Category Archives: RIP

Julia Brightly

I wrote this piece to commemorate our work with Julia as a producer.

Terrible shock. We won’t forget her.

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Lou Reed

When I got on a train yesterday I read a few competing stories. Some said he was dead. Others said there was a hoax that said he was dead and he was alive.

I concluded he was alive.

When I got home it was confirmed he was dead.  At this point I didn’t know what to think and his death still hasn’t registered.  I like a lot of his stuff very much – I have all the VU albums and a few of his solo records. I have a bootleg of his pre-VU ‘Primitives’ work including ‘Do the Ostrich’.

But I think the latest album I have is 1973’s Berlin, so I can’t sit here and say his death is going to affect me.  This normally wouldn’t stop me from having a bit of meditative listen to the music, but in this case my brain is confused and still won’t believe the guy is dead.  To add to this, I haven’t listened to any of his recent music, and it goes without saying I’ve never met him. So basically he’s as alive to me today as he was yesterday or last week.

I’m just writing this down because for me, being a bit of a slow one to take these things up, this is the first death on social media I’ve witnessed where it was all very messy and confusing. This leaves me not sure what to believe, even after the facts have been confirmed.

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Gil Scott Heron

Sad and also weird to hear about his death.

We rarely listen to music not on headphones in my office, but a colleague asked me to throw something on that afternoon (that is, a few hours before his death was announced) and I chose one of his tracks.

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Farewell, captain

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Another death: Claude Nougaro has left us (there’s a note about it at his official site). I don’t think that Nougaro is very famous outside France. I discovered him via a 45 EP that a penpal of my girlfriend’s mother had sent her in the 1960s. I was struck by it immediately. Nougaro’s style was expressive and extravagant, and married with jazzy backings from Michel Legrand, with whom he was working at the time, the effect was rather striking. In particular, the track ‘Le cinema’ (the instrumental version of which was sampled by Dimitri from Paris) stood out. I subsequently picked up the LP (a Canadian pressing that I found at the WFMU fair in NYC), as well as another, Petit Taureau, on CD. Claude continued to sing and tour well into the 1990s and beyond.

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My Reverie

I was very sad to hear that Alvino Rey has died. He was a superb bandleader, and made several incredible records, as well as playing on those of others, such as Esquivel. Lots of the work he is most admired for now is in what is now referred to as the ‘space age pop’ style: brassy, percussive, jerky pop music from the dawn of stereo. His (1961 or 1962?) Best of Alvino Rey on Dot is a superb album in this style, giving real longevity to arrangements that would otherwise be gimmicky and transient. However, the pick of his work for me is My Reverie on Decca, a stunning session of standards from the late 50s with haunting vocal work by the Jordanaires. It also has a superb cover, which I posted here a few weeks ago.

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Just back from my vacation. I see that Ray Brown and Rod Steiger have both died while I was away. Sad stuff. Ray Brown probably played on at least 10% of the records in my collection… I remember Steiger mainly for The Pawnbroker, a 1964 flick with a superb Quincy Jones score.

Compilation - The Jerry Ross Symposium: 'The Jerry Ross Symposium' (CD; Sequel; 1969-1972)
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A strange item. I bought this very cheaply used in London. I was interested in Ross because of the great, smooth easy listening version of 'Little Green Bag' on the budget 'Lounge Deluxe' 3 CD set.

What clinched the purchase was the footnote on the cover that said 'arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman'. I'm pleased to see Ogerman get recognition, but in fact, this disc contains 2 albums worth of material, the first of which is from 1969 and is arranged by Ross himself, not Ogerman. In fact, these tracks are the best ones. The Ogerman-produced tracks, while nice, are of less appealing material, and include a number of multi-song medleys.

This is just a short review, since I haven't listened to this in detail yet. The first track, 'Ma Belle Amie' sounds great - a kind of hybrid of British late 60s easy listening instrumentals and the kind of beautiful lush percussive stuff coming out of Italy at the time (I'm thinking of the track 'Jet Society' by the Cordara orchestra). There are rich strings, and occasional vocals. The other bonus on the collection is the inclusion of a Morricone-written track, 'Duck you sucker'.

More details on this when I've listened more.

Reporting Back: Much of this disc is actually rather unbearably shmaltzy. This is strange, since I like a few of the tracks very much. But too often, the material is unforgivably fey. Still, a few good tracks, and I wouldn't be surprised if 'Ma Belle Amie' makes it onto one of my compilations.

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Hildgard Knef, a great singer and actress

“Hildegard Knef ist tot.”

What is it with 2002? A lot of people I really admire have died already, and it’s only February. I have been listening to her a lot recently, and she really was brilliant. Although I gather that she was mainly an actress, I’ve never seen any of her films, and it’s her music that fascinated me. Over a long career, she made dozens of great records, including countless German language versions of standards (e.g. ‘the lady is a tramp’), bossa novas, and psychedelic, groovy Bacharach-tinged pop. Like many people who don’t sing in English, Hildegard doesn’t seem to have had much of a following in the US or UK. This is a great shame. Some time, I’ll make a single-disc Hildegard compilation in her memory. People have to hear this stuff – much of it is really incredibly good. If you’re interested in checking her out her music, I recommended a couple of tracks (with sound samples) at musical taste. You can get the superb 7-disc box set of her work very inexpensively at These really only cover a tiny corner of her oeuvre, but there you go. Rest in peace, Hildegard, and say hi to Juan, Peggy and Julie for me.

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Stop Waiting

RIP Peggy Lee. It makes me very sad. While Julie London won my heart with her superb choice of material and sultry delivery, Peggy really was a superb singer, and I have fond memories of sitting in Amsterdam listening to the box set of her work. ‘Waitin’ for the train to come in’ was a particular favorite.

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Sad news: I heard that Juan Garcia Esquivel died last week. Strange, as I had been thinking about his records a lot recently. I remember first hearing his stuff on the RCA ‘Space Age Pop’ compilations in 1996. Then I remember the thrill of finding my first vinyl copies of those beautiful LPs, with their superb period covers (I was hoping to link to ‘Joseph Holmes’s Space Age Bachelor Pad Music page’ here, but it seems to have disappeared, and come to think of it, I hadn’t visited it for about five years). Anyway, moving to America was good for my Esquivel addiction, since the LPs were easier to get hold of. Also great were the CD reissues on Bar None, although alas the project was aborted before they had all been released.

Anyway, Juan: thanks for the incredible music, and rest in peace. And say hi to Julie London from me.

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