Sunday, December 17, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-ABBA

Song:Dancing Queen
Album:Gold: Greatest Hits

Dancing Queen was ABBA's only US number one hit. Obviously they were a much bigger deal in Europe. And they may be more popular today than they were in the 70s. The beginnings of ABBA go back to the mid-60s Stockholm music scene which was heavily influenced by The Beatles. At age 18, Benny Andersson joined The Hep Stars who were known as The Swedish Beatles. He played keyboards and wrote some of their hits. Bjorn Ulvaeus led the folk group The Hootenanny Singers. So they knew each other from touring similar circuits and they wrote a song together that was a hit for The Hep Stars. Hootenanny Singers manager Stig Andersson encouraged them to work together. The way they became ABBA is Andersson met Anni-Frid Lyngstad at the Eurovision Song Contest and they married. Agnetha Faltskog had success as a solo artist. But she met Ulvaeus during the filming of a 1969 TV special and they married in 1971. At first the plan was for Andersson and Ulvaeus to record as Bjorn & Benny and the girls would record as solo artists. They did this for a few years. The single People Need Love was by Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid. When it was decided to turn it into a permanent group, Stig Andersson wanted a simple name and ABBA was chosen. ABBA had success in Sweden with songs like Ring Ring. The Eurovision Song Contest helped them with the rest of Europe. Their first US hit was Waterloo in 1974 which reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. But they didn't break through in the US until the 1976 album Arrival and the single Dancing Queen. It topped the charts worldwide and it was their only #1 hit in the US. Dancing Queen was more disco influenced than previous songs especially by the George McCrae classic Rock Your Baby. ABBA continued to have success until the two married couples divorced. It was over in 1983. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. Both girls launched solo careers with modest success. Andersson and Ulvaeus had success with the musical Chess written with Tim Rice. They have remained behind the scenes figures though they could make a fortune reuniting ABBA. But the spirit of ABBA is still alive through the musical Mamma Mia! and other projects especially Priscilla, Queen if the Desert. Here's the video for Dancing Queen by ABBA.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Loretta Lynn

Artist:Loretta Lynn
Song:To Heck With Ole Santa Claus
Album:White Christmas Blue

If you're looking for a country music Christmas album, living legend Loretta Lynn released one last year. Her first Christmas album was A Country Christmas in 1966. It came at a time when Loretta was just starting to have success on the country charts. So I find the timing a little odd as you would expect a Christmas album from a more established artist. She recorded it with her usual producer Owen Bradley with The Jordanaires on backup vocals. Loretta performs the usual Christmas standards. But she also wrote four songs including the tongue in cheek To Heck With Ole Santa Claus which was released as a single. The problem with the album is it's less than a half hour long. And when Universal released it in 1980 as Christmas Without Daddy and then on CD in 2005 as part of their Millennium Collection series, they did nothing to enhance it with bonus tracks. Last year Loretta released White Christmas Blue on Sony Legacy. The album was produced by Loretta's daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash who also produced her 2016 CD Full Circle. She is accompanied by Shawn Camp who has toured with Loretta since 2007. Again she records mostly Christmas standards. But she also records new versions of To Heck With Ole Santa Claus and A Country Christmas from the 1966 album. Normally I prefer original versions. But I don't think it matters in this case. And White Christmas Blue is available as a budget CD. Loretta has already finished her next album Wouldn't It Be Great. But as you may have heard, Loretta suffered a stroke in May and the album release has been delayed until she is fully recovered. Here's Loretta Lynn with Shawn Camp performing To Heck With Ole Santa Claus.

Friday, December 15, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Hiram Bullock

Artist:Hiram Bullock f/Al Jarreau
Song:You Send Me
Album:Give It What U Got

Guitarist Hiram Bullock was mainly a session musician and sideman known for his two year stint in Paul Shaffer's Late Night with David Letterman band. But in the 80s, Atlantic Records tried to turn him into a solo artist. When that didn't work out, he returned to session work though he continued to release albums in Japan. He was born Sept. 11, 1955 in Osaka, Japan. His father was in the military. But he grew up in Baltimore and studied piano as a child. He took up guitar as a teen and studied at the University of Miami with Pat Metheny and Steve Morse. He also met bassists Jaco Pastorius and Will Lee. Lee was also in the Letterman band. After graduation, Bullock moved to New York and settled into session work. Among his more high profile gigs were with Steely Dan, Paul Simon and Billy Joel. he also recorded three albums as a member of the 24th Street Band. Bullock joined the Letterman band in 1982 and stayed for two years. Then he signed with Atlantic Records. The 1987 album Give It What U Got was the second of Bullock's three albums for Atlantic. His main collaborator on the album was pianist Ricky Peterson who was a veteran of the Minneapolis R&B scene. They wrote most of the album songs and even sang together on one track. For the cover of Sam Cooke's You Send Me, guest singer Al Jarreau was brought in. Bullock had played on some of Jarreau's albums. The rest of the band was Will Lee on bass, Charlie Drayton on drums and Don Alias on percussion. This album has been released on CD by the reissue label Wounded Bird. It might be of interest to Al Jarreau fans as I don't think You Send Me appears on any of his albums. In the 90s, Bullock returned to session work and he continued to do that until his death from cancer on July 25, 2008 at age 52. Here's a video for You Send Me by Hiram Bullock featuring Al Jarreau.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Leona Lewis

Artist:Leona Lewis
Song:Bleeding Love

Bleeding Love topped the worldwide charts in 2007. It turned out to be Leona Lewis' only big hit in the US. She continued to have success in her native England though she has faded there too and is currently not signed to a record label. Her fame was mostly as winner of Simon Cowell's talent contest show X Factor. She was born Apr. 3, 1985 in London, England. She went to high school at the BRIT School for the Performing Arts. And then she recorded demos and wasn't able to get a record deal. And that's why she auditioned for X Factor. So we all know Simon Cowell from American Idol (AI). He created X Factor because he didn't own AI. There were differences so he wouldn't get sued. With X Factor, he signed the winners to his label Syco. Leona won the third season of X Factor in 2006. When music journalists heard her, she sounded so much like Mariah Carey they called her the Limey Mariah. Leona's single after she won X Factor was a cover of Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This. It was a big hit in England. So then she signed a US deal with Clive Davis' J Records. She worked with all kinds of big producers on Spirit. Leona writes songs but she didn't write any of the songs on the album. Bleeding Love was the first single and it topped the charts worldwide. It was produced by OneRepublic leader Ryan Tedder and he wrote it with singer songwriter Jesse McCartney for his album. But his label didn't like it. Tedder thought they were nuts. He saw a video of Leona and brought the song to Cowell. And predictably the song was a big hit. Spirit sold seven million copies worldwide. Though Bleeding Love was Leona's only top ten hit in the US, she continued to have success in England. She continued to fade and she left Syco in 2013. Her latest CD I Am was released on Island Def Jam but she left there as well. Both departures were because she wanted more control of her music. I don't think she has signed with a new label yet. She made her Broadway debut in a 2016 revival of Cats. Maybe that's where her future lies. Here's the video for Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Valentina Shevchenko vs Priscila Cachoeira added to Feb. 3 UFC show

Two women's bouts have been added to UFC Fight Night 125 Feb. 3 Manguiernho Gymnasium in Belem, Brazil. This will air on Fox Sports 1 in the US and TSN in Canada. The first match at Flyweight is Valentina Shevchenko vs Priscila Cachoeira which will be on the main card. The second fight at Strawweight has Maia Stevenson vs Polyana Viana which I expect will air on the UFC Fight Pass prelims. Of course many fans think Valentina should get the first title shot. Now, she hasn't said that. She knows she has to earn it. It's not a slam dunk. She'll be the favorite in this fight. I'm just not as high on her as some. I think she's a one dimensional kickboxer. And she looked terrible against Amanda Nunes. Priscila was supposed to make her UFC debut on the TUF 26 finale but she had visa problems. Her record is 9-0. She trains at PRVT so Jessica Andrade is a teammate. She has won several fights by TKO. I guess like any fighter from the Brazilian regional circuit, this is a big step up in competition. Valentina will be a good test for her. Maia was on TUF 26. She lost in the first round. She's 35 years old with a 6-4 record. I don't think she has ever beaten anyone who has won a fight. I don't think she belongs in the UFC. Oh and she's married to Joe Stevenson. So I guess it's not what you know. It's who you know. Polyana is 26 years old with a 9-1 record. She trains at Tata Fight Team so she is a teammate of UFC fighter Alex Oliveira. She's a former Jungle Fight champ. But the UFC is still a big step up in competition though I don't think Maia is a UFC caliber fighter. So we're talking about a couple of unknown Brazilian fighters. We'll see if they are any good.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Les Brown & His Band Of Renown

Artist:Les Brown & His Band Of Renown
Song:The Nutcracker Suite
Album:Ultimate Christmas Cocktails

Les Brown was a popular swing bandleader in the 40s. But when swing died out in the late 40s, he was able to keep his band going for many years. Many bands just closed up shop. Brown's band was never a jazz band. It was a dance band. What made him popular in the 40s was Doris Day and touring with Bob Hope. When Doris went on to film stardom and swing ended, Brown continued to tour with Hope and appear on Hope's TV specials. Later on he was house band for Steve Allen and Dean Martin's TV shows. In the 50s Brown recorded for Decca's Coral label and then he moved to Capitol. This elaborate arrangement of The Nutcracker Suite was on the 1956 album That Sound Of Renown which was one of his final albums on Coral. Then he recorded it on the 1958 live recording Concert Modern on Capitol. Neither album is available on CD. But Capitol has put Brown's recording of The Nutcracker Suite on its Ultra Lounge CD series. It appears on the CD Christmas Cocktails but it's an edited version and the CD is out of print anyway. But this 3CD Ultra Lounge comp is available. So if you are into the Ultra Lounge sound, this is the Christmas CD for you. The Nutcracker Suite was recorded by Freddy Martin and Fred Waring in the 40s. The most notable jazz version was by Duke Ellington in 1960. Brian Setzer's cover of Brown's version of The Nutcracker Suite appeared in the film Elf. Though Brown died in 2001, his son Les Brown Jr. continues to lead the band today. Here's a video for The Nutcracker Suite by Les Brown & His Band of Renown.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Carpenters

Song:Home For The Holidays
Album:Christmas Portrait

Of course the Carpenters were one of the most successful groups of the 70s. But by the late 70s, Richard and Karen Carpenter were both having health problems that would force them to go on hiatus. Christmas Portrait was their final album before the hiatus. They would return but then Karen died. Christmas Portrait was not only an album but a TV special that still airs on PBS stations. they had success with one off Christmas singles like Merry Christmas Darling. So this time Richard wanted to record a full blown Christmas album. They recorded enough material for two Christmas albums. A second album An Old-Fashioned Christmas was released in 1984. The current CD release seems to be a combination of both albums. Richard produced the albums and wrote most of the arrangements with Peter Knight who previously worked with The Moody Blues. Home For The Holidays was written by Al Stillman and Robert Allen. Perry Como had a hit with it in 1954. I don't think it was on the original album but the 1984 sequel. The album did very well. But Richard went into rehab soon after for drug addiction. Karen was supposed to record a solo album. But she got sick with the anorexia that would kill her. They returned with the 1981 album Made in America but Karen died in 1983. Richard produced An Old-Fashioned Christmas as a tribute to Karen. Here's a video for Home For The Holidays by the Carpenters.

Monday, December 11, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra

Artist:Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra f/Billie Holiday
Song:Trav'lin Light
Album:The Complete Capitol Recordings

In the 1930s, Paul Whiteman was known as The King of Jazz. He was the most popular bandleader of the time. But with the rise of swing in the late 30s, he was pretty much a has been. So he signed with Capitol Records when they opened in 1942. And this one off 1942 single featuring the legendary Billie Holiday was Whiteman's final chart hit. The problem with Whiteman was despite his nickname, he wasn't a jazz musician nor an innovator. He was a very good marketer. And he deserves a lot of credit for giving Bing Crosby to the world. But by the late 30s, guys like Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller made him obsolete. So as a last resort, he signed with the fledgling Capitol Records. Their first single was Whiteman's recording of I Found A New Baby. So Capitol co-owner Johnny Mercer wanted to make a big splash with a big hit. He found out that Billie Holiday was in Los Angeles. She just had a huge hit with God Bless The Child. He convinced her to record with Whiteman. I assume he promised to write a song for her. Mercer wrote Trav'lin Light with Whiteman band members Trummy Young and Jimmy Mundy. Mundy also arranged the recording. Because Billie was under contract to Columbia, Mercer credited Billie as Lady Day on the label. The trombone solo was by Skip Layton. It worked. The record was a big hit. It topped the R&B chart and reached #23 on the Hit Parade. It turned out to be Whiteman's final big hit. This comp has all his Capitol recordings. Trav'lin Light also appears on some Billie Holiday comps. Whiteman turned to radio and by the late 40s he was a regular on TV. He was musical director for ABC in the 50s. Here's a video for Trav'lin light by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra featuring Billie Holiday.