Thursday, May 31, 2018
Album:The Best Of Jeff Foxworthy: Double Wide, Single Minded
Jeff Foxworthy didn't invent southern humor but he certainly did well with it in the 90s. In an attempt to broaden Foxworthy's appeal, Warner Bros. set his comedy to music. It did OK as Redneck Games charted. But it didn't do as well as his previous comedy albums. He was born Sept. 6, 1958 in Atlanta. His dad was an executive at IBM. Foxworthy attended Georgia Tech. He left before graduating and he worked at IBM. Apparently his co-workers were so entertained by him that Foxworthy entered and won a laugh off at Atlanta's Punchline comedy club. He worked on his act and started releasing albums on Laughing Hyena. The 1993 album You Might Be A Redneck If... got him a deal at Warner Bros. Of course that became his signature shtick. His first two albums did particularly well in the south. Both were certified 3XPlatinum. ABC attempted a sitcom that was canceled after one season. NBC picked it up and it was also canceled after one season. Foxworthy says they didn't know how to sell him. Inspired by southern comedy legend Dickie Goodman, Warner exec Doug Grau wanted to set Foxworthy's comedy to music. That resulted in the 1996 album Crank It Up: The Music Album. Most of the album was written and produced by Scott Rouse of the bluegrass group The GrooveGrass Boyz. Redneck Games features Alan Jackson. His presence got the song enough radio play to chart. And also the music video did well. Other guests on the album included Little Texas, Del McCourey, Mac Wiseman, The Beach Boys and Cooter Brown. Redneck Games is available on the DVD of this CD/DVD comp from Rhino. When the album didn't perform to expectations, Warner returned to a more traditional way of promoting comedy albums. The 1998 album Totally Committed came with an HBO special and it was successful. Foxworthy left Warner for DreamWorks for the 2000 album Big Funny. He also started the Blue Collar Comedy tour. When DreamWorks closed, he returned to Warner Bros. and he produced the Blue Collar TV series for the WB. In recent years, he hosted Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader among other things. Most recently, Foxworthy and Larry The Cable Guy produced the live comedy show We've Been Thinking for Netflix. It's also available on CD. And he is currently on tour. Here's the video for Redneck Games by Jeff Foxworthy featuring Alan Jackson.
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Here's the match video of Asuka vs Mandy Rose from last night's episode of Smackdown. Of course this is leading up to Asuka getting a shot at Carmella's Smackdown Women's Championship at Money In The Bank. For those not familiar with Mandy Rose, her real name is Amanda Saccomanno and she was on the most recent Tough Enough. She's picking up wrestling fairly well and of course working with Asuka helps all her opponents. Obviously the WWE is trying to sell Mandy as super hot to the point where they have started adding soft focus to her ring entrance. That cracked me up. As a heel, she falls under the category "Too Hot To Boo". She isn't booed during this match. The fans are chanting "Asuka's Gonna Kill You". I don't know what it would take for fans to boo her. This has been a problem for years. Fans won't boo hot women no matter what they do. Then Asuka is ambushed by Mandy's partner Sonya DeVille during her ring entrance. So Mandy gets the jump on her. She lands a reverse side suplex and Asuka lands on her face. Of course Asuka is great at selling offense. But not surprisingly, Mandy can't finish her off. Asuka comes back and she uses Manami Toyota's rolling cradle to transition into the Asuka Lock. I have never seen her use that move. But I'm not surprised she knows it. She probably taught Mandy that suplex too. Last night, Asuka posted a GIF of that finish on Twitter labelled "Hell's Merry Go Round". That's funny. After the win, Asuka stared down Carmella. I'm not even going to talk about Carmella's ridiculous logic that she's better than Asuka because fans aren't supposed to buy it. I expect Sonya Deville to be Asuka's opponent next week. When Paige was made Smackdown GM, Mandy and Sonya expected special treatment because of Absolution. Paige has done the exact opposite. So I expect Mandy to be banned from ringside next week. Enjoy the video!
Song:You Know My Name
Chris Cornell was best known as lead singer of Soundgarden and then Audioslave. But he also had plenty of side projects and he recorded several solo albums. Though he never had a hit single as a solo artist, You Know My Name is probably his best known song because it was the theme for the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale. He was born Christopher John Boyle July 20, 1964 in Seattle. After his parents divorce, he and his six siblings took their mom's maiden name Cornell as their surname. Cornell formed Soundgarden in 1984 and it's generally accepted that they were one of the architects of the Seattle grunge sound of the early 90s. After Soundgarden split up in 1997, Cornell released his 1999 solo debut album Euphoria Morning. Instead of following that up, Cornell became lead singer of Audioslave in 2001. The rest of that band was Rage Against The Machine minus Zach De La Rocha. They were successful until Cornell left in 2006. Then he goes to work on the 2007 CD Carry On with veteran producer Steve Lilywhite. While he was working on the album, Sony Pictures called Cornell and asked him if he was interested in writing a song for Casino Royale. Apparently the film producers wanted a strong male voice for the theme. Cornell went to the set in Prague and he was shown a rough cut of the film. And he tossed ideas around with film composer David Arnold. Cornell wrote the lyrics and went to Arnold's house in London to finish the song. Cornell said his vocal performance was influenced by Tom Jones. The odd thing was that You Know My Name is not on the Casino Royale soundtrack CD. Cornell chose to have it on Carry On. He said he wanted the song to be his own, not just a James Bond movie song. That album is available as a budget CD. Bond fans can get it on the CD The Best Of Bond...James Bond. Cornell released two more solo albums and Soundgarden reformed in 2012. Chris Cornell died on May 18, 2017 at age 52. He was on tour in Detroit. The death was ruled suicide by hanging. Cornell's substance abuse and depression history was well known and this led to his death. Even someone as famous as Chris Cornell couldn't get the help he needed for mental illness. Here's the video of You Know My Name by Chris Cornell.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Song:Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...)
Album:The Best Of Lou Bega: Mambo Mambo
This 1999 reworking of the Perez Prado classic Mambo No. 5 was a worldwide hit and the only big hit for German singer Lou Bega. He was born David Lubega Apr. 13, 1975 in Munich, Germany. His father was from Uganda and he moved to Germany in 1972. Bega started out as a teen rapper. It was on a trip to Miami that he learned about Cuban music. When he returned to Munich, he decided to mix his modern sound with vintage Cuban music. Bega and his manager Goar Biesenkamp signed with Syndicate Musicproduction owned by producers Frank Lio (Achim Kleist) and Donald Fact (Wolfgang von Webenau). They had success in Germany but Mambo No. 5 was their only international success. It's an odd record because it samples the original Mambo No. 5 and Bega created original lyrics and a contemporary rhythm section was added. That's why I don't call it a remake or a cover. I guess it's a hybrid. The use of the original is significant enough that it got Prado contemporary fans he never would have attracted on his own. That's a nostalgia record and Bega modernized it. The record was a hit in Europe first and then RCA picked it up in the US. It reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album A Little Bit Of Mambo was certified 3XPlatinum. Not surprisingly, Bega was never able to recreate the magic of Mambo No. 5 and it turned out to be his only big hit. You can get it on this Collectables budget comp. Bega released two albums on RCA. Since then he has released albums in Europe and he still performs. A lot of artists never get that one big hit so I'm sure he is thankful for that. Here's the video for Mambo No. 5 (A Little Of...) by Lou Bega.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Here's the match video of Gillian Robertson vs Molly McCann from yesterday's UFC show in Liverpool, England. Of course the big thing here is that Molly is a Liverpool native and a former Cage Warriors champ. She is a boxer and based on this fight, she needs to improve her takedown defense and ground game immediately. Gillian was in TUF 26. She is from Niagara Falls, ON and she trains at American Top Team in Florida with Din Thomas. I hadn't seen enough of her to know how good she is. I still don't know because once she took Molly down, Molly couldn't do anything. Gillian almost finished her in round one. And then she did finish her in round two with a rear naked choke. So Gillian did great but I need to see her in a more competitive fight. With a coach like Din Thomas, you know she will be well prepared. But she hasn't had a test yet in the UFC. Enjoy the video!
Song:Si Tu Supieras
Alejandro Fernandez is one of the most popular singers in Latin America. He started out singing Ranchero like his father and switched to pop in the late 90s with hits like Si Tu Supieras. He was born Apr. 24, 1971 in Mexico City. His father is the popular Ranchero singer Vicente Fernandez. And that's the kind of music Fernandez recorded when he first signed with Sony in 1992. But they thought with his looks he could be a big pop star. Fernandez wanted to change as he thought he would get stale. So Sony brought in Emilio Estefan Jr. Of course he is the husband of Gloria Estefan and he produces all her music. Fernandez had worked with Gloria on some music for the 1996 Summer Olympics and he asked her to talk to him. Apparently Fernandez's dad was unhappy with this but when he heard the album, he changed his mind. Estefan brought in Colombian songwriter Kike Santander and he wrote most of the songs on the album titled Me Estoy Enamorando. Si Tu Supieras was the first single. When that topped the Latin America charts, Fernandez was off to the races. This was followed by several number one hits. The album was certified Platinum. Fernandez has been successful ever since. This 3CD/1DVD comp covers his Sony recordings. Fernandez left Sony for Universal's FonoVisa label in 2008. He continues his success and his latest CD was released last year. Here's the video for Si Tu Supieras by Alejandro Fernandez.
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Album:Girls On Top
You may recall hearing Brokenhearted on the radio in 2012. It was a top twenty hit. But the husband wife duo Karmin didn't like working with a major label so now they are doing their own thing. Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan met and married while both were studying at the Berklee School of Music in Boston in 2006. Noonan was studying to be a session trombone player. They released an EP in 2010. But when it became clear that their original songs weren't going to get any attention, they started posting covers of popular songs on Youtube. These were released on CD in 2011. This got them the attention they wanted especially from Ryan Seacrest who played them on his radio show. They signed with Epic Records. The EP Hello was released in 2012. Brokenhearted was the first single. It topped the dance charts and reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Karmin wrote and produced the song with producers like Henry "Cirkut" Walter, Richard Head AKA Dr. Luke, Claude Kelly, Benny Blanco, Emily Wright and John Hill. All have a boatload of credits though Cirkut and Head produced the record. A couple of songs from the EP topped the dance charts. They finally released an album Pulses in 2014. For the most part, the album was a disappointment and Karmin left Epic and started their own label distributed by RED which is what The Orchard became after it merged with Sony. They released the album Leo Rising in 2016. The big difference is they are self producing now. You can get Brokenhearted on this 2CD various artists budget comp. Currently Amy is recording and touring as Qveen Herby. They have given the appearance of rebranding and the two may not return to the name Karmin. Amy is being deliberately vague about this. She's the lead singer and rapper anyway. So it makes sense to focus the marketing on her. Here's the video for Brokenhearted by Karmin.
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Album:Disco Box Vol. 9: Dance Machine
Silent Morning was one of three top ten dance hits for Noel Pagan in 1987. Silent Morning crossed over to pop. Pagan was born in The Bronx. He's of Cuban descent. So he obviously gravitated towards Freestyle dance music. He got a record deal when he met Vito Bruno who became his manager and he took Pagan into the recording studio to work with Paul Robb of Information Society and remix guy Roman Ricardo. Silent Morning was the result. Pagan wrote the song. It was thought at the time that the song was about AIDS. But Pagan says it's about a split with a girlfriend. Silent Morning reached #6 on the Dance chart. He signed with Island's 4th & B'way label to record an album. After that was released in 1987, Silent Morning reached #47 on the Billboard Hot 100. Pagan had a couple more dance hits. Today Silent Morning is considered to be a Freestyle classic and you can find it on plenty of various artists comps. Pagan was the lead singer on the 1990 dance hit The Question from Tony Moran's album Concept Of One. And Pagan released the 1993 album Hearts On Fire on Mercury. This was more of a pop album. Since then, he has released occasional singles and he still performs. He has a Facebook page if you want to see what he is up to. Here's the video for Silent Morning by Noel.
Friday, May 25, 2018
Album:Music from and inspired by Jerry Springer's Movie Ringmaster
Da Dip was a standard rap song that was a top twenty hit in 1997. It took a year to cross over from the underground rap scene. It was the only big hit for Eric "Freak Nasty" Timmons. He was a DJ in the Atlanta rap scene. He released his debut CD Freak Nasty in 1994 on the small Hotlanta label distributed by Ichiban Records. The album did well but Hotlanta went out of business. So Timmons moved to Triad Records and the 1996 album Controversee...That's Life...And That's The Way It Is. Da Dip didn't do well at first. But eventually it got airplay and it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997. Like many rap songs, Da Dip turned out to be a one hit wonder. Timmons continued to release occasional albums. His 2007 single Do It Just Like A Rockstar charted when it was confused with a different song with the same title. You can get Da Dip on various artist budget comps like this soundtrack for a Jerry Springer movie that is on a rap label. It looks like Timmons still releases occasional singles. My guess is Da Dip royalties give him a good income. Here's the video for Da Dip by Freak Nasty.
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Here's the match video of Lacey Evans vs Kairi Sane from this week's episode of NXT. I post all of Kairi's matches for fans who don't have the WWE Network. You may recall that Kairi won over Lacey last month. The notable thing about that match was it was Lacey's best match to date. So the WWE decided to put Lacey in an extended program with Kairi so Lacey can learn to be a natural performer. The WWE likes Lacey's back story as a Marine and a single mother. And obviously she can memorize a script. The trick is taking that script and making it look natural and make fans respond to that. Lacey hasn't figured that part out yet. But it's one of Kairi's strengths. A couple of weeks ago, Lacey came out and pretend apologized to Kairi and KOd her with her finisher A Woman's Right. It's a punch. I think it's difficult to make a punch look like a credible finisher today. Of course Kairi sold it like she got shot. Then last week after a jobber win, Kairi came out and attacked Lacey. That set up this match. And again Kairi makes Lacey look much better than she really is. And Lacey even got the win with her finisher. My guess is these two will have a rubber match at NXT Takeover Chicago. Time will tell if Lacey can improve as a performer. She's been at NXT for a couple of years and there's something lacking in her performances. I think she is the victim of the WWE's scripting of everything and she lacks the ability to improvise. That could be tough to overcome. Enjoy the video!
Song:Another One Rides The Bus
Album:The Essential Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al Yankovic is a modern day Spike Jones. He does today what Jones did back in the 40s, parodies of popular songs. Another One Rides The Bus was one of his earliest hits. He was born Oct. 23, 1959 in Downey, CA. He learned to play the accordion as a child. This choice made by his parents was influenced by polka king Frankie Yankovic though they are not related. Yankovic learned to play rock music on the accordion. His influences include Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Allen Sherman and Frank Zappa. And he was a devoted listener to Barry "Dr. Demento" Hansen's radio show of novelty songs. In 1976, Hansen spoke at Yankovic's high school. Yankovic gave Hansen a recording of Belvedere Cruisin about his parents' car. Hansen played the song on his show and Yankovic started playing local clubs. While attending Cal Poly, Yankovic was a DJ on the campus radio station. One of the biggest hits of 1979 was My Sharona by The Knack. Yankovic recorded his parody My Bologna in a campus bathroom. He sent it to Hansen. The Knack's lead singer Doug Fieger liked it so much he had his label Capitol release it as a single. Then Yankovic recorded Another One Rides The Bus on Dr. Demento's radio show. This led to Yankovic appearing on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show. Unfortunately his label TK Records went bankrupt. He decided to form a band and tour. His recording of I Love Rocky Road got Rick Derringer's attention. He got Yankovic a deal with Scotti Brothers distributed by Columbia. Derringer produced Yankovic's 1983 debut album. The album did well and the video for Ricky was heavily played on MTV. Probably his biggest hit was Eat It, his parody of Michael Jackson's Beat It. If you're wondering how the original artists feel about Yankovic's parodies, he asks them to approve it before release. This 2CD comp covers Yankovic's entire career. Though Yankovic isn't as popular today as he was in the 80s, he still records parodies and releases them online. His latest The Hamilton Polka is a parody of the hit musical Hamilton. I think Spike Jones would be very proud of Al Yankovic. Here's Weird Al Yankovic performing Another One Rides The Bus on Tomorrow Apr. 21, 1981.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Album:Trailer Park/Central Reservation
British singer songwriter Beth Orton had success in the late 90s. I think the Lilith Fair movement promoting women gave her a big boost. Her music is British folk mixed with modern production techniques called Folktronica. She was born July 2, 1971 in East Dereham, Norfolk, England. Her parents were journalists. They split up when she was 11 and she moved with her mom to East London. Her mom died in 1989. Beth was a caterer for a while and also did some stage acting. She got into music after meeting producer William Orbit at a party. Orbit is best known for his work with Madonna. He was recording instrumentals as Strange Cargo. She recorded a couple of vocals for him and that led to an album that was released only in Japan. Orbit got her to record with electronic production and she continued that after they split up. She also recorded with Chemical Brothers and she finally signed with Heavenly Records. Her 1997 album Trailer Park did well enough in England that she got a US deal with Arista. And she toured with Lilith Fair which gave her some exposure in the US but it seems like she got lost in the shuffle. She had chart success in England with the 1999 album Central Reservation and the single Stolen Car. Most of the album was produced by Victor Van Vugt who was best known for his work with Nick Cave. Her music was always more successful in England. And after the 2002 album Daybreaker, Beth moved to Astralwerks. After two albums, she left Astralwerks and she now records for ANTI Records. Her latest CD Kidsticks was released in 2016. She is currently on tour and I expect she will record new music when the tour is over. Trailer Park and Central Reservation are available as a two-fer CD. Here's the video for Stolen Car by Beth Orton.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Album:Club Mix's Biggest Jams Vol. 1
Wiggle It was a top 20 hit and it topped the dance charts in 1990. It was the only big hit for 2 In A Room. Some of their other songs charted so they are not a one hit wonder. But Wiggle it is the only song most will remember. They were from New York City. And I guess the group name describes them perfectly. Rafael "Dose" Vargas is a rapper. Roger "Rog Nice" Pauletta is a remix guy. The third partner was Cutting Records owner Aldo Marin. Vargas released a single in 1988 as Dose Material. He wrote it and Marin and Pauletta produced it. Cutting released a 1989 CD as 2 In A Room called The Album Vol. 1. Vargas and Pauletta only appeared on one song. But that song Do What You Want was a top ten dance hit. So Marin let them record a whole album as 2 In A Room. Vargas wrote and produced most of the album and he did all the rapping. Pauletta and Marin produced. Wiggle It was the first single. It reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it topped the dance charts. When the record started to break, Marin sold the album to Charisma Records so it would get national distribution. The song had a great hook and that's what made it memorable. Vargas wrote it with George Morel who would later have success with a series of singles called Morel's Grooves. 2 In A Room would release a CD in 1995 but it was unsuccessful. Vargas produced that album minus Pauletta. Pauletta returned to remixing. Vargas has been in some other groups he has never reached the heights of Wiggle It. You can get Wiggle It on this various artists budget comp. Here's the video for Wiggle It by 2 In A Room.
Monday, May 21, 2018
Song:Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World
Over the years I have seen some strange records become hits. This medley of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and What A Wonderful World by Hawaiian singer Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole became a hit when it was used in films and TV. Of course there's a long history of Hawaiian music crossing over to mainstream mostly back in the 50s. It hasn't happened much recently. IZ was born May 20, 1959 in Honolulu. His uncle was Hawaiian musician Moe Keale. And his parents worked at a local club frequented by Hawaiian music legend Don Ho. While attending the University of Hawaii, IZ and his brother Skippy formed Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau and they recorded in the 70s. They had local success until Skippy died in 1982 from an obesity related heart attack. IZ released his first solo album in 1990. Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World was on the 1993 album Facing Future. The album is mostly traditional Hawaiian music. IZ recorded the medley as a demo in 1988 and I guess he performed it live. Producer Jon de Mello heard the demo and asked IZ to record it to fill out the album. It was never intended to be a hit. IZ continued to record and perform until his death on June 26, 1997 at age 38. His death was obesity related. At one point IZ weighed over 700lbs. You can see in the video he got a state funeral. Universal Studios licensed the medley and they used it in the 1998 film Meet Joe Black. From there the record was used in several films and TV shows especially an eToys commercial. And by 2004 it had been downloaded over four million times. Facing Future was certified Platinum in 2005. The odd thing is it wasn't a new record or artist that Universal was trying to promote. They decided to use it in a film and it gained steam from there. That's strange even for the music business. Here's a video for Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Here's the match video of Poliana Botelho vs Syuri Kondo from last night's UFC show in Chile. Though no one expects a 30 second fight, I was not surprised that Poliana won easily. She's really a Flyweight fighting at Strawweight. And she has punching power. As long as she can make weight, she can be a beast at Strawweight. That was a wicked body kick. That happens sometimes. I expected her to wear Syuri down and finish her with ground and pound. I like the idea of matching Poliana against Tatiana Suarez. That could be a great fight. But Andre at Nova Uniao may have different ideas. Anyway, enjoy the fight.
Here's the match video of Andrea Lee vs Veronica Macedo from last night's UFC show in Chile. Again, this fight went about as I expected. Of course we all know Andrea from Invicta and LFA. She certainly has main event charisma. But we have to find out if she is an elite fighter. As I expected, this fight didn't answer that question. Veronica probably doesn't belong in the UFC. She lost her UFC debut at Bantamweight and she didn't look much better at Flyweight. The good news is she is only 22 years old. But she needs to show some improvement. Andrea won easily by unanimous decision. But she admitted afterwards that she didn't give a strong performance blaming ring rust. I dunno. I have seen enough of Andrea to believe that she's not an elite fighter. But the UFC does need attractive charismatic women who can draw casual fans to Fox shows. Like Paige VanZant for example. Well, there you go. There's a match for a Fox show. Casual fans would eat it up. Obviously I'm joking but there is something to it. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Tatiana Suarez vs Alexa Grasso from last night's UFC show in Chile. All three of the women's matches on last night's show went about as I expected. There were no big surprises. I expected Tatiana to beat Alexa easily and that's exactly what happened with a first round rear naked choke. Maybe now Alexa will get it through her head that her light sparring points fighting style isn't good enough to compete with an elite fighter. Maybe she needs to leave her home gym Lobo in Mexico and go someplace that will teach her new things. I wasn't surprised she had nothing for Tatiana who is an elite fighter. She has great technique and she wants to finish fights. Alexa doesn't even have decent takedown defense. The result of this fight shows that competition level is very important. Alexa had never fought anyone as good as Tatiana. This win should propel Tatiana into the title picture. We saw Poliana Botelho earlier on this show. She might be a good opponent for Tatiana. Enjoy the video!
Song:Back To Land
Album:Back To Land
Wooden Shjips is a deliberately off kilter band to the point where the band name is misspelled deliberately. Their music can best be described as neo psychedelic. They are from San Francisco but they now live in Portland. The lead singer and main songwriter is Ripley Johnson. His idea was to form a band with untrained musicians and maybe they will produce a different kind of music. They released their debut album in 2007 on Holy Mountain Records. They got some critical acclaim including a rave review in Rolling Stone. This encouraged Johnson to continue Wooden Shjips. He has a second band called Moon Duo. After a couple of albums, Wooden Shjips signed with Thrill Jockey and Johnson moved to Portland. He is the only holdover from the San Francisco days meaning Wooden Shjips is more solo project than band. The 2013 album Back To Land was their debut on Thrill Jockey. After that, Johnson put Wooden Shjips aside for a few years to concentrate on Moon Duo who released an album in 2015. He has returned to Wooden Shjips to release the 2018 album V and the band is touring to support it. Neo psychedelia fans should check them out. Here's the video for Back To Land by Wooden Shjips.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Unwritten was one of two top ten pop hits for British singer songwriter Natasha Bedingfield. It was the theme for the reality TV series The Hills. She's still around but marriage and a new child have become more important as they should. She was born Nov. 26, 1981 in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, England but she grew up in South London. As a teen, Natasha was lead singer of The DNA Algorithm with her brother Daniel and sister Nikola. After attending college for a year, she was a part of the Christian group Hillsong London. She sang demos for the songwriting and production duo of Nathan Winkler and Michael Tagaro. This led to a record deal with BMG's Photogenic label and songwriters and producers Steve Kipner and Andrew Frampton. They produced most of Natasha's 2004 debut album Unwritten. Epic Records released the album in the US after Natasha had a couple of hits in England. Unwritten reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified Gold but it was bigger in England. Natasha wrote most of the songs on the album. She wrote Unwritten with Danielle Brisebois and Wayne Rodrigues. When Danielle was a child, she was in the sitcom Archie Bunker's Place. She retired from acting and has had success as a songwriter. Rodrigues plays keyboards. Danielle also co-wrote Natasha's other big hit Pocketful Of Sunshine. If you're wondering about the choir that appears in the video, they don't sing on the record. They only appear in the video. Natasha's 2007 album Pocketful Of Sunshine and the single did just as well as the first album. But her 2010 album Strip Me didn't sell and there were no hits. A fourth album was planned but it never got off the ground and she left Epic. She has toured and released a few singles but no albums. And she and her husband had their first child Dec. 2017. So it remains to be seen if she will return. Here's the video for Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield.
Friday, May 18, 2018
Album:Empire: Original Soundtrack From Season 1
Actor Jussie Smollett is best known as one of the stars of the Fox series Empire. Since he plays a singer, he is trying to turn this into a recording career with his debut album recently released. He was born June 21, 1982 in Santa Rosa, CA. As a child, he was in the 1992 film The Mighty Ducks and the 1994 film North. And he appeared with his siblings in the ABC sitcom On Our Own. Then he quit acting and grew up. You might have seen him on a 2012 episode of The Mindy Project. He also released an EP. Then he was cast in Empire as singer Jamal Lyon. He has had some success with some of the songs from the TV show. Columbia has released a soundtrack for each season. Good Enough was the very first single from the season one soundtrack. The album was certified Gold. Most of the music for Empire was written and produced by veteran producers Tim "Timbaland" Mosely and James "Jim Beanz" Washington. Smollett is the most prominent cast member but the others appear along with guest appearances by Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Patti LaBelle. Smollett signed with Columbia in 2015. But he released his debut album Sum Of My Music in March on a small label. Swizz Beats is one of the album producers. Maybe Columbia wanted more control than he was willing to give. Smollett continues to star in Empire along with the films Alien: Covenant and Marshall. It looks like music will be a side project. Here's the video for Good Enough by Jussie Smollett.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Song:Yo Quiero Bailar
Album:Yo Quiero Bailar
Here's a song that was a worldwide dance hit in 2007. It's one of those songs that gets into your head and you can't get rid of it. You might think the record was made by a European because the song is in Spanish. Nope. Daniel and Eric Tadros are identical twins born in 1976 in Montreal. They studied marketing at Concordia University. And after graduating, they decided to get into the music business. At first they released a few singles only in Montreal and they used singing billboards to promote them. Yo Quiero Bailar was first released in 2004. But it was 2007 when the song got played in clubs. And when DJs got hold of it, the song spread all over the world. The album Yo Quiero Bailar which is available on mp3 has English, French and Spanish versions of the song. They have released other records on their own label. But nothing has caught fire like Yo Quiero Bailar did in 2007. They now call themselves Tadros Brothers. They released the album Djembe in 2016. The title track and Oh Oh World Cup were released as singles. And they appeared on America's Got Talent. So I assume Tadros will keep swinging with hopes of hitting another home run like Yo Quiero Bailar. Here's the video for Yo Quiero Bailar by Tadros.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Album:The Book Of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Though he has also done films and TV, Andrew Rannells has had his greatest success on Broadway. He won a Grammy and was Tony nominated for the 2011 show The Book Of Mormon. He was born Aug. 23, 1978 in Omaha. He performed in theater growing up and after graduating high school, he moved to New York City. He did a lot of voice over work for 4Kids Entertainment. They produce video game based animation like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cubix, Sonic X etc. At the same time he was doing musical theater tours like Pokemon Live! and Hedwig and the Angry Itch. His first significant Broadway role was as Link Larkin in the 2006 revival of Hairspray. And he also played Bob Gaudio in the national tour of Jersey Boys. The Book Of Mormon was written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez. Of course Parker and Stone created South Park. They were in New York with producer Scott Rudin and he suggested they see the show Avenue Q with all the puppets written by Lopez. They liked the show so much that the three wrote The Book Of Mormon. A religious spoof is something Parker and Stone had wanted to do for a while. The show was very successful though I don't think the LDS Church liked it much. The show won several Tonys including Best Musical. Rannells was nominated for a Tony. The show won a Best Musical Theater Album Grammy. Rannells continues to have success on Broadway. He was nominated for a Tony for the 2016 show Falsettos. And he currently appears in The Boys In The Band. He was also a regular on the HBO series Girls. And he's done TV guest shots and a few films. Here's Andrew Rannells performing I Believe on the 2011 Tony Award broadcast.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Song:Freak on a Leash
Album:Greatest Hits Vol. 1
Korn was at the forefront of the late 90s Nu Metal movement. This was heavy metal mixed with hip hop and other elements. Korn never had a hit single but they were a very popular tour draw and album band. Korn were from Bakersfield, CA when they were known as L.A.P.D. They released an album in 1991. Their biggest problem was finding a decent lead singer. But Jonathan Davis solved that problem. Other members were James Shaffer and Brian Welch on guitar, Reginald Arvizu on bass and David Silveria on drums. They signed with Epic's Immortal label and released their debut album Korn in 1994. The album was certified 2XPlatinum which was pretty good considering it was a new variation of metal. They built on it from there. The 1998 album Follow The Leader was Korn's most successful album. It was certified 5XPlatinum. Freak on a Leash was probably the most popular song on the album with a Todd MacFarlane directed video. The video won a Grammy and nine MTV Video Music Awards. No doubt Korn's success helped other bands trying to make similar music. I think the Nu Metal category became very crowded. Korn continued to be successful until they left Epic for Virgin in 2005. This 2CD budget comp covers the Epic years. Korn hasn't been as successful since then. They now record for Roadrunner and released an album in 2016. Brian Welch left in 2005 and returned in 2013. David Silveria was replaced by Ray Luzier in 2006. It looks like Korn has a new album coming out and I'm sure they will tour to support that. Here's the video for Freak on a Leash by Korn.
Monday, May 14, 2018
Song:Some Other Time
Album:Waltz For Debby
Jazz singer Monica Zetterlund was a legend in her native Sweden. In North America she is probably best known for this 1964 album she recorded with jazz piano legend Bill Evans. They also performed together on Swedish TV. She was born Eva Monica Nilsson Sept. 20, 1937 in Hagfors, Sweden. At first she recorded Swedish versions of jazz standards with musicians like Ib Glindeman and Arne Domnerus. She also recorded with Donald Byrd and Oscar Pettiford. It's not known how Evans knew about Monica. But he went to Sweden to record the 1964 album Waltz For Debby and appear on TV with her. The musicians are Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums. This was not a great time for Evans. It was after Scott LaFaro died and he had also split up with his girlfriend Ellaine. And he didn't meet Eddie Gomez until 1966. And don't forget Evans was a heroin addict. But he has great chemistry with Monica so it's a worthwhile album that is available on mp3. Some Other Time was written by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the 1944 musical On The Town. But it's not in the 1949 film. Evans seems to be the only jazz musician who recorded this song first for the 1959 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. He also recorded it on the 1975 album he recorded with Tony Bennett. So it was a regular part of Evans' repertoire. After this album, Monica returned to her career in Sweden on stage, screen and recording. She recorded the 1977 album It Only Happens Every Time with The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. There is also a 1996 CD of recordings she made in the 60s with guys like Thad Jones, Zoot Sims and Milt Hinton. It's called The Lost Tapes @ Bell Sound Studios NYC. Monica retired in 1997 due to poor health and she died on May 12, 2005 at age 67. Here's Monica Zetterlund and Bill Evans performing Some Other Time on Swedish TV 1965. This is part of a Swedish TV documentary. That's why Monica is watching herself.
Sunday, May 13, 2018
Here's the fight video of Mackenzie Dern vs Amanda Cooper from last night's UFC show in Brazil. Of course Mackenzie is a BJJ whiz and the UFC has big plans for her. But there are bumps in the road. Mackenzie revealed at a media lunch last week that she had left MMA Lab in Phoenix. It seems she has moved to Los Angeles and she was not spending enough time there. Coach John Crouch told her to find a more convenient gym. So Mackenzie is now training at Checkmat in Los Angeles with coach Joe Vieira and strike training at Black House MMA. She now says this disruption was the reason she weighed in at 123lb. Of course some dopey fans thought that Amanda shouldn't take the fight. Look, no fighter goes all the way to Brazil to not fight. Amanda got 30% of Mackenzie's purse and of course she talked tough. The problem is Amanda is not a very good fighter. So I was not surprised when Mackenzie decked her and finished Amanda with a rear naked choke. So the UFC has already told Mackenzie she is moving to Flyweight. I have said for two years that she should be a Flyweight. But Mackenzie says she is going to try to convince the UFC that she should remain at Strawweight. She's going to the UFC Performance Institute to work on a nutrition program and other things. Raw talent is only going to get Mackenzie so far. She has to show some commitment, dedication and maturity if she's plans to be a champ. The fight business is no day at the beach. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Amanda Nunes vs Raquel Pennington from last night's UFC show in Brazil. This fight went pretty much as I expected because I don't believe Raquel is a credible title contender. She's a good fighter and tough but not an elite fighter. Amanda simply outclassed her until the fifth round finish. Other than a close round two, Amanda dominated. First she used leg kicks to destroy Raquel's left leg. The only question was Amanda's endurance in the late rounds. But if she was tired, Raquel was too pooped to do anything about it. And then Amanda broke Raquel's nose at the end of round four. Raquel told her corner she wanted to quit. But her trainer Jason Kutz sent her back out for round five. Maybe his name should be Putz. And though we heard the exchange on TV, ref Marc Goddard didn't hear it. Because I'm sure if he was aware of that, Goddard would have brought the doctor in to examine Raquel. Maybe someone in the broadcast truck should have said something. Obviously the finish was unnecessary because the fight should not have continued. Afterwards, Amanda talked about the friendship she has with Raquel and girlfriend Tecia Torres. Amanda and Tecia used to train together at ATT. So Amanda was very upset when she found out what happened in Raquel's corner. So what can the UFC do about this? You're always going to have clueless trainers pulling this kind of thing. I suggest they have rules expert Marc Ratner monitor the broadcast and notify the ref if he sees something he doesn't like. So what's next for Amanda? I guess maybe the match vs Cris Cyborg possibly this fall. It's not happening in July when Cyborg wants to do it. Enjoy the video!
Song:Cowboys and Angels
Singer songwriter Dustin Lynch has had a total of six top ten country hits since his 2012 debut. Cowboys and Angels was his first single and it's still his biggest hit to date. He was born May 14, 1985 in Tullahoma, TN. Lynch says his major influence is the "class of '89" meaning guys like Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Clint Black who all first had success in 1989. He had a band as a teen. In 2003, Lynch moved to Nashville to study biology and chemistry Lipscomb University. He says he chose that school because it was near the famed Bluebird Cafe where Lynch worked on his music. He graduated with a degree in biology in 2007. He signed with Valory Music Group. But the guy who signed him left for Broken Bow Records and Lynch went with him. Lynch's 2012 debut CD Dustin Lynch was produced by Brett Beavers who usually works with Dierks Bentley. Cowboys and Angels was the first single and it reached #2 on the Country Singles chart. Lynch wrote the song with veteran songwriters Josh Leo and Tim Nichols. Lynch writes most of his songs with veteran songwriters. Since then Lynch has released two more albums and scored five more top ten hits. His new single Good Girl is getting plenty of radio play. It will be released May 22 and Lynch will also tour. Normally I would expect a new album. But he didn't say anything about a new album in a recent People Magazine interview. He just said that as a summertime song, Good Girl is a departure from his previous songs. He has also been nominated for the upcoming Billboard Music Awards. Here's the video for Cowboys and Angels by Dustin Lynch.
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Song:If You Should Ever Be Lonely
Album:Disco Box Vol. 9: Dance Machine
The 1985 single If You Should Ever Be Lonely was the only hit single for career background singer Val "Lady V" Young. She only recorded two albums but she has toured and recorded with all kinds of black music legends. She was born June 13, 1958 in Detroit. She was discovered by George Clinton and she toured with him in 1977 as a member of the Brides Of Funkenstein backup singers. But before she could record with them, she left to join Roy Ayers' band. After a brief time, she joined The Gap Band and she was featured on the hit I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Upside Your Head). She stayed with The Gap Band for five years until Rick James brought her to Motown and got her a contract by telling Berry Gordy she was the "black Marilyn Monroe". James was executive producer on Val's 1985 album Seduction. Most of the album was produced by James' keyboard player Levi Ruffin Jr. and Gap Band guitarist Fred Jenkins. If You Should Ever Be Lonely topped the dance charts. Jenkins played the guitar solo. Mariah Carey covered If You Should Ever Be Lonely on her album Heartbreaker. The problem was James had a habit of lying to Gordy about all of his signings. And so Val only recorded one album at Motown. You can get If You Should Ever Be Lonely on this various artists budget comp. James took Val to his pals at Amherst Records in his home town of Buffalo and produced Val's 1987 album Private Conversations. Then Val returned to backup singing. She went on tour with Bobby Brown and for years Val toured and recorded with many artists. Currently she is a member of the reformed Mary Jane Girls. They released a single in 2016. Here's a video for If You Should Ever Be Lonely by Val Young.
Friday, May 11, 2018
Song:Everything Is Everything
Album:The Road From Memphis
Of course most music fans should be familiar with legendary organist Booker T. Jones as leader of the Stax Records house band Booker T & The MG's in the 60s. He played on so many great records. But he left Stax in 1970 and moved to Los Angeles. He's still making great music like this 2011 album The Road From Memphis. He was born Nov. 12, 1944 in Memphis. Jones was a child prodigy. He could play anything. And this led him to Stax where he scored a huge hit in 1962 with Green Onions and played on many Stax hits. Jones left Stax and moved to Los Angeles in 1970. He married Priscilla Coolidge (Rita Coolidge's sister) and they recorded a few albums until their 1979 divorce. In the 70s Jones recorded for A&M Records and he had success with the 1981 album I Want You. But most of the time he did session work with Rita Coolidge, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Carlos Santana and many others. Jones was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992. He signed with Anti Records in 2009 and released the album Potato Hole recorded in Muscle Shoals with The Drive By Truckers. That album won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Album. The Road From Memphis was released in 2011. It was produced by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots. Questlove plays drums and guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas, bassist Owen Biddle and percussionist Stewart Killen all from The Roots are the band. Special guests include guitar legend Dennis Coffey and Sharon Jones. Jones returned to Stax for the 2013 album Sound The Alarm. He does Stax reunion tours. I saw him a few years ago at the Toronto Jazz Festival. This year he is doing a Stax Records 50th Anniversary Tour. If you like tasty soul, be sure to check him out if he's coming your way. Here's the video for Everything Is Everything by Booker T. Jones.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Album:My One and Only: The New Gershwin Musical
Those only familiar with Leslie "Twiggy" Hornby as a model might be surprised that she has had success in films, TV and especially musical theater. She was nominated for a Tony for the 1983 musical My One and Only. She was born Sept. 19, 1949 in Neasden, Middlesex, England. She became famous in the 60s as this very thin model, hence the name Twiggy. I guess that along with Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy was a pioneer of supermodels. Twiggy was a global phenomenon at the time. But she retired from modelling in 1970 and got into films. Her film debut was Ken Russell's 1971 film The Boyfriend. This is where she met Tommy Tune. Twiggy also got into recording, musical theater and she had her own TV variety show in England. My One and Only was her 1983 Broadway debut. I guess this show could be best described as a jukebox musical. Basically Tommy Tune took a bunch of Gershwin songs and strung them together in a meaningless story. Boy Wanted is from the 1921 show A Dangerous Maid. Soon is from the 1930 show Strike Up The Band. The show was successful. Twiggy was nominated for a Tony. Tune won a Tony. You can get the original cast album on mp3. Among her more recent activities, Twiggy was a judge on America's Next Top Model. And modelling is where Twiggy is considered a real icon. These days she seems to appear as a frequent guest on British talk shows. Here's Twiggy featuring Tommy Tune performing Boy Wanted/Soon 1984.
Wednesday, May 09, 2018
When Al Kooper was a Columbia Records house producer in the late 60s, he worked on all kinds of albums. Probably the best known of these was the 1968 album Super Session with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills. That is one of the best one off albums ever recorded. But you may not know that there was a second Super Session album released in 1969 with 15 year old guitar prodigy Shuggie Otis. This is another album well worth getting. It's just not as well known as the first Super Session album. Shuggie Otis was born Johnny Veliotes Jr. Nov. 30, 1953 in Los Angeles. He is the son of R&B legend Johnny Otis. What a lot of fans don't know was that Johnny Otis was not black. He was Greek. Shuggie's mother was black and she gave him that nickname when he was an infant. It's supposed to be Sugar. Kooper signed Otis to Epic Records and he also wanted to record an album with him. Super Session was recorded over a weekend. It's mostly a jam session with Kooper on organ, Otis on guitar, Mark "Moogy" Klingman on piano, Stu Woods on bass and Wells Kelly on drums. Klingman would go on to be closely associated with Todd Rundgren. The thing to remember is this is a 15 year old kid swinging that axe in a recording studio for the very first time with seasoned professional musicians. It's simply remarkable. This album has been reissued by the British label Repertoire. The cover is slightly different because it doesn't have the words "Super Session Vol. II" on the cover. It just says Kooper Session. Otis recorded three albums for Epic which were great albums that didn't sell. But he did write Strawberry Letter 23 which was a huge hit for The Brothers Johnson. He still gets royalty checks for that. His sons Lucky and Eric are musicians continuing the Otis legacy. By the early 70s, Al Kooper left Columbia for MCA and he discovered and produced Lynyrd Skynyrd. Here's a video for Shuggie's Shuffle by Al Kooper featuring Shuggie Otis.
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
Album:Reflections (A Retrospective)
Mary J. Blige is the most successful female R&B artist in recent memory. She has been successful since the early 90s. The 2001 single Family Affair is her only number one pop hit. She was born Jan. 11, 1971 in New York City. She grew up in Georgia and sang in the church choir. Her mother moved Mary and her sister back to New York. She dropped out of high school in her junior year. A recording done in a mall booth wound up in the hands of Uptown Records owner Andre Harrell. He signed Mary and she sang backup while he figured out what to do with her. Harrell put her together with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs. As famous as Combs is now, the 1992 Mary J. Blige album What's The 411? was the first album he ever produced. The single Real Love reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified 3XPlatinum. Her 1994 album My Life did just as well. But her next hit single was Not Gon' Cry from the soundtrack of the 1996 film Waiting To Exhale. Then Uptown was sold to MCA. Mary also split up with Combs and she worked with several producers on her 1997 CD Share My World. This album did well but there were no hit singles. Her 1999 album Mary had a softer sound and it didn't do as well as previous albums. So for the 2001 album No More Drama, she decided to get back to a hip hop sound. And the debut single Family Affair was a good example. Mary wrote the song with her brother Bruce Miller. Dr. Dre produced and polished the song with regular collaborator Mike Elizondo. It is to date Mary's only number one pop hit. And No More Drama sold five million copies worldwide. The 2005 album The Breakthrough was an even bigger seller and the single Be Without You reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Since then she has faded and she left Universal for Capitol in 2014. This is the only Mary J. Blige comp CD released so far. I thought there would be a bunch of comp CDs but there aren't. Mary has gotten into acting and had success with the 2017 film Mudbound. She got critical praise and several award nominations. And she performed on the Oscars broadcast. She is currently in Toronto filming a TV series based on the comic book The Umbrella Academy for Universal and Netflix to debut in 2019. After divorcing her husband Kendu Isaacs, she released her latest album Strength of a Woman last year. So Mary J. Blige is still singing but she may transition to acting sooner rather than later. Here's the video for Family Affair by Mary J. Blige.
Monday, May 07, 2018
Album:3 CD Collector's Set
The 2007 single Umbrella was the breakthrough hit for Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Most of her success is based on sex appeal. Her voice is really thin but she works with top producers and they make her sound good. She's probably not as popular today as she was ten years ago. She was born Feb. 20, 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados. She had a group when she was in high school and they auditioned for producer Evan Rogers. Among others, Rogers produced Debbie Gibson in the 90s. He immediately saw star quality in Rihanna and this led to a record deal with Def Jam. Jay-Z was CEO of Def Jam at the time. Rogers and partner Carl Sturken produced Rihanna's 2005 debut album Music of the Sun. she had two top ten hits and the album was certified Gold. They also produced her 2006 album A Girl Like Me which was certified 2XPlatinum. SOS was her first #1 pop hit. With the 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna got creative control. She made her music more uptempo and commercial. Umbrella was her first worldwide number one hit. The song was written and produced by Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Terius "The-Dream" Nash and Kuk Harrell. They wrote it for Britney Spears but her label rejected it. A demo landed in LA Reid's hands and he thought it would be a good song for Rihanna. And there was the video which established Rihanna's sex appeal. She didn't want to be "the girl from the island". She wanted a more sophisticated image. The album was certified 6XPlatinum and it is her best seller to date. It's not available on CD but Def Jam has released a 3CD box set of Rihanna's first three albums. I was surprised they haven't released a greatest hits CD. Since then Rihanna has had five number one hits. She has faded a bit but that's to be expected. She's still a big star. But Umbrella is the song that really launched her career. Here's the video for Umbrella by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z.
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Song:Check Yes Juliet
There is nothing wrong with We The Kings except they sound too much like similar emo pop bands to get much traction. Check Yes Juliet is probably their biggest hit to date but they haven't scored a big pop hit. The members of We The Kings were classmates in Bradenton, FL. Travis Clark is the lead singer and he writes most of the songs. Hunter Thomsen is on guitar, his brother Drew Thomsen is on bass and the drummer is Danny Duncan. At first they were called Broken Image and then De Soto. The name We The Kings has to do with a junior high school mascot. They posted some songs on the website Purevolume and that got them a deal with S-Curve Records with EMI distribution. Their 2007 debut CD was produced by Sam Hollander and Dave "Sluggo" Katz who had worked with similar groups like Cobra Starship and Gym Class Heroes. Check Yes Juliet reached #70 on the Billboard Hot 100 but the song did well on the mainstream pop chart and the album did very well in Australia. They toured to support the album. They recorded three albums for S-Curve but they didn't seem to be making much progress. In 2011, Drew Thomsen left and was replaced by Charles Trippy. And keyboard player Coley O'Toole was added. They left S-Curve for Ozone Entertainment which allowed them more freedom and creative control. They continue to record and tour. This comp covers their S-Curve recordings. We The Kings is working on a new album financed through PledgeMusic. It's supposed to be out sometime in 2018. That they are self releasing their next album shows that they are happy with success as a touring band and they aren't concerned about getting that one big hit. They begin touring in June. Here's the video for Check Yes Juliet by We The Kings.