Boneyard Media


Archive for the ‘Borrowed Tunes’ Category

“Bali Ha’i” and “The Immigrant Song”

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

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The musical “appropriating” habits of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page are no big secret. And although pop music depends on and celebrates such practice, the apparent unwillingness of Page and co. to consistently give credit where it was due casts a bit of a pall over their safely monolithic legacy. A Perfect Sound Forever article called “The Thieving Magpies” catalogs the most egregious examples.

The article doesn’t mention the case of “The Immigrant Song,” though, which finds the band turning to “Bali Ha’i” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein South Pacific soundtrack for that exotic, iconic opening caterwaul.  Or, depending on the actual release date of the self-titled debut album by Lucifer’s Friend, Led Zeppelin perhaps nicked that group’s use of “Bali Ha’i” for their album-opener, “Ride in the Sky.”  The Lucifer’s Friend album came out sometime in 1970 on the Vertigo label, and it’s a release LZ would surely have been hip to.  “The Immigrant Song” showed up on Led Zeppelin III in October 1970…

None of this is in the category of “egregious,” but it’s amusing to think about.  That fun club called Abba, after all, paid tribute to the whole lot of ’em in 1975.

Update: This write-up of mysterious origin says the following:  “The self-titled Lucifer’s Friend 1970 debut album, released by Vertigo Records in Europe and Billingsgate Records in the USA, sparked controversy through the track ‘Ride The Sky’, as critics voiced concern that the song was too close to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ for comfort. However, these assertions were quashed when it was revealed [that] ‘Ride The Sky’ had been composed much earlier.” Again, the LF album’s actual release date is important here if anyone can actually find it…

Clips:
South Pacific soundtrack – “Bali Ha’i” (1949)
Led Zeppelin – “The Immigrant Song” (1970)
Lucifer’s Friend – “Ride in the Sky” (1970)
Abba – “So Long” (1975)

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Another Update: I’ve realized that Rodgers and Hammerstein may well have borrowed from Harold Arlen.

The Vapors and Fleetwood Mac

Monday, November 15th, 2010

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Most of the Fleetwood Mac histories make it clear that Lindsey Buckingham gobbled up new wave records during the Tusk era. I’ll bet he internalized the Vapors’ 1980 New Clear Days, because that record’s “Letter from Hiro” ends with a two-minute instrumental section that sounds an awful lot like the arrangement on Stevie Nicks’s “Gypsy.”

The Vapors – “Letter from Hiro” (1980) (excerpt)

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Fleetwood Mac – “Gypsy” (1982) (excerpt)

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Borrowed Tunes: “Brejeiro” morphs into “The Muppet Show Theme”

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth passed away in 1932, but his “Brejeiro” got a new lease on life when The Muppet Show debuted in 1976. I guess what this says about “Muppet Show Theme” composers Sam Pottle and Jim Henson is that they had good taste.

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Bola Sete and His New Brazilian Trio – “Brejeiro” (1966) (excerpt)

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“The Muppet Show Theme” (1976) (excerpt)

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Borrowed Tunes: Little House on the Prairie does Gloria Lynne

Monday, May 31st, 2010

I guess a better title for this post would be David Rose does Marty Paich. Rose is the composer of the theme song for Little House on the Prairie, the long-running ’70s-’80s TV drama I remember being a steady depiction of heart-wrenching pioneer misfortune. Paich is the featured arranger of Gloria Lynne’s 1963 Gloria, Marty and Strings LP. Surely the image of the Ingalls family traveling on a hilltop to their “little house” had Rose thinking about Gloria and Marty’s “Folks Who Live on the Hill” to the extent that he nabbed and reworked that opening french horn intro – even building a whole theme song around it – as a knowing wink.

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Gloria Lynne – “Folks Who Live on the Hill” (1963) (excerpt)

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David Rose – “Little House on the Prairie Theme” (1974) (excerpt)

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Borrowed Tunes: The one Rod first took heat for

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Although he never got in trouble for over-borrowing from Mott the Hoople (see previous post), Rod Stewart got busted pretty quick in 1978 for using Brazilian singer-songwriter Jorge Ben’s “Taj Mahal” refrain for his “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” (with the songwriting credited to Rod Stewart and Carmine Appice). Tempers cooled, though, when Stewart announced that all proceeds for his disco-era smash would ultimately go to UNICEF. In 1978 Stewart would get in trouble again when his “Forever Young” irritated Bob Dylan, whose own “Forever Young” was an obvious influence. So the two mammoths ended up splitting the royalties, which was no compensation for those of us who were irritated by the song in general.

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Jorge Ben – “Taj Mahal” (1972 version)

Jorge Ben – “Taj Mahal” (1976 version)

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Rod Stewart – “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” (1978)

Borrowed Tunes: Rod Stewart does Mott the Hoople

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Rod Stewart’s “Baby Jane,” a UK #1 and a US #14, lifted its central hook from Mott the Hoople’s “Wrong Side of the River.” I wonder if Mick Ralphs ever realized it or cared.

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Mott the Hoople – “Wrong Side of the River” (1971) (excerpt)
Written by: Mick Ralphs

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Rod Stewart – “Baby Jane” (1983) (excerpt)
Written by: Rod Stewart and Jay Davis

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Borrowed Tunes: Deep Purple does the Blues Magoos doing Ricky Nelson

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Say what you want about Deep Purple – they had solid source material.  “Black Night” hit #2 in the UK in 1970 (and #66 in the US), while the Blues Magoos’ “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” was a US Top 5 hit in 1966.

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The Blues Magoos – “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” (1966) (excerpt)

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Deep Purple – “Black Night” (1970) (excerpt)

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Update: And thanks to Brule who’s prompted a title change to this post and who’s confirmed that this riff’s roots go back at least as far as Ricky Nelson’s early sixties version of “Summertime.” We all know Ricky was top notch, but this just confirms it. And while we’re on it, James Burton’s guitar sounds to me like it also inspired Johnny Rivers’ hit version of “Memphis.”

Borrowed Tunes: Roberta Flack and the Easter Beagle

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Roberta Flack’s “The Closer I Get to You,” a duet with Donny Hathaway which came out in 1977, is one of the creamiest and most irresistible of all seventies soul ballads. But I think songwriters Reggie Lucas and James Mtume got some of their musical inspiration from a short scene in It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, which came out in 1974. See what you think.

Birdhouse lounge scene in It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)

“The Closer I Get to You” (1977)

Song ID: Briard – “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” (1979)

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

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If you’re already familiar with this song either as a U.S. hit by Mac and Katie Sissoon (UK-based Trinidadians) in ’71 or the Euro smash by Middle of the Road that same year, you might especially enjoy this tender treatment by a Finnish now-you-see-’em-now-you-don’t outfit called Briard.

Briard – “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”