Music Labyrinth Episode 045
Purple Rain / Prince & The Revolution
Hello Listener. Welcome to episode 45 of The Music Labyrinth. 45 is a number closely associated with music and the recording industry, mainly due to the speed of rotation of little black discs of plastic. And, of course, lets not forget Stars On 45. Actually, yes, lets do forget that one. For those of you who have not had to endure 45 of these introductions, let me explain that the song which opened this week’s episode was Prince’s Purple Rain, and it opened the show because it was the last song we played in episode 44 of the program. What we are about to do now is to try to establish some plausible linkage from Purple Rain to our next song. So, here goes. Guitars on Purple Rain were played by - well, Prince, of course - but also by Wendy Melvoin, who’s first public show as a member of Prince’s band was a 1983 benefit concert at the Minneapolis Dance Theatre, which happened to also be the debut public performance of Purple Rain. After establishing her cred in the music industry, Wendy Melvoin became an influential session musician, and contributed to a large number projects by other artists. In 2005, she contributed electric guitar to the album Can’tNeverDidNothin’ by Nikka Costa. From that album, and featuring the guitar of Wendy Melvoin, this is Till I Get To You.
Till I Get To You / Nikka Costa
From her 2005 album Can’tNeverDidNothin’, that was Nikka Costa with Till I Get To You. Nikka Costa grew up in a show business family. Her father was the music producer and arranger Don Costa, who worked closely with Frank Sinatra. Nikka Costa also married into the industry, to Australian musician, producer and songwriter Justin Stanley. In 2008 Justin Stanley played drums and percussion on this track by Amos Lee. This is What’s Been Going On.
What’s Been Going On / Amos Lee
Welcome back to The Music Labyrinth where we last listened to Amos Lee from his 2008 album Last Days At The Lodge, and the song What’s Been Going On. In 2015 Amos Lee contributed a song to the album Songs Of Anarchy, Vol. 4, which was a soundtrack album of music from the TV series Sons Of Anarchy. The Amos Lee contribution to the soundtrack was a cover of the Bob Dylan tune Boots of Spanish Leather. At this point I was about to play you the Bob Dylan version of that song (which would have been the Great Man’s first appearance in The Music Labyrinth), but I got distracted by a shiny thing. In 1993 that song was also covered by the American singer Nancy Griffith, and her version apparently has the full blessing of Bob Dylan because he plays harmonica on it. So, here is Boots Of Spanish Leather by Nancy Griffith, with the writer of the song on harmonica.
Boots Of Spanish Leather / Nancy Griffith
From her 1993 album Other Voices, Other Rooms, that was Nancy Griffith with Boots Of Spanish Leather. Other Voices, Other Rooms is also the title of a novel by Truman Capote. So I started to think about other albums named after famous novels, and I went nowhere fairly fast. But, I did happen upon the fact that John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, centred around a character called Tom Joad, who obviously resonated strongly with Woodie Guthrie, and later with Bruce Springsteen.
The Ghost Of Tom Joad / Bruce Springsteen
From the album of the same name, that was Bruce Springsteen with The Ghost of Tom Joad. The album from which that song is lifted was Springsteen’s 11th album and it was recorded in 1995. 22 songs were recorded in the sessions which led to the final album, with twelve tracks making it on to the final pressing. Of those that did not make it on to the album, one of them, Dead Man Walkin’ was included in the soundtrack of the 1996 movie of that name. Also on that soundtrack, was this track by Michelle Shocked.
Quality Of Mercy / Michelle Shocked. (NB: Spotify does not appear to contain this song, so it does not appear on the Spotify playlist. Sorry)
I’m sure that during the break for those messages the Listener was busy turning to any reference at hand and has already discovered that the hook line in that soulful track we just listened to was from Portia’s famous speech in Act 4, Scene 1 of The Merchant Of Venice. The song itself, Quality Of Mercy, is by Michelle Shocked, and it comes from the soundtrack of the movie Dead Man Walking. And now we are in the realm of Shakespearean quotes, if you care to listen carefully to the lyrics of Jeremiah Blues Pt 1, you will hear a quote from Act 4, Scene 1 of Macbeth.
Jeremiah Blues Pt 1 / Sting
That was, of course, Sting, with Jeremiah Blues Pt 1, which comes from the Soul Cages album of 1991. The album was produced by Hugh Padgham, using a new technology called Qsound, which was allegedly a three-dimensional, sound processing algorithm. Wikipedia has a list of selected albums recorded with Qsound, so we’ve turned in that direction. Please sit back and enjoy the Qsound mix of Madonna’s Express Yourself.
Express Yourself / Madonna
From her 1990 greatest hits album The Immaculate Collection, that was Madonna with Express Yourself. Of course, 20 years earlier, Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band had enjoyed their own success with a song of the same name.
Express Yourself / The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band with Charles Wright
You are back with The Music Labyrinth where expressing yourself is positively encouraged, as endorsed by Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band in their 1970 hit. There are several versions of that song, with a cover by the band NWA being a big hit in the late 80s. However it was the version we just heard which featured in the awful 2005 film Mr & Mrs Smith. In my humble opinion, the soundtrack of that film is its most redeeming feature, particular by virtue of the inclusion of this song.
Tainted Love / Soft Cell
From their 1981 album Non-stop Erotic Cabaret, that was Soft Cell with Tainted Love. That song was written in 1964 by Ed Cobb, and was a hit for Gloria Jones that year. Ed Cobb has a number of songwriting credits for big hits during the 1960s, including this 1964 single sung by Brenda Holloway.
Every Little Bit Hurts / Brenda Holloway
From 1964, that was Brenda Holloway with Every Little Bit Hurts. If the Listener is of a certain vintage they may recall the late Shirley Strachan of Skyhooks once released a version of that as a solo single. I’d love to know what the thinking was there. Anyway, Brenda Holloway has a number of songwriting credits to her own name, and in collaboration. In 1967 she, her younger sister Patrice Holloway, Berry Gordy and Frank Wilson penned this next song, which became a hit for Brenda Holloway; but two years later it became a massive hit for a very different type of performer. We’ll end our progress this week with that song. Thanks very much for your company during this episode, and please come back again next week when we will continue our journey through The Music Labyrinth. To take us to next week, this is Blood, Sweat & Tears with You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.
You’ve Made Me So Very Happy / Blood, Sweat & Tears