Thursday, November 23, 2017
Album:I Am Calvin
Neo Soul singer Calvin Richardson has had some success on the R&B charts. But he has bounced around labels making it tough to find consistency. The 2014 single Hearsay is his biggest hit to date. He was born Dec. 16, 1976 in Monroe, NC. He grew up singing in church. His mom had a gospel group. Along with gospel, Bobby Womack was probably his biggest influence. When his buddies K-Ci & JoJo had success with Jodeci, Richardson formed the group Undacova. They signed with Tommy Boy and the song Love Slave appeared in the 1995 film New Jersey Drive. The group split up and Richardson signed with Universal. Though his 1997 CD Country Boy did OK, Universal dropped him and Richardson released the 2003 album 2:35PM on Hollywood Records. Again the album did OK but Hollywood dropped Richardson. He released his next three albums including a Bobby Womack tribute album on Shanachie which is a smaller label that doesn't have a promotion budget that someone like Richardson needs. For the 2014 album I Am Calvin, Richardson signed with Jordan House Records owned by Eric Benet with Primary Wave and BMG distribution. They are both publishing houses, not record distributors. The single Hearsay reached #11 on the R&B Singles chart. Richardson and Benet wrote and produced the album. It was the same story. The album did OK but not good enough. For his 2017 album All Or Nothing, Richardson returned to Shanachie. And that's probably where he will stay. Richardson is a great singer and Neo Soul fans should check him out. He just can't seem to break through to a larger audience. Here's the video for Hearsay by Calvin Richardson.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Album:Swing Troubadour 37-47
Charles Trenet was one of the most popular performers of the Chansons era. Boum! was his first hit in 1939 and probably his signature song. The most notable thing about Trenet is he wrote most of his own songs at a time when singers didn't write songs. He was born May 18, 1913 in Narbonne, France. When his parents divorced, Trenet was sent to boarding school. But he returned home with typhoid fever. It was during his convalescence that he started exploring the arts. Trenet went to art school in Germany and France. Then he moved to Paris. While working as a prop master in a film studio, he performed with pianist Johnny Hess as Charles and Johnny. They appeared on radio. The duo ended when Trenet went into the military in 1936. When he returned in 1937, he signed with EMI's Columbia label. At first he was compared with Maurice Chevalier. But Trenet forged his own path by writing his own songs. Boum! was his first big hit in 1939. He won the Grande Prix du Disques. He performed it in his first film La Route Enchantee which he also wrote. That Trenet wrote his own songs and even movie scripts was one of the reasons he had longevity. He remained very popular through the 40s with La Mer which when translated to English became Beyond The Sea. After WWII, Trenet moved to Hollywood. He had some success but he returned to Paris in 1951. Trenet faded on his later years. But he continued to perform and record until his death on Feb. 19, 2001 at age 87. This comp from Sunnyside is a good intro to Trenet's music. Here's Charles Trenet performing Boum! in the 1938 film La Route Enchantee.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Here's the match video of Asuka vs Dana Brooke from last night's episode of RAW. This was after last week when Dana was in a match to try to get on the Survivor Series match. Asuka tried to help Dana when she fell out of the ring. Dana slapped Asuka and then Asuka KOd her. They showed Dana's promo saying that she has found holes in Asuka's game. That was pretty funny. The match was the expected squash. Dana's attempted offense just pissed Asuka off. She hit Dana with a couple of spinning back fists and a spinning head kick followed by a roundhouse kick for the finish. If you watched last night's show, you'll know that Paige returned from neck surgery. And she brought friends from NXT, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. Both of them were on Tough Enough a couple of years ago. Sonya's real name is Daria Berenato. She has MMA training and a 2-1 pro MMA record. She has been appearing on NXT TV lately and she has a match on this week's show. Her gimmick is that she is a real fighter. Mandy Rose's real name is Amanda Saccomanno. She did fitness competitions before she was on Tough Enough. Since then she has appeared mostly on NXT house shows but she hasn't appeared very much on TV. I haven't seen enough of her to know if she's any good. She's been a heel at NXT so I guess she will test my Too Hot To Boo theory. There was a match going on and Paige came out and three of them beat up Sasha Banks and Bayley. Alicia Fox ran away. Then they went backstage and beat up Alexa Bliss. We'll see where this goes from here. There is also a rumour that some women will be added to Smackdown tonight. Anyway, enjoy the video.
This is the 2017 Survivor Series Women's match. For RAW, Alicia Fox was the captain with Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Bayley and Asuka. For Smackdown, Becky Lynch was the captain with Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and Naomi. I expected Asuka to be the sole survivor. No other result made sense. The match was OK but nothing special. Becky was the first eliminated by a Bayley roll up pin. And then Bayley was eliminated by Tamina's Superfly splash. Then Nia was counted out. I thought it was the right move to keep Nia away from Asuka for now. Alicia was eliminated when she forgot to kick out of Naomi's pin. And then Sasha quickly eliminated Naomi with the Banks Statement. That was a good adlib by both girls. Asuka eliminated Carmella with a phantom kick. So that leaves Asuka and Sasha vs Natalya and Tamina. And then Sasha taps out to the Sharpshooter. So that leaves Asuka vs Natalya vs Tamina. They beat her up until Tamina misses the splash and Asuka eliminates her with a flying armbar. Then Asuka uses the Asuka Lock to win the match for RAW. No surprise. That's about what I expected. Enjoy the match!
Song:Ever Ever After
Album:Walt Disney Pictures Presents Enchanted
Occasionally I come across songs that will interest fans of the artist but the song doesn't appear on an album by the artist. In this case, Carrie Underwood recorded Ever Ever After for the 2007 Disney film Enchanted and it isn't on any of her CDs. At the time, Carrie was already one of the biggest stars in music. The score for Enchanted was written by Alan Menken and he wrote the songs with Stephen Schwartz. Most of the soundtrack album consists of Menken's score. There are several songs recorded by Amy Adams and James Marsden who voiced the lead characters in the film. And Jon McLaughlin is the other guest singer but he appears in the film. The original plan for Ever Ever After was for Idina Menzel and Marsden to sing it during the film. However it was decided that the duet slowed down the pace of the film. So they ditched that and brought in Carrie to record the song. Her version ran near the end of the film. Menken wisely didn't try to change Carrie's singing style to suit the film. He brought in her producer Mark Bright and they also shot a video. It sounds like Carrie's usual music. But you can only get the song on the Enchanted soundtrack CD. I assume that Arista will eventually put it on a hits comp. But they haven't done that yet. So Carrie Underwood fans will need to get the soundtrack CD. Here's the video for Ever Ever After by Carrie Underwood.
Monday, November 20, 2017
Here is the four way match for the NXT Women's Championship with Ember Moon vs Kairi Sane vs Nikki Cross vs Peyton Royce from Saturday's NXT show in Houston. Of course Kairi won the Mae Young Classic and the other three won qualifying matches. I thought Ember would win partially because Houston is her home town and also to have Asuka pass the torch to her. Kairi has new music that sounds like something Alfred Newman would have written for a 1940s pirate movie like Captain From Castille. I'm not a big fan of four way matches because they can get disjointed and there can be a lot of standing around. It's hard to have a great match but it was OK. Kairi took a big Tower Of Doom bump. And Peyton showed she can work when she wants to. I didn't like the ending as it exposed Ember Moon's major flaw. Leading up to the ending, Kairi hit her flying elbow drop on Nikki and Peyton. Ember broke up the pin and then landed the Eclipse on Nikki and Peyton for the win. I thought it looked phony with the two of them standing with their heads together. And as I have said before, the move takes way too long to set up. I have no problem with Ember winning. But I don't like her character or her finisher. We'll see how she is as champ. Asuka presented her with the belt which was a nice touch. Now NXT creative needs to set up some new programs. Enjoy the video!
Here's one of those female empowerment anthems that you probably think is by Katy Perry. But it was a top ten hit from Rachel Platten's 2015 major label debut. She was born May 20, 1981 in New York City. She took piano lessons as a child and then took up the guitar as a teen. Rachel did some backup vocals while on a 2002 student exchange in Trinidad. That's when she decided to get into music. She performed in New York area cover bands and she self released a CD in 2003 which she has described as a collection of demos. She released the 2011 CD Be Here on the indie label Rock Ridge Music. After a couple of her songs were used on TV shows like Pretty Little Liars, Rachel signed with Columbia. Fight Song was released as a single in 2015 and it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. You may recall it was the theme for Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign. You may have heard it in a Ford commercial. And I know the WWE used it in their 2015 Rise Against Cancer campaign. Rachel wrote it as exactly what it is, an empowerment anthem. It was co-written and produced by Jon Levine of the Canadian group The Philosopher Kings. He produced the album Wildfire which was released Jan. 2016. It was certified Gold. She released her latest CD Waves Oct. 2017. To date it hasn't performed as well as Wildfire. I see a couple of problems. Fight Song was a big hit but it hasn't helped raise Rachel's profile. Music fans still don't know who she is. The other thing is she's 36 which is a little old to be an emerging young artist. In the video she is made to look much younger. Fortunately, Rachel writes her own songs. So she can still make a good living in music but not necessarily as a recording artist. It's always tough when the debut is a big hit. How does she follow that up? Here's the video for Fight Song by Rachel Platten.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Here's the match video of Nadia Kassem vs Alex Chambers from last night's UFC show in Sydney, Australia. Both fighters are Aussies. Alex was on TUF 20. The last time we saw her she blew out her knee while losing to Paige VanZant. So now she has had reconstructive surgery on both knees. Also, she is 39 years old. And she is an astro physicist. Why the hell is she fighting? I'm sure she loves the sport. She was one of several contracts the UFC purchased from Invicta. And she's not the only one who doesn't belong in the UFC. Nadia is 22 years old. She was supposed to debut a few months a few months ago. But she got injured. I had never seen her before. Her coach at Australian Top Team is her boyfriend. And her teammate Ashkan Mokhtarian was also on last night's show. Based on this fight, she needs a lot of work. I scored round one 10-9 for Alex. The problem was Alex was pooped out by the end of the round. So Nadia won the other two rounds despite the fact she doesn't know what she's doing half the time. She tries things that more experienced fighters wouldn't do. But she got away with it because Alex is not a very good fighter. Maybe she needs better coaching. She wouldn't get away with that kind of recklessness against better competition. So she will either get the coaching she needs or we'll wonder why they signed her in the first place. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Jessica Rose Clark vs Bec Rawlings from last night's UFC show in Sydney, Australia. Bec was supposed to fight Joanne Calderwood but she got injured and fellow Aussie Jessy Jess came in on short notice. This was the third time those two were booked and it was cancelled. This fight was at Flyweight. Bec had previously fought at Strawweight. She's been in the UFC since TUF 20. I never liked her much going back to her Invicta days. And she has had some serious injuries and I think she has slowed down considerably. She currently trains at Alliance in San Diego. I don't like Jessy Jess either. She didn't impress me in Invicta. She now trains at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. She also missed weight but that isn't unusual when a fighter comes in on short notice though Jessy Jess was training for an upcoming Invicta show. I thought the fight would be close as they are at a comparable level. I scored round one 10-9 for Bec. It was a very close round but Bec's striking was marginally better. Jessy Jess was better in round two as Bec slowed down considerably. 10-9 for Jessy Jess. One judge scored it 10-8. The third round was close as both of them were tired. But I scored it 10-9 for Jessy Jess. So I scored it 29-28 for Jessy Jess. One of the judges scored round three 10-9 for Bec. So Jessy Jess won by split decision. That didn't surprise me. It was a close fight. It's hard to get invested in fighters who aren't that good. There are plenty of UFC fighters who only appear on foreign shows because the UFC wants local fighters on those shows. But Bec has slowed down so much maybe it's time for her to call it quits. We'll see what Jessy Jess is like against better competition. Based on her history, I'm not expecting much. Enjoy the video!
Song:I'll Be Home For Christmas
Album:Christmas With Babyface
If you're looking for a smooth soul Christmas CD, the 1998 CD Christmas With Babyface might be right up your alley. It's an album of Christmas standards with Babyface's trademark style. It was his final album for Epic Records so it looks like he recorded it to fulfill contractual obligations. Babyface was very successful at the time. His 1996 album The Day was certified 2XPlatinum and Every Time I Close My Eyes was a top ten pop hit. He also won a Record of the Year Grammy for producing Eric Clapton's Change the World. Babyface and his wife Tracey Edmonds wanted to get into producing films. And they produced the 1997 film Soul Food which was very successful and was turned into a TV show. The other thing is that his long time business partner LA Reid had just started working as an executive at Arista. So Babyface wanted to leave Epic. But he had two albums remaining on his contract. The first album was MTV Unplugged in 1997 and Christmas With Babyface was the second album. With one exception, the album is Christmas standards like this cover of the 1943 Bing Crosby hit I'll Be Home For Christmas. Babyface produced the album with Mariah Carey's producer Walter Afanasieff. I'll Be Home For Christmas features background vocals by Take 6. And the guitar solo is by veteran session musician Michael Thompson. Afanasieff plays keyboards and other musicians are Nathan East on bass, Ricky Lawson on drums and Paulinho Da Costa on percussion. Babyface fans will enjoy this album. After Babyface left, Epic released a shorter version of this album in 2001 as Spirit Of Christmas. I'm not sure why they did that. Stick with the original which is available as a budget CD. Here's a video for I'll Be Home For Christmas by Babyface.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Album:Vanguard Dance Classics Part 1
Alisha Ann Itkin was 15 years old when Baby Talk topped the dance charts in 1985. Attempts to cross her over to pop were unsuccessful and her recording career was over at age 21. She was born Apr. 16, 1968 in Brooklyn, NY. Her parents had her take singing lessons and paid for demos which they sent to record companies. Alisha was 14 years old and lead singer of The Babysitters. Producer Mark Berry liked the demo. He had a song called All Night Passion and he needed a singer. Berry was a house producer at Vanguard Records. I know what you're thinking. Wasn't Vanguard the home of Joan Baez and other folk music legends? Certainly but they would get into other kinds of music and Berry was into the New York club scene at the time. Alisha recorded All Night Passion and it reached #4 on the Dance chart. Then she recorded the album Alisha. Baby Talk was the third single and it topped the Dance chart. Baby Talk was written and originally recorded by Greg Brown and it was a dance hit in England. An attempt to cross Alisha over to pop didn't work. Vanguard even had People Magazine do a piece on Alisha trumpeting her as the next Madonna. Berry left Vanguard and Alisha only recorded one album for them. The album is available on CD but expensive. So I suggest this Vanguard various artists comp. Berry took Alisha to RCA and produced the 1987 album Nightwalkin'. It was more synth pop than dance in an attempt to sell Alisha as a pop singer. But it didn't catch on. Alisha signed with MCA for the 1990 album Bounce Back. Michael Jay, who had produced the Martika hit Toy Soldiers, was brought in to produce. But the album was unsuccessful. This was Alisha's final album to date though she has recorded occasionally and she still plays New York clubs. It's hard to believe that her recording career was over at age 21. One problem was fans may not have known Alisha was 15 when Baby Talk was released. In the video, she is made to look older and the guy in the video is much older than her. So maybe Berry miscalculated by not having her record age appropriate songs. She recorded You Wanna Be A Star (Superstar) with legendary producer John "Jellybean" Benitez. It was the theme for the 1999 film Superstar starring Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon. Here's the video for Baby Talk by Alisha.
Friday, November 17, 2017
Album:We Love Nelson Riddle!
Nelson Riddle is probably best known as the arranger and producer of Frank Sinatra's 50s Capitol recordings. Of course he did plenty of other stuff. He even topped the pop charts with Lisbon Antigua in 1956. He was born June 1, 1921 in Oradell, NJ. His father was a local bandleader. Riddle learned to play the piano as a child and then took up the trombone as a teen. He wanted to be a jazz musician. But Riddle said he didn't have the coordination so he got into composing instead. While playing in Charlie Briggs' band, he took lessons from Bill Finnegan who had been an arranger for Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. During WWII, Riddle was in the Merchant Marines and he played trombone in Charlie Spivak and Tommy Dorsey's bands. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles. He backed up Doris Day's 1949 hit Again. Then Les Baxter hired Riddle to work on a Nat King Cole session at Capitol Records. Riddle arranged Mona Lisa but Baxter got the credit. When Frank Sinatra signed with Capitol in 1953, Riddle was hired to work with him. Of course this was a very successful partnership and Riddle worked with all the great Capitol singers of the era. He also started recording his own albums. Lisbon Antigua was released on a 10" EP in 1956. It topped the pop charts for four weeks. It's a Portuguese song written in 1937. Nat King Cole's manager heard the song and brought it to Riddle. Riddle played piano accompanied by an orchestra and chorus. The record got him into scoring films as he used it in the 1956 film Lisbon starring Ray Milland and Maureen O'Hara. After that, Riddle recorded many albums. Lisbon Antigua was never released on an album. But you can get it on this comp CD from the British label El. Riddle left Capitol for Sinatra's new label Reprise in 1963. When Sinatra stopped working with him in 1966, Riddle produced several albums for Ella Fitzgerald. He also got more into films and TV. He won an Oscar for The Great Gatsby. And then in the 80s, he was very successful working with Linda Ronstadt. Riddle died on Oct. 6, 1985 at age 64. But he won a Grammy for his final album with Ronstadt and she accepted the award and narrated a tribute to Riddle. His son Christopher Riddle took over his orchestra and toured. I don't think the band is active right now. Here's a video for Lisbon Antigua by Nelson Riddle.