Saturday, August 31, 2019

Kitty Wells (1919 –2012)

Ellen Muriel Deason was born in 1919 to Charles and Myrtle Wells. in Nashville, Tennessee. One of eight siblings, she learned to play guitar and sing with her father. Charles, and his brother were musicians and Myrtle, was a gospel singer. In 1936, Ellen aged 17, she sang in a group called Deason Sisters with her sisters and who performed on a local radio station. A year later she was married to aspiring country music star Johnnie Wright, (Johnnie & Jack).

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Ellen Wells sang with Johnnie and his sister Louise as Johnnie Right and the Harmony Girls, before he eventually teamed up with Jack Anglin to become the duo Johnnie & Jack. Ellen changed her stage name to Kitty Wells and toured with the duo, occasionally performing backup vocals. Johnnie and Jack became very popular and worked with Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys. Acuff was concerned not to make Kitty the show's headliner, because he thought women could not sell country music records.

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At the time promoters were not keen to promote female singers, and after RCA Victor released a couple of her records in 1949 and they failed to chart, she was dropped from the label in 1950.

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Just as Kitty was thinking of giving up on the idea of being a country singer, she was asked by Paul Cohen ( Decca Records) to record a rebuttal song, written by Jay Miller, to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life". She was offered the $125 union scale recording fee and went to Owen Bradley's studio where she was accompanied by Johnnie Wright (bass guitar), Jack Anglin (rhythm guitar). Paul Warren (fiddle) and Shot Jackson (steel guitar). Despite being banned by many radio stations and the Grand Ole Opry for controversial lyrics, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" took off in 1952, selling more than 800,000 copies and enough to make it the first number one song by a female artist on the country music chart. The single also crossed over to Billboard's pop charts, peaking at No. 27. "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels" outsold Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," and launched Kitty Wells to stardom.

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Her follow up was another response song, "Paying For That Back Street Affair", was a lyrical answer to Webb Pierce's "Back Street Affair". It reached number six number six in the charts in 1953.

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Another two Top 10 hits followed for the Queen of Country Music with "Hey Joe" and "Cheatin's A Sin" in the same year.

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Kitty Wells teamed up with Red Foley in 1954 to sing a duet "One By One", It went to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart and this led to a string of hit singles from the duo within the next two decades, including 1954's "As Long as I Live", which peaked at No. 3.

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As a solo artist she had two major hits in 1954, including "Release Me" (#8) with "Making Believe" (#2) in 1955. She became the first female country singer to issue an LP in 1956, with Kitty Wells' Country Hit Parade, and chart success with "Searching (For Someone Like You)", (#3) A year later she released her album Winner of Your Heart which was the first of many and enjoyed top three chart success with "Three Ways (To Love You)" ( #3) in 1957, and "I Can't Stop Loving You" (#3) in 1958.

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Now an established star of country music, Kitty carried on into the 60s, forging a pathway for others to follow. She was back at the top of the charts with "Heartbreak U.S.A." (1961), this time backed by the Jordanaires. More chart success came in the following year with "Unloved Unwanted,” (#5), "Will Your Lawyer Talk to God" (#8), and “We Missed You" (#7). Her album. ‘Especially for You, ‘ set the trend for the rest of the decade by charting in the Top Country Albums chart. In the midst of the English Invasion, more solo success came with the singles "This White Circle on My Finger” (#7) and “Password”, (#4). Kitty was back in the charts with "Finally," singing again with Webb Pierce.

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Now competing for chart success with the very female singers she allowed to break through, the latter half of the 60s were less commercially successful for Kitty. She did enjoy chart success with “You Don't Hear" (#4) and "Meanwhile, Down at Joe's" (#9) in 1965; then a year later “It's All Over but the Crying", peaked at No. 14 on the country charts. Her albums continued to sell well and Kitty recorded a duet album with husband Johnnie Wright called, We'll Stick Together. She also reunited with Red Foley for a studio album.

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In 1969, she became the first female country star to have her own syndicated television show. However, at a time when trends in popular music were changing, The Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Family Show, only ran for one season.

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She left the Decca label in 1973, shortly after they became MCA Records. Kitty signed with Capricorn Records, and recorded Forever Young. a blues-flavored album which featured backing from the Allman Brothers Band and the Marshall Tucker Band. In 1979, at age 60, she was back on the Billboard charts, "I Thank You for the Roses".

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She remained popular as a live performer and continued to give concerts up until the early 2000s. Sadly, Kitty Wells passed away in 2012 following a stroke. She was 92 years old. The innovator of female country music influenced countless number of popular musicians who followed in her footsteps. Tragically, much of Recorded material was lost in the 2008 Universal fire

The Mike Raven - Blues Show 1966 S A+B

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Fleetwood Mac - Peel Session 1969

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The late great John Peel (1939-2004)

John Robert Parker Ravenscroft was born in 1939 in Heswell, near Liverpool. He grew up in Burton a small village nearby and was educated at Shrewsbury Public School. Even as a young schoolboy he was fascinated with records and the more bazaar the better. Not exactly happy at school where he was abused he left and ended up doing National Service as a Radar Operator. His first job after being demobbed was a mill operative in Rochdale Lancs, and then in 1960, he went to America to work in the cotton industry. When this job came to an end John stayed in the States doing a variety of menial jobs. He worked for WRR Radio in Dallas where he presented a Monday night programme called Kat's Karavan.

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With the British Invasion and heavy Scouse accent he was ideally placed to cover Beatlemania and became the official Beatles correspondent with the Dallas radio station KLIF. John later moved to KOMA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then in 1965, John Ravenscroft presented the breakfast show on KMEN in San Bernardino, California. There he started to rebel against playlists and went very much for music he preferred to hear. This was directly reflected by John’s own acquaintances in the business. Being close to LA and Hollywood John met and befriended many of the up and coming bands. When he returned to the UK in 1967 he was ideally qualified to become a rogue broadcaster on the pirate radio station, Radio London. There he adopted the name John Peel to protect his identity and eventually presented The Perfumed Garden.

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His command of pop music, distinctive radio voice absence of ‘needle time’ restrictions were perfect for combined with his healthy disregard for authority meant as a late nite presenter, John epitomised piracy by ignoring playlists and station commercials to play nonstop music of his choice which of course was impeccable. At first this was not picked up by the management and by the time it was John was the people’s champion with a massive following who enjoyed their music commercial free. Come the hour, come the man and John Peel was again in the right place to bring the X generation the music of the underground/flower power era. The year was 1967 and John played an eclectic mix of classic blues, folk music, West Coast sound, as well as the new order of British bands including Pink Floyd, Cream and Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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John adopted the policy of not playing hit lists and top 40s which was rather ironic since many of the unknowns he choose to air went on to become headliners. He often played complete albums, read poetry, discussed politics and quoted from radical street press publications such as Oz, IT and Private Eye, all of which met with audience approval. John’s microphone style was unlike his contemporaries and he spoke softly and sincerely making his listeners feel like he was talking directly to them. When Radio London closed John Peel joined BBC Radio 1 but he was not their first choice and his ‘old school’ background did hold sway however and his popular reputation did the rest. When John joined Radio 1 his first show was Top Gear, which he co-presented with Pete Drummond and others. The show featured live sessions called ‘The Peel Sessions” which gave a whole host of acts the opportunity to be heard on mainstream radio.

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This met with great success and in 1968 John was given a solo spotlight presenting Night Ride. The format was similar to Perfumed Garden and featured almost anything. Night Ride was at times controversial but always good radio and for a late night show had peak audience figures. He liked to follow the music trends before they became commercial and was often seen to be breaking new sounds like West Coast psychedelic music, Punk and electronic dance music, respectively. John’s programme captured the creative activity of the underground scene but its anti-establishment stance and unpredictability made Aunty nervous and they axed it after 18 months.

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John continued with the BBC and remained with them for 34 years. Following the trend of others he broadcast many of his shows from his home, "Peel Acres" which had the whole family involved. The live sessions continued and were mostly from BBC Maida Vale Studios in West London. Many bands and artists of a wide range of different musical styles from different decades credit Peel as a major boost to their careers. For over four decades John was more than just a jock spinning disc and was instrumental in bringing major acts to the attention of his audience. These include: T-Rex, Led Zeppelin, Kevin Ayers, David Bowie, The Faces, Bolt Thrower, The Sex Pistols, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Fairport Convention, Pink Floyd, The Clash, Napalm Death, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror, The Undertones, Buzzcocks, Gary Numan, The Cure, Joy Division, The Comsat Angels, The Wedding Present, Six By Seven, Def Leppard, The Orb, Pulp, Ash, Orbital, The Smiths, FSK, Trumans Water, The Black Keys, The White Stripes and PJ Harvey.

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He not only championed many new bands but also had his own vinyl pressing business and record label called, Dandelion. In 2001, John Peel was diagnosed with diabetes and found it difficult to cope. He died suddenly aged of 65 from a heart attack in 2004. John was a lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan and also followed the (mis)fortunes of Hibernian Football Club, and Ipswitch Town. The term ‘great’ is overused when it comes to describing performing artists, but John Peel was a great communicator and brought millions of people joy for over four decades years. Peely will be sadly missed.

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In honour of one of Britain's most iconic broadcasters, 6 Music presents the John Peel Lecture.

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Worth a listen:
Bonzo Dog
Gorilla (1967)

David Bowie
Space Oddity (1969)

Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) - (1978)

Captain Beefheart
Too much time (1973)

The Clash
London Calling (1979)

Cocteau Twins
Lullabies (1982)

The Cure
Lovecats (1983)

Def Leppard
Let it go (1983)

The Faces
Stay with me (1971)

Fairport Convention
Si Tu Dois Partir (1969)

The Fall
Rowche Rumble (1979)

Davey Graham
Getting better (1969)

PJ Harvey
Down by the water (91993)

Incredible String Band
At the lighthouse dance (1973)

Joy Division
Love will tear us a part (1980)

Led Zeppelin
Whole Lotta love (1969)

The Misunderstood
I Can Take You To The Sun (1966)

Mike Oldfield
Tubular Bells (1973)

Gary Numan
Are friend electric (1979)

Pink Floyd
Another brick in the wall Part II (1979)

The Sex Pistols
God save the Queen (1977)

Siouxsie and the Banshees
Hong Kong Garden (1978)

The Smiths
Hand in glove (1983)

Soft Machine
Joy of a toy (1968)

Tangerine Dream
Betrayal (1977)

Debra (1968)

More on John Peel
John Peel Remembered iPlayer Radio BBC

Reviewed 31/08/2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Top Of The Pops | TOTP | The Story of 1988

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Jim Reeves (1923 - 1964)

James Travis Reeves was born in 1923 in Galloway, Panola County, Texas. He was one of nine children and his father died when he was only ten months old. Jim was given his first guitar aged five and was soon listening to Jimmie Rodgers. Aged 12 he appeared on a radio show in Shreveport, LA. Jim Reeves also a talented athlete and decided he would like to be a professional baseball player. He joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1944 and played with them for three years before seriously injuring his ankle. He worked in a series of jobs and during this time started singing as front man for Moon Mullican's band. In the early '50s, he became a radio announcer for KSIG in Gladewater, TX, before establishing himself at KGRI in Henderson. In 1952 he was a disc jockey and newscaster at KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana, and host of the popular Louisiana Hayride. The fateful day arrived when a performer failed to turn up for a singing gig. It is not clear now whether it was Sleepy LaBeef or Hank Williams, but no matter Jim ended up filling in. His warm, velvet, mellow baritone voice was an instant success. Jim Reeves was signed to Fabor Records then Abbott Records, but left in 1955 for RCA Victor as soon as he tired of the novelty records he had been recording.

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Jim sang in a loud voice which had been the style considered standard for country-western performers. He was keen to change this and soften his volume by using a lower pitch and singing closer to the microphone. At first RCA were resistant but when Chet Atkins (his producer) recorded a demo song using the self same style in 1957, then RCA changed their mind. Jim recorded "Four Walls" which topped the country charts and crossed over to become a hit on the pop charts and the Nashville Sound was born.

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As a result of his huge crossover appeal, Jim appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and guest spots on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Jimmy Dean Show. In 1957 Jim was given his own show on ABC-TV, and he soon became a national household name. In 1958 he released "Blue Boy" which was a country and pop hit and inspired the naming of his band, "The Blue Boys."

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The style of 'Gentleman Jim Reeves' with his rich, velvet voice bought millions of new fans to country music from every corner of the world. The early 60s saw Jim at the top hit parade in many countries making him an International star.

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He became more popular than Elvis Presley in South Africa and was especially appreciated by the Zulus. Jim recorded several albums in Afrikaans and in 1963 appeared in a South African movie, Kimberley Jim.

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A year later Jim Reeves died (July 31st 1964), when his small plane crashed during a thunderstorm near Nashville, Tennessee. It appears the small airplane became caught in the centre of the thunderstorm and Jim had become disorientated by "pilot's vertigo", and was completely unaware of which direction he was flying the plane. The plane was flying upside down and when Jim he decided to rise the consequences were tragic. Jim Reeves’ music continued to be popular with sales increasing following his death. Throughout the late '60s and 70s RCA released posthumous singles and new material previously unheard. Half a century and more years later the velvet tones of Jim Reeves remain unmatched and the artist is as popular today in the minds of his fans, as he was at his height of fame.

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Worth a listen:
Mexican Joe (1953)
Bimbo (1955)
Four Walls (1957)
Am I Losing You (1957)
Anna Marie (1958)
He'll Have to Go (1959)
Distant Drums (1960)
Adios Amigo (1962)
Have I told you Lately (1962)
You're the Only Good Thing (That's Happened to Me) (1962)
Welcome To My World (1964)
I Love You Because (1964)
I Won't Forget You (1965)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019