Saturday, May 31, 2014
Album:It's About That Time
Anytime you see the term Hot Club in a band name, chances are pretty good the band is a tribute to the Gypsy Jazz of legendary French guitarist Django Reinhardt. And that is true of Hot Club of Detroit though it appears they are attempting to expand their musical horizons. Hot Club of Detroit is led by guitarist Evan Perri. In 2003, he was studying music at Wayne State University in Detroit. He was already a fan of guys like Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. But when he heard the music of Django Reinhardt for the first time, he decided this was the kind of music he wanted to create. Hot Club of Detroit was formed in 2005 when Perri met guitarist Paul Brady who was already under contract to Mack Avenue Records. Brady is a classically trained guitarist and a big Reinhardt fan. The other key member of Hot Club of Detroit was French accordionist Julien Labro. He's a versatile guy who plays all kinds of music. The other original members of Hot Club of Detroit were sax player Carl Cafagna and bassist Andrew Kratzat. You'll notice there is no violin or drums. The 2010 CD It's About That Time was their third CD for Mack Avenue. Noto Swing was written by German guitarist Lulu Reinhardt. Lulu was not related to Django but was heavily influenced by him. He toured with Reinhardt violinist Stephane Grappelli and was a long time member of violinist Titi Winterstein's band. Andrew Kratzat was in a serious car accident and was replaced by Shawn Conley. For the 2012 CD Junction, Carl Cafagna was replaced by the more versatile Jon Irabagon. Irabagon has played with progressive jazz artists like Dave Douglas and Mary Halvorson so he adds a new dimension to Hot Club of Detroit. And on Junction they used singer Cyrille Aimee on three songs and she has toured with them. So Hot Club of Detroit is attempting to be more than a Django Reinhardt tribute band. They will be on tour this summer. Here's Hot Club of Detroit performing Noto Swing at the Detroit Jazz Festival Sept. 4, 2010.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Song:How Much Longer
A recent and annoying trend in pop music is trying to create successful pop music through reality shows. Sugar Jones is a Canadian example of this. They were the stars of the 2001 reality show Popstars. This show was created in New Zealand in 1999 and they licensed it everywhere. The concept is a pop group is created through auditions and the show is about the journey from individuals to a group. Of course it is very difficult to have any kind of chemistry or longevity under those conditions. So most of the groups created through Popstars have been short lived. Either the girls don't get along or some look at the show as a stepping stone to a solo career. Of course that's what happened with the US version of Popstars when Nicole Scherzinger broke away from Eden's Crush. In Canada, Popstars was on Global TV for three seasons. Sugar Jones was formed through auditions for season one. The five girls were Mirella Dell'Aquila, Julie Crochetiere, Andrea Henry, Sahara McDonald and Maiko Watson. You'll notice in the video clip they all sing lead. I would prefer one lead singer per song. They released an album in 2001. The first single Days Like That did okay but How Much Longer didn't chart. They even recorded a French version to try to appeal to the Quebec market. The song was written and produced by Jon Levine of The Philosopher Kings. A lot of the album was produced by Tyson Kuteyi of the Flava All Stars. The attempt to turn Sugar Jones into stars was derailed when Maiko Watson decided she would prefer to tour with her husband Remy Shand than continue in Sugar Jones. And that was it. They split up. Maiko, Julie and Andrea still continue in music. Julie is probably the most active of the three. The other two seem to have left the music business. Popstars ran in Canada for three seasons and none of the groups were successful. So being in a reality show is one thing. Turning that into a successful career in music is another. Here's Sugar Jones performing How Much Longer on the MuchMusic show Electric Circus 2001.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Song:Strike It Up
There has been a long history of fakery in the music business. But it reached a brazen crescendo in the late 80s and early 90s. Of course most folks will point to the phony duo Milli Vanilli. But those two guys knew they were faking and just went with it. Black Box was a lot worse because they hired Martha Wash of The Weather Girls to sing several songs on their 1991 album Dreamland and then used a lip syncing model in the videos with no credit for Martha. Strike It Up was one of their two top ten hits. Black Box came out of the Italian house music scene led by DJ Daniele Davoli along with electronic music whiz Mirko Limoni and classical clarinetist Valeric Semplici. They were known as Groove Groove Melody. They decided to become Black Box in 1989 and hired model Catherine Quinol AKA Katrin as lead singer. The problem was she couldn't sing. Black Box got into trouble when their first single Ride On Time was a hit in England. The song heavily sampled Loleatta Holloway's 1980 hit Love Sensation. They used her vocals on the record without credit and failed to credit songwriter Dan Hartman. They had to pull the record and re-record the vocals. Black Box hired Martha Wash to sing most of the songs on the 1990 album Dreamland. But she was not credited and when the video for Everybody Everybody was released, Martha was nowhere to be seen and Katrin was dancing and lip syncing. The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and so did Strike It Up. The album was a huge success. Martha Wash sued RCA Records. She says she was hired as a demo singer for a flat fee and her vocals were not supposed to be released. They told her the songs were to be re-recorded with a different vocalist. Martha got cash and a record deal from RCA. US laws were changed afterwards. I'm not sure how that affects European dance music producers who don't care about US laws. RCA dropped Black Box. The 1995 album Positive Vibration featuring singer Charvoni Woodson but still using Katrin publicly did not sell. They haven't recorded as Black Box since then but they have recorded under other names and are still active today as producers. Here's the video for Strike it Up by Black Box.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Song:Forget Me Nots
Album:Forget Me Nots
Patrice Rushen started out as a jazz pianist and like George Duke, she transitioned to R & B and had several chart hits in the late 70s-early 80s. Forget Me Nots was her biggest hit in 1982. In recent years, she has worked behind the scenes in the Los Angeles music scene. She was born Sept. 30, 1954 in Los Angeles. Patrice won a solo piano competition at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival. This got her a record deal at Prestige Records. She recorded three albums for Prestige and also played on albums by Donald Byrd and Eddie Henderson. Her 1977 album Shout It Out went away from jazz and towards funk. Guys like Al McKay and James Gadson played on that album. Patrice continued that trend when she moved to Elektra Records with the 1978 album Patrice. Singles like Hang It Up and Haven't You Heard did very well on the R & B charts. But she had her biggest hit with the 1982 single Forget Me Nots from the album Straight From The Heart. Forget Me Nots reached #4 on the R & B Singles chart and #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. Patrice wrote the song with veteran songwriter Terri McFaddin and session bassist "Ready" Freddie Washington. Terri McFaddin has written hits for Smokey Robinson and Lenny Williams. Washington is a popular studio musician in Los Angeles and worked with Patrice for many years as the session group The Meeting. Forget Me Nots was sampled by Will Smith in the hit single Men in Black. The sax solo on Forget Me Nots is by Gerald Albright. Patrice had a couple more R & B hits like Feels So Real and Watch Out. But by the late 80s, she left Elektra and returned to studio work. This budget comp is a good intro to her Elektra hits. In the 90s, Patrice was Janet Jackson's musical director. And in 2004, she became the first female musical director for the Grammy Awards. Patrice hasn't recorded since 2003 but she still plays sessions for guys like Lenny White and Lee Ritenour. She has a family and likes to stay close to home. And she made a good chunk of change when her song was sampled on Men in Black. I'm sure the royalty cheques continue to roll in. Here's the video for Forget Me Nots by Patrice Rushen.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Album:100 Hits: 70s Classics
You might think this is about the play or film Sweeney Todd. But no, there was a Canadian band Sweeney Todd that topped the Canadian charts in 1975 with Roxy Roller. Lead singer and main songwriter Nick Gilder would go on to success as a solo artist. Gilder was born in England but he grew up in Vancouver. While still in high school, Gilder joined the band Rasputin. Guitarist Jim McCullough was also in that band and Rasputin became Sweeney Todd. Other members were Dan Gaudin on keyboards, Budd Marr on bass and John Booth on drums. The band was heavily influenced by glam rock which was popular at the time. Producer Martin Shaer saw Sweeney Todd play in a high school gym and got them a record deal with London Records in Canada. Shaer produced the 1975 album Sweeney Todd. This is where things get a little confusing. Roxy Roller topped the Canadian charts in 1975. But then Gilder left Sweeney Todd to record solo with Chrysalis Records. He took McCullouch with him. That should have killed the band because Gilder was lead singer and wrote all the songs. But Shaer tried to keep the band going and hired Clark Perry to replace Gilder and Skip Prest to replace McCullouch. Perry didn't last long and was soon replaced by a teenaged Bryan Adams. Yes, THAT Bryan Adams. Sweeney Todd recorded an unsuccessful album and split up. Meanwhile Gilder re-recorded Roxy Roller and his version topped the Canadian charts in 1976. Gilder would then top the US charts in 1978 with Hot Child In The City. And he has had a lot of success as a songwriter. I don't think the Sweeney Todd version of Roxy Roller is available. But the Nick Gilder version is on some various artists comps including this 5CD British comp. Gilder's version is also on the soundtrack of The Runaways so fans of that film should pick that up. Normally I prefer the original recording but it probably doesn't matter in this case and Gilder's version was a bigger hit. Gilder reformed Sweeney Todd in 2008 and they still tour today. Here's a video for Roxy Roller by Sweeney Todd.
Monday, May 26, 2014
With Brie Bella's wedding coming up on next week's WWE Total Divas finale, I expected this episode to be an episode of Bridezillas. You don't watch that show? Well, neither do I. But I know what it's about. It was around for ten years so somebody was watching it. So Nikki Bella has promised Brie that she will tell boyfriend John Cena about her secret wedding before Brie marries Bryan Danielson in a couple of weeks. Nikki tries to tell him a couple of times during this episode. But she just can't seem to do it. And then at the end of this episode, she lies to her family and tells them she told him and he was OK with it. The s**t will hit the fan next week as I expect The Bella Twins' brother to blurt it out to Cena. And Cena's reaction will be to say to Nikki "Why couldn't you tell me?". The answer is Nikki is an idiot. So meanwhile Bridezilla Brie is obsessing over every little detail and it's starting to drive Danielson nuts. The latest is her grandmother wants him to trim his beard for the big day and she buys this stuff to help do that. You might say "So what if he trims that ratty old beard". The problem is the beard is part of his WWE character. So he has to keep it. Then The Bella Twins and their mom go for a final dress fitting and they get a call from the WWE office that they are to go to New Orleans to film the Wrestlemania opening. But Brie planned to check out wedding venues. So why can't Nikki go alone? She can't. They're a unit. They argue about this but they go to New Orleans and mom checks out the venues. Meanwhile, Wrestlemania is coming up and Trinity McCray is back and is expecting a WWE Divas Championship shot. Instead they get a battle royal type match. The funny thing is they don't show Trinity's reaction to this news as I'm sure she was disappointed. And remember the night after Wrestlemania, Paige debuted and won the belt. The reason they do a battle royal is because they want all the girls to get a Wrestlemania payday. I would like to see Trinity's reaction. Back to Bridezilla Brie. She and Danielson check out the two wedding venues. She prefers the second one because it's in a natural setting. The problem is it has logistical issues like no washrooms and it's a lot more expensive. She still wants to have the wedding there but Danielson squawks about money. Look, he was a wrestler for a long time before he made WWE money. It's not surprising that he's a frugal guy. On the show, they made it look like Brie got her way but she didn't. She chose the first venue though she preferred the second. He won the argument. A lot of WWE wrestlers are invited to the wedding. After some fretting, Brie has decided not to invite Summer Rae because nobody likes Summer because she talks trash about the other girls behind their backs. Brie tells her this face to face and Summer admits her insecurities about being a WWE newbie at 30. This seems to give Summer a wake up call. So next week's season two finale is all about Brie Bella's wedding to Bryan Danielson. That should be fun. Enjoy the video.
Album:Flip The Script
Pianist Orrin Evans started out as a sideman and made his recording debut as a leader in 1994. Flip The Script is his latest CD. He was born in Trenton, NJ in 1976 and grew up in Philadelphia. He went to Rutgers University and studied with pianist Kenny Barron. Evans moved to New York and worked with his singer wife Dawn Warren and was a sideman with Bobby Watson. He released his first CD as a leader in 1994 and signed with Criss Cross in 1997. Evans moved to Posi Tone in 2007. He has released three CDs including Flip The Script in 2012. It's a trio album with Ben Wolfe on bass and Donald Edwards on drums. Evans also leads the Captain Black Big Band which released a CD in 2011. That band has a new CD coming out. I noticed he has been touring lately with guys like David Murray and Oliver Lake so he could be entering an experimental jazz phase. Evans still works as a sideman a lot on albums by Ralph Bowen, Sean Jones and Bill McHenry and he sometimes does live shows as a sideman. So he might turn up in your town and you won't even know he's there. Here's Orrin Evans with Khary Shaheed on drums, Jon Michel on bass and Chelsea Baratz on tenor sax performing Clean House in Pittsburgh 2010.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Song:Bess, You Is My Woman Now
Album:The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess: New Broadway Cast Recording
Audra McDonald is a classically trained soprano best known for her work on Broadway. She has won five Tony awards including one for the 2012 revival of Porgy & Bess. And she is currently nominated for a sixth Tony. She was born July 3, 1970 in Berlin, Germany where her father was stationed in the US Army. She grew up in Fresno, CA. Audra was in the 1992 national tour of The Secret Garden before she graduated from Juilliard with a BA in music. She moved to New York and won her first Tony for the 1994 revival of Carousel. She also won Tonys for Master Class in 1995, Ragtime in 1998 and A Raisin in the Sun in 2004. Audra signed a record deal with Nonesuch Records in 1998 and has recorded five albums. Her latest CD Go Back Home was released in 2013. Audra has appeared in some films but has appeared a lot on TV since 1999. She has headlined several PBS specials and in the TV productions of the musicals A Raisin in the Sun and The Sound of Music. And she was a regular on the ABC series Private Practice from 2007-13. Audra starred with Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier in the 2012 revival of Porgy & Bess. She won another Tony award. Now she could get a sixth Tony. She is nominated for playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. This musical was first produced in the 80s starring the fabulous Lonette McKee. I would not be surprised to see Audra win a sixth Tony. Meanwhile Norm Lewis is starring as The Phantom in the current Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera. Both are very talented. Here's Norm Lewis & Audra McDonald performing Bess, You Is my Woman Now on WNYC Soundcheck at The Greene Space in New York City Jan. 2012.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Album:The Complete Legendary Sessions
Trumpeter Chet Baker and pianist Bill Evans were two of the most talented guys in jazz history. But they were also two of the most troubled as both were addicted to heroin. Jazz fans may not even know that they recorded together just before Baker moved to Europe in 1960. At one time the two were looking to put a band together. But it never happened and Evans recorded the landmark Kind Of Blue album with Miles Davis. In the late 50s, Baker was already an established bandleader but Evans was mostly a sideman. Both guys were recording for Riverside Records at the time. They wanted to work together but Baker had moved to Los Angeles and Evans was still living in New York. Riverside Records producer Orrin Keepnews to the rescue. He brought Baker to New York to record the 1959 album Chet with Bill Evans on piano, Herbie Mann on flute, Pepper Adams on baritone sax, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay on drums. Evans plays on all but one song including Alone Together. Alone Together was written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz for the 1932 musical Flying Colors. The song was a hit for Artie Shaw in 1939 and has been a jazz standard since then. Most of the songs on The Complete Legendary Sessions are from Chet. But Keepnews put Baker and Evans together again for some songs from Chet Baker Plays The Best of Lerner and Leowe. Evans plays on four songs with Herbie Mann, Pepper Adams, Zoot Sims on tenor sax, Earl May on bass and Clifford Jarvis on drums. The Spanish label American Jazz Classics has conveniently released these recordings on one CD. It's a must for jazz fans. It doesn't look like Baker and Evans ever recorded together again. By 1960, Baker moved to Europe and Evans formed his first trio with Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro. LaFaro's death in a car accident sent Evans into a tailspin. Baker continued his heroin addiction in Europe. Fans of both guys will want this CD. Here's a video of Alone Together by Chet Baker and Bill Evans.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Song:Except For Mondays
Album:RCA Country Legends
Lorrie Morgan grew up in country music and has been a fixture in Nashville for her whole life. But it wasn't until the 90s that she had a string of country music hits including Except For Monday in 1991. She was born June 27, 1959 in Nashville the daughter of Grand Ole Opry star George Morgan. Lorrie was 13 years old when she first performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. When George Morgan died in 1975, Lorrie took over his band and performed in local clubs. Her big break came when legendary DJ and TV show host Ralph Emery made her a regular on his WSM-TV morning show. Emery was a long time pal of her dad. When Emery took over the TNN show Nashville Now in the early 80s, Lorrie was a regular on that show. So she was on TV all the time but she only recorded a few singles until she signed with RCA Records in 1989. Her first number one hit was Five Minutes from the 1989 album Leave The Light On. She had a string of top ten hits including Except For Mondays from her 1991 album Something In Red. It reached #4 on the Country Singles chart. The song was written by Reed Nielsen. He recorded three albums in the early 80s with the group Nielsen/Pearson. Nielsen has written several songs with Vince Gill. Lorrie's other number one hits were What Part Of No in 1992 and I Didn't Know My Own Strength in 1995. She faded in the late 90s and left RCA in 1999. You can get all her hits on this budget comp. Lorrie is known for her turbulent personal life. She's been married six times. The most famous of these was country artist Keith Whitley who died in 1987. She was also once married to singer Sammy Kershaw and had a lengthy relationship with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Lorrie Morgan still tours. She doesn't record much but last year she released the CD Los Divas with fellow 90s country music star Pam Tillis. They have a lot in common. Here's Lorrie Morgan performing Except For Mondays on Farmaid 1992 in Irving, Texas.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Song:Je Dois M'En Aller
The French duo Niagara had success in France and Quebec in the late 80s. They are frequently compared to the Eurythmics. Singer Muriel Laporte met keyboard player Daniel Chenevez in 1982 while both were studying in Rennes, France. At first they were called L'Ombre Jaune (The Yellow Shadow). After a few performances, they changed their name to Niagara as a tribute to the 1954 film starring Marilyn Monroe. Muriel would later change her name to Muriel Moreno also as a tribute to Monroe. Moreno is an anagram of Monroe. Muriel is also known as DJ Rennes. Niagara signed with Polydor Records and released their debut album Encore Un dernier Baiser in 1985. Hit singles included Tchiki Boom, L'amour a la Plage and Je Dois M'En Aller. They did very well in France obviously driven by Muriel's exotic looks. Their 1988 album Quel Enfer and the single Soleil D'hiver crossed the pond and was successful in Quebec especially on the French Canadian video channel MusiquePlus. Niagara's 1990 album Religion had a harder rock sound. By 1992 when the album La Verite was released, the relationship between Muriel and Chenevez was falling apart professionally and personally. Muriel was burned out and Niagara cancelled an upcoming tour and split up. You can get all their hits on this comp. Chenevez has released one album and is mostly a behind the scenes figure in the Paris music scene. Muriel Moreno released three albums and then joined the group Dynamo for three albums in 2004. She still performs in Paris clubs as DJ Rennes. And I think it's fair to say DJing is her first love. Here's the video for Je Dois M'En Aller by Niagara.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Album:Chicago: Music From The Miramax Motion Picture
Actress Renee Zellweger got an Oscar nomination for her performance in the 2002 musical Chicago. It is to date her only musical. She did well for someone who doesn't sing. She won an Oscar in 2003 for Cold Mountain. She was born Apr. 25, 1969 in Katy, TX. Her father is an engineer from Switzerland and her mother was a nurse from Norway. Renee fell into the movie business. She was in the drama club in high school and she appeared in commercials while earning a BA in English at the University of Texas. Appearances in the ABC miniseries Murder In The Heartland and the 1994 film Reality Bites got her noticed and she had her first starring role in the 1994 film Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation with fellow Texan Matthew McConnaughey. She moved to Los Angeles and her performance in the 1996 film Jerry McGuire led to bigger roles in films like One True Thing in 1998. But the film that made Renee a star was Bridget Jones' Diary in 2001 based on a very popular novel. She got her first Oscar nomination and that led to her playing Roxie Hart in Chicago. One of the criticisms when casting was announced for Chicago is they cast a lot of non singers including Renee Zellweger. Considering she had never appeared on stage or in any other musicals, Renee did very well in the film. She got another Oscar nomination and Chicago won the Best Picture Oscar. Roxie is her big song in the film. The soundtrack is available as a budget CD. She hasn't appeared in any other musicals. She did sing on the soundtrack of the 2003 film Down With Love with co-star Ewan McGregor. Renee won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the 2003 film Cold Mountain. Her most recent film credit was in 2010 but there is talk she may do a third Bridget Jones film. She is finding out it is tough for women to get decent roles as they get older. Here's Renee Zellweger performing Roxie in the film Chicago.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Album:All Day All Night
The female R & B duo Changing Faces had two top ten pop hits in the mid-90s. They disappeared after three albums but are still active. Changing Faces are from New York City. Cassandra Lucas and Charisse Rose met while studying at the Music & Art High School. They went their separate ways after high school. They went to college while still trying to break into the music business. They reunited as backup singers for R & B singer Sybil. They decided to record as a duo and signed with the Atlantic Records label Big Beat Records. Their debut CD Changing Faces was released in 1994 and the debut single Stroke You Up reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second CD All Day All Night was released in 1997 and G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T. reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R & B Singles chart. Both CDs were certified Gold. Though Cassandra and Charisse write some of their own songs and work with various producers, both Stroke You Up and G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T. were written and and produced by R. Kelly. I don't know why but Kelly seems to have a knack of producing hits for female R & B and gospel artists. Changing Faces released their third CD Visit Me in 2000. There were no hit singles and the album didn't do as well as the first two. My guess is the three year gap between releases hurt them. Changing Faces seemed to disappear after that. In 2011, Cassandra said in an interview that Changing Faces never split up and they were working on new music. They released a single Hate Love on iTunes Apr. 2013. Then they did split up and Charisse announced she is continuing Changing Faces with a new partner. Cassandra plans to record as a solo artist. Oh, the drama. Here's the video for G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T. by Changing Faces.
Monday, May 19, 2014
At the end of last week's episode of WWE Total Divas, the incident where Aksana dropped her knee on Trinity McCray's eye was shown. Now we see that afterwards, Trinity finished the match but obviously something was wrong. If you don't know who Aksana is, she is a Lithuanian bodybuilder named Zivile Raudoniene. So she had zero pro wrestling experience before signing with the WWE in 2009. They obviously like her look. But like a lot of these women that the WWE seems to like, she doesn't know what she is doing in the ring. I think her move in that match was extremely careless and a firing offense. Accidents happen but a wrestler needs to be able to trust her opponent to work safely. And Aksana has been around long enough that there is no excuse for carelessness. And I've seen her carelessness before. Trinity went to the doctor who told her to rest for a couple of weeks and return for another look. Obviously Trinity is bummed out as it looked like she was headed for the WWE Divas Championship. We'll see the continuation of this story over the next two episodes. But we already know she never got that title shot. The rest of the episode has the cast headed to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Brie Bella's bachelorette party. Trinity can't go. But all the other cast members are invited except Summer Rae. And Eva Marie throws it in her face. They are going there to party and get drunk or as they call it, Brie Mode. On the way down, Nattie Neidhart suggests they play board games. This idea is so ridiculous I find it hard to believe Nattie would suggest this voluntarily. It had to be fed to her by the producers. The big story is that Eva Marie is a recovering alcoholic and doesn't even want to be around booze. But she doesn't say anything because she doesn't want to be a party pooper. They go to a club and are all drinking shots. Eva Marie is clearly stressed by this and leaves the club to go home. She tells Ariane she's not feeling well. Earlier in the day, Nattie and Nikki Bella are sitting around the pool and Nikki tells Nattie she was once married. Brie is upset about this because she's the only one who knows this. Nikki never told her family and also Brie says that Nattie is a blabbermouth and will tell everyone anyway. Nikki claims it was the booze talking. The next day, the girls try to figure out what happened to Eva Marie. She tells them the truth and the girls were very sympathetic. It was suggested to me that in pro wrestling terms, it was a babyface turn for Eva. I thought they already did that last week. I don't see how that converts to WWE TV unless she improves in the ring. They had her reffing on last week's Smackdown and she can't even do that properly. So Nikki goes to her brother's house to tell her family about her secret marriage. Her brother seems to be the only one upset about this and he claims that Nikki's boyfriend John Cena won't be happy either. That's called creating drama out of nothing. We have two more episodes to the end of season two so I'm sure we'll find out a few things. Enjoy the video!
Album:Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day Vol. 6
Timothy was the only big hit for the Buoys in 1971. There has been a history of death songs over the years like Tell Laura I Love Her and Teen Angel. But Timothy is about cannibalism. So the song was controversial at the time. The man behind the song was songwriter and producer Rupert Holmes. He is best known for the 1979 hit The Pina Colada Song. But before that he had success as a producer starting with 1969 top ten hit Tracy by the Cuff Links. The Cuff Links weren't really a band. It was just Holmes and The Archies lead singer Ron Dante. The Cuff Links ended when Dante wasn't allowed to join a touring band. Holmes was working on a pop arrangement of the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic Sixteen Tons which is about miners. Holmes had recently watched the 1959 film of the Tennessee Williams play Suddenly Last Summer which referenced cannibalism. He thought if he wrote a song about cannibalism it would get banned and the notoriety would make it a hit. He disguised it as an upbeat pop song. The Buoys were from Wilkes Barre, PA with Billy Kelly on lead vocals, Fran Bozema on keyboards, Jerry Hludzik on bass, Chris Hanlon on drums and Carl Siracuse on drums. Scepter Records released the record and it reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. Holmes' strategy was partially successful. Some radio stations played Timothy. But when they found out the song was about cannibalism, it was banned. This made teens want to hear the song even more and fueled record sales. But it also meant that larger radio stations already knew about the song and wouldn't play it at all and that prevented Timothy from reaching the top ten. The Buoys recorded one unsuccessful album and then split up. You can get Timothy on this Rhino various artists comp. Since 1980, Billy Kelly and Jerry Hludzik have led Dakota and they perform Timothy as part of their act. Depending on your viewpoint, Timothy is either a forgotten classic or one of the most notorious songs in pop history. I have heard worse. Here's Dakota performing Timothy from their 25th anniversary reunion DVD Nov. 23, 2005.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
|Takayo Hashi pounds Shizuka Sugiyama|
Album:The Lost and Found
Since winning the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition, Gretchen Parlato has become one of the most sought after vocalists in jazz. The 2011 CD The Lost and Found is her most successful CD to date and she has recorded with many top jazz artists. She was born in Los Angeles in 1976 and she grew up in the music business. Her grandfather Charlie Parlato played trumpet for Kay Kyser in the 40s. Her father Dave Parlato played bass for Frank Zappa in the 70s. After earning a bachelor's degree in Jazz studies at UCLA, she was the first vocalist accepted in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance in Washington, DC in 2001. She moved to New York City in 2003 and won the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2004. She self released her 2005 debut CD and then signed with ObliqSound in 2008. Her 2011 CD The Lost and Found is her best selling CD to date and appeared on the Billboard Jazz chart. She writes her own songs but of course Juju is a Wayne Shorter classic. Gretchen usually performs Juju and Footprints as a Shorter tribute. It's on her 2013 CD Live in NYC. Musicians on Lost and Found include pianists and arrangers Taylor Eigsti and Robert Glasper, Dayna Stephens on sax, Alan Hampton on guitar, Derrick Hodge on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums. Gretchen has also recorded with Esperanza Spalding, Lionel Loueke, Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington and plenty of others. She is currently on maternity leave and is worth checking out when she returns to touring. Here is Gretchen Parlato with Kamasi Washington on sax, John Beasley on piano, Trevor Ware on bass, Ronald Bruner Jr on drums and the MONKestra Big Band performing Juju at Jazz Masters: A Tribute To Kenny Burrell at the John Anson Ford Theater in Los Angeles Aug. 18, 2013.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Song:West Coast Blues
Album:Ultimate Wes Montgomery
Despite his premature death, Wes Montgomery is one of the most influential jazz guitarists. Most current guitarists credit Montgomery as an influence. The only thing is some jazz fans prefer his early recordings on Riverside and others prefer his more commercial recordings on Verve. He was born John Leslie Montgomery Mar. 6, 1923 in Indianapolis. Wes is a childhood nickname. His brothers were also jazz musicians. Monk Montgomery played bass and Buddy Montgomery played vibes and piano. They recorded as The Montgomery Brothers in the 50s. Wes Montgomery's main influence and idol was Benny Goodman guitarist Charlie Christian. His ability to play Christian's solos note for note got him his first professional job with Lionel Hampton. All three Montgomery brothers worked as sidemen before first recording as The Montgomery Brothers in 1955. Wes Montgomery signed as a solo artist with Riverside Records in 1958. West Coast Blues was first recorded on the 1960 album The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery with Tommy Flanagan on piano, Percy Heath on bass and Albert Heath on drums. Montgomery also recorded West Coast Blues on the 1960 Harold Land album West Coast Blues!. Montgomery moved to Verve Records in 1964. His recordings at Verve with producer Creed Taylor became more elaborate with strings and horns. Riverside producer Orrin Keepnews preferred straight ahead jazz. Critics complained that Montgomery had changed. I don't think his playing style changed. He was just working with a different producer with a different philosophy. Montgomery recorded West Coast Blues on his 1964 Verve debut Movin' Wes. It was a much larger band with horns arranged by Johnny Pate. It was his biggest selling album to date. When Don Sebesky became Montgomery's arranger, he added strings. So clearly Taylor and Sebesky were taking Montgomery farther from jazz. This continued when Taylor moved from Verve to A & M in 1967 and took Montgomery with him. There's no doubt Montgomery's success would have continued but he died of a heart attack on June 15, 1968 at age 45. It hasn't changed his influence on other guitarists. Guys like Pat Metheny, George Benson and Lee Ritenour credit Montgomery as a big influence. This budget CD Ultimate Wes Montgomery is a selection of his Verve recordings chosen by George Benson. The 2012 CD The Very Best of Wes Montgomery is a comp of his Riverside recordings. Both CDs are recommended to beginners. Here's Wes Montgomery with Martial Solal on piano, Michel Gaudry on bass, Ronnie Stephenson on drums and Hans Koller, Johnny Griffin, Ronnie Scott and Ronnie Ross on saxes performing West Coast Blues on the German TV show Jazz Workshop Apr. 30, 1965. This was released on CD by an Italian label but it is out of print.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Despite suffering from HIV/AIDS, Fred Hersch is one of the most active jazz pianists in New York City. He started out as a sideman in the late 70s and has recorded as a leader since 1984. This 2010 CD Whirl was somewhat of a comeback as he was really ill before he recorded it. He was born Oct. 21, 1955 in Cincinnati and was a child prodigy pianist. He moved to New York City in 1977 and was a sideman for Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Jane Ira Bloom and Eddie Daniels. He joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music in 1980 and started recording as a leader in 1984. hersch has recorded for Concord, Sunnyside, Evidence, Chesky, Varese, Nonesuch, Enja and he currently records for Palmetto Records. As I said, Hersch suffers from HIV/AIDS and has been a long time fundraiser for AIDS charities in New York. Whirl was recorded after a long illness where Hersch was in a coma. It was believed that he would die. David Hajdu wrote about Hersch's illness in the New York Times Magazine. But against all odds, Hersch recovered. Whirl was released in 2010 and features John Hebert on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. His latest CD Free Flying was released Sept. 2013 and is a duet album with guitarist Julian Lage. Jazz fans should check out Fred Hersch. He will play The Village Vanguard in New York City for a week in July. Here's Fred Hersch performing Skipping at the New York Standard 2010. This video is not on Youtube.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Album:The Classic Christmas Album
Willie Nelson has been a star for so long that music fans may not realize that he struggled for fifteen years to become a successful recording artist. Fortunately he was very successful as a songwriter with songs like Funny How Time Slips Away for Billy Walker, Crazy for Patsy Cline and Hello Walls for Faron Young. He also wrote Pretty Paper which is a Christmas perennial that was a hit for Roy Orbison in 1963. Nelson was born Apr. 29, 1933 in Abbott, TX. He was raised by his grandparents and grew up singing in church. Nelson would work day jobs and then would quit to pursue a music career. He first recorded in 1956. When the Nelson song Family Bible was a hit for Claude Gray in 1960, he moved to Nashville. He worked as a songwriter for a while and joined Ray Price's touring band. After Crazy was a smash hit, Nelson signed with Liberty Records. It didn't really work out. He recorded two albums for Liberty and Touch Me was his only top ten country hit. Meanwhile, Roy Orbison reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the Nelson song Pretty Paper in 1963. Nelson left Liberty for Monument Records which was Orbison's label. But only one single was released. A guaranteed salary lured Nelson to sign with RCA Records. Nelson recorded Pretty Paper and it was released as a single in late 1964. It was never on an album. According to veteran music writer Chet Flippo, Nelson was inspired to write Pretty Paper by a disabled man who sold pencils in front of a Fort Worth department store. Nelson recorded for RCA until 1974 with mixed success. His first number one country hit was Red Headed Stranger in 1975, his first single for Columbia Records. And as I have said before, Nelson got a big boost through the Outlaws movement led by Waylon Jennings. Nelson recorded the Christmas album Pretty Paper in 1979. Except for the title song, he records all Christmas standards. The album is available on CD but it's very short. So you're better off with The Classic Christmas Album which contains the entire Pretty Paper album plus four Christmas themed bonus tracks. If you're wondering about the title of the CD, Sony released several Christmas themed comps in 2012. All of them are titled The Classic Christmas Album. Pretty Paper is now a Christmas standard and has been recorded by Glen Campbell, Freddie Fender and others. Probably the best cover was recorded by Chris Isaak on his 2004 CD Christmas. It was one of the songs that helped Nelson survive in the 60s when he had very little success as a recording artist. Here's Willie Nelson performing Pretty Paper.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Song:Tonight I Celebrate My Love
Though Peabo Bryson has had success as a solo artist, he is mainly known for his duets with female singers. The 1983 duet with Roberta Flack Tonight I Celebrate My Love set him up for future success. Roberta was a big star in the 70s and had a lot of success singing duets with Donny Hathaway like Where Is The Love. Of course she was devastated when Hathaway committed suicide in 1979. But she also needed to find a new duet partner. To that point, Bryson had some success on the R & B charts and had recorded duets with Natalie Cole and Melissa Manchester. But Capitol Records wanted Bryson to cross over to pop. The two recorded the 1980 live album Live & More on Roberta's label Atlantic. The album did well especially on the R & B chart and Make The World Stand Still was a top 20 R & B hit. They liked working together and decided to record the studio album Born To Love. Michael Masser was hired to produce. He wrote Tonight I Celebrate My Love with veteran songwriter Gerry Goffin. They had previously written the theme from the film Mahogany for Diana Ross and Masser also co-wrote The Greatest Love Of All for the 1977 film The Greatest which was later a big hit for Whitney Houston. Tonight I Celebrate My Love reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and established Bryson as a go to guy for duets. In 1984 he would have his biggest solo hit with If Ever You're In My Arms Tonight and later on smash hit duets with Celine Dion and Regina Belle. The song wasn't as significant for Roberta as she was already successful. But the song really helped Bryson. Tonight I Celebrate My Love is on comp CDs by both artists but Ballads is really cheap. Here's the video for Tonight I Celebrate My Love by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The 2005 CD Dream Big was Capitol Records' attempt to turn the bluegrass group Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand into mainstream country music stars. They had been around since the mid-90s. Ryan Shupe is from Ogden, UT. He started playing fiddle at five years of age and toured nationally with The Pee Wee Pickers. This was a group of ten year old bluegrass players. Shupe says the name RubberBand is because bands break up all the time and then snap back. The band formed in 1996. Shupe is the lead singer and fiddle and mandolin. The other core members of the band are Roger Archibald on guitar and Craig Miner on banjo, mandolin and dobro. The band has had several bassists and drummers over the years. The RubberBand started to get a following in Utah opening for touring country acts. They recorded several CDs on their own label Tydal Wave. Banjo Boy was first recorded on the 1999 CD Simplify and then on the 2003 CD Hey Hey Hey. That CD got them a deal at Capitol. Dream Big is just a repackaging of Hey Hey Hey. The first single Dream Big was a top 30 country hit. But the second single Banjo Boy didn't chart. The song is funny. Shupe sings about wanting to be a rock star. There's one problem. He plays the banjo. The CD did OK but it wasn't good enough for Capitol and the band was dropped. After releasing one CD on the second tier label Montage in 2008, Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand went back to recording on their own label. Their latest CD Brand New Shoes was released in 2010. But they still tour and if you're a bluegrass fan, you might want to check them out. Here's the video for Banjo Boy by Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand.
Monday, May 12, 2014
This episode of WWE Total Divas is about various forms of lying and how a lie can make things go wrong. I guess it could be a cautionary tale if I thought this show had any nobility. But the producers are making a lot of this stuff up so ironically everything on the show is a lie. We begin at the San Diego home of Nikki Bella. She receives a package containing what is supposed to be a painting of herself and boyfriend John Cena. The artiste is Nattie Neidhart. The painting is laughably bad but Nattie is coming to visit so Nikki has to display it somewhere until Nattie visits and then it goes back in the closet. Meanwhile, Ariane is releasing her horrible tone deaf single and she thinks she's a big enough celebrity to promote her record through paparazzi posting pics of her on the internet. As we can tell by her singing in the car, she's lying to herself about her singing talent. And she is also kidding herself about her level of fame. It falls flat. There are no pictures of Ariane on the internet. At RAW, WWE director of talent relations Mark Carrone tells Summer Rae and Eva Marie that they are thinking of turning them into a tag team. Summer Rae thinks it could be a good idea because it could lead to more TV time. But Eva admits she hasn't had much time to train. Summer has to see if she can even work with Eva in the ring. After her last masterpiece, Nattie is painting a portrait of Brie Bella and Bryan Danielson as a wedding present. It's pretty bad but she asks husband TJ Wilson for his opinion and when he's about to tell her the truth, she tells him to leave. So to spare her feelings, everyone will lie to Nattie about the painting. Instead of shipping the painting, she decides to drag it to RAW and give it to them personally. But when they get there, the car is too small. They attach it to the roof with panty hose and tape. And when it inevitably falls off, TJ wants to leave it in the road. Oh that stubborn Nattie. When she gives it to them, they lie to her and laugh when she leaves. This angle is so screwy, it can't possibly be real. Summer Rae tries to train with Eva Marie. But Eva can't wrestle and she makes excuses about not training meaning she doesn't want to learn. This is what happens when the WWE hires a girl from a casting call and puts her on TV without wrestling training. So now Summer doesn't like the tag team idea. After Ariane's attempt to get attention fails, she decides to get a real celebrity to help her. She meets Ray J to work out at the gym. The problem is she doesn't tell boyfriend Vinnie she is doing this. That's lying by omission. Oh, you don't know who Ray J is? He is the brother of R & B superstar Brandy and has had moderate success on the charts himself. He has also acted on TV and starred in a couple of VH1 reality shows. I guess he is a celebrity to E! viewers but not to WWE fans. So the paparazzi takes pictures of them working out and they appear on the internet. Success! But at the single release party, Vinnie is upset she didn't tell him she was doing this. She apologizes and all is well. The only reason I can think of why she didn't tell him is he's goofy and no one knows how he will react to anything. When Summer Rae gets to RAW, she tells Carrano that Eva Marie is a terrible wrestler and she doesn't think she can work with her. Of course the whole thing should have been cancelled. But instead they team them with Tamina Snuka who Summer worked with at house shows. During the match which was taped for Superstars, Summer Rae refuses to tag Eva Marie in. and it doesn't look like Tamina was aware of what she was doing. Afterwards, the show makes Summer Rae look like a heel. But she went to Carrano and he didn't cancel the match. See what telling the truth gets you on this show. Eva Marie should be nowhere near a ring until the WWE finds out if she can learn to wrestle. At the end of the show, they show Aksana dropping a knee on Trinity's eye. We all saw this a few months ago. We will see the aftermath next week. There's your cliffhanger. Enjoy the video!
Album:Yesterday's Love Songs, Today's Blues
Over the years Nancy Wilson has proven to be one of the most versatile singers. But she is mainly known as a jazz singer. This version of the Duke Ellington classic Satin Doll was recorded early in her career when Nancy was at the height of her talent. She was born Feb. 20, 1937 in Chillicothe, OH which is a suburb of Columbus. Nancy grew up singing in church and her dad was a big jazz fan. She says she knew at age four that she would be a singer. She won a talent contest that led to her hosting a TV show in Columbus and she also sang in local clubs. Nancy spent a year in college to possibly pursue teaching. She quit school to join sax player Rusty Bryant's Carolyn Club Big Band in 1956. She toured with them for two years. Nancy's big break came when she met legendary sax player Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. He told her to move to New York City. Nancy sang a regular gig at a club while working during the day as a secretary. Adderley's manager John Levy sent Nancy's demos to Capitol Records and she signed in 1960. She would record for Capitol for almost twenty years. Capitol was unsure of what Nancy's musical direction should be. That's what happens when a singer is versatile. They were thinking R & B after a couple of singles charted. But Adderley told her to stick to jazz. And the two recorded a 1962 album together. The 1964 album Yesterday's Love Songs, Today's Blues was her biggest success to date. It reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 200. Nancy had four albums on the Billboard Hot 200 at the time. On this album, Nancy was accompanied by a big band and strings arranged by Gerald Wilson. Wilson was one of the best big band leaders of the 60s. Musicians include Jules Chaiken, Freddie Hill, Carmell Jones and Al Porcino on trumpet, Teddy Edwards, Paul Horn, Harold Land and Don Ruffell on sax, Bob Edmonson, Lester Robertson and Kenny Shroyer on trombone, Jack Wilson on piano, Wild Bill Davis on organ, Joe Pass on guitar, Jimmy Bond on bass and Kenny Dennis (Nancy's husband) on drums. Blue Note released this album on CD in 1991 with four bonus tracks with Nancy accompanied by a small band featuring Davis and Pass. This CD is a must for jazz fans. Probably the high point of Nancy's career was when she hosted her own variety show on NBC in 1967. She moved to Columbia Records in the 80s and has recorded with guys like Ramsey Lewis and Stanley Clarke. She still performs occasionally but she retired from regular touring in 2006. Here's Nancy Wilson performing Satin Doll 1964.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Song:Just Good Ol' Boys
Country singers Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley had success as solo artists when they got together and topped the charts with Good Ol' Boys in 1979. They recorded three albums together. Moe Bandy was born Feb. 12, 1944 in Meridian, MS. Joe Stampley was born June 6, 1943 in Springhill, LA. In the late 60s, Stampley was lead singer of The Uniques. After recording four albums, The Uniques split up in 1970 and Stampley turned to country music with ABC-Dot. In 1972, he topped the country chart with Soul Song. He moved to Epic in 1975. Meanwhile, Bandy recorded three albums for a small label. Producer Ray Baker convinced Bandy that they should go to Nashville. Bandy signed with Epic in 1975 and Baker became a house producer at Columbia Nashville. Bandy's duet with Janie Fricke It's a Cheating Situation reached #2 on the Country Singles chart. He topped the chart with I Cheated Me Right Out Of You in 1979. Bandy and Stampley were on tour together discussing the success of Waylon & Willie. And Bandy thought Moe & Joe had a ring to it. So they decided to record together. Just Good Ol' Boys was the first single and it topped the Country Singles chart. Most of their songs were tongue in cheek fun. The 1984 single Where's The Dress spoofed the cross dressing Boy George and his group Culture Club. But they used Karma Chameleon in the intro and were sued for copyright infringement. Epic was forced to pull the single and cut the intro. That's the version you get on this budget comp. Bandy and Stampley recorded four albums together including a live album. Both guys left Epic in 1985. Bandy recorded for MCA and Curb before opening his own theater in Branson, MO in 1991. Stampley has recorded for his own label for years. They reunite occasionally and have released a couple of CDs. Here's Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley performing Just Good Ol' Boys on an awards show 1980.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Song:Big Town Playboy
Blues singer Angela Strehli was a big part of the Austin music scene. She was a regular at the famed club Antone's and the 1987 CD Soul Shake is on their label. She currently lives in San Francisco and leads The Blues Broads. She was born Nov. 22, 1945 in Lubbock, TX. She went to school in Chicago to learn more about the blues and was in The Fabulous Rockets. Then she formed Southern Feeling with guitarists WC Clark and Denny Freeman. For many years, Angela was stage manager and lighting technician at Antone's in Austin, TX. She still performed occasionally and when Antone's owner Clifford Antone launched Antone's Records, Angela released the album Soul Shake in 1987. Though she writes some of her own songs, Big Town Playboy was written by long time Jimmy Reed guitarist Eddie Taylor, one of the great unsung heroes of the blues. In 1990, Angela recorded the album Dreams Come True with fellow female blues singers Lou Ann Barton and Marcia Ball. Those two are better known than Angela. If you like them, you will like Angela. Angela and husband Bob Brown now live in San Francisco and own the club Rancho Nicasio in Marin County. They book blues musicians all the time. One of their regular visitors is Tracy Nelson who has been around since the 60s. She signed with Delta Groove Music in 2011. Delta Groove president Randy Chortkoff suggested that Angela and Tracy record together. They started performing with guest singers like Maria Muldaur and Carlene Carter. But when Angela decided to make The Blues Broads a more concrete group, she recruited two great singers. They are Dorothy Morrison who sang lead on the 1968 Edwin Hawkins Singers classic Oh Happy Day and veteran backup singer Annie Sampson who also grew up singing in church. A CD/DVD package was released in 2012. The Blues Broads will be on tour later this year. Check them out if they are coming your way. Here's Angela Strehli with Kim Wilson, Denny Freeman, WC Clark and Jimmie Vaughan performing Big Town Playboy on Austin City Limits 1990.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Streetheart had success in the late 70s mostly in their native Canada. Attempts to break them in the US didn't work. Action was their first single in 1978 though a lot of fans think the title of the song was Meanwhile Back In Paris. Streetheart begins with Saskatchewan native and lead singer Kenny Shields. He led Witness Incorporated who played Toronto clubs in the late 60s. After recovering from a serious car accident, Shields moved to Winnipeg and joined Wascana which included keyboard player Daryl Gutheil and bassist Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve. The band was renamed Witness. Shields became friends with the Calgary band The Great Canadian River Race. That band's guitarist Paul Dean and drummer Matt Frenette joined Witness who were soon renamed Streetheart. They signed with Warner Bros. Canada and their albums were on Atlantic in the US. Meanwhile Back in Paris was their 1978 debut album and Action was their first single. Dean and Frenette left Streetheart in 1979 to form Loverboy. Guitarist John Hannah and drummer Herb Ego joined. Ego was soon replaced by Billy Carmassi. Streetheart was primarily a success as a live act across Canada. They had some minor hits on Canadian radio like the Rolling Stones cover Under My Thumb and What Kind Of Love Is This. But they never had any big hits and they never broke into the US market. You can get all their hits on this comp. Streetheart split up in 1983. Ken Sinnaeve was a member of Tom Cochrane's band for many years. Shields and Gutheil still lead Streetheart and they are currently touring Western Canada. Here's Streeheart performing Action at the Heritage Amphitheater in Edmonton Aug. 17, 2012.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Song:I Got You Babe
The British reggae band UB40 had some success here in North America with hits like Red Red Wine and I Got You Babe. But they are a much bigger deal in England where they are still active today. UB40 is from Birmingham, England. The name UB40 is the form that is filled out in England to get unemployment benefits. Supposedly the various members were standing in an unemployment line when they decided to start a band in 1978. They were Ali Campbell on lead vocals, Robin Campbell on lead guitar, Mickey Virtue on keyboards, Brian Travers on sax, Terence "Astro" Wilson on trumpet, Norman Hassan on trombone, Earl Falconer on bass and Jimmy Brown on drums. While the band learned to play the instruments, they promoted themselves. They started playing local clubs in 1979 and got a big break when The Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde saw one of their shows and took them on tour to open for them. They released a couple of albums on their own label and success on the British charts led to a deal with Virgin Records in England and A & M Records in the US. Their most successful album was Labour Of Love in 1983 featuring the number one hit Red Red Wine. UB40 continued to have success in England with this 1985 cover of the Sonny & Cher classic I Got You Babe. It topped the British charts and reached #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. They toured with The Pretenders anyway and having Chrissie Hynde guest on a song was only natural. They also had a big US hit in 1993 with a cover of (I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You from the film Silver. You can get all their hits on this comp. UB40 still tours in England. Ali Campbell and Mickey Virtue left in 2008. Campbell was briefly replaced by Maxi Priest and then by Ali's brother Duncan Campbell. There were financial problems with the band's company and they went bankrupt in 2011. UB40's latest CD Getting Over The Storm was released Sept. 2013 and they are currently on tour. Campbell and Virtue have returned so the original band is back together. Here's the video for I Got You Babe by UB40 featuring Chrissie Hynde.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Song:If You Could Read My Mind
Canadian folk music legend Gordon Lightfoot had already been recording for a few years when If You Could Read My Mind was his breakthrough single in 1970. After that, he had a few more hits in the 70s. He still tours regularly but he hasn't recorded much recently. He was born Nov. 17, 1938 in Orillia, ON. His mom recognized his talent and pushed him to perform. As a teen, he taught himself to play guitar. He moved to Los Angeles to study music at Westlake College but he returned to Toronto in 1960 and has remained in Canada. Lightfoot had some success as a member of The Swinging Eight who were featured on the CBC TV show Country Hoedown. By the mid-60s he was starting to have success as a songwriter. Ian & Sylvia recorded Early Mornin' Rain and got Lightfoot a management deal with Albert Grossman who also managed Bob Dylan. Lightfoot signed with United Artists Records. Though his UA albums were praised and sold well in Canada, he didn't have that big hit single to break him through to a larger audience. So he left UA for Reprise Records in 1970. On his Reprise debut album Sit Down Young Stranger, he worked with Warner Bros. house producer Lenny Waronker. Ry Cooder and Van Dyke Parks were among those who played on the album and Randy Newman arranged some of the songs. The album didn't sell at first until If You Could Read My Mind caught on with radio stations. It reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lightfoot says the song was inspired by his divorce from his wife Brita. So now Lightfoot was a star. His other big hits were Sundown in 1974 and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1976. His albums sold very well until the early 80s. This comp Gord's Gold was first released on 2LPs in 1975. It was a big seller at the time and is now available as a budget CD. Be aware that Lightfoot re-recorded some of his UA recordings for this album. He says he doesn't like those old records. The original UA recordings are available on CD. Lightfoot faded in the 80s but he recorded for Reprise until 1998. Despite some health problems in recent years like an 2002 aortic aneurysm and a 2006 stroke, Lightfoot continues to tour regularly. His latest CD All Live was released by Rhino in 2012. He is also a member of the Order of Canada and he is in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Here's Gordon Lightfoot performing If You Could Read My Mind on The Midnight Special 1975.