Saturday, March 25, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Van Der Graaf Generator

Artist:Van Der Graaf Generator
Song:Still Life
Album:Still Life

The British progressive rock group Van Der Graaf Generator had a cult following in the 70s. They were enigmatic and obscure even for that kind of music. They are an interesting band led by lead singer and main songwriter Pete Hammill. I guess the main attraction of the band is Hammill's dark lyrics but generally they are a hard band to market. They were formed in 1967 at Manchester University. Drummer Chris Judge Smith was inspired by a trip to San Francisco to form a band and he met Pete Hammill who was already writing songs and had been in bands. According to Smith, the name of the group was on a list he gave Hammill. Van de Graaf Generator creator Robert Van de Graaf had just died and was in the news at the time. They added organist Nick Pearne and played a gig. They sent out demos and they got a deal with Mercury Records. Pearne left as he didn't want to leave school. They brought in organist Hugh Banton, bassist Keith Ellis and drummer Guy Evans. They played live on BBC Radio and released a single on Polydor that was withdrawn because they were already under contract to Mercury. Then Smith left though he would continue to write songs with Hammill. The management issues forced Van Der Graaf Generator to disband in May 1969. Hammill continued to perform solo and he recorded an album. His manager worked out a deal with Mercury that his album would be released under the Van Der Graaf Generator name. It was called The Aerosol Grey Machine and it ended the Mercury contract. So Van Der Graaf Generator reformed with Nic Potter replacing Ellis who had joined Juicy Lucy. They also added sax and flute player David Jackson. Their manager started Charisma Records and Van Der Graaf Generator was the first band signed to the label. Potter left and Banton switched to bass. Hammill started playing keyboards. They recorded three albums and gained a cult following. They were popular in Italy so they toured there. But they got burned out and the band split up in 1972. Hammill recorded three solo albums and the others were in The Long Hello. But then they reformed and they recorded three albums in the next year. Still Life was the second album in 1976. It was released on CD in 2005 with a bonus track and it is available as a budget CD. There is no Van Der Graaf Generator comp available right now. EMI released a 4CD box set but it is out of print. The band were forced to abandon their tour due to the theft of their gear. Then Banton left followed by Jackson. An album was released in 1977 but the band had already split up. Hammill continued to record solo. But there was always talk about reforming. And they did in 2005. Today Hammill, Banton and Evans still tour as Van Der Graaf Generator. They have released new music, most recently Do Not Disturb in Sept. 2016. So the cult following is still around. Here's Van Der Graaf Generator performing Still Life at Theatrehaus in Stuttgart, Germany Mar. 4, 2007.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Asuka vs Priscilla Zuniga

Here's the match video of Asuka vs Priscilla Zuniga from this week's episode of NXT. In a couple of weeks, Asuka will defend her NXT Women's Championship against Ember Moon. This match is to remind us of Asuka's skills. It's a warmup. Priscilla Zuniga wrestles in Florida indy feds as Angel Rose. And she also appeared with LAX in Impact Wrestling a couple of weeks ago. After Asuka does her usual entertaining ring entrance, she tells Ember Moon "This will be your fate" and nails Priscilla with a spinning head kick. Priscilla slaps Asuka and Asuka smiles and beats the crap out of her with kicks and knees finished with the Asuka Lock. Then she cuts a promo in Japanese. What a great beating. But it didn't turn Asuka heel. The fans still cheer for her after the match. The real problem is the Ember Moon character hasn't really caught on with fans. We know she's good because we remember her as Athena. But I don't think the character is working. And as I have said before, I hate her finisher which depends too much on the victim being in proper position. It takes too long to set up. So I expect Asuka to retain the title and then move up to Smackdown. And considering the kind of match the WWE is doing for the Smackdown Women's Championship, I would not be surprised if Asuka appeared at Wrestlemania. They have left things open ended. If Asuka does appear at Wrestlemania, remember who told you first. Enjoy the video!
Priscilla Zuniga vs. Asuka by therackattackvideos

Carla Esparza vs Maryna Moroz added to June 25 UFC show

Carla Esparza, Maryna Moroz
Brett Okamoto of ESPN reported last night that Carla Esparza vs Maryna Moroz has been added to UFC Fight Night 112 June 25 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. This will air on Fox Sports 1 in the US and TSN in Canada. Of course Carla is a former UFC Strawweight Champion who seems to be on a downward spiral. She wants to stop that with a win. Carla is a four time all American wrestler. Her record is 11-4 and she trains at Team Oyama in Irvine, CA. She lost her last fight in February by split decision to Randa Markos. It's a fight Carla should have won but I think she underestimated Randa. Afterwards, she complained about the decision. But the ref missed an illegal knee and that would have been grounds for a successful appeal if Randa had lost the decision. I scored the fight a draw because of the foul. It doesn't matter because a close fight doesn't help her get back in the title picture. So now Carla needs a dominant win more than ever. A loss could put her on a one way trip to Palookaville. Maryna is from the Ukraine but she trains with her boxer husband in Moscow. She looked like she was headed places when she submitted Joanne Calderwood in her UFC debut. But when she laid an egg losing to Valerie Letourneau, many of us wondered if she was the same fighter. A big win would have got her a title shot. Since then she is 2-0 against mediocre competition. In August, she beat late replacement Danielle Taylor by split decision. Both fighters stunk out the joint and Maryna and her husband admitted afterwards that Maryna used her height advantage to keep Danielle at a distance. So she deliberately stunk out the joint to squeak out a win. Then she was supposed to fight Jessica Andrade for a title shot in Dec. but Maryna backed out due to injury. Jessica went on to beat Angela Hill for that title shot. If Maryna can get a dominant win, it gets her into the title picture. There are other fighters going after that next title shot so I don't think a close fight helps either fighter. Maybe being on the same card as her BFF Felice Herrig will inspire Carla. It could be very interesting.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Tom Cochrane

Artist:Tom Cochrane
Song:Life Is A Highway
Album:Mad Mad World

In Canada, Tom Cochrane is in the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame and a member of the Order Of Canada. In the US, he's a one hit wonder for the 1991 top ten hit Life Is A Highway. This shows how tough it can be for Canadians to break into the US market even if they are successful in Canada. That's why I have never liked Canadian content (Cancon) regulations. It creates an artificial success and the Canadian market isn't big enough to support musicians. They need to break the US market. Cochrane was born May 14, 1953 in Lynn Lake, MB but he grew up in the Toronto suburb of Acton, ON and then Etobicoke in the west end of Toronto. After graduating high school, he started playing local clubs and he wrote the theme for the infamous Canadian film My Pleasure Is My Business which was about and starred Xaviera Hollander AKA The Happy Hooker. Then he signed with Daffodil Records and released the 1974 album Hang On To Your Resistance. That's when I first heard of him. It's a great album that's worth getting. But Daffodil was having financial problems and they closed. Cochrane joined Red Rider in 1978. They signed with Capitol. They had success in Canada but they were unable to break into the US market. Cochrane went solo in 1989. Mad Mad World was released in 1991. Life Is A Highway topped the Canadian charts and it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Mad Mad World is available as a budget CD and a 25th anniversary 2CD edition was recently released. The second CD is a live recording. It would turn out to be Cochrane's only big hit in the US. But he continues to record and tour in Canada. His latest CD Take It Home was released on Universal Canada in 2015. He is also known for his humanitarianism especially with World Vision in Africa. Life Is A Highway was inspired by one of Cochrane's many trips to Africa. He's in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, on Canada's Walk of Fame and a member of the Order of Canada for his philanthropy. Here's the video for Life Is A Highway by Tom Cochrane.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Felice Herrig vs Justine Kish added to June 25 UFC show

On last night's episode of UFC Tonight, UFC Fight Night 112 was announced for June 25 at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City. This will air on Fox Sports 1 in the US and TSN in Canada. A Strawweight bout was announced with Felice Herrig vs Justine Kish. Felice got the biggest win of her career over the undefeated and highly touted Alexa Grasso on Feb. 4. Her record is 12-6 and she trains at Curran MMA in Chicago. One would think that Felice would like to face a higher ranked opponent so Justine seems like an odd choice. The only thing is Justine is undefeated at 6-0 and that might have convinced Felice to take the fight. Justine may be undefeated but there are questions about her. She was scratched from TUF 20 to have knee surgery. Upon her return, she got a decision win over Nina Ansaroff. It's a fight that some thought Nina won. Then on Dec. 9, Justine won a unanimous decision over TUF 23 alum Ashley Yoder. For one thing, Justine missed weight. And the fight was close. All three judges scored it 29-28. So maybe the UFC wants to find out how Justine does against a ranked opponent. Felice will be favoured so if Justine pulls off an upset, that's a big deal. So though the fight may not be what Felice was looking for, she took this possibly to keep busy. Justine trains at Black House MMA in Redondo Beach, CA. I thought it was a strange match when I heard about it last night. Now it makes a little more sense though I'm not sure how a close fight helps Felice.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Dead Meadow

Artist:Dead Meadow
Song:At Her Open Door
Album:Three Kings

Dead Meadow is a modern day recreation of stoner rock or psychedelia. They are successful mostly as a touring band. Dead Meadow are from Washington, DC. They were formed in 1998 out of the ashes of The Impossible Five and Colour. The lead singer and guitarist is Jason Simon. Steve Kille is on bass and Mark Laughlin plays drums. Influences include early metal bands like Black Sabbath, psychedelia and authors like Tolkien and Lovecraft. They released two albums on a small label. Legendary BBC DJ John Peel liked them so much he asked them to come to London to record a Peel Session. But the band couldn't afford to travel so it was the first Peel Sessions to not record in the BBC studio. But it gave Dead Meadow a boost as Peel is a major influencer. In 2002, Laughlin left to attend law school and he was replaced by Stephen McCarty of Canyon. Dead Meadow signed with Matador Records in 2003 which meant their CDs would finally get decent distribution and they could do videos and tour like other bands. They added guitarist Cory Shane. At Her Open Door is from the 2005 album Feathers. Dead Meadow's music also appeared in the popular HBO series The Wire. Jason Simon is the nephew of The Wire creator David Simon. Feathers is out of print. But At Her Open Door is on this 2010 live CD/DVD. Shane left and they were a trio again. Dead Meadow recorded three albums for Matador and then started their own label Xemu. Laughlin returned in 2010. Dead Meadow released their most recent CD in 2013. But they continue to tour and I expect them to record new music when the tour is finished. Here's the video for At Her Open Door by Dead Meadow.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Justin Hayward

Artist:Justin Hayward
Song:Forever Autumn
Album:Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War Of The Worlds

Justin Hayward is best known as the leader of The Moody Blues. He began to record solo in 1975 and he had his greatest success with this 1978 single Forever Autumn from this musical adaptation of the H.G. Wells science fiction novel War Of The Worlds. Hayward was born Oct. 14, 1946 in Swindon, England. In 1966 he replaced Denny Laine as lead singer of The Moody Blues and of course he was lead singer on all their hits. When The Moody Blues went on hiatus in 1974, Hayward recorded the album Blue Jays with Moody Blues bassist John Lodge and producer Tony Clarke. They had a top ten hit in England with Blue Guitar which Hayward recorded with 10cc. In 1977 Hayward released his debut solo album Songwriter. Then he was called to work on this musical version of War Of The Worlds. Jeff Wayne was a jingle writer who produced the David Essex hit Rock On. He got the idea to do a progressive rock version of War Of The Worlds. After Richard Burton agreed to narrate, Wayne signed with Columbia. He brought in Hayward, Essex, Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and stage actress Julie Covington to sing. The musicians were mostly veteran session men like Chris Spedding on guitar, Herbie Flowers on bass, Ken Freeman on keyboards and Barry Morgan on drums. Veteran songwriter Gary Osborne wrote the lyrics and Wayne wrote the music. Forever Autumn was based on a Lego jingle that Wayne wrote in 1969. Osborne recorded it with Paul Vigrass in 1972 as Vigrass and Osborne. Hayward's recording of Forever Autumn was a top five hit in England and top 40 in the US. The album performed well and Wayne took it on tour. He's turned it into a cottage industry as he continues to release versions of War Of The Worlds on CD, DVD and on tour. Hayward appeared on a couple of the tours. But he mostly concentrates on his own music. You can get Forever Autumn on some Moody Blues comps. But War Of The Worlds is one of those albums that should be heard on its own. And it is available on CD. Here's Justin Hayward performing Forever Autumn on Top Of The Pops 1978.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Travis Greene

Artist:Travis Greene
Album:The Hill

Travis Greene made a big splash on the gospel charts with his 2015 major label debut album The Hill. Intentional topped the gospel singles chart and Greene was nominated for two Grammys. He was born Jan. 17, 1984 in Delaware but he grew up in Warner Robins, GA. Greene was still born and then resuscitated. Then at age four, he fell from a four story building in Germany. He was pronounced dead and then resuscitated. Then his father died in 1989. Fortunately, Greene's mother was a preacher so he grew up singing in church. After releasing two albums independently, Greene signed with RCA Inspiration and his debut The Hill was released Oct. 2015. Intentional topped the Gospel Singles chart and so did the follow up single Made A Way. Greene was nominated for two Grammys and 13 Stellar Awards. Greene is currently on tour. He recently relocated with his family and opened a new church in Columbia, SC. Those who enjoy the contemporary gospel of artists like Kirk Franklin and Tye Tribbett should check out Travis Greene. The Hill is available as a budget CD. Here's the video for Intentional by Travis Greene.

Monday, March 20, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Bono

Song:Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Album:Across The Universe: Music From The Motion Picture

Of course everyone knows that Paul "Bono" Hewson is the lead singer of U2. One would think that he would have recorded a solo album at some point. But he never has. However, he does make guest appearances with artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Kirk Franklin and B.B. King. In this particular case, he recorded two songs for the 2007 film Across The Universe. It looks like this is the only time he's done this for a film. Across The Universe is a film that tells the story of young people set to the music of The Beatles. Most of the music in the film is performed by the cast including Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson and TV Carpio. But special guests appear on the soundtrack including Joe Cocker, The Secret Machines, Eddie Izzard, Jeff Beck and Bono & Edge. Bono appears in the film as Dr. Robert and performs I Am The Walrus. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds plays over the end credits. The music in the film was written and produced by veteran composer Eliot Goldenthal who has been the romantic partner of director Julie Taymor for many years. Bono also worked with Taymor on the 2010 Broadway musical Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark. I don't know what Bono will do in the future. He's a big star. He can do whatever he wants. In this case, I think he was asked to add some star power to the film. Here's Bono performing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds over the end credits of Across The Universe.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cynthia Calvillo vs Pearl Gonzalez added to Apr. 8 UFC show

Pearl Gonzalez
During yesterday's UFC broadcast, it was announced that Cynthia Calvillo vs Pearl Gonzalez has been added to UFC 210 Apr. 8 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. This will air on the main card PPV. It's a quick turnaround for Cynthia who made her UFC debut on UFC 209 Mar. 4 and she beat Amanda Bobby Cooper with a first round rear naked choke. Cynthia's record is 4-0 and she trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, CA. Pearl is new to the UFC but I have seen her before. She's from Chicago and she trains at Combat-Do. Her record is 6-1. Probably her highest profile win was over current UFC fighter Cortney Casey by third round armbar on the Oct. 18, 2013 XFC show in Nashville to win the XFC Flyweight Championship. This is the fight I saw. The other notable thing about this fight is Cortney launched an appeal due to Pearl's excessive use of spray tan. I'm not kidding. Pearl dropped to 115 in 2015 to get to the UFC. Her most recent fight was a second round submission win over Katie Casimir at the Apr. 30, 2016 HFC show in Hammond, IN. Pearl is 30 years old and Cynthia is 29. So it's not surprising that the UFC is looking to elevate one of them very quickly. Cynthia delivered in her UFC debut. But I think Pearl is a better opponent. So I'm looking for an exciting fight.

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Lina Lansberg vs Lucie Pudilova

Here's the match video of Lina Lansberg vs Lucie Pudilova from yesterday's UFC show in London. Lina is the Swedish fighter brought in as a sacrifice to Cris Cyborg. She is mostly a Muay Thai expert. Lucie is from the Czech Republic and she was brought in as a late replacement. Her only loss was to Lina mostly because Lina used her size and strength to trap her on the fence and the ref allowed it. Lina tried to do the same at the start of this fight but ref Neil Hall broke them up quickly. So now Lina needed a different approach. Fortunately for her, Lucie wasn't very aggressive in round one. She just didn't throw enough and Lina was marginally more effective. So I scored the round 10-9 for Lina. Round two was very similar except Lina was more aggressive and she even scored a takedown near the end of the round. So I scored round two 10-9 for Lina. Lucie needs a finish. She wins round three but doesn't get the finish. I scored it 10-9 for Lucie. But some thought it was 10-8 and I'm going to explain why it wasn't 10-8. I noticed that face damage to Lina tends to look worse than it is. Miesha Tate was like that too. So even though Lina didn't get hit much in the first two rounds, she looked like she was hit a lot. Her mistake was getting into a clinch with Lucie and leaving Lucie's right arm free. Then she compounds that mistake by trying for a takedown instead of getting the hell out of there. This allows Lucie to land uncontested strikes and Lina's right eye is a mess when she gets out of it. The entire segment lasted about a minute. If Lucie had continued her dominance after that, I could consider a 10-8. But she didn't and it's wasn't enough. And the ref didn't look to stop the fight. The damage looked worse than it actually was. So I scored round three 10-9 for Lucie and Lina won the fight 29-28. All three judges scored it the same. Afterwards, Lina gave an awkward interview where she said she thought Lucie won. One of the reasons it was awkward is Lucie doesn't speak English. One thing is for sure. This was a lot better than their first fight. Enjoy the video!

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Martika

Song:Toy Soldiers
Album:Toy Soldiers: The Best Of Martika

So I bet you all remember this 1989 chart topper as the video was played to death on MTV and MuchMusic. But whatever happened to Martika? Well, that's what I'm going to talk about. And though I know Martika is perceived as a one hit wonder, she had some other hits. She was born Marta Marrero May 18, 1969 in Whittier, CA. She appeared in the 80s TV series Kids Incorporated along with Fergie and Rahsaan Patterson. She left the show in 1986 and signed with Columbia Records and producer Michael Jay who had worked with the British girl group 5 Star. The album Martika was released in 1988. The first single More Than You Know reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100. Toy Soldiers was the second single and it was a big worldwide hit. Martika wrote it about a friend's cocaine addiction. It was Jay who got her into songwriting. The guitar solo was by film composer Mark Leggett. The album was certified Gold. For her 1991 album Martika's Kitchen, Martika worked with several producers including Prince who wrote and produced the top ten single Love...Thy Will Be Done. She also had a recurring role in the TV series Wiseguy. That was it. Martika went underground for several years due to burnout and the pressure of fame. She returned in 2000 and talked about recording but never did until she joined forces with husband Michael Lee to form the group Oppera in 2003. Back in the 90s, he recorded as Nikki Lee. They released two albums independently with Martika calling herself Vida Edit. Meanwhile, rapper Eminem based his 2004 hit Like Toy Soldiers on Toy Soldiers and Columbia released this budget comp. Martika resurfaced again in 2011 with a single and plans to record an album of dance music. The album never happened. She has announced plans to tour that never materialized. But she was part of last year's Totally 80s nostalgia tour of Australia and she apparently got positive reviews. She is currently on a similar tour in England with Paul Young, Toyah and China Crisis. Here's the video for Toy Soldiers by Martika.