Thursday, September 30, 2010
Song:I Don't Like Mondays
Album:Loudmouth: The Best Of Bob Geldof & The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats were much bigger in their native Ireland and England than they ever were in North America. I Don't Like Mondays was their most notorious song here because of the subject matter but it wasn't a big hit. The group is from Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and were originally called The Nightlife Thugs. Bob Geldof was lead singer and main songwriter. He was a former journalist. Others were Johnny Fingers on keyboards, Gerry Cott on guitar, Garry Roberts on guitar, Pete Briquette on bass and Simon Crowe on drums. They moved to London in 1976 and Geldof renamed them The Boomtown Rats after a gang he read about in Woody Guthrie's Bound For Glory. They signed with Ensign in England and Mercury in the US. They had immediate success in England but not in the US. So they switched to Columbia for their third album A Tonic For The Troops in 1979. I don't Like Mondays was inspired by a shooting spree by San Diego teen Brenda Spencer. When asked why she did it, she said "I Don't Like Mondays". The song was a huge hit everywhere but the US because radio stations were afraid to play it. But it got the band enough notoriety so Columbia kept them around. Gerry Cott left in 1981 and the group split up in 1986 when Geldof launched his solo career. You can get all their hits on this comp. Everyone knows about Geldof's charitable activities. Ceowe & Roberts reformed a version of The Boomtown Rats in 2008. Briquette & Fingers are record producers. Fingers lives in Tokyo. Here's the video for I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats.
The Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Song:The Air That I Breathe
By the time The Air That I Breathe became the final top ten hit for The Hollies in 1974, they were a much different group from when they had their first big hit Bus Stop in 1966. Music had changed anyway but the big change was when Graham Nash left for a solo career in 1968. Of course we all know that he had a lot of success with Crosby, Stills & Nash. He was replaced by Terry Sylvester of The Swinging Blue Jeans. Of course Nash wrote a lot of the songs with lead singer Alan Clarke and bassist Tony Hicks. This was a problem because Sylvester was not really a songwriter. So producer Ron Richards started looking for songs by outside songwriters. In 1969, The Hollies had their biggest post-Nash hit with He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. But Clarke was getting restless and wasn't getting along with Richards. So he left in 1971 to start a solo career and was replaced by Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors. That was a disaster. The Hollies only hit at that time, Long Cool Woman In A Red Dress, was written and sung by Clarke just before he left. Clarke's solo career was mostly unsuccessful. So he returned to The Hollies in 1973 and The Air That I Breathe reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. It was their final top ten hit. The Air That I Breathe was written by the veteran songwriting team of Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood. Hammond is best known for his hit It Never Rains In Southern California. The Air That I Breathe was first recorded by Phil Everly in 1973. This comp of their 70s songs was rereleased as a budget CD by Sony in 2008. By the 80s, The Hollies were done. Sylvester left and Clarke went back to his solo career. Tony Hicks still leads a version of The Hollies on the oldies circuit and the original members reunited when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2010. Here are The Hollies performing The Air That I Breathe 1974.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Song:Everything You Want
Album:Everything You Want
Everything You Want topped the charts in 1999 and was one of the most played songs of the time. But Vertical Horizon's success was short lived mostly due to the BMG/Sony merger and I would guess that a lot of music fans don't remember them. Vertical Horizon was formed in 1991 by Georgetown University students Matt Scannell (lead singer, lead guitarist, songwriter) and Keith Kane (guitar). They released an album independently in 1992. After a second album in 1995, they added drummer Ed Toth. They releasd a live CD in 1997 and then added bassist Sean Hurley after signing with RCA Records. The 1999 CD Everything You Want was their major label debut. Scannell wrote all the songs including the #1 hit Everything You Want and the album was produced by veteran producer David Bendeth. He was very successful with another RCA act Bruce Hornsby & The Range. The album was certified Double Platinum in 2001. Vertical Horizon's follow up CD Go was released in 2002. But the BMG/Sony merger resulted in a lack of promotion and tour support and it didn't sell. This upset Scannell and Vertical Horizon was released by RCA in 2004. Go was reissued in 2005. Ed Toth left Vertical Horizon for The Doobie Brothers. Scannell started his own label Outfall Records and Burning The Days was released in Sept. 2009. But Keith Kane had left before it was released. He actually returned but left for good in June 2010. Matt Scannell still leads a version of Vertical Horizon. A very short time in the spotlight for Vertical Horizon with one really great song. The CD Everything You Want seems to be out of print but it's not difficult to get. Here's the video for Everything You Want by Vertical Horizon.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Album:Out Of Season
Fans familiar with Beth Gibbons as lead singer of the group Portishead might be surprised at the type of music she recorded for this 2002 side project. Portishead was on hiatus at the time. It's more acoustic folk oriented than one would expect. It remains to be seen if she will return to her solo work. She was born Jan. 4, 1965 in Exeter, Devon, England and grew up on a farm. She moved to Bristol in the late 80s to persue a music career. Things weren't going so well when she met Geoff Barrow, another starving musician, in 1991. They formed Portishead with guitarist Adrian Utley and of course Portishead had a huge hit with their 1994 CD Dummy. They went on hiatus in 1998 and all worked on various solo projects. Beth put a group together with Paul Webb, bass player from the 80s pop group Talk Talk. He's Rustin Man. So with that pop pedigree, it might surprise fans that Out Of Season is an eclectic mix of folk and jazz. It was released in England in 2002 and Sanctuary released it in the US un 2003 with a couple of bonus tracks. Beth Gibbons worked on music for a couple of films by French director Diane Bertrand. She also appeared on Annie Lennox's 2007 CD Songs Of Mass Destruction. Then Portishead returned with the 2008 CD Third. My guess is that she won't record any solo projects while Portishead is active. Here's Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man performing Show in Paleo 2003. This video is not on Youtube.
BETH GIBBONS - SHOW (live)
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Sunday, September 26, 2010
Album:If I Should Fall From Grace With God
With their mix of traditional Irish music, humour and punk rock sensibilities, The Pogues were one of the best bands of the 80s. Their classic Fairytale In New York wins annual polls as the best Christmas song of all time. But they could have been one of the greatest bands ever except that lead singer Shane MacGowan's behaviour forced them to implode. If I Should Fall From Grace With God is probably their best album and is now available on CD with several bonus tracks from Rhino. The Pogues started in 1977 when Shane MacGowan met Peter "Spider" Stacy and Jeremy "Jem" Finer. MacGowan was with The Nips but the three started an occasional band called The Millwall Chainsaws. When The Nips split up in 1980, they added accordionist James Fearmley and called themselves Pogue Mahone. They added bassist Cait O'Riordan and drummer Andrew Ranken and shortened their name to The Pogues to avoid BBC censorship. They signed with Stiff Records and opened for The Clash on their 1984 tour. They added guitarist Phil Chevron and Elvis Costello produced their 1985 album Rum, Sodomy & The Lash. But by this time Stiff was having financial problems and The Pogues weren't getting along with the label anyway. Stiff went bankrupt in 1987 and The Pogues signed with Island in England and Warner Bros. in the US. If I Should From Grace With God was produced by veteran producer Steve Lillywhite (U2) it's more focused than previous albums. Fairytale Of New York was the most popular song but Fiesta is also a great song. Finer based the melody on a song he heard at a Spanish fairground. MacGowan wrote the lyrics as usual. But MacGowan's drinking was getting worse and he wasn't showing up for gigs. He was fired in 1991 and temporarily replaced by Joe Strummer until Stacy took over lead vocals. MacGowan started Shane McGowan and the Popes while The Pogues limped along until they split in 1996. The Pogues have reunited occasionally including for a 2005 tour. Here's the video for Fiesta by The Pogues.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I don't normally post fan shot video but this is pretty good as the guy kept the camera still. And it is KAORU vs Shuri from today's SMASH show at Shinjuku FACE. I thought it was pretty funny when Shuri came to the ring with a stick and then KAORU brought her usual assortment of hardware. Not surprisingly, KAORU controlled the match and Shuri only got an advantage when KAORU made a mistake. On the same show, Kana disptached Nagisa Nozaki in ten minutes and was told that Sakura Emi will debut in SMASH on their Nov. 22 JCB Hall show. Kana said she would only be interested in Sakura Emi if she brought Nanae Takahashi with her. She gave a couple of possible march scenarios but I guess the bottom line is that Tajiri wants to do something with the real life feud that no joshi company will touch. We'll see if Takahashi wants to do something with it. Enjoy the video.
Song:He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
Album:The Essential Mahalia Jackson
Of course there were plenty of gospel singers before Mahalia Jackson but she was the first to take gospel music out of the church and into mainstream America. And though she was criticized by the church at the time, Mahalia laid the groundwork for many of the contemporary gospel artists who are popular today. He's Got The Whole World In His Hand even got airplay on pop radio in 1958. She was born Oct. 16, 1911 in New Orleans. She grew up next door to a church and that's where she learned to sing. She was also influenced by blues singers like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. By 1927, she moved to Chicago and while working as a maid, she started singing lead in Chicago church choirs and became lead singer with The Johnson Brothers. When they split up in the mid-30s, Mahalia began her solo career. She first recorded for Decca in 1937 but her records didn't sell. She continued to tour and then signed with Apollo Records in 1946. Move On Up A Little Higher became the best selling gospel record of all time in 1948. But when she became a regular on Studs Turkel's 1950 TV show, the led to wider acceptance outside the church. In 1954, she was given a weekly radio program and she signed with Columbia Records. Rusty Old Halo was a top 40 hit in 1954 and she appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. Her appearance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival made her even more popular and He's Got The Whole World In His Hands reached #69 on the Billboard Hot 100. She appeared in the 1959 film Imitation Of Life, had her own TV show and appeared at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration. Meanwhile Columbia had her record with schlockmeister Percy Faith. All this brought more criticism from the church. But Mahalia Jackson was also close friends with Dr. Martin Luther King and a force in the civil rights movement of the 60s. Mahalia's health deteriorated in the late 60s and she died on Jan 27, 1972 at age 60. This 2CD comp is a great intro to her music. Here's Mahalia Jackson performing He's Got The Whole World In His Hands at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival from Bert Stern's 1960 film Jazz On A Summer Day.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Song:Send Me On My Way
Album:20th Century Masters: The Millenium Collection: The Best Of Rusted Root
I bet you heard this song in a movie but you don't know who does it. Rusted Root is a group that combines the jam band sensibility of The Grateful Dead with world music rhythms. They became popular on college campuses in the 90s. Send Me On My Way is their best known song. Rusted Root is from Pittsburgh led by lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Michael Glabicki along with Liz Berlin on vocals and percussion, Patrick Norman on bass, Jim Donovan on drums, John Buynak on percussion and wind instruments and Jim DiSpirito on percussion. Obviously the world music rhythms is going to draw you to this group. They first recorded the 1992 CD Cruel Sun on their own Touchy Pegg label and signed with PolyGram. Send Me On My Way is from their 1994 major label debut CD When I Woke. The album was a hit on college radio and reached #33 on the Billboard Hot 200 and was certified platinum. Like most of Rusted Root's songs, Send Me On My Way was written and lead vocals were performed by Michael Glabicki. Send Me On My Way was also used in the 1996 film Matilda and has turned up in several other films including the very popular 2002 animated film Ice Age. Matilda probably got fans into the song but declining sales indicate that it didn't help subsequent albums. Looking at the timing, my guess is the sale of PolyGram to Universal in 1998 signaled the end of Rusted Root's major label run. This 2005 budget comp is a good intro to their music. Michael Glabicki, Liz Berlin and Patrick Norman are still part of the current version of Rusted Root. Their latest CD Stereo Rodeo was released in 2009 on their own Touchy Pegg label. Jim Donovan has released five solo CDs and his instructional CDs and drum workshops are very successful. He's a full time music instructor at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. Here's the video for Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
A couple of specific things I wanted to talk about regarding acouple of the girls on WWE NXT season three. Episode three was more of the same. In the absense of Michael Cole, CM Punk came out to do commentary. And then Cole returned later in the show. Who cares? The musical chairs segment was short but the other challenge dragged and I'm sure many changed channels. They also did a segment which has Aksana threatened with deportation. I've seen a lot of comments online wondering why the WWE would hire a girl with such poor English and then have her talk. I'll let you in on a little secret. It's an act. Obviously the WWE is telling her to do that. I would guess she spoke perfect English before she came to the US in 2001. Her uselessness in the ring is another matter. I have the video for you from AJ Lee vs Maxine. Other than the odd ending, it was uneventful. It's obvious that they're trying to make AJ as the spunky little girl a la Mickie James. But the mannerisms they are having AJ exhibit are more annoying than endearing. The other match on the show seems to target Kaitlyn as a scapegoat somewhat bewildered by the behaviour of the other heels. Nothing much to it other than that. Enjoy the video.
Song:Pretty Little Angel Eyes
Album:Pretty Little Angel Eyes
The 1961 top ten pop hit Pretty Little Angel Eyes was one of two hits for Curtis Lee that were produced by Phil Spector. When he tried to record without Spector, things didn't go so well and by the late 60s Lee left the music business. He was born Oct. 28, 1941 in Yuma, AZ. He recorded for a couple of small labels while in his teens. Ray Peterson (Tell Laura I Love Her) had just started his own label Dune Records and invited Lee to look him up if he ever came to New York. He came to New York in 1960 and started writing songs with Tommy Boyce. Boyce would go on to have a very successful partnership with Bobby Hart. Lee recorded a couple of singles that didn't catch on. Peterson had just finished Corinna Corinna with Spector and brought him in to produce Lee. That Spector magic made all the difference as Pretty Little Angel Eyes reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Under The Moon Of Love reached #46. Lee continued to record but without Spector he never charted again and he left the music business to work in his father's construction company in 1969. Pretty Little Angel Eyes is still an oldies radio standard and you can get all of Curtis Lee's recordings on this Collectables comp. Here's a video for Pretty Little Angel Eyes by Curtis Lee.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Baden Powell may be the greatest Brazilian guitarist of all time. In North America, he's not well known except to those who admire other guitarist. But he was very popular for decades in Brazil. He was born Roberto Baden Powell de Aquino Aug. 6, 1937 in Varre e Sai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His father was violinist Lino de Aquino and introduced Roberto to music at an early age. He was also an admirer of Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden Powell and that's where the name came from. Roberto was known professionally as Baden Powell. He studied violin and guitar as a child but by 1955 he was playing jazz in the Steve Barnard Orquestra. When bassist Ed Lincoln was starting a new trio, he picked Baden Powell to join in 1956. They were called The Hotel Plaza Trio. They were popular on the Brazilian jazz scene. Powell started writing songs and met lyricist Vinicius de Moraes in 1962. They would write many songs together. He finally started recording solo in 1966 on MPS Records. Tristeza is from the 1966 album Tristeza On Guitar and you can get a comp of three albums from that era on this 2CD set from Verve. For the most part, Powell played classical guitar only and never played electric guitar. He moved to France in 1968 and continued to tour Europe and Brazil in the 70s. His career faded partially due to health problems and Powell went into semi retirement in the 80s. A move back to Brazil in the 90s got him recording again and public recognitionat home in Brazil. But those long term health problems led to his death from pneumonia on Sept. 26, 2000 at age 63. His legacy continues with his guitarist son Louis Marcel Powell de Aquino and his pianist son Phillippe Baden Powell de Aquino. Here's Baden Powell performing Tristeza on the 1970 TV show Canto On Guitar.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Album:For Lovers, Dreamers & Me
Neo soul singer Alice Smith made her recording debut on this 2006 album. She made a bit of a splash, got nominated for a Best Urban/Alternative Grammy and in late 2010 we're still waiting for a follow up. Alice was born in New York City in 1978 and grew up in Washington, DC. She was singing backup vocals while attending Fordham University when she was spotted by Lee Bright of the British label BBE Records. He signed her up with distribution ftom Epic and her debut For Lovers, Dreamers & Me was released in 2006. Despite a lot of ctitical acclaim and the Grammy nomination, the album didn't sell. Alice co-wrote several of the songs on the album including Dream. Guitarist Alex Dickson from Robbie Williams' band, Imani Coppola, drummer Alex Elena and veteran jazz trumpter and arranger Michael Leonhart produced the album. Leonhart has worked with Steely Dan and Talking Heads among others. Dream also appeared in an episode of the HBO series Entourage. Alice Smith is still playing clubs but it doesn't look like she is under contract to BBE or Epic anymore. I noticed she did turn up singing backup vocals on the latest CD by Aussie pop singer Gabriela Cilmi. Let's hope someone signs her up very soon because Alice has a lot of talent. Here's Alice Smith performing Dream on Ellen Jan. 2008. I believe this was her national TV debut.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Here's the match video from last night's WWE PPV of Michelle McCool vs Melina to unify the WWE Women's Championship. No more goofy looking Divas title. The WWE decided to make it a Lumberjills match. Why? Most of those girls will never get a WWE PPV bonus. The problem was they stood around and didn't throw the wrestlers back in the ring like they were supposed to. Didn't anyone explain that to them? Major fail. Even Jerry Lawler wondered what they were doing. The match itself was nothing special. It was pretty much what you would see on a standard episode of RAW. Michelle won as I thought she would and she will work on both shows. And even though Layla's interference helped Michelle win, I expect those two will be split up and will feud. The split has been teased lately and I srill think that will happen. I don't know what they will do with Melina. Maybe she'll turn heel. She's a terrible babyface. I think she's trying hard to be a better wrestler but she may be trying too hard. Some fand have asked me what the WWE sees in Melina. The first thing fans need to understand is the WWE doesn't care if these girls are good wrestlers. Most of the time they are looking for pretty girls who can be trained in the basics. Melina trained before she came to the WWE so she should be a better wrestler but she's not. So if she's a blah wrestler, what does the WWE like about her? She always gets a pop for her ring entrance so they like that. And they like her screaming because they think it's funny. She isn't doing the screaming as randomly as she used to. Her wrestling ability is irrelevant and that's true of any of the Divas. It's not important to the WWE. Some fans seem to have trouble wrapping their minds around that. I'm not justifying it. I'm just explaining their thinking. I don't agree with it but I don't expect WWE Divas to be good. I'll watch joshi puroresu or SHIMMER if I want to see something good. You should do the same. Enjoy the video.
Album:Sid & Nancy: Original Soundtrack
Joe Strummer was best known as lead singer of The Clash, probably the greatest punk band ever. After The Clash split up in 1986, Strummer's solo career was sporadic and inconsistent partially due to a long legal battle with Sony Music about his contract status. He became friends with film director Alex Cox and Love Kills was the theme to Cox's 1986 film Sid & Nancy. He was born John Graham Mellor Aug. 21, 1952 in Ankara, Turkey to a British diplomat. His parents moved all over the world while Strummer and his brother attended boarding school in London. He became interested in music and of course was lead singer of The Clash from 1973-86. After The Clash split up, Strumer became friends with film director Alex Cox and appeared in several of his films. And Strummer appeared in other films too. As you may be aware, Sid & Nancy is about the self destructive lives of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen starring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb. It's an outstanding film. Strummer doesn't appear in the film but he performs credited on two songs in the soundtrack including the theme Love Kills. Apparently he did a lot more on the soundtrack uncredited because he was still under contract to Epic Records and the soundtrack is on MCA. He didn't want Epic to know what he was up to or they would have stopped him from doing it. MCA released Sid & Nancy on CD in a remastered version in 2001. This lrgal battle with Sony continued for many years until Sony agreed to let him record elsewhere as Joe Strummer. There's no question that this hurt his solo career and then he died of a heart attack Dec. 22, 2002 at age 50. But I recommend you check out the Sid & Nancy film and soundtrack. Here's the video for Love Kills by Joe Strummer.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Album:Shining On You
Jazz singer Viktoria Tolstoy has been a star in Europe for over a decade but you've never heard of her. You can thank me later for introducing you to this outstanding vocalist. She was born Louise Viktoria Kjellberg July 29, 1974 in Sigtuna, Sweden which is near Stockholm. Her father is jazz musician and writer Erik Kjellberg and believe it or not, her great great grandfather is the famed Russian author Leo Tolstoy. Apparently Tolstoy's son moved to Sweden in the late 19th century due to a medical condition. Not surprisingly, her father taught her jazz early on and by the mid-90s she was performing in Swedish clubs and signed a record deal. Viktoria has worked extensively with the noted Swedish jazz pianist Esbjorn Svensson and also toured with McCoy Tyner and Ray Brown. She has been very popular in Sweden and other European countries. But her music hasn't crossed the pond. Don't know why not. She looks great and sounds great. Upside Out is from her 2004 album Shining On You and was mostly written and produced by Svensson. Her latest CD My Russian Soul was released in 2008. So here's your opportunity to discover a new artist I know you will enjoy. Here's the video for Upside Out by Viktoria Tolstoy.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
|Megumi Fujii, Ayaka Hamazaki|
|Megumi Fujii, Ayaka Hamazaki|
Song:Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
Album:25 All-Time Greatest Bubblegum Hits: The Ultimate Collection
This 1969 top 20 hit fits the pattern of other groups churned out by the Kasenetz-Katz music factory. Create the music using studio musicians and then try and form a real band afterwards. It wasn't a good long term strategy and that's why most of the hits were one hit wonders. This holds true for Crazy Elephant. This group was created as a vehicle for session vocalist Robert Spencer. He used to be a member of The Cadillacs and by the late 60s had settled in to doing session work. As usual, Kasenetz-Katz regular Joey Levine was a key behind the scenes figure as he wrote Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' with British record producer Denny Cordell. Levine was usually lead singer with Ohio Express among others. Kasenetz-Katz had a deal with Buddah Records. But when Buddah rejected Gimme Gimme Good Lovin', they shopped it to Bell Records and it reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Then they produced an album and put a touring band together. Yes, I know that's ass backward. Some of the album was produced in England and featured future 10cc member Kevin Godley on lead vocals. Not surprisingly, the album and the Crazy Elephant touring band sunk without a trace. So it's very similar to other Kasenetz-Katz groups. One hit and that's it. The album is available on CD but you might enjoy this various artists comp from Varese that covers the bubblegum music genre very nicely. It's got 25 songs. Here's a video for Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' by Crazy Elephant.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Because the WWE is featuring Divas, I plan to review every episode of season three of WWE NXT so maybe you don't have to watch the whole show. Obviously there are two problems with the show. The various challenges were lame in the first two seasons and of course these girls are pretty green. That's why Vickie Guerrero is on this show. They open up with Vickie's rookie Kaitlyn teaming with Dolph Ziggler against AJ Lee & Primo. The match has one terrible spot where Kaitlyn knocks AJ senseless and instead of pinning her, she tags in Ziggler so they can have AJ slap him. Excuse my logic. Then they tease a heel romantic triangle. They follow this with a lame joke off that I'm sure had a lot of fans switching channels. They used this to sell AJ as the spunky little girl that everyone picks on. The problem is her mannerisms are annoying. Maybe she's trying too hard. I have posted the video the match with Jamie Keyes vs Aksana. It's a typical Divas match with a very abrupt roll up ending. Neither of them tried to do anything that they could screw up. Of course they needed a lot of time for the obstacle course especially Vickie Guerrero's attempt. That and Michael Cole walking off the show in the name of journalistic integrity were a laughable waste of time. Yup, a lot of silliness on this show. Enjoy the video.
Song:Love's Gone Bad
Album:The Motown Anthology
Here's a very interesting curio from the Motown catalog. Chris Clark may have been the first white artist signed by Motown. She became very popular in England but never caught on in the US. Love's Gone Bad was her only chart single. But she had a lot of success behind the scenes at Motown. She was born Feb. 1, 1946 in Santa Cruz, CA. That alone makes her interesting because she's not from Detroit. Like another Los Angeles native Brenda Holloway, Chris was discovered by Motown's California talent scout Hal Davis. Motown owner Berry Gordy didn't like her demo but liked her voice and signed her to a contract. The two wrote songs together and also had a romantic relationship. Chris Clark had her biggest hit in 1966 with the Holland-Dozier-Holland song Love's Gone Bad. It reached #41 on the R & B Singles chart. But in England she became very popular and was dubbed The White Negress. So this 2CD comp of Chris Clark's music is from Motown in England. By 1969, Gordy started a film division of Motown and Chris Clark was named Vice President. She also received a screenplay credit for co-writing the film Lady Sings The Blues. In the 80s she became head of creative affairs at Motown. She is a gifted photographer and was responsible for a lot of Motown's visuals. She still sells photographs on her website and performs occasionally. So Chris Clark is a very interesting part of Motown history. Here's a video of Love's Gone Bad by Chris Clark.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
|Rin Nakai punches Megumi Yabushita|
Song:Run Run Run
This 1964 garage band classic actually charted nationally and like a lot of hits from the mid-60s, it has a following much larger than its original impact. It's a great song. The Gestures were from Mankato, MN led by lead singer, main songwriter and guitarist Dale Menten along with Gus Dewey on guitar, Tom Klugherz on bass and Bruce Waterston on drums. The were originally called The Jesters but that was a common band name so they just changed it to The Gestures. They signed with Minneapolis record company Soma Records and despite Soma not having national distribution, Run Run Run reached #44 on the Billboard Hot 100. Soma was owned by wholesale record distributor Amos Hellicher. He released records regionally and if they became popular, he would sell the contracts to larger labels. He did that with Bobby Vee in 1959. The Gestures only released two singles and split up so it doesn't look like they were around long enough for Hellicher to sell them off. You can get Run Run Run on Rhino's Nuggets box set but this CD from Sundazed has songs that were intended for an unreleased Gestures album. They were able to do that because Dale Menten is still in the music business. He has recorded solo albums including one on MCA in the 80s. And he has composed for films and TV, most notably the 1976 film The Lifeguard starring Sam Elliott and the TV series Pointman. Run Run Run is a must for fans of garage rock. Here's a video for Run Run Run by The Gestures.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Song:Heaven Must Have Sent You
Album:The Motown Anthology
The Elgins were a lesser Motown group that had their biggest hit in 1966 with Heaven Must Have Sent You. They are not to be confused with the Los Angeles doo wop group and The Temptations even used the name The Elgins for a while. This group started in Detroit in 1962 as The Downbeats. Johnny Dawson, Cleo Miller and Robert Fleming had backed up Marv Johnson and recorded some of their own singles. Meanwhile, Sandra Edwards had recorded the single It's Going To Be Hard Times for Motown as Sandra Mallet and The Vandellas in 1962. In 1966, Motown made her lead singer of The Downbeats and The Downbeats recorded the Holland-Dozier-Holland song Darling Baby for VIP. Berry Gordy insisted on the name change to The Elgins. Darling Baby reached #4 on the R & B Singles chart despite minimal promotion. Heaven Must Have Sent You reached #9 on the R & B Singles chart and #50 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Elgins recorded an album but split up in 1967. The Elgins had potential to be much bigger stars. You can get all their recordings on this 2CD British import comp but you can also get Heaven Must Have Sent You on plenty of Motown various artists comps. Of course Bonnie Pointer had a big hit with her 1979 cover of Heaven Must Have Sent You that encouraged fans ro find the original version. It also encouraged Johnny Dawson to reform a version of The Elgins and they recorded with British soul maven Ian Levine. This video has The Elgins performing Heaven Must Have Sent You for Ian Levine 1989.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Song:Let The Good Times Roll
Album:The Legendary Masters Series Vol. 1
The 1956 number one R & B hit Let The Good Times Roll was the biggest hit and most memorable song by Shirley & Lee, known as The Sweethearts Of The Blues. They had a few other hits and Shirley even made a comeback in the 70s. Shirley Goodman was born June 19, 1936 in New Orleans and Leonard Lee was born June 29, 1936 in Los Angeles. Shirley sent out a demo that got the attention of Aladdin Records owner Eddie Messner. He tracked her down in New Orleans and put her together with his school friend Leonard Lee. Their first hit I'm Gone reached #2 on the R & B chart in 1952. The two were never romantic but were dubbed The Sweethearts Of The Blues because the songs were dramatic. They released a few more relationship songs but sales were drying up. So in 1956, the approach was changed and Leonard Lee wrote Let The Good Times Roll. It topped the R & B Singles chart and reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Subsequent singles didn't do as well but Let The Good Times Roll is a classic and has been covered many times and appeared in several films. Shirley & Lee moved to Warwick Records in 1959 and rerecorded Let The Good Times Roll. So you want to be sure to get the original version. This comp was originally released by Capitol in 1991 and reissued by Collactables in 1995. Capitol owns the rights to the Aladdin recordings so this CD has the original version. Shirley & Lee split up in 1962. Leonard Lee unsuccessfully attempted a solo career, became a social worker and died of a heart attack on Oct. 23, 1976 at age 40. Shirley Goodman moved to Los Angeles and became a session vocalist. She also recorded as a duo with Jessie Hill. She also led Shirley & Company and had a smash with Shame Shame Shame in 1974. She retired from music in 1979, suffered a stroke in 1994 and died on July 5, 2005 at age 69. Here's a video for Let The Good Times Roll by Shirley & Lee.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Song:Easy Rider Blues
Album:Blind Lemon Jefferson
Blind Lemon Jefferson was a pioneer of the blues known as Father Of The Texas Blues or King Of The Country Blues. His life and even his death are a bit of a mystery but there's no question of his musical influence. He was apparently born Sept. 24, 1893 in Coutchman, TX now known as Wortham, TX between Dallas and Houston. I say apparently because he gave a different date of birth when he registered for the draft in 1917. By that time he had already been a street musician in Dallas for several years working frequently with Leadbelly. He also taught guitar to T-Bone Walker. So by the early 1920s he was making a living as a musician and by 1926 he was brought to Chicago to record gospel songs under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. This led to a second session under his own name. From 1926-29, he recorded pretty much exclusively for Paramount Records. And those are the recordings you will find on comps like this one from Milestone Records. This one is recommended because the sound quality has been improved greatly. Details about Jefferson's life are very sketchy. He apparently died in December 1929 at age 36 though the exact date isn't known. It appears he froze to death during a Chicago snowstorm but there are several stories about his death. I guess the only thing we do know is that Blind Lemon Jefferson was a huge influence on many of the musicians who would follow him. Here's a video for Easy Rider Blues by Blind Lemon Jefferson.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Song:Don't Call Us, We'll Call You
The 1975 top ten hit Don't Call Us, We'll Call You was one of two big hits for Sugarloaf. Band discord and record company issues prevented them from real stardom. The lead singer of Sugarloaf was Jerry Corbetta (born Sept. 23, 1947 in Denver). Sugarloaf came out of a failed group called The Moonrakers who released an album in 1968. Other members were guitarist Bob Webber, drummer Bob MacVittie and bassist Bob Raymond. They were originally called Chocolate Hair but decided to name themselves after a popular ski mountain in Colorado. After sending out demos, they signed with Liberty Records and their 1970 single Green Eyed Lady reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the album didn't do that well. So for their second album Spaceship Earth, Sugarloaf added guitarist songwriter Bob Yeazel from The Beast. The album didn't sell and Yeazel didn't get along with Corbetta and left. And Liberty dropped them. For their third album I Got A Song, they signed with Brut Records. IIRC, Faberge started this label to tie in to Brut Cologne. It was short lived. Don't Call Us, We'll Call You was recorded as a practical joke after Sugarloaf was turned down by CBS Records. It reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was added to I Got A Song and the album was retitled Don't Call Us, We'll Call You and released on Claridge Records. This CD from Collectables says it's a twofer but they added Don't Call Us, We'll Call You so you get both hits. Jerry Corbetta recorded a solo album for Warner Bros. and joined Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in 1980. He currently has a band called Classic Rock All Stars with Mike Pinera of Iron Butterfly and Peter Rivera of Rare Earth. Here's a video for Don't Call Us, We'll Call You by Sugarloaf.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Song:Third Rate Romance
Album:Their Very Best
Third Rate Romance was the biggest hit for the country rock band The Amazing Rhythm Aces. They also had quite a bit of success in the country market in the 70s. Lead singer and main songwriter Russell Smith, bassist Jeff Davis and drummer Butch McDade started out in Knoxville in the late 60s as Fatback. Davis & McDade went on to work in singer songwriter Jesse Winchester's band. When Smith sang Third Rate Romance uncredited on Winchester's 1974 album Learn To Love It, the three decided to start The Amazing Rhythm Aces with guitarist Barry "Byrd" Burton, keyboard player Billy Earhart and pianist James Hooker. Smith wrote most of the songs and Burton produced their albums. They signed with ABC Records and their Third Rate Romance was the first single from their 1975 debut album Stacked Deck. The song reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #11 on the Country Singles chart. Their follow up single Amazing Grace (Used To Be Her Favorite Song) reached #9 on the Country Singles chart. They continued to have some success in the country market but not so much in the pop market. Barry Burton left in 1978 to be replaced by Cameron Duncan. Burton went on to play many recording sessions until his 2008 death. The Amazing Rhythm Aces split up in 1983. Russell Smith went on to a lot of success mostly as a songwriter and he still leads a version of The Amazing Rhythm Aces today. He also owns the recordings and licensed them to Varese Fontana for this 2009 comp. Billy Earhart joined Hank Williams Jr.'s band. Cameron Duncan joined Sawyer Brown. James Hooker played a lot of sessions and toured with Nanci Griffith. Butch McDade died of cancer in 1998. Here's The Amazing Rhythm Aces performing Third Rate Romance on Saturday Night Live Mar. 10,1980. And that is Bill Murray playing maracas. This video is not on Youtube.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Album:Stax Gold: Memphis Hits
The Bar-Kays were the second house band at Stax Records and became Otis Redding's touring band. They scored with this 1967 top 20 pop hit Soul Finger but most of the members died in the plane crash that killed Redding. The surviving members regrouped and The Bar-Kays were very successful in the 70s. That was a different group. The Bar-Kays started out as The Imperials in 1966 modeled after Booker T. & The MGs and The Mar-Keys. Members were guitarist Jimmy King, trumpeter Ben Cauley, organist Ronnie Caldwell, sax player Phalon Jones, bassist James Alexander and drummer Carl Cunningham. They called themselves The Bar-Kays after their favourite rum Bacardi. They signed with Stax in early 1967 and Stax turned them into a second house band and give relief to Booker T. & The MGs. MGs drummer Al Jackson Jr. got them settled in. And like the MGs, Stax wanted them to record their own music too. Soul Finger was their first single and it reached #3 on the R & B Singles chart and #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. It seems The Bar-Kays were rehearsing a cover of J.J. Jackson's But It's Alright with singer Norman West and came up with Soul Finger. The audience chanting on the song were kids that were hanging around the studio. Stax paid them off with Cokes. The Bar-Kays were then chosen to back up Otis Redding on his tour. And of course disaster struck when Redding's plane crashed in Wisconson on Dec. 10, 1967. Ben Cauley survived the crash and James Alexander wasn't on the flight. Producer Allen Jones helped The Bar-Kays reform and they continued to record for Stax and play on sessions including the Isaac Hayes classic Hot Buttered Soul. Cauley left The Bar-Kays in 1971 to join Hayes' band and later on The Bar-Kays had a lot of success in the late 70s. You can get Soul Finger on this excellent Stax various artists comp from Warner Platinum in England with 25 tracks for $11. James Alexander still leads a version of The Bar-Kays and his son Phalon "Jazze Pha" Alexander discovered R & B singer Ciara. Ben Cauley recovered from a 1989 stroke and still plays Memphis clubs. Here are The Bar-Kays performing Soul Finger 1967.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
So I watched the first episode of WWE NXT last night. It is shown Wednesday night on The Score in Canada. But it won't be on SyFy in the US much longer and it look like most of you will have to watch it online. The WWE has decided to do a Divas series of NXT. It's something they've wanted to try for a while. Supposedly a Divas episode of ECW was in the works earlier this year. I've seen a lot of online outrage about this episode of NXT. But there are a couple of things you need to remember. The first two seasons of NXT were generally lame anyway. Also, fans have to stop expecting the WWE to do women's wrestling properly. It's not what they want to do. Their concept is still to hire hot generic women, put them on TV and they're stars. Of course that doesn't work but the WWE is persistently stupid about women. The season debut of NXT was pretty bad. It started last week when they hired this tall woman and called her Aloisia. They decided that she is a little too green and had Vickie Guerrero "fire" her. So if you look at the six rookies on NXT, only one was a pro wrestler pre-WWE. That's AJ Lee or as she was known in Northeast US indy feds Miss April. One other girl is a dancer and the rest are all fitness models. So this season of NXT is the deep end of the pool for these girls. And it looks like they're all gonna drown. They start by having them all cut promos which are all varying degrees of terrible. Then they do a dance off which was hard to watch and easily won by Naomi. She's the dancer. She also won a Rally Round The Flag segment later in the show. They did two matches. They did pro/rookie teams as they have done before. Kelly Kelly teamed with her rookie Naomi vs Alicia Fox and her rookie Maxine. It was a standard Divas match until the ending was botched by Alicia who hestitated breaking up the pin. It seemed to confuse the rookies and Naomi went for the pin again. The other match had Goldust teaming with his rookie Aksana vs Primo and his rookie AJ Lee. Again the ending was botched and it was reshot and edited to clean it up. The Lithuanian bodybuilder Aksana looked useless in the ring and her promo earlier in the show was horrible. What is she doing on TV? I understand why fans get annoyed but I just think the poor quality of this is to be expected. I don't expect these girls to be good and I will be pleasantly surprised if any of them are good. If you haven't seen it, here's the video of Kelly Kelly & Naomi vs Alicia Fox & Maxine.