Thursday, February 22, 2018

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Gordon Staples and the String Thing

Artist:Gordon Staples and the String Thing
Song:Strung Out
Album:The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 11A: 1971

Though most music fans should not know the name Gordon Staples, you have heard him on many Motown songs of the 60s. Staples was a violinist and concertmaster for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. So he was the leader of any string orchestra that you heard on a Motown hit. Of course this partnership ended when Motown moved from Detroit to Los Angeles in 1969. So as a thank you for all his hard work, Motown owner Berry Gordy allowed Staples to record an album. The album was called Strung Out and it was released in 1970. The title song was released as a single. Most of the songs on the album including Strung Out were written and produced by veteran Motown arranger Paul Riser. Riser started out as a trombonist in the Motown house band The Funk Brothers. He arranged strings on hundreds of Motown songs. Though they aren't credited, The Funk Brothers play on this record. Dennis Coffey's trademark guitar is fairly obvious on Strung Out. Some of the music from this album was used in Fred Williamson's 1974 film Mean Johnny Barrows. That was a few years later so I assume Williamson got Gordy's permission to use it. The album Strung Out is available on CD but too expensive. But you can get Strung Out on this 6CD box set which is part of the complete history of Motown singles. Of course Staples returned to his job at the Detroit Symphony and he turned up on albums occasionally. I know he worked with the legendary gospel group The Clark Sisters. Here's a video for Strung Out by Gordon Staples and the String Thing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

AccuRadio Song Of the Day-Nancy Sinatra

Artist:Nancy Sinatra
Song:You Only Live Twice
Album:Best Of Bond...James Bond: 50th Anniversary Collection

Of course we all know that Nancy Sinatra is Frank Sinatra's daughter and she had some hits in the 60s like These Boots Are Made For Walking. But you may not know that she sang the theme for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. It turned out to be one of Nancy's final hits. I think it's fair to say that she was at the end of her mid-60s chart run. She was doing a lot of TV specials at the time. John Barry wrote You Only Live Twice with Leslie Bricusse. Of course Barry wrote most of the James Bond scores of the 60s. It was always a negotiation with producer Cubby Broccoli about who would get to sing the theme. The first singer to record You Only Live Twice was Julie Rogers. She had a big hit in England with The Wedding in 1964. But she was unknown in the US. Then they tried Lorraine Chandler who recorded a Shirley Bassey version. I guess Shirley wasn't available. Broccoli asked Frank Sinatra to sing the song. He suggested Nancy. Barry wanted Aretha Franklin. When Nancy was in the recording studio, she asked "Are you sure you don't want Shirley Bassey?" Obviously Nancy had no illusions about her singing ability. She says she was very nervous and they did 30 takes. The song plays over the opening and closing credits. It reached #44 on the Billboard Hot 100. It did well in England at #3. Lee Hazelwood recorded his own version of the song with Nancy. Obviously you will want the film version. The soundtrack for You Only Live Twice is available on CD. But I like these James Bond comp CDs. This one is available as a budget CD. As I said, this record was near the end of Nancy's successful run on the charts. Here's Nancy Sinatra performing You Only Live Twice as it played over the opening credits of the film.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Trace Adkins

Artist:Trace Adkins
Song:Honky Tonk Badonkadonk
Album:The Definitive Greatest Hits: Til The Last Shot's Fired

Neo traditional country singer Trace Adkins had a good run from 1996 until he switched record companies in 2010. Honky Tonk Badonkadonk was one of his biggest hits in 2005. He was born Jan. 13, 1962 in Sarepta, LA. His dad taught him to play guitar. Adkins was in a gospel group in high school. He was to play football at Louisiana Tech but a knee injury ended that. He left school and worked on an oil rig among other things. Then he started to play local clubs and he moved to Nashville in the early 90s. Record companies started showing interest in him until Scott Hendricks signed him to Capitol Nashville in 1995. Hendricks produced most of Adkins' albums. Adkins had success from the start. His 1996 debut album Dreamin' Out loud was certified Platinum. His first number one country hit was (This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing in 1997. His 2005 CD Songs About Me was certified 2XPlatinum so it is probably his most successful album. Honky Tonk Badonkadonk reached #2 on the Country Singles chart. The song was written by veteran singer songwriters Dallas Davidson, Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson. Johnson says they were watching a dancer in a club and Houser invented the word badonkadonk to describe her butt. After that, the song wrote itself. Though Hendricks usually produced Adkins, session guitarist Dann Huff produced this song. Adkins left Capitol for Toby Keith's Show Dog label in 2010 which is funny because the main criticism of Adkins is he sounds too much like Keith. Capitol released this 2CD comp after Adkins left. Adkins did OK at Show Dog but he left in 2013 and he now records for Broken Bow's Wheelhouse label. He released the album Something's Going On Mar. 2017. So he's still touring but he seems to be on the decline after a very good run. He may get more into acting as he has done that in the past. His most significant appearance was on a couple of seasons of Celebrity Apprentice. Last year he starred in the western Hickock with Luke Hemsworth and Kris Kristofferson. So he may already be transitioning to acting. Here's the video for Honky Tonk Badonkadonk by Trace Adkins.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Lucie Pudilova vs Sarah Moras

Here's the fight video of Lucie Pudilova vs Sarah Moras from last night's UFC show in Austin, TX. Sarah is from Kelowna, BC. She was on TUF 18 but she has been injured a lot which is why we haven't seen much of her. She's good on the ground but her striking is terrible. Lucie is from the Czech Republic. She is a striker and she's terrible on the ground. So I don't believe either is an elite fighter. This fight centers around a very poor call by ref Jacob Montalvo. In round one, Sarah takes Lucie down and pounds her. I don't think she was going to finish but she was keeping busy. And then Montalvo inexplicably stands them up. Not only was it a terrible call but it may have changed the course of the fight. And that's the last thing refs should be doing. So they stood up and Lucie knocked Sarah down. Sarah tried to get an armbar from the bottom but no dice. I scored the round 10-9 for Sarah. The problem was Sarah was never able to get control of the fight again. One of her big flaws as pointed out by Jimmy Smith before the fight is she doesn't follow through properly on takedown attempts. This is something she needs to fix but I guess it isn't that easy to fix or she would have done it already. In the other two rounds, Lucie turned this flaw into top position. And the ironic thing is she did a lot of stalling but Montalvo wouldn't stand them up. Maybe Herb Dean needs to talk to him. Lucie was stalling because she is clueless on the ground. Of course Sarah is equally clueless on her feet. She has no head movement and she only throws one punch at a time. That's easy pickings for a kickboxer like Lucie. I scored the fight 29-28 for Lucie and she won by unanimous decision. But what if the ref never makes that call. That's not something I want to question after the fight. Check it out for yourself.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Chantels

Artist:The Chantels
Song:Look In My Eyes
Album:Ultimate 60s Collection Vol. 1

Most doo wop fans are probably familiar with the classic Maybe by The Chantels. It was a top 20 hit in 1957 and is considered an all time classic. Their second top 20 hit Look In My Eyes isn't as well known probably because of personnel changes and it was on a different label. The original Chantels were lead singer Arlene Smith, Sonia Goring, Renee Minus, Jackie Landry and Lois Harris. They went to high school together in The Bronx. They were discovered by The Valentinos lead singer Richard Barrett and he got them a deal with George Goldner's End Records. Maybe reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957. They released a few singles and an album. But when nothing caught on, End dropped them and then Arlene left to go solo in 1959. They continued as a four piece and they finally scored another hit with Look In My Eyes in 1961. Barrett still wrote and produced. It was released on Carlton Records and reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite the success, Carlton wouldn't let them record an album. So they left. The song isn't as durable as Maybe. You may have heard it on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas. And you can get it on this 3CD various artists comp from Collectables. I think Arlene Smith still leads a version of The Chantels that tours the oldies circuit. And they were inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Here's a video of Look In My Eyes by The Chantels.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Johnnie Taylor

Artist:Johnnie Taylor
Song:Disco Lady

Johnnie Taylor is one of the all time soul greats best known for his 60s Stax recordings. But his only number one hit was Disco Lady in 1976 after Stax closed. Taylor was born May 5, 1934 in Crawfordsville, AR. He grew up in nearby West Memphis. He grew up singing in church. Eventually he moved to Chicago and he replaced Sam Cooke in The Soul Stirrers. The two were close friends. And when Taylor left gospel for secular music, he signed with Cooke's label SAR. Taylor released a few singles. After Cooke's 1964 murder, Taylor signed with Stax. His biggest hit at Stax was Who's Making Love in 1968. That was a top five pop hit. Taylor was a staple on the R&B charts until Stax began to have financial problems and went bankrupt in 1975. Taylor signed with Columbia. Fortunately he brought longtime producer Don Davis with him. Davis had left Stax for Chess to work with The Dramatics. But he continued to work with Taylor. When The Dramatics left Chess for ABC, Davis became a producer for hire. So Davis produced Taylor's 1976 album Eargasm. Disco Lady topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. Disco Lady was written by Harvey Scales and Al Vance. Scales led The Seven Sounds in the 60s but he had most of his success as a songwriter. He brought Disco Lady to Davis who reworked it with P-Funk's Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins. P-Funk's guitarist Glenn Goins and drummer Jerome Brailey also played on the record. Columbia then tried to turn Taylor into a disco singer. They even brought in former Wilson Pickett producer Brad Shapiro. But it didn't work and Taylor left Columbia in 1980. This 3CD Stax box set is the only place you can get Disco Lady and Taylor's Stax hits. Taylor signed with Malaco in 1984 after he sang at ZZ Hill's funeral. He recorded some great albums for Malaco mostly at Muscle Shoals. Taylor also worked for KKDA radio in Dallas. He continued to record for Malaco and tour until he died of a heart attack on May 31, 2000 at age 66. Taylor's complicated personal life was chronicled on the Investigation Discovery series The Will: Family Secrets Revealed. Here's Johnnie Taylor performing Disco Lady on Soul Train 1976.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Dead Or Alive

Artist:Dead Or Alive
Song:You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
Album:Evolution: The Hits

Dead Or Alive had most of their success in the dance clubs. You Spin Me Round was their biggest hit in 1985. It was also the first big hit for the Stock Aitken Waterman production team. Dead or Alive were from Liverpool led by lead singer and songwriter Pete Burns. I guess the shtick that got him attention was androgyny similar to Culture Club's Boy George. Burns always claimed that George stole that shtick from him. Burns went through a couple of bands before he formed Nightmares In Wax in 1979. The name was changed to Dead Or Alive in 1980. The band released a few singles and went through a lot of members before signing with Epic Records in 1983. They started to have success in England and the dance clubs with the 1984 album Sophisticated Boom Boom including a cover of the KC & The Sunshine Band hit That's The Way (I Like It). Obviously Epic thought dance music was the way to go for the 1985 album Youthquake. So they brought in the newly formed team of Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) who were known for their remix work. The band was Burns on vocals, Mike Percy on bass and guitar, Tim Lever on keyboards and Steve Coy on drums. They had success when You Spin Me Round topped the British charts and reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Burns said Epic hated the record and he was forced to take out loans to finance the recording and the video shoot. Despite the success, the band did not get along with SAW though they produced the 1987 album Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know. The single Brand New Lover reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the dance charts. After that, Lever and Percy left to start a production company. Burns and Coy continued with the self produced 1990 album Fan The Flame Part 1 which was released only in Japan. It looked like Dead Or Alive was through. But they reformed for the last record on their contract and then they left Epic. You can get all of Dead Or Alive's hits on this budget comp. After that, Dead Or Alive released an album of covers in 2000 and they would release occasional singles. Burns became a celebrity in England by appearing on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006. He died of a heart attack on Oct. 23, 2016 at age 57. Here's the video for You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive.

Friday, February 16, 2018

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Dave Weckl Band

Artist:Dave Weckl Band
Song:The Chicken
Album:Live (And Very Plugged In)

Drummer Dave Weckl is best known for his days with Chick Corea from 1986-1994. But he has also recorded as a leader since the 90s. He was born Jan. 8, 1960 in St. Louis. He taught himself to play drums as a child by listening to Buddy Rich records. He studied jazz at the University of Bridgeport. After two years, he left for New York City to start his career. His early bands included Nitesprite where Peter Erskine saw him and got him into French Toast with pianist Michel Camilo. He got into session work in the early 80s. In 1986, he was performing with Bill Connors and Corea invited him to join his Akoustic Band. And he stayed in that band until 1994. Weckl recorded a couple of albums for GRP while was still with Corea. After he left, he formed a band with guitarist Mike Stern and he signed with Corea's Stretch label. He formed Dave Weckl Band in 1998. The Chicken is from the the 2003 2CD set Live (And Very Plugged In) recorded live at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Los Angeles. Musicians are Gary Meek on sax, Steve Weingart on keyboards and Tom Kennedy on bass. Kennedy is from St. Louis too and he works a lot with Weckl. Though most of the songs were written by the band, The Chicken is a classic James Brown song written by sax player Pee Wee Ellis. Weckl's latest album as a leader is the 2015 CD Of The Same Mind by Dave Weckl Acoustic Band. Meek and Kennedy are in this band too along with Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone. Weckl continues to work with Corea, Stern and plenty of others. He has also written several books and released instructional DVDs and he even has an online drumming school on his website. And he does drum clinics around the world. Later this year he will tour with the Chick Corea Akoustic Band. Weckl has had a long association with Drummerworld. That's where I found this video of the Dave Weckl Band performing The Chicken at the Drummer's Collective 25th Anniversary Concert Oct. 2012. This concert is available on DVD but it isn't on Youtube.