Sunday, April 19, 2015
Here's the match video of Paige VanZant vs Felice Herrig from last night's UFC show in Newark, NJ. The hype over Paige since her first UFC win has been ridiculous. I thought Felice would be a pretty good measuring stick to see where Paige is in her MMA career. For this fight, Paige returned to Team Alpha Male in Sacramento and UFC fighters Martin Kampmann and Andre Fili were in her corner. Paige starts out slowly and Felice has ground control for the first half of the round. This was set up by Paige's headlock takedown which gave up her back. That's a habit that needs to be broken. After a couple of submission attempts, Paige turns things around and scores a few punches from the top. The round was close and I scored it 10-9 for Felice because she controlled most of the round. Felice's trainer Jeff Curran tells her to use her kickboxing more. But I think the worm had turned already and that's what Paige was told between rounds. By the middle of round two, Felice looked like she was out of gas and Paige was firmly in control. I scored round two 10-9 for Paige. Coming out for round three, Felice looked beat and Paige was much fresher. Paige threw a lot of punches from top position but was unable to get a finish. I scored round three 10-8 for Paige and I scored the fight 29-27 for Paige. One of the judges scored it the same as me and the other two scored it 30-26 for Paige. It was a big win for Paige VanZant but people need to cool it with the overhype. Look, she has potential but she also has a lot of work to do. Geez, she's only 21 years old. Give her some time. Though Paige won decisively, a couple of things concern me. In both of her fights, Paige got off to a slow start. She won't get away with that against better competition. And by the number of punches she threw in round three, she doesn't throw hard enough to break an egg. She needs to work on her striking technique. Sometimes less is more. After the fight, Felice's BFF Carla Esparza Made excuses for Felice's performance. I'm sure Carla would love to fight Paige. I don't know why she made excuses. I've covered Felice's entire career and though she has improved under Curran's coaching, she's a mediocre fighter who used shrewd self promotion to become famous. The only thing that surprised me about Felice in this fight was how poor her cardio was. That's why she lost. There's no excuse for that. Enjoy the video!
Song:With God On Our Side
DVD:The Other Side Of The Mirror: Bob Dylan Live At The Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965
Bob Dylan's appearances at the Newport Folk Festival in the 60s were pivotal moments in his career especially when he went electric in 1965. Fortunately, this documentary chronicles this period and it's available on DVD. Bob Dylan arrived in New York in 1960. Not long after, he signed with Columbia Records and by 1963 he had become a very prolific songwriter. With God On Our Side is one of Dylan's more blistering protest songs. It's not a song he performs frequently. He first recorded it on the 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin'. But before that, he performed it with Joan Baez at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. Clearly Joan loved that song as she performed it regularly before Dylan recorded it. They performed it again in 1964 but the 1963 version was filmed and you can get it on this DVD. The performance was released on the various artists album Newport Broadside and that is available on CD. But the documentary The Other Side Of the Mirror is worth checking out on DVD. The film was directed in 2007 by Murray Lerner who also directed the 1967 documentary Festival about the Newport Folk Festival. He has directed several music docs. Using footage from that film, he documents Dylan's transformation from protest singer to rock musician. Of course it includes Dylan's 1965 performance with electric instruments and the resulting uproar. The film was broadcast on BBC 4 in 2007 and the DVD is recommended to Dylan fans. Here's Bob Dylan featuring Joan Baez performing With God On Our Side at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. This video is not on Youtube.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Song:Goin' Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Album:Capitol Collectors Series
The vocal group The Lettermen have been around since the late 50s and had some chart success in the 60s. This medley of Goin' Out Of My Head and Can't Take My Eyes Off You was a top ten pop hit in 1967. That might seem odd in the midst of psychedelia but there were radio stations that preferred this kind of sound. The leader of The Lettermen is Tony Butala. He was born Nov. 20, 1940 in Sharon, PA. As a child, Butala sang on a Pittsburgh radio station. Then his family moved to Los Angeles and Butala appeared in films like Peter Pan and White Christmas until his voice changed. He became assistant music director of the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir. In the late 50s he wanted to form a vocal group. His first group The Fourmost included Connie Stevens. Then he formed The Lettermen and they were hired to impersonate The Rhythm Boys in a Vegas revue. The original group didn't work out. But then Butala met Jim Pike and Jim Engemann who sang together while attending Brigham Young University. Engemann's older brother Karl Engemann was a record producer at Warner Bros. The Lettermen recorded a couple of singles and then went with Engemann when he left Warners for Capitol in 1961. They had immediate success when When I Fall In Love reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. It also topped the easy listening charts. And it's that easy listening market that has sustained The Lettermen for many years. That and concerts because their harmonies are real, not studio enhanced. And The Lettermen didn't write songs. They recorded strictly covers. Engemann was replaced by Jim Pike's brother Gary Pike in 1967. They continued to have success mostly as an album artist until Goin' Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. This first appeared on the 1967 album The Lettermen!!...And Live and then after it was a hit, the single was added to an album that was retitled Goin' Out Of My Head. Of course Goin' Out Of My Head was a Little Anthony & The Imperials hit and Can't Take My Eyes OfF You was a Four Seasons hit. The combination of the two was only to be performed live. They never intended to record it but it was on the live album. The Lettermen recorded for Capitol until 1973. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. Jim Pike left The Lettermen in 1976 and sold the name to Butala. Butala still leads a version of The Lettermen today and Jim and Gary Pike have a similar group called Reunion. So there is still demand for smooth vocal groups that aren't too challenging to listen to. It's not my kind of music but there ya go. Here are The Lettermen performing Goin' Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You on The Hollywood Palace 1968 followed by a separate clip of Never My Love.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Song:Back In Your Own Backyard
Album:Hello Young Lovers
Jazz singer Nancy Wilson worked with several arrangers on her early 60s recordings for Capitol. But a couple of her most successful albums were with pianist George Shearing. The British pianist had moved to New York and was also on Capitol. So after her first two albums with arranger Billy May were successful, her mentor Cannonball Adderley told her to return to recording jazz. He suggested recording with Shearing and Nancy recorded the 1961 album The Swingin's Mutual with Shearing's quintet. After Nancy recorded with Adderley, she returned to working with Shearing but this time he not only brought his band including Dick Garcia on guitar, Warren Chiasson on vibes, Ralph Pena on bass, Armando Peraza on percussion and Vernel Fournier on drums, but Shearing also wrote string arrangements. So Nancy was again recording with an orchestra but this time with a jazz orchestra. The orchestra was conducted by Milt Raskin who was a pianist and arranger for Gene Krupa and Tommy Dorsey in the 40s and turned to studio work in the 50s at Capitol. Back In Your Own Backyard was written by Billy Rose and Dave Dreyer who also wrote Me And My Shadow. The song was first recorded in 1928 by Ruth Etting and then Al Jolson. It was revived when Patti Page scored a hit with Back In Your Own Backyard in 1950. Hello Young Lovers did very well on the album chart in 1962. But for years the album was not available on CD until the British label Hallmark licensed it from Capitol and released it as a budget CD in 2013. Here's a video for Back In Your Own Backyard by Nancy Wilson.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Song:Feel Like Funkin' It Up
Album:Feel Like Funkin' It Up
The rise of New Orleans brass bands began in the 80s and they continue to be popular today. The Rebirth Brass Band is one of the more popular bands recording and performing this kind of music. And they got a big boost when they were featured in the HBO series Treme. People always ask me if this music is jazz. Well, it has jazz elements. But it also has elements of New Orleans street music and high school marching bands. In particular, the street music is unique to New Orleans. You don't see it anywhere else. The Rebirth Brass Band was formed in 1983 by tuba player Phil Frazier, his brother bass drummer Keith Frazier and trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. They started out playing New Orleans clubs and music festivals and this led to the 1985 album Here To Stay on Arhoolie Records. This led to a deal with the much larger Rounder Records and the album Feel Like Funkin' It Up was released in 1989. This was their breakthrough album mainly because of wider distribution and Rebirth started touring internationally. After several albums for Rounder, Ruffins left to go solo in 1994. The band continued recording on labels like Mardi Gras and Basin Street. In recent years, they have had success on the jazz charts because of the HBO series Treme which featured a lot of New Orleans musicians. As a music expert, I loved that show. Their latest CD Move Your Body was released June 2014 and features a guest appearance by Trombone Shorty. So if the Rebirth Brass Band is coming your way, they are a party waiting to happen. So be sure to check them out. Here's the Rebirth Brass Band performing Feel Like Funkin' It Up in Jam In A Van at the 2013 Telluride Blues and Brews Festival in Telluride, CO.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Song:What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me)
Of course Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the all time greats of Rock 'N' Roll. But you may not know that he had a very strong run on the country music charts in the late 60s and the 70s. What Made Milwaukee Famous was a top five country hit in 1968. So when Lewis married his cousin 13 year old Myra Brown in 1958, the scandal killed his career. And by 1963 he left Sun Records for Smash Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records. At first Smash tried to recreate Lewis' previous success by having him record his old hits. But with Beatlemania on the rise, that wasn't going to work. Mercury promotions manager Eddie Kilroy suggested that Lewis record a country album. So Lewis went into the studio with veteran Nashville producer Jerry Kennedy and recorded Another Time, Another Place. That single reached #4 on the Country Singles chart. So they decided to record a full album. At the time, Lewis was performing on stage in a rock musical adaptation of Othello in Los Angeles. So he was commuting to Nashville to record the album. What Made Milwaukee Famous was the next single and it reached #2 on the Country Singles chart. That song was written by Glenn Sutton who was Billy Sherrill's partner and those two wrote plenty of Tammy Wynette hits. And Sutton did base the song on the Schlitz Beer slogan. So now Lewis had a whole new audience and for the next ten years he recorded country albums. It was a very successful transformation and you can get all of Lewis' country hits on this budget CD. This all ended when Lewis was arrested outside Graceland for threatening Elvis Presley in 1976 and he left Smash for Elektra in 1979. But the country music of Jerry Lee Lewis is worth checking out. Here's Jerry Lee Lewis performing What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me) on Hee Haw 1969.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Album:Alley-Oop: 30 One Hit Wonders: US Pop!
You might think that I would run out of one hit wonders. But here is a song that was a top five hit in 1958 and it's the only song to ever chart for Robin Luke. At least he wrote it so he can make a buck off it. He was born Mar. 19, 1942 in Los Angeles. His father worked for Douglas Aircraft so the family moved around quite a bit. Luke spent his teen years in Hawaii. He wrote Susie Darlin' for his little sister. He was performing on a school music program when he was spotted by legendary manager Kimo Wilder McVay. This is the guy who discovered Don Ho. McVay thought this fresh faced teen could be a star so he brought him to producer Bob Bertram who normally produced country artists like Eddie Dean and Joe Maphis. That's why Susie Darlin' has a rockabilly vibe because Bertram would produce it like a country record. Susie Darlin' became a hit in Hawaii and then was picked up for national distribution by Dot Records. It reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958. Luke appeared on American Bandstand and toured with The Kalin Twins, Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson. Dot bought Luke's contract from McVay but subsequent singles didn't chart and he returned to school. The German label Bear Family has released a Robin Luke CD. But it's expensive and I think most would only be interested in Susie Darlin'. You can get it on this one hit wonder comp from the British reissue label Jasmine Records. Robin Luke still tours the oldies circuit. But in real life, he has a Ph.D. in Marketing and he is a professor at Southwest Missouri State University. Robin Luke is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Here's a video of Susie Darlin' by Robin Luke.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Album:Get Your Kicks On Route 99
If you're a fan of instrumental R & B like Booker T & The MGs, you might want to check out the much more obscure The Merced Blue Notes. As the name hints, the band was from Merced, CA. They started out in 1957 led by guitarist Kenny Craig and harmonica player George Coolures. he was also Merced's fire chief. When they started out, Roddy Jackson was their lead singer. Specialty Records west coast A & R man Sonny Bono got them an audition. But Specialty only signed Jackson. One would think that would be the end of The Merced Blue Notes. But Coolures replaced Jackson and also became the band's manager. Other members included Bill Robertson on sax, Gilbert Fraire on bass, Bobby Hunt on keyboards and Carl Mays Jr. on drums. For the next decade, they played Northern California clubs and bounced around different labels with little success. In the early 60s, they signed with Harvey Fuqua's Tri-Phi label and were on Motown after Motown bought Tri-Phi. But Motown weren't interested in them and cut them after releasing a couple of singles. Then they signed with the Fantasy Records label Galaxy Records and The Merced Blue Notes had modest success with singles like Rufus, Rufus Jr. and Mama Rufus. Their music is instrumental R & B similar to Booker T & The MGs and the British reissue label Ace Records has released all their recordings on this CD. The Merced Blue Notes bounced around California clubs until splitting up in the early 70s. One guy who went through the band was future Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch who had solo success in the late 70s. The Merced Blue Notes were a very interesting but very obscure band. Here's a video for Rufus Jr. by The Merced Blue Notes.