Sunday, January 14, 2018

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN


One of the first big songs of the new year is a remix of "Finesse" by Bruno Mars. This single is off his 2016 album, "24K Magic" and has gotten a boost by one of the breakout stars of 2017, Cardi B who kicks off the track with her trademark sassy rap. The song pays homage to the new-jack sound of the late '80's and the music video gives props to the '90's comedy show "In Living Color", in particular to "the fly-girls", the young women who danced in between skits. People are responding well to this version of the song and has already reached the U.S. top-forty in it's first week on the charts.





For his latest single, "Family Feud", Jay-Z has called on some major talent to put together the music video. He has gotten Ava DuVernay to direct this clip and the musician co-wrote the story with her. It begins in the future of 2444 with a dramatic family feud ending in death before going back to 2050 with the U.S. now run by an all-female government who are in the process of rewriting the Constitution. We continue back until we reach our current year with Jay-Z walking his daughter, Blue Ivy through a church. The father/rapper begins the song which he confesses his infidelities and wants to keep his family together. His wife, Beyoncé appears on the track and in the video, dressed as some type of glamorous high priestess, listening patiently to what her husband has to say. And there are plenty of famous faces scattered throughout the video including Thandie Newton, Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling, David Oyelowo, Niecy Nash, Trevante Rhodes, Constance Wu and Jessica Chastain.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

MY FAVORITE MOMENTS IN MUSIC IN 2017

2017 has come to a close and it was another year of some great music. I've always shared the tunes that I've loved and enjoyed throughout the year but time didn't permit me to get to everything. So to end 2017 properly, here's a round-up of a few of my favorite songs and videos from the previous year I didn't get a chance to share:



"HUMBLE" - Kendrick Lamar (2017) mp3

"High" - Ledisi (2017) mp3

"Stay" - Zedd featuring Alessia Cara (2017) mp3

"Feel It Still" - Portugal. The Man (2017) mp3



"Shining" - DJ Khaled featuring Beyoncé and Jay Z (2017) mp3

"Sorry Not Sorry" - Demi Lovato (2017) mp3











"Now or Never" - Halsey (2017) mp3



Saturday, January 6, 2018

TAKE TWO: TAYLOR DAYNE


With her big voice and even bigger hair, Taylor Dayne stood out during her reign back in the late '80's and early '90's with her soul-inflected pop-dance songs. She was born Leslie Wunderman and raised in New York. After she graduated high school, she began performing with a variety of rock bands before going solo (and billing herself as "Les Lee") and recording a few dance tracks. This helped land her with Arista Records and with a name change to the more dramatic "Taylor Dayne", she hit it big with her first single, "Tell It To My Heart" which became a world wide smash in 1987. A debut album was quickly put together and given the title of her single. Dayne had more top-ten hits from the album including "Prove Your Love", "Don't Rush Me" and the moving ballad,  "I'll Always Love You".

Her follow-up album, "Can't Fight Fate" in 1989 continued Dayne's string of chart successes and featured "With Every Beat of My Heart", "I'll Be Your Shelter", "Heart of Stone" and her first U.S. number one pop hit, "Love Will Lead You Back".  By the release of her third album, "Soul Dancing" in 1993 and despite a dynamic dance cover of Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" reaching the top-forty on the pop charts, the album didn't do as well as her previous releases.  Dayne soon departed from Arista and recorded "Naked Without You" in 1998 which she was more involved with the production and writing of the record but the album failed to chart.

It would be ten years later before Dayne would release another album. "Satisfied" was not a major success but she did reach the top of the U.S. dance club charts with "Beautiful" in 2008. Sadly, this has been the last album the singer has released to date. But Dayne has remained active over the years with her appearing on reality shows, acting on Broadway with "Aida" and performing in film and television. Although she never married, Dayne had twins via a surrogate in 2002. Let's look back and enjoy a couple of my favorite songs by the incredible Taylor Dayne:



Monday, December 25, 2017

CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY



One more artist has released a new Christmas album this holiday season and that is Motown legend, Smokey Robinson. His very first solo Christmas record is called "Christmas Everyday" and it's released exclusively through Amazon. This ten-song collection is filled with the seventy-seven year old singer's favorite Christmas classics including “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "This Christmas" and “Please Come Home For Christmas” which was one of his mother's favorite holiday songs. The title track is a re-recording of a song Robinson performed with The Miracles back in 1963. Enjoy this new version and have a very Merry Christmas:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2018 ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

The latest roster of musicians inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 2018 was announced and there are five new members. Bon Jovi, those other rockers from New Jersey, new-wave rock group, The Cars, British rock band, Dire Straits, the English art-rock outfit, The Moody Blues and the late vocalist, Nina Simone. After announcing the seventeen nominees in October, these artists were voted on by the organization (consisting of critics, record executives and other music insiders) and by music fans who weighed in their votes with them getting one single vote to the overall total for the top-five finalists. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the gospel artist who played the electric guitar, will be acknowledged as an Early Influences this year.

The induction dinner and ceremony will be held in April in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will be filmed by HBO and shown on the network at a later date.

BON JOVI


Formed in 1983 and named after lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, this classic rock hair band found worldwide fame with their third album, "Slippery When Wet" in 1986 and features some of their best known songs, "Wanted Dead or Alive", "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer". Bon Jovi has sold over 130 million records and performed in over fifty countries during their career.



THE CARS


The Cars first came on the scene in the late 1970's merging punk and new-wave to create their own unique sound. Their self-titled debut in 1978 was an immediate hit with the singles, "Just What I Needed", "My Best Friend's Girl", "Good Times Roll" and "You're All I've Got Tonight" reaching the pop charts. Guitarist, Ric Ocasek wrote most of the band's material and shared vocal duties with bass guitar player, Benjamin Orr (who passed away in 2000) and the Cars would enjoy plenty of other hits throughout the '80's before disbanding in 1988. In 2011, the surviving members of the band reunited, recorded an album, "Move To This" and went on tour.



DIRE STRAITS


Brothers Mark and David Knopfler along with friends John Illsley and Pick Withers formed Dire Straits in London in 1977. Influenced by jazz, folk and blues, the band found success right away with the 1978 single, "Sultans of Swing" which reached the top-ten in the U.S. and Britain but had their biggest hit in 1985 with their fifth album, "Brothers In Arms".  This record reached number one internationally, winning two Grammy Awards and selling over thirty million copies thanks to the popular songs, "Walk of Life" and "Money For Nothing".



THE MOODY BLUES


Although this band from Birmingham, England first came to prominence as a r&b based outfit in the mid '60's,  the Moody Blues has become best known as an esoteric rock band. Adding a rich, symphonic sound to their high-concept rock albums, this influential group found worldwide success with their music and managed to hit the pop charts with the songs, "Go Now", "Your Wildest Dreams", "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)" and "Nights in White Satin". The Moody Blues have sold seventy million records throughout their fifty year career.



NINA SIMONE


This legendary vocalist first wanted to become a concert pianist but after being denied entry at a prestigious school due to her race, Eunice Waymon changed her name to "Nina Simone" (so to not to disgrace her family) and began her career as a singer. Using a mixture of the blues, jazz, soul, pop and classical music to express herself, Simone became a renowned live performer and recording artist. She wrote much of her music, particularly during the civil rights movement like "Mississippi Goddam", "Four Women" and "To Be Young, Gifted and Black". But Simone was also a unique interpreter of songs, reworking musical standards and making them all her own. Some of her most popular are "I Loves You, Porgy", "Wild Is The Wind", "My Baby Just Cares for Me" and "Feeling Good".



SISTER ROSETTA THARPE


It is said that Rosetta Nubin was only four years old when she began singing and playing guitar as part of her family's traveling evangelical troupe. By the time she was nineteen, she had ended her first marriage but took a variation of her former husband's surname to become professionally known as "Sister Rosetta Tharpe" and was a popular act throughout the 1930's and '40's performing for both spiritual and secular audiences. She is referred to as "The Godmother of rock and roll" as she was one of the first to use a distorted electric guitar in her pop-gospel music and inspired many future early rock musicians. Later in the '60's, Tharpe toured Europe and would help influence the British blues movement there.

Friday, December 15, 2017

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM. . .

It seems to be that you if you are a professional musician with any significant popularity, your career is not complete without a Christmas album. So here are three of the latest who have added to the endless glut of music for the holidays:

SIA


The one pop singer I thought would be the absolutely last to ever record a Christmas album would be Sia. Yet, here it is but "Everyday Is Christmas" is hardly a conventional holiday offering. First, the entire album features all original songs co-written and produced with her longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin. And the songs are not what would be anywhere near traditional yet they are fun, quirky and sometimes moving holiday-themed pop songs. Here is the lyric video for the single, "Santa's Coming For Us" which features a few familiar faces:



FANTASIA


With her album, "Christmas After Midnight", Fantasia has made a record for grown-folks during the holidays. This collection features some of the r&b vocalist's favorite Christmas songs and done is her very distinctive style. Some of the highlights include "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)", a moving version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and a duet with CeeLo Green on their take of "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Have a listen to her sassy cover of James Brown's "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto":


GWEN STEFANI


For her first holiday album, "You Make It Feel Like Christmas", Gwen Stefani has six original songs on her collection which she also has co-written. The title track is a duet with her country musician beau, Blake Shelton and just like their relationship, the song merges their respective musical genres. The rest of the album features her versions of familiar Christmas classics including "Santa Baby"," White Christmas" and WHAM'!s "Last Christmas". Enjoy the lyric video of Gwen and Blake's Christmas duet:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

NEW SOUNDS

WHITNEY HOUSTON


Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston. It's been five years since her passing and I still haven't recovered from this tragic loss. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the singer's acting debut in the box office smash "The Bodyguard" with the soundtrack album managing to become an even bigger success. This album (which largely features Houston but also contributions from Joe Cocker, Lisa Stansfield and Kenny G) took home three Grammy Awards including Album of The Year and with worldwide sales totaling over forty-five million copies has become the best selling soundtrack album of all time.

In honor of the film and Ms Houston, we have the release of "I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard". This collection features all six of her original recordings from the album; "I Will Always Love You" "I Have Nothing" "I'm Every Woman" "Run to You", "Queen of the Night" and "Jesus Loves Me" and includes remixes, alternative versions and live performances of these songs. This would make the perfect gift for any fan of the movie or the incomparable Whitney Houston. Enjoy this live version of "I'm Every Woman" from her The Bodyguard Tour:



SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS


The passing of Sharon Jones last year was not only just a tragic blow to music but also to the vibrant legacy of classic soul. Jones may have started her journey in music late in life but she made up for it by creating, along with her dynamic backing band, The Dap-Kings, earth-quaking, soul-shaking r&b consistently throughout her career. Fortunately, we have been given one more opportunity to enjoy what the singer did best with the release of "Soul of a Woman". Recorded while undergoing treatment for cancer last year, Jones delivers passion and fire in to each track, never displaying for one moment any sign she was not up to the task. While it may seem like a time to be somber as you listen to this final album, Ms Jones and the Dap-Kings remind us that it's all about the celebration of soul music and the powerful joy and thrill that comes from it. Here is the video for the first single, "Matter of Time":

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

One of the first big songs of the new year is a remix of " Finesse " by Bruno Mars . This single is off his 2016 album, " ...