Saturday, April 21, 2018
Album:The Essential Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam was one of the most popular bands of the 90s mostly as an album band. They didn't seem to need hit singles. So it's a little odd that their biggest hit single was a cover of a 60s hit for a benefit album. Pearl Jam are from Seattle. Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament were members of the 80s band Green River. When that band split up, they formed Mother Love Bone with singer Andrew Wood. They released an album on PolyGram in 1989. And then Wood died of a heroin overdose. Gossard and Ament were devastated because it looked like this band could be big. Jamming with guitarist Mike McCready encouraged Gossard to form a new band. They recorded a demo to try and find a drummer and singer. They gave the demo to drummer Jack Irons. He passed but he thought his friend Eddie Vedder would be interested. He was and then they added drummer Dave Krusen. They named themselves after NBA player Mookie Blaylock. They changed the name to Pearl Jam after signing with Epic Records. Vedder says the name is a reference to his great grandmother. They released the 1991 album Ten which was Mookie Blaylock's number. It was a huge worldwide success and Pearl Jam was a big part of the Seattle grunge explosion. But when grunge faded, Pearl Jam continued to be a huge success mostly as a live draw. And their albums continued to sell great. They were never a singles band. Their only top ten hit in their early days was I Got Id in 1997. That brings me to Last Kiss. It was written and recorded by Wayne Cochran in 1961. J. Frank Wilson's cover of Last Kiss reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Vedder heard that record and he convinced the band to try it. They performed it a few times in 1998. They recorded it and released it as a 1998 fan club Christmas single. But then radio stations started to play it and Pearl Jam had to release it. But they didn't release it on a Pearl Jam album. Last Kiss appeared on the 1999 charity CD No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees. Last Kiss reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it helped raise $10M for the charity. It is to date Pearl Jam's highest charting single. The Kosovar CD is out of print and the song only appears on a couple of Pearl Jam comps like the 2CD comp The Essential Pearl Jam. Of course Pearl Jam is still successful. They have a new album coming shortly and they are on tour. Here's Pearl Jam performing Last Kiss 1999.
Friday, April 20, 2018
Song:Return Of The Mack
Album:Strictly Rhythm Superjams
Return Of The Mack was the only big US hit for British singer Mark Morrison. He was a bigger deal at home. His big problem was he couldn't seem to stay out of jail. He was born May 3, 1972 in Hannover, Germany but he grew up in Leicester, England and later Miami. He moved back to England at age 19. Morrison produced a few singles for other artists before releasing a single in 1993. His 1995 single Crazy was a top 20 hit in England. Warner Music England came calling and Morrison signed. He was on Atlantic in the US. After some jail time for assault, Morrison recorded the album Return Of The Mack. The single topped the British charts and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Morrison wrote and produced the album with Phil Chill who had previously produced Apache Indian. The girl on the song and in the video is British singer Angie Brown. The main sample on Return Of The Mack is the Tom Tom Club song Genius Of Love. Morrison scored a few more hits in England but he was arrested for carrying a weapon on an airplane. He was convicted of armed robbery in 1999 and he has been charged with assault a few times. Warner dropped him like a bad habit. You can get Return Of The Mack on this various artists budget CD. Morrison still records occasionally for his own label. He signed with Death Row Records in 2001 but nothing ever came from that. More recently, Burger King used Return Of The Mack in a commercial. So I'm sure that made Morrison a good chunk of cash. He records occasionally but he can live off royalties forever. Here's the video for Return Of The Mack by Mark Morrison.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Song:Livin' La Vida Loca
Livin' La Vida Loca was the only number one hit and the signature song for Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin in 1999. He was a star at home before recording in English. He was born Dec. 24, 1971 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He started performing as a child and he appeared in several TV commercials. Then he auditioned for the teen boy band Menudo and after the third audition, 12 year old Martin was hired in 1984. At first he was thought to be too short. Menudo was successful in the 80s. All members are forced to leave at age 18. By 1989, they were fading and Martin would have to leave anyway. After graduating from high school, he got into acting on Mexican Telenovelas and eventually he did some daytime soaps in the US. But the big thing is he signed with Sony in 1991 and he still records for them today. He was very successful recording in Spanish for the next few years. Then he recorded his English debut album Ricky Martin in 1999. Livin' La Vida Loca was the first single and it topped the charts worldwide. The album sold 15M copies worldwide. He had a few other hit singles but that was the big one. Regardless of whether you like Martin, the production and arrangement is really what made Livin' La Vida Loca. And for that you have to credit writers and producers Robi Rosa and Desmond Child. They produced most of the album. Rosa had worked previously with Martin. Child has written tons of hit songs. He's in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Randy Cantor wrote the arrangement. He's a veteran session keyboard player. Another veteran session musician guitarist Rusty Anderson played the guitar solo. And the trumpet solo was by another session musician Tony Concepcion. Martin has never had another hit that big. But it was enough to sustain him so that he still records for Sony. You can get all his hits on this budget comp. In recent years, Martin has appeared on The Voice in Mexico and Australia. He currently appears in the FX series American Crime Story: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace. And he is in residency at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. That will end in June. Here's the video for Livin' La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
|Emi Tomimatsu, Jung Eun Park|
Fernandel was a very popular comedy film star in France for 40 years. He was known for his big teeth. They called him "Horse Teeth". Most of his success as a recording artist came from his films like this 1937 song Ignace. He appeared in a couple of Hollywood films in the 50s and did a very popular British commercial in the 60s. He was born Fernand Joseph Desire Contandin May 8, 1903 in Marsaille, France. His father was an accountant and part time singer and comedian. Young Fernand would tag along to his father's shows. Not surprisingly, he started performing as a child and he became a big vaudeville star. His mother-in-law gave him the name Fernandel because he was so attentive to his wife. With the invention of sound in film, Paris wasn't any different than Hollywood. They looked for stage performers who could be film stars. And Fernandel was a big vaudeville star. He began making movies in 1930. Most of his films were comedies. He did a series of films as the Italian village priest Don Camillo in the 50s. But his big success in musicals was in the 30s. Ignace is from the 1937 film Ignace. He's playing a soldier in this film. His films and the songs were usually written by Jean Manse and Roger Dumas. WWII was a dry period for Fernandel as he was active in the Resistance. But he was successful again in the 50s with the Don Camillo films. You may have seen him as The Coachman in the 1956 film Around The World In 80 Days. And he also starred with Bob Hope in the 1958 film Paris Holiday. And he appeared in a series of Dubonnet commercials in England in the 60s. This budget comp is a good intro to his music. By the late 60s, Fernandel's health was failing. He was a heavy smoker. He died on Feb. 26, 1971 at age 67. His son Franck Fernandel was also an actor and singer. Here's Fernandel performing Ignace in the 1937 film Ignace. The entire film can be seen on Youtube.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Song:Here's Where The Story Ends
Album:Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
The British group The Sundays had success in 1990 when the video for Here's Where The Story Ends was in heavy rotation on MTV. Unfortunately, they soon had record company problems. They never recovered from that. They had potential to be a lot bigger. Lead singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin met when they were students at Bristol University. They wrote all the songs together and they are also married with two children. Gavurin says that he wanted to write songs since he was a child. So they formed The Sundays with Bristol students Paul Brindley on bass and Patrick Hannan on drums and they moved to London. They sent out demos and signed with Rough Trade Records. They had distribution in the US with Geffen. They released the single Can't Be Sure in 1989. Legendary BBC DJ John Peel liked it and that gave them a big boost. Their debut album Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was released in 1990. The album sold a million copies worldwide. Here's Where The Story Ends did very well in the US when MTV put the video in heavy rotation. And The Sundays toured the US. But it all came crashing down when Rough Trade went bankrupt in 1991. The problem was Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was no longer available in England. And it remained unavailable until 1996. The Sundays signed a new British deal with Parlophone. They were still on Geffen in the US. They also started managing themselves which took time away from songwriting. The 1992 album Blind did OK but it didn't do as well as the first album. Then Gavurin and Harriet got married and had their first child in 1995. They finally released the album Static & Silence in 1997. It did OK and The Sundays could have continued. But they chose not to. Harriet had another child in 1999. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic is available as a budget CD. It looks to me like they soured on the music business and choose to live off of The Sundays royalties. Comedian David Baddiel is pals with Gavurin and he says they still write and record. But they have no plans to release anything. He says they are paranoid about this. It reminds me of Lauryn Hill who does the same thing. It's unusual not to mention wasteful but not unprecedented. Here's the video for Here's Where The Story Ends by The Sundays.
Monday, April 16, 2018
DVD:Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific In Concert From Carnegie Hall
Lillias White is a versatile performer best known for her work on Broadway. she has won an Obie, a Daytime Emmy and a Tony. Her performance as Bloody Mary in the PBS production of South Pacific is one of her more high profile performances. She was born July 12, 1951 in Brooklyn, NY. She made her Broadway debut in Barnum in 1981. Lillias was Jennifer Holiday's understudy in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls. Then she played Effie in the 1987 revival for which she won a Drama League award. Then she won an Obie in 1989 for the off-Broadway production of Romance In Hard Times. She won a Daytime Emmy in 1993 as a regular on Sesame Street. And she won a Tony in 1997 for the 1997 Broadway musical The Life. One of Lillias' more high profile performances was as Bloody Mary in this production of South Pacific for the PBS series Great Performances in 2005. It was taped at Carnegie Hall starring Reba McEntire, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Alec Baldwin. This show is available on DVD. Lillias played Calliope in the 1997 Disney film and TV series Hercules. She has toured with her one woman show From Brooklyn To Broadway which she released on CD. Recently she has done guest shots on TV shows like Gotham and Person of Interest. And she was a regular on Baz Luhrmann's Netflix series The Get Down. That show is done so she may have returned to performing in New York clubs. She was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2015 Bistro Awards for her contributions in cabaret. Lillias White may not be well known but she has certainly had a long career. Here's Lillias White performing Happy Talk in the PBS Great Performances production of South Pacific at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This is available on DVD.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Here's the match video of Lauren Mueller vs Shana Dobson from last night's UFC show in Glendale, AZ. Lauren earned a UFC contract with a great performance on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender's Series. That fight was at Bantamweight but this fight was at Flyweight. She trains at Alliance in San Diego. Shana was in TUF 26. She lost in the first round. But she won her fight on the TUF 26 Finale over a terrible opponent. It's hard to tell if she's any good against someone that bad. She trains at Team Lloyd Irvin in Washington, DC. I thought Lauren won the first two rounds with better striking. The fight never really went to the ground. It looks like Lauren ran out of gas in round three. Shana won the round. I scored the fight 29-28 for Lauren and so did the judges. I would like to see how she does against better competition. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Michelle Waterson vs Cortney Casey from last night's UFC show in Glendale, AZ. As I said in my preview on yesterday's podcast, I thought the size difference could determine the winner of this fight. What ended up determining it was strategic choices by both fighters that ultimately gave Michelle the win by split decision. I think she was very lucky. I scored the fight 29-28 for Casey. It seems everyone else scored it that way except the three judges. Round one was the difference. I thought Casey won the striking exchanges. Michelle did take her down towards the end of the round. But I don't think she did enough in top position to steal the round. Two of the three judges scored round one 10-9 for Michelle. It just shows how important top position is and taking the fight to the ground was a very good strategic decision for Michelle. It won her the fight. In round two, Michelle took the fight to the ground again and won the round by maintaining top position. Cortney tried for submissions from bottom position. But she spent too much time on what I thought were low percentage possibilities. I think she needed to get out from under and get back to her feet. That was a poor strategic choice. A fighter has to know when something isn't working and Michelle knew what Cortney was trying to do. So I guess Cortney beat herself. The start of round three was similar to round two. But by the end of the round, Cortney finally got top position and she was working toward a finish when time ran out. Maybe she should have shown more urgency. But I thought she won round one and I'm pretty sure her coach John Crouch thought that too. Who thought the judges would score it differently? It's a big win for Michelle. Plenty of folks picked Cortney to win and plenty of us scored it in her favor. That's why you don't leave it to the judges. It's a pretty good fight so enjoy the video!
Song:Love Is Only A Feeling
Album:The Platinum Collection
The Darkness had five top ten hits in their native England. They only recorded two albums before splitting up in 2006. They reformed in 2012 and they record and tour today. The Darkness are from Suffolk, England led by lead singer and guitarist Justin Hawkins and his brother Dan Hawkins on lead guitar. Justin Hawkins wrote jingles while leading the band Empire with his brother. The other members were Dan Poullain on bass and Ed Graham on drums. They changed their name to The Darkness in 1999. Though their music is standard hard rock, The Darkness' look and live show is influenced by 70s bands especially Queen. The kitschy look got them labelled as uncool by the British music press. Papers like NME or Melody Maker could be very influential on who gets a record deal. But eventually The Darkness signed with Atlantic. Their 2003 debut album Permission To Land was certified 4XPlatinum in England. Their biggest hit I Believe In A Thing Called Love reached #2 on the British Singles chart. Love Is Only A Feeling reached #5. They were a big deal in England and they won Kerrang! and BRIT awards. Their 2005 album One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back did not do as well. And then Justin Hawkins went into rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. After his recovery, he decided he was burned out from the constant touring. The Darkness was supposed to continue with a new singer. They started recording a new album. They decided not to continue. This comp was released in 2008. Hawkins released a single as British Whale in 2006. And then his new band Hot Leg released an album in 2008. Dan Hawkins and Ed Graham formed The Stone Gods and they released an album in 2008. After both bands ended, The Darkness reformed and they have released a couple of albums and they tour mostly in England. It includes three original members. Graham has been replaced by Rufus Tiger Taylor who is the son of Queen's Roger Taylor. Hard rock fans should check out The Darkness. Here's the video for Love Is Only A Feeling by The Darkness.