Monday, November 30, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Sarah Vaughan

Artist:Sarah Vaughan
Son:You're Not The Kind
Album:Sarah Vaughan

Of course Sarah Vaughan is one the greatest jazz singers of all time. This 1954 album featuring trumpeter Clifford Brown is probably the best she ever recorded. Sarah viewed herself as a jazz singer. But that didn't stop record companies from trying to turn her into a pop singer. That's what Columbia did when Sarah signed with them in 1949. She didn't like that and in 1953, husband and manager George Treadwell signed a deal where Sarah would record pop songs for Mercury and jazz for Mercury's jazz label EmArcy. Sarah wasted no time and recorded the 1954 album Sarah Vaughan featuring the great trumpeter Clifford Brown. The album was produced by Bob Shad and arranged by Ernie Wilkins. Shad would go on to found Mainstream Records and would work with Sarah many times over the years. Musicians are Clifford Brown on trumpet, Paul Quinchette on tenor sax, Herbie Mann on flute, Jimmy Jones on piano, Joe Benjamin on bass and Roy Haynes on drums. This album was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. This CD release is the original album as it was released in 1954. Some tracks that were recorded but not used have surfaced on some releases. But I don't know if they are decent audio quality. Stick to the original album. You're Not The Kind was written by Will Hudson who led the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra in the 30s. You're Not The Kind was recorded by Fats Waller in 1936. Sarah first recorded the song in the 40s and the song was clearly a favourite of hers as she performed it many times. But it's not a popular jazz standard. This album was the only time Sarah recorded with Brown. And as most jazz fans know, Brown died in a car accident in 1956 at age 26. And even after all these years, Brown is considered to be one of the all time greats of jazz. So this album is a must for jazz fans. Here's Sarah Vaughan performing You're Not The Kind in 1951.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Zapp & Roger

Artist:Zapp & Roger
Song:More Bounce To The Ounce
Album:All The Greatest Hits

Roger Troutman was a funk pioneer who emerged in the 80s with his band Zapp and then as a solo artist and producer. He is best known for his use of the Talk Box which I guess inspired auto tune though I don't think that was Troutman's intention. Zapp was a family band from Hamilton, OH which is a suburb of Cincinnati. Troutman had several bands with brothers Larry, Lester and Terry. The name Zapp came from a band led by Terry Troutman. Their big break came after Roger toured with Parliament Funkadelic. Bootsy Collins and his brother Catfish attended a Zapp concert and suggested to George Clinton that they should record Zapp. This led to a contract with Warner Bros. Their 1980 album Zapp was produced by Bootsy Collins. The debut single More Bounce To The Ounce reached #2 on the R & B Singles chart. Troutman's use of the Talk Box distinguished Zapp from similar funk bands like the Ohio Players. Soon after, Troutman recorded his solo debut album The Many Facets Of Roger. Though Clinton produced and planned to release it on his own label through CBS, Troutman sold it to Warners and split with Clinton. Zapp recorded four albums between 1980-1985. They were all successful as fans didn't tire of Troutman's use of the Talk Box. Troutman also recorded solo but those albums weren't as successful. And Troutman started producing other artists. The 1985 Shirley Murdock hit As We Lay was probably the biggest hit Troutman ever worked on. When the 1989 album Zapp Vibe didn't do as well as previous albums, Troutman disbanded Zapp. He continued to record solo. This budget comp is a good intro to Zapp's music. There was renewed interest in Zapp in the 90s when hip hop guys began sampling their music. Troutman was nominated for a Grammy for appearing on Tupac Shakur's 1996 single California Love. This all ended shockingly on Apr. 25, 1999 when Larry Troutman murdered his brother Roger and then shot himself over the bankruptcy of the family business. Larry was the business manager and he was angry after Roger fired him. Roger Troutman was dead at age 47. Lester and Terry released a Zapp album in 2003 and in a recent interview they said they are planning to record new music. Here's Zapp performing More Bounce To The Ounce on BET 1989.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Ham Seo Hee vs Cortney Casey

Here's the match video of Ham Seo Hee vs Cortney Casey from this morning's UFC show in Korea. Yes, I was up early this morning watching on UFC Fight Pass on my HD TV using Roku. Of course Ham's big problem is she is undersized and should be an Atomweight. She's an excellent kickboxer and has fought MMA mostly in Japan. Cortney is from Hawaii and lost her UFC debut. But she looked pretty good coming in on short notice and she has a big size advantage. She is also a kickboxer so I wasn't expecting any takedowns in this fight. Cortney won round one 10-9. She almost finished the fight with a front kick to the face. Ham just didn't do enough. She was moving backwards a lot. Round two began similarly. Cortney scored a knockdown. An accidental eye poke seemed to take some steam out of Cortney. Ham came back at the end of the round but I don't think she did enough to win the round. I scored it 10-9 for Cortney because of the knockdown but it was pretty close to a tie round. It looks like Cortney's corner led by UFC fighter Jon Tuck may have told her she was up two rounds or maybe she was tired. Because she didn't do much in round three. Ham probably scored more in the third round than in the other two rounds combined. So I gave Ham round three and I scored the fight 29-28 for Cortney. But all three judges scored round two for Ham and Ham got the win 29-28. The reaction from Cortney's corner indicates that they thought she had the fight in the bag after two rounds. It just shows you can't take anything for granted. Round two was very close and I thought this would be a split decision. It was a big win for Ham especially fighting at home where the crowd was chanting her name. They should probably have her fight in Japan next because she is very popular there too. Enjoy the video!

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Peter White

Artist:Peter White
Song:The Closer I Get To You

British acoustic guitarist Peter White was in Al Stewart's band for many years before recording as a leader in the 90s. He's very successful in the Smooth Jazz market and his albums usually rise to the top of Billboard's jazz chart. He was born Sept. 20, 1954 in Letchworth, England. His younger brother Danny White was a founding member of the popular group Matt Bianco. The Beatles influenced White to take up the guitar. Though White tried electric guitar, he prefers playing acoustic guitar. He moved to London in 1973 and joined a band that split up shortly after he joined. He was referred to Al Stewart and White was in Stewart's band for 20 years. They moved to Los Angeles in 1979. Meanwhile, his brother Danny White formed Matt Bianco featuring the singer Basia. When Basia went solo, Danny asked Peter to tour with them. White finally released his first solo album in 1990. He signed with Bobby Caldwell's Sindrome label and began to have success in the Smooth Jazz market. The 1994 album Reflections is mostly covers of 70s classics including The Closer I Get To You. Producer Paul Brown is also a guitarist. Three sax players appear on the album. Boney James plays sax on The Closer I Get To You. The other sax players are Richard Eliot and Sam Riney. Other musicians are Freddie Washington on bass, Curt Bisquera on drums and Lenny Castro on percussion. White owns all his early albums and he has released them on his own label. White signed with Columbia and released five albums on the label. He currently records for Heads Up which was another label swallowed by Concord. White is releasing a Christmas album next week and he is currently on tour. Here's Peter White with Michael Paulo on sax, David Sparkman on keyboards, Donald Patterson on bass and Lamont Peoples on drums performing The Closer I Get To You at the 2004 Long Beach Jazz Festival.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger steps in to face Tecia Torres on Dec. 12 UFC show

Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
Last week Michelle Waterson pulled out of her match vs Tecia Torres due to a knee injury. Almost immediately, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger tweeted that she wanted that fight. So not surprisingly, the UFC announced that Jocelyn will face Tecia on UFC 194 Dec. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. This will air on the prelims on Fox Sports 1 and TSN. Jocelyn tried out for TUF 20 so the UFC was already familiar with her. She trains at Benson Henderson's MMA Lab in Phoenix. Her record is 6-1. In her most recent fight in October, Jocelyn won the RFA Strawweight Championship by unanimous decision over Zoila Frausto. Zoila was her biggest name opponent to date. But Zoila is on a four fight losing streak. But she's been on TV a lot. Jocelyn's last four fights were for RFA. She fought at 125 early in her career so she has had issues making 115. She's basically a kickboxer with not much of a ground game. And five of her six wins have been by decision so she has no power. Tecia is a big step up in competition for her. Tecia is also a kickboxer so I don't expect any takedowns in this fight. Tecia would be favoured even if Jocelyn had a full camp. With Jocelyn coming in on short notice, Tecia will be a bigger favourite. But Jocelyn deserves credit for answering when opportunity knocked. She'll do OK.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Def Leppard

Artist:Def Leppard
Song:Rock Of Ages
Album:Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits

Though Def Leppard had their highest level of chart success in the late 80s with hits like Pour Some Sugar On Me, it's unlikely they would have had that level of success without earlier hits like Rock Of Ages to establish them. They were formed in 1977 as Atomic Mass in Sheffield, England by guitarist Pete Willis, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Tony Kenning. Joe Elliott joined as lead singer and he brought the name Deaf Leopard which was changed to Def Leppard in tribute to Led Zeppelin. Guitarist Steve Clark joined in 1978 and Kenning was replaced by Rick Allen. Willis was fired for alcoholism in 1982 and replaced by Phil Collen. And that was the lineup through the 80s. Def Leppard signed with Mercury Records and had immediate success when their 1980 debut album All Through The Night was certified Platinum. But things picked up for them when Robert "Mutt" Lange became their producer. It was during the recording of the 1983 album Pyromania that Collen replaced Willis. The singles Photograph and Rock Of Ages hit the top 20 and fueled album sales. Pyromania was certified 10XPlatinum. MTV's constant play of Rock Of Ages was a factor too. The song has biblical roots as Joe Elliott based the lyrics on the hymn Rock Of Ages. When Def Leppard went to record their next album, Lange wasn't available. They brought in Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman. Then Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash. Instead of replacing him, a setup was rigged so he could play with one arm. When the Steinman sessions weren't working, Lange returned, scrapped those recordings and produced the 1987 album Hysteria. One would think the time gap would have hurt them but it didn't. Hysteria was an even bigger hit and so were the singles Pour Some Sugar On Me and Love Bites. And again MTV was a huge factor as they played the videos a lot. Their next album Adrenalize wasn't released until 1992 due to Clark's alcoholism and 1991 death. But Def Leppard continued and they are still around today. You can get all their 80s hits on this comp. They released a new CD in Sept. and they are on tour in England. They will tour the US in the new year. Here's the video for Rock Of Ages by Def Leppard.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Ben Vereen

Artist:Ben Vereen
Album:Pippin: Original Cast Album

Though he has had success in films and TV, Ben Vereen started out on Broadway and won a Tony award for his role as Leading Player in the Stephen Schwartz show Pippin. He was born Oct. 10, 1946 in Miami and he grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Vereen was adopted but he didn't know that when he was a child. His dad was a church deacon so Vereen grew up in the church choir. He attended New York's High School for the Performing Arts. Vereen took odd jobs while trying to get established on Broadway. His big break came when Bob Fosse hired him for the touring company of Sweet Charity. Vereen also appeared in the 1969 film. He appeared in Hair and he was understudy for Sammy Davis Jr. in the London production of Golden Boy. Then he was nominated for a Tony for playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Pippin was Stephen Schwartz's first Broadway musical. If you're wondering about Godspell, that was off-Broadway. Like Godspell, Pippin is an ancient tale told in a modern setting. Motown financed the production. The title character Pippin was played by actor John Rubenstein. Bob Fosse choreographed the show so he already knew Vereen. The show was a huge success and Vereen won a Tony award. It led him to films and TV. Vereen appeared in the 1975 film Funny Lady and Bob Fosse's 1979 film All That Jazz. But his biggest success was as Chicken George in the 1977 landmark mini series Roots. Vereen was nominated for an Emmy. He also hosted a brief variety series on NBC. And he recorded two albums in the mid-70s with producers Bert DeCoteaux and Tony Silvester on Buddah Records which have never been released on CD. Those two guys were hotshot producers in the 70s. He continued to appear on TV in the 80s including a 1981 TV production of Pippin. Vereen was a regular on the sitcom Webster. But mostly he has done guest shots on episodic TV and appear in occasional films. After he was nearly killed in a 1992 car accident, Vereen returned to Broadway in the musical Jelly's Last Jam. Today he still does TV guest shots on shows like How I Met Your Mother and Hot In Cleveland. He also released a live CD in 2010 on Ghostlight, a Broadway specialty label. Here's Ben Vereen performing Glory in the 1981 TV production of Pippin. This is available on DVD.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Falco

Song:Rock Me Amadeus
Album:Greatest Hits

Rock Me Amadeus was one of the more curious number one hits in pop music history. Falco was a big pop star in Europe, especially Germany. He was born Johann Holzel Feb. 19, 1957 in Vienna, Austria. He showed musical talent as a child but he had problems in school and left at age 16. He briefly studied at the Vienna Music Conservatory but he left and played clubs with his jazz rock band. Then he took the name Falco after an Austrian ski jumper. He was in a few bands, most notably the punk band Drahdiwerbl who had some success locally. Falco was spotted by producer Markus Spiegel who signed Falco to a solo record deal with his label GIG Records. Distribution was by CBS in Europe and by A & M in the US. Falco had immediate success in Europe with the single Der Kommissar. An English cover was a hit for After The Fire in the US. When Falco's second album wasn't as successful as his first, he decided to write in English. He also hired the Dutch duo Bolland & Bolland to produce. Brothers Rob and Ferdi Bolland were successful recording artists in Europe. Rock Me Amadeus was inspired by Milos Forman's hit film Amadeus which of course was about Mozart. There's nothing much to the song. It's a repetitive hook with Falco reciting facts about Mozart. It's not singing but it's not really rapping either. Somehow the record caught on and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985. I guess it proves that a good hook is all one needs to have a hit record. Also, the video was played a lot on MTV. His follow up single Vienna Calling reached the top 20. And the album Falco 3 reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 200. That was it for Falco in the US. But he continued to have success in Europe into the 90s. You can get all his hits on this budget comp. Falco was on holidays in the Dominican Republic when his car collided with a bus. He died instantly on Feb. 6, 1998 at age 40. Tests showed Falco was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he died. He was planning a comeback at the time. Here's the video for Rock Me Amadeus by Falco.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The WWE Divas Revolution has the same old double standard

I got the idea for this column while watching Charlotte defend the WWE Divas Championship against Paige on last night's RAW. The ending and post match stuff was particularly lame and leads me to believe that though the WWE is trying to sell this as a revolution, Vince McMahon's decades old preconceptions about women's wrestling are still in effect. And that is that women wrestlers can't do the same things the guys do. The match itself was OK but nothing special. It wasn't any better or worse than Sunday's Survivor Series match. The WWE is still under the false impression that if they give these women longer matches, the match quality will improve. But that depends who the wrestlers are. At this point in her career, Charlotte is unable to deliver a four star match. But they insist on pushing her for other reasons. As we have seen with Roman Reigns, the WWE fails to learn from their mistakes. Fans simply won't accept a top babyface being forced on them. It puts Charlotte in an untenable position. She can't succeed. And as we saw at last week's contract signing, she's getting desperate and it backfired on her. At this point, they need to get the belt off of her. But as I said a couple of months ago, she never should have been put in this position in the first place and going back to NXT would probably help her in the long run. I thought they might get the belt off of her last night. But instead they did a lame double countout followed by Paige applying her PTO (Scorpion Crosslock) finisher on the announce table. Double lame. It's the second time they have had Paige do that. When any of the guys use the announce table, it's usually for a choke slam or something similar. It looks painful but once the monitors are removed, the table collapses easily. I can only assume that Vince believes that women shouldn't do those moves on the table. We know some of them can do those high impact moves because Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley have done them on NXT. But Vince's sexist double standard still rules on the main roster. Until that changes, the Divas Revolution will continue to sputter. Of course Michael Cole tries to sell the Paige's move as devastating. No one buys that. After it was widely criticized the first time they had Paige do that move on the table, one would think they wouldn't repeat it. I can only assume they like the visual and one thing Charlotte is good at is screaming in pain. But it doesn't make any sense for Paige to use that move on the table. Her DDT variation would be more effective. But it doesn't come with the same aesthetic. Check out last night's match for yourself.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Najee

Song:Sweet Love
Album:The Best Of Najee

Smooth jazz sax player Jerome Najee Rasheed has been very successful since Sweet Love was his debut single in 1986. I'm not a big smooth jazz fan because it's too watered down for me. But it's a big market so I don't fault Najee for going that route. He was born Nov. 4, 1957 in New York City. His guitarist brother Fareed Abdul Haqq was Najee's manager and part of his band for the early part of his career. Najee's father died when he was four years old so he was raised by his mom. He learned to play clarinet as a child and he listened to his mom's jazz records. He learned tenor sax in the Jazzmobile program from Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster and Ernie Wilkins. After graduating high school, Fareed suggested that Najee use the soprano sax as his main instrument. Najee has acknowledged that Grover Washington Jr. was the main reason he went the smooth jazz route. Najee toured with Chaka Khan in the early 80s and his solos got the attention of veteran producer Charlie Elgart who had worked with other smooth jazz artists. Najee signed with Capitol Records. Najee's Theme was his 1986 debut album and his cover of Anita Baker's Sweet Love was the first single. It was very successful and it earned Najee a Grammy nomination. Najee recorded for Capitol until 1995. His final album was Najee Plays Songs From The Key Of Life: A Tribute To Stevie Wonder produced by George Duke. This budget comp was released in 1998 and it covers Najee's Capitol recordings. After one album for Verve Forecast, Najee recorded several albums for Heads Up. He currently records for Shanachie and his latest CD You, Me and Forever was released earlier this year. Najee's CDs top the jazz charts consistently so he obviously has a loyal fanbase. And he's always on tour as he is now. I just don't think it's real jazz. Here's Najee performing Sweet Love 1991.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Did DEEP JEWELS find new stars on Nov. 23 show?

DEEP JEWELS had their latest show today at Shinjuku FACE. And though the top of the card had the usual retreads and failures, there may be hope further down the card that they may have found new stars. It's too early to tell. The main event had former champ Sugi Rock trying to regain her championship form. She had fallen on hard times in her recent fights. Her opponent was Mina Kurobe who has a good record but is already 39 years old. It's not really a main event fight. Sugi Rock won an easy unanimous decision but it remains to be seen how she does against stiffer competition. The semi main was even worse with Emi Tomimatsu facing SARAMI. That's two retreads for the price of one. It just shows how low the talent level is. These two have no business being anywhere near the top of the card. Emi won by split decision. But neither of them are very good so who cares. The rest of this show had this gimmicky DEEP JEWELS vs DATE nonsense. But maybe a couple of decent talent could come out of it. Veteran Emi Fujino won over 17 year old Nori DATE by unanimous decision. Supposedly the fight was more competitive than expected giving hope that Nori might be a decent fighter. Of course the flip side of that is that Fujino is overrated which is my viewpoint. Then we had 18 year old Hana DATE win what was called an upset over Pan Hui by unanimous decision. I dunno about that. Hui was a late replacement and maybe she isn't any good. In the other team match, Sachiko Fujimori won by TKO over Karei DATE which I think is the kind of result that was expected in all the team matches. So I wouldn't read too much into any of this until these newcomers face stiffer competition. DEEP JEWELS matchmaker Shigeru Saeki said that the next DEEP JEWELS show will be in March.

Amazing Kong retires

Yesterday, news came from Japan that Kia Stevens AKA Amazing Kong AKA Awesome Kong has retired. She was to appear on the Nov. 25 SEAdLINNNG show. This is the new joshi company owned by Nanae Takahashi. Apparently doctors have forced her to retire from pro wrestling. She sent a note of apology to SEAdLINNNG. AK has worked recently for TNA and if you have seen any of her matches, her back is so bad she can't move anymore. She said in her apology that doctors have been trying to get her to retire for the last year. When they advised her not to travel to Japan, AK decided to retire from pro wrestling. Amazing Kong is one of the most unlikely success stories in joshi puroresu. Along with Rhonda "Monster Ripper" Sing, she was the most successful gaijin monster heel in joshi history. Back in 2001, ARSION owner Hiroshi Ogawa was also booking All Japan Women. Aja Kong left ARSION for GAEA and then sued Ogawa for falsely advertising her appearing on a show. Aja would eventually win that lawsuit. Also, Manami Toyota left AJW for GAEA. Ogawa got Yumiko Hotta to crash a GAEA show and challenge Aja to a real fight. Aja turned her down. But Ogawa announced at a press conference that "A Kong" would appear for AJW. That would turn out to be Kia Stevens as Amazing Kong. At the time she was training at the Inoki Dojo in Los Angeles but she had not wrestled a match yet. So AK was very green when she moved to Japan and Kaoru Ito deserves a lot of credit for training her. And that's why AK was successful in Japan. She was more than a novelty and she was very agile for her size. After AJW and GAEA closed in 2005, the writing was on the wall and AK was probably going to have to leave Japan. She signed with TNA in 2007 and had some classic matches with Gail Kim. After Gail left for the WWE and Knockouts booker Scott D'Amore left, the Knockouts division deteriorated and AK left after attacking Bubba The Love Sponge backstage. She appeared briefly for the WWE but was sidelined by pregnancy. She had a miscarriage. The WWE told her she would need to lose weight before she could return. In an attempt to recreate AK's magic with Gail Kim, TNA brought AK back this year to replace Jessica Havok who had no chemistry with Gail. It didn't work out as they were hoping because AK was clearly hampered by back problems. They tried to work around it but AK just couldn't do what she used to do. We will miss Kia Stevens but retirement is probably the best thing for her health. And that's the most important thing.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Amadou & Mariam

Artist:Amadou & Mariam
Album:Welcome To Mali

You may have heard of Amadou & Mariam as "the blind couple from Mali". They have been recording since the 90s but became more popular after World Circuit/Nonesuch released the 2008 album Welcome To Mali in the US. They now tour the annual festival circuit. Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met in 1976 at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind. Amadou lost his sight due to cataracts. Mariam lost her sight as a child due to measles. Amadou was already an experienced musician when they met. They married in 1980 and started performing together. They moved to the Ivory Coast and performed at African music festivals. They moved to Paris in 1996 and signed with Polygram's EmArcy label. They had success in France and they worked with Latin music star Manu Chao on the 2004 album Dimanche a Bamako. Things picked up when they participated in Blur lead singer Damon Albarn's Africa Express concert. This got the attention of World Circuit Records owner Nick Gold. He signed Amadou & Mariam and Albarn produced the 2008 CD Welcome To Mali. Sabali was the lead single. They made their US TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The album did well considering that this will never be mainstream music. But they have mixed traditional Mali music with electronic music techniques. An album of Amadou & Mariam remixes was released in 2011. Their latest CD Folila was released in 2012 and it featured a guest appearance by Santigold. They toured over the summer and it might be time to work on a new album. Here's the video for Sabali by Amadou & Mariam.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Mimi & Richard Farina

Artist:Mimi & Richard Farina
Song:Pack Up Your Sorrows
Album:Pack Up Your Sorrows: Best Of The Vanguard Years

Richard Farina was a big part of New York's Greenwich Village folk music scene in the early 60s. He is best known for his recordings with his wife Mimi Farina. He is somewhat forgotten today because of his premature death. But several of his songs have become folk music standards. He was born Mar. 8, 1937 in Brooklyn, NY. Farina began writing while majoring in English at Cornell University and he became friends with Peter Yarrow later of Peter, Paul and Mary. Of course this led him to Greenwich Village and the folk music scene. Farina met folksinger Carolyn Hester and married her 18 days later. She had a contract with Columbia Records so he became her manager. She went out on tour and he worked on his novel. When Bob Dylan played harmonica on Carolyn's 1961 album Carolyn Hester, Farina and Dylan became pals. This also led to Dylan signing with Columbia. Farina traveled to Europe where he met 17 year old Mimi Baez, younger sister of folk music legend Joan Baez. He divorced Carolyn and married Mimi in 1963. They moved to a cabin in Carmel, CA and Farina started writing songs. They debuted as Mimi & Richard Farina at the 1964 Big Sur Folk Festival and they signed with Vanguard Records. Pack Up Your Sorrows is from their 1964 debut album Celebrations For a Grey Day. The song has been covered by many artists, most notably Judy Collins. The duo recorded three albums. Farina was producing an album for Joan Baez. And he released his novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. At a party for Mimi's 21st birthday, Farina saw a guest with a motorcycle. They went out for a ride at high speed and the driver lost control and the bike flipped. Richard Farina died on Apr. 30, 1966 at age 29. It was a big loss to the folk music community. This comp is a good sampling of Mimi & Richard Farina's recordings. Mimi moved to San Francisco and continued to perform usually with her sister Joan. She died in 2001. Here's Mimi & Richard Farina performing Pack Up Your Sorrows with Pete Seeger on his TV series Rainbow Quest 1965.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-John McMartin

Artist:John McMartin
Song:The Road You Didn't Take
Album:Follies: Original Broadway Cast

Though he has appeared in films and TV, John McMartin has performed in Broadway musicals since the late 50s and he's still doing that today. Sweet Charity and Follies are his most notable musicals. He was born Aug. 21, 1929 in Warsaw, IN and he grew up in Minnesota. He moved to New York to attend college and made his off Broadway debut in the 1959 show Little Mary Sunshine. He also married Cynthia Baer, one of the show's producers. They had two daughters and divorced in 1971. McMartin appeared in a few more shows in the early 60s. He also appeared in the daytime soap As The World Turns. But he got his big break as Oscar co-starring with Gwen Verdon in the 1966 musical Sweet Charity. McMartin was nominated for a Tony. He also starred in the 1969 film of Sweet Charity with Shirley MacLaine. He could have moved to Hollywood but he preferred living in New York City. McMartin's other significant role was as Benjamin Stone in Stephen Sondheim's 1971 musical Follies co-starring with Alexis Smith. The Road You Didn't Take is McMartin's big number in the show. Since then he has appeared in many Broadway shows. Probably his most significant show was the 1994 Broadway revival of Show Boat. McMartin has also appeared in films like All The President's Men, Brubaker and Blow Out. And he has done guest shots on TV shows like Falcon Crest, Beauty and the Beast, Murder She Wrote and Law and Order. McMartin still appears in Broadway musicals, most recently a 2012 revival of Anything Goes. He has been nominated for four Tony awards and he was inducted into the American Theater Hall Of Fame in 2009. Here's John McMartin performing The Road You Didn't Take on the 2010 TV special Sondheim: The Birthday Concert.

Friday, November 20, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-CeeLo Green

Artist:CeeLo Green
Song:This Christmas
Album:CeeLo's Magic Moment

It seems like everyone releases a Christmas album and they record a lot of the same songs. So which ones are worth listening to? It seems that neo soul singer songwriter CeeLo Green has wanted to record a Christmas album since his early days with Goodie Mob and he finally got the chance to do it in 2012. He didn't waste any time after the success of the single F**k You. He had previously appeared on a Christmas album by Straight No Chaser. So it's not surprising that they appear on his album. Other guests include Christina Aguilera, Rod Stewart and Trombone Shorty and The Muppets. There was also a TV special that aired on Warner Music's Youtube channel. With the exception of All I Need Is Love which features The Muppets, all the songs are Christmas standards. Some of these songs are recorded too frequently. I like Green's recording of Donny Hathaway's This Christmas which is one of the few Christmas songs that hasn't been over recorded. The CD did well on the charts when it was first released in 2012. And it is now available as a budget CD. So if you're a fan of Green or a neo soul fan, it's worth checking out for your Christmas listening. Here's the video for This Christmas by CeeLo Green.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Vicki Lawrence

Artist:Vicki Lawrence
Song:The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia
Album:Super Hits of the '70s: Have A Nice Day Vol. 10

Of course Vicki Lawrence is best known for her days on The Carol Burnett Show and then the sitcom Mama's Family. But she also scored the 1973 chart topper The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia in a brief music career. She was born Vicki Ann Axelrad Mar. 26, 1949 in Inglewood, CA. The family name was changed to Lawrence when she was a child. As a teen she was a member of The Young Americans. There was a story in the local newspaper about how Vicki resembled Carol Burnett. It turns out that Carol was looking for an actress to play her sister on her show. Vicki Lawrence was hired. In the early 70s, Vicki was married to Nashville songwriter Bobby Russell. He wrote The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia. Russell didn't like the song but Vicki told him it would be a hit. The song was offered to Cher but Sonny turned it down. So Vicki decided to record it herself with producer Snuff Garrett, arranger Artie Butler and the Los Angeles studio musician group The Wrecking Crew. It was licensed to Bell Records and it topped the Billboard Hot 100. Vicki recorded two albums for Bell but she was unable to score another hit. Her second album wasn't released because Bell was sold to Arista Records. Her Bell recordings are available but you can get The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia on this Rhino various artists comp. The song was covered by Tanya Tucker for the 1981 film The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia. And Reba McEntire covered it in 1991. Vicki recorded a disco album in 1979. But other than that, she has stuck to TV. Her 80s sitcom Mama's Family was very successful. Here's Vicki Lawrence performing The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia on a 1973 Dick Clark TV special.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-a-ha

Song:Take On Me
Album:Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of a-ha

Though they have been very successful in Europe and especially in their native Norway, here in North America a-ha are mainly known for the 1985 chart topper Take On Me. The song was a hit mainly because of the music video after it was played to death on MTV. a-ha are from Oslo, Norway. Guitarist Pal Waaktaar and keyboard player Magne Furuholmen were in the band Bridges. They recorded one album in 1980 and then split up. The two formed a new band and Furuholmen recruited lead singer Morten Harket who he had seen perform in Oslo clubs. The name a-ha came from one of Waaktaar's songs. In 1983, a-ha moved to London into the home of John Ratcliff because he had a recording studio in his home. He became their manager. At the time, the kind of synthesizer driven pop was becoming very popular so a-ha got a record deal with Warner Bros. Take On Me was originally called The Juicy Fruit Song when Waaktaar wrote it for Bridges but it was never recorded. Harket liked the song and reworked it into Take On Me. The single was first released in 1984 but it failed to chart in England. a-ha rerecorded Take On me with the help of producer Alan Tarney. This time Warner Bros. hired Steve Barron to produce a music video and his use of rotoscoping got the attention of MTV. Barron was best known for his video for Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. The constant playing of the video generated enough interest to get Take On Me to the top of the charts. a-ha had one other top 20 hit with The Sun Always Shines On TV. But most fans here will only know them for Take On Me. Subsequent albums didn't catch on in North America. But they continued to be successful in Europe. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. a-ha went on hiatus in 1994 and then reunited in 1998. They disbanded again in 2010 and they have recently announced they are recording new music. They are currently touring Europe. Here's the video for Take On Me by a-ha. The girl in the video is British actress Bunty Bailey who was Harket's girlfriend at the time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mavis! review

This afternoon I went to The Bloor Cinema in downtown Toronto to see the documentary Mavis!. If you have been reading the blog for awhile, you'll know that I am always looking for music docs. Mavis! is about legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples. But what it's really about is the history of The Staples Singers and Mavis' dad Roebuck "Pops" Staples. You might think Mavis should be retired but she still tours. I saw her at the 2010 Toronto Jazz Festival. Mavis! was directed, written and produced by Canadian Jessica Edwards. Jessica grew up in the music business in Toronto. Her parents Cliff and Ann Edwards led the 70s pop group The Bells and Jessica's film Stay Awhile is about her parents. So Mavis' story about family in the music business hits very close to home. The Staples Singers are probably best known for their 70s Stax hits like Respect Yourself. But Pops Staples first took his kids on the road in 1948. But by the early 60s, it was clear that Mavis was the star of the group. Bob Dylan told Pops that he wanted to marry Mavis. Of course they didn't take him seriously. They had most of their early success recording for the black owned VeeJay label. But they were also known for their close association with Dr. Martin Luther King and Pops wrote songs for Dr. King. After VeeJay closed in 1965, The Staples Singers floundered around until they struck gold with Stax Records and producers Al Bell and Steve Cropper. This is where they had their biggest success. Ironically clips are shown from the 1972 Wattstax concert as that concert led to the Stax bankruptcy. After Stax closed, The Staples Singers couldn't get another record deal but they continued to perform. Mavis recorded with Prince in the late 80s. But he was having problems with Warner Bros. so her albums weren't promoted. Just when it looked like Mavis was through, Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy wanted to record her and he got her a deal with Anti Records. She still records there and tours the festival circuit. We hear from several celebrities including Julian Bond, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Sharon Jones, Bonnie Raitt and Marty Stuart. And though Mavis is best known for those 70s pop hits, she was singing gospel then and she's still singing gospel today. Those interested in The Staples Singers should check out Mavis!. And maybe you should go see her if she's coming your way. Here's the trailer for Mavis!.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Beyonce


There was a time ten years ago when Beyonce Knowles was the most popular singer in the world. I don't think she's quite at that level anymore. I guess we'll know she's really faded when she starts covering pop standards. Irreplaceable was a number one hit in 2006. She was born Sept. 4, 1981 in Houston. When her father Matthew Knowles, a Xerox salesman, discovered she could sing, he didn't waste any time pushing her. As we all know, this started with Destiny's Child. After a false start with Elektra Records, they had a long and very successful run with Columbia Records. But make no mistake about it. Knowles' goal was for his daughter to achieve solo stardom. This became a problem within Destiny's Child and the reason two of the girls left the group. By 2002, all three members of Destiny's Child started work on solo albums. The group would disband in 2005. Beyonce got a head start by contributing song to films she appeared in. Her debut solo album Dangerously In Love was released in 2003. The first single Crazy In Love was her first number one hit and it was followed by her second number one hit Baby Boy. This was going just like Matthew Knowles planned it. Her second album B'Day was released in 2006 to coincide with Beyonce's 25th birthday. She started to work on the album after she finished filming Dreamgirls. She gathered her usual producers like Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins and Sean Garrett. She seemed to work particularly well with Harrison who had previously worked with Amerie. The album was huge. It was certified 3XPlatinum. Irreplaceable was the third single and the only one from this album to top the charts. The song was written by Ne-Yo and his frequent collaborators Stargate. While working on the song, they thought it was more suitable for a female singer and Ne-Yo was thinking more of country singers like Shania Twain or Faith Hill. They were going to have Chrisette Michele record it as they produced her last album. They sent the demo to Beyonce and she wanted to record it. I think it's one of her better records. Of course Beyonce's success has continued though she had a bit of a sales dip with her 2011 CD 4. I think her inactivity due to her pregnancy had a lot to do with that. She bounced back a bit with her 2013 CD Beyonce. After touring, my guess is she is planning to record new music. Columbia hasn't released a Beyonce greatest hits CD yet. But B'Day is available as a budget CD. Here's the video for Irreplaceable by Beyonce.

Monday, November 16, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Tino Rossi

Artist:Tino Rossi
Album:O Corse Ile d'Amour

Tino Rossi was very popular in France in the 30s and during WWII mostly through appearing in musical films. Tchi-Tchi was one of the songs that established him in the mid-30s. He was born Apr. 29, 1907 in Ajaccio, Corsica, France. Rossi began performing at an early age. As a teen, he left for the French mainland and performed in clubs in the Riviera. Then he moved to Paris and signed with EMI's Columbia label in 1933. He appeared in his first film in 1934. But the 1936 film Marinella was Rossi's breakthrough role and it made him a big star in France. He performed Tchi-Tchi is this film and it turned out to be one of his most popular songs. Tchi-Tchi and many of Rossi's other songs were written and arranged by veteran songwriter Vincent Scotto. Scotto wrote songs for plenty of films but Rossi was his most successful collaboration. Rossi continued to be popular during WWII though he got into trouble for supporting collaborationist causes and he spent a brief time in prison. In 1946, Rossi recorded Petit Papa Noel which has become a Christmas perennial in French speaking countries. That was probably his final big hit though he continued to perform until his death on Sept. 26, 1983 at age 76. This 2CD budget comp is a good intro to his music. Here's Tino Rossi performing Tchi-Tchi in the 1936 film Marinella.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey

Here's the match video of the upset of the decade, Holly Holm winning the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship from Ronda Rousey. So I'm going to explain what I think happened. Look, everyone knew that Holly's strategy would be similar to what Carlos Condit did to beat Nick Diaz a few years ago. Run, run, run. They train at the same camp. Ronda knew this and she said in interviews that she would need to be patient. The general consensus was that Holly would not be able to run for five rounds. But unfortunately Ronda lost her patience and started chasing her. She started out OK and got a takedown and almost got an armbar. But Holly escaped and this is when Ronda started chasing her around the cage. She wasn't going to be able to do that for very long. Nobody can. That mistake cost her the fight. I can't say why she lost patience but a mistake is a mistake. Also, Holly nailed her with two really good shots at the end of round one. She didn't look good when she came out for round two. Ronda kept chasing Holly. One head kick was all it took and it's all over. Holly Holm is your new UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion. Congratulations to her. Afterwards, I saw some sandbagging accusations. Look, in her first two UFC fights, Holly won but looked like crap. And in those two fights, she didn't do any of the stuff she did last night. Raquel Pennington broke both her hands and still almost beat her. The odds being what they are for last night's fight, some insider betting on Holly could make a whole lot of money if she was sandbagging. I don't think she would do it. Of course the way to silence those accusations is to defend the title in a dominant fashion. Dana White says Ronda gets a rematch if she wants it. She's off to make a movie. But don't be surprised if that is the main event of UFC 200 this summer. Ronda was taken to the hospital but she is fine. And for all you jerks gloating about Ronda's loss, remember that without Ronda, there are no female fighters in the UFC. Strikeforce was closing anyway and Invicta would have gone belly up. So whoever your favourite fighter is would be working for peanuts in Podunk. Instead, the UFC has 135 and 115lb divisions. And White said on Friday they will start a 125lb division, something I have advocated for a couple of years. Ronda Rousey is responsible for that. Enjoy the video!

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Valerie Letourneau

Here's the match video of Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her UFC Strawweight Championship against Valerie Letourneau at last night's UFC show in Australia. The match went pretty much as expected. Valerie is a good kickboxer and she started out OK but as the fight went on, she slowed down significantly. She actually got a takedown in round one when she grabbed Joanna's leg off a kick and two of the three judges scored it 10-9 in her favour. Later in the round, Joanna scored with a head kick. I thought the round was close and could have gone either way. But after that, Joanna took over and won an easy unanimous decision. The big difference was Valerie stopped throwing combinations and Joanna continued to score with her own combinations and leg kicks. After round three, Mike Brown tried to convince Valerie to take it to the ground. But that's not really Valerie's game so I'm not surprised she didn't do that. At that point, she was so tired I don't think takedown attempts would have got her anywhere. I noticed that some fans were upset that Joanna didn't finish the fight. But Valerie is much bigger and a much better striker than either Carla Esparza or Jessica Penne. It was going to be tough for Joanna to get a KO. And she said afterwards that she broke her hand. That would explain why she fought a conservative fight. She did what she had to do to keep her belt. So I was hoping that Joanna would defend her title against Claudia Gadelha at the big Brazilian show coming up in February. But that broken hand will delay her return for a few months. Enjoy the video!

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Kid Rock

Artist:Kid Rock
Song:All Summer Long
Album:Rock N Roll Jesus

It could be said that Bob "Kid Rock" Ritchie is a mish mash of several different music styles without being very good at any of them. But several of his albums have gone Platinum so somebody liked him. All Summer Long is one of his more successful singles but he's really more of an album and touring success. He was born Jan. 17, 1971 in Romeo, MI. He became interested in rap and joined a breakdance crew at age 11 and DJd at local clubs. It was odd seeing a white kid breakdance in those days and that's how he got the name Kid Rock. He ran away from home to live with a friend in Mount Clemens, MI because his parents were against his desire to perform. He was discovered by D-Nice of Boogie Down Productions and he got Kid Rock a deal with Jive Records. His debut album Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast was released in 1990. It did well in Detroit but did poorly nationally and Jive dropped him. He released a couple of albums independently that went nowhere. He finally signed with Lava Records in 1997. Devil Without a Cause was released in 1998 and it was certified 11XPlatinum despite not having a big hit single. Only God Knows Why reached the top 20. What made him popular? He appeared regularly with Carson Daly on MTV. Then he started touring. He was never respected as a rapper. A lot of rappers hated him. But kids loved him. His success continued. He got a lot of attention when he married Pamela Anderson in 2001. Rock scored his only top ten hit with Picture, a duet with Sheryl Crow. This signaled a change to a Southern Rock influenced sound. All Summer Long is from his 2007 album Rock N Roll Jesus. It reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the album was certified 3XPlatinum. The song is a mashup of Warren Zevon's Werewolves Of London and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama. It was the brainchild of Insane Clown Posse producer Mike E. Clark. Today Kid Rock isn't as popular as he was partially because Lava split with distributor Atlantic Records. He remained with Atlantic but they didn't seem to spend as much to promote him. He also seems to be more of a country artist these days so I think he appeals to an older audience now. I'm surprised Atlantic hasn't released a comp but Rock N Roll Jesus is available as a budget CD. Rock moved to Warner Bros. and he released the CD First Kiss Feb. 2015. He is currently on tour so he's still around. But I think his prime years have passed. Here's the video for All Summer Long by Kid Rock.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Arcade Fire

Artist:Arcade Fire
Song:Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Album:The Suburbs

Arcade Fire is one of the more successful indie bands to emerge in recent years. Though they have never had a big hit single, their albums sell very well. The 2010 CD The Suburbs won the Album Of The Year Grammy. Being on a small label probably helps them a lot. There's no pressure to produce that big hit single. Arcade Fire are from Montreal. Win Butler and his brother Will Butler grew up in Texas. Their grandmother was one of The King Sisters. She was married to guitarist Alvino Rey. Win Butler moved to Montreal in 2000 to attend Concordia University. He started working on music with Josh Deu who he knew in high school. He spotted singer Regine Chassagne and Win convinced her to start working with him. Her lead vocals are a key element of the band. When Deu left the band in 2003, it looked like they would disband. Butler brought in his brother Will and Tim Kingsbury and that seemed to stabilize them. After releasing an EP, Arcade Fire signed with Merge Records. Their 2004 debut CD Funeral sold half a million copies which is excellent for an indie band. They bought a house in the Montreal suburb of Farnham and turned it into a recording studio. The success continued with the 2007 CD Neon Bible. Their 2010 CD The Suburbs was even more successful. It's a concept album about the Butler brothers upbringing in The Woodlands, TX. It was their biggest seller to date and it also won the Album of the Year Grammy. They also contributed a song to the hit film The Hunger Games. They also scored an Oscar nomination for the score of the 2013 film Her. Their 2013 CD Reflektor didn't sell as well as the Suburbs. But they are still touring and a doc about the making of the album is running the festival circuit. The band is in the process of building a new recording studio after the roof of the old one collapsed. We'll get new music from Arcade Fire after that. Here's the video for Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire.

Friday, November 13, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Rush

Song:Closer To The Heart

Though I grew up in the same area as Rush, I've never been a fan because I don't like Geddy Lee's singing voice. But there is no question they are one of the most successful Canadian bands and it was always difficult for Canadian bands to break out in the US. Rush is from the north Toronto suburb of Willowdale which is where I grew up too. They started out in the late 60s and they probably got thrown off every high school stage in the area. Lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson were nice Jewish boys who were schoolmates. So when Lifeson formed a band, Lee soon replaced the original lead singer and by 1974 Neil Peart replaced original drummer Alex Rutsey. They had a manager and they released a single. But record companies weren't interested so they released their first album on their own label Moon Records. It was around this time that Rutsey was replaced by Peart. Though Rush was never a singles band, they got enough attention that by 1976, they signed with Mercury Records. Once they had a big record company behind them, it was just a question of promoting them to the progressive rock audience that would buy their albums. Closer To The Heart is from the 1977 album A Farewell To Kings. It was released as a single. And though it wasn't a big hit, the album was Rush's first Gold album. It's also one of Rush's most popular songs as they still perform it. Rush could have been just another hard rock band which is what they were in their early days. But they were big fans of groups like King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator and Peart brought that change to the band. The success continued in the 80s even when they started using synthesizers more. Rush finally took a hiatus in 1997 but they returned in 2006 and they still tour today. This 2CD budget comp is a good intro to their music. As I said, I was never a fan because I don't like Lee's singing. But I always wonder if they would have been successful without Peart coming in because before Rush, he was interested in jazz and studio work. His addition turned out to be a key element to their success. Here's the video for Closer To The Heart by Rush.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Mystics

Artist:The Mystics
Album:16 Golden Classics

The Mystics scored their only big hit with Hushabye in 1959. I think folks know the song but know nothing about The Mystics. They were very typical of Italian American doo wop groups. They were from Brooklyn and at first were called The Overons. The lead singer was Phil Cracolici and the other members were his brother Joe Cracolici, George Galfo, Bob Ferrante and Al Contrera. They changed their name to The Mystics and a demo got them manager Jim Gribble. He got them a deal with Laurie Records who were already having success with Dion and the Belmonts. The Mystics recorded a single but Laurie owners Bob and Gene Schwartz weren't happy with it and wouldn't release it. Gribble hired the legendary songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman to write a song. That was Teenager In Love but Laurie gave it to Dion and the Belmonts instead. It was suggested that Pomus should write a song similar to The Elegants hit Little Star. That was Hushabye and it reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. Attempts to follow up that hit were unsuccessful. The Mystics always seemed to take a back seat to Dion and the Belmonts. And Phil Cracolici left The Mystics in 1960 and they had a tough time replacing him. Paul Simon was their lead singer for a while and he was followed by Jay Traynor of Jay and the Americans. They split up soon after that. This Collectables CD covers the Laurie recordings. Various versions of The Mystics have toured the oldies circuit for years. Phil Cracolici returned to The Mystics in the 80s and he and George Galfo still lead them today. Here's The Mystics performing Hushabye 1981.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Casiopea

Song:Sunnyside Feelin'
Album:The Soundgraphy

Jazz has always been very popular in Japan. So it's not surprising that there have been some successful jazz musicians from Japan. Casiopea is a jazz fusion group formed in the 70s in Japan and they had success in the 80s. The leader and main songwriter of Casiopea is guitarist Issei Noro. He formed Casiopea in 1976. Other members were pianist Minoru Mukaiya, bassist Tetsuo Sakurai and drummer Akira Jimbo. This was the lineup for the band's prime in the 80s. Casiopea signed with Alfa Records in 1979, a Japanese label that would eventually open a US subsidiary. Sunnyside Feelin' is from their 1981 album Cross Point which was produced by Harvey Mason. The Brecker Brothers, David Sanborn, Don Grusin, Lee Ritenour and Nathan East are among those to make guest appearances on Casiopea albums. The Soundgraphy is a comp that was released in 1984 and also includes guest appearances by Bob James, Paulinho Da Costa and Kiki Dee. Like many of Casiopea's CDs, it's only available as an import so it's expensive. But they will be of interest to fusion fans. Jimbo and Sakurai left in 1989 and were replaced by Yoshihiro Naruse and Masakai Hiyama. They continued until Noro disbanded Casiopea in 2006 to form his new band Inspirit. They reformed in 2012 and released a CD of new music earlier this year. Obviously Casiopea have been a big deal in Japan since the 80s but aren't that well known here. But fusion fans should check them out. Here's Casiopea performing Sunnyside Feelin' in 1982.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Kool & The Gang

Artist:Kool & The Gang
Song:Funky Stuff

Before their mainstream success of the 80s with hits like Celebration, Kool & The Gang had years of success as a more straight ahead funk band. Funky Stuff was their first pop hit in 1974. The band was always the same with much of the same personnel. The big difference in the 80s was the addition of smooth soul singer James "J.T." Taylor. Kool & The Gang are from Jersey City, NJ. As teens, bassist Robert Bell and his sax player brother Robert Bell started The Jazziacs in 1964. Their father was a pro boxer and a huge jazz fan. He was good friends with Thelonious Monk. Other members were Clifford Adams on trombone, Robert "Spike" Michens on trumpet, Dennis Thomas on alto sax, Charles Smith and Woody Sparrow on guitar, Ricky West on keyboards and George Brown on drums. For the most part, the band is still the same today. The name Kool & The Gang came due to a mixup at a club. They started out wanting to be a jazz band. They were boxers and a lot of the jazz musicians, especially Miles Davis, were boxers too. But they decided to go for a funk sound with jazz overtones when they signed with De-Lite Records in 1970. They had success mostly on the R & B charts with their first few albums. But their first big single was Funky Stuff in 1973 from the album Wild and Peaceful. Funky stuff reached #5 on the R & B Singles chart and #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified Gold. They had similar success with hits like Jungle Boogie and Hollywood Swinging which were both top ten pop hits. But with the mid-70s onslaught of disco, Kool & The Gang were fading and the turning point was when they hired Taylor as their new lead singer in 1979. And that led to mainstream success in the 80s. I know a lot of funk fans prefer the early Kool & The Gang and so do I. But change was necessary for them to survive. This 2CD comp covers Kool & The Gang's entire career. After Taylor left Kool & The Gang in 1988, they weren't the same. But they're still around. A couple of the guys have died but most of the band still tours. And they released a Christmas CD in 2013. Here's Kool & The Gang performing Funky Stuff on Soul Train 1974.

Monday, November 09, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Mary Bond Davis

Artist:Mary Bond Davis
Song:I Know Where I've Been
Album:Hairspray: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Mary Bond Davis has been around since the 70s playing supporting roles in films and TV. Her performance as Motormouth Maybelle in the 2002 original Broadway cast of Hairspray is probably her biggest role. She was born June 3, 1958 in Los Angeles. After playing local clubs, she joined The Young Americans. They were a show choir that appeared frequently on TV, most notably Bing Crosby TV specials. In 1980, Mary was in the touring company of the Fats Waller musical Ain't Misbehavin'. Then she did some movies, most notably Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, Coming To America and Hook. Then she moved to New York and appeared in Jelly's Last Jam, Grease and Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk. Of course Hairspray is a musical based on John Waters film which is based on his life growing up in Baltimore. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote the songs. The show was a big hit and of course it was turned into a successful film. The Broadway show is probably the highlight of Mary's career as she got to sing her big song on TV. It looks like Mary has left the entertainment business. She moved back to Los Angeles to care for her elderly mother. She says she intended to open a nightclub. But instead she opened Colon Rollin', a retail location that gives colonics. Well, that will clean you out. Here's Mary Bond Davis performing I Know Where I've Been on The Caroline Rhea Show 2002.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Billy Joe Royal

Artist:Billy Joe Royal
Song:Down In The Boondocks
Album:The Very Best Of: The Columbia Years (1965-1972)

Billy Joe Royal scored his only top ten pop hit with Down in The Boondocks in 1965. Later on he had success in country music. He was born Apr. 3, 1942 in Valdosta, GA. His parents were entertainers and Royal appeared on his uncle's radio program at age 11. As a teen, Royal performed in Georgia Jubilee with guys like Joe South, Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens and he had his own rock band. Royal recorded a single in 1962. South wrote Down In The Boondocks and he asked Royal to record a demo of the song. He wanted to sell it to Gene Pitney. So the idea was for Royal to sound like Pitney. Columbia Records signed Royal and Down In The Boondocks was his first single in 1965. The song reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. South produced Royal's debut album and wrote most of the songs and he later went on to have his own hit singles. Royal scored a couple more top 20 hits with I Knew You When and the 1969 hit Cherry Hill Park which was produced by Buddy Buie of Classics IV and The Atlanta Rhythm Section. Royal left Columbia in 1972 and performed frequently in Las Vegas in the 70s. You can get all of Royal's Columbia hits on this comp from Tarragon Records. Beware of re-recordings from off labels. In the 80s, Royal bounced around a few labels before he landed with Atlantic in 1986. He had four top five country hits including his 1989 cover of Aaron Neville's Tell It like It Is. Royal left Atlantic in 1992 and he recorded for Intersound and he continued to tour until his death on Oct. 6, 2015 at age 73. Down In The Boondocks may have been Billy Joe Royal's only top ten pop hit but it holds up very well today. Here's Billy Joe Royal performing Down In The Boondocks on Hullabaloo 1965.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Gabi Garcia vs Lei'D Tapa added to Dec. 29 RIZIN show

Gabi Garcia, Lei'D Tapa
At last night's Bellator show in St. Louis, it was announced that Brazilian heavyweight BJJ ace Gabi Garcia will face pro wrestler Lei'D Tapa on the Dec. 29 RIZIN show. This was announced at the Bellator show because they also announced a RIZIN Light Heavyweight tournament featuring Bellator fighter King Mo. I first heard about Lei'D Tapa as a possible opponent a couple of weeks ago. It's not like there is a wide array of opponents for Gabi. And she's not credible as she has zero MMA experience. I understand she is training at American Top Team in Florida. Lei'D Tapa was born Seini Tonga Nov. 27, 1982 in Germany but her parents are from the island of Tonga. Her uncle is Sione Vailahi who was a star in the WWF in the 80s as The Barbarian. He also appeared in New Japan Pro Wrestling and he trained her along with George South. And her family connection with The Barbarian is the reason RIZIN is interested in her because that pro wrestling connection is marketable in Japan. Tapa is 5'11" 220lb so she's certainly the right size. I just don't think it's easy to learn MMA in a short period of time. I saw Lei'D Tapa when she was wrestling for TNA a couple of years ago. I didn't think she was very good and neither did TNA because they used her more as a bodyguard than as a wrestler. They let her go due to her lack of experience and she went to Ohio Valley Wrestling to try to improve. She currently works for Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling and who knows if that will ever get off the ground. As a wrestler, she lacks quickness and ring awareness. We already know how quick Gabi is on the ground. RIZIN will try to sell this as a competitive fight but freak show matches can be sold to Japanese fans. They love monster heels.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Michael Bolton

Artist:Michael Bolton
Song:When A Man Loves A Woman
Album:Time, Love and Tenderness: The Best of Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton started out as a rock singer and songwriter in the 70s. He wasn't very successful until he reinvented himself as a blue eyed soul crooner in the late 80s. His 1991 cover of the Percy Sledge classic When A Man Loves A Woman is one of his two number one pop hits. What got him into trouble was trying to take credit for writing one of those soul covers and he got sued. He was born Michael Bolotin Feb. 26, 1953 in New Haven, CT. He recorded two unsuccessful albums in the mid-70s for RCA as Michael Bolotin. One guy who worked on both albums was pianist Patrick Henderson who would go on to work with the late 70s version of The Doobie Brothers and then he became a gospel artist. The Guess Who producer Jack Richardson produced Bolotin's second album and Bolotin even covered These Eyes. Then Bolotin was lead singer of the hard rock group Blackjack. They recorded two unsuccessful albums for Polydor in the late 70s and they split up after Polydor dropped them. Then Bolotin unsuccessfully auditioned for Black Sabbath. He had success as a songwriter. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You was a hit for Laura Branigan in 1984. Bolotin signed with Columbia and changed his name to Michael Bolton. His first couple of albums were rock albums. When his 1987 cover of the Otis Redding classic Dock Of The Bay from his 1987 album The Hunger was praised by Redding's widow, it reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. This success heralded a new approach and on the 1989 album Soul Provider was Bolton's reinvention as a blue eyed soul crooner. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You topped the charts. That song was produced by Michael Omartian but Bolton produced a lot of the tracks himself. The album was certified 6XPlatinum. The 1991 album Time, Love & Tenderness went even farther. Working with Mariah Carey's producer Walter Afanasieff, Bolton's cover of When A Man Loves A Woman topped the charts. The album was certified 8XPlatinum. What got Bolton into trouble was when he took credit for writing the top five hit Love Is A Wonderful Thing. The Isley Brothers claimed they wrote the song in 1966 and ultimately were awarded five million dollars. Also it's the only Bolton hit that's not on any Bolton comp including the budget CD I am suggesting. Bolton continued to have success until he left Columbia in 1999. Bolton has recorded for Jive, Concord and Motown. It looks like he has his own label with Sony Legacy recording covers. He released an album last year and Bolton is currently on tour. At this point, he's a nostalgia act. Here's the video for When A Man Loves A Women by Michael Bolton.

Friday, November 06, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Uncle Kracker

Artist:Uncle Kracker
Song:Follow Me
Album:Double Wide

Uncle Kracker is probably best known as Kid Rock's best friend. He started out in Kid Rock's band and then went solo in 2000. Follow Me was his 2001 debut single and his biggest hit to date. He was born Matthew Shafer June 6, 1974 in Mount Clemens, MI. He met Kid Rock when Shafer and his brother Mike went to a turntable competition at a nightclub. The two became friends and Rock asked Shafer to join his band. Shafer already rapped and Mike taught him to work the tables. Shafer started working on a solo album with Rock's bassist Michael Bradford while still in Rock's band. When the album was finished, Shafer signed with Atlantic's Lava label. He was going to call himself Kracker which is a Southern term for a white person. But there was a 70s band called Kracker so to avoid confusion, he changed his name to Uncle Kracker. His 2000 debut CD Double Wide was produced by Kid Rock and Bradford. Follow Me was the first single and it reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by Shafer and Bradford. It features a guest appearance by Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath. Some fans think Cee Lo Green appears in the video but that is Bradford who resembles Green. Double Wide was certified 2XPlatinum. So Uncle Kracker was off to a good start. Double Wide is available as a budget CD. On subsequent albums, Uncle Kracker moved away from rap and went more towards a country sound. He had success with a 2003 cover of the Dobie Gray classic Drift Away featuring Gray and the 2004 hit When The Sun Goes Down with Kenny Chesney. And he toured with Chesney. Though Smile was a top 40 hit in 2009, Kracker's album sales were down and he left Lava. After he released the 2012 album Midnight Special on the country label Sugar Hill, Kracker re-signed with Lava who are now distributed by Republic. He released the single Endlessly last year but there has been no news of a new album yet. He's currently on tour and he says he still talks to Kid Rock regularly. Here's the video for Follow Me by Uncle Kracker.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Asuka vs Cameron

Here's the match video of Asuka vs Cameron from last night's episode of NXT. This is for Kana fans who don't have the WWE Network. This match is a challenge for Asuka because of Cameron's lack of pro wrestling experience. Can Asuka carry her to a good match? Remember when Cameron was in the Funkadactyls a couple of years ago, she never got the chance to train. So she has been training in Orlando for the last few months and this is her first match. Asuka comes out and the crowd goes nuts for her. Cameron gets some boos because the crowd knows she isn't a good wrestler. They also chant "Asuka's gonna kill you". When Cameron attempts a kick, Asuka grabs her leg and hits a flying armbar. When Cameron reaches the ropes for a break they show her with a terrified look on her face. But she gets the jump on Asuka and some brief offense including that ridiculous split leg drop. I hate that move. Asuka escapes a Dragon sleeper and it's all downhill from there for Cameron. Among other things, she mocks Cameron's mannerisms as she did with Dana Brooke. Cameron is outraged but the crowd loves this. She also hits a couple of her patented hip attacks. Rich Brennan even calls it a hip attack. Corey Graves mentions that the move is identical to Naomi's Rear View finisher. I have news for him and everyone else. Naomi watches a lot of joshi videos and she's a big Kana fan. That's where Naomi got the move. Kana does it a lot better though. Then Asuka hits three spinning back fists, a spinning head kick and a shining wizard. Then she finishes with the Asuka Lock. The match was better than I thought it would be mostly because Asuka emphasizes her own strengths and hides Cameron's weaknesses. And hopefully Cameron can train with Asuka and learn from someone with a high level of quickness and smoothness. Asuka has been tremendous so far. Enjoy the video!
Asuka vs Cameron by MrCena456

Justine Kish vs Nina Ansaroff added to Jan. 2 UFC show

Justine Kish
It was announced on last night's episode of UFC Tonight that Strawweights Justine Kish and Nina Ansaroff will face each other at UFC 195 Jan. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. I expect this match to air on the prelims on Fox Sports 1 and TSN. Fans may recall that Justine was supposed to be part of TUF 20 but she was forced to drop out because of a knee injury. She had surgery and this will be her UFC debut. Justine was born in Russia but grew up in the US after she was adopted. She lives in Gaston County, NC and trains at Black House MMA. Justine had a successful kickboxing career before turning to MMA. Her MMA record is 4-0 with her most recent win over Randa Markos. But that was in Jan. 2014 and one never knows what a fighter will be like after major surgery. And there is also the UFC jitters. Nina is a mainstay at American Top Team in Florida. If she's not fighting, you will find her in the corner of all of the ATT female fighters. She lost her UFC debut last year to Juliana Lima by unanimous decision. Neither fighter impressed. Nina was supposed to fight Rose Namajunas a few months ago but a flu ridden Nina was forced to drop out after missing weight. She needs to get back on track but Justine won't be an easy opponent.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan

Artist:Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan
Song:Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Album:Santa's Bag: An All Star Jazz Christmas

Here's a 1994 various artists CD that is perfect jazz for your Christmas listening. From what I can tell, this recording of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by jazz legends Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan was recorded specifically for this CD. Of course back in 1968, Gerry Mulligan joined the Brubeck band after Paul Desmond left. He was a regular in that band from 1968-72 and then he would alternate with Desmond as a guest soloist at concerts depending on their schedules. Brubeck and the original quartet featuring Desmond first recorded Santa Claus Is Coming To Town for the 1962 Columbia Records various artists album Jingle Bell Jazz. By the 90s, Brubeck was recording for Telarc Records and he was planning a Christmas CD. A Dave Brubeck Christmas was released in 1996. But that was a solo piano album. So this recording by Brubeck and Mulligan isn't on that CD. This version was recorded in 1994 and it appears to be a one shot reunion of these jazz greats. Artists appearing on Santa's Bag include Ray Brown, Mel Torme, George Shearing, Jimmy McGriff and Hank Crawford, Joe Williams, Kenny Barron, Bobby Short, Jim Hall, Hilton Ruiz and Louie Bellson. This CD is available at a deep discount price so I recommend it to those who want a Christmas Jazz CD. Here's a video of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

SHOOT BOXING queen RENA to make MMA debut on Dec. 31 RIZIN show

RENA at today's RIZIN press conference
Last month, former PRIDE owner Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced a supposed new beginning in Japanese MMA headlined by the return of legendary Russian fighter Fedor Emelianenko as the traditional New Year's Eve show in Japan. This will air in North America on tape delay on Spike TV. Also, an edited show will air in Japan on Fuji TV. I haven't seen anything about this show airing live anywhere. At this press conference, Sakakibara made a lot of noise about women's MMA which is pretty funny from a guy who never booked women in PRIDE. He announced that SHOOT BOXING queen RENA and Brazilian BJJ champ Gabi Garcia would make their MMA debuts. Some fans thought they would face each other. Uh, no. Today RIZIN as it is now called held a press conference to announce that RENA will face Italian kickboxer Jleana Valentino. Of course when he announced that RENA would make her MMA debut, that got my attention. Though experienced at SHOOT BOXING and kickboxing, RENA has always said in interviews that she wasn't interested in MMA. She admitted in a recent interview that what changed her mind is that Sakakibara threw a lot of money at her. And success at MMA could lead to overseas bookings maybe in Invicta. RENA is training with AACC owner Hiroyuki Abe and Invicta Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki. Where's Megumi Fujii? She doesn't work at AACC anymore. She works at Burst. One would think that there are enough 48kg female fighters in Japan that it makes no sense to bring in an opponent from Italy, especially one with no MMA experience. But that's what they've done. Why don't they just do a kickboxing match? Sorry about the logic. Jleana trains at Team Leone Petrosyan which is the home for Glory kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan. It's a credible gym for kickboxing but not for MMA. Then I saw a picture of Jleana and she works as a model and has a shaved head. So that explains it. She has an exotic look. Ya gotta love Japanese promoters. I have heard rumblings about possible opponents for Gabi Garcia but I think they are having a tough time finding an opponent that she will accept. So until something is announced, who knows?