produce professional quality recordings at home and have them ready for distribution without paying any of the exorbitant recording studio fees?

Believe it or not it is possible to produce high quality recordings in your own home using equipment that you can afford. If you have a computer and ANY kind of recording software (even free) the Easy Home Recording Blueprint will show you exactly how to easily record and produce pro-quality home recordings.

You do not need to spend a fortune on high end equipment; the recordings that you produce will astound everyone who hears them when you tell them they were recorded in your home studio.

You will be astounded by how easy it is to start making great sounding recordings with these tips and instructions from a professional musician who has sold his music to TV and movie companies.

Other users of the blue print have used it to create their own CDs to sell to their fans, record a song that was then mastered by the Black Eyed Peas and sold around the world, create recordings to submit to contests and record companies with confidence.

I could go on about the benefits of this Ebook and Video home recording instruction set, but it is probably easiest if you check out the author for your self and he will explain in a brief video and give you some free tips right away.

In addition to the Easy Home Recording Blueprint you can also pick up the Musicians Guide to Getting Heard for free, so that you will know the best places to distribute your music so that it is heard by the right people.

Boss Micro BR-80 Digital Recorder (B-Stock)
The pocket-sized Boss BR-80 eight-track recorder has everything you need: a 1/4″ guitar input, built-in effects, eBand backing tracks, USB output, and more.
Was $189.95

What we can do to help ourselves

After suicide we are in shock, often lost and confused. Taking a day at a time helped us through the dark times.

You will know what is best for you and what you need. And that will change.
Some of us found sitting with a friend, even in silence, helped. Some of us walked or ran or swam. Movement helped de-stress and sleep better.

Some of us found water soothed us, walking on the beach, along the river or having a bath. Watching the sun set, sitting under a tree, watching birds in the garden and other ways of being close to nature helped us too.

Some of us poured ourselves into practical things, cooking or cleaning or sorting the back shed.

And some of us escaped to a special place we love, a place where we could just be with our grief and feel safe.

Our communities help us at this time too: being with others, sharing a cup of tea or stories and yarns, crying (and laughing) together, playing music, going for walks, playing cards together, remembering the person we have lost and the gift of their life.

It helped some of us to talk and to go over what has happened with someone who listened to us. Some of us needed to do this often, retelling our story again and again.

Some of us needed time to be alone.

Some of us found comfort in our spiritual traditions: returning to country or to where our family and community are, or attending our place of worship such as our mosque, church, temple or synagogue. We grappled with what had happened and for some of us our faith strengthened and consoled us through this time.

For others, our spiritual traditions seemed to offer no comfort but only raised doubts and questions for us. We struggled with big questions: Why had this happened? What is life about?

In time, we come to an acceptance of our loss and find a way through our grief. There are no rules. We each find our own way, one step at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time.

Some of us found writing and music helped: a letter, a poem, special songs. Others of us used drawing and our art to express our grief. Some made a memory book or a journal to remember the person we’ve lost. These can become special items that we look back at as reminders of this difficult time. Later, they remind us that we don’t feel like this forever.

Special items belonging to the person we have lost can have more meaning now and remind us of them. They became our keepsakes. They help some of us reframe our loss.

Grief passes. Usually the intensity of our grief eases gradually, but it can come and go in intensity for a long time and may return at special times like birthdays or anniversaries. Expecting this means we are not so distressed by it.

Our needs change at different times in our grieving. Sometimes we felt OK and as though our lives were getting back to normal. At other times we felt that nothing helps our pain and that it overwhelmed us. In these times we learnt to take extra care of ourselves. We reminded ourselves that it will pass. Like ocean waves, our grief will come and go. Ours softened over time when we were able to let it come and go.

We found ways to honour the person we’ve lost. When someone dies suddenly we don’t have the chance to say goodbye. Talking about the person and sharing stories and memories is an important way to honour them.

We found ways to remember and honour helped us too: planting a tree, naming a place in their honour, carrying a sign or symbol on us every day, having special photos to keep the person close or making a CD of their favourite music to play.

We always remember what’s happened but we’ve learnt to live with our loss. Although the intensity of our grief is strongest in the weeks and months after the death, it takes most of us between two and five years (or even longer) to learn to live fully with our loss. Looking after ourselves through this time helps us accept our loss and engage with life again.

We learnt to accept help. Our friends and wider family will be happy to help if we let them. Practical things: picking children up from school, cooking a meal, cleaning the bathroom, taking us for a walk or a coffee, coming with us to a support group, if that’s what we want.

It’s also OK for us to ask for the kind of help we’d like.

Some of joined a bereavement support group to be with others who understood. We felt less alone and it helped to know others had found a way though the grief. It helped to know our reactions were simply grief, and that others had experienced this too.

Some of us found support from professionals, elders or spiritual leaders who understand grief. Some of us did not want to burden those we loved who were also grieving. We felt free to speak to someone outside our family and friends who could be with us in a supportive way. We found support in sharing our story, praying, meditating or sitting in silence.

Our relationships. Loss from suicidecan strain our relationships. When we are all grieving it can change how we relate to each other. This can add to our pain.

Our relationships may look different through the eyes of grief. Allowing each other to do this in our different ways is not always easy. Family members may worry about each other. Arguments and differences may arise.

Some of our relationships grew stronger, while some were severely strained. Finding out about grief helped us to avoid conflict. For example, men and women grieve in different ways; young people may turn to their friends more than families at this time and use social media to connect to others. Family relationships can change following a loss from suicide.

Our own health. Even though we often didn’t feel like it, eating healthy food, doing gentle exercise and avoiding drugs and alcohol helped us through our grief and allowed it to take its course.

We avoided making big decisions until we felt ready. Giving ourselves space to grieve and not expecting ourselves to cope with our usual demands helped us too.

Take time out. When we are grieving we can feel guilty for laughing or enjoying ourselves. This is normal. Taking time to do things we like, even if we don’t feel like it, will help.

Only do what must be done. By giving ourselves some space we allow our grief to be expressed. Expecting ourselves to do all our usual activities like work is hard on our selves. Deciding what we needed to do and letting go of less important things helped us through this time.

It also makes space for our grief and allows it to take its course. In time, it eases and we can begin to return to our usual activities again.

Practical matters

When someone has taken their own life

There are many practical things we need to do and there are other people who will be involved when someone close to us takes their life.
When we are in shock and we have strangers with whom we must deal we can feel helpless and powerless over what’s happening. Understanding what and who is involved in this process can help us in these early days.

Getting information

When we are first told of our loss, we are full of questions and need to find answers.
What happened? Where did it happen? Who was there? When? How did it happen? And the most difficult question for us all: Why?
We need to have as many of our questions answered as possible, as we try and take in what has happened.
Some of our questions never get answered properly and we are left wondering and trying to make sense of our loss.
There are people who can help us find answers.
Close family and friends we trust, the Police, the Coroner’s Counselling Service, ARBOR, Lifeline, Compassionate Friends and other support groups and online services are all ready to help.

Police

The Police are usually the first called when someone dies by suicide. They will make sure the body of the person who has died is taken care of and will contact the Coroner to report the death. They are required to do this by law in cases of sudden or unexplained deaths.

Coroner

The Coroner investigates and determines the cause of death, how it occurred and details needed to register the death. The Coroner also has legal responsibility for the body of the person who has died from unnatural causes or where the cause of death is not known. This includes suicide.
If the Coroner needs to order complex tests (such as testing for drugs, alcohol, medication and poisons) his report may take some time. The Coronial Counselling Service can help you get information about this.

Coronial Counselling Service

The Coronial Counselling Service is part of the Office of the State Coroner. This free service helps us navigate the difficult issues associated with the coronial inquiry process. This includes arranging viewings of our loved ones, explaining what occurs during the post-mortem process, as well as offering advice on helping our children adjust. The Coronial Counselling Service also offers grief counselling and can refer you to other counsellors or support groups.

Visiting the site

Most suicides happen in or close to home. Most of us want to know where our loved one died and we may want to go to see this place. Sometimes the Police will be involved in the visit.
Some of us took photos and left something to acknowledge this special place. Some of us visit this place a long time later. It becomes important to us. For others, this site is not as important to us as our loved one’s burial place. We go there to find comfort later.

Death certificate

Whenever someone dies, their death needs to be registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and a death certificate issued. When someone dies of suicide in Western Australia, the death is considered a ‘Reportable Death’ and needs to be examined by a coroner before a death certificate can be issued. This usually shouldn’t take long, but sometimes the coroner may need to order complex tests to determine the cause of death and this can delay the process.
Things such as toxicology (testing for drugs, alcohol, medication and poisons) or histology (tissue sampling) reports may take time to generate. Most certificates shouldn’t take longer than a few weeks, but sometimes take longer if determining the cause of death is particularly complicated.

GP

Your GP can show you the medical report and explain any medical terms for you. As well, your GP can assist with any health issues you may have or that may develop. Ask your GP about services and support you need. GPs can refer us to a qualified counsellor for a number of free sessions if we want professional support.

Funeral Director

The Funeral Director you choose will help you make the arrangements for the funeral and help you make the funeral the way you would like it to be.
We sometimes needed to contact more than one funeral company before we found one we felt was suitable and within our budget.
The Coronial Counselling Service can provide information if you have any questions or problems regarding the funeral of the person who has died.

Funeral

This is a very special occasion for most of us, as difficult as it is when someone we love has taken their own life. The memories we have from the day will stay with us as a reminder of the person we have lost.

Planning the funeral helped us accept our loss. Most of us had the help of a Funeral Director to make arrangements. Some tips we can share:

 

  • Ask a friend or someone close to you to help you arrange the funeral with you. They will support you so you don’t carry that responsibility alone.
  • Choose a Funeral Director who listens and who you trust. You are buying this service, so shop around until you find the right person/business.
  • Choose a person (an elder, minister or celebrant) to conduct the funeral. This person will set the tone you want and be able to acknowledge your loved one’s life well.
  • Tell the Funeral Director and staff what you want (and what you don’t want). If you don’t know, they will guide you and offer options. Ask as many questions as you want.
  • Let the Funeral Director know how you would like the person who has died to look for the funeral. A photo can help.
  • How can the funeral best honour the person and their life? What would you and others close to the person want to honour them? What symbols and items with special meaning would you like included (for example: songs, tributes, stories, prayers, photos, videos etc)
  • What clothes or special items would you like your loved one to be dressed in?
  • How can others, including children if appropriate, be involved in the funeral?
  • If you are a long way away and cannot arrange a funeral, you can ask to have an unattended cremation and the ashes of the person you have lost sent back to you. The Coroner’s Counselling Service will help you with this.

Insurance

Sometimes private health, life, sickness or accident insurance will provide assistance in paying for the funeral of the person who has died. If the deceased had insurance, call their insurance company to ask if assistance is available. If you have lost a child and have insurance, your insurance company can advise you. We sought help from trusted people to assist us with seeking information when we weren’t able to do it.

Financial matters

When we lose someone to suicide we are unable to function as well as usual. Many of us are unable to work for some time, placing us under financial pressure we had not expected.
The time following the death of our loved one can be made even harder by financial difficulty. In some cases, we can apply to release our superannuation early based on compassionate grounds or severe financial hardship caused by the death, burial or funeral.
We may need support to get information and consider our financial situation. Family, friends or a financial advisor you trust can help with this. Some of us asked one of these people to take on the management of our bills during this time.

Banks

Banks have a specific process to go through when closing an account following the death of the owner. You will need to provide a Proof of Death document, as well as forms of identification for yourself. Most banks will try to make this process easy for you and will guide you through the process.
Phone or visit the website of the bank you need. If you find going in person easier for you, we found it helped to look up what information we needed to bring beforehand.

Public Trustee

The Public Trustee can help us with any legal difficulties following the death of a loved one. Issues regarding wills and assets or fulfilling the role of an executor may arise. We found taking someone we trust with us to help was important.
Sometimes these responsibilities may require us to understand legal or financial details that are beyond our grasp. The Public Trustee provides services to assist us in processing these issues.

Possessions and property

We all deal with the clothes and possessions of the person we have lost when we are ready. Some of us did this sooner and some later. For some of us it felt so final we didn’t want to do it. We waited until we felt ready. For some of us this took years.
Others needed to say goodbye by sorting these things. We kept some items that were special. We shared things with others who were close to the one we’d lost.

Talking to children

Caring for our children when we are thrown into grief ourselves is a big challenge. We turned to close family and friends and our wider community for help to care for our children when we could not. Some things helped us:

  • Keeping to routines as much as possible. For babies and small children especially, this gives them a sense of security through the upheaval. Some routines (bedtimes, meal times, going to school or usual activities) help all children feel more secure at times of stress. Our children need extra support and reassurance that they will be OK, and that we will look after them even when we are distressed. We asked trusted friends to help with this and to keep an eye out for our kids.
  • Young children (three years and up) need to be told simply and honestly what has happened. Tell them in a way they can understand. They will accept what’s happened and ask questions if they need to. We used photos and our children’s drawings and stories to talk about the person we’d lost and involve our children in saying goodbye.
  • Our older children will be grieving too. They may want to talk about their loss. They want to know they can do this and that someone will listen. They may want to spend more time with their friends. We learnt that it’s best to be honest and give them information so they are not left guessing about what’s happened. They often have ideas about how they’d like to be involved in planning the funeral and saying their goodbyes. This helped our children’s grieving and ours as well.
  • Our children sometimes express their grief through their play and some show their distress by wetting the bed or being more teary or sensitive than usual. We learnt that this is normal and it passes. When it doesn’t, it’s helpful to talk about this with a GP or health professional.
  • Some times our children may feel responsible and we needed to reassure them that what happened was not their fault. Sometimes we sought professional help for children when we felt concerned about them.
  • As parents, some of us felt fearful about our other children and needed to protect them, even over-protect them at times. We needed to learn to manage our own fear so it didn’t spread to our children and increase anxiety for them.
  • Schools, TAFEs and Universities can support children and young people when someone close has died. They provide student services including free counselling services.
  • We informed teachers and other key people and asked them to watch out for our children and young people following our loss. Teachers and school student services’ staff helped us with our concerns about social media and its impact on our young people.
  • Sports clubs and other social or community groups with which our children and young people are involved can also provide support and help maintain their usual routines at this time.

Read more on supporting children bereaved by suicide. Reachout has information for young people on loss and grief.