Friday, June 30, 2017
Here's the match video of Asuka vs Nikki Cross from this week's episode of NXT. I am posting all of Asuka's matches for fans who don't have the WWE Network. This match was set up by the backstage brawl a couple of weeks ago. After that, it was decided that a Last Woman Standing match would be for the NXT Women's Championship. The match continues until one is incapacitated for a ten count. Of course neither Asuka or Nikki had ever done this kind of match. But they hadn't done a backstage brawl either. I expected this to be very entertaining. The storyline is Nikki is insane and therefore dangerous. Her fatal flaw is she underestimates Asuka's resolve and determination to keep her title. The match begins very slowly. But that's how big matches are done in Japan. It builds anticipation. Then they get going. One highlight has Asuka bringing out a garbage can, placing it on Nikki and kicking it. Her "Watch this" smile to the crowd as she brings the garbage can into the ring is priceless. As Asuka continues to kick the crap out of Nikki, all Nikki does is laugh like she's enjoying it. That would probably unnerve most opponents but not Asuka. On a couple of occasions, it looks like Asuka is finished. This is especially true of a spot where Nikki powerbombs Asuka on the floor on a bunch of chairs. Asuka hit the back of her head on the metal ramp. She could have been knocked unconscious. After ref Drake Wuertz checked on Asuka, he started counting. When she got up at nine, Nikki went nuts. They brawl up the ramp and end up near the announce desk. Another neckbreaker puts Asuka down for nine. While they are down, Nikki says something to Asuka, probably "this is the finish". Nikki hits Asuka with a ladder. Then she grabs a table and puts it next to the announce table where it is well lit. She puts Asuka on the table and the goes up the ladder. The plan is to put Asuka through the table. But Asuka gets off the table, says "No no no no no" and climbs up the other side of the ladder. Asuka checks to make sure they are in position and then hits a superplex through the announce table. Wuertz counts both of them but Asuka gets up at nine. It's over. Of course Asuka celebrates. Nikki is on her back laughing. When Asuka gets to the platform, she smiles at Nikki as if to say "We did it, girl. We killed it". They sure did. That may be the match of the year. I credit both of them. I have been watching Asuka for years. I know what she can do. I was not surprised she outdid herself. But Nikki really proved herself with this match. The question is are they going to continue this feud or does Ember Moon get another chance. I would continue this feud. More can be gotten from it. I would like to see if they can top this. Enjoy the match. It is a must see.
NXT Women's Championship: Asuka © vs. Nikki Cross by therackattackvideos
NXT Women's Championship: Asuka © vs. Nikki Cross by therackattackvideos
Song:Loungin' (Who Do Ya Love)
LL Cool J has been one of the more durable rappers. He started out in the 80s and then he faded. but then he had a big comeback with the 1995 album Mr. Smith. Though it's not his signature song, Loungin' is his biggest chart hit. These days he's mostly an actor but that's not unusual for rappers. He was born James Todd Smith Jan. 14, 1968 in Bay Shore, NY in Long Island. He started rapping at age 9. His jazz musician grandfather set up a studio for him in his basement. So Smith made tapes and sent them to record companies. Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons were just starting Def Jam and they signed Smith at age 16. LL Cool J means Ladies Love Cool James. His 1985 debut album Radio did OK on the R&B charts. Smith continued to have success in R&B. But his breakthrough to mainstream music was the 1990 hit Mama Said Knock You Out. That's probably his signature song but it's not his biggest hit. Meanwhile Smith is getting into acting. His biggest success was the sitcom In The House which ran from 1995-99. His 1993 album 14 Shots To The Dome didn't do well. So when he got the sitcom, he could have quit music and that's what a lot of rappers did. Instead he released the 1995 CD Mr. Smith and it was certified 2XPlatinum. He scored three top ten hits from the album. Loungin' was the biggest of the three. It reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. There were two versions of Loungin'. The hit version was a remix produced by The Trackmasters (Jean-Claude Olivier & Samuel Barnes) and featuring the girl group Total who were just about to release their debut CD. The obvious sample is from the 1985 hit Who Do You Love by Bernard Wright. It was too obvious for me. They just took the original record and Smith rapped over it. You can get it on this budget comp. The Trackmasters produced most of Mr. Smith. They also worked with Will Smith among others. Smith continued to record but he got more into acting. Today he's mainly an actor but he is working on new music. He's certainly a legend of rap. Here's the video for Loungin' (Who Do Ya Love) by LL Cool J featuring Total.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
The R&B supergroup LSG scored a top five hit in 1997 with My Body. All three guys were successful solo artists and they returned to that after this album. The story goes that Keith Sweat phoned Gerald Levert and told him he planned to record with Johnny Gill. Levert wanted to get in on that. And that's what they did. They decided to call themselves LSG. The album has two covers. It looks like it was originally called Levert.Sweat.Gill and then Atlantic's EastWest label removed the title. So now it's just called LSG. Levert recorded for EastWest at the time so that may have been his idea. In addition to being great singers, Levert and Sweat are producers and songwriters. So they produced a lot of the album. But other producers who worked on the album include Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jermaine Dupri and Edwin "Tony" Nicholas who had worked with Levert previously. Special guests include Faith Evans, Coko, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J and MC Lyte. My Body reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it also topped the R&B charts. The song was written and produced by Darrell "Delite" Allamby who would later have success with Busta Rhymes. The other writers were rapper Lincoln "Link" Browder and backup singer Antoinette Roberson. The three work together frequently. The album was certified 2XPlatinum. The album is available as a budget CD. All three guys returned to solo careers. They released a second album LSG2 in 2003 which didn't do as well. Of course Gerald Levert died in 2006. In 2013, Johnny Gill announced on The Arsenio Hall Show that LSG would reform with Gerald's dad Eddie Levert of The O'Jays replacing him. They did tour but they didn't record. Here's the video for My Body by LSG.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
|Anton, Me, Jasper, Ivo|
So anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a major league jazz fan. So when the complete schedule for the Toronto Jazz Festival was announced, I went to their website looking for shows to attend. Last year was the first time in several years that I didn't go to any shows. They have a bad habit of booking artists I have already seen or some that aren't even jazz. They did some of that this year too. And they also have free concerts usually featuring local acts that don't interest me. The other thing they did this year is localize all the shows in the Yorkville area. I'm looking over the schedule and I see that they are bringing over the European jazz trio Phronesis for a free concert. Though probably unknown to casual jazz fans, I'm a hard core fan and I know all about them. And free is the perfect price for me. The venue is Heliconian Hall on Hazelton Ave. near Yorkville. Not only had I never been to this place, I've never heard of it. So my first question is can I get in there? Is it accessible? The building started out as a church in 1876. And for years it's been a women's art club. It was named a National Historic Site in 2008. I doubted that it is accessible but one never knows. It didn't say anything on the website. So I tweeted the Toronto Jazz Festival and asked about accessibility. They had someone from Heliconian Hall call me. The building was just renovated but they plan to make it accessible next year. Making heritage buildings accessible can be tricky because it has to be retro fitted. The building can't be altered. Of course next year doesn't help me now. That's what I told Toronto Jazz Festival. Festival CEO Howard Kerbel called me and apologized. I told him that accessibility as an afterthought is systemic in Toronto despite laws like the AODA that are supposed to change that. I told him they shouldn't have rented that building in the first place. And if he didn't do something about it, I could get appropriate media coverage. I've done that in the past. Ask Elections Ontario. He agreed to build a ramp. I have posted two pictures that I took with my phone. The first is what the front of the building looks like. The ramp was in the back because there is no space in the front. The only thing I was concerned about was the ramp wouldn't be adequate. But as you can see by the second picture, it was fine. The Toronto Jazz Festival has volunteers everywhere. One of them took me to the ramp. Phronesis was hanging out there so I got to meet them before the show and talk to them and take a pic afterwards. Everything went fine and I am returning to Heliconian Hall on Saturday to see The Claudia Quintet. Thanks to Howard for getting this done. I appreciate it. But it comes with a moral. Major events in Toronto had better have accessibility in the forefront. As long as it is an afterthought, it can cost you later on.
Song:Ring My Bell
Album:Ring My Bell
Anita Ward topped the charts in 1979 with the disco classic Ring My Bell. It was her only hit and she only recorded a couple of albums. She was born Dec. 20, 1956 in Memphis. She grew up singing in church. While attending Rust College in Holly Springs, MS, she was in an a capella choir. She went into teaching but music was still nagging at her. She was put in touch with Frederick Knight who had a hit in 1972 with I've Been Lonely For So Long. Then he started his own label Juana and got into production. Knight wrote Ring My Bell for teen R&B singer Stacy Lattisaw. When that didn't work out, he gave it to Anita. She didn't like it but he told her it could be a disco hit. The song is about teens who are on the phone too much so it's not surprising Anita thought it was juvenile. Knight rewrote the song with more mature lyrics. He got the disco label TK to release it. Ring My Bell topped the charts in 1979. The album was called Songs Of Love. The sexually suggestive lyrics had a lot to do with the song's success. One notable innovation was Knight's use of the Synare electronic drum, an instrument that would be a staple of dance music. Subsequent singles and Anita's second album went nowhere. There was supposed to be a third album. But Anita and Knight disagreed about direction and it was cancelled. Then she was in a car accident. Apparently Anita wanted to be more versatile as she was concerned about being a one hit wonder. She recorded a couple of albums in Europe that were never released here. This budget CD is from Unidisc in Montreal keeping disco alive. Anita Ward is still around. She released a single in 2011 but a proposed album never surfaced. Here's Anita Ward performing Ring My Bell 1979.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Song:You Light Up My Life
Album:You Light Up My Life: Greatest Inspirational Songs
You Light Up My Life topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks in 1977. Even back then the record was criticized for being overly sappy. That didn't prevent it from being a million seller. It was the only pop hit for Debby Boone. She also had some success in country music. But mostly she has recorded Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). She was born Sept. 22, 1956 in Hackensack, NJ. Of course she is the third of Pat Boone's four daughters. And her grandfather was country music legend Red Foley. Of course Pat Boone was a big pop star in the 50s. When that faded, he turned to Christian music. All four girls toured with dad and they recorded CCM in the mid-70s. Debby was usually the lead singer. Family friend and Curb Records owner Mike Curb convinced Debby to go solo. You Light Up My Life was released as a single. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks. The song was written for the 1977 film You Light Up My Life by Joe Brooks. He also wrote and directed the film. Brooks started out as a jingle writer and he got into films in the 70s. In the film, You Light Up My Life was performed by actress Didi Conn and dubbed by opera singer Kasey Cisyk. Brooks knew her from the jingle business. Her version was a minor hit but Curb wanted Debby to record it. Brooks came to the studio with his backing track and Debby just sang over it. After the single was a huge hit, Curb had to scramble to put an album together. He brought in old buddies Michael Lloyd and Bob Gaudio to help and the album was certified Platinum. Debby also won a Best New Artist Grammy. It looked like she was going to be a big star. But she only recorded four albums for Warner Bros. and her only other hit Are You On The Road To Lovin' Me Again was a #1 country hit. Since then Debby has mostly recorded CCM. She's had a lot of success in that market. You can get You Light Up My Life on this Curb comp. Neither the album or soundtrack You Light Up My Life have been released on CD. Debby continued to record Christian music in the 80s. Her most recent album Swing This in 2013. It appears to be a jazz album. She also turns up on TV occasionally and she still tours. Here's Debby Boone performing You Light Up My Life.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Here's the match video of Carla Esparza vs Maryna Moroz from last night's UFC show in Oklahoma City. Carla was the first UFC Strawweight Champion. After losing the title, Carla had shoulder surgery and she just hasn't looked good since returning especially losing her last match to Randa Markos. Obviously Carla wants to get back into the title picture. But it's questionable if she's good enough anymore. She needs a big win. Maryna is from the Ukraine. She's mainly a boxer. So is her husband. She looked pretty good when she first came to the UFC. Not so much since then. She hasn't even looked good in her wins. Maryna has a big height advantage. As a striker, one would think she would use that to her advantage. But she seems content with doing as little as possible while still winning the fight. That worked in her last fight. Neither of them did much in round one. But I thought Maryna was slightly more effective so I scored the round 10-9 for Maryna. In the other two rounds, Carla was able to get her timing and that resulted in several takedowns. The problem was she didn't do much after the takedowns. That was mostly because Maryna kept her from doing anything. You don't score points for that. On one occasion, ref Mario Yamasaki told them to get busy or he's stand them up. Carla says "She's holding my wrist". Yamasaki said that was her problem. The whole fight was like that. Maryna was terrible and Carla was marginally better. She won by unanimous decision. I scored it 29-28 for Carla. So you know how fighters are. A win is a win. That's what Carla was saying afterwards. She thinks one more win gets her a title shot. I'm sure it won't surprise you that I don't buy that. She needed a dominant win. She didn't get it. A squeaker like that doesn't cut it. She would get clobbered by a really good fighter, even her BFF Felice Herrig. Several years ago, I never would have thought that Felice would be higher than Carla on the food chain. But there you have it. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Felice Herrig vs Justine Kish from last night's UFC show in Oklahoma City. In her last fight, Felice beat highly touted prospect Alexa Grasso. So this past week she was wondering aloud why she wasn't fighting a ranked opponent. Though Justine won both her UFC fights, she hasn't been that effective. Her defense needs a lot of work. Her opponents were worse than her. So if she's on her game, I expected Felice to win handily. And consistency has been the big question mark in Felice's career. That's what UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby is looking for with Felice. But Felice has shown a marked improvement since training with veteran fighter Jeff Curran. And there he was in her corner. Justine trains at Black House in Los Angeles. She was supposed to be on TUF 20 but she had knee surgery. I just haven't been impressed with her two UFC wins. Her main flaw was obvious in this fight. Her defense isn't good enough. Felice kept taking Justine down and no one can win fights on defense all the time. Felice almost finished her in the third round with a rear naked choke. I don't know how Justine escaped that. Look, she's a tough girl. That's not enough to win fights. She has too many holes in her game. And as I'm sure you heard, she took a crap on the mat which has made international headlines. It was on TMZ this morning. At least she had a sense of humour about it afterwards. That's one way to become famous. Justine had nothing for Felice. I scored the first two rounds 10-9 for Felice and round three 10-8. The only thing Felice didn't do was finish. Felice won by unanimous decision. I assume she'll get what she wants now. She says she never turns down fights. What about Claudia Gadelha or maybe Cynthia Calvillo who has a fight coming up in a couple of weeks. They might as well throw Felice into the deep end of the pool and see if she swims. Either opponent would be very tough. Enjoy the video!
Song:Love Me Or Leave Me
Album:The Great Nina Simone
Today Nina Simone is so well known for her part in the civil rights movement and her turbulent personal life that I think it is forgotten that she was a very versatile singer. This recording of the standard Love Me Or Leave Me is from her 1958 debut album Little Girl Blue. It's a straight jazz album focusing on her singing and piano skills. She would stray quite a bit from that later. She was born Eunice Waymon Feb. 21, 1933 in Tryon, NC and she grew up singing in church. Then she got interested in jazz and renamed herself Nina Simone after French actress Simone Signoret so her Methodist minister mom wouldn't know Eunice was singing the devil's music. Nina recorded the album Little Girl Blue in 1958 and when the single I Loves You, Porgy got radio airplay, she sold the album to Bethlehem Records for $3,000. Boy, did she regret that. I Loves You, Porgy turned out to be the biggest hit single of her career. The album is worth getting because it's straight ahead jazz with Jimmy Bond on bass and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums. Bond was a sideman at the time. He would be a successful Los Angeles studio musician in the 60s. Heath is the brother of sax player Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath. He's still around at 82 years of age. The British label Music Club has released Little Girl Blue on CD as The Great Nina Simone. It is a budget CD and it contains bonus tracks. Love Me Or Leave Me was written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn for the 1928 Broadway show Whoopee! and popularized by singer Ruth Etting. Nina recorded the song again on the 1966 album Let It All Out. That's the version on any of her Verve comps. In the 60s, Nina recorded for Colpix and Philips. But though she was a civil rights activist in concert, her albums didn't reflect that until she signed with RCA in 1967. So though her RCA recordings are her most famous recordings, you shouldn't overlook her 1958 debut album on Bethlehem. Here's Nina Simone performing Love Me Or Leave Me. It looks like this might be from the CBS series Camera Three in 1962.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Song:When I Fall In Love
Album:Sleepless In Seattle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The thing that I thought was unusual about this recording is it doesn't appear on any Celine Dion compilation CDs. It was recorded for the 1993 hit film Sleepless In Seattle. If you recall the film, the songs on the soundtrack and the songs on the soundtrack album are mostly standards recorded by legends like Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong and others. John Barry was hired to compose the score. But when he was given a list of 20 songs that had to be in the film, he left and Marc Shaiman replaced him. Shaiman started out in cabaret and Broadway and he was more suitable for this film. The music was supposed to evoke nostalgia. As I said, they used mostly vintage recordings. But they wanted a new recording as a hit single to sell the soundtrack album. David Foster to the rescue. He was one of several producers working on Celine Dion's new album The Colour Of My Love. When I Fall In Love is a pop standard written by film composer Victor Young with lyrics by Edward Heyman for the 1952 film One Minute To Zero. Doris Day scored a hit with it at the time. It was also performed in the 1957 film Istanbul by Nat King Cole. Cole's recording is the one I remember. The original plan was to have Celine sing the song with Stevie Wonder. When that couldn't be worked out, British singer Clive Griffin was brought in. My guess is there was a time crunch to get the recording done. Griffin had just signed with Epic Records and they thought this was a good way to get him out there. The single reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist and nominated for a couple of other awards. It turned out to be Griffin's only big hit. He only recorded one album for Epic. When I Fall In Love appears on the Sleepless In Seattle soundtrack and The Colour Of My Love. Both are available as budget CDs. But I guess it wasn't a big enough hit to appear on any of Celine's comp CDs. That surprised me but that's the reason I decided to feature this recording. Here's the video for When I Fall In Love by Celine Dion featuring Clive Griffin.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Album:Rock Instrumental Classics Volume 3: The Seventies
Rhinoceros was an attempt by Elektra Records to form a "supergroup". The music was good but record sales were disappointing and the band split up after three albums. The instrumental Apricot Brandy was their biggest chart hit. Elektra Records house producer Paul Rothchild asked Frasier Mohawk to put a band together. Mohawk recruited Stephen Stills to join Buffalo Springfield. He asked Mohawk to audition musicians. This was how Moby Grape was formed. They got from the first audition singer and pianist Alan Gerber and guitarist Doug Hastings. Hastings briefly replaced Neil Young in Buffalo Springfield and a member of the Seattle based group The Daily Flash. The second audition brought them singer John Finley from the Canadian group Jon & Lee & The Checkmates and guitarist Danny Weis who was a founding member of Iron Butterfly. Weis suggested former Iron Butterfly bassist Jerry Penrod and Finley suggested former Checkmate pianist Michael Fonfara who had just left The Electric Flag. The final member was former Mothers Of Invention drummer Billy Mundi. Rhinoceros first recorded as backing band for David Ackles. Their debut album Rhinoceros was released in 1968. Apricot Brandy reached #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the album didn't sell. That was the story of Rhinoceros. Elektra had high expectations but they didn't get the results they wanted. For their second album Satin Chickens, Penrod was replaced by another former Checkmate Peter Hodgson who had been working with David Clayton-Thomas in Toronto. Then for their 1970 album Better Times Are Comin', Gerber and Mundi were replaced by former Checkmates Larry Leishman and Duke Edwards. So Rhinoceros became a Jon & Lee & The Checkmates reunion. In addition to all this, their manager turned down an invitation for Rhinoceros to appear at Woodstock. Imagine if they had appeared there. After three unsuccessful albums, Elektra dropped Rhinoceros. Most of the guys moved back to Toronto and recorded a 1972 album for GRT Records as Blackstone. You can get Apricot Brandy on this Rhino various artists comp. Fonfara was a member of Rough Trade in the 70s, The Lincolns and later The Downchild Blues Band. Rhinoceros reunited in 2009 in Kitchener, ON. Here's a video for Apricot Brandy by Rhinoceros.
Friday, June 23, 2017
Album:Shot Forth Self Living
Medicine is probably best known for their appearance in the 1994 film The Crow. The problem was they split up soon after. Medicine is clearly in the neo-psychedelic vein which would have been a tough sell in the early 90s. Their label sold them as noise pop. Medicine were from Los Angeles led by drummer Brad Laner. After his previous band Savage Republic split up, Laner recorded some tapes at home. Record companies told him that if he could form a band that sounded like the tapes, he could get a record deal. And Medicine was born. They signed with Rick Rubin's Def American label. 5ive is from their 1992 debut album Shot Forth Self Living. Laner produced the album and he also sang, played guitar, piano and percussion. Other members were Beth Thompson on vocals, Jim Putnam on guitar, Eddie Ruscha on bass and he also designed the album cover and Jim Goodall on drums. The album got some airplay on college radio and videos played on MTV. The problem was Medicine was a one man band. Laner could do everything if he wanted. But he needed a band to tour. By the time their third album Her Highness was released in 1995, Medicine was reduced to Laner, Thompson and Goodall. The others had left and Laner never replaced them. Medicine got a boost when they performed in the 1994 film The Crow. But by this time it was clear that Laner wasn't going to keep them together as he preferred recording in his home studio anyway. Laner joined the group Lusk led by former Tool bassist Paul D'Amour and former Guns 'n' Roses pianist Chris Pitman. They recorded one album. Laner has been in other bands and he continues to record at home. And he has reformed Medicine a couple of times. The first was in 2003 with Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon Lee. They released an album. And more recently he reformed the original lineup and they recorded two albums in 2014. Medicine doesn't seem to be active right now Laner could always reform them down the road. Here's the video of 5ive by Medicine.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Song:Hey Mr. DJ
The female duo Zhane scored a top ten hit with Hey Mr. DJ in 1993. It turned out to be their only big hit. But the song is very durable and it gets sampled a lot by hip hop guys. Renee Neufville and Jean Norris met at Temple University in Philadelphia. They sang together on some of the same shows. After they appeared on the 1991 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince single Ring My Bell, former Warner Bros. exec Benny Medina suggested they become a group. The name Zhane is a mix of their names. The Jah-Nay pronunciation is to make it sound French. It's not a real word. They recorded Hey Mr. DJ for the various artists CD Roll Wit Tha Flava featuring Queen Latifah. Hey Mr DJ did so well as a single from that album that Zhane got a record deal with Motown. Hey Mr DJ reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Most of the album including Hey Mr. DJ was written and produced by KayGee of Naughty By Nature. KayGee has had a lot of success as a producer and owner of Divine Mill Records. Renee wrote the lyrics of Hey Mr. DJ and most of the album. It samples Looking Up To You by Michael Wycoff, Step To The Rear by Brand Nubian and Troglodyte by Jimmy Castor Bunch. And Hey Mr. DJ has been frequently sampled. The rapper is Abdullah "Fam" Barr from Rottin Razkals. The album Pronounced Jah-Nay was certified Platinum. It's available as a budget CD. Zhane had a couple more hits like Groove Thang and a cover of Evelyn "Champagne" King's Shame from the film A Low Down Dirty Shame. Their 1997 album Saturday Night didn't do as well and then Zhane split up. Jean married drummer Marcus Baylor of Yellowjackets and most of her music has been with him along with studio work. Renee was lead singer of Roy Hargrove's RH Factor and she writes songs for other artists. Here's the video for Hey Mr. DJ by Zhane.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Natalie Alvarado scored a top 20 hit with Goin' Crazy in 2005. When follow up singles and her second album stiffed, she returned to dancing and choreography which is what she was doing in the first place. She was born Sept. 2, 1979 in Clear Lake City, TX which is a suburb of Houston. Natalie studied criminal justice in college. She answered an ad for Houston Rockets cheerleader auditions. She got the job. To make extra money, she started doing choreography in videos for local rap artists. She also started rapping and singing mainly to add to her dancing. Latium Entertainment owner Charles Chavez thought Natalie had potential. Obviously her looks were part of the deal. He decided to turn her into a singer. Chavez is the man behind Chamillionaire and Baby Bash. He had a distribution deal with Universal. Nathan "Happy" Perez produced most of Natalie's 2005 debut CD. She co-wrote all of the songs. Perez had already worked with Chamillionaire and Baby Bash. Goin' Crazy reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Perez didn't produce that song. It was written and produced by local Houston guys Eddie Guardian and D. Botts. Natalie made some guest appearances on recordings by Chavez' other artists. A second album Everything New was released in 2006. She worked with some of the same producers. But a lot of the songs were produced by the duo of Play-N-Skillz. They are brothers Juan & Oscar Salinas. Unfortunately for Natalie, there were no hit singles and the album didn't sell. After that, Natalie returned to the Houston Rockets and she runs the Houston Rockets Power Dancers. Here's the video for Goin' Crazy by Natalie.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Yesterday Invicta announced the full card for Invicta FC 24 July 15 in Kansas City. This will air on UFC Fight Pass. As usual, I will analyze the card. A few weeks ago, Megan Anderson defending her Welterweight belt against Helena Kolesnyk was announced. Since Megan is going to the UFC, Bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger will move up to Welterweight. It's not a title fight anymore. It doesn't matter. It's a weak main event because Helena is a nobody. She does not belong in a main event anywhere. So who is she? She's from Russia. Her nickname is Pretty. Like a lot of Russian female fighters including the other ones on this show, she is heavily protected at home to a ridiculous level so when they come here to fight, none of them are any good. Her record is 5-0-1NC. Four of her six fights have been for WBK in China against beginners. And then I found this video of her June 9, 2016 fight vs Xiaomin Wing. Wing wins the first round probably by 10-8. At the start of round two, Helena gets called for an illegal knee. Then they are clinching on the fence and the ref inexplicably calls for the finish and Helena gets the win. He thought Wing tapped but there was no submission. It's a brutal call and everyone in the arena is shocked. When I research fighters, I see a lot of weird stuff. This was pretty bad. I have posted the video. You can see it for yourself. This girl wasn't going to last long with either Megan or Tonya. And when the main event is that weak, it hurts the rest of the card. And it's not a strong card anyway. Milana Dudieva will make her Invicta debut vs Mara Romero Borella. Of course Milana was in the UFC. She was terrible. I knew about her before she was in the UFC. She never belonged in the UFC and she doesn't belong in Invicta either. Mara is Italian. Her record is 10-4-1NC. Italy has produced a lot of great kickboxers but very few MMA fighters because the training is at a low level. This will be Mara's first fight outside Europe. And it's at Flyweight. I would be OK with her on the prelims but she's too high on the card. In a Bantamweight fight Raquel Pa'aluhi will face Yana Kunitskaya. Raquel is a very popular fighter from Hawaii. She currently trains with Robert Drysdale in Las Vegas. Her problem is she tends to come up short in important fights. This is an important fight. Yana has already has two chances at Tonya and she wants another. I like Raquel but I know her history too. In an Atomweight fight, Jinh Yu will face Ashley Cummins. The winner probably gets a shot at Ayaka Hamasaki's title. Jinh already lost to Ayaka. Ashley looked really good in her last fight. Let's get to the prelims. In a Flyweight bout, Karina Rodriguez will face Barbara Acioly. Both are Invicta newcomers. Karina is from Puebla, Mexico. Her record is 4-2. Most of her fights have been for one Mexican promotion. Barbara is from Brazil. She is 4-0. She has fought twice for regional US promotions. Both are unproven which is OK on the prelims. In a Strawweight bout, Sunna Davidsdotter will face Kelly D'Angelo. Sunna is from Iceland. She's 2-0 but she's 32 years old. I liked what I have seen from her but the clock is ticking. Kelly is 30 years old from Missouri. She's 2-0. Her age is an issue. I prefer younger fighters. In an Atomweight bout, Mallory Martin will face Tiffany Masters. The last time we saw Mallory she lost to Sunna in March. She's 1-1 and 24 years old. Who knows? Tiffany is an Invicta newcomer. She's 2-0 from Fond du Lac, WI. She's fought for King Of The Cage twice. The opener is a Featherweight bout. Felicia Spencer will face Amy Coleman. We've seen both of them before. I would describe both as developing talents. There is going to be a demand for good Featherweights. Felicia is from Montreal but she now trains in Orlando, FL. Her record is 2-0 and she beat Madison McElhenny in her Invicta debut. Amy is from Knoxville, TN. Her record is 2-1. She lost her Invicta debut last Sept. My assessment is the top two fights are weak and that hurts the entire show. Don't forget to check out the video.
Song:Somewhere Out There
Linda Ronstadt was one of the biggest stars of the 70s. But in the 80s she wasn't a pop star anymore. She was on Broadway and she recorded pop standards with legendary bandleader Nelson Riddle. Those recordings did well but they weren't going to get her back to the top of the charts. Somewhere Out There was a top five hit in 1986 and it not only got her to the top of the charts but it set her up for success recording a more mature sound than her 70s recordings. Somewhere Out There was from the 1986 animated film An American Tail. The film was produced by Steven Speilberg's company Amblin and directed by former Disney animator Don Bluth. The score was composed by James Horner. Speilberg asked the husband wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write four songs for the film with Horner. They were surprised when Speilberg told them that he thought Somewhere Out There could be a big hit. It was decided to play the song over the end credits. He also wanted a high powered duet. At the time, Linda was dating George Lucas. And though she last scored a big hit single in 1980, her albums still sold well. Ingram was known for his success with Quincy Jones and his chart topping duet with Patti Austin Baby Come To Me. Linda brought her producer Peter Asher and Steve Tyrell was associate producer. They used Linda's usual studio band bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel and Horner associates David Kitay, Guy Moon and C. Wells Christie on keyboards. Veteran session musician Bob Mann played the guitar solo. Somewhere Out There reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and An American Tail was a big hit too. You can get Somewhere Out there on this Linda Ronstadt budget comp. But it is also on a couple of James Ingram comps. Both singers had chart success in the ensuing years. I just think it was a bigger deal for Linda at the time. Here's the video for Somewhere Out There by Linda Ronstadt featuring James Ingram.
Monday, June 19, 2017
Pianist Randy Weston has been around since the 50s. And he's still touring at 91 years old. He's 6'7" so he's an imposing presence on stage. But his mix of post bop and African rhythms never gets old. He was born Apr. 6, 1926 in Brooklyn, NY where his father owned a restaurant. His dad was from Jamaica and as a staunch Marcus Garvey supporter, he passed his Afrocentric views to Weston. Weston studied classical piano and dance as a child. He got into jazz when he was a teen. He served in the US Army during WWII. Meanwhile, his dad's restaurant was frequented by jazz musicians including Duke Ellington and cousin Wynton Kelly. But Weston's big influence was Thelonious Monk. Weston started as a sideman in the late 40s. His first recording as a leader was in 1954 on Riverside Records. He started working with arranger Melba Liston in the late 50s and they had a very successful partnership in the 60s. Weston recorded for several labels including United Artists, Roulette, Verve, Polydor and CTI. He became known for incorporating African rhythms and Weston toured a lot in Africa. In the 70s and 80s, Weston recorded for a lot of small labels that were poorly distributed. His music wasn't getting exposure until he returned to Verve in the late 80s. African Sunrise was first recorded on the 1991 album The Spirits of our Ancestors which reunited Weston with Melba Liston. So the song was written for a large band. Unfortunately that album is out of print. But he recorded it on the 2006 CD Zep Tepi. It's a trio album with Weston on piano, bassist Alex Blake from Billy Cobham's band and percussionist Neil Clarke from Carlos Garnett's band. These guys have worked together a lot. As I said, Weston is 91 years old and still touring. His latest CD The African Nubian Suite was released Jan. 2017 through CD Baby. It is a concept album with a full orchestra. Weston is still going strong and I suggest you check him out if he's coming your way. Here's Randy Weston and his African Rhythm Orchestra performing African Sunrise at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Song:Way Down We Go
Kaleo is a new band that has become popular by placing songs in TV shows. That's how music is promoted these days. Fans hear a song on their favourite TV show and they download it at iTunes or Spotify. Kaleo is from Mosfellsbaer, Iceland. Lead singer JJ Julius Son (Jokull Juliusson), bassist Daniel Kristjansson and drummer David Antonsson were schoolmates. They formed Kaleo with guitarist Rubin Pollack in 2012. Juliusson writes most of the songs and of course he's the lead singer. So blues tinged rock seems to be his big influence. They released their debut album in 2013 and had success at home in Iceland. The song All The Pretty Girls did so well on Spotify that Elektra Records signed Kaleo. The band moved to Austin, TX. On their 2016 album A/B, they worked with Kings Of Leon producer Jacquire King and Arctic Monkeys producer Mike Crossley. Crossley produced Way Down We Go. The song appeared in the film Collateral Beauty and a whole host of TV shows. The single was a worldwide hit and it reached #54 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the real success was it got fans to download the album from iTunes or Spotify and it was certified Gold. Also Kaleo appeared on all the late night shows like Conan etc. Kaleo is currently on tour. Last night they played The Firefly Festival and their set was live streamed on Yahoo. I saw that on my Twitter feed. Elektra deserves a lot of credit for getting Kaleo out there. We'll see if it lasts. Here's the video for Way Down We Go by Kaleo.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Here's the match video of Lucie Pudilova vs Ji Yeon Kim from this morning's UFC show in Singapore. I was up very early to watch this on UFC Fight Pass. Lucie is from the Czech Republic. She made her UFC debut as a late replacement. She lost to Lina Lansberg. Some thought she did enough in the third round to get a draw after losing the first two rounds. I was not among them. She wasn't dominant enough to get a 10-8. Ji is from Korea. She has wins over Takayo Hashi and Shizuka Sugiyama. The UFC tried to get her to face Rin Nakai in last year's Korea show. She was also offered to Holly Holm on this show. She is mainly a boxer. So I expected mostly a kickboxing match. Round one was very close. I thought Lucie won 10-9 very marginally. I don't think Ji threw enough punches. She seemed to fix that in round two and I thought Ji won that round 10-9. Lucie's guillotine choke attempts were enough to give her round three 10-9. So I scored it 29-28. Round one was close enough that I thought we might see a split decision. But all three judges scored it 29-28. I've seen worse fights but neither fighter was very impressive. Check out the fight for yourself!
Here's the match video of Holly Holm vs Bethe Correia from this morning's UFC show in Singapore. This aired on The Fight Network in Canada and UFC Fight Pass everywhere. I'm sure you know by now that Holly won with a highlight reel head kick in round three. Of course the usual idiots overreact to this like Holly is suddenly a great fighter. What these idiots forget is up until that point the fight was terrible. It was the snoozefest I was expecting. Both fighters did nothing for the first two rounds. I scored both rounds 9-9. The crowd was booing and it was so bad that ref Marc Goddard stopped the fight in the second round and told them to stop screwing around. This is something more refs need to do but very few will. And the ironic thing is that Bethe taunted Holly and she was out moments after. So what took Holly so long? Believe it or not, patience is her strategy in all her fights. The problem is that doesn't work most of the time. That's why Holly lost to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine De Randamie. She waited and waited and waited. And after she lost those fights she gave woulda coulda shoulda excuses. The solution is she needs to be more aggressive from the very start. I don't know if she can do that. Rin Nakai has had the same problem for years and she can't fix it. Sometimes fighters get set in their ways and can't change. Remember this is not a physical problem. It's a mental problem. Maybe she should see a sports psychologist. She has to change. Her manager Lenny Fresquez said he wants Holly to get a title shot either Featherweight or Bantamweight. How do you think patience will work against Cris Cyborg or Amanda Nunes? Enjoy the video!
Album:Something More Than Free
Jason Isbell is an outstanding singer songwriter and a former member of Drive By Truckers. He won Grammys for the album Something More Than Free and the song 24 Frames. His musical roots are in Alabama. He was born Feb. 1, 1979 in Green Hill, AL. His grandfather was a Pentacostal preacher who also played guitar. He taught Isbell various instruments. What got him into Drive By Truckers is he became friends with legendary Muscle Shoals bassist David Hood. His son Patterson Hood was leader of Drive By Truckers. Isbell worked at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals until he joined Drive By Truckers in 2002. After leaving Drive By Truckers in 2007, Isbell released his first solo album. He also formed his band 400 Unit. Though the band isn't always credited on the album cover, they play on all of Isbell's albums and tour with him. The band is guitarist Sadler Vaden of Drivin' N Cryin', pianist Derry DeBorja of Son Volt, bassist Jimbo Hart and drummer Chad Gamble. Isbell began to have success when he started to work with producer Dave Cobb who produced Shooter Jennings. Their first album together was the 2013 CD Southeastern. This was also Isbell's first album after alcohol addiction recovery. The 2015 album Something More Than Free did even better. It won the 2016 Best Americana Album Grammy and 24 Frames won for Best Americana Song. Isbell's new album The Nashville Sound was just released. Isbell and 400 Unit are on tour with special guest violinist Amanda Shires. Be sure to check them out if they are coming your way. Here's Jason Isbell and 400 Unit performing 24 Frames on Conan Aug. 12, 2015.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Here's the match video of Asuka vs Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riot from this week's episode of NXT. I am posting videos of Asuka's matches for those who don't get the WWE Network. This is a rematch from NXT Takeover Chicago except it's an elimination match. The match itself is nothing special. It's very similar to the Chicago match with the usual stuff you see in three way matches. But the post match brawl is worth seeing. Nikki eliminates Ruby with a top rope spinning neckbreaker. After a break, Nikki makes the mistake of underestimating Asuka. Asuka is not insane like Nikki but she is crazy. So they wind up on the floor and Asuka hits a butt bump from the apron. They go brawling to the back. The ref calls the match a No Contest. The problem was Tom Phillips announced that there was no DQ or countout. And as we would soon see, it wasn't necessary anyway. The crowd booed the ref but it wasn't his fault. Someone backstage had a brain fart and told him in his earpiece to do that. We go briefly to the announce desk because they have to make it look like there are no cameras in the back. We finally see Asuka and Nikki on the loading dock beating the crap out of each other. The highlight had Asuka bouncing Nikki's head off the loading dock door several times. They go into the catering area. I was hoping for a food fight. But instead they open a cooler and Nikki tries to drown Asuka. They go back to the arena and they end up on a tech table. You'll notice someone working on the same table a few feet away. They fall off the table through another table and both of them are out. That's the end. The only problem is another angle was shown and they only fell three feet. Except for that, I thought the brawl was well planned. Everything has to be blocked out in advance so the cameras are in place. And I doubt that either Asuka or Nikki had ever done a backstage brawl. You won't know it. They both were great. These kind of brawls can be hit or miss. This one was pretty good. Today a Last Woman Standing match for the NXT Women's Championship was announced for June 28. It will be taped next week. It should be interesting to see what crazy stuff they will do. BTW, both are fine. So they not only executed the brawl properly but neither got injured. Check out the match for yourself.
NXT Women's Championship: Asuka © vs... by therackattackvideos
NXT Women's Championship: Asuka © vs... by therackattackvideos
Song:No One Knows
Album:Songs For The Deaf
Queens Of The Stone Age (QOTSA) had their greatest success with the 2002 album Songs For The Deaf. The band is still around. They have a new album coming out in August. But they are way past their prime. QOTSA are from Palm Desert, CA. Guitarist Josh Homme formed them in 1996 after his previous band Kyuss split up. At first they were called Gamma Ray but there was already a band with that name. At first QOTSA was not really a band. Homme just brought in musicians to play on their early recordings. When Homme wanted to tour he more or less reformed Kyuss. And even after signing with Interscope and releasing the 2000 CD Rated R, QOTSA still wasn't really a band. Homme decided to change that for the 2002 album Songs For The Deaf. Former Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri was already there. And for this album he added Screaming Trees lead singer Mark Lanegan and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. Of course Grohl has gone on to great success as leader of Foo Fighters. Lanegan co-wrote and sang lead on No One Knows and that turned out to be the band's biggest hit. This band toured in 2004. Homme fired Oliveri for domestic abuse of his girlfriend. Grohl returned to his other activities. He was never supposed to be a full time member. He liked the band and wanted to help them. Lanegan went back to his solo career and has returned to QOTSA occasionally. Songs For The Deaf is available as a budget CD. QOTSA continue to tour and record. They left Interscope after the 2007 album Era Vulgaris. They now record for Matador and a new album Villains will be released in August and they will tour to support that. Their albums still sell OK but I can't help thinking they could have been much bigger. Here's the video for No One Knows by Queens Of The Stone Age.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
808 State were pioneers in electronic dance music commonly known today as techno or house music. Of course they didn't know they were pioneers. They were just experimenting with electronic instruments. They were especially popular in their native England. 808 State are from Manchester, England. Martin Price owned a record store and he formed Hit Squad Manchester with customers Graham Massey and Gerald Simpson. They were supposed to be a hip hop group. But as they recorded their 1988 debut album Newbuild, they decided to change the name to 808 State. Price released the album on his own label. Simpson left in 1989 and he was replaced by DJs Andrew Barker and Darren Partington AKA The Spinmasters. They released Pacific State as a single and it reached #10 on the British Singles chart. Then they signed with Trevor Horn's ZTT label. Massey says there are several versions and remixes of Pacific State. Pacific 707 was their first single on ZTT and that was apparently the version that charted. Massey is playing the sax in the video clip. 808 State did release the album Ninety. But Pacific 707 was not on the album. However it is on this comp released in 1998. Price left 808 State in 1991 to get into production. The group continued recording their own music and plenty of remixes for other artists. Though 808 State's music was released in the US on Tommy Boy, they never caught on as they did in England. Today they are viewed as pioneers of electronic dance music and very influential. Massey and Barker still perform and record as 808 State. Here's 808 State performing Pacific 707 on Top Of The Pops 1989.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Song:I Loved Him So
Album:Love Charms: West Coast Hits and Rarities from California Girls and Groups 1957-1962
Here's a one off doo wop single from a group that seemed to change their name like the rest of us change our socks. They are best known as the Safaris. They had a top ten hit in 1960 with Image Of A Girl. But when they formed in 1959 at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, they called themselves The Mystics. There was already a group called The Mystics so they changed it to The Enchanters. The lead singer was Sandy Wiseman and the other members were Marv Rosenberg and Richard Clasky. After one single, Sheldon Briar joined and The Enchanters became The Dories. I Loved Him So was their only single and then Sandy quit to get married. Clasky wrote the song and it's a pretty good doo wop song. You can get it on this various artists budget comp from Jasmine. Jim Stephens replaced Sandy and they changed their name to The Angels. They met trumpeter Herb Alpert and his pal Lou Adler. They were starting a new label and Rosenberg wrote Image Of A Girl after his girlfriend threatened to leave him if he didn't quit music. Alpert didn't like the song and instead had The Angels record A Lover's Poem (To Her) backed by Darlene Love's group The Blossoms. When that went nowhere, The Angels signed with Eldo Records and changed their name to The Safaris. Image Of A Girl became a top ten hit in 1960. When their second single stiffed, the members of The Safaris all quit and went back to school. Stephens joined a folk music group. The other members returned as the Suddens in 1961. After two singles, they all left the music business. Clasky owns a market research firm in Vancouver. Rosenberg has a Ph.D in psychology and Stephens is a sales manager at a bottled water company. Here's a video for I Loved Him So by The Dories. Thanks to Jay Warner's great book American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today for the tangled history of The Dories.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Song:Girl Don't Come
Album:Long Live Love
Pop singer Sandie Shaw had success in her native England in the mid-60s. She never attained the same success in North America and then she retired in the 70s. She was born Sandra Ann Goodrich Feb. 26, 1947 in Dagenham, Essex, England. After graduating high school, she worked in the local Ford plant and modeled part time. A second place in a local talent contest got her a trip to a charity concert in London. Pop singer Adam Faith spotted her and took her to his manager Eve Taylor. Pye Records signed her up and gave her the name Sandie Shaw. They paired her with songwriter Chris Andrews who had written hits for Faith. He wrote most of her songs. But her first number one hit was a cover of the Burt Bacharach Hal David song Always Something To Remind Me which was a hit in the US for Lou Johnson. The next single was I'd Be Far Better Off Without You with Girl Don't Come on the B side. Apparently Sandie didn't like Girl Don't Come. But Eve convinced her to record it anyway. When Sandie performed both songs on TV, fans and DJs preferred Girl Don't Come. It reached #3 on the British singles chart and it became Sandie's signature song. Sandie's other number one hits were Long Live Love in 1966 and Puppet On A String in 1967. She was also successful in other European countries by recording her hits in several languages. This was common practice back then. After Puppet On A String won the Eurovision Song Contest and was a big hit all across Europe, Sandie faded and Eve turned her into a cabaret performer. Sandie retired from music when her Pye contract ended in 1972. You can get all her hits on this comp. Sandie concentrated on writing and acting. She returned to music in the 80s and then again in 2010. So she's still active but not like her heyday in the 60s. Here's Sandie Shaw performing Girl Don't Come on Ready Steady Go 1964.