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Reelin’ In The Years 15: Elected

“15?” you say. “Hadn’t this category reached no 153?”

Well, yes.

I had this noted down as having been between Julie Covington’s Only Women Bleed at 14 and Tony Joe White’s Groupy Girl at 16 in this category but when I went looking for it on the blog I couldn’t find it. Its original intended publication was in September 2011. That was the time when the blog started playing silly beggars and I lost quite a few posts before later restoring them. So, either I never posted this one in the first place or it wasn’t republished along with the others.

So here it is again. I haven’t a clue what I wrote about it all those years ago.

I suppose it’s quite topical this week for our friends across the pond.

Alice Cooper: Elected

Reelin’ In the Years 153: Yesterday When I Was Young. RIP Charles Aznavour

Charles Aznavour, who died earlier this week, was dubbed the French Frank Sinatra which does him an injustice. He was a much, much better singer – and he could write songs too.

He was probably the last of the old guard, brought up in the French tradition, undoubtedly one of the greats.

This is a typical French chanson, fitting to mark his passing.

Charles Aznavour: Yesterday When I Was Young

His biggest hit in the UK, though, was She. So successful was it outside France in comparison to in his homeland that in later days he apparently refused to sing the song in any language other than English.

Charles Aznavour: She

Charles Aznavour (Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian): 22/5/1924 – 1/10/2018. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 152: Poor Boy Blues

Again speaking of Stuart Henry, he must have had a soft spot for Barclay James Harvest. In his Saturday morning show on Radio 1 he later began to use the, “So goodbye, pleased to know you. We had some laughs along the way. But I have to be leaving and there’s nothing you can do to make me stay,” refrain from this song – in its second iteration at 2.23 to 2.48 minutes in – as a jingle when he was about to hand over to the next broadcaster.

Barclay James Harvest: Poor Boy Blues

Reelin’ In the Years 151: Don’t Let it Die

An odd one this; record producer Norman Smith taking the mike (yes that’s the abbreviation for microphone used back in the day) himself apparently as a demo for John Lennon to consider but fellow record producer Mickie Most said he should release it as he’d recorded it.

A plea for wildlife conservation sadly still appropriate nigh on fifty years later.

For all its rough and ready qualities there’s something oddly haunting about Smith’s singing voice.

Hurricane Smith: Don’t Let It Die

Reelin’ In the Years 150: Hell Raiser

Well, it’s the only one of The Sweet’s big hits I’ve not yet featured here.

This is from a performance on German TV.

The Sweet: Hell Raiser

Reelin’ In the Years 149: Dragonfly

Earlier this week I learned of the death of Danny Kirwan, guitarist with Fleetwood Mac from 1968 to 1972. His Guardian obituary is here.

Much overlooked in comparison to Peter Green, Kirwan was an important part of the band’s sound during the transition after Green’s departure. The song I’ve chosen, Dragonfly, is the only Kirwan composition (he wrote the tune to set the words of a poem by Welsh poet W H Davies) to make it onto the first Fleetwood Mac “Greatest Hits” compilation.

A less harsh, more melodic touch than Green’s (Man of the World notwithstanding.)

Fleetwood Mac: Dragonfly

Daniel David Kirwan: 13/5/1950 – 8/6/2018. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 148: Lonely Days

Another outing for the word nonchalant in a lyric; except here its inclusion is a little more forced.

The harmonies on the verse of this are sublime.

The Bee Gees: Lonely Days

Reelin’ In the Years 147: Wherewithal

Clifford T Ward was an unusual pop star. Who else would have based a popular song around a Robert Browning poem in Home Thoughts from Abroad? (See here track 7.)

Not only did Ward use the word wherewithal in this song, he made it the title.

And I doubt you’ll find non-pareil in any other song lyric. (Granted, nonchalant is less rare.)

Clifford T Ward: Wherewithal

Reelin’ In the Years 146: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone – RIP Dennis Edwards

Dennis Edwards died earlier this week. He replaced David Ruffin in the line-up of The Temptations and was an important part of the new grittier sound which had more chart success in the UK than the band’s earlier incarnation.

An example of one of those less romance-leaning songs is Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone from 1972.

The Temptations: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone

Dennis Edwards: 3/2/1943 – 1/2/2018. So it goes

Reelin’ In the Years 144: Sixty Years On/Have Mercy on the Criminal. RIP Paul Buckmaster

Master musical arranger Paul Buckmaster died last month. I only got to know about it when his obituary appeared in the Guardian. I first knowingly encountered Buckmaster’s work on Elton John’s second album Elton John but I had heard it before on David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Buckmaster’s importance to the overall sound of that eponymous album is most to the fore on Sixty Years On. I hadn’t heard anything like that on a pop record before (not even from The Beatles) except possibly for the orchestral backing to Simon and Garfunkel’s Old Friends on the Bookends album.

Elton John: Sixty Years On

Elton’s next two studio albums Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water also used Buckmaster’s arrangements to great effect as did his film score for Friends but his presence was missing on Honky Chateau. Elton turned to Buckmaster again with the stunning Have Mercy on the Criminal from Don’t Shoot me I’m Only the Piano Player.

Elton John: Have Mercy on the Criminal

Paul John Buckmaster: 13/6/1946 – 7/11/2017. So it goes.

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