Tag Archives: Donny Hathaway

In search of the girl from U.N.C.L.E.

A couple of thoughts in the wake of Record Store Day 2013.

Have we come full circle?

On the local hard-rock FM radio station last week, they were making a big deal about playing a vinyl record with Record Store Day approaching. They said they’d gotten the record from the attic. It was Phantom, Rocker and Slick doing “Men Without Shame.” Had to look that up. It was from late 1985, early 1986.

One day long ago, as we drove into Milwaukee in the earliest ’90s, we were listening to another hard-rock FM radio station. They were making a big deal about going digital, playing nothing but CDs. I don’t remember the song, but I vividly remember thinking it was the end of an era.

Funny how that’s worked out.

And am I just a square?

Record Store Day carries a certain vibe, a certain energy. People dig it. It’s good for the folks behind the counter. Yet it seems as if it disrupts the familiar rhythms of the laid-back record store. I’m left with the lingering feeling that Record Store Day is somehow not for me. It seems a bit like Amateur Night.

From that long list of special Record Store Day releases, my wish list was short. (I know, I know. I’m not in the record labels’ target demographic.) I’d hoped to find “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E” soundtrack re-release, but no.

Tempted by a Shuggie Otis comp (some of the songs I already have) and by the bright yellow vinyl of a Joan Jett re-release but working on a limited budget, this is what came home.

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“Never My Love,” Donny Hathaway, from the Atco 7-inch, a Record Store Day release. This Donny Hathaway fan blog guesses it’s from the mid- to late ’70s.

This is a gospel-tinged cover of the soft, gentle song that was written by the Addrisi Brothers and a hit for The Association in 1967. The flip side is “Memory Of Our Love,” a nice bit of sophisticated ’70s soul written by Hathaway.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under April 2013, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 10

While I was at our indie record store the other day, I checked out the Christmas records. There wasn’t much there.

At the other end of the store, they had the Record Store Day releases left over from Black Friday. I found this.

Donny Hathaway Xmas 45

There’s something to get you in the Christmas spirit. I rarely buy 45s, but you gotta love that colored vinyl.

It’s another step in a quest started perhaps 25 years ago. This was one of about a dozen mostly Christmas songs taped off the radio late one night. I’ve been collecting those songs ever since. Here’s that story.

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Four years ago, I recreated that program in a series of four blog posts. The last entry included this cut.

“This Christmas,” Donny Hathaway, Atco 7-inch 532757-7, a limited edition reissued in 2012. The original was released in 1970.

This is the single edit that runs about 3 minutes. I have another version, from the great “Soul Christmas” CD, with an outro that runs about 30 seconds longer. An even longer version, running almost 4 minutes, is available digitally.

This was written by Hathaway and Nadine McKinner. It was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York in November 1970 and released as Atco single 6799 on Nov. 30, 1970.

All that said, two questions remain. Should I play the flip side? Do I really want to hear Cee Lo Green’s cover?

Your wise counsel (and Christmas music requests) in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 23

williexmastape

Tonight, we wrap up Willie’s Hot Christmas.

In this little series within a series, we’ve recreated a radio show I taped off the air while living in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late ’80s. For the back story, check out the Day 20 post.

The first part consisted of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Jimmy Smith, an unknown jazz sax instrumental version of “The Christmas Song” and “Merry Christmas” by Lightnin’ Hopkins.

The second part had “Christmas Blues” by the Ramsey Lewis Trio, “Christmas In The City Of The Angels” by Johnny Mathis and “You’re All I Want For Christmas” by the Salsoul Orchestra with Jocelyn Brown.

The third part had “What Christmas Means To Me” by Stevie Wonder, “Funky Christmas” by the Whispers and “Christmas Celebration” by B.B. King.

Now we take one last listen to the old WORT-FM show, where Willie Wonder cued up this big finish …

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“I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” McCoy Tyner, 1967, from “Jingle Bell Jazz,” 1985. (This CD, released in 1985, combines cuts from the 1974 album “Jingle Bell Jazz” and the 1981 album “God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen.” This cut is from the 1974 album.)

All you get on this one is Tyner’s elegant solo piano. It’s plenty filling.

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“This Christmas,” Donny Hathaway, 1970, from “Soul Christmas,” a 1991 CD reissue of the 1968 Atlantic Records album of the same name.

Widely covered, this is the smooth original, written by Hathaway and Nadine McKinner. It was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York in November 1970 and released as Atco single 6799 on Nov. 30, 1970.

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“The Christmas Song,” Al Jarreau, 1982, from the Warner Bros. 7-inch single 7-29446. Out of print, but available on eBay.

Jarreau never released a Christmas album before this year’s “Christmas,” but all the synths on this single clearly date it to the ’80s. Jason from Popdose, who roasted Jarreau’s new album as part of the Mellowmas series, says this isn’t the same version of “The Christmas Song” as on the new record.

(This last cut has gone from radio to tape to CD, and then ripped, so that may explain the sound quality if you find it lacking.)

That said, Willie Wonder leaves us with a lovely holiday message in his voiceover at the end of this cut, which closed the show.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 7

In addition to all the albums and CDs I dig out at Christmas time, I also dig out one cassette tape.

I can play it in only one place in the house — who has more than one tape deck, if any, anymore? — but I always play it.

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I taped it off the radio one night in the late ’80s. It was from a show on a most remarkable radio station in Madison, Wisconsin.

WORT, 89.9 FM, was — and is — listener-sponsored, volunteer-run, free-form Back Porch Radio. They spin a staggeringly diverse mix of local bands, indie rock, R&B, soul, dance, jazz, punk, country and performance art. (You can stream it live if you live outside Madison.)

The DJ called himself Willie Wonder, and he played R&B, soul and jazz late at night one night a week. One December night, he was dropping Christmas tunes into the usual mix.

I probably was listening to the show as I drove home from the paper, started digging it, and popped in a tape when I got home. I say that because the tape picks up in mid-program and Willie Wonder signs off before the 90-minute tape ends.

In the 20 or so years since I taped it, I’ve been collecting the Christmas tracks from the tape. Here are three of them.

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“This Christmas,” Donny Hathaway, 1970, from “Soul Christmas,” a 1991 compilation.

Widely covered, this is the smooth original, written by Hathaway and Nadine McKinner. It was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York in November 1970 and released as Atco single 6799 on Nov. 30, 1970 — 37 years ago tomorrow.

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“You’re All I Want for Christmas,” the Salsoul Orchestra, from “Christmas Jollies II,” 1981.

One of my guilty pleasures has long been the Salsoul Orchestra’s “Christmas Jollies” from 1976. I had it first on CD and recently found a vinyl copy. Call it dance, call it disco, it’s certainly of its time, a blend of Philly soul, funk and Latin sounds orchestrated by Vincent Montana Jr.

I’ve long been looking for “Jollies II” and recently tracked it down. It’s out of print and hard to find. But dig a little on the web and you might find it.

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“Christmas Blues,” the Ramsey Lewis Trio, from “Sound of Christmas,” 1961.

This cool, laid-back bit of instrumental jazz — just Lewis on piano, Eldee Young on bass and Red Holt on drums — might have been the hardest to track down. I don’t think Willie Wonder name-checked it that night.

But it all fell into place when I came across this cut — still not knowing its name — on a budget Christmas CD found at Fleet Farm three or four years ago.

(Midwest folks will know how odd it is to find it there. Fleet Farm is a big discount farm and home supply place, with everything from guns to fishing tackle to jeans to tires to work boots to tools to light fixtures.)

Then “Sound of Christmas” was re-released on CD in 2004, and I snapped that up. The first side, the first five cuts, has the trio only. The second side, the next five cuts, has the trio backed by a string section for a lusher sound. I prefer Side 1, but you can’t go wrong with either side.

From the original liner notes by Nelson Noble of radio station WILD in Boston:

“While you’re listening to The Ramsey Lewis Trio’s Sounds of Christmas, please keep in mind that all of us wish all of you a very Merry, Swingin’ Christmas.”

I’ll second that. Enjoy. More to come.

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Filed under Christmas music, November 2007, Sounds