Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Song:That Old Black Magic
Album:Jump, Jive an' Wail: The Essential Louis Prima
Louis Prima had been a very successful bandleader in the 40s. When the swing era ended, Prima wasn't interested in bebop and by the mid-50s had accepted a downgrade to Vegas lounge act with wife Keely Smith and longtime pal Sam Butera. But that lounge act became very popular resulting in hit records and TV and movie appearances. That Old Black Magic was their biggest hit. Prima was born Dec. 7, 1910 in New Orleans to Italian immigrants. He was proud of that heritage and was also a big Louis Armstrong fan. So he took up the trumpet and started singing just like his idol. He moved to New York and recorded in the 30s as Louis Prima and his New Orleans Gang. He wrote Sing, Sing, Sing which was a big hit for Benny Goodman. He moved to Los Angeles and fronted a traditional big band in the 40s featuring female singers like Lily Ann Carol and Cathy Allen. Keely Smith was born Dorothy Keely Mar. 9, 1928 in Norfolk, VA. She joined Prima in 1949 and they married in 1954. Prima was having trouble adjusting to the changes in the music business and was going nowhere recording for Columbia in the early 50s. He took up an offer to be the house band at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas in 1954. He called up his old buddy Sam Butera and the band was born. They worked very hard on this shtick of Prima and his goofy antics and Keely playing the straight girl and giving him dirty looks. They got a contract with Capitol and became one of the hottest acts in the US. That Old Black Magic reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it won a Grammy. They even made a couple of movies together. Of course it didn't last and they divorced in the early 60s. This comp is a good intro to their music. For those wondering, Keely Smith did record on her own. But she was missing something as a solo artist. The chemistry with Prima made the act. Louis Prima's new singer and new wife was Gia Malone. And he had a big role in the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book. Prima started having health problems in 1973. A 1975 cerebral hemorrage left him in a coma and he died on Aug. 24, 1978 at age 67. His son Louis Prima Jr. does a tribute act. Keely Smith still performs and records occasionally. Here's Louis Prima & Keely Smith performing That Old Black Magic 1959.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Song:We're Gonna Make It
Album:Greatest Hits: Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
Though he is compared frequently to blues legend Bobby "Blue" Bland, Little Milton was not as well known because he bounced around several record companies. So his music lacked consistency. But his best music for Chess in the 60s is outstanding and holds up very well. We're Gonna Make It was his biggest hit. He was born James Milton Campbell Jr. Sept. 7, 1934 in Inverness, MS and grew up in Greenville. His father was a local blues musician known as Big Milton so of course Milton Jr. became Little Milton. He played local clubs as a teen heavily influenced by T-Bone Walker. He caught the attention of Ike Turner who brought him to Sun Records owner Sam Phillips in 1953. His Sun recordings weren't successful and eventually Milton moved to St. Louis in 1958. Local DJ Bob Lyons started his own Bobbin label and Milton, Albert King and Fontella Bass recorded for that label. He worked out a distribution deal with Chess Records. Milton's Chess recordings did very well on the R & B charts. We're Gonna Make It topped the R & B singles chart in 1965 and reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. His follow up Who's Cheating Who reached #4 on the R & B singles chart. Milton continued to have success until Leonard Chess' 1969 death. He moved to Stax in 1971 and they attempted to turn him into more of a soul singer. But Stax was already having financial problems and they closed in 1975. Milton then went to TK. They were known for funk and disco and they tried to cross Milton over. But they closed too. He recorded a 1983 album for MCA before finally finding a home at Jackson, MS based Malaco Records. A lot of blues legends have found a home there. He recorded there and toured regularly until he suffered a stroke and died on Aug. 4, 2005 at age 70. This Chess budget comp is a must and you should also check out Milton's Malaco recordings. Little Milton was an underrated blues legend and is worth your time. Here's Little Milton performing We're Gonna Make It on the Nashville TV show The !!!! Beat 1965.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
|Rin Nakai & V Hajime|
|Rin Nakai (in black) pounds Mizuho Sato|
|Sugi Rock pounds Yasuko Tamada|
Song:Let It Whip
Album:20th Century Masters: The Millenium Collection: The Best of the Dazz Band
The Dazz Band were one of the most popular funk groups of the 80s. They were fixtures on the R & B and Dance charts but Let It Whip was their only top ten pop hit in 1982. The group was a merger of two Cleveland funk bands Bell Telefunk and Mother Braintree. The leaders of the group were lead singer and sax player Bobby Harris and lead guitarist and main songwriter Mike Calhoun. The concept was to do "danceable jazz" called Dazz. They played at the Cleveland club Kinsman Grill Lounge so the band name was Kinsman Dazz. Other band members were Skip Martin III & Pierre DeMudd on horns, Eric Fearman on guitar, Michael Wiley on bass, Isaac Wiley on drums, Kevin Frederick on keyboards and Kenny Pettus on percussion. Kinsman Dazz recorded two albums for 20th Century Records including one produced by Earth, Wind & Fire lead vocalist Philip Bailey. The albums didn't sell and 20th Century closed. So the band name was changed to Dazz Band and they signed with Motown in 1980. They also changed direction to a more hard edged funk sound. Let It Whip is from their 1982 album Keep It Live and it reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R & B Singles chart and they won a Grammy for Best Performance by an R & B Vocal Duo or Group. The Dazz Band would have several more R & B hits through the 80s. They left Motown for Geffen in 1986 and also recorded for RCA until they split up in 1988. This budget comp is a great intro to their music. In the mid-90s, Bobby Harris formed the United We Funk All Stars funk tribute band and also reformed Dazz Band in 1998 and recorded a couple of albums for Intersound. Here's the video for Let It Whip by Dazz Band.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Song:You've Got A Friend
Album:The Best Of James Taylor
I guess James Taylor is the prototype for the sensitive singer songwriter. Though his cover of Carole King's You've Got A Friend was not his breakthrough hit, it is his only number one pop hit. His career has had ups and downs and he's still around. But I'm going to focus on his early career. He was born Mar. 12, 1948 in Boston and was raised in Carrboro, NC. His father would eventually be Dean of the University Of North Carolina medical School. Taylor's brothers Livingston, Hugh, Alex and sister Kate are also musicians. The family would summer in Martha's Vineyard and that's where Taylor met guitarist Danny Kortchmar. He would be a key figure in Taylor's early career. They started performing in local coffeehouses as Jamie & Kootch. In 1964, he joined his brother Alex's band The Fabulous Corsairs and they released a single. Taylor's poor grades in school led to depression and a stay at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. After his recovery, he went with Kortchmar to New York City and formed The Flying Machine. But Taylor started using heroin and became unreliable. The band recorded one album and split up. His habit got so bad that he called his father who got him into rehab. After his recovery, he moved to London in 1967 and played clubs as a solo act. One of his demos got into the hands of Peter Asher Of course he was one half of Peter & Gordon and was A & R head of The Beatles new label Apple Records. He signed and released an album. But he relapsed and eventually went back into rehab in New York. The album didn't sell because Taylor couldn't promote it. Apple was having problems anyway and Asher left and took Taylor with him. Apple could have sued Taylor but Paul McCartney wouldn't do it. Taylor suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. While recovering, he signed with Warner Bros. with Asher as producer and Kortchmar as lead guitarist. His album Sweet Baby James was a big seller and Fire And Rain reached # 3 on the Billboard hHot 100. But it wasn't until his second Warners album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon that Taylor would get his only #1 hit with his cover of Carole King's You've Got A Friend. He wrote most of his own songs. He won a Grammy for that song. Taylor continued to have success even after he left Warner Bros. for Columbia in 1977. Of course this has been tempered by his continuing struggles with drugs. He still does well on the Adult Contemporary charts and his latest CD Covers was released on Hear Music in 2008. This 2003 Warners comp is a good intro to his music. Here's James Taylor performing You've Got A Friend 1971.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Song:Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)
Album:Absolutely the Best of John Fred and His Playboy Band
This Beatles parody/tribute topped the charts in January 1968. It was the one big hit for John Fred and His Playboy Band. But the song labelled them as a novelty act instead of the blue eyed soul that was a more accurate category for their music. John Fred Gourrier was born May 8, 1941 in Baton Rouge, LA. His father was pro baseball player Fred Gourrier. As a teen, Fred juggled music and athletics. In 1958, he recorded Shirley for Sam Montalbano's Montel label. The song was going up the charts but Fred turned down an American Bandstand appearance to play with his high school basketball team at the state championships. He attended Southeastern Louisiana University on a basketball scholarship and also recorded a few singles that went nowhere. Fred reformed The Playboys in 1963 and eventually signed with Louisiana based Jewel/Paula Records. The story goes that Fred heard The Beatles' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and thought he heard "Lucy In Disguise". So he decided to parody the lyric and wrote the song with Playboys sax player Andrew Bernard. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 in Jan. 1968. Think about it. A #1 hit was based on misheard lyrics. Subsequent singles did OK regionally but nothing broke nationally. A move to the much larger UNI label didn't help and John Fred and His Playboy Band split up in 1970. This budget comp from Varese is recommended though you can also get Judy In Disguise on several various artists comps. John Fred continued to perform in Louisiana clubs in the 70s. But he reemerged in 1979 and produced the comeback album for soul legend Irma Thomas. In 1982 he became VP of BCS Records and was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame in 1991. He also wrote many jingles, occasionally recorded and hosted a Baton Rouge radio show. John Fred died on Apr. 15, 2005 at age 63 after a kidney transplant. Here's John Fred and His Playboy Band performing Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) 1968.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Here's the match video from last night's DaMMAge Fight League show in Atlantic City featuring Tara LaRosa vs Takayo Hashi for a bogus title belt. One of my concerns about this fight is that Hashi is not a draw. For a few extra bucks these guys could have had Carina Damm who is a draw because of her sex appeal. Like it or not, sex appeal is part of this business and will always be a part of this business. Get over it. When you're watching the video, you'll notice there are a lot of fans disguised as empty seats. Geez, couldn't they paper the joint? It's just so bush league. I understand the attendance was around 200. That's not good. So I'm not surprised this match didn't draw. My other concern was about Hashi's willingness to engage because she was terrible against Sarah Kaufman in February. She was better in this match but not by much. The difference is that Tara is more willing to force engagement because of her confidence in her ground game. Sarah prefers to stand up. Tara admitted concern about this and she did have trouble breaking through Hashi's defense. I don't understand the strategy of fighting to not lose as opposed to fighting to win. And that's what Hashi did in this fight. This was five rounds of jockeying for position and not getting anywhere. And Tara couldn't seem to do much with Hashi until late in the rounds and Hashi wasn't doing enough to score. In round one, Hashi got a takedown. Tara reversed and then Hashi got another takedown. But there was no advance of position beyond the takedowns. 10-9 Hashi by a very slim margin. A lot of clinching in round two but Tara scored enough strikes later in the round to win 10-9. More clinching in round three and Tara got a rear naked choke attempt. But it was too late in the round to do anything with it. Tara wins 10-9. Round four was very similar and Tara attempted a rear naked choke but never hooked it. She wins 10-9. Hashi's corner must have told her she was losing because she was a lot more aggressive in round five. She wins that round 10-9. So what if Hashi had been more aggressive earlier in the fight? I scored it 48-47 for Tara so I agree with the decision. Tara was more aggressive and tried to take control. I give her points for that. Until the final round, Hashi was very defensive and passive. I don't like that kind of fighting. So congratulations to Tara LaRosa but I haven't changed my tune. I wouldn't have booked Hashi for this. Enjoy the video!
Song:Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie
Album:Hard To Find 45s on CD Vol. 12: 60s & 70s Pop Classics
Here's a song about food that was a top ten pop hit in 1967. How appropriate for the US Thanksgiving. It was the one big hit for Jay & The Techniques and the song most folks will remember. They were from Allentown, PA led by lead singer Jay Proctor. Other members were singer George "Lucky" Lloyd, guitarist Dante Dancho, bassist Chuck Crowl and drummer Karl Landis. They entered a Battle Of The Bands contest in Allentown. They didn't win but they signed with Mercury Records producer Jerry Ross. Among other things, he produced Bobby Hebb's smash hit Sunny. According to Proctor, they were in the studio and he was given the lyrics to Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie. He couldn't believe they wanted him to sing a song about fruit. At first he refused to sing it. But he changed his mind. The song was rejected by Bobby Hebb. Proctor's great vocals helped and the song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. The follow up single Keep The Ball Rollin' reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. A couple of other singles charted but Jay & The Techniques only made one album and then were forgotten. Jay Proctor is still around. He released a solo CD in 2006. RPM Records released an excellent Jay & The Techniques comp last year. But I think most folks only want the two hits and you can both of them on this various artists comp from Eric Records. Eric is a good reissue label. They use original masters on their CDs. Here's Jay Proctor performing Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie on the 1999 PBS special Rock 'N' Roll Graffiti. Thanks to The Standard Report at Regent University for the info about the formation of Jay & The Techniques.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Song:Bang A Gong (Get It On)
Album:Electric Warrior Expanded Edition
In the late 60s, Marc Bolan (born Marc Feld Sept. 30, 1947 in East London, England) started out as a fairly typical hippie folksinger and then decided to try something different. He first tried this with the group John's Children. But when the song Desdemona was banned by the BBC, the group folded and Bolan and percussionist Steve Peregrin Took started Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1967. They started out as a standard psychedelic group and were doing OK mostly because BBC DJ John Peel liked them. After three albums, the two split up in 1969 and Bolan recorded a fourth album with new percussionist Mickey Finn. The shortening of the group name to T. Rex was because producer Tony Visconti hated writing out the full name. The first single as T. Rex Ride A White Swan reached #2 on the British singles chart. Bolan was going in a more hard rock direction and brought in bassist Steve Currie and drummer Bill Legend to make T. Rex a full band. The story goes that before a Top of The Pops appearance, someone put glitter on Bolan's face and this led to the birth of Glam Rock. The 1971 album Electric Warrior would prove to be their breakthrough and Bang A Gong reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. I always thought that Glam Rock was mostly hype and I'm not sure Bolan cared much about the band's look. He just wanted to be successful. Rhino released an expanded edition of Electric Warrior in 2003. It is a classic album. Follow up albums didn't do nearly as well and T. Rex had internal conflicts that affected the music very badly. As Bolan was thinking of reuniting the original band and bringing back Tony Visconti, he died in a car crash on Sept. 16, 1977 at age 29. Marc Bolan's legacy and influence has grown since his death. Here's T. Rex performing Bang A Gong on The Midnight Specials 1974.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Tonight I am going to Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music. As part of their series of Oscar Peterson tribute concerts, they're having a New Orleans night with trumpeter Nicholas Payton, New Orleans music legend Allan Toussaint and The Joe Krown Trio. Nicholas Payton is well versed in the traditions of New Orleans jazz. He was born Sept. 26, 1973 and his father was bassist Walter Payton. In fact, his dad just died on Oct. 28. He took up the trumpet at age four and accompanied his dad to gigs. He performed at a very young age. He was taught by legendary teacher Ellis Marsalis when he attended the University Of New Orleans. While still in school, he got the opportunity to tour with legendary drummer Elvin Jones and he toured with him for two years. He played with other bands and first recorded as a leader in 1992. He also performed on the soundtrack of the film Kansas City and he won a Grammy for his CD with legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham. He started out recording for Verve and moved to Warner Bros. in 2003. He took some time off after suffering injuries in a car accident. His latest CD Into The Blue was released on Nonesuch in 2008. But he also recorded and toured with the Blue Note 7. This group was formed to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. I will be there tonight and will review the concert tomorrow. Here's Nicholas Payton performing Bag's Groove.
Album:Jock Jams Vol. 1
The 1990 chart topper Unbelievable clearly shows the value of a great hook. Though perceived as a one hit wonder, EMF did have a second chart hit from their 1991 debut CD Schubert Dip. They had a much longer run in England. Unbelievable is probably their only memorable song. EMF were from Gloucestershire, England and all were veterans of the Manchester music scene. EMF is short for Epsom Mad Funkers. They came together after touring with DJ Milf EMF in 1989. Lead singer James Atkin, bassist Zac Foley and drummer Mark Decloedt were joined by former Flowerdrum keyboard player Derry Brownson and former Apple Mosaic guitarist Ian Dench. The group's music is a mix of rock and electronic music elements along with sampling. If they remind you of Jesus Jones (Right Here Right Now), the two bands are close pals. Unbelievable was their first single. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991 and was a worldwide hit. That "Ohhh" you hear at the start of each verse is a sample of comedian Andrew Dice Clay. The CD Schubert Dip reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 200 and the single Lies reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their follow up albums did OK in England but did not sell in the US. When a band's first single has an incredibly catchy hook, sometimes it's tough to follow that with anything. I guess they couldn't figure out how to repeat that success. EMF split up in 1995 and have reunited a couple of times. But Unbelievable has remained fresh in people's minds because of its use in various media and especially as a sports anthem. That's why I recommend this various artists CD Jock Jams. It puts Unbelievable in the proper context. Zac Foley died of a drug overdose in 2002. Ian Dench is currently A & R VP of Epic Records and has written songs for Beyonce and Jordin Sparks. But he may not be there much longer as his boss and long time pal Amanda Ghost was fired last week. So if you're familiar with Unbelievable now you know more about EMF. Here's the video for Unbelievable by EMF.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Here's the match video with Natalya winning the WWE Divas Championship from Laycool at last night's Survivor Series PPV. The match is OK but a little strange and the ending was very abrupt. Obviously they gave this match a set amount of time and they needed time to have Beth Phoenix return when Laycool ganged up on Natalya after the match. It's great for Nattie because she's a member of the Hart family. But as usual the match was more suitable for an episode of RAW than a PPV. And that's a knock on the WWE for not giving them enough time. They always do this and then they wonder why fans don't care. Enjoy the video!
Natalya vs. Laycool (Plus The Return Of Beth Phoenix)
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Natalya vs. Laycool (Plus The Return Of Beth Phoenix)
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Album:La Mauvaise Reputation
Georges Brassens was one of France's most beloved singer songwriters. He was very popular in the 50s and his music paved the way for Jacques Brel and others. He had health issues later on that forced him to be less active. He was born Oct. 22, 1921 in Sete, France near the Mediterranean. He learned to play mandolin as a child and began writing poetry as a teen. He started playing music in school but got derailed when he was expelled from school in 1939 for his involvement in a campus theft. He moved to Paris to work at the Renault factory and learned piano. In 1943, he was conscripted into the STO that forced him to go to a work program in Germany. When he got a two week leave, he went AWOL and went into hiding. He taught himself to play the guitar. After the war, he attempted to establish himself as a songwriter but had trouble selling his songs. In 1952, female cabaret star Patachou convinced Brassens to try performing. He never thought of that but it led to a contract with Polydor. La Mauvaise Reputation was his very first album in 1953. He became very popular on the Paris cabaret circuit. There's nothing flashy about him. He just sings from the heart. Kidney problems forced Brassens to stop touring in the 60s but he continued to record and work on music for films. He retired in 1977 and died on Oct. 21, 1981 at age 60. Here's Georges Brassens performing Hecatombe probably in the 60s. This video is not on Youtube.
Georges Brassens - Hécatombe
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Sunday, November 21, 2010
Ayumi Kurihara has been doing a media tour to promote her 5th anniversary show Dec. 12 at Shijuku FACE. So I have a couple of videos for you. The first one is from Tokyo Sports. I'm sure most fans know that Ayumi's parents own a Tokyo restaurant called Three Treasures Roast Meat Shop. So they decided to do the interview over lunch. In the first part of the interview, she talks about the show conentrating mostly on her feud with Tomoka Nakagawa. And in the second part of the interview, Ayumi makes lunch. And at the end she stuffs her face. In the second video, Ayumi visits the Sankei Sports office and gives a wrestling demonstration to some guy wearing a mask. They're both cool interviews and demonstrates Ayumi's girl next door appeal. Enjoy!
Song:La Vie En Rose
Album:The Voice Of The Sparrow: The Very Best Of Edith Piaf
Edith Piaf is generally regarded as France's greatest popular singer and is still revered as an icon today. La Vie En Rose is her signature song. It's funny how someone so petite could be larger than life many years after her death. She was born Edith Giovanna Gassion Dec. 19, 1915 in Paris. The legend that she was born in the street is not true. She was born in a hospital like most of us. Her father was a street acrobat and her mother was a singer. Her mother ignored her so she went to live with her father after WWI and started performing with him. She went out on her own and sang in the streets of Paris. She gave birth to a daughter at age 17 but the little girl died of meningitis at age 2. In 1935, nightclub owner Louis Leplee found her singing in the street and took Edith under his wing. He named her The Little Sparrow. But Leplee was murdered by mobsters in 1936. The scandal threatened her singing career and she hired songwriter Raymond Asso to help her. He renamed her Edith Piaf and teamed her up with songwriter Marguerite Mennot and the two wrote songs tailored for Edith. She started to have some success and by the time she starred in Jean Cocteau's 1940 play Le Bel Indifferent, she was the toast of Paris. After WWII, started touring internationally and appearing in movies. She first recorded La Vie En Rose in 1946 and named to the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1988. She had great success through the 50s despite losing her husband in a 1949 plane crash and almost getting killed in a 1951 car crash. Edith Piaf died of liver cancer on Oct. 11, 1963 at age 47. This budget comp is a good intro to her music. Edith Piaf's legend continues today. She got the biopic treatment in the 2007 film La Vie En Rose. Her influence on French popular music is huge. Here's Edith Piaf performing La Vie En Rose in the 1947 film Neuf Garcons, Un Coeur. This video is not on Youtube.
Edith Piaf - La Vie En Rose
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Saturday, November 20, 2010
Here's the match video from last night's Strikeforce show in Jackson, MS. It's Liz Carmouche vs Jan Finney. Liz is undefeated and we first saw her in Strikeforce in August with a unanimous decision win over Colleen Schneider. I thought that match was pretty close. Of course Jan lost to Cris Cyborg in June. 135lb is her natural weight. Jan is much more experienced and bigger than Liz. I've seen several of Jan's fights and she's game but she's missing something. I can't put my finger on what she's missing but some fighters are at a certain level and aren't capable of rising above that level. Let's face it. She probably shouldn't be in Strikeforce in the first place. We all know how that happened. It becomes obvious in round one that Liz is smaller but much stronger than Jan. That judo throw was brute strength. And Liz is much busier as well. Jan didn't seem to do anything even when she was on top. It was the same in round two and then in round three, Liz mounted Jan and pounded away until the fight was stopped at 1:30 of round three. I thought Liz was much more impressive in this fight than her previous Strikeforce match. Afterwards, they teased a match against Sarah Kaufman. She has potential but I don't think she's ready for Sarah. Enjoy the video!
Song:Down At The Twist And Shout
Album:The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter had a long run on the country charts in the 90s. Down At The Twist And Shout was her first top five country hit in 1991 and it also won a Grammy. For the most part, she did not cross over to the pop market. She was born Feb. 21, 1958 in Princeton, NJ. Her dad was an executive with Life Magazine. Her family lived in Japan for a couple of years before moving to Washington, DC in 1971. She started writing songs while attending Brown University but was very reluctant to perform. She met guitarist John Jennings in the early 80s and eventually took music more seriously and landed a contract with Columbia in 1987. At first Columbia tried to sell her to the college market as a singer songwriter. But Mary's career didn't take off until Columbia sold her to the country market though Mary is very uncomfortable being labeled as a country singer. But that's where she has had most of her success. Down At The Twist And Shout is from her second CD Shooting Straight In The Dark. It reached #2 on the Country Singles chart and it was her first top five hit. It also won a 1992 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. Her success continued until she took a break in 1996. She returned in 2001 with the CD Time*Sex*Love but after having several Platinum albums, it just didn't sell as well and she left Columbia after her 2004 CD Between Here And Gone. She currently records for Rounder's Zoe label and her latest CD The Age Of Miracles was released in Apr. 2010. This budget comp is a good intro to her music. Here's the video for Down At The Twist And Shout by Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Song:It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)
Album:Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970
It's hard to believe that over his long career as an R & B shouter, Earl Gaines only had one significant chart hit and it wasn't even under his own name. But Gaines was a fixture on the Nashville music scene until his death last year. He was born Aug. 19, 1935 in Decatur, AL and moved to Nashville as a teen. He worked as a singer and drummer with songwriter producer Ted Jarrett and met Louis Brooks in a club. Louis Brooks & His Hi-Toppers were an instrumental group but they had a contract with Excello Records. Gaines joined the group and It's Love Baby was their first single in 1955. It reached #2 on the R & B singles chart and it may have been Excello's first hit. The song was written by R & B legend Hank Ballard. It appears that Brooks was content with being a local group. It doesn't seem like he wanted to tour. So Excello turned Gaines into a solo artist and sent him on the 1955 R & B Caravan Of Stars tour. Gaines performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. But none of his singles caught on and he eventually became lead singer for organist Bill Doggett and played drums on sessions. Gaines had a top 40 hit with Best Of Luck To You in 1966 and continued to record until he quit the music business in 1975 to drive a truck. He returned to music in 1989 and had a lot of success touring the blues circuit and recording until his death Dec. 31, 2009 at age 74. This 2CD comp from Lost Highway won a Grammy in 2005 and is a must for fans of obscure R & B. Here's Earl Gaines performing It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day) on the Nashville TV show The !!!! Beat 1966.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Song:Life, Love & Laughter
Album:Pass It Around
Remember all those surfing songs that Brian Wilson wrote though he never actually surfed. Singer songwriter Donavon Frankenreiter is a professional surfer who got into music as a hobby. He's had a lot of success in Australia because surfing is a big sport there. He was born Dec. 10, 1972 in Downey, CA. He became a professional surfer at age 14 and moved to Hawaii with a sponsorship from Billabong clothing. He rented a room from Jack Johnson's parents and the two became friends. Music was only a hobby for Frankenreiter. He played lead guitar for the band Sunchild and they released three albums from 1997-2001. When they disbanded, Frankenreiter decided to pursue a solo career. Johnson was starting his Brushfire label and Frankenreiter recorded his 2004 debut CD on the label. He toured Australia because he's a big surfing star there and the album went top 40 there. Frankenreiter moved to Universal's Lost Highway label for his 2006 CD Move By Yourself. Life, Love & Laughter is from his 2008 CD Pass It Around. It was produced by veteran producer Joe Chicarelli. He started out as an audio engineer for Frank Zappa and has produced Tori Amos, My Morning Jacket and is currently working with The Strokes. Frankenreiter continues to tie in his music career with surfing. He usually has surfing seminars as part of his shows. He now records for his own Liquid Tambourine label with Warners distribution. His new CD Glow was released last month. Here's the video for Life, Love & Laughter by Donavon Frankenreiter. Yes, that is film footage of him surfing. The video is supposed to look like it was home made.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Today at the Caesar Gym, Mika Nagano and Fuuka held an open workout for the media. The video clip is courtesy of Nikkan Sports. For those who don't know, Caesar Gym is the home of Shoot Boxing and the STARDOM joshi puroresu company has been training there. This particular media event was supposed to kill two birds with one stone. Mika was hyping the Dec. 17 JEWELS show and her participation in the JEWELS Lightweight Tournament. And of course the continuing hype for STARDOM which will debut on Jan. 23. Part of that is selling Fuuka as a general manager as opposed to a figurehead. Fans may recall that Mika worked briefly last year for the Ice Ribbon joshi puroresu company. She also worked a Fuuka Matsuri show last year. The two have been friends for a couple of years. They do some sparring. MMA fans may be wondering about those goofy looking roundhouse kicks. That's Fuuka teaching her F Doll finisher to Mika. Kicking was the only thing Fuuka was good at as a pro wrestler. STARDOM is trying to sell Fuuka as an important part of the company. Of course Nanae Takahashi is actually training the wrestlers. Can Mika Nagano do both MMA and pro wrestling? Sure. Megumi Yabushita has been doing it for 13 years. Enjoy the video!
At the height of their popularity in the early 90s, The Kentucky Headhunters' mix of country and rock attracted a significant fanbase mostly in the country music market. At the time, they only recorded three albums for Mercury. But they're still around but not on a major label. They are actually a family band from Glasgow, KY. Guitarist and vocalist Richard Young, his drummer brother Fred Young, and cousins Anthony Kenney (bass) and Greg Martin (lead guitar) started out in 1968 as Itchy Brother. They mostly had regional success in the 70s and were even signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label. But Swan Song closed in 1981 and Itchy Brother disbanded in 1982. Richard Young worked as a songwriter for Acuff-Rose. Fred Young worked for country singer Sylvia. Greg Martin worked for country singer Ronnie McDowell. Jason Kenney quit the music business. When Itchy Brother reformed in 1985, Kenney declined and Martin brought in bassist Doug Phelps from the McDowell band and he brought his older brother Ricky Lee Phelps in to be the new lead vocalist. They changed their name to The Headhunters but there was already a band with that name so it was changed to The Kentucky Headhunters. They recorded an album that they planned to sell at their live shows. But instead it earned them a contract at Mercury and Pickin' On Nashville was their 1989 debut. Their cover of Don Gibson's Oh Lonesome Me was their biggest hit and reached #8 on the Country Singles chart. The album went double platinum. Their follow up albums did OK but not as well as the debut. There was conflict within the band over creative direction. Doug & Ricky Lee Phelps wanted to be more of a country group. So they left and their band Brother Phelps recorded a couple of albums. Jason Kenney returned and Mark S. Orr was hired to be the new lead vocalist. Honky Tonk Walkin' is from their 1993 CD Rave On!. Again, this did not sell as well as previous albums and the group left Mercury. This budget CD is a comp of their Mercury CDs. Orr left in 1995 and Doug Phelps returned. The Kentucky Headhunters have recorded for Nonesuch, BNA, Koch and currently record for CBuj Entertainment. They released a live CD last year. Richard Young has worked as a producer and Greg Martin has a couple of side projects. Here's the video for Honky Tonk Walkin' by The Kentucky Headhunters.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Album:Interpretations: Celebrating The Music Of Earth, Wind & Fire
I don't usually like tribute albums. I find a lot of them are lame. But you may have overlooked this 2007 tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire that launched Concord Music's revival of Stax Records. I also suspect that because this cover of September is not on one of gospel superstar Kirk Franklin's own CDs that his fans have overlooked the CD and may not be aware that Franklin did a video for the song. Of course as many EW&F fans are aware, EW&F leader Maurice White suffers from multiple sclerosis so he hasn't been as active in recent years. But he did personally select the artists and songs for this CD. Franklin does a straightforward version of the classic September. He gives it a gospel spin but he doesn't mess with it too much. Me'Shell Ndegeocello's cover of Fantasy and Dwele's cover of That's The Way Of the World were both nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammys. Others appearing on the CD are Chaka Khan, Angie Stone, Ledisi, Lalah Hathaway, Mint Condition and Musiq Soulchild. So if you're an Earth, Wind & Fire fan you want to be sure to check out this CD. Here's the video for September by Kirk Franklin. You'll notice that Maurice White appears in the video.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Song:Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)
As we all know, there is a certain formula to country music in Nashville. So the Nashville establishment is usually very resistent to any act that doesn't fit that formula. And that's what happened in 2004 when Big & Rich broke through with Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy). But fans liked their irreverent approach and have made Big & Rich one of the most popular country music acts of the last decade. The group is currently on hiatus. John Rich (born Jan. 7, 1974 in Amarillo, TX) was lead singer of the very popular group Lonestar. After leaving Lonestar in 1998, he attempted a solo career with BNA Records but his album was not released. Big Kenny Alphin (born Nov. 1, 1963 in Culpepper, VA) had a record deal with Hollywood Records. But his album was not released and the contract cancelled. he formed a group called luvjOi. Alphin and Rich met at a Nashville club and started writing together. When one of their songs She's A Butterfly became a hit for Martina McBride, manager Marc Oswald suggested they start recording together. This led to a contract with Warner Bros. Horse Of A Different Color was their 2004 debut CD. Save A Horse was the second single but it was the first song to get Big & Rich a lot of attention because the music video was much different from the standard country music video. It was the most requested video on CMT for four weeks and the song reached #11 on the Country Singles chart. The album topped the Country Album chart and sold three million copies. Their other two albums have done equally well and they finally topped the Country Singles chart with Lost In This Moment in 2007. Big & Rich have also produced other artists like rapper Cowboy Troy. Rich hosted the CMT series Gone Country and was also a judge on the NBC show Nashville Star. Big & Rich went on hiatus in 2008 so Alphin could recover from a neck injury. Meanwhile, Rich released a solo CD Son Of A Preacher Man in 2009 and Alphin releeased a CD on his own label. Warners released this Greatest Hits comp in 2009. Don't know yet if they will get back together. But you should check them out. Big & Rich are a lot of fun. Here's the video for Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy) by Big & Rich.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Song:Theme From S.W.A.T.
Of course TV themes have always been ripe fodder for pop hits. Sometimes it's the original version. But this discofied version of the theme from the 70s TV show S.W.A.T. was recorded by studio musicians. There was never a group called Rhythm Heritage that you could see perform. But they recorded a few albums and Theme From S.W.A.T. topped the pop charts in 1976. The guys behind the group were ABC Records house producer Steve Barri and session keyboard player and producer Michael Omartian. You might not be familiar with Omartian but he's been around since the 70s and has had numerous #1 hits as a producer. He also has a career as a Contemporary Christian Music singer and his wife Stormie Omartian sings too. Rhythm Heritage would have been very early in his career when he was working for Barri at ABC Records. Barry DeVorzon wrote the theme from S.W.A.T. after he met producer Aaron Spelling at a restaurant and promised him a hit theme. DeVorzon had his own top ten hit in 1976 with Nadia's Theme from the TV soap The Young and the Restless. Disco was getting hot at the time and Barri cooked up the idea of doing disco versions of TV and movie themes. The album Disco-Fied was released in 1976. Theme From S.W.A.T. topped the Billboard Hot 100 in Feb. 1976 and the theme from Baretta was a top 20 hit. Among the musicians who played on the record were guitarists Dean Parks & Ray Parker Jr., percussionist Victor Feldman, sax player Ernie Watts and session singers Orin & Luther Waters. Rhythm Heritage recorded a total of four albums but only three were released. ABC Records was sold to MCA in 1978 and Omartian and Barri went to Warner Bros. That was the end for Rhythm Heritage. You can only get Theme From S.W.A.T. on various artists comps. This comp from Verve has jazz versions of TV and movie themes. It looks very interesting. Here's a clip from a 1976 episode of American Bandstand featuring Theme From S.W.A.T. by Rhythm Heritage.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Song:The Mama Papa
Album:La La Land
Plants and Animals are one of several bands to arise from the indie music hotbed in Montreal. They call their music post-classic rock meaning that they are using modern technology to produce their spin on 70s style rock. They've been nominated for some awards in Canada but haven't broken out of cult status yet. They're pretty good. Lead singer and guitarist Warren Spicer and drummer Matthew "Woody" Woodley are schoolmates from Halifax, NS. Of course the gag in Canada is that musicians from the Maritines have you move to central Canada to be successful. I don't think it's true but these guys moved to Montreal in 2004 and met bassist Nic Basque. They released two EPs independently and then signed with Secret City Records. Secret City is a Montreal based indie label best known as the home for acclaimed singer songwriter Patrick Watson. Plants and Animals 2008 debut CD Parc Avenue was critically acclaimed and shortlisted for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize. This is a Canadian version of the British Mercury Music Prize designed to promote Canadian artists. It is sponsored by Sirius Satellite Radio. Parc Avenue was also nominated for a 2009 Best Alternative Album Juno Award and Plants and Animals was nominated for Best New Band. La La Land was released in Apr. 2010 and The Mama Papa is their first music video. I would describe their music as alt rock with folk undertones. It remains to be seen if Plants and Animals will break through to a larger audience but they have potential and they are constantly touring. Here's the video for The Mama Papa by Plants and Animals.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Today at Shin-kiba 1st Ring, Stardom held a public workout for the media in an attempt to show that their trainees are coming along nicely. Nikkan Sports taped the proceedings which were supervised by Hiroshi Ogawa, Fuuka, Nanae Takahashi and Natsuki*Taiyo. The girls did some pushups and then did some sparring. You'll notice Mika Nagano wasn't there. She was busy doing some promotion for JEWELS. And you'll notice that Eri Susa did not participate in sparring as she is injured. The girl crying in the video is Iwatani. Apparently she was shamed when she lost to World IV Tiger in sparring and wants to wear a mask in the ring. Check out the video for yourself.
Song:The Gremlin Rag
Album:Original Motion Picture Score: Gremlins
Jerry Goldsmith is one of the all time great film composers. You've heard his music in dozens of films since the 60s. His score from the 1984 film Gremlins is a fan favourite but unfortunately it has been treated very poorly by Geffen Records. He was born Feb. 10, 1929 in Los Angeles and studied at the University of Southern California where he was taught by legendary film composer Miklos Rosza. In 1950, he started out as a clerk in the CBS music department and started writing scores for radio and TV including the theme for The Twilight Zone. In 1960, he left CBS for Revue Studios and wrote the theme for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In 1963, he was nominated for his first Oscar for John Huston's film Freud. This got the attention of 20th Century Fox music head Alfred Newman and he hired Goldsmith. Over the years he has scored dozens of films but is particularly known for scoring science fiction films including Planet Of The Apes, Poltergeist and many others. He won his only Oscar for The Omen in 1976. Of course Gremlins was a very popular horror comedy directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Speilberg. Fans love the music but try and find it. Geffen Records released a soundtrack EP that contained very little of Goldsmith's music. It was released on CD in 1993 but is now out of print. The Gremlin Rag is not on the Gremlins 2 soundtrack. The small Mogwai label released an expanded CD of Goldsmith's Gremlins score in 2000 but it appears the record company is kaput and the CD is unavailable. You might find a copy on eBay. Too bad. Jerry Goldsmith continued to score films until his death from colon cancer on July 21, 2004 at age 75. His final film was Looney Tunes: Back In Action in 2003. Here's the trailer for the 1984 film Gremlins.