This week is a tribute to Walter Becker who died, aged 67, this week.
Becker was co-founder of American rock,jazz group Steely Dan along with Donald Fagen.
Steely Dan were more of an album band, and their jazz/rock American style didn’t resonate with younger UK record buyers, so didn’t have much single chart success. They had two top forty hits in the UK. They did much better in the US. Their biggest hit in the US “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number” reached number 4 in the States in 1974 but only managed a lowly 58 in the UK!
Becker was a songwriter and played bass guitar and provided backing vocals in the group. However, he is relatively unknown as Fagen’s distinctive vocals tended to provide the focus. This doesn’t detract from Becker’s musicianship and massive contribution to one of America’s great bands.
Becker wrote today’s songs which are my two favourites of theirs.
“Do It Again” remixed here by Cubanix (but still almost the original). The original reached number 6 in the US in 1973 and 39 in the UK in 1975.
(Uploaded to YouTube by Cubanix)
Interestingly when it was covered along with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” by Italian producers Clubhouse in 1983 the song “Do It Again- Billie Jean” reached number 11 in the UK. The similarity between the rhythm of the two songs made for a catchy club hit. Becker and Fagen were credited for the use of their song. It only reached 75 in the US which just shows the disparity between the UK an US in music sometimes!
“Do It Again Billie Jean” by Clubhouse
(Uploaded to YouTube by Len E Bones)
“FM (No Static At All)” from 1978 reached number 22 in the US (49 in the UK)
Becker plays the guitar solo starting at 3:02
(Uploaded to YouTube by Moon doggy)
RIP Walter Becker.
This week it’s Bradford band “Smokie” who had hits mainly in the 1970s. Their biggest success was with the songwriting team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman who also wrote hits for Mud, Sweet & Suzi Quatro. Smokie’s songs were always catchy with good musicanship and production but it was lead singer Chris Norman who provided the distinctive vocals and good looks. Norman left the band in the 80s and pursued a successful solo career, but Smokie continued without him. In recent years the band have done reunion gigs and Norman has worked with other artists, most notably Agnetha Fältskog of Abba.
Smokie had 13 top 40 hits, including 7 top tens.
I think they’re probably best known for their hit “Living Next Door To Alice” which reached number 5 in 1976 and was a hit again with comedian Roy “Chubby” Brown when it reached number 3 in 1995, but I’m going to go with two of their other hits.
Smokie had their first hit in July 1975 reaching number 3 with “If You Think You Know How To Love Me”
(Uploaded to YouTube by smokieVEVO)
“It’s Your Life” reached number 5 in 1977
(Uploaded to YouTube by smokieVEVO)
Another week and I’m paying tribute to another great musician who has passed away.
Sadly it is Glenn Frey who has died at the age of 67. Frey was co-founder of American band The Eagles who had loads of hits in the soft rock and country style, many of which won or were nominated for Grammys.
Their most famous songs were Hotel California, Lyin’ Eyes, One of These Nights, Take It Easy, Take It To The Limit, Desperado, New Kid In Town.
Frey founded the group with Don Henley and shared writing credits and vocals on most songs.
Frey also had a successful solo career with hits such as The Heat Is On and You Belong To The City.
Frey said in 2003 that One of These Nights was his favourite Eagles tune calling it a breakthrough song. He co-wrote the song with Don Henley who sang the lead vocals on the song.
This song is my favourite Eagles song too. The album of the same name, which this is the opening track on, was the first non-compilation album I ever bought at the tender age of 15 (yep, on good old vinyl!) I am a sucker for great intros and this does not disappoint …
One of These Nights 1975
(Uploaded to Youtube by Bugsy McBugs)
Here is a more country style track showing off Frey’s lovely vocals.
Tequila Sunrise 1973
(Uploaded to Youtube by MrUnder99’s channel)
Here are The Eagles performing New Kid In Town live in 1977 with Frey on lead vocals and guitar and his co-writer Don Henley on vocals and drums. The other Eagles are Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Randy Meisner. They won a Grammy in 1977 for best arrangement of voices for this track.
(Uploaded to Youtube by Randy Meisner – Meisnettes)
RIP Glenn Frey.