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.