Tag Archives: the beatles

Derek Dodd: 5 Vinyl Records

Derek Dodd is the Area Coordinator for the West Holts Stage, Glastonbury Festival. I’ve Known Derek for almost 20 years. Over these year’s we have been to many concerts and festivals, so armed with my camera, notebook, a recorder and an electric hammer drill (don’t ask) we sat on his attic floor chatting and I asked him to select five vinyl records from this collection.

The Beatles, White Album (1968) was the second or third album I bought from Lesley Browns, Stockton, which was the place to go as a teenager when you wanted to buy records in the 1960s and 1970s. The shop had personal listening booths where you could listen to the records before you purchased them. I remember my Mam lacerating her hand on the sliding door of the booth when we went to listen to Twist and Shout EP – there was blood everywhere!! Each copy of the White Album is numbered and my copy is No. 0094165. It’s an amazing album because it is just so musically vast and a pivotal point, not only for the 1960s but the 20th century. It has all the influences the first track (Back in the USSR) is an homage to Chuck Berry. Bob Dylan influenced singer/songwriter tracks, The harmonies of the Beach Boys, blues numbers, psychedelia, children’s songs and even Karlheinz Stockhausen is there in the most surreal tracks. The guitar-led songs arguably set the blueprint for the heavy rock phenomena that was to emerge. It’s difficult to see what musical influences it did not draw from and at the same time in its aftermath what musical genres it did not affect. It’ got everything.  I heard the White Album when it came out in 1968; I bought it a year afterwards because I did not have enough pocket money. Sgt. Peppers was the first album I bought and I purchased Abbey Road the day after its release. I remember people taking copies of Abbey Road back to the shop because they thought the hissing on the last track on side 1 was a fault, but it was, of course, static that was supposed to be on the record. It’s always dangerous to listen to music in your youth because it sticks with you for the rest of your life. My first 4 albums were Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, The White Album and  Revolver, not a bad start I guess.

Brinsley Schwarz, Silver Pistol (1972) are also pivotal. They were a bit before their time. I suppose they were a neo-punk band. It’s just a beautiful album combining a low-key pub rock sound, mixed with folk, country, psychedelia and pop influences.  Nick Lowe plays bass, guitar and provides vocals on the album. Shortly after the band’s demise in 1974, Brinsley Schwarz briefly joined Ducks Deluxe before forming The Rumour and going on to achieve success with Graham Parker and the Rumour.

Fleetwood Mac, Kiln House (1970) Its the most obscure of Fleetwood Mac albums. It is weird. Officially there is only four of them credited in the band  Jeremy Spencer (guitar, vocals, piano), Danny Kirwan (guitar, vocals), John McVie (bass guitar) and Mick Fleetwood (drums, percussion). Although Christine (Perfect) McVie provided backing vocals and keyboards, is uncredited. Christine Perfect, who was married to bassist John McVie, made her first appearance with the band as Christine McVie at Bristol University in May 1969 just as she was leaving Chicken Shack. She had success with the Etta James classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind.”  Kiln House is an homage to rock n roll but done very softly with tracks like Buddy’s Song, a tribute to Buddy Holly, written in his style. Kirwan and Spencer were left with the task of filling Peter Green’s boots in live shows and recordings. Kirwan’s songs on the album moved the band in the direction of rock, while Spencer’s contributions focused on re-creating the country-tinged “Sun Sound” of the late 1950s. I like it because hardly anybody knows of the album outside of Fleetwood Mac diehards. It was recorded during the period following Peter Green’s departure, but before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined.

Then there is this thing, which is incredible it’s called King Kong, All African Jazz (1961). I love this album. It’s the original recording from an all black cast touring show, which came over from South Africa to the UK. After being a hit in South Africa in 1959, the musical played at the Prince’s Theatre in the West End of London in 1961. It’s an amazing mix of township jazz and African beats. A brilliant and iconic album.  The liner notes for the London cast recording state: “No theatrical venture in South Africa has had his sensational success of King Kong. This musical, capturing the life, colour, and effervescence as well as the poignancy and sadness of township life, has come as a revelation to many South Africans that art does not recognise racial barriers. King Kong has played to capacity houses in every major city in the Union [of South Africa], and now, the first export of indigenous South African theatre, it will reveal to the rest of the world the peculiar flavour of township life, as well as the hitherto unrecognised talents of its people. The show, as recorded here, opened at the Princes Theatre, London, on February 23, 1961.” The song “Sad Times, Bad Times” was considered a reference at the time to the infamous South African Treason Trial in Pretoria, which had begun in 1956 and lasted for more than four years before it collapsed with all the accused acquitted. Among the defendants were Albert Luthuli (ANC president), secretary Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. According to John Matshikiza, King Kong′s first night was attended by Mandela, who at the interval congratulated Todd Matshikiza “on weaving a subtle message of Derek Doddsupport for the Treason Trial leaders into the opening anthem” The shows key performers included Miriam Makeba, Nathan Mdledle. There was a cast of 72 that included Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kippie Moeketsi and Thandi Klaasen. The London cast also included Patience Gowabe and former Miss South Africa 1955 Hazel Futa, who went on to provide backing vocals for “She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man” by Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages (1964).

Finally, Palm Wine Guitar Music The 60s Sound by S.E. Rouge (1988). S.E Rouge is an amazing guitarist from Sierra Leone. A tailor by trade he became a professional musician in the 60s, singing in four languages. After touring America he moved to England in 1988. I saw him play during the early 90s at an arts centre in Taunton of all places. He had an amazingly warm, happy, very uplifting sound. I spoke to him after the gig, he took my phone number and about 3 months later he rang me up asking if I could promote a gig for him in Bristol, but I was not putting on gigs at the time. Shortly after that call, he died. He had just completed the recording of his last album, Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana. He had undergone heart bypass surgery some months earlier but against medical advice travelled to Russia, where he lost consciousness while performing onstage.


Not many people know that Nat King Cole recorded five versions of the track L-O-V-E, English, Japanise, Italian, German and French. The English language version recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood on June 3, 1964. Bert Kaempfert, the songwriter for L-O-V-E, also wrote the music for many well-known songs, including Strangers in the Night (Frank Sinatra) and Wooden Heart (Elvis Presley).  Kaempfert was born in Hamburg, Germany and in 1961, he hired The Beatles to back Tony Sheridan for an album called My Bonnie. The album and its singles, released by Polydor Records, were the Beatles’ first commercially released recordings. During October 1961, a man walked into the music store owned by Brian Epstein to ask for a copy of “My Bonnie.” The store did not have it, but Epstein noted the request and was so intrigued by the idea of a Liverpool band getting a record of its own released that he followed up on it. This event led to his discovery of the Beatles and ultimately their signing by George Martin to Parlophone Records. The rest is history.

In a career spanning five decades, George Martin not only signed the Beatles but produced more than 700 records. Often referred to as “the Fifth Beatle” because of his extensive involvement on each of the Beatles’ original albums. Martin was considered to be one of the greatest record producers of all time, particularly in Britain with 30 number-one hit singles in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States. Martin, directly and indirectly, contributed to the themes of three films in the James Bond series. Although Martin did not produce the score for the second Bond film, From Russia with Love, he was responsible for the signing of Matt Monro to EMI just months before his recording of the song of the same title. In his autobiography All You Need Is Ears, George Martin wrote of having visited the Capitol Tower during the recording sessions for the Frank Sinatra album Come Fly with Me.

John Lennon famously said, “that without Elvis Presley there would have been no Beatles.” 25 years after Lennon’s death Presley would still be impacting on the Beatles. Paul McCartney had made a connection between popular Elvis Presley remixes and the Beatles back catalogue. A few years later, he was approached about doing a Fab Four-themed Cirque du Soleil production, which eventually became 2006’s Love. McCartney, says he jumped at the chance to oversee a series of remixes. Hand-picking Beatles producer George Martin’s son Giles to do the work.

No more heroes anymore

James Dean Doll

James Dean Doll

On July 23, 2011 singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment at the age of 27.  During her short life, Winehouse accumulated a net worth of $10 million, but like so many other celebrities she may end up earning more money in death than in life. Dying young captures the eternal spirit of a musician and artist, which helps create a mythology that often projects the person behind their human fragility to one of almost god like status with fans increasingly desperate to be connected in some way with their deceased hero.

The first sign of this phenomena was actor James Dean who died in a car crash September 30, 1955 (aged 24). Dean’s major films identified him in roles like Jim Stark’s Rebel Without A Cause depicting the dilemmas of a teenager, who feels that no one, not even his peers, can understand him. During the 70s no self-respected adolescent facing the doomed prospect of being young would be seen without their James Dean t-shirt. Today James Dean merchandise is in abundance and fans can if they so wish reacquaint themselves with their hero via the James Dean doll for £25. Michael Jackson posthumously earned millions from music video marathons, radio airplay, and album sales immediately following his death. The dad of death merchandise goes to the proclaimed King of Rock n Roll Elvis Presley. who remains one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. Commercially successful in many genres, including pop,blues and gospel, Elvis  is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music. He died August 16, 1977 (aged 42). The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll has long earned money after his death, largely due to an immense portfolio of licensing and merchandise deals and Graceland admissions. Given the manner of the Kings death some of the mechanise should, shall we say is beyond contempt?

Kurt Cobain doll

Purchasing one of these dolls is like buying Courtney Love lifelong memberships to the NRA. (copy right Bill Hicks)

“You Know You’re Right” was written in 1993, making it one of the last known Kurt Cobain compositions. A studio version of the song was recorded at Nirvana’s final session, on January 30, 1994.  By 5th April 1994 Cobain was dead at the mere age of 27 following several attempts at suicide he finally succeeded. The recording became the object of much legal wrangling between Courtney Love and the surviving Nirvana bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. Grohl and Novoselic had wanted the song for a planned Nirvana box set, but Love blocked its release, and a battle over Nirvana’s legacy ensued. In September 2002, the lawsuit between Love and the surviving Nirvana members was settled, and it was announced that “You Know You’re Right” would arrive on a one-CD history of the band. What is not disputed is the business empire that emerged following Cobain’s death, books, films, posters and of course the obligatory t-shirt that is later years would also include Cobain’s suicide note. Fans may also want to purchase the Kurt Cobain doll with replicated rife, so to rein-act their heroes desperate final hours. Death of course does not stand in the way of the deceased artist contributing to new commercial venture. Several artists have been resurrected from the grave to help generate new sales and revenues streams for their “estate.” The advent of new technologies  has also enabled new material to be produced (sic)! Unforgettable is a popular song written by Irving Gordon. The most popular version of the song was recorded by Nat King Cole in 1951. In 1991, after Elvis Presley’s musical director Joe Guercio had the idea, Cole’s original 1951 recording of the song was edited and remixed to create a duet with his daughter, Natalie.

John Lennon was resurrected in 1995 through the magic of technology to ghost voice with the remaining Beatles on the lacklustre Free as a Bird track that did little to undermine Lennon’s image as a creative icon. Originally recorded in 1977 as a home demo by John Lennon the track was released as a single by the Beatles, 25 years after the Beatles break-up and 15 years after the death of Lennon. George Martin, who had produced most of the Beatles’ 1960s recordings, turned down an invitation to produce Free as a Bird due to, “hearing problems” though he subsequently managed to produce and direct the Anthology series. The track ends with the voice of John Lennon played backwards. The message, when played in reverse, is “Turned out nice again.” A sentiment that would not be shared by many die hard Beatles fans given production for the track went to Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame. So it came to pass that the Beatles would be morphed into a derivative of the ELO sound and production. There was to be one more foray into Lennon’s demos with the equally suspicious Real Love track, which would be thankfully be the last released record of so called new material credited to the Beatles. The Beatles of course set the business template for pop merchandise during the 1960s with everything from t towels, models to lunch boxes being mass produced to support album releases. Given the band by the mid to late 60s were predominately a studio based enterprise this source of merchandise became an increasingly important element of their business.


Hmmmmm No.

When Dr. John Bannister pronounced Jimi Hendrix dead on September 18, 1970 the story of this iconic musician should have come to graceful ended with his legacy being the foundation for old and new fans alike, although unlike his predecessors Hendrix was already subject to the unscrupulous dealings of the dark side of the music business. By 1967, as Hendrix was gaining in popularity, many of his pre-Experience recordings were marketed to an unsuspecting public as Jimi Hendrix albums, sometimes with misleading later images of Hendrix. The recordings, which came under the control of producer Ed Chalpin, with whom Hendrix had signed a recording contract in 1965, were often re-mixed between their repeated reissues, and licensed to record companies. Hendrix publicly denounced the releases, describing them as “malicious” and “greatly inferior.” These unauthorized releases have long constituted a substantial part of Hendrix’s recording catalogue, amounting to hundreds of albums.  In 1993, MCA Records delayed a multi-million dollar sale of Hendrix’s publishing copyrights because Hendrix’s father Al Hendrix was unhappy about the arrangement. Under a settlement reached in July 1995, Al Hendrix prevailed in his legal battle and regained control of his son’s song and image rights. He subsequently licensed the recordings to MCA through the family-run company Experience Hendrix LLC, formed in 1995. In August 2009, Experience Hendrix announced that it had entered a new licensing agreement with Sony Music Entertainment’s Legacy Recordings division which would take effect in 2010. Legacy and Experience Hendrix launched the 2010 Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project, starting with the release of Valleys of Neptune in March of that year.  

In the months before his death, Hendrix recorded demos for a concept album tentatively titled Black Gold, which are now in the possession of Experience Hendrix LLC. The demo tapes consist of 16 songs, all created by a solo Hendrix armed only with his voice and a Martin acoustic guitar. Months later, at the Isle of Wight Festival, Hendrix gave the tapes to his drummer Mitch Mitchell to have him listen and comment on the necessary rhythm section requirements for recording the songs. After Hendrix’s death in September 1970, Mitchell simply forgot about the tapes, apparently unaware that they were one-of-a-kind masters. For 22 years, the Black Gold tapes sat in a black Ampex tape box that Hendrix tied shut with a headband and labelled “BG”. It was not until 1992 that Tony Brown, the avid Hendrix collector and biographer, interviewed Mitchell and learnt that the mythical Black Gold tapes, thought to have been stolen from Jimi’s apartment by vandals who ransacked it for collectibles soon after his death, were lying in Mitchell’s home in England. Mitchell also possessed the Martin guitar that was used to create the material. Brown was invited to review the tapes and published a summary of his account, but to date the material has not been released and is not available to Hendrix collectors. Mitch Mitchell’s association with Experience Hendrix LLC was an indicator that Black Gold might see worldwide release. Mitchell’s death, however, means that the future and whereabouts of Black Gold are even more uncertain. In March 2010, Janie Hendrix stated that Black Gold will be released this decade. “Suddenly November Morning” was included in the album West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, released in November 2010.  This is the only track from Black Gold ever released.

Jim Morrison Infant Snapsuit

Jim Morrison Infant Snapsuit

An American Prayer is the ninth and final studio album by the Doors. In 1978, seven years after lead singer Jim Morrison died and five years after the remaining members of the band broke up, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore reunited and recorded backing tracks over Morrison’s poetry (originally recorded in 1969 and 1970). The album received mixed reviews and still divides critics, yet it has managed a platinum certification in the US. When the album was originally released, longtime Doors’ producer Paul Rothchild labeled the album the “rape of Jim Morrison.” Morrison himself, prior to leaving for his ill-fated Paris visit, had approached composer Lalo Schifrin as a possible contributor for the music tracks meant to accompany the poetry, with no participation from any of the other Doors members. Since the demise of The Doors as a functioning band their back catalogue of albums has  been subjected to all forms of digital re-editing, special anniversary mixes, bonus material that inevitable consists of weak studio outtakes of classic tracks, as wells banal studio chitchat. The dreadful licensing of tracks to superstar DJ’s who in turn have managed single-handily to tear the heart of the material for a so called new generation of fans. Over 20 live official live albums have subsequently been released, including Live at the Aquarius Theatre: The First Performance and Live at the Aquarius Theatre: The Second Performance. In 2002 two of the original Doors, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger reunited and produced a new version of The Doors, called The Doors of the 21st Century. The lineup was fronted by Ian Astbury of The Cult.

John Densmore the bands original drummer subsequently claimed that he had not been invited to take part in the reunion. By February 2003, it was reported that Densmore filed an injunction against his former band mates, hoping to prevent them from using the name The Doors of the 21st Century. It was further reported that both Morrison’s family and that of Pamela Courson had joined Densmore in seeking to prevent Manzarek and Krieger from using The Doors’ name and in July 2005 Densmore and the Morrison estate won a permanent injunction. This caused the new band to switch to the name D21C. Densmore has been steadfast in refusing to license The Doors′ music for use in television commercials, including an offer of $15 million by Cadillac to lease the song “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, feeling that that would be in violation of the spirit in which the music was created. Densmore wrote, “People lost their virginity to this music, got high for the first time to this music. I’ve had people say kids died in Vietnam listening to this music, other people say they know someone who didn’t commit suicide because of this music…. On stage, when we played these songs, they felt mysterious and magic. That’s not for rent.”  I guess it cannot be put any better.

Coup d’état of a Song

It is very rare that a coup d’état of a song becomes a magical moment. It only happens when the artists who carries out the coup d’état takes the song on a different adventure envisaged by the original writer and artist. When it does happen it gives the work a fresh emphasis and purpose to the listener. It can also introduce the masses to an unknown, forgotten and often undervalued artist. It also tends to happen best when a song is further compounded by present circumstances, or a certain mythology has developed around the song.

A coup d’état of a song takes place when it is overthrown by an artist who sticks a flag in it like an adventurer on newly discovered land. The impostor goes on to claim the integrity of the song.  A coup d’état of a song goes far beyond the banal multitude of manufactured cover songs that pollute the environment through talentless TV shows. One of the best examples for the coup d’état of a song in recent years is the Leonard Cohen song ‘Hallelujah’.

Legend has it that Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for the song whilst alone in a hotel room. Apparently the song had reduced him to sitting on the floor, in underwear and alleviating the creative pressure by banging his head on the floor in frustration. Cohen’s original version of Hallelujah emerged on the 1984 album ‘Various Positions’ and was largely ignored until John Cale carried out a song coup d’état in 1991 as part of the Cohen tribute album ‘I’m Your Fan.’

Cohen’s original version went for the choir backing, electric piano, drums and echoed lead vocal – full on production. Cale’s version was structured more delicately around a single vocal and grand piano that gave the song a much more personal, haunting and dramatic production.  Its Cale’s version that is more likely to be performed by artists, including Cohen himself who during his latest round of tours performed Cale’s version. It is also the Cale version that appears in the 2001 Shrek film and not the Jeff Buckley one, as many believe, although interestingly the Cale version did not appear on the soundtrack album for the film.
He never got to meet his musical heroes.

He never got to meet his musical heroes.

The commercially successful coup d’état of the song was of course undertaken by Jeff Buckley who in turn was inspired by the Cale coup d’état rather than Cohen’s original. Buckley’s coup d’état has become the best known and featured on his only complete album, Grace from 1994. The song was released to great commercial success during 2006/07 when it charted around the world.Buckley sadly did not live long enough to witness this success after dying in tragic circumstances at the age of 30 in 1997. His Grace album did not go Gold until 2002, nine years after its original release.

These tragic circumstances added further mystery to the Buckley coup d’état of Hallelujah, which had further intrigue given that Jeff Buckley is the son of Tim Buckley the legendary folk singer from the 1960s/70 who also died young at the age of 28 in 1975.

Musical history is littered with the missed possibilities for creative partnerships caused by egos, untimely deaths, or simply artists not being around and kicking at the same time. So whilst sitting alone one Sunday morning listening to a few CD’s, sipping coffee and pondering aimlessly I thought about some of our sadly demised artists and the songs that were published after their death, which in my view they would have graced with a glorious coup d’état. Here are my top 5 selections.

1. Billie Holiday: The Rolling Stones ‘As Tears Go By’.

By 1959 Billie Holiday’s ravished life of rape, prostitution, alcohol abuse and drug addiction had come to an end. On May 31 of that year Holiday had been taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York suffering from liver and heart disease. She was arrested for drug possession as she lay dying, and her hospital room was raided by the authorities.

In 1994 the Jazz label Verve released a collection of tracks by Holiday entitled The Great American Songbook, which captures some of her final recordings. The glory days were well and truly gone by now. Holiday struggles to hit the notes and her voice is noticeable cracking, often slurred in delivery. In her glory days Holiday was renowned to be one of the greatest female vocalists in the world with a vocal that could melt an audience into submission with ease. The Great American Songbook collection of songs leaves a harrowing legacy that faced many Black artists, especially Black women who were exploited, abused and ultimately lost their life in pursuit of their art and in the hand of the ruthless men controlling the music business. I can think of no more fitting song than the Rolling Stones ‘As Tears Go By”

This song was written by Jagger, Richards and their then manager. The song was originally given the female treatment by Marianne Faithful and was initially earmarked for the ‘b’ side of her record in the early 1960s, but upon hearing the demo her record company decided to switch the track to the ‘a’ side and it went on to Chart. It took a few years until the Stones actually released their version of the song. Faithful delivered a credible effort, but imagine Holiday with her life experience and lady day voice transforming this song into a pain of beauty and making angels cry.

2. Miles Davis: Radiohead’s ‘The National Anthem’

In 2001 Radiohead released ‘Amnesiac’ their fifth studio album. The final track on the album is entitled, ‘Living in a Glasshouse.’ Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood wrote to the ageing British jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton asking him to play on the track because the band was “a bit stuck.” Lyttelton apparently agreed to help after his daughter shared their 1997 classic album OK Computer with him. This event informed my next imaginary venture. I take you back one Radiohead album to set out my next coup d’état of a song.

Kid A Radiohead’s fourth studio album was written, conceived and recorded around the same time as Amnesiac. The 3rd track on Kid A is the thunderous, “The National Anthem’ with is driving bass line and disjointed electronics. It would be absolutely breathtaking to have witnessed a free flowing, at his best, Miles Davis kicking into this track, which would not have been to much out of place given the music styles Davis was experimenting with in the 1970s.

In 1970 Davis released the controversially titled, ‘Bitches Brew’ that continued his experimentation into using electric instruments and a loser rock-influenced improvisational style. The Album received mixed responses and reviews upon its release, due to its unconventional style and sound, although it is now gained recognition as one of jazz’s greatest albums and a progenitor of the jazz rock genre, as well as a major influence on rock musicians…..like Radiohead no doubt.

Davis died in 1991 and is generally recognised as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century who was at the forefront of major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.

Davis and Radiohead a marriage made in heaven and divorce played out in hell.

3. Curtis Mayfield: Tom Waits ‘Alice’

Two of my favourite artists of all time. This is a collaboration that sends shivers down my spine and one that if existed would be demanded at my funeral. Curtis Mayfield wrote and sang from the heart with truth, love and passion. Often overlooked and generally only credited by the masses via his soul classic ‘Move on up’ that has gone on to be bastardised through many a TV commercial and dreadful remix.

Mayfield died in 1999 and left a back catalogue, which is enough to put most of today’s recording artists to shame. Recognised as a pioneering soul, funk, R&B, singer and songwriter Mayfield was grounded in the radical politics of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and composed the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Super Fly. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums. Mayfield was paralysed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him during an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. He was unable to play guitar again, but he wrote, sang, and directed the recording of his last album, New World Order. Mayfield’s vocals for the album were painstakingly recorded, usually line-by-line while lying on his back.

Alice is an album by Tom Waits, released in 2002. The album contains the majority of songs written for the play/opera of the same name that was adapted by Robert Wilson. The play/opera explores the obsessive relationship between Lewis Carroll and the little girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell.

The opening track of the album entitled Alice guides you into a false sense of security; a lovely, candle-flickering tune, drums brushed around a breathy sax and gently chiming vibes. What comes afterwards is a journey into the darkest regions of obsession, insecurity and personal fears played out in the tone, structure and vocal tortures that Tom Waits is perfect at producing. It is the title track Alice that I can imagine Mayfield bringing glory too.

The creative clash between these completely different artists and style in my view (and imagination) would generate something of immense beauty, equally it could be a right mess just like Joe Strummers duet with Johnny Cash where they jointly warbled the Bob Marley’s classic Redemption Song – what a trio Cash, Strummer and Marley all dead, all legends, yet somethings should never escape the studio.

4. Janis Joplin: The Milks Carton Kid ‘Michigan’

The Milk Carton Kid’s album Prologue, 2011 in my view is a modern folk classic. The album bursts with confidence lyrically from its opening track ‘Michigan’. The band consist of singers and guitarists Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan. At the point of writing their first two albums are free to download from the bands website: http://www.themilkcartonkids.com/

Janis Joplin died in 1970 and was an American singer-songwriter who first rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. On the 4th October 1970 her absence from the recording studio was causing concern. She was found dead on the floor of her bedroom that day with the official cause of death being an overdose of heroin combined with alcohol.

Although Joplin had a remarkable, powerful and distinctive voice, it was also tinged with a fragile tone that could turn a song on its head whilst in the middle of delivering.  Whilst Michigan the place is a place of natural beauty, its largest city is Detroit, with its proud musical heritage has succumb to dramatic industrial and social decline witnessed by on a few major cities. These conflicting dilemmas play out in the song and add to its depth.

Joplin would have taken this song by its throat and transformed it from its delicate folk interpretation into wailing epitaph in honour of a once great city, its people, families and community. No rock will have been left unturned, every emotion would have been exposed and cast at our feet to ponder.

5. John Lennon: Low ‘Plastic Cup’

There is the Beatles. There is John Lennon as a solo artist and there is the mythology that surrounds Lennon. Personally I’m not a great fan of his solo work, which I often find pretentious, but this of course does not diminish the great man from my reflections. Plastic Cup appears on the Low album Invisible Ways.

Formed in 1993 the music of Low is characterised by slow tempos and minimalist arrangements. The track Plastic Cup represents typical Low territory with it’s brooding, unhurried, dark, but yet warm produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Lennon will have been at his best singing the words of Plastic Cup, “And now they make you piss into a plastic cup and give it up. The cup will probably be here long after we’re gone, what’s wrong?” The type of lyric I can image him writing in and around the time the Beatles imploded resulting in his fractured separation from Paul McCartney.

By the early 70s Lennon and McCartney where is creative war with one another. First of the blocks was McCartney with his studio album ‘Ram’ that contained the track “Too Many People” which McCartney confessed was a dig at Lennon. The response was not long in the waiting when Lennon released the ‘Imagine’ album later the same year, which contained the infamous track ‘How do you sleep at night?’ The lyrics of Lennon’s track, “The only thing you done was yesterday alongside “Those freaks was right when they said you was dead” leave little to the imagination as to the festering hatred that was eating away in Lennon.

Lennon was known for his politically left leaning sympathies and his last known act of political activism was a statement in support of the striking sanitation workers in San Francisco on 5 December 1980. He and Ono planned to join the workers’ protest on 14 December. Lennon was shot dead on 8 December 1980 in New York. He was was forty years old and on that day the corporate music elite lost all hope of a Beatles reunion, but it remains a sad note to the world that Lennon and McCartney where not able to work it out.