Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eliane Elias concert review

Last night I went to see Brazilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias at the Enwave Theater as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Eliane moved to New York in the early 80s after meeting the great bassist Eddie Gomez when she was on tour with a Brazilian group in Europe. She joined the group Giant Steps and it was there that she met her first husband, trumpeter Randy Brecker. They recorded an album together and have a daughter Amanda. Eliane made her solo recording debut in 1989 and she has been a big concert draw ever since. She is currently touring to promote her new CD Light My Fire. It is her debut on Concord Picante. Of course her band features her husband bassist Marc Johnson. He started out in the 80s with the great Bill Evans and has recorded several albums on ECM. He writes a lot of the arrangements. On guitar was Brazilian Rubens de la Corte. He is best known as musical director for Angelique Kidjo. And on drums was Chicago native Mark Walker. He has been a member of Oregon and Caribbean Jazz Project and has also worked extensively with Cuban sax legend Paquito D'Rivera. In fact I saw Mark with Paquito when he came to Toronto Nov. 2009. You have to be on your toes to hang with Paquito. He also appeared in Paquito's segment of the documentary Calle 54 and of course Eliane was in the film too. Eliane Elias is a very unique musician. She brings with her the traditions of Brazil and pays tribute to legends like Antonio Carlos Jobim. And she mixes this with contemporary jazz riffs no doubt influenced by her husband and her mentor Eddie Gomez. It 's an excellent way to educate the audience about Brazilian music and they don't even know they are being educated. I like her better as a pianist than a vocalist. And since her daughter Amanda Brecker sang on mom's latest CD, I was a little disappointed she didn't come. The band was great. Walker got a lot of solo time and showed how versatile he really is. They performed several songs from Eliane's new CD along with Brazilian standards like Girl From Ipanema and Desifinado. A very enjoyable show from a great band.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Christine Kittrell

Artist:Christine Kittrell
Song:Sittin' Here Drinkin'
Album:Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970

Christine Kittrell is an outstanding underexposed R & B singer who recorded some great singles in the 50s. When things didn't work out, she turned to gospel music. Her songs on this 2CD comp Night Train To Nashville generated renewed interest in her music and Bear Family has released a Christine Kittrell comp last year. She was born Aug. 11, 1929 in Nashville and grew up singing in church. Influenced by Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, she became a professional singer. She first recorded in 1951 with Louis Brooks and then the small Tennessee label released her first solo single Sittin' Here Drinkin' in 1952. She recorded one more single for Tennessee and then recorded for Republic Records through the late 50s. Among those who played on her records were Little Richard, Earl Gaines and believe it or not, John Coltrane. He was on the 1953 single Slave To Love. From what I can tell, she wrote most of her own songs including Sittin' Here Drinkin'. She never had a hit probably because neither label she recorded for had national distribution. She toured quite a bit but wasn't happy with the results and returned to gospel in 1954. She toured with the Simmons-Akens Singers. Christine moved to Columbus, OH in 1962 and recorded the Lieber/Stoller song I'm A Woman for VeeJay. Unfortunately, it was not a hit and Peggy Lee would have a big hit with the song later. Christine sang for the troops in Vietnam in 1965. She has already been there for eight months and planned to stay longer but was injured by shrapnel and returned home. This 2CD various artists comp is a must for any R & B fan. Christine Kittrell continued to perform in Columbus blues clubs until her death on Dec. 19, 2001 at age 72. Thanks to Rob Whatman's Brown Eyed Handsome Soul blog for Christine Kittrell's bio. Here's a video for Sittin' Here Drinkin' by Christine Kittrell.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Bertie Higgins

Artist:Bertie Higgins
Song:Key Largo
Album:Classic Soft Rock: Summer Breeze

Key Largo was the only significant hit for singer songwriter Bertie Higgins. He had another chart hit so technically he is not a one hit wonder. But most folks will only remember Key Largo. He was born Dec. 8, 1944 in Tarpon Springs, FL. In the 60s, he was drummer for Tommy Roe's touring band The Roemans. They released a few unsuccessful singles but mostly toured the world with Roe. By 1968, Higgins was burned out and returned home to Florida. He moved to Atlanta in 1980 and met producer Sonny Limbo. Limbo was a recording engineer who was a part of the early career of country music group Alabama. He set up a meeting with veteran music publisher Bill Lowery. Lowery liked Key Largo and got Higgins a recording deal with Kat Family Records with distribution by Epic. Key Largo topped the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is obviously about the 1948 film Key Largo starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. There's also a song Casablanca on his album Another Day In Paradise and that song was a big hit in Japan. He recorded one more album for Epic in 1984. Bertie Higgins continues to record on his own label and tour with his group The Band Of Pirates. His son Damian Higgins is a DJ and producer known as Dieselboy. His son Julian Higgins is an aspiring film director and dad has been helping him get established. You can get Key Largo on this 2CD Time Life various artists comp. Here's the video for Key Largo by Bertie Higgins.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Ace Of Base

Artist:Ace Of Base
Song:The Sign
Album:Playlist: The Very Best Of Ace Of Base

Though I understand the similarities and comparisons, I don't think Ace Of Base sounds anything like Abba. The Sign was their biggest of a string of hits in the 90s. I would describe their music as very basic and simple pop music. There's nothing complicated about their music. Of course like Abba, they are Swedish. Jonas Berggren was part of the Swedish punk scene. He led the band Konrad G in 1987. His sisters Linn and Jenny joined as singers. They went through several names and music styles but were called Kalinin Prospect in 1990. Berggren was getting into techno. The other two members left and Berggren asked Ulf Ekberg to join and they changed the name to Ace Of Base. They struggled until they heard the Swedish hit Another Mother by Kayo and sent a demo to the group's producer Denniz PoP. He produced their first hit All That She Wants. The Reggae influence set the stage for most of their other hits. And though All That She Wants was a big hit in Europe, they were turned down by US record companies until Arista Records signed them in 1993. Some tracks were added to their Happy Nation including The Sign and that was also the new title of the album. The Sign topped the charts worldwide and was the biggest hit of 1994. Ace Of Base had a total of four US top ten hits and faded in 1997. But they remained popular in Europe for several years. You can gwt all their hits on this budget comp. Ace Of Base took a hiatus in 2003. Linn and Jenny have both left and Ace Of Base continues with two new singers. Here's the video for The Sign by Ace Of Base.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mose Allison review

Photo by Michael Wilson
Last night I went to see legendary singer songwriter Mose Allison at the Enwave Theater at Harbourfront as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Allison grew up in Mississippi and has been part of the New York jazz scene since 1956. He started out as a standard jazz pianist until Prestige Records allowed him to sing in 1963. His late-60s Atlantic Records albums are the basis of his current fanbase. Allison is known for his wry observations and social commentary. Many musicians are fans and have covered his songs. Van Morrison even recorded a whole album of Allison songs. Allison's influences are Louis Jordan, Nat King Cole and Fats Waller and Mississippi Delta blues. He actually retired from recording in 1997 but singer songwriter Joe Henry talked him into recording and that album was released last year. Allison was accompanied by a bassist and drummer who were clearly local guys hired for the occasion. They learned his songs and he called them out by number. He had them written on sheets of paper on his piano. As the show went on, he kept going through the papers and he admitted at the end that he was having trouble finding some of the songs. Maybe he needs a big binder a la Irma Thomas. I thought he sounded great for an 83 year old. And he is still a tremendous pianist. He performed some of his classics like Your Mind is On Vacation and even some new ones like Certified Senior Citizen. I would have liked to see him interact more with the audience. But it's great to see a guy that I've admired since the 60s is still going strong. Age has not dulled his sense of humour.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Amanda Marshall

Artist:Amanda Marshall
Song:Dark Horse
Album:Amanda Marshall

I have said for many years that Canadian content regulations imposed upon Canadian radio stations do more harm than good. An artist has a hit in Canada and it gives them a false sense of security. When they are unable to break through to the US market, they get disillusioned. Amanda Marshall is one of many artists who have gone through this struggle. Dark Horse was one of her four Canadian top five hits. But she was unable to break through in the US despite being on a major label. At least Alannah Myles had Black Velvet. I mention that for a reason. Amanda Marshall was born Aug. 29, 1972 in Toronto. Her dad is a white Canadian and her mom is black from Trinidad. Amanda writes about this in her songs. Toronto blues guitarist Jeff Healey heard her in a Toronto bar and took her on tour. She signed with Metalblade Records in 1991 but that didn't work out and the contract was cancelled. Then she signed with Epic Records in 1995 and her debut CD Amanda Marshall was released. The album was produced by David Tyson who also co-produced Alannah Myles. Dark Horse reached #5 on the Canadian Singles chart and was one of four songs from the album to go top five. And the album went Diamond in Canada. But it went nowhere in the US. They tried several things including placing her songs in movie soundtracks. On her follow up albums, they had her work with big name producers like Carole King and Peter Asher. She still had success in Canada but was unable to break through in the US. Epic dropped her in 2003 and then Amanda fired her management and went through a long legal battle that prevented her from recording. She's still around and is supposedly working on a new CD. But her time seems to have passed. The Amanda Marshall CD is available as a budget release. Here's the video for Dark Horse by Amanda Marshall and you can judge for yourself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

STAX!/Average White Band Review

Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Cropper
Last night I went to the STAX!/Average White Band concert at the Mainstage at Metro Square as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Though I understand that AWB was supposed to headline, it was switched around when STAX! drummer Anton Fig had airplane problems. He did arrive. So AWB led off the show. They played all their hits like Pick Up the Pieces and Cut The Cake. The two original members in the band are bassist Alan Gorrie and guitarist Onnie McIntyre. Klyde Jones has been with AWB since 2002. He's a very versatile guy. He sings and plays guitar, keyboards and bass. I liked him. He added a lot to the show. Drummer Duke Bryant looks like he should be playing jazz. He got to perform an extended solo when McIntyre's amp needed to be replaced. Fred "Freddie V" Vigdor played mostly sax. He had a piano in front of him but he didn't seem to play it much. It was a very enjoyable set. STAX! is a band put together to feature Booker T. & the MGs members Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn. Dunn is a fairly low key guy so it's mostly Cropper who is featured in the first part of the show. Cropper plays complicated riffs on the guitar so effortlessly that sometimes one must think he's cheating. But this has made him a legend. Booker T. Jones is out promoting his own CD so they brought in a replacement whose name I can't remember at the moment (sorry). He did a very nice job of playing exactly like Booker T. And the Hammond organ looked like they got it out of a dumpster. But it sounded great. Drummer Anton Fig is best known as drummer on The Late Show with David Letterman. He can play anything. Eddie Floyd came out and performed Knock On Wood and some of his other hits. I thought there was something wrong with his mic as his vocals seemed muddy. But there's no question he's still a great singer. Toronto native Eric Mercury came out for a few songs. He recorded a couple of Steve Cropper produced albums for STAX in the early 70s. He sounded rusty to me. I don't know if he has performed in recent years. And I don't think most of the audience knew of him. In the end it was a fun show. I always want to see R & B legends and they did not disappoint.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-David Essex

Artist:David Essex
Song:Rock On
Album:'70s: Gold

In England, David Essex has had a lengthy career as a singer and actor. But in North America, he is mainly known for the 1974 top five hit Rock On. His singing career was a byproduct of his acting in stage and film musicals. He was born David Albert Cook July 23, 1947 in Essex, England. He started out recording for Decca in the 60s. But when his records flopped, he decided to turn to the stage and played the lead in the London cast of Godspell. He also appeared in the London production of Tommy. His big break in music came when he appeared on producer Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds concept album in 1973. This led to the starring role in the 1973 film That'll Be The Day. He sang Rock On in the film and it reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. He signed with Columbia and Jeff Wayne produced his debut album. Essex wrote this tribute to 50s music and icons like James Dean. That kind of nostalgia always appeals to listeners. You can get Rock On on this 2CD Hip-O various artists comp. Though David Essex never had another big hit in North America, he has had a lot of success in England as a singer and actor. He currently appears on the TV show East Enders. Here's David Essex performing Rock On on The Midnight Special 1974.

David Essex - Rock on by benporkofer

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Julia Budd vs Germaine De Randamie

Today on Big Bad Blog Video Theater I have for you last night's match with Julia Budd vs Germaine De Randamie from the Strikeforce show in Kent, WA. Both of these fighters are Muay Thai fighters transitioning to MMA. Germaine is the more accomplished striker. As we saw in her win over Shana Olsen, Julia has the strength to take down any fighter. But I don't think she's too sure what to do when she is on top of her opponent. So Julia's strategy was to take Germaine down and then hope the ref doesn't break them up for lack of action. That's known as lay and pray. It exposed Germaine's takedown defence as inadequate. It was funny because when Julia tried to pound Germaine, Germaine just fired back from her back. Then Julia tried for an armbar that could have got her into real trouble. Germaine's guillotine attempts immediately after she was taken down just showed how inexperienced she is on the ground. She needed to try and get out from under immediately instead of waiting as long as she did to try and do that. She used up way to much energy ineffectively. The first round lost her the fight because she did better in the second round and won the third round. The judges scored it 29-28 for Julia which I think was the correct decision. Both of them need work and it's doubtful that either of them could handle Ronda Rousey's quickness. Enjoy the video!

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-A Taste Of Honey

Artist:A Taste Of Honey
Song:Boogie Oogie Oogie
Album:Classic Masters

So this 1978 number one hit is perceived as a one hit wonder representing the excess of the disco era. But A Taste Of Honey had another top five hit so they weren't a one hit wonder. And group leader Janice Marie Johnson hated being labelled as disco. But they did win the 1978 Best New Artist Grammy and then faded by the early 80s mostly because of personnel changes and a less than supportive record company. It was also very unusual for women to lead a band in those days. Bassist and lead singer Janice Marie Johnson was the daughter of a musician and started out playing bass in Los Angeles jazz clubs. In 1971, she met keyboard player Percy Kibble at a Princess Cruise Lines audition and they decided to form a band. It was named after the Herb Alpert hit A Taste Of Honey. Other members were drummer Donald Johnson and lead singer Greg Walker. When Walker left to join Santana, guitarist Hazel Payne was brought in and Janice became lead vocalist. They met with producers Fonce and Larry Mizell and signed with Capitol Records. Fonce was part of The Corporation that produced The Jackson 5 and he also produced Donald Byrd and The Blackbyrds for Capitol's Blue Note label. They recorded their 1978 debut album and Boogie Oogie Oogie topped the Billboard Hot 100. The album went Platinum. The song Boogie Oogie Oogie came out of this assumption that hot chicks can't play instruments. And as you will see in the video, Janice and Hazel could really play. So Janice was annoyed at an audience one night when she improvised the Boogie Oogie Oogie bass riff and the words to the song. That's right. She made up a number one hit on the spot. A Taste Of Honey's other top five hit was their 1981 cover of Kyu Sakamoto's Sukiyaki. They split up in 1983. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. Janice Marie Johnson recorded a solo album in 1984. But Capitol didn't promote it and it didn't sell. She was actually a limo driver for a few years. Percy Kibble and Donald Johnson moved to Calgary to play blues in local clubs. Kibble died in 1999. Johnson still records blues CDs. Janice Marie Johnson and Hazel Payne reunited for a 2004 PBS special. Here's A Taste Of Honey performing Boogie Oogie Oogie on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert 1978. Swing those axes, girls!

A Taste of Honey. Boogie Oogie Oogie [Live] 1978 by capitainfunkk

Friday, June 24, 2011

Amanda Lucas on Aug. 26 DEEP show

Amanda and George Lucas
After today's Korakuen Hall show, DEEP held a press conference to announce that Amanda Lucas will appear on the Aug. 26 Korakuen Hall show. They're making a big deal about this because of course Amanda is the daughter of legendary Star Wars director George Lucas. You see that picture over there? That's what they put up on the Korakuen Hall video screen. So while I understand that some fans get annoyed when her dad is mentioned before her, that's always going to happen. The big problem with Amanda is she's a big girl and it's tough to find opponents for her. She had a fight scheduled for April but her opponent missed weight by so much, the fight was cancelled. Her record is 1-1 and her last fight was a win over Christen Bedwell on the Nov. 7, 2009 FCF show in Tulsa. Her fight in April was supposed to be at 165lb but her manager Shu Hirata said this fight would be at 155lb. DEEP matchmaker Shigeru Saeki did not reveal the contracted weight but he did say the opponent would be Japanese and he tipped his hand further by saying that the candidate could be a pro wrestler. If we were limiting ourselves to MMA fighters, Super Benkei would be the most logical opponent because she fights at a heavier weight. But since Saeki said the opponent could be a Japanese female pro wrestler, the first name that I can think of is veteran pro wrestler and STARDOM trainer Nanae Takahashi mainly because of her size. She's about 5'9" and about 150lb. She's one of the larger female pro wrestlers in Japan. Takahashi was supposed to make her kickboxing debut at last August's SHOOT BOXING show. But when Germaine De Randamie fell through, they couldn't find a replacement and she ended up doing an exhibition match with Fuuka. I think Takahashi has been itching to do something like this for a long time. Consider this an educated guess. I could be way off but it's fun to guess. Saeki also said George Lucas may attend the show. Uh huh. Amanda Lucas is a legit fighter and is active in BJJ tournaments. But anyone who thinks DEEP is bringing her over because of her fighting ability is dreaming in Technicolor.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-KC & The Sunshine Band

Artist:KC & The Sunshine Band
Song:Get Down Tonight
Album:The Best Of KC & The Sunshine Band

KC & The Sunshine Band were one of the most popular bands of the 70s. My guess is many music fans don't look at them too fondly today. But you did listen to them back then. Get Down Tonight was the first of their five number one hits in 1975. My only problem with them is Harry Wayne Casey's mediocre vocals. He was an aspiring musician and record store employee and made frequent visits to TK Records in Miami. Eventually he was hired to work in the TK warehouse. He met TK audio engineer Richard Finch and they started working together. One of their demos was the George McCrae hit Rock Your Baby and it was at this point they became a serious band. A key addition to KC & The Sunshine Band was TK session guitarist Jerome Smith. Their first few singles did OK. But Get Down Tonight was their breakthrough hit and their first number one hit in 1975. The album KC & The Sunshine Band reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 200 and was certified 3XPlatinum. Casey and Finch wrote Get Down Tonight and most of their other songs. Finch says he got the idea for Get Down Tonight from the Gilbert O'Sullivan song Get Down. He liked the title but he didn't know that O'Sullivan wrote it about his dog. Other number one hits were That's The Way (I Like It), Shake Your Booty, I'm Your Boogie Man and Please Don't Go. And you can get them all on this Rhino budget comp. With the late 70s rise of New Wave music, Disco had faded and so did KC & The Sunshine Band. TK Records went bankrupt in 1980 and the band signed with Epic Records. That didn't work out and Casey and Finch split up. They both retired from music but Casey returned in the 90s and still leads KC & The Sunshine Band today. Here's KC & The Sunshine Band performing Get Down Tonight on The Midnight Special 1977.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Four Preps

Artist:The Four Preps
Song:Big Man
Album:Capitol Collectors Series

The Four Preps were very successful in the late 50s with what I would describe as anti-Rock 'N' Roll. Big Man was one of their two top five hits. The group was known for their harmonies. Three of the four members went on to very successful careers in the entertainment business. Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb, Marvin Inabnett, Glen Larson and pianist Lincoln Mayorga were all students at Hollywood High School. They were discovered and signed to Capitol Records by producer Nik Venet in 1956. Belland was usually the lead singer. Their first few singles were not successful. But they finally struck gold when 26 Miles reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Big Man did almost as well at #3 but it did better internationally. Belland and Larson wrote Big Man and Mayorga wrote the arrangement. Mayorga was very important to their sound and was known as The Fifth Prep. They had a few lesser hits but became popular as a live act. The 1961 live album The Four Preps On Campus was a top ten album. Brian Wilson has acknowledged The Four Preps as a major influence on The Beach Boys harmonies. This Collectables comp has all their hits. As their career wound down in the mid-60s, Ed Cobb left the group to become a record producer. He produced The Standells hit Dirty Water among other things. Glen Larson is better known as a producer of TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and plenty of others. Lincoln Mayorga has had a long career as a composer and producer. Bruce Belland went on to write plenty of hits for other artists. Then he became a TV scriptwriter and eventually a senior programming exec at NBC. He still leads a version of The Four Preps today. Ed Cobb was performing with him but he died in 1999. Here's The Four Preps performing 26 Miles and Big Man on the 1994 PBS special Magic Moments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-John Mellencamp

Artist:John Mellencamp
Song:Hurts So Good
Album:Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits

The 1982 top five hit Hurts So Good was John Mellencamp's commercial breakthrough back when he was called John Cougar. He had been around for a few years but the 1982 album American Fool set the stage for long term success, not to mention the right to use his real name. He was born Oct. 7, 1951 in Seymour, IN. He played in bands as a teen and pursued a career in music after graduating from college. He had been in the glitter band Trash. His demo got the attention of David Bowie's manager Tony DeFries and he got him a record deal with MCA Records. DeFries came up with Johnny Cougar because he thought Mellencamp was too hard to market. Mellencamp's 1976 debut album Chestnut Street Incident flopped and MCA dropped him after rejecting his second album The Kid Inside. Mellencamp left DeFries for Rod Stewart's manager Billy Gaff. He owned Riva Records and had Mellencamp move to London to record the 1978 album A Biography. The album wasn't released in the US but I Need A Lover was a big enough hit in Australia that it was added to his 1979 album John Cougar when Mercury picked it up and became his first top 30 hit. The song was a bigger hit for Pat Benetar. So he was doing OK and Mellencamp has admitted that he could have continued making light pop songs for many years. But the 1982 album American Fool gave him the clout he needed to change the direction. Hurts So Good reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Mellencamp wrote it with his long time partner George Green. Then Jack & Diane topped the charts. American Fool was certified 5XPlatinum. This earned Mellencamp the right to use his own name on his albums. His next few albums were very successful. He also helped organize the original Farm Aid concert and opened his own recording studio in Indiana. He continued to be billed as John Cougar Mellencamp until his 1991 album Whenever We Wanted. His success continued until he left Mercury for Columbia Records in 1998 but he wasn't as successful there. This 2CD comp is a good overview of Mellencamp's career. John Mellencamp continues to record.His latest CD No Better Than This was released on Rounder Records Aug. 2010 and was produced by T-Bone Burnett. The two have written a musical with Stephen King called Ghost Brothers of Darkland County that is supposed to premiere in 2012. A CD for the show has been recorded but has yet to be released. It took a long time for John Mellencamp to get respect in the music business. He certainly has it now. Here's the video for Hurts So Good by John Mellencamp.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Megumi Fujii returns to JEWELS on July 9 show

Mika Nagano, Megumi Fujii
JEWELS held a press conference today at the DEEP dojo to add more matches to the July 9 Shinjuku FACE show. The big news is that Megumi Fujii will return to JEWELS for the first time in two years. Her opponent will be Mika Nagano who lost to Megumi in her MMA debut back in 2007. JEWELS is trying to sell this as a main event quality match. It would be except they are choosing to present this match under the limited JEWELS rules instead of standard MMA rules. So it's limited ground and pound. Megumi told Sherdog's Tony Loiseleur that she was told there are too many standard MMA rules matches on the show already. Baloney! There is also a rumour that Mika Nagano doesn't like fighting by standard MMA rules and she is a favourite of JEWELS matchmaker Shigeru Saeki. But the correct answer is that Saeki is a stupid old fart who needs to get his head out of his ass. Of course Megumi is the head trainer at AACC. Her record is 23-1 and her last fight was a unanimous decision win over Emi Fujino on the Dec. 30 Sengoku show. Mika trains at CORE. Her record is 8-4 and her last fight was a win over Emi Murata on the May 14 JEWELS show. She is also a pro wrestler for STARDOM. Has Mika Nagano improved enough to beat Megumi Fujii? Very doubtful. But I'm sure Yuka Tsuji will be watching very closely. They also added two JEWELS vs VALKYRIE matches. Celine will face Kyoko Takabayashi and Kikuyo Ishikawa will face SACHI. Celine trains at Team Hellboy Hansen in Norway and trains at AACC when she is in Japan. Her record is 1-7 and her last match was a TKO loss to Simona Soukupova on the on the Nov. 20 ECFF show in Norwich, England. Takabayashi trains at ALIVE. Her record is 11-4-1 and she fought to a draw on her last fight against VV Mei on the Nov. 28 VALKYRIE show. Many observers believe she was robbed. Takabayashi is more experienced than Celine but her matches usually go to a decision and that gives Celine the opportunity to steal one from her. Takabayashi's inability to finish matches has cost her before. Ishikawa trains at Reversal in Yokohama. Her record is 4-2 and her last match was a win over Yukiko Seki on the Dec. 17 JEWELS show. SACHI trains at Zendokai. Her record is 8-4-1 and her last fight was a win over MIYOKO on the May 14 JEWELS show. SACHI has a big edge in experience and should be the favourite. These two matches will be under special JEWELS rules. In a match contracted for 48kg, MIYOKO will face Yuka Okumura. MIYOKO trains at Grabaka. Her record is 2-3 and her last match was a loss to SACHI on the May 14 JEWELS show. Okumura trains at Soul Fighters. Her record is 1-7 and her last match was a loss to Yukiko Seki at the May 14 JEWELS show. This was her return to MMA after a four year break. They also added a couple of kickboxing matches with Miku Hayashi vs anna and Chikako WSR vs Hanako Nakamori. She is the pro wrestler formerly known as Hanako Kobayashi. She and her pal Tomoko Morii have done MMA in the past. Hanako changed her name when Ito Dojo closed at the end of 2010. The two do pro wrestling for JWP but train for MMA at Fight Chix. Morii has worked for the J-Girls kickboxing company so I think we'll see her in JEWELS at some point. And for those who asked, Ayaka Hamasaki is injured and won't be on this show.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Alannah Myles

Artist:Alannah Myles
Song:Black Velvet
Album:The Ultimate Hits of the 90s

Black Velvet was the only really big hit for Canadian singer Alannah Myles in 1990. She was more successful in Canada but she even faded out there by the mid-90s. It's likely most fans will only remember Black Velvet. There's nothing wrong with her so why did she fade? She was born Alannah Byles Dec. 25, 1958 the daughter of Canadian broadcast pioneer William Douglas Byles. The key event in Alannah's musical career was meeting producer Christopher Ward. Fans in Canada will know him as a VJ in the early days of MuchMusic. But Ward was always a musician first and recorded a couple of albums in the late 70s. He left MuchMusic and moved to Los Angeles to be a full time songwriter and producer. Ward and partner David Tyson produced Alannah's 1989 debut album Alannah Myles on Warner Bros. Canada. When the album and Black Velvet became a hit in Canada, Atlantic Records picked it up in the US. The album reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 200 and was certified Platinum. Black Velvet topped the Billboard Hot 100. Ward and Tyson wrote Black Velvet as an Elvis Presley tribute. So the song did great but the follow up Love Is did OK in Canada but didn't catch on in the US. By 1995, Alannah Myles recorded three albums for Atlantic. The third album did so poorly that they dropped her. You can get Black Velvet on this Collectables various artists comp. But she was still under contract to Atlantic and couldn't record for anyone else. Ark 21 Records owner Miles Copeland got her out of that contract and she recorded for him in 1998. Alannah Myles recorded a CD last year but I think it's fair to say that she has been long forgotten by most music fans except for Black Velvet. Maybe she doesn't even know what happened but I think her music may not have been consistent enough for her to have long term success. Here's the video for Black Velvet by Alannah Myles.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yukiko Seki vs sakura added to July 23 PANCRASE show

Yukiko Seki, sakura
PANCRASE announced today that they have added another ATHENA match to their July 23 Shinjuku FACE show. WINDY Tomomi vs Sadae Manhoef is already scheduled. In a match contracted for 47.5kg and scheduled for two five minute rounds, Yukiko Seki will face sakura. They are selling this as JEWELS vs VALKYRIE though Seki has worked for both companies. She trains at Fight Chix. Her record is 8-20. She's been fighting since 2004. Her latest fight was a split decision win over Yuka Okumura on the May 14 JEWELS show. This will be her PANCRASE debut. sakura is the ringname of Kimie Okada. She trains at the main branch of WK which is the home dojo for VALKYRIE. Her record is 0-4-1. Her last fight was a unanimous decision loss to Megumi Morioka on the Nov. 28 VALKYRIE show. Obviously Seki has a huge experience edge. And though she doesn't look it, sakura is in her mid-30s and she's only had five fights since her debut in 2008. It's hard to play catch up when a fighter starts fighting at an advanced age. But it's good to see PANCRASE getting more into women's fights.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Ronnie Dunn

Artist:Ronnie Dunn
Song:Bleed Red
Album:Ronnie Dunn

Most country music fans should be familiar with Ronnie Dunn as half of the very successful duo Brooks & Dunn. Bleed Red is the first single from Dunn's debut solo album. He was born June 1, 1953 in Coleman, TX. He was a psychology major at Abilene Christian in 1975 with the intention of becoming a Baptist preacher and was playing bass and singing in Abilene clubs on the side. The school gave him the choice of quitting the band or leaving school. He left school and moved to Tulsa. What a lot of fans may not know is that Dunn had a solo contract with MCA Records and recorded three unsuccessful singles in 1983. In 1989, Dunn won a Nashville recording session in a Marlboro sponsored talent contest. This led to Arista executive Tim Dubois pairing Dunn with Kix Brooks. Brooks & Dunn were very successful through the 90s. But they announced their split in August 2009. In late 2010, Dunn announced that he was working on a solo album. Bleed Red was the first single and reached #10 on the Country Singles chart. The album was released a couple of weeks ago and has already topped the Country Album chart. Bleed Red was written by veteran Nashville songwriters Andrew Dorff and Tommy Lee James who have written plenty of songs. Dunn did write a few songs on the album and also produced. Kix Brooks hasn't said anything about his future but Bleed Red is a good start for Ronnie Dunn's Solo career. Here's the video for Bleed Red by Ronnie Dunn.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Chris Rea

Artist:Chris Rea
Song:Fool (If You Think It's Over)
Album:Hard To Find 45s on CD Vol. 8: Seventies Pop Classics

In North America, Fool (If You Think It's Over) was British singer songwriter Chris Rea's only big hit. He's a much bigger star in England and Europe and since the 80s has concentrated on his fanbase there. He was born Mar. 4, 1951 in Middlesborough, North Yorkshire, England. He first surfaced in 1973 as lead singer of Magdalene replacing David Coverdale who would go on to form Whitesnake. Rea left to start his own band Beautiful Losers but then he signed a record deal with Magnet Records. Magnet was also the home for Alvin Stardust and was owned by future politician Michael Levy. He sold Magnet to Warner Bros. in 1988. Rea's debut solo album Whatever Happened To Benny Santini? was released in 1978. The title refers to a stage name that Magnet wanted him to use. The album was produced by Elton John's producer Gus Dudgeon. United Artists picked up the album for distribution in the US and Fool (If You Think It's Over) reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It actually didn't do that well in England until it was a hit in the US. The sax solo is by Steve Gregory of Georgie Fame's band. Though the song was a hit, Rea was not happy with the final mix. So he went back and re-recorded Fool (If You Think It's Over) in 1988. That's the version you will get on all Chris Rea comps. The original 1978 single is on this various artists comp from Eric Records. He was dropped by UA after his second album Deltics. Rea looked at himself as a blues artist and was annoyed that Dudgeon tried to turn him into a pop star. In the 80s, Rea concentrated on establishing his European fanbase. This paid off when his 1989 album The Road To Hell became his first #1 album in England. Atco released it in the US but it went nowhere. And he's still popular in England and has a new CD set for 2011 release. But in North America, Chris Rea is perceived as a one hit wonder. Here's Chris Rea performing Fool (If You Think It's Over) 1978.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The First Class

Artist:The First Class
Song:Beach Baby
Album:WSNI-FM Sunny 104.5 Presents Summer Fun

I'm sure there are those who think that the 1974 top five hit Beach Baby is a long lost Beach Boys song. But no, The First Class was a recording studio creation from British guys who had a long history of creating pop hits anonymously. The man behind The First Class was producer John Carter and the lead singer was Tony Burrows. Carter wrote Beach Baby with wife Gillian Shakespeare. Carter and his partner Ken Lewis had some success in England with The Ivy League in 1965. He sang lead on The New Vaudeville Band hit Winchester Cathedral and also wrote The Music Explosion Hit Little Bit O' Soul and was behind The Flower Pot Men. Tony Burrows took over as lead singer of The Ivy League when Carter didn't want to perform anymore. He was also lead singer of The Flower Pot Men and sang lead on Edison Lighthouse's Love Grows, White Plains' My Baby Loves Lovin' and The Brotherhood Of Man's United We Stand. And he performed all three of those songs on a 1970 episode of Top Of The Pops. The First Class was Carter's tribute to The Beach Boys. It was not a real group and Carter and Burrows had no plans to tour as The First Class. But when Beach Baby became a surprise hit and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, background singer Chas Mills put an actual group together to tour. None of the musicians in the touring band played on the record though that is Tony Burrows singing on the video clip. You can get Beach Baby on this budget various artists comp from Collectables. Not surprisingly, The First Class didn't last very long. They only recorded two albums. John Carter has had a long jingle writing career and Tony Burrows still does sessions. Here's The First Class performing Beach Baby on the TV show Disco.

Friday, June 17, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Ambrosia

Song:Biggest Part Of Me

By the time Biggest Part Of Me became Ambrosia's biggest hit in 1980, the band had shrunk from a quartet to a trio and had abandoned their progressive rock style for a more commercial pop style. Ambrosia formed in 1970 led by lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter David Pack with bassist Joe Puerta, keyboard player Christopher North and drummer Burleigh Drummond. The concept of the band was to combine the vocal harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with the progressive rock of King Crimson. Ambrosia lived in San Pedro, CA. In 1971, Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta featured Ambrosia in an All American Dream Concert. But they were unable to get a record contract until they signed with 20th Century Records in 1975. Their debut album Ambrosia had the top 20 hit Holdin' On To Yesterday. They worked a lot with Alan Parsons. He produced their albums and Ambrosia played on his albums. Their second album Somewhere I've Never Traveled was known for its album cover which folded into a pyramid. They signed with Warner Bros. and their 1978 album Live Beyond LA had a more mainstream pop sound. Christopher North didn't like the new sound and also didn't like touring so he quit the band. He returned shortly after but keyboard player David C. Lewis was also added. He would go on to lead the 80s band Shadowfax. They also added percussionist and vocalist Royce Jones who had toured with Steely Dan. But Warners liked the sound and sent them back into the studio to record the 1980 album One Eighty. Biggest Part Of Me reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was their biggest hit. The sax solo is by veteran session musician Ernie Watts. Long time fans didn't like the change to a more commercial sound but sales figures don't lie. After the 1982 album Road Island didn't do as well, Ambrosia split up. You can get all their hits on this 1997 Rhino budget comp. David Pack went on to a solo career and as a producer. Joe Puerta joined Bruce Hornsby & The Range. Ambrosia has reformed occasionally and Puerta, North and Drummond's version of Ambrosia are currently on tour with Yes. Here's Ambrosia performing Biggest Part Of Me on The Midnight Special June 1980.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of the Day-Bee Gees

Artist:Bee Gees
Song:How Deep Is Your Love
Album:The Ultimate Bee Gees

How Deep Is Your Love is one of three number one hits from the 1977 soundtrack of the film Saturday Night Fever which is the biggest selling movie soundtrack of all time. And though this was the peak of the Bee Gees career, they had been around for a long time before that. Barry Gibb and his twin brothers Robin and Maurice Gibb were born in the Isle Of Man and grew up in England. The family moved to Australia in 1958. The brothers started performing together as The Rattlesnakes and then Wee Johnny Hayes & The Bluecats. Racetrack owner Bill Goode introduced them to DJ Bill Gates who named them Bee Gees after themselves, not the Gibb brothers. They recorded a couple of albums in Australia but weren't successful and they moved to England in 1966. They sent a demo to Beatles manager Brian Epstein and he gave it to his partner Robert Stigwood. Stigwood signed the Bee Gees to Polydor Records in England and the Atlantic Records label Atco in the US. If you listen to early Bee Gees recordings, the Beatles influence was so obvious that people thought they were The Beatles. They had hits in those days. I Started A Joke was the biggest. It reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. But they started to fade. Robin Gibb thought Stigwood was favouring Barry as lead vocalist and left in 1969. He recorded a solo album that didn't do well and the Bee Gees were still recording but going nowhere. Robin returned in 1970 and How Can You Mend A Broken Heart was their first number one hit in 1971. But they were still in a rut and Atlantic Records owner Neshui Ertegun suggested the Bee Gees work with legendary producer Arif Mardin. Then Eric Clapton suggested they go to Miami to record as he was very happy with the experience. The result was that Jive Talkin' was their second number one hit. Obviously it was a big change from their 60s recordings. A key addition was former Strawbs keyboard player Blue Weaver who created the synthesizer licks. So now they're doing these upbeat dance songs and this led to Saturday Night Fever. The end result was three number one singles including How Deep Is Your Love and Saturday Night Fever sold 40 million copies worldwide. The film was credited with popularizing the disco craze. At the time, I think disco had run its course but Saturday Night Fever just prolonged it for a few years. The Bee Gees faded in the early 80s because of the rise of New Wave and the disco backlash though they still had success producing other artists. In 1983, they were sued for plagiarism for How Deep Is Your Love but they won the case. In 1988, they were going to add younger brother Andy Gibb to the group but he died. The Bee Gees continued to record and tour but split up when Maurice died in 2001. This 2CD comp was released in 2009 and for a few extra bucks you can get a bonus DVD. Barry and Robin Gibb perform occasionally but I would describe them as semi-retired. Supposedly Steven Speilberg is turning the Bee Gees story into a biopic. Here's the video for How Deep Is Your Love by the Bee Gees.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-SSGT. Barry Sadler

Artist:SSGT. Barry Sadler
Song:The Ballad Of The Green Berets
Album:Top Hits Of The Sixties: Coolest Hits

At the height of the folk music boom and the protest song movement, The Ballad Of The Green Berets rode a wave of patriotism to become the biggest hit of 1966. And the most interesting thing was that Barry Sadler was a real Green Beret who became a recording star by accident. Of course it didn't last long. He was born Nov. 1, 1940 in Calsbad, NM. His father died when he was young and his family moved around as his mom found work. He learned to play guitar and also became an avid shooter. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1958 and was stationed in Japan as a radar specialist. After returning home, he couldn't find work. So he re-enlisted this time in the US Army and became a paratrooper and then a Special Forces Green Beret. In 1965, he was injured while in Vietnam and while recuperating, he sang and played guitar for the other wounded soldiers. A news crew filmed Sadler singing The Ballad Of The Green Berets. The song became a sensation when it played on the news and RCA Records got Sadler to record it and asked novelist Robin Moore to help him. Moore wrote the novel The Green Berets which became the 1968 film The Green Berets starring John Wayne. The Ballad Of The Green Berets topped the Billboard Hot 100, the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #2 on the Country Singles chart. It was the biggest hit of 1966. The A Team was Sadler's only other top 30 hit and he only recorded two albums. You can get The Ballad Of The Green Berets on this Collectables various artists comp. Barry Sadler wrote the successful Casca series of novels in the 70s. In 1979, he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Lee Emerson Bellamy. They were fighting over Sadler's current girlfriend at the time. He moved to Guatemala in 1983 where he was running guns and training soldiers. He was shot in the head during a 1988 robbery attempt and died on Nov. 5, 1989 at age 49. Here's SSGT. Barry Sadler performing The Ballad Of The Green Berets on The Ed Sullivan Show Jan. 30, 1966.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SHOOT BOXING S-Girls Cup 2011 set for Aug. 19

VV Mei, Ai Takahashi, Bobby Ologun, Takeshi Caesar, Fuuka, RENA, Erika Kamimura
SHOOT BOXING held a press conference today to announce that the 2011 edition of the S-Girls Cup tournament will be Aug. 19 at SHIBUYA-AX. There will be a total of eight fighters in the tournament. Four were announced yesterday and all were at the press conference. There's one particularly strong addition to this year's tournament. Before I get to that, SHOOT BOXING owner Takeshi Caesar announced two celebrities to help run the show. He named Nigerian born comedian Bobby Ologun producer of the show and retired female pro wrestler Fuuka advertising manager. Of course Caesar is the real boss so these two are just figureheads. But it's not a bad idea. Both certainly know how to attract media attention. For those not familiar with him, Bobby Ologun became popular in Japan mispronouncing Japanese on the TV show The Funniest Language School. Watching Bob Sapp in K-1 inspired Ologun to train at Pancrase. And from 2004-07, he appeared on five K-1 shows and has a 2-3 record. So he is a fight fan. He said his main job for this show is to sell tickets. Of course Fuuka has fought for SHOOT BOXING. Since retiring from pro wrestling last year, she is general manager of the women's wrestling company STARDOM. The four fighters announced for this tournament are Erika Kamimura, Ai Takahashi, RENA, and VV Mei. The big addition is 18 year old kickboxing champ Kamimura. She is currently the WPMF & WMC World Women's Mini-Flyweight Champion. She also knocked RENA down during a recent exhibition match. RENA has won this tournament the last two years so she said she wants to three-peat. It remains to be seen how her recent loss to Ai Takahashi affects her. I would not be surprised to see Kamimura vs RENA in the first round. Caesar knows money when he sees it. Of course Takahashi is the current SHOOT BOXING Flyweight Champion and is always a threat. VV Mei is the only MMA fighter in this group but she has a lot of SHOOT BOXING experience. I expect SHOOT BOXING to bring over some gaijin fighters for this tournament and they may have some MMA on the show as they have done that in the past. Until someone beats her, Erika Kamimura should be the favourite.

AccuRadio Song Of the Day-Nick Garrie

Artist:Nick Garrie
Song:Can I Stay With You
Album:The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanislas

Nick Garrie is an obscure British folksinger who has become a cult figure in recent years despite not recording since the early 70s. He had some success in Europe. He retired from music but is now touring again. I think those who like similar artists like Donovan or Nick Drake may enjoy his music. He was born June 22, 1949 in Yorkshire, England. He started writing songs while attending Warwick University. He started performing in 1968 while backpacking through the south of France. He recorded an album in Belgium but it was never released. He signed with the French label DiscAZ and went into the studio with producer Eddie Vartan. He is the brother of French pop star Sylvie Vartan and has produced albums for Johnny Hallyday. Vartan added an orchestra to the 1969 album The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanislas against Garrie's wishes. Then DiscAZ owner Lucien Morisse committed suicide within days of the album release. So it went nowhere. Garrie quit the music business though the album started to gain a cult following over the years. He didn't seem to be aware of that. Garrie returned to music as Nick Hamilton in 1984 and and topped the Spanish pop charts. And he also released an album in 1994. But when songs from The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanislas started appearing on various artists psychedelic comps, Rev-Ola released the album on CD in 2005. An expanded 2CD edition has been recently released. I don't think you need that. Nick Garrie returned to live performing but also has a career as a French teacher. Here's the video for Can I Stay With You by Nick Garrie.

Monday, June 13, 2011

People In Motion 2011 new product review

Amigo TravelMate III
I went to the annual People In Motion show looking for new products for the disabled. Usually I find things that are not of interest to me personally. But you may recall that last year I wrote about the Alex powerchair with because I knew I would be in the market for a new chair. If you read this blog, you'll know that I recently ordered a Quickie XPlore. The problem with the Alex is I can't get the kind of footplates that I need because of front wheel drive. But that's what People In Motion is all about. It's a one stop shop for the disabled. Again this year I live tweeted from the show. And I did find some new products. The first is the Amigo TravelMate III collapsible scooter. In the past, collapsible scooters have left a lot to be desired. But Amigo has manufactured scooters since 1968 and this is their first attempt at a collapsible scooter. It's not designed as a primary scooter. But if you use a scooter and travel a lot, this is for you. I thought it looked very sturdy. Others I have seen in the past seemed very fragile. It looks like it can take a pounding. But the main feature is you can fold the TravelMate III in 30 seconds. It only weighs 53 pounds so it's very simple to put it in your car trunk. And it even has a handle so you can carry it like a piece of luggage. This is a brand new product that is just going into production. It is manufactured in Michigan and sold in Canada by Premier Mobility in Richmond Hill. It sells for $1800 and for more info you can go to or call them at 905-889-2336.

FreeWheel is a manual wheelchair attachment that is designed to make it easier for user to navigate curbs and other obstacles. FreeWheel is for manual chairs with rigid frame footrests. It will not work with the individual footrests that swing away to the side. When you attach FreeWheel to your footrest, it raises the front casters so you can get over obstacles. It seems to be well manufactured and it only weighs five pounds so it's very light. It comes with a perch that attaches to your seat back and you clamp the FreeWheel to it when you need to store it. Using the FreeWheel should ease the shoulder pain that most manual wheelchair users are all too familiar with. And it gives you a smoother ride as well. It sells for $599 but is not yet ADP approved. I am told the application is pending. Epical Solutions in Regina is the distributor and you can visit their website at

Lift & Lock
The Lift & Lock Wheelchair Mounted Arm is a modular device designed to make it easier for paraplegics and quadraplegics to use monitors that most of us take for granted. If you're a powerchair user, have you ever tried to keep a laptop or an iPad in your lap? Good luck. The Lift & Lock mounts on your powerchair and anything with a screen can be attached to it. That includes laptops, tablets, cameras, monitors, iPads etc. etc. And it's all hands free and it's very sturdy. It's clamped on so it won't slip. There are different models available and the manufacturer is open to customization for the individual user. The modular design is a pretty significant breakthrough. The product was invented  by a Toronto man and the manufacturing is by Monitors In Motion. Their main product is high end monitor brackets. You might get big screen TV brackets from them. This seems like an altruistic sideline for them. The pricing varies depending on the specific needs. There's no question there is a need for this kind of product. But the customization makes it somewhat questionable that it can be profitable on its own merit. They have to make new molds for each variation of the arm. Molds are expensive. Monitors In Motion is in Tottenham and their website is So that's it from People In Motion 2001. I'll see you there next year.

Mickie James beats a drugged out zombie at TNA Slammiversary

So here's the match video from last night's TNA Slammiversary with Mickie James defending her TNA Knockouts Championship against Angelina Love. I like Angelina Love but I really hate this character and the whole angle. It's a typical Vince Russo toss logic out the window storyline. It makes absolutely no sense to have any wrestler behave like a drugged out zombie except when the wrestler is wrestling a match. And Tazz comments about this because he realizes it's ridiculous. I understand they're going for creepiness with Winter controlling Angelina but it's just lame. And fans aren't reacting to the characters. They're just staring at them saying WTF. And TNA is so slow in ditching an angle when it is clearly not working. Remember Tara in the motorcycle helmet? The match itself is pretty good because both girls are trying to put on a good show. But Winter's interference kills the momentum. They are desperate to get these lame characters over but it's not working. And then Mickie botches her DDT finisher. Tazz even mentions that. Instead of going for the pin, she should have done it over. Stuff happens sometimes but Mickie didn't react well. The post match beat down was OK. And they are teasing that Angelina may be coming to her senses. I sure hope so but getting rid of Russo would mean that Dixie Carter had come to her senses. Isn't she the inspiration for the Angelina zombie character? Enjoy the video.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Stylistics

Artist:The Stylistics
Song:You Make Me Feel Brand New
Album:The Best Of The Stylistics

The Stylistics were one of the smoothest Philly Soul groups. You Make Me Feel Brand New was their biggest hit in 1974. Of course the man behind The Stylistics was legendary producer Thom Bell who also produced The Delfonics and The Spinners. The Stylistics was a merger of two late 60s Philadelphia soul groups. Lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr., James Smith and Airron Love were from The Monarchs and James Dunn and Herbie Murrell were from The Percussions. In 1970, they had a regional hit with You're A Big Girl Now and this led to a contract with Avco Records. Avco was owned by Avco Embassy Pictures owner Joseph E. Levine and operated by Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore AKA the songwriting team of Hugo & Luigi. They'd been around since the 50s. Avco asked Thom Bell to produce The Stylistics after his success with The Delfonics. He agreed because he really liked Thompkins falsetto voice and Hugo & Luigi promised to leave him alone. Bell wrote most of The Stylistics songs with lyricist Linda Creed. The two met when both were working for Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. They wrote a lot of great songs. The Stylistics were very successful on the R & B charts and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Betcha By Golly Wow. You Make Me Feel Brand New reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. The Stylistics were on a roll. This ended when they left Thom Bell and Hugo & Luigi bought out Levine and changed the label name to H & L Records. The Stylistics worked with producer Van McCoy but were missing the Thom Bell magic. And disco was taking over and they didn't adapt very well. Meanwhile, H & L went bankrupt. The Stylistics also recorded for Mercury and Philadelphia International but they faded in the early 80s. This comp is a good intro to their music. Russell Thompkins Jr. tours the oldies circuit with a version of The Stylistics today and Love and Murrell also lead a version of the group. Here's The Stylistics performing You Make Me Feel Brand New on Soul Train 1974.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Divinyls

Artist:The Divinyls
Song:I Touch Myself
Album:Frequency 99: Greatest Hits of the '90s

Though very popular in their native Australia, here in North America The Divinyls are primarily known for the the 1991 top five hit I Touch Myself. The song and the video was controversial at the time. That part has worn off but it's still a pretty good song. Guitarist Mark McEntee was an original member of Air Supply. Lead singer Christina Amphlett had been performing since she was a teen and met McEntee when he saw her perform at the Sydney Opera House in 1980. These two were the main members of The Divinyls and the rest of the band was revolving door of musicians. They provided the music for the 1982 film Monkey Grip. They recorded three albums for Chrysalis Records. Their success in Australia encouraged Chrysalis to release The Divinyls in the US, other than MTV airplay of the 1985 song Pleasure and Pain, they did not catch on. By 1990, The Divinyls were a duo. They left Chrysalis for Virgin. Apparently Virgin liked Christina's sex appeal and thought she could be the next Madonna. The two were sent to Los Angeles to record the 1991 album diVinyls. They used studio musicians Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on keyboards and American Idol judge Randy Jackson on bass. Drummer Charley Drayton toured with The Divinyls for several years. The album reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 200 and was certified Gold. I Touch Myself reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the video was in heavy rotation on MTV. Amphlett and McEntee co-wrote the song with the songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. They wrote Madonna's Like A Virgin among other things. Steinberg came up with the title and the first verse. It's obvious what they were going for and it worked until the controversy ended up with The Divinyls being dropped by Virgin. The Divinyls fell off the radar. The 1996 CD Underworld was released only in Australia and they split up in 1997. You can get I Touch Myself on this 2CD budget various artists comp from Capitol. Christina Amphlett did some stage acting in Australia and now lives in New York with her husband. She has been derailed by recent health problems. McEntee seems to have left the music business and owns a clothing company in Perth, Australia. Here's the video for I Touch Myself by The Divinyls.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-England Dan & John Ford Coley

Artist:England Dan & John Ford Coley
Song:I'd Really Love To See You Tonight
Album:The Very Best Of England Dan & John Ford Coley

I'd Really Love To See You Tonight was a monster hit for England Dan & John Ford Coley in 1976. The song was so big that many fans think the duo were a one hit wonder. But they actually had four top ten hits in the late 70s. Dan Seals and John Colley went to high school together in Dallas. Seals is the younger brother of Jimmy Seals of The Champs and Seals & Crofts. His whole family are musicians. They started working together and had local success in Southwest FOB. They recorded an album for the Stax label Hip Records. In 1969, the duo moved to Los Angeles. They were first called Colley & Wayland. Wayland was Seals middle name. Jim Seals suggested calling his brother his childhood nickname England Dan. He was Beatles obsessed and even affected a British accent for a while. Colley was renamed John Ford Coley just because it rolled off the tongue better. Seals & Crofts guitarist Louis Shelton got the duo a deal with A&M Records. They recorded three albums and were dropped in 1972. In 1976, they played I'd Really Love To See You Tonight for an Atlantic records exec. He didn't like it but Doug Morris of Big Tree Records heard it through the wall and signed them up. Morris has been CEO of Universal Music since 1995 and will become chairman of Sony Music next month. Kyle Lehning was assigned to produce. He's best known for producing Randy Travis. I'd Really Love To See You Tonight topped the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by Parker McGee and he also wrote the England Dan & John Ford Coley hit Nights Are Forever and the Crystal Gayle hit If You Ever Change Your Mind. The song continues to get radio play today. You can get all their hits on this Rhino budget comp. England Dan & John Ford Coley faded by the early 80s and split up. Dan Seals reinvented himself as a country artist and his 1985 single Bop topped the Country Singles chart. He continued to record occasionally until his death on Mar. 25, 2009 at age 61. John Ford Coley has toured the nostalgia circuit since 1996. Here's England Dan & John Ford Coley performing I'd Really Love To See You Tonight on The Midnight Special 1976.

Friday, June 10, 2011

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Chilliwack

Song:My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)
Album:Greatest Hits

Chilliwack had a lot of success in Canada especially in Vancouver through the 70s. My Girl was their biggest hit in 1981. It was their only number one hit in Canada and a top 30 hit in the US. They split up not long after. Chilliwack started out in Vancouver as The Classics in 1964. When they signed with Warner Bros. in 1967, the band name was changed to The Collectors. They recorded two albums and had some minor hits in Canada. When lead singer Howie Vickers left the band, guitarist Bill Henderson became the lead singer and the band name was changed to Chilliwack which is a suburb of Vancouver. Other members were Claire Lawrence on keyboards and sax, Glenn Miller on bass and Ross Turney on drums. Chilliwack was a good band but lacked consistency. They did OK in Canada but had trouble breaking through in the US market. They bounced around a lot of labels like Parrot, A&M, Goldfish and Mushroom. Claire Lawrence left in 1972 to become a record producer. By the 1978 album Lights From The Valley, Miller and Turney left and were replaced by guitarist Brian MacLeod and bassist Ab Bryant. They used session drummers. MacLeod was a key figure because he started writing songs with Henderson. Chilliwack left Mushroom Records and their 1981 album Wanna Be A Star was released by the Casablanca Records label Millennium. My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone) topped the Canadian singles chart and reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. It's certainly a memorable song. Chilliwack had a couple more chart singles and recorded the 1982 album Opus X. But MacLeod and Bryant left to form The Headpins and that was the end of Chilliwack. Henderson tried to keep them together with other musicians but wasn't successful. This comp from the Canadian reissue label Solid Gold Records is a good intro to their music. Bill Henderson had the band UHF but he leads Chilliwack today which includes his son Ed Henderson on guitar. And he has two daughters who are singers. He is also president of Songwriters Association of Canada (SOCAN). Here's the video for My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone) by Chilliwack.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Kana attempts to strip Lin Bairon

So yesterday at the SMASH press conference, Kana proposed that the loser of her match against Lin Bairon should remove her top and bare her breasts. The reaction of the Japanese media to this was pretty funny. They reported it like it was real as opposed to a wrestling angle. But I have to say after reading the results of the match and looking at some pics, Kana was very convincing in this match. Kana wore her usual gear and a mask. Lin wore a leather look catsuit. It looks like they chose to use some sexually suggestive wrestling moves during the match. Among other things, Lin grabbed Kana's boobs. OK so it's not the first time someone has done that. Kana won the match in eight minutes with a combined chicken wing and sleeper. So she put Lin Bairon to sleep. Now comes the big tease. Kana unzips Lin's catsuit to reveal a nice lacy bra. And just as Kana is about to remove the bra, Lin wakes up and scurries away. Kana gives an evil laugh and the angle is complete. Kana executed it perfectly.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Jo Stafford

Artist:Jo Stafford
Song:You Belong To Me
Album:The Columbia Hits Collection

Jo Stafford was one of the most popular vocalists of the pre-Rock 'N' Roll era. She had her first chart hit in 1944 and continued to chart until 1959. You Belong To Me was her biggest hit and dominated the charts in 1952. Like a lot of pop singers of this era, Jo Stafford started out as a jazz singer. She was born Nov. 12, 1917 in Coalinga, CA which is near Fresno. She performed as a child and sang with sisters Christine and Pauline as The Stafford Sisters on Los Angeles radio station KHJ. They started working as background singers in films and created the arrangement for Fred Astaire's performance of Nice Work If You Can Get It in the 1937 film Damsel In Distress. While working on the 1938 film Alexander's Ragtime Band, Jo joined the vocal group The Pied Pipers and this eventually led to interest from Tommy Dorsey's arranger Paul Weston. Dorsey liked them but the sponsor didn't so The Pied Pipers were never hired. Eventually four of the eight members were hired including Jo Stafford. She got some solo time there. They were signed to Johnny Mercer's new label Capitol by music director Paul Weston. At first Jo recorded with The Pied Pipers but left to go solo in 1944. Her tours with the USO earned her the nickname GI Jo. She had several top ten hits on Capitol and her own radio show. But when Weston left Capitol for Columbia in 1950, Jo went with him. They married in 1952. It gave her the advantage of first choice of songs. She continued to have hits in the 50s. and she even had her own TV show for a while. You Belong To Me topped the charts for 24 weeks and was one of the biggest hits of 1952. The song was written by Chilton Price who also wrote Tennessee Waltz. She was a music librarian at Louisville radio station WAVE. Country music artists Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart convinced her to publish her songs so she always shared credit with them. You Belong To Me was first recorded by country singer Sue Thompson and then Patti Page. The Duprees also had a top ten hit with it in 1962. But Jo Stafford's version is definitive. Jo Stafford also recorded with Weston as part of the comedy act Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. As her career wound down, Jo Stafford retired from performing in the mid-60s but continued to record on her own Corinthian label. She won the rights to her Columbia recordings in a breach of contract lawsuit. So this comp is on her label. Paul Weston died in 1996 and Jo Stafford died on July 16, 2008 at age 90. Here's a video for You Belong To Me by Jo Stafford.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Kana vs Lin Bairon-who will bare breasts?

So you probably know that Kana will face Lin Bairon on the June 18 SMASH show for the SMASH Divas Title. So Kana appeared at a very amusing press conference today and I have the video for you. I'm sorry to say she didn't beat anyone up. When asked about Kana, Lin Bairon called her a big boobed slut. When told this, Kana just laughed and suggested that the loser of the match takes off her top and shows off her boobs. That's why she's posing like that for photographers. I dunno. The more I watch SMASH matches, the more I prefer the press conferences. Enjoy the video!

Rin Nakai to appear on Shikoku kickboxing show

The Martial Arts Japan Kickboxing Federation or MA Kickboxing for short announced today that VALKYRIE Open Weight Champion Rin Nakai will appear on their July 17 show in Ehime Prefecture in Matsuyama which is the capital of the remote island of Shikoku. It will be an MMA match though the rest of the show is kickboxing and she is on the poster. They don't have an opponent yet and it looks like they don't know if they will find one. So it may end up being an exhibition match. If I find out anything else, I will let you know. Rin is doing this show because she was born and still lives in Matsuyama and she wants to support the local fight community.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Alias

Song:More Than Words Can Say
Album:Monster Ballads Volume 2

Everyone knows what a power ballad is. That's how hard rock bands get radio play and reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100. More Than Words Can Say was a top five hit in 1990 and the only significant hit for Alias. They only recorded one album and split up. But the song is still huge today especially at weddings. But it's frequently mistakenly credited to other bands. Alias was led by singer Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi. They're from Toronto and led the group Sheriff who had a number one hit in 1989 with When I'm With You. But Sheriff had split up in 1985. Curci was unable to reform Sheriff. So he signed a deal with Capitol Records to form a new band and called it Alias. Guitarist Roger Fisher, bassist Steve Fossen and drummer Michael Derosier were all from Seattle and were founding members of Heart. Fisher dated Nancy Wilson. Curci and DeMarchi wrote all the songs on the 1990 debut album Alias. It was produced by Rick Neigher who is best known for his work with Tonio K and The Go-Gos. More Than Words Can Say reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and music licenser BMI gave Curci the Million-Airs Award for a million radio plays. That's five years of continuous airplay. Things went south while Alias was touring in support of REO Speedwagon. Fisher, Fossen and Derosier all quit the band. Curci hired new musicians and recorded a second album. But Capitol refused to release it. Curci has recently released it himself. You can get All That Words Can Say on this various artists power ballad CD from Razor & Tie. Freddy Curci recorded a solo album in 1994. But he's mostly been a songwriter for hire and several of his songs appeared in the Lifetime TV series Army Wives. Steve DeMarchi joined The Cranberries in 1996 and continues to work with lead singer Dolores O'Riordan. Here's the video for All That Words Can Say by Alias.