Saturday, July 31, 2010
Album:Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968
Here is another psychedelic obscurity from the 60s that has been kept alive by Rhino's 4CD Nuggets comp. Also, Mr. Pharmacist was covered by the British punk band The Fall. The Other Half only recorded one album and Mr. Pharmacist is probably the only song that will interest anyone. The Other Half featured guitarist Randy Holden, one of the great cult figures of psychedelic music. He's best known for his short stint with the late 60s band Blue Cheer. He seemed to bounce around a lot of bands. He started out with a surf music band called Fender IV. They released two singles and changed their name to Sons Of Adam. They were more of a British Invasion influenced band. They only released one single but they opened for The Rolling Stones in Long Beach. Word about Holden reached Keith Relf and he asked Holden to replace Jeff Beck in The Yardbirds. But instead Holden joined The Other Half. Jeff Nolan was lead singer along with Geoff Westen on guitar, Larry Brown on bass and Danny Woody on drums. They moved to San Francisco and recorded a few singles including Mr. Pharmacist. But Holden was unhappy and left after they recorded their only album in 1968. The album is available on CD but Mr. Pharmacist is on the Nuggets box set. Mr. Pharmacist was covered by the British punk band The Fall. Holden replaced Leigh Stephens in Blue Cheer but left after appearing on their 1969 album New! Improved! Blue Cheer. He then attempted to start his own band Population II but the album was never released. Holden declared bankruptcy and quit the music business. He returned in the 90s and currently records on his own label. Here's a video for Mr. Pharmacist by The Other Half.
Friday, July 30, 2010
As you may have heard already, joshi puroresu legend Manami Toyota is coming to the US for the first time for Chikara Pro. She will be working the Sept. 18 Baltimore show and the Sept. 19 Brooklyn show. I understand the fanboy worship reaction to this. But it certainly would have meant a lot more fifteen years ago. It's not such a big deal today. My problem is that Chikara Pro is using fifteen year old video clips to promote her. Of course joshi fans know that Toyota isn't 25 anymore. She's 40. She doesn't look like that anymore. She's heavier. And she doesn't do the same things anymore. So the clips are deceptive because there are fans who aren't familiar with her and expect to see the Manami Toyota in these clips. They will be disappointed. Manami is still a good wrestler but she's not who she used to be. It's not fair to her to use fifteen year old clips when there is plenty of recent video footage out there that more accurately portrays her current performance. Chikara should change the clips. Check it out for yourself.
Song:Down To Zero
Singer songwriter Joan Armatrading was a much bigger star in her native England than she ever was in North America. Her music is a mix of various styles but she seems to be most effective when she bases her music in folk styles. She loses her way when she tries to expand that. I prefer her music from the 70s. She was born Dec. 9, 1950 in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and moved with her family to Birmingham, England at the age of 8. She started writing songs as a teen and moved to London in the early 70s to perform in a repertory production of the stage musical Hair. It was here that she met lyricist Pam Nestor and the two started writing together. They recorded the album Whatever's For Us for Cube Records in 1972 but the label decided that Joan had star potential and released it as a Joan Armatrading album. This caused the two to split. Joan signed with A & M Records in 1975 and released Back To The Night. On that album, she worked with singer Elkie Brooks and her producer husband Pete Gage. When it didn't chart, A & M assigned her to legendary producer Glyn Johns and the 1976 album Joan Armatrading went Gold in the UK and the single Love And Affection reached #10 on the singles chart. Many of the songs from that album including Down To Zero have become staples in Joan's live show. And as I said, she never had the same success in the US but that album reached #67 on the Billboard Hot 200. She had her biggest chart success in 1980 with the more pop oriented album Me Myself I and she continued to have success through the 80s especially in England. But in the early 90s, she faded and left A & M for RCA. She recorded one album in 1995 and didn't return until 2003. She currently records for Savoy Jazz and released This Charming Life in Mar. 2010. This 1996 comp is a good intro to her music. Joan Armatrading was awarded the Ivor Novello award in 1996 for her body of work. Here's the video for Down To Zero by Joan Armatrading.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Song:Take A Heart
Album:The British Invasion: The History Of British Rock, Vol. 4
The Sorrows were a British Invasion band that never really made it out of England. Take A Heart was their only hit in England and then things fell apart and they actually went to Italy. The Sorrows were from Coventry, England led by lead singer Don Fardon along with lead guitarist Pip Witcher, rhythm guitarist Pez Price, bassist Phil Packham and drummer Bruce Finley. They signed with the Piccadilly subsidiary of Pye Records in 1965. Take A Heart was their third single and it reached #21 on the British singles chart. Their other singles and only album flopped. And they were never released in the US. Take A Heart was written by producer Miki Dallon and originally recorded by The Boys Four. The Sorrows sound pretty good so I'm not sure why they didn't catch on. The Sorrows recordings are available on the British label Sequel Records but Take A Heart is on this various artists comp series from Rhino either as a single CD or a box set. Don Fardon left The Sorrows and had a solo hit with his cover of Indian Reservation. It reached #3 in England and #20 in the US in 1967. He still records occasionally. Phil Packham also left and Price took over the bass. Witcher became the lead singer and guitarist Roger Lomas was brought in. The Sorrows were invited to tour Italy and were so well received that they moved there and had some success. They split up in 1969. Roger Lomas has had success as a producer of ska bands like Bad Manners and has worked with Lee "Scratch" Perry. Here's The Sorrows performing Take A Heart on the German TV show Big Beat 1966.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Song:Ev'rything I've Got
With her girlish voice and sophisticated jazz style, Blossom Dearie was one of the most durable voices in jazz until her death last year. But the question that is a always asked is Blossom Dearie her real name. Yup and she was born Apr. 28, 1924 in East Durham, NY which is in the Catskills. She studied piano as a child but switched to jazz as a teen and then moved to New York City to persue a career in music. She was in groups like The Blue Flames and The Blue Reys before moving to Paris in 1952 to form The Blue Stars Of Paris with longtime collaborator Bob Dorough. They had a hit in France in 1954 with Lullaby Of Birdland. Blossom recorded her first solo album for Barclay in 1956 but it was a solo piano record. Verve Records owner Norman Granz saw her perform in Paris and signed her to a contract and brought her back to the US. Ev'rything I've Got is from her 1957 Verve debut album Blossom Dearie featuring Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass and Jo Jones on drums. The song was written by Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart for the 1942 Broadway show By Jupiter. Blossom has probably recorded the definitive version of this song and Verve released this on CD in 1993 with three bonus tracks. Blossom was a big favourite of Today Show host Dave Garroway and he had her on the show frequently. She left Verve in 1961 and recorded for Capitol and Fontana in the 60s. She even recorded an album for Hires Root Beer after a very successful jingle. Blossom started her own Daffodil label in 1974 and recorded for many years and continued to perform in New York clubs until her death on Feb. 7, 2009 at age 84. Here's Blossom Dearie with pianist Billy Taylor performing Ev'rything I've Got on Taylor's TV series Jazz Counterpoint 1985.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Shoot Boxing held a press conference yesterday to promote the upcoming Girls S-Cup tournament. One of the first round matchups announced is RENA vs Hisae Watanabe. And that's what this video is about. It's mostly the two of them yakking at each other. The two were supposed to face each other in April but RENA suffered a broken finger. VALKYRIE Lightwight Champ V Hajime and Shoot Boxing regular Ai Takahashi also spoke but they were overshadowed by the other two. Shoot Boxing also announced that veteran pro wrestler Nanae Takahashi will appear on the show. They didn't name an opponent but JEWELS MMA fighter HIROKO is on this show and she's a good size match for Takahashi. Despite what some uninformed fans might think, Shoot Boxing is NOT MMA. What is it? Do you ever watch MMA with someone who doesn't like grappling? Shoot Boxing is supposed to be Standing Vale Tudo. But the only difference between Shoot Boxing and standard kickboxing is throws can be used to score points. But there's no ground work. It's mostly striking. Fortunately for Shoot Boxing owner Takeshi Caesar, his top attraction is the very attractive 19 year old RENA. Combine that with Hisae Watanabe's charisma and sex appeal and they're going to get a lot of attention anywhere. Imagine the kind of attention JEWELS would get with a match like that. The other thing of interest is a couple of third graders trained by Fuuka will appear in an exhibition. So now the speculation begins about Fuuka possibly returning to joshi puroresu. She said on her blog not to jump the gun but she also acknowledged the possibility of starting her own promotion next year. I'll keep an eye on that.
Song:Gainesville Rock City
Album:Borders & Boundaries
Less Than Jake started out as a standard power pop group and with some personnel changes and the addition of horns veered into ska territory. They've had their fling with major labels but seem more comfortable on their own label. They started out in high school in Port Charlotte, FL as Good Grief. The group split up when lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Demakes and drummer Vinnie Fiorello moved to Gainesville to attend the University Of Florida and bassist Shaun Grief moved to New York. The two started writing together and met bassist Roger Manganelli. Less Than Jake was born. The band name is about Fiorello's dog Jake being treated better than the rest of the family. They were big fans of the British punk band Snuff so they wanted to add a horn section. They added sax players Jessica Mills and Derron Nuhfer and trombonist Buddy Schaub. They released a couple of EPs and finally released their debut CD Pezcore on Dill Records. This earned them a contract with Capitol Records and they released their major label debut Losing Streak in 1996. Less Than Jake was doing well touring with other ska punk bands but marketing disagreements forced them to buy out their contract in 1998. Gainesville Rock City is from their 2000 CD Borders & Boundaries on Fat Wrcek Chords and the song has turned out to be quite the anthem for the band. They had some other personnel changes including the addition of sax player Pete Wasilewski from the ska band Spring Heeled Jack USA. Borders & Boundaries is currently available as a budget release. They again signed with a major label and the 2003 CD Anthem was on Sire Records. It was their most successful CD but they were unhappy and left in 2007. They now have their own label and their latest CD GNV FLA was released in 2008. Less Than Jake still tours and they are planning a new CD in 2011. Here's the video for Gainesville Rock City by Less Than Jake.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Song:The Whole World Is A Stage
Album:Beg Scream & Shout: The Big 'Ol Box of '60s Soul
The Fantastic Four had their biggest success with the top ten R & B hit The Whole World Is A Stage in 1967. Though their 60s recordings are owned by Motown, they're not really a Motown group and their recordings have not been treated well by Motown. But they were from Detroit led by "Sweet" James Epps along with brothers Ralph and Joseph Pruitt and Wallace Childs. Ralph Pruitt and Childs left and were replaced by Cleveland Horne and Ernest Newsome. They signed with Golden World Records and recorded for their Ric-Tic label in 1967. Ed Wingate started Golden World in 1962 and it appears that he signed acts that Motown didn't want. Their biggest hit was probably the 1964 hit Just Like Romeo & Juliet by The Reflections. Wingate also discovered Edwin Starr. The Whole World Is A Stage was The Fantastic Four's first single and it reached #6 on the R & B Singles chart. You Gave Me Something reached #12 on the R & B Singles chart. Then Motown bought Golden World mainly to get Edwin Starr but also to acquire Golden World's recording studio. The Fantastic Four were bigger than Starr at the time but Motown didn't do much with them. The Fantastic Four returned in the 70s with some disco hits on Westbound and continued to record occasionally until both Cleveland Horne and James Epps died in 2000. Motown did release a Fantastic Four comp years ago but it's out of print and the only place you can get The Whole World Is A Stage is on Rhino's 6CD box set Beg Scream & Shout. You would think the song would turn up on Motown various artists comps but it hasn't. Too bad because it's a pretty good song. Here's a video of The Whole World Is A Stage by The Fantastic Four.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Song:Last Time Around
Album:Garage Rock Classics
To avoid confusion, there were two groups called The Del-Vetts. There was a girl group in the 50s who recorded a couple of singles. Last Time Around was a top 30 hit by this garage band from Chicago. They started out in 1963 led by singer guitarist Jim Lauer along with guitarist Lester Goldboss, bassist Bob Good and drummer Paul Wade. They started out as a surf cover band and built a following in Chicago. In 1965, producer Bill Traut signed them and released a cover of Little Latin Lupe Lu on his Seeburg label. Traut became a partner in Dunwich Records and brought The Del-Vetts with him. By this time, Good became the guitarist, Jack Burchall was on bass and Roger Deatherage was on drums. They recorded Last Time Around in 1966 and it topped the local charts and was a national top 30 hit. It has a really good guitar track obviously influenced by The Yardbirds. When the follow up single flopped, The Del-Vetts changed their name to The Pride and Joy and went for a softer rock sound. But changes at Dunwich forced the band to leave and sign with Dot Records. When the single We Got a Long Way to Go flopped, The Pride and Joy split up in 1968. Like a lot of psychedelia, Last Time Around has been kept alive by the Nuggets comps. But this 2004 comp from Varese called Garage Rock Classics is a good single CD intro for beginners. Sundazed has released The Del-Vetts recordings on vinyl only. Reports indicate that The Del-Vetts leader Jim Lauer has been confined to a mental institution for years. Here's a video for The Del-Vetts garage band classic Last Time Around.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Here's the match video from last night's Strikeforce show with Sarah Kaufman successfully defending her Strikeforce 135lb Championship against Roxanne Modafferi. Sarah won at the end of round three with a powerbomb worthy of Awesome Kong. The match was very close until that point but Roxy made a very serious error. Roxy actually won round one marginally. She was able to tie up Sarah for most of the round. She even took her down once but really didn't do anything with her. Some think ref Anthony Hamlett stood them up too quickly and that may be true. But I don't think it mattered much. You can hear him warn Roxy and then he stood them up. It's doubtful that 30 more seconds would have made any difference. Sarah has a lot of strength even in that situation and Roxy may have been concerned about a reversal. She needed to be more active. Sarah won round two with a lot of punches and they did a lot of clinching against the fence that was mostly a wash. This continued in round three. The match was still even. But Roxy tried to take Sarah down and then attempted to hook an armbar. But Sarah saw an opening, picked Roxy up and threw her on her back. Roxy was out cold. It was a KO. They called it a body slam but that was an Awesome Kong worthy powerbomb. Sometimes it only takes one mistake. So it looks like Sarah will get her wish and graduate to the main Strikeforce shows. Now they have a Sarah Kaufman highlight to play a million times. Marloes Coenen will be her next opponent. Marloes was supposed to drop to 135 for the upcoming tournament but decided against it. It appears she is only dropping to 135 for this match at Scott Coker's request. Remember Marloes has never fought at 135. Like a lot of Strikeforce's matchmaking, it doesn't make much sense. We'll see what happens. Enjoy the video!
Song:Wichita Vortex Sutra
Album:Best Of Philip Glass
Philip Glass is one of the most renowned of 20th century classical composers. His music is sometimes descibed as minimalist but Glass calls it music with repetitive structures. He has written in all different kinds of formats. Wichita Vortex Sutra is a solo piano piece that Glass normally performs himself. He was born Jan. 31, 1937 in Baltimore. His father owned a record store so he was obviously exposed to classical music at an early age. He attended Julliard in the mid 50s with another renowned composer Steve Reich and moved to Paris in the mid-60s to study with composition teacher Nadia Boulanger. While there he worked in experimental theatre and then spent some time in India in 1966 and became interested in Buddhism. He moved to New York in 1967 and started composing while operating a moving company. He worked a lot in this period with fellow minimalist composer Steve Reich though they parted ways in 1971. Glass composed his first opera Einstein On The Beach in 1976. And so he continued to compose all different types of music and would perform a lot of it himself. But what has probably got Glass more exposure than anything is his film compositions especially the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi. He has been nominated for three Oscars and won a Golden Globe for the 1999 film The Truman Show. Wichita Vortex Sutra is a solo piano piece first written and performed in 1988 on an album of solo piano pieces. Glass apparently wrote it as a tribute to The Beat Poets of the 50s and legendary poet Allen Ginsburg has even written words for the song. It's on this 2CD comp released by Sony Germany in 2007 to commemorate Glass' 70th birthday. It's a good place to start for beginners. Philip Glass continues to be active mostly composing chamber music and orchestral works. It doesn't look like he is slowing down anytime soon. Here's Philip Glass performing Wichita Vortex Sutra in Lawrence, KS 1996.
Friday, July 23, 2010
|Saori Ishioka, Sakura Nomura|
Here is part 2 of Casey Leydon's video journal chronicling Sarah Kaufman and Roxanne Modafferi leading up to tonight's fight. Just enjoy as it speaks for itself though I doubt that Sarah has ever ballooned to 185. I think she was joking. It ends with Mauro Ranallo's fight analysis.
Song:That's All Right
Album:The Secret History Of Rock & Roll: When The Sun Goes Down, Vol. 7: Rock Me Mamma
Bluesman Arthur"Big Boy" Crudup's claim to fame is that a truck driver named Elvis Presley went into the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis and recorded a cover of Crudup's 1946 song That's All Right as his first recording in 1954. It was called That's All Right Mama but the song title is actually That's All Right. Crudup recorded for RCA's Bluebird label in the 40s. He was born Aug. 24, 1905 in Forest, MS and was a migrant worker and performed on the side. He moved to Chicago in 1940 and supposedly Bluebird Records producer Lester Melrose found him living in a crate under The L. So he gave him some money and hired him to perform at a party at Tampa Red's house. This resulted in a record contract. Crudup had several hits in the 40s including Rock Me Mama, Who's Been Fooling You and Keep Your Arms Around Me. He recorded That's All Right in 1946 but it wasn't a hit. The song would only become popular later when Elvis covered it. He remained at Bluebird until 1954 despite constant battles over songwriting royalties. Crudup didn't think much of being labeled The Father of Rock & Roll and he used to call Elvis Presley "Elvin Preston". Of course that's because he felt he was cheated out of those royalties. Crudup would record occasionally but mostly worked as a labourer in Virginia while unsuccessfully suing to obtain the rights to his songs. He died on Mar. 28, 1974 at age 68. You can get his Bluebird recordings on this comp. Crudup was not a great guitarist but he was a very good singer. Here's a video that contains Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's recording of That's All Right and Elvis Presley's recording of That's All Right Mama.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
So we've got this title fight coming up tomorrow with Sarah Kaufman vs Roxanne Modafferi but you wouldn't know it by Strikeforce's poor attempts to promote. Showtime released a minute long Sarah Kaufman highlight reel and that's it. It's not a new problem but it's not acceptable. Fortunately, Sherdog released the Roxy in Japan video yesterday and today Casey Leydon of MMA Fighting has released a first day in Everett video featuring both fighters. And the main feature of the video is it emphasizes the presonality differences of the two fighters. I know both of them but most fans don't know them and this offers the opprtunity to get to know them better. But shouldn't Strikeforce be doing videos like this.
Of course when we think of The Miracles, we think of Smokey Robinson and all the great hits of the 60s. But Love Machine was their biggest hit and that came after Robinson left the group to go solo. Robinson announced his departure in 1971 and after a farewell tour, he made his final appearance as a Miracle on July 16, 1972 in Washington. Robinson had told Ronald White, Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers and guitarist Marv Tarplin he planned to leave in 1969. But he decided to stay when Tears Of A Clown became a big hit. At the end of the farewell concert, Robinson announced that Billy Griffin would be the new lead singer of The Miracles and a complete episode of The Midnight Special was dedicated to the new group. Griffin is from Baltimore and was one of many singers who auditioned for this gig. BTW, Tarplin went with Robinson. Robinson produced their 1973 album Renaissance but it didn't seem to catch on. Many music industry pundits and music fans were skeptical of Griffin's abilities. But Robinson thought that Griffin had potential not only as a singer but as a songwriter. So he put The Mircales together with producer Freddie Perren. Perren was part of The Corporation who produced Jackson 5 albums. The 1974 hit Do It Baby reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. But The Miracles really hit it big with the 1976 album City Of Angels and the number one smash hit Love Machine. Perren was still producing but Griffin and Moore wrote all the songs. And it turned out to be the biggest hit ever for The Miracles. But then they left Motown for Columbia and after two disappointing albums, Griffin left to go solo. This British comp concentrates on The Miracles post-Smokey Robinson hits. Billy Griffin remained at Columbia and recorded a few albums. He also founded Motorcity Records with Ian Levine, produced The Pasadenas and produced the debut album of British boy band Take That. The various members of The Miracles reunite occasionally. Here's The Miracles performing Love Machine on Soul Train 1976.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
So if you've ever wondered what it's like for Roxanne Modafferi to live in Japan, here's a video from Sherdog's Tony Loiseleur that will give you a better idea. Why is it called Part 2? Part one was produced in 2007 around the time of the K-Grace tournament. I posted it on the blog at the time if you want to go searching for it. When I speak to gaijin fighters and pro wrestlers after they have been to Japan, the main thing they tell me is that the food in Japan is weird. Even KFC doesn't really taste like KFC. So you'll get a sense of the weird food. It's the same thing for Japanese fighteers who go abroad. When pro wrestler Ayumi Kurihara recently went to Mexico, she couldn't eat the food. And she doesn't need to go on a diet. And Roxy talks a bit about her strategy for Friday's fight against Sarah Kaufman. She needs to take Sarah down and keep her there and watch for Sarah's striking. And she can't let it go the distance but Sarah is very tough and will be hard to finish. Enjoy the video.
Song:The Long Cut
Album:89/93: An Anthology
In retrospect, Uncle Tupelo turned out to be a very important link to rock and country and were pioneers in what is now called Alt Country. The problem was they split up just as they were getting some mainstream attention in the mid-90s. Uncle Tupelo was from Belleville, IL which is near St. Louis. Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy attended high school together. In the early 80s, Farrar and his brothers had a band called The Plebes. Tweedy joined the band and then Mike Heidorn replaced Farrar's brother. They changed their name to The Primitives. Farrar's brother Wade was the lead singer. But he left to go to school and the band continued as a trio and renamed themselves Uncle Tupelo after a comic strip that a friend had drawn. The band's music was a mix of rock and country. They were big punk fans but country music was more popular in their area and Farrar liked that kind of music. They released a couple of CDs independently until they finally signed with Sire Records in 1992. But Heidorn wasn't prepared to make a full time commitment and he was replaced by Ken Coomer. They also added bassist John Stirrat and dobro player Max Johnston. The Long Cut is from their 1993 major label debut Anodyne. But by the time the CD was released, Farrar and Tweedy weren't getting along and Farrar left Uncle Tupelo in Jan. 1994. They made one final TV appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and it was all over. This 2002 comp from Sony Legacy is an excellent intro to their music. Tweedy immediately took over Uncle Tupelo and changed the name to Wilco. Farrar started his new band Son Volt. Both guys are still making great music but it all started with Uncle Tupelo. Here's the video for The Long Cut by Uncle Tupelo.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
So who's in this tournament? Japanese veteran Hitomi Akano will face Miesha Tate and Brazilian Carina Damm will face Maiju Kujala from Finland. And don't forget Scott Coker said two weeks ago he was going to do a random draw the day of the show. Ooops! Meisha replaced Marloes Coenen. Marloes was supposed to drop to 135 but her camp have decided not to do that. I always thought it was strange that she would want to do that because she has never fought at 135. I thought Miesha should have been in the tournament anyway. Kujala won that European Upcoming Glory tournament a few months ago. Damm normally fights at 125 and she turned down Bellator's offer to be in the 115lb tournament. Of course she's a big deal in Brazil but since she was suspended in the US a couple of years ago, she hasn't fought top competition in Brazil. She's a big question mark especially at the heavier weight. So the concept of this tournament is it is supposed to be for title contending prospects. I like Hitomi Akano. But she's not a prospect anymore and really doesn't belong in this tournament. So why is she in it? Because Strikeforce owes her one from the Cyborg fiasco. There were plans to bring Akano in last fall but it didn't happen. Obviously Rin Nakai fits the prospect definition and would have been a better choice. So this might turn out OK but I doubt it will have the impact it would have if done properly. But that is Strikeforce's motto. Why do something properly if you can save time by doing it half assed? When writers criticize Strikeforce, the number one criticism is that they are small time operators trying unsuccessfully to be big time operators. Scott Coker seems like a nice guy but lacks vision. And the booking of this tournament is another example of that deficiency.
Song:I Need You
The Rationals were a regional favourite in Michigan in the mid-60s but if a record company got behind them and really pushed them, they had potential to be much bigger. But by the time they released their only album in 1970, they had split up. You can get all their singles on this 2CD comp from Big Beat UK. The Rationals were from Ann Arbor, MI which later brought us MC5 and The Stooges. Scott Morgan was the lead singer and guitarist along with Steve Correll on guitar, Terry Trabandt on bass and Bill Figg on drums. They played local clubs in 1964 and were spotted by Jeep Holland and he became their manager and started A2 Records to record them. Their cover of Otis Redding's Respect was a big enough hit regionally that Cameo-Parkway picked it up for distribution. Several more singles followed including this cover of The Kinks song I Need You. But The Rationals never could seem to break nationally. I Need You has become a big favourite because it was on Rhino's Nuggets box set. The Rationals moved to Capitol but nothing really changed. Things started to go sour when Morgan was offered the lead singer gig with Blood, Sweat & Tears. The band squabbled and split up in 1969 and then their only album was released in 1970. Morgan started Guardian Angel with his brother David on drums. Then he formed Sonic's Rendezvous Band with Fred "Sonic" Smith of MC5 and Scott Asheton of The Stooges. He's had several other bands over the years and has also reformed The Rationals occasionally. Their music is good enough that The Rationals probably deserved a better fate than regional obscurity. Here's a video for I Need You by The Rationals.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Song:Boogaloo Down Broadway
Album:In Yo' Face: The Roots Of Funk, Vol. 1/2
This 1967 top ten hit is a great slice of soul that I suspect you have heard but you don't know anything about The Fantastic Johnny C. Boogaloo Down Broadway was his first single but he never was able to follow it up. He was born Johnny Corley Apr. 28, 1943 in Greenwood, SC. He joined the armed forces while in high school. Upon leaving, he moved to Norristown, PA near Philadelphia. He worked as a heavy equipment operator but always wanted to persue a singing career. As it happens, he attended the same church as record producer Jesse James. James had discovered Cliff Nobles and wrote and produced his hit The Horse. His label Phil-LA Of Soul was distributed by Jamie Records. So James became Corley's manager and he started writing songs for him. Boogaloo Down Broadway was one of those songs. It reached #5 on the R & B Singles chart and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Follow up singles didn't catch on and Corley only recorded the one album for Jamie. It is available but this Rhino various artists comp is going to be more fun for casual listeners. Rhino released a Roots Of Funk series. As for the name, it seems some friends heard Boogaloo Down Broadway and asked James what he was going to call Corley. So he dubbed him The Fantastic Johnny Corley and that was shortened to The Fantastic Johnny C. After his brief fling with fame, Corley went back to singing in church and his day job. But Boogaloo Down Broadway is a great slice of classic soul. Here's a video of Boogaloo Down Broadway by The Fantastic Johnny C.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Song:She's Looking Good
Album:Moaning, Groaning, Crying: A Galaxy of Soul and R & B
Most folks are probably familiar with Wilson Pickett's recording of She's Looking Good which reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. But the song was written and originally recorded by Rodger Collins. Collins has been a veteran of the Bay Area music scene for many years. In the mid-60s, Fantasy Records was starting a new label that was supposed to showcase the R & B of the Bay Area. They called it Galaxy Records. This 2004 various artists comp from the British reissue label Kent Records covers the 1965-70 Galaxy recordings. But chances are pretty good that She's Looking Good is the only song most folks will have heard. Most of the other songs are so obscure that even I haven't heard of them. So obviously Galaxy Records was ultimately unsuccessful. Collins' version reached #44 on the R & B Singles chart but it never went any farther. It's a great recording and it's still a big favourite on the Northern Soul scene in England which is not unusual because a lot of obscure soul is beloved over there. Rodger Collins quit the music business in 1970 but Tom Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival convinced him to return and Collins continues to be active in the Bay Area music scene today. He released a new CD in 2008 on his own label. Here's a video for She's Looking Good by Rodger Collins.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Album:The Best of the Memphis Jug Band
The big difference between the Memphis Jug Band and similar bands of the late 20s is the group continued in various forms for decades because of group leader Will Shade. He was born Feb. 8, 1898 in Memphis. He was nicknamed Son Brimmer by his grandmother but the name stuck because his eyes were sensitive to the light. In 1925 Shade heard the Dixieland Jug Blowers and decided to form a similar band in Memphis. Shade played guitar, washtub bass and harmonica. Tewee Blackman played guitar and Ben Ramey sang. All kinds of people went through the group including Big Walter Horton, Will Weldon, Hattie Hart and Charlie Polk. Though Shade recorded under various names on various labels, the Memphis Jug Band recorded for Victor Records from 1927-34. And those are the recordings on this CD from Yazoo. K.C. Moan is a train song written by Tewee Blackman. The music is very similar to other groups of that era and is considered to be very influential on the blues that followed. Will Shade continued to lead the Memphis Jug Band for many decades and he even recorded with Gus Cannon in the early 60s before he died on Sept. 18, 1966 at age 68. This kind of music is certainly an acquired taste but if you're a fan, the Memphis Jug Band recordings are a must. Here's a video of K.C. Moan by Memphis Jug Band.
Friday, July 16, 2010
There was a time when gospel music was presented in a certain way. Everyone wore suits and fancy dresses and the choirs all wore robes. But as Kirk Franklin and Tye Tribbett have shown, if you want reach young people, you have to be more casually dressed and put some pizzaz in the show. And that's why James Fortune & FIYA have become one of today's hottest gospel groups. James Fortune grew up singing in his dad's church in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, TX. and he studied media at Cal State Northridge. In 1998, Fortune moved back to Houston and started his ministry Youth For Christ. In 2000, he changed the name to James Fortune & FIYA (Free In Yahweh's Abundance). He signed a deal with World Wide Music and released the CD You Survived in 2004. But his real breakthrough was with his 2008 CD Transformation. I Trust You topped the Gospel Singles chart for 25 weeks. Bounce Back is from Fortune's new CD Encore. He's still on World Wide but they are now called Black Smoke World Wide Music. This is a gospel label that has been around for years. Guests on the CD include Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, J. Drew Sheard, Isaac Carree and Canton Jones. Fortune's music has all the traditional gospel music trappings but it is presented in a flashy way because the youth is his target audience. Some traditional church folks object to this but the bottom line is the message is still the same. And he writes great songs and arrangements. So James Fortune & FIYA is recommended to gospel music fans. Here's James Fortune & FIYA performing Bounce Back in Houston from the Encore DVD.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Song:(Would I Still Be) Her Big Man
Album:Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968
Here's another good example of the value of Rhino's 4CD box set Nuggets to anyone who enjoys 60s garage bands or psychedelic music. This was the only song released by The Brigands and it was even on a major label. It was a great song but was there a band? It doesn't look like it. The tipoff is that Her Big Man was written by Artie Resnick and his wife Kris. Resnick was a veteran Brill Building songwriter and wrote songs like Under The Boardwalk and Good Lovin'. In the mid-60s it appears that he signed a production deal with Epic Records. The Brigands was his first attempt to put a group together. The likely singer of the song was Joey Levine. But they only released the one single and The Brigands members were never identified. So what happened? The three went on to record an album as The Third Rail and had a top 40 hit in 1967 with Run Run Run and they actually toured as The Third Rail. Then the three went to Kasenetz-Katz and wrote and produced a lot of the bubblegum music of the late 60s. For example, Artie Resnick and Joey Levine wrote the Ohio Express hit Yummy, Yummy, Yummy. Most of those groups were recording studio concoctions and Levine was always the lead singer. Levine started his own jingle production company in 1969 and still does that today. According to his MySpace, Artie Resnick lives in New Mexico and still writes the occasional song. He makes a lot of money from songwriting royalties. Here's a video for (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man by The Brigands.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Song:Why Do I Cry
Despite having a major record label deal, The Remains were legends in their home turf in Boston but were never able to break out nationally and then they split up after one album. They're probably more popular today then they ever were in the 60s. The leader of The Remains was lead vocalist and guitarist Barry Tashian. Other members were Bill Briggs on keyboards and Vern Miller on bass. Chip Damiani was the original drummer and was replaced by N.D. Smart in 1966. They were heavily influenced by the British Invasion and even opened for The Beatles on their 1966 tour. Their musicianship was more professional than most garage bands and they signed with Epic Records. They released a few singles that didn't get noticed outside Boston and the Northeast US. And they fell apart by the time the album on this CD was released in 1966. Barry Tashian went on to a long career in country music with his wife Holly. He was a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band. N.D. Smart played with Gram Parsons. Tashian has reformed The Remains in recent years. They went on tour and even did some recording. Why Do I Cry got a big boost when it was used in the 2007 film Superbad but the song is only on the Walmart edition of the soundtrack CD. Who knows if The Remains could have been more successful if they had held together for more than one album? Here are The Remains performing Why Do I Cry. There's no date posted but it's obviously recent.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
NEO and SMASH held a joint press conference yesterday at the SMASH office to announce that Nagisa Nozaki will return from a year long injury layoff to face Shuri on NEO's Aug. 1 Korakuen Hall show. This will be Nozaki's first appearance since undergoing shoulder surgery last year. That's a big show for her return. It's a lot of pressure on a 19 year old kid. You'd think that NEO President Tetsuyo Koda would have her get her feet wet on a dojo show. But Koda is still convinced that Nozaki can be the saviour of the joshi business. You can see the kind of media coverage that teen like RENA gets for Shoot Boxing. But after almost four years wth NEO, the jury is still out on Nozaki mainly because she gets injured too frequently. I have said before that I think she's too small and too easy to toss around. Shuri has some athletic ability and idol worthy potential. But she mostly works SMASH shows. TAJIRI has been very protective of her. It would be interesting to see if she could survive the weekly grind of the joshi business. So here's the press conference video. I wish they would let the girls talk more.
Album:The Essential Shawn Mullins
Singer songwriter Shawn Mullins had his biggest commercial success with the 1998 top ten hit Lullaby. He was recording for several years before that hit and he continues to record today. He is unlikely to ever have that kind of commercial success again but has a big enough fanbase that he won't need it. And he now records for a label more suitable for his kind of acoustic oriented music. He was born Mar. 8, 1968 in Atlanta. He became interested in music in high school but was headed to a career in the military after attending North Georgia College and State University on an Army ROTC scholarship. So after fulfilling his contract as an infantry officer in the US Army Airborne Division, he left the military and formed Shawn Eric Mullins & Twice Removed. He recorded several CDs independently until he finally signed with Columbia Records. His 1998 CD Soul's Core was his major label debut. Lullaby was the first single and reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. And if you're trying to place a name to the face of the girl in the video, it's actress Dominique Swain. Mullins wrote all the songs on the CD except for a cover of Kris Kristofferson's Sunday Morning Coming Down. The CD was produced by Peter Collins, a British producer who made his name producing Rush in the 80s. Mullins has never been able to match the commercial success of Lullaby. But he released a couple more CDs on Columbia and also formed The Thorns with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge. Mullins now records for Vanguard Records and his latest CD Live At The Variety Playhouse was released in Oct. 2008. This 2003 comp is a good intro to his music. Sony re-released it as a budget comp last year. Here's the video for Lullaby by Shawn Mullins.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Here's the match video from last night's TNA Victory Road PPV with Madison Rayne defending her TNA Knockouts Championship against Angelina Love. Like last month, they had Angelina put up her career in the match but they added the stipulation that if The Beautiful People interfered, Madison would lose the title. Of course that tells us that the result is going to be different this month because Angelina isn't going anywhere. The match itself is nothing special though I'm sure you'll enjoy Madison's flesh coloured outfit. Most of the match is on the first video but you want to be sure you watch the ending on the second video. They have a mystery woman come out on a motorcycle looking like a power ranger. She attacks Angelina and ref Andrew Thomas decides that she must be one of The Beautiful People so he DQs Madison and awards the belt to Angelina. Remember he didn't actually see who it was. As lame as that was, remember that TNA did a Knockouts title change on a game show. So it was nothing new from these idiots. Five minutes after the match, PW Insider confirmed that the mystery woman is Lisa Marie Varon AKA Tara. A couple of weeks ago it was reported that Lisa was in talks to return to TNA. So I'm not surprised that she's back. The funniest thing is that Lisa is attempting to protect kayfabe on her Twitter at @reallisamarie by claiming she was out with her dogs last night. You can check it out for yourself. Years ago the wrestling business could get away with protecting kayfabe. With the truth being reported almost immediately, it's not possible to do that anymore and attempts to do so look awfully silly. They don't live in a vacuum and fans aren't that dumb. Obviously TNA is telling her to do that but it's so stupid. We'll see how long it takes for them to unmask her. Enjoy the video!
Song:Baby Come To Me
Album:Baby Come To Me: The Best Of Regina Belle
Regina Belle was one of several black female singers who made a splash on the black music charts in the 80s. With one major exception, she didn't cross over to pop in a big way. Then in the mid-90s she seemed to disappear. She has continued to record and has made a recent comeback in the gospel market. She was born July 17, 1963 in Englewood, NJ and grew up singing in her uncle's church. Her younger brother Bernard Belle has been a significant behind the scenes force in black music since the mid-80s and the two have frequently worked together. Regina studied opera at the Manhattan School Of Music and jazz vocal at Rutgers University and there's not much question that Billie Holiday is one of her biggest influences. In 1985, New York DJ Vaughn Harper got her a gig opening for The Manhattans. She brought in Bernard to play guitar. He would leave to create New Jack Swing with Teddy Riley. But Regina recorded Where Did We Go Wrong with The Manhattans and this earned her a contract with Columbia. Baby Come To Me was her first R & B chart topper in 1989. And the album Stay With Me also topped the R & B charts. Baby Come To Me was written and the album was produced by Narada Michael Walden. Walden is a jazz drummer who became one of the hottest producers of the 80s usually working with singers like Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. Regina continued to do very well on the R & B charts. Her only #1 pop hit was her 1993 duet with Peabo Bryson A Whole New World from the film Aladdin. It didn't seem to help Regina cross over to pop and she left Columbia after her 1995 CD Reachin' Back. You can get all her Columbia hits on this budget comp. Her 1998 CD Believe In Me on MCA didn't sell and then she signed with Concord Records and they unsuccessfully tried to turn her into a jazz singer. Her 2008 CD Love Forever Shines is a gospel CD produced by Bernard Belle. It's done very well on the black music charts but has done especially well on the Gospel charts with the single God Is Good reaching #2 on the Hot Gospel Songs chart. Regina Belle is married to ex-NBA player John Battle. They have five children and two grandchildren. He's now a pastor in Atlanta. Here's the video for Baby Come To Me by Regina Belle.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Album:A Proper Introduction To Ike Turner/Jackie Brenston: Rocket 88
For years Sun Records owner Sam Phillips claimed that Rocket 88 was the first Rock 'N' Roll record in 1951. That bit of self serving nonsense has been debunked over the years. Rock 'N' Roll was just a label but the music really began with the jump blues of post WWII. Of course as a record, Rocket 88 is a fraud anyway as it was actually written by Ike Turner and recorded by his band Kings Of Rhythm. Brenston was the sax player. Brenston was born Aug. 15, 1930 in Clarksdale, MS. Turner was also from Clarksdale. After Brenston left the military in 1947, he learned to play the sax and joined Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm in 1950 as a singer and sax player. They went to Sun Records in Memphis and recorded Rocket 88 in 1951. The song of course is about the Oldsmobile Delta 88. Turner based the song on boogie woogie pianist Pete Johnson's instrumental Rocket 88 Boogie and Jimmy Liggins' 1947 hit Cadillac Boogie. Liggins was a true pioneer and that may be the first Rock 'N Roll record. It is also one of the first examples of guitar fuzz and distortion caused when Willie Kizart's amplifier was damaged. Brenston sang lead and Phillips decided to change the songwriting credit and the song was issued by Chess as Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats. It topped the R & B singles chart in 1951. Ike Turner was not aware that Phillips had done this so obviously he was annoyed. And Brenston let the fame get to him and left Turner's band after one more session. He joined Lowell Fulsom's band and attempted to record his own songs without much success. Turner continued to work the St. Louis circuit and backed up many bands. This comp from Proper Records documents the band's history. Jackie Brenston returned to Turner's band in 1955 but wasn't allowed to sing Rocket 88. He developed a drinking problem and left the music business in 1963. He drove a truck until he died of a heart attack on Dec. 15, 1979 at age 49. Rocket 88 is a classic of black music but that sure is a convoluted story. Here's a video for Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
It is time once again for Big Bad Blog Video Theatre. On this edition, I have the match video for what I hope is Kim Couture's final appearance on TV until she beats someone who wont run from her. This is from last night's XFC show in Tampa. Kim's record was 2-3 but those two wins were against fighters who didn't want to fight her. Fights against qualified opponents have not gone well. So her opponent making her pro MMA debut is Marianna Kheyfets who calls herself The Crushen Russian. Uh huh. Is she a qualified fighter? She seems to be. Her training was at Best Way Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Danbury, CT and they are associated with America's Top Team in Florida. After watching this fight, it's very obvious what ATT sees in her. The two trade blows but Marianna's punches seem a lot crisper. And even when Kim lands a punch, Marianna remains calm and composed. That's a very good sign. A lot of fighters making their pro MMA debut on national TV would panic once they get hit. Of course Kim Couture has no defense. She doesn't move very well and once Marianna gets a clear opening, she knocks Kim down and then finishes her off with a triangle choke at the three minute mark of round one. I'd like to see what Marianna could do against stiffer competition. At this point, Kim Couture is more publicity whore than fighter. If she insists on fighting, she needs to stay off TV until she puts a few wins together. I think Kim has some value as a promoter of women's MMA but not as a fighter. Check out the fight for yourself.
Album:Texas Worried Blues: Complete Recorded Works 1927-1929
Most blues fans are probably familiar with Taj Mahal's recording of Fishing Blues. But you're probably not aware of the source of that song. Henry Thomas may have been the first blues musician and he recorded Fishing Blues in the late 1920s when he was in his fifties. So he's a pioneer but not a well known one. He was born in Big Sandy, TX in 1874 and was known as Ragtime Texas. That would make him 17 years older than Charley Patton. Thomas was a hobo who was also a musician. He would ride the rails all over Texas and other places. He played the guitar in a very unique style very similar to a banjo. Maybe he couldn't find a banjo. He also played quills which sound a lot like panpipes. Apparently quills made out of sugar cane reeds were used as a musical instrument in the south but were rarely recorded. So here was a guy who was a traveling minstrel mostly playing at dances. So how did he get recorded? The late 1920s was a time when blues became popular so record companies started looking to exploit that. This CD from Yazoo has recordings that Thomas did for Vocalion from 1927-29. Because of Taj Mahal, Fishing Blues is Thomas' best known song though a couple of his other songs have been covered too. Thomas never recorded again and he returned to riding the rails for many years. He apparently died in the 1950s though his exact date of death is not known. Such is the life of a hobo. Henry Thomas was an important bridge between the indigenous music of the late 19th century and what became known as the blues. Here's a video of Fishing Blues by Henry Thomas.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Song:I'm Doin' Fine Now
Album:I'm Doin' Fine Now
So when you listen to this 1973 top twenty hit, you might think it's a long lost song by legendary Philly Soul group The Spinners who were actually from Detroit. But no, this is by New York City. The common denominator was legendary Philly Soul producer Thom Bell. I'm Doin' Fine Now was New York City's biggest hit and some of their other songs charted. They only recorded two albums. The group had a long history in the New York doo wop and R & B scene. Claude Johnson was a member of The Genies and was one half of the duo Don & Juan (What's Your Name). John Brown sang with The Five Satins, The Cadillacs and The Moonglows. Lead singer Tim McQueen and Eddie Schell sang in various groups. In 1972, producer Wes Farrell (The Partridge Family) was starting his new label Chelsea Records. New York City was originally called Tri-Boro Exchange and had released a single on Buddah Records. He brought them to Chelsea and changed the name of the group to New York City. And he asked Thom Bell to produce them. Bell started out as producer of The Delfonics and in 1973 was very successful with The Spinners. He's a legend of Philly Soul. They hit the jackpot with the first single I'm Doin' Fine Now which reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #14 on the R & B Singles chart. Bell wrote the song with Sherman Marshall. Subsequent singles and a second album didn't catch on New York City split up. But if you're a fan of similar groups like The Spinners, I think you'll enjoy this comp from Collectables. And I'm Doin' Fine Now is on plenty of various artists comps. Here's a video of I'm Doin' Fine Now by New York City.