Thursday, May 24, 2018
Song:Another One Rides The Bus
Album:The Essential Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al Yankovic is a modern day Spike Jones. He does today what Jones did back in the 40s, parodies of popular songs. Another One Rides The Bus was one of his earliest hits. He was born Oct. 23, 1959 in Downey, CA. He learned to play the accordion as a child. This choice made by his parents was influenced by polka king Frankie Yankovic though they are not related. Yankovic learned to play rock music on the accordion. His influences include Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Allen Sherman and Frank Zappa. And he was a devoted listener to Barry "Dr. Demento" Hansen's radio show of novelty songs. In 1976, Hansen spoke at Yankovic's high school. Yankovic gave Hansen a recording of Belvedere Cruisin about his parents' car. Hansen played the song on his show and Yankovic started playing local clubs. While attending Cal Poly, Yankovic was a DJ on the campus radio station. One of the biggest hits of 1979 was My Sharona by The Knack. Yankovic recorded his parody My Bologna in a campus bathroom. He sent it to Hansen. The Knack's lead singer Doug Fieger liked it so much he had his label Capitol release it as a single. Then Yankovic recorded Another One Rides The Bus on Dr. Demento's radio show. This led to Yankovic appearing on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show. Unfortunately his label TK Records went bankrupt. He decided to form a band and tour. His recording of I Love Rocky Road got Rick Derringer's attention. He got Yankovic a deal with Scotti Brothers distributed by Columbia. Derringer produced Yankovic's 1983 debut album. The album did well and the video for Ricky was heavily played on MTV. Probably his biggest hit was Eat It, his parody of Michael Jackson's Beat It. If you're wondering how the original artists feel about Yankovic's parodies, he asks them to approve it before release. This 2CD comp covers Yankovic's entire career. Though Yankovic isn't as popular today as he was in the 80s, he still records parodies and releases them online. His latest The Hamilton Polka is a parody of the hit musical Hamilton. I think Spike Jones would be very proud of Al Yankovic. Here's Weird Al Yankovic performing Another One Rides The Bus on Tomorrow Apr. 21, 1981.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Album:Trailer Park/Central Reservation
British singer songwriter Beth Orton had success in the late 90s. I think the Lilith Fair movement promoting women gave her a big boost. Her music is British folk mixed with modern production techniques called Folktronica. She was born July 2, 1971 in East Dereham, Norfolk, England. Her parents were journalists. They split up when she was 11 and she moved with her mom to East London. Her mom died in 1989. Beth was a caterer for a while and also did some stage acting. She got into music after meeting producer William Orbit at a party. Orbit is best known for his work with Madonna. He was recording instrumentals as Strange Cargo. She recorded a couple of vocals for him and that led to an album that was released only in Japan. Orbit got her to record with electronic production and she continued that after they split up. She also recorded with Chemical Brothers and she finally signed with Heavenly Records. Her 1997 album Trailer Park did well enough in England that she got a US deal with Arista. And she toured with Lilith Fair which gave her some exposure in the US but it seems like she got lost in the shuffle. She had chart success in England with the 1999 album Central Reservation and the single Stolen Car. Most of the album was produced by Victor Van Vugt who was best known for his work with Nick Cave. Her music was always more successful in England. And after the 2002 album Daybreaker, Beth moved to Astralwerks. After two albums, she left Astralwerks and she now records for ANTI Records. Her latest CD Kidsticks was released in 2016. She is currently on tour and I expect she will record new music when the tour is over. Trailer Park and Central Reservation are available as a two-fer CD. Here's the video for Stolen Car by Beth Orton.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Album:Club Mix's Biggest Jams Vol. 1
Wiggle It was a top 20 hit and it topped the dance charts in 1990. It was the only big hit for 2 In A Room. Some of their other songs charted so they are not a one hit wonder. But Wiggle it is the only song most will remember. They were from New York City. And I guess the group name describes them perfectly. Rafael "Dose" Vargas is a rapper. Roger "Rog Nice" Pauletta is a remix guy. The third partner was Cutting Records owner Aldo Marin. Vargas released a single in 1988 as Dose Material. He wrote it and Marin and Pauletta produced it. Cutting released a 1989 CD as 2 In A Room called The Album Vol. 1. Vargas and Pauletta only appeared on one song. But that song Do What You Want was a top ten dance hit. So Marin let them record a whole album as 2 In A Room. Vargas wrote and produced most of the album and he did all the rapping. Pauletta and Marin produced. Wiggle It was the first single. It reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it topped the dance charts. When the record started to break, Marin sold the album to Charisma Records so it would get national distribution. The song had a great hook and that's what made it memorable. Vargas wrote it with George Morel who would later have success with a series of singles called Morel's Grooves. 2 In A Room would release a CD in 1995 but it was unsuccessful. Vargas produced that album minus Pauletta. Pauletta returned to remixing. Vargas has been in some other groups he has never reached the heights of Wiggle It. You can get Wiggle It on this various artists budget comp. Here's the video for Wiggle It by 2 In A Room.
Monday, May 21, 2018
Song:Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World
Over the years I have seen some strange records become hits. This medley of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and What A Wonderful World by Hawaiian singer Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole became a hit when it was used in films and TV. Of course there's a long history of Hawaiian music crossing over to mainstream mostly back in the 50s. It hasn't happened much recently. IZ was born May 20, 1959 in Honolulu. His uncle was Hawaiian musician Moe Keale. And his parents worked at a local club frequented by Hawaiian music legend Don Ho. While attending the University of Hawaii, IZ and his brother Skippy formed Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau and they recorded in the 70s. They had local success until Skippy died in 1982 from an obesity related heart attack. IZ released his first solo album in 1990. Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World was on the 1993 album Facing Future. The album is mostly traditional Hawaiian music. IZ recorded the medley as a demo in 1988 and I guess he performed it live. Producer Jon de Mello heard the demo and asked IZ to record it to fill out the album. It was never intended to be a hit. IZ continued to record and perform until his death on June 26, 1997 at age 38. His death was obesity related. At one point IZ weighed over 700lbs. You can see in the video he got a state funeral. Universal Studios licensed the medley and they used it in the 1998 film Meet Joe Black. From there the record was used in several films and TV shows especially an eToys commercial. And by 2004 it had been downloaded over four million times. Facing Future was certified Platinum in 2005. The odd thing is it wasn't a new record or artist that Universal was trying to promote. They decided to use it in a film and it gained steam from there. That's strange even for the music business. Here's a video for Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Here's the match video of Poliana Botelho vs Syuri Kondo from last night's UFC show in Chile. Though no one expects a 30 second fight, I was not surprised that Poliana won easily. She's really a Flyweight fighting at Strawweight. And she has punching power. As long as she can make weight, she can be a beast at Strawweight. That was a wicked body kick. That happens sometimes. I expected her to wear Syuri down and finish her with ground and pound. I like the idea of matching Poliana against Tatiana Suarez. That could be a great fight. But Andre at Nova Uniao may have different ideas. Anyway, enjoy the fight.
Here's the match video of Andrea Lee vs Veronica Macedo from last night's UFC show in Chile. Again, this fight went about as I expected. Of course we all know Andrea from Invicta and LFA. She certainly has main event charisma. But we have to find out if she is an elite fighter. As I expected, this fight didn't answer that question. Veronica probably doesn't belong in the UFC. She lost her UFC debut at Bantamweight and she didn't look much better at Flyweight. The good news is she is only 22 years old. But she needs to show some improvement. Andrea won easily by unanimous decision. But she admitted afterwards that she didn't give a strong performance blaming ring rust. I dunno. I have seen enough of Andrea to believe that she's not an elite fighter. But the UFC does need attractive charismatic women who can draw casual fans to Fox shows. Like Paige VanZant for example. Well, there you go. There's a match for a Fox show. Casual fans would eat it up. Obviously I'm joking but there is something to it. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Tatiana Suarez vs Alexa Grasso from last night's UFC show in Chile. All three of the women's matches on last night's show went about as I expected. There were no big surprises. I expected Tatiana to beat Alexa easily and that's exactly what happened with a first round rear naked choke. Maybe now Alexa will get it through her head that her light sparring points fighting style isn't good enough to compete with an elite fighter. Maybe she needs to leave her home gym Lobo in Mexico and go someplace that will teach her new things. I wasn't surprised she had nothing for Tatiana who is an elite fighter. She has great technique and she wants to finish fights. Alexa doesn't even have decent takedown defense. The result of this fight shows that competition level is very important. Alexa had never fought anyone as good as Tatiana. This win should propel Tatiana into the title picture. We saw Poliana Botelho earlier on this show. She might be a good opponent for Tatiana. Enjoy the video!
Song:Back To Land
Album:Back To Land
Wooden Shjips is a deliberately off kilter band to the point where the band name is misspelled deliberately. Their music can best be described as neo psychedelic. They are from San Francisco but they now live in Portland. The lead singer and main songwriter is Ripley Johnson. His idea was to form a band with untrained musicians and maybe they will produce a different kind of music. They released their debut album in 2007 on Holy Mountain Records. They got some critical acclaim including a rave review in Rolling Stone. This encouraged Johnson to continue Wooden Shjips. He has a second band called Moon Duo. After a couple of albums, Wooden Shjips signed with Thrill Jockey and Johnson moved to Portland. He is the only holdover from the San Francisco days meaning Wooden Shjips is more solo project than band. The 2013 album Back To Land was their debut on Thrill Jockey. After that, Johnson put Wooden Shjips aside for a few years to concentrate on Moon Duo who released an album in 2015. He has returned to Wooden Shjips to release the 2018 album V and the band is touring to support it. Neo psychedelia fans should check them out. Here's the video for Back To Land by Wooden Shjips.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Unwritten was one of two top ten pop hits for British singer songwriter Natasha Bedingfield. It was the theme for the reality TV series The Hills. She's still around but marriage and a new child have become more important as they should. She was born Nov. 26, 1981 in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, England but she grew up in South London. As a teen, Natasha was lead singer of The DNA Algorithm with her brother Daniel and sister Nikola. After attending college for a year, she was a part of the Christian group Hillsong London. She sang demos for the songwriting and production duo of Nathan Winkler and Michael Tagaro. This led to a record deal with BMG's Photogenic label and songwriters and producers Steve Kipner and Andrew Frampton. They produced most of Natasha's 2004 debut album Unwritten. Epic Records released the album in the US after Natasha had a couple of hits in England. Unwritten reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified Gold but it was bigger in England. Natasha wrote most of the songs on the album. She wrote Unwritten with Danielle Brisebois and Wayne Rodrigues. When Danielle was a child, she was in the sitcom Archie Bunker's Place. She retired from acting and has had success as a songwriter. Rodrigues plays keyboards. Danielle also co-wrote Natasha's other big hit Pocketful Of Sunshine. If you're wondering about the choir that appears in the video, they don't sing on the record. They only appear in the video. Natasha's 2007 album Pocketful Of Sunshine and the single did just as well as the first album. But her 2010 album Strip Me didn't sell and there were no hits. A fourth album was planned but it never got off the ground and she left Epic. She has toured and released a few singles but no albums. And she and her husband had their first child Dec. 2017. So it remains to be seen if she will return. Here's the video for Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield.
Friday, May 18, 2018
Album:Empire: Original Soundtrack From Season 1
Actor Jussie Smollett is best known as one of the stars of the Fox series Empire. Since he plays a singer, he is trying to turn this into a recording career with his debut album recently released. He was born June 21, 1982 in Santa Rosa, CA. As a child, he was in the 1992 film The Mighty Ducks and the 1994 film North. And he appeared with his siblings in the ABC sitcom On Our Own. Then he quit acting and grew up. You might have seen him on a 2012 episode of The Mindy Project. He also released an EP. Then he was cast in Empire as singer Jamal Lyon. He has had some success with some of the songs from the TV show. Columbia has released a soundtrack for each season. Good Enough was the very first single from the season one soundtrack. The album was certified Gold. Most of the music for Empire was written and produced by veteran producers Tim "Timbaland" Mosely and James "Jim Beanz" Washington. Smollett is the most prominent cast member but the others appear along with guest appearances by Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Patti LaBelle. Smollett signed with Columbia in 2015. But he released his debut album Sum Of My Music in March on a small label. Swizz Beats is one of the album producers. Maybe Columbia wanted more control than he was willing to give. Smollett continues to star in Empire along with the films Alien: Covenant and Marshall. It looks like music will be a side project. Here's the video for Good Enough by Jussie Smollett.