Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Album:The Doo Wop Box II
Here is yet another obscure doo wop classic from Rhino's 4CD Doo Wop Box II. The Knockouts are not to be confused with the 80s pop group Franke & The Knockouts. Both were from New Jersey. Darling Lorraine was a regional hit in the Northeast US and reached #46 on the pop singles chart. They had a few singles on Shad Records and then disappeared. It appears that the leader and primary songwriter of the group was Eddie Parente. He's still around. I would describe him as a pseudo jazz violinist. Bobby D'Andrea is the lead singer and he's still around as a member of a musical comedy duo called Andre & Cirell. He seems to lead reunion versions of The Knockouts. Other members were Rosemary Gallagher & Bobby Collada AKA Pierre LaSalle. Apparently he died in 1969. The confusion with the 80s group makes it very difficult to find any info about The Knockouts. Here's a video for Darling Lorraine by The Knockouts.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Of course I'm talking about video blogging. My friend Mohamed installed my new webcam the other day. I hope to do some internet broadcasting but I figured I'd try out the webcam with a little vlogging. I'm talking about a couple of recent power chair repairs. Folks always ask me about the power chair. It's just a test. Please let me know what you think. I know I have a good face for radio. But I wanted to try out the webcam. And you can always video chat with me at Yahoo Messenger. You'll notice I'm using headphones. I don't think I can get close enough to the webcam mic to get decent volume. I will try it out. Happy New Year everyone and enjoy the video.
Song:Nights In White Satin
Album:A Bronx Tale
Nights In White Satin was the biggest hit for the British group The Moody Blues. They started out as a standard British Invasion group but personnel changes turned them in an orchestral direction. I find their music doesn't have a lot of bite to it. The group was started in Birmingham in 1963 by harmonica player Ray Thomas and keyboard player Mike Pinder. They worked together in a group called The Krew Kats. They decided to start The Moody Blues with guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge and bassist Clint Warwick. They had a big hit in 1964 with their cover of the R & B song Go Now but they couldn't seem to follow that up. So first Warwick and then Laine left in 1966 and were replaced by John Lodge & Justin Hayward. After floundering for a while, the group was able to convince Decca Records producer Tony Clarke that they could mix rock with a more classical music direction. Hayward was the main person behind this change. So in 1967 they produced an album called Days Of Future Passed. Hayward wrote Nights In White Satin but the melody is actually the 1963 Ben E. King hit I (Who Have Nothing) with new words. It was a huge hit in England but the US record company Deram didn't release it as a single and it didn't become a hit until 1972. This soundtrack from the film A Bronx Tale has several oldies. The Moody Blues had significant success through the 70s and Justin Hayward & John Lodge still lead a version of The Moody Blues today. Here's the video for Nights In White Satin by The Moody Blues.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Album: Anthology 1970-1994
I've featured War in the past. They were one of the top bands of the 70s. Before that, the plan was for them to back up former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon. The idea to put Burdon together with War came from producer Jerry Goldstein. In 1969, War was called Nightshift and was backing up LA Rams football star Deacon Jones. After his long run with The Animals, Burdon and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar were searching Los Angeles clubs for a backup band. Goldstein suggested that Burdon should check out Nightshift. Burdon loved them and renamed them War. He also brought in Oskar to replace a couple of horn players. They started jamming in the summer of 1969 went into the studio later that year. Eric Burdon & War signed with MGM Records and 1970 saw the release of Eric Burdon Declares War. Spill The Wine was the hit single but Tobacco Road was also very popular. Burdon allowed War to sign a seperate contract with United Artists and they started recording on their own. After one more album, Burdon left over health concerns and War went on to become one of the top bands of the 70s. Burdon's career hasn't been as successful. This 2CD Rhino comp is mostly for War fans but does include three songs with Burdon. They have also released an Eric Burdon & War comp. Here's Eric Burdon & War performing Spill The Wine.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Song:No Lovin' Baby Now
Album:From Richmond To Atlanta
The acoustic blues duo of Cephas & Wiggins have been performing together since the 80s. The most interesting thing about them is their age difference. Guitarist John Cephas was born Sept. 4, 1930 in Washington, DC and raised in Bowling Green, VA. Harmonica player Phil Wiggins was born May 8, 1954 in Washington, DC. What they have in common is the influence of the Piedmont blues style of Virginia popularized by artists like Blind Boy Fuller. The two met at a 1977 jam session and both were members of Wilbert "Big Chief" Ellis' Barrelhouse Rockers. After Ellis died, Cephas & Wiggins started working together and have been together ever since. They first recorded in 1984 and signed with Flying Fish Records in 1986 and won a W.C. Handy Award for their 1986 album Dog Days Of August. This Bullseye Blues comp takes material from the three Flying Fish albums though No Lovin' Baby Now appears to be previously unreleased. Cephas & Wiggins also recorded several CDs for Alligator Records but their latest CD Richmond Blues was released in July 2008 by Smithsonian/Folkways. Fans of acoustic blues should check out Cephas & Wiggins. Here's Cephas & Wiggins performing Good Morning Little Schoolgirl at the 2007 Smithsonian Folk Festival.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Album:Tidal Wave: The Original Decca Recordings
By the time big band swing was king in the late 30s, bandleader Fletcher Henderson was forgotten. But he led the first successful big band in the 20s and discovered many young musicians. It appears he wasn't very good with money. He was born Dec. 18, 1897 in Cuthbert, GA. Henderson had a degree in chemistry but couldn't find a job as a chemist in New York. He knew how to play piano so in 1920, he took a job as a song demonstrator with the Pace-Handy music company. This led to a job at the Black Swan label as an arranger. He formed his first band in 1924 and got a big boost when he brought Louis Armstrong in from Chicago. The great Don Redman did many of the arrangements. Henderson was the only big band until Duke Ellington started his band in 1927. Redman left in 1927 and Benny Carter and Henderson's younger brother Horace Henderson started writing a lot of the arrangements. This comp consists of Henderson's recordings for Decca in 1931 & 1934. Tidal Wave is from 1934 and was written by trombonist Russ Morgan. Tenor sax legend Ben Webster is one of the musicians featured. For all his success, Henderson was a terrible businessman and ended the band in 1935. He started writing arrangements for Benny Goodman in 1935. He started up his band again in 1936 but ended that in 1939 and worked for Goodman full time as a staff arranger. Henderson unsuccessfully attempted to start bands through the 40s and toured with Ethel Waters in the late 40s. Fletcher Henderson suffered a stroke in 1950 and died Dec. 28, 1952 at age 55. Fletcher Henderson is a forgotten legend of jazz. Here's a video of 12th Street Rag by Fletcher Henderson.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Here's another video that I snagged from Nikkan Sports. Ayako Sato & Hanako Kobayashi visited Nikkan Sports today to promote Sunday's Ito Dojo show at Shinjuku FACE. They've worked as a tag team before and they show a clip from a recent match where Kobayashi jumped off a ladder onto Yumiko Hotta. The most interesting thing on this match is the return of the ZAPs. These were the masked heels from AJW played by Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe. Watanabe is coming out of retirement for this. They will face Ayako Sato & Cherry. Kobayashi is in a 2 of 3 falls tag team match partnering with Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota vs Kaoru Ito, Ayako Hamada & Aki Kanbayashi. With her frilly pink costume, Kobayashi doesn't seem to fit in with the other two and she admitted to being a little puzzled by the matchup. A lot of today's joshi is puzzling. But the 20 year old Kobayashi says she is honoured to work with the veterans and wants to learn from them. Enjoy the video.
Song:I Want To Shout About It
Album:Texas Blues Party
Bluesman W.C. Clark is probably best known for his days with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. He is called The Godfather Of Austin Blues. That's what it says on his website. Wesley Curley Clark was born Nov. 16, 1939 in Austin, TX. His dad played guitar and by age 16, he was playing with local blues legend T.D. Bell. Clark played local clubs until he left to play guitar for Joe Tex. But he returned to Austin in the 70s and started hanging around with young musicians. He formed a group with pianist Danny Freeman and vocalist Angela Strehli called Southern Feeling but they were unable to get a record deal and Clark took a job as a mechanic for a local Ford dealership. Stevie Ray Vaughan approached Clark about joining his band with singer Lou Ann Barton called Triple Threat Revue. This led to Clark writing Cold Shot for Vaughan and it was one of his biggest hits. Clark's big break as a solo artist came when he appeared on a 1990 episode of the PBS series Austin City Limits. This led to a contract with Black Top Records. I Want To Shout About It is from his 1994 CD Heart Of Gold. He works with local Austin guys from his Vaughan days. Sax player Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff produced the album. Blues guitarist Ronnie Earl wrote the song. Texas Blues Party is a various artists comp from Rounder's Easydisc budget label and is a good intro for beginners. A 1997 car accident that killed Clark's fiancee slowed him down and then Black Top went broke. But Clark returned to recording on Alligator and his latest CD Deep In The Heart was released in 2004. W.C. Clark is still touring today. Here's W.C. Clark performing Funny How Time Slips Away on the PBS series Austin City Limits 1990.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
JWP Open Weight Champion Kayoko Haruyama and Arisa Nakajima visited Nikkan Sports today to promote the Dec. 28 JWP show at Korakuen Hall. Haruyama's title challenger is Tojuki Leon after she won a rather convoluted tournament. Leon is a good wrestler and Haruyama tries to sell her as a credible challenger but I don't think anyone believes that she can win. Nakajima will have a street fight against Yumiko Hotta. Of course Nakajima trained at A To Z when Hotta owned it. This video will show Nakajima confronting Hotta and the major number that Hotta did on Nakajima a couple of weeks ago. Nakajima talks a bit about thow the power of youth will prevail. At least this match has heat. It's funny that around this time last year it looked like Hotta was ready to retire and now she's in major feuds in three different companies. I don't see Hotta losing so close to her 25th anniversary show. We'll see how she does at making Nakajima look good in this match. Enjoy the video.
Song:Black Magic Woman
Album:Jumping At Shadows: The Blues Years
Of course you know that Santana had a big hit in 1970 with Black Magic Woman. What you may not know is that the song was written by British guitarist Peter Green. Green is best known as one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac. He's very talented but his struggles with mental illness have waylaid him. He was born Peter Greenbaum Oct. 23, 1946 in London and took up the guitar at age ten. By age 15, he was calling himself Peter Green and was invited to be lead guitarist in Peter Bardens' band Peter B's Looners. Mick Fleetwood was the drummer. Green then replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He stayed for a year and formed Fleetwood Mac with John McVie & Mick Fleetwood. A lot of folks forget that Fleetwood Mac was originally a blues band. This 2CD comp from the British label Sanctuary covers the period that Green was part of Fleetwood Mac. This live version of Black Magic Woman appears to be previously unreleased. Green experimented with LSD and other drugs and this led to his departure from Fleetwood Mac in 1970. Green was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1977 and his career has been somewhat unfocused as a result. He's had various groups over the years like the Peter Green Splinter Group in the 90s but has been mostly unsuccessful. Green has admitted that the medication he takes makes it difficult for him to concentrate. He last recorded in 2003. But Peter Green is respected by other guitarists for his talent and his music with Fleetwood Mac is worth checking out. Here's Peter Green with his late 70s band Kolours performing Black Magic Woman in Germany.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Album:Troubadors Of The Folk Era Vol. 3: The Groups
This version of the traditional song Michael, Row The Boat Ashore was a #1 pop single in 1961 despite the fact that the record company gave upon The Highwaymen. Accidents happen in the music business sometimes. The origins of The Highwaymen are very similar to the more famous Kingston Trio, just on the east coast instead of the west coast. The group began in 1958 at Weslayan University in Connecticut. Dave Fisher, Steve Butts, Bob Burnett & Chan Daniels met at a college fraternity show and Steve Trott joined during rehearsals. They were originally called The Clansman and were popular enough on campus that they decided to try to get a record contract. Their manager Ken Greengrass changed the group name to The Highwaymen. They signed with United Artists in 1959 and recorded an album with producer Don Costa. The album sank and so did the single Santiano and UA dropped them in 1960. The Highwaymen may never have been heard from again except a Connecticut record distributor named Big Ed Dinello liked the B side of Santiano. That song was Michael. He started pushing the song to other distributors and DJs and Michael reached #1 on the singles chart in the summer of 1961. All of a sudden, The Highwaymen were stars. UA re-signed them and they had a #13 hit with the Leadbelly song Cotton Fields. They continued to record without much success and Steve Trott left to go to law school and was replaced by Gil Robbins (Tim Robbins' dad). Trott would become a Federal appeals court judge. This Rhino various artists comp is part of a series about folk music of the 60s and is a good intro for beginners. The Highwaymen continue to perform today with most of the original members and record on their own label. Here's The Highwaymen performing Michael in South Dakota May 2007.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Album:The Very Best Of Ray Charles
The 1963 hit Busted came at the end of a long string of hit singles for the legendary Ray Charles. By listening to his arrangement, you wouldn't know that it's a country song. Charles had come off the huge success of the two Modern Sounds Of Country And Western Music albums in 1962. Busted was on the 1963 follow up album Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul. The album was inconsistent as Charles tried some pop oriented songs that didn't work but Busted reached #4 on the singles charts. The song was written by legendary country music songwriter Harlan Howard (I Fall To Pieces) and was originally recorded by Johnny Cash. That's probably where Charles heard it but he gives the song an unexpected jazz spin. His musical director Sid Feller wrote the arrangement. Charles had one more top ten hit in 1963 with Take These Chains From My Heart and then he went into a decline until returning to the top ten with Crying Time in 1966. His albums still did well and he was still a popular live draw but he was also having problem with cocaine and was arrested in 1965. This Rhino comp is mostly Atlantic songs but it has some ABC tracks like Busted and is a good intro for newcomers. Here's Ray Charles performing Busted in Europe 1982.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Song:Take The "A" Train
Album:Night Train: Classic Railroad Songs Vol. 3
Though mostly forgotten today, the smooth sound of the 40s vocal group The Delta Rhythm Boys was very influential on the doo wop of the 50s and then soul and R & B. They only had one top ten hit but appeared in several films at the time. They actually appeared in more films than the more famous Mills Brothers. The group started at Langston University in Oklahoma in 1934. They moved down to New Orleans in 1936 and after winning some talent contests, they moved to New York. They went through some personnel changes but the group we know from their 40s recordings consisted of Lee Gaines, Traverse Crawford, Kelsey Pharr, Carl Jones and pianist arranger Rene DeKnight. They appeared in Broadway shows in the late 30s including Hellzapoppin' and they also had a 15 minute radio show. They signed a contract with Universal Pictures in 1940 and appeared in films like You'll Never Get Rich & Follow The Boys. They were also regulars on the Amos 'n' Andy radio show and played Las Vegas in 1942. But they couldn't record because of the early 40s recording strike. That hurt them. This great version of Billy Strayhorn's classic Take The "A" Train was recorded in 1947 and still sounds great today. This Rounder Records various artists comp is part of a series linking trains to black music history. Check it out. The Delta Rhythm Boys continued to record in the 50s but their increased popularity in Europe encouraged them to move to Sweden in 1956. They continued to remain very popular there and continued until Lee Gaines died in 1987. This is a very infulential group and I think you'll enjoy this video of The Delta Rhythm Boys performing Take The "A" Train.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The other notable event on this show was the return to action of Dynamite Kansai. She's changed her appearance a bit so I've posted a pic so you can see for yourself. Kansai has vowed to get revenge on the Ozaki Army and take them out one at a time. I would buy that 15 years ago but today it's more likely that Kansai will end up humilated by Ozaki. Her first opponent is KAORU. KAORU uses the desk board and Takako Inoue & Manami Toyota try to help but Kansai double clotheslines them. Kansai kills KAORU and wins with the splash mountain at 1:20. The Ozaki Army attacks afterwards but Kansai brushes them off. In the other matches, Ran YuYu & AKINO defeated Sonoko Kato & Misae Genki in Genki's final OZ appearance in 20:41 when AKINO used the Aki Exploder on Kato. Takako Inoue & Manami Toyota defeated Aja Kong & Hiroyo Matsumoto at 15:10. Matsumoto got beat up early. Aja cleaned house with her metal can and a chair. But Ozaki and the Army interfered. Aja got her forehead busted open when a Takako stun gun shot knocked her face first into a curb. Another stun gun attack followed by Toyota's Japanese Ocean Queen Bee Bomb finished Aja. And Hiren won over Tomoka Nakagawa at 7:10 with Mika Nishio & Police's help. It's getting to be overkill now.
Song:Shame On You
Album:Spadella: The Essential Spade Cooley
Bob Wills may have invented the mix of country music and jazz known as Western Swing but for a couple of years in the 40s, Donell "Spade" Cooley was known as The King Of Western Swing. Shame On You was a #1 hit in 1945 and his signature song. Cooley would fade and later become notorious for murdering his wife. He was born Dec. 17, 1910 in Grand, OK. He came from a family of violinists and was playing professionally at eight years old with his father at square dances. The Spade nickname was because of his poker playing skills. Cooley moved to Los Angeles in 1930 and by the mid 30s he was acting in Republic Pictures westerns and was Roy Rogers' stand in. He also toured with Rogers and the Riders Of The Purple Sage. Cooley won a battle of the bands over Bob Wills at the Santa Monica Pier in the early 40s and dubbed himself King Of Western Swing. But Wills' music is much more diverse and based on country music traditions wheras Cooley's music is more mainstream. That's why Wills' music is more memorable today. But the turning point came when he added Jack "Tex" Williams (born Aug. 23, 1917 in Ramsey, IL.) as lead vocalist. This earned him a contract at Columbia's Okeh label and Shame On You was the first single. It was #1 on the country charts for nine weeks and was followed by a string of hits. The success of the group is probably what killed it. Cooley married backup singer Ella Mae Evans. Williams was the singer on all of Cooley's hits. He wanted more money or he would leave. Williams took a lot of the band and formed the Western Caravans in 1947. Cooley had a very popular TV show in Los Angeles for ten years. He continued to record in the 50s but public taste changed and he faded from view. Spade Cooley was an alcoholic and suffered a series of heart attacks. He also lost a lot of money on a proposed theme park in the Mojave Desert. Ella Mae left him in 1961 and during an argument on Apr. 3, he stomped her to death in front of their 14 year old daughter. Cooley was sentenced to life in prison and after performing at a sherriff's benefit show on Nov. 23, 1969, he died of a heart attack at age 58. This comp covers all his Okeh recordings. Dennis Quaid has written a biopic about Spade Cooley called Shame On You and plans to star & direct but there has been no news on the film since 2005 so it appears to be on hold. Here's a 1945 Warner Bros. short film called Spade Cooley: The King Of Western Swing.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Album:C.T. Gator Presents A Zydeco Dance Party!!
Queen Ida Guillory is a legend of Zydeco music and was the first female accordion player in Louisiana. Despite that, she has always been a part time musician. She was born Jan. 15, 1929 in Lake Charles, LA and learned the accordion from her mom. Ida became a bus driver when she started her family but her friends kept wanting her to play. She started playing music festivals in the mid 70s and eventually signed with GNP Crescendo Records. Her brothers Al Rapone & Willie Lewis are musicians. Her husband is her road manager and her son Myrick "Freeze" Guillory also plays accordion. She even won a Grammy for her 1982 album Queen Ida & The Bon Temps Zydeco Band In New Orleans. This version of Clifton Chenier's song Zydeco is from her 1989 CD Cookin' With Queen Ida which is also the title of her cookbook. I know that the cover of this GNP Crescendo various artists comp looks cheesy but it has artists like Clifton Chenier & Rockin' Dopsie on it and it sells for $4.99US. So it's actually a good intro for beginners. Queen Ida last recorded in 1999 but still tours today. Here's Queen Ida performing Zydeco on the New York TV show FX.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Song:It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day
Album:The Notorious Cherry Bombs
The Notorious Cherry Bombs are a country music super group side project led by two guys who are better known for their solo careers. That would be Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill. The group has been around since the 80s but this 2004 CD is their only recording. The roots of the group go back to the mid 70s when Crowell was a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band. When Crowell left to go solo in 1980, he took several members with him and called them The Cherry Bombs. The members were guitarist Vince Gill, steel guitarist Hank DeVito, bassist Emory Gordy Jr., guitarist Richard Bennett, keyboardist Tony Brown and drummer Larrie London. They backed up Crowell and then wife Roseanne Cash. When they split up, so did the group. Gill became a country superstar, Brown became a producer at MCA Records, Gordy married Patty Loveless and produced her music, London died in 1992 and DeVito & Bennett became session musicians. The Cherry Bombs reformed in 2003 for an ASCAP tribute to Crowell. They had so much fun they decided to record. They had to add the word Notorious for copyright reasons. DeVito & Bennett joined. Gordy & Brown didn't. Other musicians include John Hobbs on keyboards, Michael Rhodes on bass and Eddie Bayers on drums. The Notorious Cherry Bombs signed with Universal South and released this CD in 2004. It's Hard To Kiss... was the single and is a hilarious sendup of country music cliches. Crowell & Gill wrote the song and share lead vocals. The album appears to be a one off project as the group split up and they all went back to their individual careers. Crowell fans in particular should check out this album. Here's the video for It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day by The Notorious Cherry Bombs. Rodney Crowell & Vince Gill are hilarious in drag.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Album:The Best Of The Diamonds: The Mercury Years
The Diamonds were one of the most popular doo wop groups of the late 50s. They were known for covering black doo wop songs but The Stroll was an original song and was one of their two biggest hits. They were from Toronto led by lead singer Dave Somerville (born Oct. 2, 1933 in Guelph, ON). Somerville was working as a sound engineer at the CBC in Toronto in 1953 when he met a vocal group consisting of Stan Fisher, Ted Kowalski, Phil Levitt & Bill Reed. Fisher wasn't able to make a show due to a law exam so Somerville filled in and the crowd reaction was so strong, he took over as lead singer. In 1955, The Diamonds appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. This led to a contract with Coral Records that went nowhere. But it was enough to get the attention of Cleveland DJ Bill Randle and he got them a deal with Mercury Records. At the time, white radio stations wouldn't play black artists so record companies were looking for white groups to cover black doo wop songs. The Diamonds' biggest hit was Little Darlin' which was written by Maurice Williams and originally recorded by The Gladiolas. But the idea for The Stroll came from watching kids dance on American Bandstand. Veteran songwriter Clyde Otis wrote The Stroll and his partner Brook Benton produced it. It reached #4 on the pop charts and went gold. And a dance craze was born. The Diamonds had some additional hits until Somerville left in 1961. This comp covers all their Mercury recordings. Somerville became a folk singer and later took up acting and has done a lot of voice over work. Various versions of The Diamonds have toured the oldies circuit and Somerville has joined occasionally including this performance of The Stroll on the PBS Doo Wop 51 show.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Song:All The Things You Are
Album:Konitz Meets Mulligan
Most jazz fans will be familiar with baritone sax legend Gerry Mulligan and his part in the creation of Cool Jazz. But alto sax player Lee Konitz was right there with him and has had a long distinguished career in jazz. He was born Oct. 13, 1927 in Chicago. He started out playing clarinet as a child and as a young Jewish boy he was inspired to become a jazz musician by Benny Goodman. He bagan his music career in 1945 with Teddy Powell. But the key event in Konitz' career was when he met pianist Lennie Tristano in 1947. Tristano is considered one of the originators of Cool Jazz. Konitz met Gerry Mulligan while working for Claude Thornhill in 1947. This led to Konitz & Mulligan being part of the landmark Miles Davis recording Birth Of The Cool in 1950. Konitz made his recording debut as a leader in 1950 and then he worked for Stan Kenton. Konitz Meets Mulligan was recorded for Pacific Jazz in 1953. It's Konitz playing with Mulligan's quartet including Chet Baker on trumpet, Joe Mondragon on bass and Larry Bunker on drums. Blue Note released this on CD in 1988 with a bonus alternate take. The two worked together several times over the years. Lee Konitz currently records for the Italian Philology label and has released several CDs over the last couple of years. Lee Konitz is one of those musicians you might overlook but he is worth checking out. Here's Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer & Rob McConnell performing Walking Shoes in Europe.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Album:Whip It On
On the surface, The Ravenoettes seem like a new millenium recreation of a 60s garage band from a bunch of kids in suburban Los Angeles. But the group is actually from Copenhagen, Denmark and the concept of the band is very carefully calculated. Sune Rose Wagner moved to New York City in the mid 90s and attempted to put a band together. When that didn't work out, he returned to Copenhagen and got together with Sharin Foo and started The Raveonettes. The obvious influences include The Beatles but especially The Velvet Underground. They set up rules where all songs are less then three minutes long and have to be in the key of bminor. Whip It On was released in 2002 and the retro garage band sound got them enough attention to get a contract with Columbia and the opportunity to work with legendary punk producer Richard Gottehrer. The result was the 2003 album The Chain Gang Of Love. The combination of dark lyrics, the faux garage band sound and their film noirish videos got them some minor chart success. But not enough success to stick with a major label. The Raveonettes latest CD Lust, Lust, Lust was released by Vice Records on Feb. 2008. The Raveonettes are an interesting but minor group. Here's the video for Beat City by The Raveonettes. The video has been intentionally made to look like it was filmed by an amateur.
Monday, December 15, 2008
The Grateful Dead were a very significant band for several reasons but one of the most interesting developments was the increased popularity of the "live" album or more specifically, the bootleg live album. As I've said before, fans that followed the band around on tour were known as Deadheads. To reflect the counterculture nature of the band, they encouraged fans to record their concerts. LPs of these concerts started turning up in underground record stores. This underground market held up very well through the 80s. If you go through the Grateful Dead catalog, there are literally dozens of live recordings. Of course this became a headache for Warner Bros. So Europe '72 was the third official live release by The Grateful Dead. It was released as a three record set recorded at various points of their European tour. The album reached #12 on the pop album charts so obviously it was very successful. This was the first Grateful Dead tour for Keith & Donna Godchaux and the last for Ron "Pigpen" McKernan as he died soon after. Warners rereleased Europe '72 in 2003 with some bonus tracks and some additional bonus tracks are on The Golden Road box set. Sugar Magnolia is one of the Dead's most popular songs. It was written by Bob Weir & Robert Hunter. Weir sings lead and he apparently wrote it about his girlfriend. It was originally on the 1970 album American Beauty. The Grateful Dead were certainly one of the most consistent live draws in music history. Here's The Grateful Dead performing Sugar Magnolia at Winterland in San Francisco New Year's Day 1979.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Song:The World Is Falling Down
Album:Abbey Sings Abbey
Abbey Lincoln is one of the all time great jazz singers. At age 78, she is still fabulous. Abbey Sings Abbey is her latest CD. She was born Anna Marie Woolridge Aug. 6, 1930 in Chicago. She started out in supper clubs performing as Anna Marie, Gaby Lee & Gaby Woolridge before settling on Abbey Lincoln. She first recorded with sax player Benny Carter in 1956 and performed a song in the 1957 film The Girl Can't Help It. But there were two key figures to Abbey Lincoln's development as an artist. First, she idolized and emulated Billie Holiday's vocal style. The other major influence was drummer Max Roach. He helped her develop her songwriting and song selection talents. They were married from 1962-70. Abbey concentrated on acting in the 60s and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the 1968 film For The Love Of Ivy starring Sidney Poitier. Abbey returned to music in the 70s and has been recording for Verve Records since 1990. Abbey Sings Abbey was released in May 2007. On this CD, Abbey records new versions of some of her own compositions including The World Is Falling Down. The album was produced by veteran producer Jean-Philippe Allard and focuses on Abbey's vocals with a very sparse band. Abbey Lincoln still performs regularly in New York clubs and sounds great. Her music is worth checking out. Here's the video for People In Me by Abbey Lincoln.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Song:Going To Mississippi
Album:Anything Can Happen
Hard charging guitarist Magic Slim is one of today's top blues artists. He's been recording for Blind Pig Records since 1990. He was born Morris Holt Aug. 7, 1937 in Torrence, MS. He learned to play piano as a child but lost his little finger in a cotton gin accident and took up the guitar. The family moved to Grenada, MS and Holt hung out with legendary guitarist Magic Sam. When Holt moved to Chicago in 1955, Sam helped him get established and even gave him his name. Morris Holt was now Magic Slim. The blues is a tough business in Chicago but Slim eventually established himself. But things really took off for him when he started playing music festivals in Europe in the 70s. He recorded for various European labels in the 80s until he signed with Blind Pig in 1990. Anything Can Happen is a live CD/DVD released in 2005 and is typical of Magic Slim's energetic blues sound. His latest CD Midnight Blues was released in Sept. 2008 and includes guest appearances by James Cotton, Little Ed, Lonnie Brooks, Otis Clay & Elvin Bishop. Magic Slim is recommended to fans of Chicago Blues guitar. Here's Magic Slim & The Teardrops performing Going To Mississippi from the Anything Can Happen DVD.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Song:Make Your Own Kind Of Music
Album:The Best Of The Mamas & The Papas:20th Century Masters:The Millenium Collection
Of course The Mamas & The Papas were a very successful mid 60s pop group. But as they started to have internal conflict and as they came closer to splitting up, Dunhill Records owner Lou Adler started to think about the four as potential solo artists. Mama Cass Elliott had the most success. She was born Ellen Naomi Cohen Sept. 19, 1941 in Baltimore. Apparently she adopted the name Cass from actress Peggy Cass and the name Elliott from a deceased friend. Obviously with her big voice and her unusual look, Cass was a big part of the Mamas & The Papas success. Her first single in 1968 was Dream A Little Dream Of Me. It was supposed to be a Mamas & The Papas song but the group split up and Adler decided to release it as a Mama Cass solo single. It reached #12 on the pop charts and the album reached #87 on the album charts. Her 1969 follow up album Bubblegum, Lemonade, And...Something For Mama struggled so Dunhill released Make Your Own Kind Of Music as a single and then renamed and rereleased that album with Make Your Own Kind Of Music added on. The song was written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and reached #36 on the pop charts. It seems odd to find it on a Mamas & The Papas comp. You might want to try the 1997 comp Dream A Little Dream: The Cass Elliott Collection. This was her final top 40 hit though she did have some success with an album she recorded with Dave Mason. Elliott continued to perform and started acting. Her obesity seems to have been a factor in her death of a heart attack on July 29, 1974 at age 32 after performing at the London Palladium. There were reports that she died while eating a ham sandwich but that was proven to be untrue. Mama Cass Elliott was another very good singer who died way too young. Here's Mama Cass Elliott performing Make Your Own Kind Of Music on the Hollywood Palace TV show in 1969.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Song:Break In The Storm
Album:Break In The Storm
This 1998 CD was the major label debut and breakthrough CD for the alt country group The Great Divide. It did well on the country charts but the group never was able to repeat that and they are now disbanded. The Great Divide were part of the Red Dirt music scrne in Oklahoma. The lead singer, lead guitarist and main songwriter was Mike McClure. The group was formed in Stillwater,OK in 1992. other members were rhythm guitarist Scottie Lester, bassist Kelley Green and drummer JJ Lester. After opening up for other country acts and releasing an independent CD in 1994, The Great Divide signed with Atlantic Records and released Break In The Storm in 1998. The album reached #69 on the country album charts. It was produced by veteran producer Lloyd Maines and McClure wrote most of the songs. Their 1999 follow up CD Revolutions didn't do as well. The group was unhappy with Atlantic's promotional attempts and asked to be released from their contract. They released a couple of albums on Broken Bow Records but were unhappy there as well. Mike McClure left The Great Divide in 2003 and was replaced by Micah Allis but the group wasn't as good and split up after releasing one more CD in 2005. Mike McClure has released some solo albums and is also producing groups including Cross Canadian Ragweed. JJ Lester has also gone into production. Break In The Storm is recommended to country fans. Here's the video for Pour Me A Vacation by The Great Divide.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Song:Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing) Parts 1 & 2
Album:The Fabulous Swing Collection
Benny Goodman was The King Of Swing and ushered in the Swing Era of the late 30s. But he was also an inportant figure in the integration of black and white musicians in jazz. He was born May 30, 1909 in Chicago. He learned to play clarinet in the synagogue and by age 14 had quit school to become a professional musician. He first recorded in the Ben Pollock band in 1925 and then moved to New York in 1929 and played many sessions. Goodman signed with Columbia in 1934 and had several hits until switching to RCA/Bluebird in 1935. It was in 1935 that Goodman would record this version of Sing, Sing, Sing. The song would become more popular as a result of his landmark 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. This various artists comp on RCA is a very good intro to swing for beginners. As I said, Benny Goodman was likely the first bandleader to have an integrated band. He used singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and also featured black musicians like Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson & Charlie Christian. And musicians like Gene Krupa & Harry James also became famous with his band. Despite increased competition from watered down swing bands like Glenn Miller & The Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman continued to maintain his popularity through World War II. Goodman's run ended when bebop emerged. He never tried to adjust and just continued to play in the same dated style. Benny Goodman toured and recorded until his death on June 13, 1986 at age 77. Here's the Benny Goodman Orchestra featuring Gene Krupa, Harry James, Lionel Hampton & Teddy Wilson performing Sing, Sing, Sing in the 1937 film Hollywood Hotel.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I have video from both TNA Knockout matches from Sunday's Final Resolution because both matches represent ludicrous booking and I want to comment on both. Awesome Kong's defense of the TNA Knockout Title against Christy Hemme is really bad and things are going to get worse. TNA is struggling trying to book a credible challenger for Kong to the point where a rumour surfaced that they're thinking of bringing someone over from Japan. ODB, Taylor & Roxxie have been booked so poorly that they're just not credible anymore. So what do they do? They decide to build up Christy Hemme over two weeks by saying that she's training with AJ Styles and of course she gets a win over Raisha Saeed to get a title shot. The only way this booking works is if Christy really has improved. But based on this match it's clear that after four years in the wrestling business, Christy still doesn't have a clue what to do in the ring. And the ending of this match is lame beyond belief. Who's buying this baloney? The other match had the Beautiful People & Sharmell vs Taylor Wilde, ODB & Roxxi. The story is Sharmell has been talking trash to ODB but can't back it up in the ring. The focus of the match has Sharmell avoiding getting in the ring until she runs away at the end of the match. It's just ridiculous. Sharmell doesn't even pretend to be a wrestler anymore so why involve her in this angle? It makes no sense and the match suffers because TNA does things in a half assed backwards manner. I want Scott D'Amore back. Check out the videos.
Song:Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Around this time of year I always get asked about Christmas albums. I always tell folks to stay away from mainstream pop artists trying to sing Christmas songs. They always seem to come across as pandering. I always tell folks to buy a Christmas album by a gospel artist because they sing about God all year round. Mary Mary's Christmas album from a few years ago is a good choice. Jazz Christmas albums are good too because a lot of those musicians can put a new spin on any song. But this 2008 release is this year's must have Christmas album and it's good enough that you'll listen to it throughout the year. Of course I've talked about Ledisi Young before. She's a fabulous R & B singer songwriter from Oakland, CA who made a very big splash with her Verve debut CD Lost & Found. This new CD It's Christmas is every bit as good as the first one. Ledisi is simply a masterful performer and a mesmerizing vocalist. Again she works with producer Rex Rideout on several covers of Christmas classics including this wonderful version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, What Are You Doing New Year's Eve, What A Wonderful World, Please Come Home For Christmas & Silent Night. She also does a few original songs and does a song with the great gospel artist Richard Smallwood. So It's Christmas by Ledisi is the one Christmas album to get this year. In this Electronic Press Kit, Ledisi talks about why she recorded a Christmas album. You gotta go out and get this one.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Song:The Will Of God
When one has been observing the music business as long as I have, there is very little that is going to be very surprising. So I wanted to share one of those moments with you today. It was the day in 1997 when I heard 10 year old Kierra "Kiki" Sheard sing with her mom. Of course her mom is Karen Clark-Sheard of The Clark Sisters and one of the all time great singers. When Karen recorded her 1997 debut Finally Karen, some of it was done in the studio but part of it was recorded live with Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers. The Clark Sisters made a guest appearance but the biggest splash was when Karen brought out her 10 year old daughter Kierra to sing The Will Of God. Now normally I don't like child singers because their voices aren't fully developed and their voices are thin. This was an exception. Kierra tore the house down and then Karen took her on tour and they appeared on TV together several times. Even at 10 years old, Kierra is simply amazing. And today she's one of the top stars in gospel music. She's had two best selling CDs on EMI Gospel and is currently working on a new one. Also, I recently saw Kierra on Bobby Jones Gospel and she's lost a ton of weight. So while waiting for her next CD, I want you to watch this video of Karen Clark-Sheard and Kierra "Kiki" Sheard performing The Will Of God and marvel at the vocal power of this ten year old girl. It's a true WTF moment.