Sunday, May 31, 2015
Here's the match video of Juliana Lima vs Ericka Almeida from last night's UFC show in Brazil. It aired on UFC Fight Pass so a lot of fans may not have seen it. Well, you may want to skip it. Ericka is a Jungle Fight champ brought in on short notice when Jessica Penne was given a title shot. I watched a couple of her fights. She's aggressive but she just fought six weeks ago. Juliana won her last fight over Nina Ansaroff using the hated lay and pray strategy. At the start of round one, Ericka was unlucky and then she made mistakes that cost her the fight. Ericka took Juliana down but Juliana landed on top. So that was unlucky. But then Ericka makes the mistake of getting out from the bottom but then she allowed Juliana to take top position again. Of course the problem with that is the judges perceive top position as winning. The success of the lay and pray strategy depends on the ref's leniency. Ref Camila Albuquerque warned Juliana a couple of times. But every time she warned her, Juliana threw a couple of punches so the ref wouldn't stand them up and she finally did stand them up near the end of the round. Some refs are less tolerant of lay and pray and most fighters will abandon it if the ref won't allow it. But Juliana used lay and pray to win her last fight. She wasn't even trying to finish. Round two was the same and I don't think Albuquerque even warned Juliana during that round. So Ericka needs a finish in round three but she's tentative because she afraid she'll get taken down again. Juliana can just cruise to a unanimous decision win. I scored it 30-27 for Juliana but a lot of fighters don't understand that a lay and pray win is a cheap win. She shouldn't even go up the rankings for that...but she will. One of the judges scored the fight 30-25 for Juliana which is ridiculous. Ericka and her trainer will watch this fight again and see how dumb she was. And as Juliana goes up the ladder, she may have to find another strategy as she has now won two fights with lay and pray. That should raise a red flag for future opponents. Enjoy the video!
Song:Round and Round
Album:Tell The World: The Very Best Of Ratt
Ratt was a standard hair metal band who were successful in the 80s. Round and Round was their biggest hit in 1984. There's a lot of 70s glam rock in their look but I find their music is fairly pedestrian. I think they were a little lucky to be as successful as they were. The band was originally called Mickey Ratt led by lead singer Stephen Pearcy. They moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1980 and then shortened the name to Ratt. By 1983, the other members of Ratt were Warren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby on guitar, Juan Croucier on bass and Bobby Blotzer on drums. A 1983 EP got them a deal with Atlantic Records and their debut album Out Of The Cellar was produced by Beau Hill who produced similar hard rock bands. The single Round and Round reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified 3XPlatinum. Ratt got a big boost when comedy legend Milton Berle appeared in the Round and Round video and MTV put the video in regular rotation. So they were a little lucky to get in front of teens through the video. Their 1985 album Invasion of Your Privacy wasn't as successful as Out Of The Cellar. But it was certified 2XPlatinum. The single Lay It Down reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their albums continued to decline in sales and they split with Beau Hill after the 1988 album Reach For The Sky. That didn't help and then Crosby went into rehab for drug addiction. He was replaced by Michael Schenker of Scorpions. Remember that though Ratt's album sales declined, they were still a strong concert draw. That's why bands reunite, to get that concert revenue. After appearing on MTV Unplugged in 1992, Ratt split up. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. Ratt reunited in 1996 minus Croucier who owned a recording studio. They toured and released a 1999 album on Sony that didn't sell. Pearcy left in 2000 and Ratt continued with new singer Robert Mason. Crosby died in 2002 from a heroin overdose. Ratt continued to tour and Pearcy toured as Rat Bastards. Ratt reunited again in 2006 and released a new CD in 2010. Then Pearcy left in 2010 and Ratt looked to be through. They reunited again in 2012 with plans to record. But Pearcy left again in 2014 and Ratt seems to be done for good. But one never knows. There's money in touring. They might reunite again. Here's the video for Round and Round by Ratt featuring comedy legend Milton Berle. The girl in the video is model Lisa Dean who was also in the 1988 Michael Jackson video Dirty Diana.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Song:She Ain't Worth It
Teen pop singer Glenn Medeiros topped the charts with She Ain't Worth It in 1990 mostly because of Bobby Brown who was hot at the time. Medeiros was mainly a pop singer so this hip hop oriented song was a bit of a departure for him. He quickly faded and he's now a vice principal in his home state of Hawaii. He was born June 24, 1970 in Lihue, Hawaii. As a child, he would sing on his father's tour bus to entertain his dad's customers. At age 17, Medeiros won a local talent contest singing George Benson's Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You. An album was produced by a local label. An exec from radio station KZZP in Phoenix took it back to the mainland and the song reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. And it got Medeiros a deal with Amherst Records which was owned by Buffalo record distributor Transcontinental. They were the home for the jazz group Spyrogyra for many years. Medeiros' subsequent singles didn't have the same success until Amherst sold Medeiros' contract to MCA and they asked Bobby Brown to help him. She Ain't Worth It topped the Billboard Hot 100 mostly because of Brown's rap on the record. He was a very big star at the time. Brown wrote the song with songwriter Antonina Armato who writes and produces a lot for Disney pop artists. The album was produced mostly by Denny Diante who was a house producer for United Artists in the 70s. He produced Paul Anka and Maxine Nightingale. That was about it for Medeiros. After his duet with Ray Parker Jr. All I'm Missing Is You reached the top 40, he returned to Hawaii. You can get both songs on this budget CD. Medeiros has recorded occasionally and he still performs regularly in a Wakiki hotel. But mostly he is vice principal at Maryknoll Grade School in Hawaii and he has a doctorate in education from University of Southern California. It turns out he's a pretty smart guy. Here's the video for She Ain't Worth It by Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Of course Steve Perry is best known as the lead singer of Journey. But when Journey went on an early 80s hiatus, Perry scored a top five hit in 1984 with Oh Sherrie. He returned to Journey when they reformed in 1986. Perry has only released two solo albums. He was born Jan. 22, 1949 in Hanford, CA and he went to high school in Lemoore, CA. His dad owned local radio station KIGS. Perry bounced around several bands in the 70s until he auditioned and got the lead singer gig for Journey in 1977. When Journey went on hiatus after the 1983 album Frontiers, Perry and Neil Schon both recorded solo. Perry also appeared on the 1982 Kenny Loggins hit Don't Fight It. Perry produced the 1984 album Street Talk with veteran producer Bruce Botnick. The album went 3XPlatinum after Oh Sherrie reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Perry wrote the song for his then girlfriend Sherrie Swafford who appears in the video. His co-writer on several of the album's songs was veteran songwriter Randy Goodrum. Goodrum's biggest hit was the Anne Murray hit You Needed Me. The other co-writers Bill Cuomo and Craig Krampf played on the album. The guitar solo is by veteran session musician Waddy Wachtel. When Journey reformed to record the 1986 album Raised On Radio, Perry's mom was very ill and he was shuttling back and forth. She died during the album's production. It took a lot out of the group and they disbanded after touring. So Perry went to record a second solo album but it was never finished or released. He finally released a second solo album in 1994 and then Journey reunited in 1996. Perry injured his hip hiking but he delayed surgery for two years. The band fired him in 1998. Since then, Perry hasn't recorded but he has surfaced occasionally, most notably when the 2010 San Francisco Giants used Don't Stop Believin' as their theme and Perry appeared several times. He's a big Giants fan. In a 2010 interview, he said he planned to record a new album but that hasn't happened. He had a cancer scare in 2013 and then his girlfriend died of cancer. So it appears that one of the iconic voices of the 80s is semi-retired but at least Street Talk is available as a budget CD. Here's the video for Oh Sherrie by Steve Perry.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Song:Whenever God Shines His Light
Album:The Best Of Van Morrison
You might think that Van Morrison and Cliff Richard seems like an odd duo. But Whenever God Shines His Light was Morrison's biggest hit in England in 20 years when it was released in 1989. Of course it had a lot to do with Richard who in England was as big as Elvis Presley was everywhere else. When Morrison was having hits in the US back in the late 60s and early 70s, most of those songs didn't chart in England. By the mid-80, Morrison wasn't that interested in hit singles. He had become a born again Christian and he also recorded a lot of traditional Irish music. His 1988 album Irish Heartbeat was recorded with The Chieftains. It might seem strange to music fans in North America but Cliff Richard never faded in England even when he became a born again Christian and recorded mostly Contemporary Christian music. The British were very loyal to him. And occasionally he would record a big hit. His Christmas single Mistletoe and Wine topped the British charts for four weeks in 1988. So maybe it wasn't all that strange that Morrison wanted to record with Richard. The album Avalon Sunset was released in June 1989 and Whenever God Shines His Light was released as a single in November to take advantage of the Christmas market. Morrison and Richard also performed the song on several British TV shows. It reached #20 on the British singles chart and as I said, Morrison hadn't had a big hit in England since the 60s. So it turned out very well. The song Have I Told You Lately is also on Avalon Sunset. Later on that song was a big hit for Rod Stewart. Both songs are on this 1990 comp and it's the only Morrison comp that contains Whenever God Shines His Light. It's not as well known as Morrison's earlier hits but it's interesting considering he recorded it with an unlikely partner like Richard. Here's Van Morrison featuring Cliff Richard performing Whenever God Shines His Light on The Wogan Show Dec. 1989.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Song:That's What Love Is
Album:The Very Best Of
Alicia Michelle "Miki" Howard is an outstanding singer who had seven top five R & B hits from 1986-92 including two number one hits. She didn't cross over to pop. This duet with Gerald Levert That's What Love Is was a top five R & B hit in 1988. She was born Sept. 30, 1960 in Chicago. Her parents were Josephine Howard of The Caravans and Clay Graham of The Pilgrim Jubilees so she grew up in the music business. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1969 when her mom was in one of James Cleveland's choirs. Along with all of the gospel singers she knew, Miki acknowledges jazz legend Billie Holiday as a major influence. In 1976, Miki was performing at a teen beauty pageant when she met Augie Johnson, leader of the group Side Effects. Eventually she was made lead singer of the group. They weren't all that successful but Miki had two sons with Johnson. When he refused to marry her, she left him and Side Effect in 1985. She scored a record deal with Atlantic Records and her first single Come Share My Love reached #5 on the R & B Singles chart. Then she began a relationship with Gerald Levert and he produced several songs on her 1987 album Love Confessions including the duet That's What Love Is. Miki wrote the song with Levert and his frequent songwriting partner Marc Gordon. Their on again off again relationship continued until Levert's 2006 death. Miki married Eddie Phelps in 1989. They had a daughter but his arguments with Atlantic got her moved to Giant Records for the 1992 album Femme Fatale. She had number one R & B hits with Ain't Nuthin' In The World in 1989 and Ain't Nobody Like You in 1992. She also played Billie Holiday in Spike Lee's 1992 film Malcolm X. But she also became a crack addict and Giant dropped her. She kicked the drug habit in 2000. In recent years, she has recorded occasionally and she was featured in a 2010 episode of TV One's Unsung series. She has released a new single Panther featuring rapper Too Short but the album hasn't been released yet. Want to feel old? Miki Howard is a grandmother. You can get all her hits on this Rhino budget comp. Here's the video for That's What Love Is by Miki Howard featuring Gerald Levert.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Song:On The Beat
Album:Disco Hits: We Are Family
On The Line was a big dance hit for B.B. & Q. Band in 1981. They started out as a studio band that turned into a real band after On The Line was a hit. Though B.B. & Q. stands for Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens, the guys behind B. B. & Q. were Italian producers Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi. Their studio band Change topped the dance charts in 1980. When that was successful, they decided to launch a second band. The concept was the same. Malavasi wrote and arranged the songs with Italian musicians. Then they brought over New York studio musicians like bassist Paris "Pee Wee" Ford, guitarist Doc Powell and drummer Terry Silverlight to give the backing tracks a more New York sound. They brought in Brit Paul Slade to write English lyrics. He also worked for the same producers on Change. he recorded as a solo artist in the early 70s. Then they auditioned singers in New York to lay down the vocal tracks. The lead singer of On The Line was Ike Floyd who was usually a background singer. Other singers included Bobby Douglas, Gordon Grody, Diva Gray, Fonzi Thornton, Luther Vandross and Robin Clark. The 1981 album The Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band was released on Capitol Records. On The line reached #3 on the Dance Music chart. What Petrus did differently from Change is he tried to turn B.B. & Q. Band into a real band. Kevin Robinson of Kinky Fox replaced Floyd as lead singer and Kevin Nance and Tony Bridges were among those hired to make them a real band. B.B. & Q. Band recorded three albums for Capitol and one for Elektra after Petrus and Malavasi split up. But they were unable to follow the success of On The Line and B.B. & Q. Band disbanded in 1986. You can get On The Line on this Rhino various artists budget comp. B.B. & Q. Band reunites occasionally mostly to tour Europe. The IRS came after Petrus in 1986 for tax evasion. Then he was mysteriously murdered in 1987. Here's B.B. & Q. Band performing On The Line in France 2003.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Song:The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done To Me)
Album:His All Time Golden Classics
Ronnie Dyson started out on Broadway and had success mostly on the R & B charts in the 70s. He faded in the 80s and died in 1990. He was born June 5, 1950 in Washington, DC and grew up in Brooklyn, NY singing in church choirs. His big break came when he won one of the leads in the 1968 Broadway production of Hair. He was the lead singer of Aquarius. He also appeared in the 1969 film Putney Swope. Then he appeared in the 1969 off-Broadway musical Salvation. The show was not as successful as Hair but there was a cast album. Dyson signed with Columbia Records and his recording of a song from Salvation (If You Let Me Make Love To You) Why Can't I Touch You reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. This would turn out to be Dyson's biggest hit but there's no video clip of him performing it. In 1973, Columbia sent Dyson to Philadelphia to work with legendary producer Thom Bell. He had success on the R & B charts with songs like One Man Band (Plays It All Alone). Then they sent him to Chicago to work with producers Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy. Not to be confused with legendary 60s singer Chuck Jackson (Any Day Now), this Chuck Jackson was lead singer of The Independents and is Jesse Jackson's half brother. Yancy was also in The Independents and at the time was producing music for his wife Natalie Cole. The More You Do It reached #6 on the R & B Singles chart in 1976 and it was Dyson's second biggest hit. Of course a soul singer like Dyson wasn't going to survive the onslaught of disco. He left Columbia in 1977 and recorded a couple of albums for the Atlantic label Cotillion Records in the early 80s. He had modest success but Dyson was already having health problems that forced him into semi-retirement and he died of a heart attack on Nov. 10, 1990 at age 40. You can get all his Columbia hits on this Collectables comp. Here's Ronnie Dyson performing The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done To Me) on Soul Train 1976.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Song:Come By Me
Album:Come By Me
These days Harry Connick Jr.'s most high profile gig is as a judge on the fading American Idol. That show is mainly aimed at kids who may not be familiar with Connick's career as a jazz artist. This 1999 album marked Connick's return to the big band sound he enjoys so much. And there's an orchestra on it as well. The song Come By Me is one he still performs as he did last year on American Idol. In the late 90s, Connick had been with Columbia Records for over a decade. And his albums always did well in the Jazz and Adult Contemporary markets. So label brass left him alone and let him record whatever he wanted. He was also acting in movies. His 1994 funk album she was certified Platinum and then he took time to appear in films like Independence Day and Hope Floats. But Connick always returned to music. He had previously recorded with a big band for the 1991 album Blue Light, Red Light which was very successful. So he returned to big band music for the 1999 album Come By Me and he formed a big band for touring. Five of the songs including Come By Me are original songs and the rest are standards. Key musicians in the big band included Charnett Moffett on bass and Arthur Latin on drums. Connick played piano himself and there was a huge horn section. The album was very successful. It topped the jazz charts, was certified Gold and was nominated for a Grammy. It's available as a budget CD. Connick wouldn't record again for two years as he wrote the score for the Broadway musical Thou Shalt Not and starred with Glenn Close in the ABC TV production of the musical South Pacific. It just shows how versatile he is. Here's the video for Come By Me by Harry Connick Jr.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Song:In My Bed
Dru Hill had brief success in the 90s that was curtailed when Sisqo went solo with The Thong Song. That caused problems with the group and the record company. In My Bed was one of their three top ten pop hits and number one R & B hits. Dru Hill were from Baltimore. Mark "Sisqo" Andrews and James "Woody Rock" Green were friends in middle school. Tamir "Nokio" Ruffin suggested they form a group. The other two members were Bravette Fleet and Chris Thomas and they were called 14K Harmony. They started out performing gospel music and a proposed deal with Elektra fell through when Green's mother pulled him from the group when they started performing secular music. She allowed him back in. But by then, Fleet and Thomas left and Ruffin brought in Larry "Jazz" Anthony. They renamed themselves Legacy and Island Black Music president Hiram Hicks saw them and suggested the name change to Dru Hill after Baltimore's Druid Hill Park. In My Bed was the second single from their 1996 debut CD Dru Hill. It topped the R & B Singles chart and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sisqo sings lead. It was written and produced by Daryl Simmons who had just split with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds after a long partnership going back to Manchild in the 70s. Raphael Brown of Next and Ralph Stacy were co-writers. There is also a remix featuring Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat. The album was certified Platinum. Never Make A Promise was their other #1 R & B hit from that album. Then Dru Hill scored a #2 R & B hit with We're Not Making Love No More from the film Soul Food. Their 1998 album Enter The Dru did even better when the single How Deep Is Your Love topped the R & B Singles chart and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was from the film Rush Hour. The album was certified 2XPlatinum. Things started to fall apart when Woody Rock left in 1999 to return to gospel music. He recorded for Gospocentric Records. Island attempted to keep Dru Hill together and there were plans to record a new album. At the time, Island had merged with Def Jam and the new management wasn't as loyal to Dru Hill as previous management. So Sisqo went solo and had a huge hit with Thong Song and the Dru Hill album was put on hold. Dru Hill returned to the studio in 2000 but tension over Sisqo's success forced a split and more delays. Sisqo recorded a second solo album. It didn't do as well as his first album and Ruffin reformed Dru Hill with Sisqo and new member Rufus "Scola" Waller. The CD Dru World Order was released in 2002 but it didn't perform as well as previous albums and Dru Hill was dropped. You can get all their hits on this budget comp. Dru Hill reformed to tour in 2008. But during an interview to promote the tour, Woody Rock announced he was leaving for the ministry and Sisqo walked out. Sisqo returned for the 2010 CD InDRUpendence Day which included a reality show on Centric. Dru Hill is currently on a 90s R & B nostalgia tour with Immature and Next and they are planning to record a new album. Here's the video for In My Bed by Dru Hill.
Friday, May 22, 2015
The Deele is best known as the group that brought Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Antonio "L.A." Reid together and of course they went on to build a music empire at LaFace Records. The Deele had success in the 80s mostly on the R & B charts. Two Occasions was their only top ten pop hit in 1988. The Deele were from Cincinnati. They came out of the group Pure Essence who recorded one album in 1976 but had mainly regional success. After some personnel changes, Pure Essence moved to Indianapolis and renamed themselves Essence. But they soon split up and Essence drummer Antonio "L.A." Reid, bassist Kevin "Kayo" Roberson and guitarist Steve "Tuck" Walters formed a new group with lead singer Carlos "Satin" Greene, singer/percussionist Darnell "Dee" Bristol and guitarist/keyboardist Stanley "Stick" Burke. Soon after, Walters was replaced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds who was the leader of the group Manchild. The Deele signed with Dick Griffey's SOLAR label which was a spinoff of the Soul Train TV show. They had success in the early 80s with groups like Midnight Star and The Whispers. The Deele's debut album Street Beat was released in 1983 and the single Body Talk reached #3 on the R & B Singles chart. Burke left and most of the songs on the 1985 album Material Thangz were written by Babyface and produced by Reid. It wasn't as successful as the first album and the single Material Thangz didn't crack the R & B top ten. After Babyface recorded a solo album, The Deele regrouped for the 1987 album Eyes of a Stranger. Two Occasions reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would turn out to be The Deele's biggest hit. The song was written by Babyface, Bristol and Sid Johnson who worked with Babyface in Manchild. Babyface, Bristol and Greene trade lead vocals. By this time, Reid and Babyface had started producing other artists like Pebbles and this led to the formation of LaFace Records and the end of The Deele. You can get all their hits on this comp from the Canadian label Unidisc. Roberson also worked for LaFace as a studio bassist. Greene and Bristol recorded as The Deele in 1993 and then they reunited in 2007. They released a couple of singles but I don't think The Deele is active anymore. Here's the video for Two Occasions by The Deele.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
|Holly Holm, Marion Reneau|
Song:Only In My Dreams
Only In My Dreams was the debut single for teenage singer songwriter Debbie Gibson in 1987. She had five top five hits in the late 80s including two number one hits. Though her music was clearly aimed at the teen market, what separated Debbie was she wrote her own songs. When her pop music career faded, Debbie turned to the Broadway stage among other things. She was born Aug. 31, 1970 in Brooklyn, NY and she grew up in the Long Island suburb of Merrick. She took piano lessons and began writing songs at age eight. At age 12, she won a songwriting contest and signed a management contract with Doug Breithart who taught her to produce her own music. This led to a contract with Atlantic Records. Before recording her, they had her play local clubs and told her to keep writing songs. At first, Only In My Dreams was only released to radio stations as a promo. Stations liked it so much that it started climbing the Billboard Hot 100. Atlantic hired producer Fred Zarr to quickly record the album Out Of The Blue so Atlantic could strike while the iron was hot. Zarr had previously worked with producer Jacques Morali on Village People albums. Only In My Dreams reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 followed by three more top five hits including her first number one hit Foolish Beat. Out Of The Blue was certified 3XPlatinum. Keep in mind that Debbie was 17 years old when she wrote and co-produced the album. The music was too sugary sweet for me but that was done deliberately so kids and their parents would like it. I didn't like her voice either. Could they sustain this success? The first single from Debbie's 1989 album Electric Youth Lost In Your Eyes was Debbie's second number one hit. But it was also her final top ten hit. I guess I thought she had a longer run than that probably because pop radio and MTV/MuchMusic overplayed her. Her next two albums for Atlantic didn't do well and she left for EMI's SBK label for the 1995 album Think With Your Heart. This was aimed at the Adult Contemporary market featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She was billed as Deborah Gibson. So by the time she became an adult, Debbie wasn't a star anymore and she turned to stage musicals. You can get all her hits on this comp. Her most recent album Ms. Vocalist was released in Japan only in 2010. She has recorded for small labels since the late 90s. Debbie has appeared on Broadway, London and touring companies in revivals of Grease, Funny Girl and Gypsy and other musicals. Most recently she starred in the UPTV movie The Music In Me. So Debbie Gibson is a long way from her teen stardom days. Here's the video for Only In My Dreams by Debbie Gibson. The sax solo is by Jeff Smith.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Album:The Best Of The Knack
Sometimes when a debut single like My Sharona becomes a massive hit, it can be a blessing or a curse. It was a curse for The Knack as they were never able to live up to that auspicious start. And though there was a negative backlash and criticism, they were a decent power pop band. Lead singer Doug Fieger was from the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, MI. His band Sky recorded two albums for RCA in the early 70s that went nowhere. Fieger moved to Los Angeles and met guitarist Berton Averre and The Knack was formed with bassist Prescott Niles and drummer Bruce Gary who was a successful session musician. Fieger wrote My Sharona about his real girlfriend. It was built around an Averre guitar riff and though Gary hated the song, his stuttering drum riff was a big part of the song's success. My Sharona was clearly based on 60s power pop like The Who's My Generation. The Knack signed with Capitol Records and the 1979 debut album Get The Knack was produced by Mike Chapman who had just finished producing the Blondie album Parallel Lines but he also produced Suzi Quatro and Sweet. So The Knack was right in his wheelhouse. My Sharona was a worldwide hit to the point where people got tired of it. And the album was certified 2XPlatinum. But then the backlash started and The Knack were accused of ripping off The Beatles. Once the second single Good Girls Don't reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, The Knack recorded their second album ...But The Little Girls Understand. Though it was certified Gold, it was a disappointment compared to the first album and there was no real hit single. They took a break after touring and then recorded their third album Round Trip. But by Dec. 1981, The Knack weren't getting along and Fieger left the band. The Knack split up in 1982. This budget comp covers their Capitol albums. Bruce Gary returned to session work so he was not part of the 1990 reunion. They recorded the album Serious Fun for Charisma Records in 1991. They also recorded the 1998 album Zoom for Rhino Records with Terry Bozzio of Missing Persons on drums. The Knack continued to tour and record until Fieger got sick and eventually died in 2010. Bruce Gary died in 2006. Here's the video for My Sharona by The Knack.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Song:Straight To The Heart
Sax player David Sanborn started out as a sideman and session musician and became a big jazz crossover star in the 80s. A lot of this was because he seemed to appear on TV a lot. Straight To The Heart is from his 1981 album As We Speak which topped the jazz charts. He was born July 30, 1945 in Tampa, FL but he grew up in Kirkwood, MO. He suffered from polio as a child and his doctor suggested he take up the sax to improve his health. I guess the rest is history. Hank Crawford was Sanborn's biggest childhood influence and Crawford was an R & B influenced musician. As a teen, he moved to California and joined The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He also studied with free jazz pioneer Julius Hemphill. By the early 70s, Sanborn moved to Los Angeles and settled into session work. Most fans should recall his sax solo on David Bowie's Young Americans. But he also played with Gil Evans and he was an original member of The Brecker Bros. Band. Sanborn signed with Warner Bros. and released his debut album Taking Off in 1975. His 1979 album Hideaway reached #2 on the jazz chart and the single crossed over to R & B. The 1980 album Voyeur was his first number one jazz album. That album won him a Grammy. Straight To The Heart is from the 1981 album As We Speak which topped the jazz chart. The song was written by bassist Marcus Miller who also played on the album. Other musicians were Don Freeman on keyboards, Michael Sembello on guitar, Omar Hakim on drums and Paulinho Da Costa on percussion. The song also appears on the 1984 album Straight To The Heart which featured The Brecker Bros. and Jon Faddis on horns. The 1981 recording is on this 1995 budget comp that I suggest as an intro to Sanborn's music. By the late 80s, Sanborn was host of the NBC show Night Music and he appeared regularly on Late Night with David Letterman. He also got into film music and worked on the Lethal Weapon movies. Sanborn recorded for Warners and then Elektra until 1999. He has since recorded for Verve, EmArcy and her currently records for Sony's Okeh label. His latest CD Time and the River was released Apr. 2015 and it reunites him with Marcus Miller. He will tour this summer to support the album. Here's David Sanborn with Larry Willis on keyboards, Hiram Bullock on guitar, Tom Barney on bass and Buddy Williams on drums performing Straight To The Heart at the 1984 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Album:The Chronological Floyd Jones 1948-1953
Floyd Jones was a Chicago blues pioneer who played with all the greats and wrote some great songs. But he never had the commercial success of guys like Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters. Dark Road was probably his most successful song as it was turned into the Canned Heat classic On The Road again. He was born July 21, 1917 in Marianna, AR. Chester "Howlin' Wolf" Burnett gave Jones a guitar and they traveled the south with Walter Horton in the 30s. They all moved to Chicago in the 40s and Jones recorded for Marvel, J.O.B. and Chess from 1948-53. This CD covers those recordings. Dark Road was recorded in 1952 for Chess with Little Walter on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar and Willie Coven on drums. In 1968, Canned Heat lead singer Alan Wilson turned Dark Road into On The Road Again and he gave Jones a songwriting credit. Both songs are based on the 1928 Tommy Johnson song Big Road Blues. Jones made it moodier than it already was. Some of Jones' other songs like Stockyard Blues were recorded by others. So he was part of the origin of Chicago blues with guys like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf but Jones didn't record enough to have the same commercial success. Jones continued to play local clubs and he recorded with Eddie Taylor in 1966 for Testament Records. But he never got his due credit and he died on Dec. 19, 1989 at age 72. Here's a video for Dark Road by Floyd Jones.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Pianist Joe Sample was best known as one of the founders of The Crusaders. But Sample also recorded solo albums beginning in the late 70s and continued that until his 2014 death. Sample was born Feb. 1, 1939 in Houston. He began playing piano at age five. The formation of what would eventually become The Crusaders came out of his high school band The Swingsters with Wilton Felder on sax and Nesbert "Stix" Hooper on drums. Then the band added Wayne Henderson on trombone. Eventually they called themselves The Jazz Crusaders and moved to Los Angeles in 1960. They became The Crusaders in 1971 and were very successful in the 70s. By the mid-70s, the individual members started to record solo. Sample got into the Los Angeles studio scene and appeared on recordings by Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye and others. Then he signed with Blue Thumb/ABC and released the album Rainbow Seeker in 1978. Carmel was released in 1979. The musicians are Dean Parks on guitar, Abraham Laboriel on bass, Stix Hooper on drums and Paulinho Da Costa on percussion. The other members of The Crusaders also recorded solo. But I think it's fair to say that Sample had the most success. When ABC was swallowed by MCA Records, Sample remained on MCA until he left for Warner Bros. in 1989. The Crusaders split up in 1987. This comp released by GRP in 1991 covers Sample's Blue Thumb and MCA albums. Sample continued to record and tour frequently with singer Randy Crawford until his death on Sept. 12, 2014 at age 75. Here's Joe Sample with Mike Manson on bass, Buddy Williams on drums and Lenny Castro on percussion performing Carmel at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery near Seattle.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Song:Break Every Chain
The anthemic Break Every Chain blew up the gospel chart in 2013 and turned Tasha Cobbs into a star. I expect her next CD to be huge in that market. She was born July 7, 1981 in Jesup, GA the daughter of Bishop Fritz Cobbs, the leader of Jesup New Life Ministries. Tasha grew up singing in her dad's church and also helped him run it when she became a minister. In 2006, she joined the staff of dReam Center Church in Atlanta led by William Murphy III and she also toured with him. She released the CD Smile in 2010 and that got the attention of EMI Gospel and gospel artist VaShawn Mitchell who produced the 2013 CD Grace recorded live at the Northview Christian Church in Montgomery, AL. The single Break Every Chain was released Nov. 2012. Normally what the label would do is let the single run its course and release the full album later. But the demand for Break Every Chain was so big, they were forced to release an EP until the full album was released in June 2013. The guest singer on Break Every Chain is Timiney Figueroa-Caton, best known for her vocal on the Hezekiah Walker classic Calling My Name. She's mainly a backup singer. Break Every Chain was written by Will Reagan and recorded by the group United Pursuit which is a praise and worship group similar to the very popular group Hillsong. It's not my kind of music but the songs are easily adapted for black gospel. And there is a demand for anthems in the black church and Break Every Chain really hit the spot. Tasha has won Grammy and Stellar awards. EMI Gospel is now Motown Gospel, like the name Motown means something in gospel music which it doesn't. Tasha Cobbs recorded a new CD last fall but I don't know when it will be released. In the meantime, Grace is available as a budget CD. Here's Tasha Cobbs performing Break Every Chain on the 2014 Stellar Awards broadcast.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Album:Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy
Anthony Brown started out as a songwriter, producer and vocal arranger. His 2012 debut CD Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy has been at the top of the gospel charts since its release and he has a new CD coming soon. I think it's fair to say that Brown's music is similar to other gospel acts heavily influenced by Kirk Franklin and Donald Lawrence. He's not trying to reinvent the wheel. He was born Oct. 22, 1981 in Baltimore. Like a lot of gospel artists, Brown is a Preacher's Kid (PK). His father is Bishop Heber M. Brown Jr. He attended Morgan State University in Maryland and cites Donald Lawrence and Richard Smallwood as influences. Smallwood is from Washington, DC so he has a regional connection to Brown. Brown got his big break when he was vocal director at the 2006 BET Celebration Of Gospel and then he wrote the 2006 Maurette Brown Clark hit It Ain't Over. He is worship leader and music director at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, MD. So naturally he formed his own group with Justin Savage from Joe Pace's choir. Brown also became friends with VaShawn Mitchell and this got him a record deal with Dr. Leonard Scott's Tyscot label. Testimony was the first single and the album Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy has done well on the gospel charts since its release. Brown released a new single Worth in April 2015. A release date for the album Worth has not been announced but is expected in the next couple of months. Gospel fans should enjoy Brown's music and his CD is available as a budget release. Here's the video for Testimony by Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Song:All I Do Is Think Of You
The R & B group Troop is probably best known for their appearance on the New Jack City soundtrack performing For The Love Of Money with Queen Latifah and LeVert. But they had a few of their own hits including the number one R & B hit All I Do Is Think Of You in 1990. Troop was from Pasadena, CA consisting of childhood pals Steve Russell, Allen McNeil, John Harreld and Rodney Benford. They won the TV talent show Puttin' On The Hits and got a record deal with Atlantic Records. They worked with various producers but it appears their primary producer was Chuckii Booker who was also on Atlantic at the time. Their debut album Troop was released in 1988 and the single Mamacita reached #2 on the R & B Singles chart. Troop's second album Attitude was released in 1989 and turned out to be their most successful album. It was certified Gold. Spread My Wings was their first R & B chart topper followed by All I Do Is Think Of You which also crossed over to pop. It's a standard slow jam similar to other groups from the same era. All I Do Is Think Of You was recorded by the Jackson 5 in 1975 on their final Motown album. The song was written by Brian Holland of Holland-Dozier Holland and Michael Lovesmith who was a writer and producer for HDH at the time. Lovesmith recorded three solo albums in the 80s. Troop's third album Deepa was released in 1992 and the single Sweet November was their final R & B chart topper. They recorded two more albums before splitting up in 1998. They reformed minus McNeil in 2004 and they tour. They were supposed to release a new CD last year but that didn't happen. Steve Russell has written hits for others like No Air and Allen McNeil has released a solo album and is trying acting. Here's the video for All I Do Is Think Of You by Troop.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
|Juliana Lima, Ericka Almeida|
Song:Beautiful In My Eyes
Album:Painted Desert Serenade
Singer songwriter Joshua Kadison had very brief success in the early 90s with hits like Jessie and Beautiful In My Eyes which has become a big wedding song. He faded quickly but is still popular in Germany. His music is a little schmaltzy for me. He was born Feb. 8, 1963 in Los Angeles. His father Ellis Kadison wrote TV shows like Hawaiian Eye and wrote and produced the Hawaiian Eye knockoff series Follow The Sun. His mom Gloria Castillo appeared mostly in B movies but you may have seen her in the 1955 film Night Of The Hunter. Kadison began playing piano and writing songs as a child influenced by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter and Elton John. After his mom died in 1978, Kadison moved to Nashville to get into the music business. After several years on the fringe of the music scene, he signed with SBK/Capitol in 1993. His 1993 debut album Painted Desert Serenade was produced by Brits Rod Argent (The Zombies, Argent) and Mike + The Mechanics drummer Peter Van Hooke. His first single Jessie was written after he split up with actress Sarah Jessica Parker. It reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100. Beautiful In My Eyes did even better and reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. And as I said, it has become a big wedding song. Both songs did well in Europe. Kadison's second album Delilah Blue didn't do as well and Capitol dropped him. In 1998, Kadison sold a new EP from his website and found that he had a big following in Germany. He signed with EMI Europe and after that concentrated on touring Germany and other European countries. He last recorded and toured in 2008 and doesn't appear to be active. Painted Desert Serenade is available as a budget CD. Here's the video for Beautiful In My Eyes by Joshua Kadison.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Song:Ebony & Ivory
Album:All The Best
For most of his post-Beatles career, Paul McCartney has been constantly criticized for writing and recording some of the sappiest pop songs in history. He has occasionally taken this criticism to heart and responded with hard edged rock like Band on the Run. But I guess he prefers sweet songs and there's no question that Ebony & Ivory is one of his most saccharin efforts. But it was also one of his biggest hits. It was a worldwide chart topper in 1982. After McCartney disbanded Wings in 1981, he asked famed Beatles producer George Martin to produce his next album which would be titled Tug Of War. Key musicians on the album were Denny Laine from Wings and Eric Stewart of 10cc. It was during the recording of these sessions that John Lennon was murdered. So they took a couple of months off and resumed the sessions in Feb. 1981 at AIR Studios in Montserrat. Ringo Starr, Carl Perkins and Stanley Clarke were among those who recorded with McCartney. And he recorded two duets with Stevie Wonder including Ebony & Ivory. George Martin says McCartney was inspired by the Spike Milligan quote "black notes, white notes, and you need to play the two to make harmony". Though Ebony & Ivory was a massive hit and it drove the success of Tug Of War, it was widely criticized as saccharin and heavy handed. It seems to turn up on a lot of worst song lists. And the song was parodied on Saturday Night Live by Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy. But Ebony & Ivory topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and it had the longest chart run of McCartney's solo career. Maybe it's one of those songs that folks got caught up in at the time but they now sneer at it and wonder why they liked it in the first place. I never liked the song but McCartney was so pleased with the Tug Of War sessions that he used some of the recordings on his next album Pipes of Peace. I guess that makes Paul McCartney a sentimental sap. You can get Ebony & Ivory on this McCartney comp and it also appears on Stevie Wonder comps. Here's the video for Ebony & Ivory by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Album:The Essence of Melissa Manchester
Singer songwriter Melissa Manchester rode on the coattails of Carole King and Carly Simon to have success in the 70s and 80s. Midnight Blue was one of her three top ten pop hits in 1975. Most of her success was on Adult Oriented Radio. She was born Feb. 15, 1951 in The Bronx, NY. Her father was a bassoonist for the New York Metropolitan Opera and her mom owned a dress shop. Melissa studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music and she was a staff songwriter at Warner Chappell Music while attending high school at the High School of Performing Arts. She studied songwriting with Paul Simon at New York University. Then in 1971 Melissa was spotted in a club by Barry Manilow and he hired her as one of Bette Midler's backup singers. When Manilow signed with Bell Records, he suggested they sign Melissa as well. Her 1973 debut album Home To Myself was produced by veteran Cameo-Parkway producer Dave Appell. Melissa wrote most of the songs with Carole Bayer Sager. Midnight Blue is from her third album Melissa released in 1975. By this time, Clive Davis bought Bell Records and started Arista. Vini Poncia was Melissa's new producer. He had recent success with Ringo Starr. Midnight Blue reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the AOR chart. She continued to have success in AOR. Her second top ten pop hit was Don't Cry Out Loud in 1980. She also recorded songs for the films Ice Castle and Norma Rae and she appeared in the daytime soap Search For Tomorrow. Melissa's final top ten hit was You Should Hear How She Talks About You in 1982 which won her a Best Pop Vocal Performance Grammy. She left Arista and recorded the 1985 album Mathematics for MCA. You can get all her Arista hits on this budget comp. Melissa wouldn't record another album for the next decade though she did appear on the sitcom Blossom and she recorded for films like Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland in 1992. Melissa is currently a professor at USC Thornton School Of Music in Los Angeles. She raised funds for her new CD You Gotta Love The Life through Indiegogo and it includes guest appearances by Keb' Mo', Al Jarreau, Dionne Warwick and Joe Sample, Dave Koz and Stevie Wonder. She is touring to support the album. Here's Melissa Manchester performing Midnight Blue on the Midnight Special 1975.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Here's the match video of Alex Chambers vs Kailin Curran from last night's UFC show in Australia. It was on UFC Fight Pass and I know a lot of fans didn't see it. Alex was on TUF and she looked terrible when she lost to Aisling Daly on the TUF Finale. She's 36 years old which always sends up a red flag for me. And on the show, she talked about how her parents are unhappy with her choice to fight especially since she could make a good living as an astro physicist. She trained in Japan with Megumi Fujii so I know she has a decent ground game. But her striking is terrible and I think a knee injury she had a few years ago still hampers her mobility. Kailin is from Hawaii but now trains at Reign in California. She just seemed green to me when she lost her first UFC fight to Paige VanZant. She's young so she has time but I don't think she belongs in the UFC. Her manager and trainer is Ryan Parsons. He was a consultant on the film Here Comes The Boom. The first two rounds tell us that Alex is a terrible striker. Kailin is quicker and Alex is gassed by the end of round one. Things don't improve in round two and if Kailin punched harder, she could have finished this fight. This included some ground and pound during the second half of the round. She just doesn't punch hard enough to get a stoppage. This was going to continue in round three as long as Kailin kept the fight standing. But her trainer Ryan Parsons tells her to go for a double leg takedown. He was criticized for this afterwards but he wanted Kailin to take Alex down and pound her some more. Instead, Alex caught Kailin in a kimura from bottom position. She needed to adjust her position to apply it properly. So Kailin got out of it but fell right into an armbar and she tapped out. It was a great comeback win for Alex. I don't blame Parsons. Kailin didn't do what he wanted her to do. I'm sure he knows she has no business grappling with anyone. She needs to work on that just as Alex needs to work on her striking. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Bec Rawlings vs Lisa Ward from last night's UFC show in Australia. This show was on UFC Fight Pass so I know a lot of fans didn't see the fight. Ham Seo Hee was supposed to be Bec's original opponent. But she dropped out due to injury and Lisa stepped in. Neither fighter was impressive in the TUF house. And both lost on the TUF finale. Lisa is a veteran who is probably undersized for 115lb. To win this fight, Bec will want to use her size advantage and better striking to wear Lisa down. But Lisa gets a takedown and and transitions to an armbar. If she gets the armbar, she wins the fight. But she's not able to and from there, Bec uses her size to take over. Bec starts to hammer Lisa and wore her out by the end of round one. She wore her down enough to get Lisa in a rear naked choke and it's over. Sometimes it's all or nothing in MMA. Lisa tried to get it all with the armbar. When it failed, she got nothing. Time for her to retire? Enjoy the video!
Song:Boogie Woogie on the St. Louis Blues
Earl "Fatha" Hines was a pioneer of jazz piano who also changed with the times when he needed to. These recordings are from the early 40s when bebop was emerging. Hines was born Dec. 28, 1903 in the Pittsburgh suburb of Duquesne, PA. His father played cornet and led a local band. His mother was church organist. Hines studied classical piano and left home at age 17. He first recorded with Lois Deppe in 1921 and he met Louis Armstrong when he moved to Chicago in 1925. Hines replaced Lil Hardin in Armstrong's Hot Five. Hines started a big band in the 30s and continued in the 40s. By the early 40s, there were two issues, WWII and the emergence of bebop. But Hines adapted very well and embraced the new music instead of resisting it. Hines first recorded Boogie Woogie on the St. Louis Blues in the 30s and it remained part of his repertoire for years. The song is Hines' riff on the WC Handy classic St. Louis Blues. You can get Hines' 40s version on this CD. The two who helped Hines modernize in the 40s were singer Billy Eckstine and sax player Budd Johnson. Others on this CD include singer Betty Roche, Paul Baron, Big Sid Catlett, Bob Crowder, Wardell Gray, Johnny Hodges, Jo Jones, Ray Nance, Oscar Pettiford and Flip Phillips. Hines closed his band in 1948 and joined Louis Armstrong and his All Stars until 1951. Hines was set to retire when he was rediscovered in the 60s and toured and recorded constantly until his death on Apr. 23, 1983 at age 79. He's a true pioneer of jazz. Here's Earl Hines performing Boogie Woogie on the St. Louis Blues in France 1965.
Saturday, May 09, 2015
Song:Baby I'm Scared Of You
Album:Strange & Funny (The Best Of 1984-1993)
The husband and wife duo Womack & Womack first had success as songwriters and then had modest success on the R & B charts and in England in the 80s. Baby I'm Scared Of You was their biggest US hit in 1984. So are they related to soul legend Bobby Womack? Correct! Cecil Womack was Bobby's brother. He was a member of The Valentinos. Sam Cooke managed The Valentinos. Linda Womack is Sam Cooke's daughter. So they knew each other when they were kids. Cecil married Motown legend Mary Wells in 1967 and wrote some of her post Motown hits including The Doctor. Linda co-wrote the 1972 Bobby Womack hit Woman's Gotta Have It. Bobby married Sam Cooke's widow so he was Linda's stepfather. After divorcing Mary Wells in 1977, Cecil and Linda married soon after. The duo wrote several songs together. Their biggest songwriting hit was the Teddy Pendergrass hit Love TKO. Then they started performing as Womack & Womack and they signed with Elektra Records and veteran producer Stewart Levine. Baby I'm Scared Of You was the third single and it was a top 30 R & B hit. Their second album for Elektra didn't do as well and they left for Capitol's Manhattan label. Their 1986 album Starbright was barely released and they moved to Island's 4th & Broadway label. The 1988 album Conscience did better and the single Teardrops reached #3 on the British charts. After the 1991 album Family Spirit on RCA, Womack & Womack moved to Nigeria and discovered ancestral ties to the Zekkariyas tribe, they adopted African names and abandoned the Womack & Womack name and recorded as ZEK. You can get all of Womack & Womack's 80s hits on this comp from the Aussie label Raven. ZEK last recorded in 2004 and Cecil Womack died in 2013. I think Womack & Womack bounced around too many record labels to have sustained success but they are certainly worth checking out. Here's the video for Baby I'm Scared Of You by Womack & Womack.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Album:Love and Rockets: Expanded Edition
The 1989 top five hit So Alive was the biggest hit for the British group Love and Rockets. The band was formed out of the ashes of the popular goth group Bauhaus, best known for the hit Bela Lugosi's Dead. Bauhaus split up in 1983 when lead singer Peter Murphy went solo. Guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins formed the group Tones On Tail. Bassist David J (Haskins) was planning a solo career when there was talk about reforming Bauhaus. But when Murphy didn't show for a rehearsal, the other three formed Love and Rockets after the popular comic book by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. The band's sound was more psychedelic influenced than the dark sound of Bauhaus. They signed with Beggar's Banquet in England and RCA in the US. So Alive is from the 1989 album Love and Rockets, their fourth album. The song reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Beggar's Banquet released an expanded 2CD edition of Love and Rockets in 2002. Burned out by touring, Love and Rockets took a break and returned with the 1994 CD Hot Trip To Heaven. It was more electronic than earlier albums. RCA didn't like it and dropped them. They signed with American Recordings. While recording the 1996 album Sweet F.A., a fire broke out in the recording studio and Love and Rockets lost all their gear. The band's legal battle with American and their insurance company forced them to leave the label and release the 1998 album Lift on Red Ant Records. Then they split up in 1999. Love and Rockets reunited in 2007 to record a song for a Joe Strummer tribute album. There are no further plans for Love and Rockets to reunite. Ash has recorded several solo albums and so has David J who has also written plays. With his partner Doug DeAngelis and known as Messy, Kevin Haskins composes music for film, TV and video games. Here's the video for So Alive by Love and Rockets.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Song:Ruby My Dear
Album:The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings
This 2CD budget comp is a must for jazz fans. It contains all the recordings legendary pianist Thelonious Monk recorded with emerging star John Coltrane for Riverside Records in 1957. These recordings were released in pieces over the years and this 2CD collection was compiled by legendary producer Orrin Keepnews. If you're familiar with Monk's career, you'll know that in 1951, his New York City Cabaret Card was revoked after police found drugs in Bud Powell's car occupied by Powell and Monk. So he couldn't perform in New York clubs. Monk was under contract to Prestige Records but things weren't going well there and in 1955, Riverside Records bought Monk's Prestige contract for $108.24. His third album for Riverside, Brilliant Corners, was critically acclaimed and sold well. That was the problem Prestige had with Monk. His albums didn't sell. Then Monk got his Cabaret Card back and formed a new band and began a residency at the Five Spot Cafe in New York. The cornerstone of this band was rising star John Coltrane on sax along with Wilbur Ware on bass and Shadow Wilson on drums. The residency began in June 1957 through the end of the year. This band recorded but Coltrane was still under contract to Prestige so Riverside couldn't release the music. They finally released some of the recordings on the 1961 album Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane and some of the recordings that featured Coleman Hawkins were released on the 1957 album Monk's Music. It wasn't until 2006 that Keepnews compiled all the Monk/Coltrane recordings in one place. It's a must for jazz fans. There are two versions of the Monk classic Ruby My Dear. One with the Coltrane quartet and the other with sax players Coleman Hawkins and Gigi Gryce. And it's available at a budget price. When the residency ended, Coltrane returned to the Miles Davis band and we all know what happened there. Monk formed a new band with Johnny Griffin, Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Roy Haynes. So be sure to check out these historic recordings. Here's a video of Ruby My Dear by Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane.
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Album:Priceless Jazz Collection
Dave Grusin is an award winning film composer but he started out as a jazz musician. So it's not surprising that his jazz recordings have a cinematic feel. He is also considered to be one of the pioneers of what is known today as Smooth Jazz. He was born June 26, 1934 in Littleton, CO. Both his parents were musicians and so is his brother Don Grusin. So it's not surprising that Grusin studied piano as a child. While attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, he played with Terry Gibbs and Johnny Smith. Then he was pianist for Andy Williams from 1959-65. And he worked as a sideman. He started composing for TV shows like The Wild Wild West and The G.I.R.L. From Uncle. His first big film score was the 1968 film The Graduate and he's composed music for many films. He has won several Grammys and his one Oscar was for the 1988 film The Milagro Beanfield War. Over the years he has had one song chart and that was the theme for the TV series St. Elsewhere. In the late 70s, he got back into recording jazz when he formed GRP Records with partner Larry Rosen. Mountain Dance is one of his more popular jazz compositions. Grusin first recorded it on the 1979 album Mountain Dance. Musicians are Ian Underwood and Ed Walsh on synthesizer, Jeff Mironov on guitar, Marcus Miller on bass, Harvey Mason Sr. on drums and Reubens Bassini on percussion. You can get Mountain Dance and the theme from St. Elsewhere on this Verve comp. As co-owner of GRP, Grusin also mentored many musicians including guitarist Lee Ritenour, flutist Dave Valentin and trumpeter Tom Browne. Some have had success in Smooth Jazz and that's why Grusin is a pioneer. MCA/Universal took over GRP in 1994 and Grusin and Rosen started N2K Encoded Music. Grusin still tours the jazz festival circuit and composes the occasional film score. The most recent was Skating To New York in 2013. His latest CD One Night Only was recorded with his brother Don and was released in 2011. Here's Dave Grusin and the GRP All Stars featuring Lee Ritenour on guitar and Larry Williams on synthesizer performing Mountain Dance at The Record Plant in New York 1985. This was released on CD and DVD but is currently out of print.
Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Album:The Best Of Michael Henderson
Michael Henderson went from being the ace bassist for Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis to being an R & B crooner and one of the founders of what would become Quiet Storm music. This 1975 Norman Connors hit Valentine Love was the first time Henderson sang on record. He was born July 7, 1951 in Yazoo City, MS. His family moved to Detroit in the early 60s and as a teen, Henderson played bass for The Fantastic Four, The Detroit Emeralds and Billy Preston. Henderson's major influences were legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson and legendary jazz bassist Paul Chambers. Henderson claims those two hung out together and he would pick their brains. Henderson toured with Stevie Wonder in the late 60s. Davis saw him on a show in New York and stole him from Wonder. His first album for Davis was Jack Johnson and he also played on On The Corner and Big Fun. Jazz drummer Norman Connors played with Pharoah Sanders but by the mid-70s, he signed with Buddah Records and wanted to record R & B. For the 1975 album Saturday Night Special, Connors recruited jazz guys like Henderson and Reggie Lucas from the Davis band. Henderson wrote Valentine Love and it was his first time singing on record. The female singer is Jean Carn. Valentine Love reached #10 on the R & B Singles chart. On Connors next album, Henderson wrote and sang You Are My Starship which reached #4 on the R & B Singles chart and #27 on the Billboard Hot 100. So now Buddah signs Henderson to a solo deal. His debut album Solid was released in 1976. Henderson's hits include Take Me I'm Yours in 1978 and Wide Receiver in 1980. He was a popular slow jam crooner for a few years. He recorded for Buddah/Arista until 1983 and then retired in 1986 after one album on EMI. He still performs occasionally but hasn't produced new music since 1986. You can get all of Henderson's hits including the Connors hits on this comp first released by BMG but then reworked when it was licensed to the German label Electrocord. Here's a video for Valentine Love by Michael Henderson featuring Jean Carn and Norman Connors.
Monday, May 04, 2015
Song:It's Just A Matter Of Time
Album:20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Brook Benton
Brook Benton was not only a tremendous singer but he wrote and produced most of his own songs usually with long time partner Clyde Otis. It's Just A Matter Of Time was Benton's breakthrough hit and it turned out to be his biggest chart hit. He was born Benjamin Franklin Peay Sept. 19, 1931 in Lugoff, SC. His father was a local choir director and Benton grew up singing in church. He moved to New York City in 1948 and appeared in several gospel groups. Then he joined the R & B group The Sandmen. They recorded for Columbia's race label Okeh. Columbia executives decided to push Peay as a solo artist and they gave him the name Brook Benton. It was around this time that Benton met Clyde Otis and they started writing songs together. One of Benton's biggest hits as a songwriter was the Clyde McPhatter hit A Lover's Question. Benton was struggling at Okeh. So when Otis was hired as Mercury Records' A & R Director in 1958, he brought Benton with him. Benton, Otis and Belford Hendricks intended It's Just A Matter Of Time for Nat King Cole. But Otis changed his mind and decided to have Benton record it. Hendricks wrote the arrangement obviously influenced by Cole. The record reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. It was Benton's first big hit and his highest chart placing for his career. It's Just A Matter Of Time was a very durable song as it was a country hit for Sonny James in 1970, Glen Campbell in 1985 and Randy Travis in 1989. Benton, Otis and Hendricks also produced hits like So Many Ways, Baby (You've Got What It Takes) and Kiddio. Otis and Hendricks left Mercury for Columbia in 1961 and they produced Aretha Franklin's Columbia recordings. Hendricks also arranged the 1963 Nat King Cole hit Ramblin' Rose. Benton left Mercury in 1962 and had minimal success in the 60s recording for Reprise and RCA. He returned to the charts when Rainy Night In Georgia was a smash hit in 1970. That was on Atlantic's Cotillion label. This budget comp is a good intro to Benton's music. Beware of off label CDs that have alternate takes of Benton's hits. Brook Benton continued to record until he retired in the late 70s. He died on Apr. 9, 1988 at age 56. Here's Brook Benton performing It's Just A Matter Of Time on The Ed Sullivan Show 1959.
Sunday, May 03, 2015
Album:Way Down Low
Kat Edmonson started out as an American Idol contestant but she seems to have found her groove as a jazz singer with a Sony Masterworks contract. She was born Aug. 3, 1983 in Houston listening to her mom's record collection featuring The Great American Songbook. After attending college in South Carolina, she moved back to Texas and auditioned for American Idol in 2002. She made it to Hollywood but that ended when Idol judge Randy Jackson told her she didn't look like a star. Kat sang in Austin clubs and released her debut CD in 2009. Her big break came when she sang Baby It's Cold Outside with Lyle Lovett on his 2012 CD Release Me. Then she appeared with him on The Tonight Show. She used Kickstarter to fund her 2012 CD Way Down Low and it made some noise on Billboard's Heetseekers and the jazz chart. This got Sony's attention and they signed Kat and released Way Down Low on Sony Masterworks. Kat wrote, produced and arranged most of the album with former Roy Hargrove bassist Danton Boller. Other musicians include Frank Locrasto on piano, Matt Munisteri on guitar and Brian Wolfe on drums. Special guests include Lyle Lovett and organist Larry Goldings. Hopelessly Blue was written by Miles Zuniga formerly of the 90s group Fastball. He's a local Austin guy and he accompanies Kat when she performs the song. Kat's latest CD The Big Picture was released Sept. 2014 and it was produced by veteran producer Mitchell Froom. Kat writes most of the songs and the album topped the jazz charts. She should remind long time jazz fans of Blossom Dearie. Maybe Kat Edmonson doesn't look like a pop star. But it looks like she will be around a lot longer than most pop stars. Here's Kat Edmonson with Miles Zuniga on guitar performing Hopelessly Blue on eTown Radio in Boulder, CO Jan. 2013.