Music Labyrinth Episode 050
Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone / The Temptations
Hello Listener, and welcome to episode 50 - 5 0 - of The Music Labyrinth. To celebrate this milestone, we bring you this broadcast of episode 50 L I V E from the studios of Coast FM. I don’t even have to hold today’s newspaper up to the microphone to prove we are live, because its only a matter of very few moments until I trip on my words or make some other blunder which would never have survived in a pre-recorded show, and you will all roll your eyes and sigh and say: yep, he’s live. Now, speaking of Coast FM, can I just take a wee moment to express how grateful I am for the faith they have shown in me since I brought them a whacky concept for a music program and they said: sure, we’ll give that a run. The management and staff at this place have been very supportive and accepting, and these 50 episodes of the program would not have been possible without their support and trust. So thanks to the management, staff and volunteers at Coast FM. AND, while I’m thanking folks, can I also express my gratitude for the support and encouragement I get from the small group of rusted-on listeners who have been along for the ride. I appreciate all that support, and the feedback that comes with it. And - further on that subject - I have to offer an apology to the folks who have gathered in Buderus for their usual Thursday evening salmon-feast, only to find that The Music Labyrinth has managed to reverse into their dining room. I’m very sorry folks. The Music Labyrinth is a large and wieldy conveyance, and I obviously need to polish up my driving skills. OK, now, as I MAY have mentioned, we are live to air tonight, and I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are listening. There are all kinds of ways to get in touch as the show progresses, and you can find them all listed in detail at www.themusiclabyrinth.com. Give us a shout, and I’ll return the favour. OK - here we go with episode 50. We commenced this show with The Temptations’ Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1971, and recorded by The Temptations in 1972. The song has been covered plenty of times since. There are some really fine versions, and some pretty awful ones. In no particular order the artists who have had a crack include Was, Not Was; Craig David; Ugly Kid Joe; Phil Collins; and Eugenio Fico. (I didn’t really need to tell you about Eugenio Fico - I just love saying Eugenio Fico.). On their 2009 live album, The Paris Concert, Living Colour peeled off a splendid version of Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, and, the final track on that same live album - the encore, if you like, is this Living Colour favourite.
Cult Of Personality/ Living Colour
From their dominating 1988 album, Vivid, that was Living Colour with Cult Of Personality. The internet is full of varying definitions about what exactly constitutes a cult of personality. I suggest that its not too great a stretch of imagination to include the subject of this song in that category.
Rasputin / Boney M
Rasputin was a hit for Boney M in 1978, reaching top ten chart position in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Boney M were formed in 1976 during the disco era. The group was a project conceived and orchestrated by German record producer Frank Farian, who was the group’s primary songwriter and vocalist on early recordings. When the group began to sell records, Farian decided to hire performers to front as the group for television performances. For concert tours, Farian hired a live band to support the performers. After the demise of Boney M, Farian headed up several other projects (including The Far Corporation, who we may have to return to another time as they add weight to the theory that all roads in modern music lead back to Toto!). In 1988, Farian hired Fab Morgan and Rob Pilates to front his latest project, again written and recorded by musicians other than the public face of the band. The pair quickly rocketed to worldwide fame as Milli Vanilli - and we all recall how it ended! One of the songs that started it all was this one.
All Or Nothing / Milli Vanilli
That was Milli Vanilli with their chart-topping single All Or Nothing. In 1990, Canadian singer-songwriter David Clayton-Thomas successfully sued Milli Vanilli (and I assume Frank Farian was a respondent to that lawsuit!) on the basis that the track we just heard used a melody without permission from this 1968 hit for Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Spinning Wheel / Blood, Sweat & Tears
From the 1968 album Blood, Sweat & Tears, that was the band of the same name with Spinning Wheel. You will have noticed at the end of that track a different melody was prominent in the mix. That melody was from the 19th Century Austrian ballad O Du Liebe Augustin. It appeared in Spinning Wheel because of a studio error which saw parts of the master tape of the track accidentally erased, and some last minute adjustments being required. This next track also has a 19th century melody inserted into the first 15 seconds or so. I’m sure you will recognise it.
My Name Is Jack / Manfred Mann
That was Manfred Mann from the year 1968 with My Name Is Jack. And I’m sure you picked up on the melody at the opening of the song which sounded remarkably similar to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, often known as Ode To Joy. In the lyrics, that song references the Greta Garbo Home For Wayward Boys and Girls. As it turns out, there are a bunch of songs which also reference Greta Garbo in the lyrics. My favourite of that bunch is this one, from 1972. This is The Kinks, with Celluloid Heroes.
Celluloid Heroes / The Kinks
From their 1972 album Everybody’s In Show-Biz, that was The Kinks with Celluloid Heroes. The song references several stars of film: Greta Garbo; Rudolph Valentino; Bette Davis; George Sanders; Marilyn Monroe; Mickey Rooney and Bela Lugosi. The last on that list is famous for playing Count Dracula in the 1931 film of Bram Stoker’s vampire story. So - vampires! This next song is, on the surface of it anyway, about a 2000 year old vampire who has been left to suffer immortality without his true love; but like all good lyrics, the meaning is open to alternative interpretations. Nevertheless, its a cracking song, and that slightly dubious link to Bela Lugosi is all the excuse I need to play it for you now. AND - lets do this: I’ll roll straight from our next track to the one immediately following it; and if you think you can see the link from Closer by Kings Of Leon to Yellow Moon by The Neville Brothers, commit your theories to Twitter, text or other forms of messaging and get them in to me in the next few minutes.
Closer / Kings Of Leon
Yellow Moon / The Neville Brothers
From the album Yellow Moon, that is the song Yellow Moon, by The Neville Brothers and immediately before it, we heard Closer by the Kings Of Leon. The Kings Of Leon actually consists of the three Followill brothers: Caleb, Jared and Nathan and their cousin Matthew Followill. There are not a whole lot of other famous bands consisting of four very close family members like that, but one of them is The Neville Brothers, who have often consisted of the brothers Art, Charles, Aaron and Cyril. So, well done to.………………. Horns on Yellow Moon were played by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a New Orleans brass band formed in 1977. Within 7 years they were touring Europe and playing gigs right across the United States. In 2007, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band teamed up with Buddy Guy and Joss Stone for this next track, which appeared on a tribute album to the music of Fats Domino. That album is called Goin’ Home, and this track is Every Night About This Time.
Every Night About This Time* / Buddy Guy; Joss Stone and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
From the 2007 album Going Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, that was Buddy Guy, Joss Stone, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Every Night About This Time.that tribute album to Fats Domino includes Elton John doing Blueberry Hill, Tom Petty with I’m Walkin’, Neil Young with Walking To New Orleans, and Dr John covering Don’t Leave Me This Way. It also includes blues legend Taj Mahal teaming up with the New Orleans Social Club for this Fats Domino tune.
My Girl Josephine* / Taj Mahal & The New Orleans Social club
* Please note that Spotify does not have the Fats Domino tribute album (Going Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino) in its database, so the Spotify playlist contains the Fats Domino versions of these two songs.
That was Taj Mahal and the New Orleans Social Club from 2007 with My Girl Josephine. Ten years later, Taj Mahal teamed up with Keb Mo to cover another old tune. This is that cover version. I’ll tell you who wrote it and originally recorded it after we hear the tune, but if you think you know, hit me up via text, email, Twitter or Messenger to voice your thoughts. You have 3 minutes and 16 seconds.
Squeeze Box / Taj Mahal & Keb Mo
From their 2017 album TajMo, that was Taj Mahal and Keb Mo with their cover of a song originally written by Pete Townsend and recorded by The Who on their 1975 album The Who By Numbers. The song is called Squeeze Box, and you can tell that it has been a source of fun for the writers and performers associated with it. [Well done to. …]. Landing in the part of The Music Labyrinth inhabited by The Who gives me a great opportunity to play one of my favourite tunes from Tommy. This version comes from the 1975 soundtrack album to the film, and is performed by Roger Daltrey. This is See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You.
See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You / Roger Daltrey
From the rock opera, or rock musical if you like, Tommy, that was Roger Daltrey with See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You. As we all know, that song comes from a project which tells the listener a complete story in music and prose. The list of rock musicals / rock operas is quite considerable, and the prospects for us to move on via that route are fruitful. For no other reason than because I can, I’ve chosen to go in this direction.
Mean Green Mother From Outer Space / Levi Stubbs
From the soundtrack of the 1982 movie Little Shop Of Horrors, that was Mean Green Mother From Outer Space. In the narrative of the movie, that song was sung by the character Audrey 2, who was voiced by the singer Levi Stubbs, formally of The Four Tops. Lets remind ourselves how good The Four Tops were at the top of their game.
Reach Out, I’ll Be There / The Four Tops
Reach Out, I’ll Be There was The Four Tops biggest selling hit and remains recognised as their signature tune. In 1986 the English singer Billy Bragg wrote a heartbreaking song about the world falling apart for a woman who’s only ongoing source of comfort was the music of The Four Tops. As a result, Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops became one of the rare performers who’s name features in a hit song by another artist. This is Leve Stubbs’ Tears, by Billy Bragg.
Levi Stubbs’ Tears / Billy Bragg
From 1986, that was Billy Bragg with Levi Stubbs’ Tears. About ten years later, Billy Bragg was approached by Norah Guthrie, who was the daughter of American folk legend Woodie Guthrie. Norah Guthrie commissioned Billy Bragg to set some of her father’s unrecorded lyrics to music. Billy Bragg teamed up with the band Wilco to complete that project, which resulted in an album called Mermaid Avenue. From it, this is Billy Bragg and Wilco with the beautiful Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key.
Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key / Billy Bragg & Wilco
As we mentioned earlier, the song we just heard was built by Billy Bragg and Wilco around the lyrics of Woodie Guthrie. So, on this 50th episode of The Music Labyrinth, when our headlights light upon Woodie Guthrie, where else would we turn but to a great favourite here at the program? This is Steve Earle with his song about his heroes, which very much includes Woodie Guthrie. This is Christmas In Washington.
Christmas In Washington / Steve Earle
That was Steve Earle with Christmas in Washington, a particular favourite here at The Music Labyrinth. It comes from Steve Earle’s 1997 album El Corazon, which, in Spanish, translates as “the heart”. And so, speaking of such things, where else would we go now other than back to 1975 and Dreamboat Annie, the debut album of the band Heart. I remember, as a 14 year old, being thrilled by the mystery and difference of this next song when I first heard it - and then being thrilled all over again when, after exposure to the radio single edit, I first heard the album cut with its hypnotic, almost occult, later section - which is the version we will listen to now. So, switch your brain off for 5 and a half minutes, close your eyes, and enjoy. This is Magic Man.
Magic Man / Heart
From their debut album in 1975, that was Heart with Magic Man. Heart are still a going concern; in fact, in recent years the band has enjoyed some resurgent success on the back of their involvement in the Kennedy Centre honours bestowed on Led Zeppelin in 2012, and their associated performance of Stairway To Heaven at that ceremony. Then, in 2014, they contributed two tracks to a tribute album to the music of Paul McCartney. That album is called The Art of McCartney and from it, this is Heart with Letting Go.
Letting Go / Heart
Well, Faithful Listener, we have reached the end of episode 50 of The Music Labyrinth. Over that journey we have drawn a thread through 560 songs since we started almost a year a go with Godless by The Dandy Warhols. This is probably as good a time as any to let you know that our web presence at www.themusiclabyrinth.com will soon have an interactive database of every step in that journey. I’ve seen the beta version of it, and it’s a magnificent and generous gift by a great supporter, and it promises to be a valuable addition to this program. Stay tuned for further developments. Anyway, that’s it for the first 50 episodes of The Music Labyrinth. Its been a hoot bringing you those episodes, and it was an extra-special hoot to do this show live tonight and to have your company as we did so. Thanks for playing along. I can reveal that episode 51 of The Music Labyrinth, in a fortnight, will be curated by a couple of extra-special guest programmers who are long time supporters of The Music Labyrinth. Lets call them the Music Labyrinth Elves (I know labyrinths don’t generally have elves, but the alternatives are all a little bit unpleasant sounding, so elves it shall be). The Elves are busy beavering away on links and facts to entertain and fascinate you and I about which we will know much more in two weeks. Lets get them underway with a ripper tune which is closer to their musical comfort zone than the mid 1970s where we have spent a fair bit of tonight. The Wings song Letting Go comes from their 1975 album Venus and Mars, which is also the title of one of the great Renaissance works of art by Sandro Botticelli. Another “rock star” of the Renaissance is the painter Carravaggio, and his masterpiece The Calling Of Saint Matthew is said to be the inspiration for this track by The Killers from their 2017 album Wonderful Wonderful. This is The Calling.
The Calling / The Killers