Thursday, March 23, 2017
Song:At Her Open Door
Dead Meadow is a modern day recreation of stoner rock or psychedelia. They are successful mostly as a touring band. Dead Meadow are from Washington, DC. They were formed in 1998 out of the ashes of The Impossible Five and Colour. The lead singer and guitarist is Jason Simon. Steve Kille is on bass and Mark Laughlin plays drums. Influences include early metal bands like Black Sabbath, psychedelia and authors like Tolkien and Lovecraft. They released two albums on a small label. Legendary BBC DJ John Peel liked them so much he asked them to come to London to record a Peel Session. But the band couldn't afford to travel so it was the first Peel Sessions to not record in the BBC studio. But it gave Dead Meadow a boost as Peel is a major influencer. In 2002, Laughlin left to attend law school and he was replaced by Stephen McCarty of Canyon. Dead Meadow signed with Matador Records in 2003 which meant their CDs would finally get decent distribution and they could do videos and tour like other bands. They added guitarist Cory Shane. At Her Open Door is from the 2005 album Feathers. Dead Meadow's music also appeared in the popular HBO series The Wire. Jason Simon is the nephew of The Wire creator David Simon. Feathers is out of print. But At Her Open Door is on this 2010 live CD/DVD. Shane left and they were a trio again. Dead Meadow recorded three albums for Matador and then started their own label Xemu. Laughlin returned in 2010. Dead Meadow released their most recent CD in 2013. But they continue to tour and I expect them to record new music when the tour is finished. Here's the video for At Her Open Door by Dead Meadow.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Album:Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War Of The Worlds
Justin Hayward is best known as the leader of The Moody Blues. He began to record solo in 1975 and he had his greatest success with this 1978 single Forever Autumn from this musical adaptation of the H.G. Wells science fiction novel War Of The Worlds. Hayward was born Oct. 14, 1946 in Swindon, England. In 1966 he replaced Denny Laine as lead singer of The Moody Blues and of course he was lead singer on all their hits. When The Moody Blues went on hiatus in 1974, Hayward recorded the album Blue Jays with Moody Blues bassist John Lodge and producer Tony Clarke. They had a top ten hit in England with Blue Guitar which Hayward recorded with 10cc. In 1977 Hayward released his debut solo album Songwriter. Then he was called to work on this musical version of War Of The Worlds. Jeff Wayne was a jingle writer who produced the David Essex hit Rock On. He got the idea to do a progressive rock version of War Of The Worlds. After Richard Burton agreed to narrate, Wayne signed with Columbia. He brought in Hayward, Essex, Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and stage actress Julie Covington to sing. The musicians were mostly veteran session men like Chris Spedding on guitar, Herbie Flowers on bass, Ken Freeman on keyboards and Barry Morgan on drums. Veteran songwriter Gary Osborne wrote the lyrics and Wayne wrote the music. Forever Autumn was based on a Lego jingle that Wayne wrote in 1969. Osborne recorded it with Paul Vigrass in 1972 as Vigrass and Osborne. Hayward's recording of Forever Autumn was a top five hit in England and top 40 in the US. The album performed well and Wayne took it on tour. He's turned it into a cottage industry as he continues to release versions of War Of The Worlds on CD, DVD and on tour. Hayward appeared on a couple of the tours. But he mostly concentrates on his own music. You can get Forever Autumn on some Moody Blues comps. But War Of The Worlds is one of those albums that should be heard on its own. And it is available on CD. Here's Justin Hayward performing Forever Autumn on Top Of The Pops 1978.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Travis Greene made a big splash on the gospel charts with his 2015 major label debut album The Hill. Intentional topped the gospel singles chart and Greene was nominated for two Grammys. He was born Jan. 17, 1984 in Delaware but he grew up in Warner Robins, GA. Greene was still born and then resuscitated. Then at age four, he fell from a four story building in Germany. He was pronounced dead and then resuscitated. Then his father died in 1989. Fortunately, Greene's mother was a preacher so he grew up singing in church. After releasing two albums independently, Greene signed with RCA Inspiration and his debut The Hill was released Oct. 2015. Intentional topped the Gospel Singles chart and so did the follow up single Made A Way. Greene was nominated for two Grammys and 13 Stellar Awards. Greene is currently on tour. He recently relocated with his family and opened a new church in Columbia, SC. Those who enjoy the contemporary gospel of artists like Kirk Franklin and Tye Tribbett should check out Travis Greene. The Hill is available as a budget CD. Here's the video for Intentional by Travis Greene.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Song:Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Album:Across The Universe: Music From The Motion Picture
Of course everyone knows that Paul "Bono" Hewson is the lead singer of U2. One would think that he would have recorded a solo album at some point. But he never has. However, he does make guest appearances with artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Kirk Franklin and B.B. King. In this particular case, he recorded two songs for the 2007 film Across The Universe. It looks like this is the only time he's done this for a film. Across The Universe is a film that tells the story of young people set to the music of The Beatles. Most of the music in the film is performed by the cast including Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson and TV Carpio. But special guests appear on the soundtrack including Joe Cocker, The Secret Machines, Eddie Izzard, Jeff Beck and Bono & Edge. Bono appears in the film as Dr. Robert and performs I Am The Walrus. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds plays over the end credits. The music in the film was written and produced by veteran composer Eliot Goldenthal who has been the romantic partner of director Julie Taymor for many years. Bono also worked with Taymor on the 2010 Broadway musical Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark. I don't know what Bono will do in the future. He's a big star. He can do whatever he wants. In this case, I think he was asked to add some star power to the film. Here's Bono performing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds over the end credits of Across The Universe.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Here's the match video of Lina Lansberg vs Lucie Pudilova from yesterday's UFC show in London. Lina is the Swedish fighter brought in as a sacrifice to Cris Cyborg. She is mostly a Muay Thai expert. Lucie is from the Czech Republic and she was brought in as a late replacement. Her only loss was to Lina mostly because Lina used her size and strength to trap her on the fence and the ref allowed it. Lina tried to do the same at the start of this fight but ref Neil Hall broke them up quickly. So now Lina needed a different approach. Fortunately for her, Lucie wasn't very aggressive in round one. She just didn't throw enough and Lina was marginally more effective. So I scored the round 10-9 for Lina. Round two was very similar except Lina was more aggressive and she even scored a takedown near the end of the round. So I scored round two 10-9 for Lina. Lucie needs a finish. She wins round three but doesn't get the finish. I scored it 10-9 for Lucie. But some thought it was 10-8 and I'm going to explain why it wasn't 10-8. I noticed that face damage to Lina tends to look worse than it is. Miesha Tate was like that too. So even though Lina didn't get hit much in the first two rounds, she looked like she was hit a lot. Her mistake was getting into a clinch with Lucie and leaving Lucie's right arm free. Then she compounds that mistake by trying for a takedown instead of getting the hell out of there. This allows Lucie to land uncontested strikes and Lina's right eye is a mess when she gets out of it. The entire segment lasted about a minute. If Lucie had continued her dominance after that, I could consider a 10-8. But she didn't and it's wasn't enough. And the ref didn't look to stop the fight. The damage looked worse than it actually was. So I scored round three 10-9 for Lucie and Lina won the fight 29-28. All three judges scored it the same. Afterwards, Lina gave an awkward interview where she said she thought Lucie won. One of the reasons it was awkward is Lucie doesn't speak English. One thing is for sure. This was a lot better than their first fight. Enjoy the video!
Album:Toy Soldiers: The Best Of Martika
So I bet you all remember this 1989 chart topper as the video was played to death on MTV and MuchMusic. But whatever happened to Martika? Well, that's what I'm going to talk about. And though I know Martika is perceived as a one hit wonder, she had some other hits. She was born Marta Marrero May 18, 1969 in Whittier, CA. She appeared in the 80s TV series Kids Incorporated along with Fergie and Rahsaan Patterson. She left the show in 1986 and signed with Columbia Records and producer Michael Jay who had worked with the British girl group 5 Star. The album Martika was released in 1988. The first single More Than You Know reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100. Toy Soldiers was the second single and it was a big worldwide hit. Martika wrote it about a friend's cocaine addiction. It was Jay who got her into songwriting. The guitar solo was by film composer Mark Leggett. The album was certified Gold. For her 1991 album Martika's Kitchen, Martika worked with several producers including Prince who wrote and produced the top ten single Love...Thy Will Be Done. She also had a recurring role in the TV series Wiseguy. That was it. Martika went underground for several years due to burnout and the pressure of fame. She returned in 2000 and talked about recording but never did until she joined forces with husband Michael Lee to form the group Oppera in 2003. Back in the 90s, he recorded as Nikki Lee. They released two albums independently with Martika calling herself Vida Edit. Meanwhile, rapper Eminem based his 2004 hit Like Toy Soldiers on Toy Soldiers and Columbia released this budget comp. Martika resurfaced again in 2011 with a single and plans to record an album of dance music. The album never happened. She has announced plans to tour that never materialized. But she was part of last year's Totally 80s nostalgia tour of Australia and she apparently got positive reviews. She is currently on a similar tour in England with Paul Young, Toyah and China Crisis. Here's the video for Toy Soldiers by Martika.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
The Three Degrees are best known for the 1974 smash hit When Will I See You Again written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for Philadelphia International. But they had success before that most notably this 1970 cover of The Chantels classic Maybe for Roulette Records. The Three Degrees were formed in 1963 in Philadelphia. And then they were discovered by Richard Barrett who was lead singer of the doo wop group The Valentines. By this time he had turned to producing. He signed The Three Degrees to Swan Records and they released several singles. None of them went anywhere. This included a 1966 cover of Maybe which Barrett wrote. Beware as this is not the version that was a hit. The Three Degrees went through several personnel changes until Valerie Holiday arrived in 1967. The other two members were Fayette Pinkney and Sheila Ferguson. That was the lineup for all their hits with Valerie usually singing lead. After Swan got caught up in a payola investigation, The Three Degrees recorded for Warner Bros-Seven Arts, the Gamble-Huff owned Neptune Records and Metromedia before they landed with Roulette Records. Maybe was the first single and it reached #4 on the R&B Singles chart and #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The long version of Maybe is on this 3CD box set from the British reissue label Goldies which is owned by Proper Records. This is a budget release that has hits from several labels. The Three Degrees did a TV special in Australia and they appeared in the 1971 film The French Connection. They only recorded one album for Roulette followed by some singles. Barrett decided to move them to Philadelphia International and the group had most of their success there. They are particularly popular in England. Apparently Prince Charles is a big fan. They left Philadelphia international in 1975 for Epic. Then they moved to Ariola and producer Georgio Moroder who had just had success with Donna Summer. But The Three Degrees didn't have success there and they bounced around a few labels in the 80s. Valerie Holiday still leads The Three Degrees and they tour mostly in England as they were always bigger there than in North America. Here are The Three Degrees performing Maybe from that 1970 Australian TV special.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Song:Ladies In Mercedes
Album:Selected Recordings (Rarum IV)
Vibraphonist Gary Burton was brought to ECM Records in 1971 by Chick Corea. The two recorded and toured together and then Burton recorded for ECM until 1986. His normal pattern was to record as a quartet sometimes with guest musicians. For the 1980 album Easy As Pie, the rhythm section was long time collaborator Steve Swallow on bass and Mike Hyman on drums. Hyman had worked with sax player Jamie Aebersold. The other musician was sax player Jim Odgren. For the 1984 album Real Life Hits, Odgren was replaced by Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone. I presume Burton spotted Ozone on one of his many trips to Japan. In addition to recording and touring with Burton, Ozone had just finished his first solo album with Columbia. Burton and Ozone have recorded together many times including a couple of duet albums. So I think it's fair to say that Burton was responsible for Ozone's rise in the world jazz scene. Ladies In Mercedes was written by Swallow. Unfortunately, Real Life Hits is out of print but Ladies In Mercedes appears on this ECM Selected Recordings comp. Ladies In Mercedes also appears on the 2004 CD Generations on Concord. Ozone appears on that album along with guitarist Julian Lage. Burton and Ozone recorded the CD Time Thread in 2013 on Verve. And I'm sure they will record together again. Here's Gary Burton with Makato Ozone, Steve Swallow and Mike Hyman performing Ladies In Mercedes at the Budweiser Newport Jazz Festival in Madarao, Japan Aug. 1984.