Thursday, September 23, 2010

HOT & FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

Here are some recent releases I think you ought to check out:

CHROMEO - "BUSINESS CASUAL"


"Business Casual" is the third studio album from this Canadian-based band, Chromeo. This duo is made up of P-thugg on keyboards and synthesizers and Dave 1 on guitar and vocals. Their sound mashes together classic pop styling with electronica and funky rock guitar.

Sample this track off of the new album:

The Right Type - Chromeo

I also love this music video for their sensational first single, "Don't Turn The Lights On":




MAVIS STAPLES - "YOU ARE NOT ALONE"


Mavis Staples, the powerful lead voice behind her family's gospel/R&B group, The Staple Singers has returned with her latest album, "You Are Not Alone". With the help of Jeff Tweedy of the rock band, Wilco, this terrific record is a collection of classic gospel, reinterpreted rock songs and two original songs, including the title track written by Mr. Tweedy. This is a very welcome return by a great talent.

Enjoy the title song off of this disc:

You Are Not Alone - Mavis Staples


ROBYN - "BODY TALK PT. 2"


The second chapter of Robyn's planned trilogy, appropriately entitled, "Body Talk Pt. 2 [Explicit]" is now out and it continues with more electric power pop from this blonde sprite from Sweden. Snoop Dogg even makes an appearance on a track.

This is my favorite song off of the album:

Criminal Intent - Robyn


MARK RONSON - "RECORD COLLECTION"


Mark Ronson, the Grammy Award winning producer and DJ, has just released his third CD, entitled, "Record Collection [Explicit]" which features his latest band called, The Business Int'l. Like his previous 2008 album, "Version [Explicit]", he has a wide assortment of guest musicians that include Boy George, Ghostface Killah, Duran Duran's Simon LeBon, the M.I.A., R&B singer, D'Angelo and the London Gay Men's Chorus but this time instead of a album of remakes, his new record features all new material.

Check out this tune that features vocals by Boy George and Andrew Wyatt of the band, Miike Snow:

Somebody to Love Me - Mark Ronson(ft. Boy George and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FOCUS ON: ELTON JOHN


Elton John is well known for creating timeless, well crafted pop songs, delivering his stirring and passionate vocals but he is also a dramatic and flamboyant personality who has absolutely no problem saying what is exactly on his mind. He is the true definition of a male diva.

Elton John was one piano man that was going to be noticed for more than just his playing. At the height of his fame, he would put on his outrageous eye wear and wear one of his extravagant stage costumes but he really didn't need any of that. All he needed to do was just sit behind his piano and perform any one of his many powerful songs to make an audience stop and pay attention to him..

There is only one Elton John and you will definitely not confuse him anybody else.

He began life as Reginald Dwight, born in 1947 and raised in Pinner, Middlesex in England. Both of his parents were music lovers and they introduced young Reginald to all of the popular artists of the day but it was the rock & roll records that truly made an impression on him.

Reginald began playing the piano at the age of three and he could pick up music by ear. He would play at parties and family gatherings but he would not begin formal lessons until he was seven. Later at eleven, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. While he enjoyed playing classical music and singing in the choir, he was not challenged by his classes. At fifteen, he got a job as a piano player at a local pub on the weekends.

In 1964, he formed a band called, Bluesology and they would back-up touring American soul artists like, Doris Troy, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells and the Isley Brothers. After unsuccessfully auditioning for lead vocalist for other bands, Reginald answered an ad placed by Ray Williams, an A&R manager for Liberty Records looking for a musician. During the meeting, he gave Reginald a stack of lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, who had also answered the ad. Reginald wrote music to those lyrics and sent them to Taupin and a musical partnership was formed, which has remained to this day.

Six months later, the two finally met and recorded their first song collaboration, "Scarecrow" in 1967. It was at this time that Reginald became "Elton John", which was the combination of the names of Bluesology sax player, Elton Dean and musician, Long John Baldry.

 In 1969, Elton John released his debut album, "Empty Sky" in the UK but it was not released in the United States until 1975, well after he had already established fame internationally.

His next album,"Elton John" was released in 1970 and the first in the U.S. It produced his first big hit single, "Your Song" which went to number four on the pop charts. The album would later be nominated for a Grammy for "Album of The Year"

This was the beginning of a long string of hits where he has amassed fifty-six top forty U.S. singles, seven consecutive number one albums and has sold thirty-seven million copies of his tribute song to the late Princess Diana, "Candle In The Wind (1997)" which is the world's best selling single of all time. Elton John has also sold a total of over two hundred and fifty million records worldwide.

The price of fame did take it's toll on Elton John where he suffered from depression, bulimia and battled addictions to alcohol and cocaine but he managed to overcome them all.

In 1976, Elton John revealed that he was bisexual in Rolling Stone magazine. He married Renate Baluel, a close friend and his sound engineer in 1984 and the marriage lasted for four years. He met David Furnish, a Canadian advertising executive in 1993 and they have been together ever since. The couple were joined together in a civil union in 2005.

Elton John has been involved in many charities and he started his own, The Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 which brings awareness to the disease and assists individuals with HIV/AIDS related illnesses. He also participated on the 1985 hit song, "That's What Friends Are For" with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, which part of the proceeds went to AIDS research.

Sir Elton John was knighted in 1998, entered in to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994, was the 2004 recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor, and has won five Grammy awards, a Tony award for the musical he wrote the score with Tim Rice, "Aida" and an Academy award for "Best Original Song" for the animated film, "The Lion King" in 2000.

It is quite clear that Elton John has had a long and rich career but it's far from over. He has an upcoming album called "The Union" where he is teaming up with legendary artist, Leon Russell.

I loved this music video for "I'm Still Standing". I remember when I first saw it thinking (and before he came out officially as gay), "Boy, he really is into his male dancers." plus there is a great shot of him wearing a collection of some of his crazy eyewear.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

HAIR WHIPPED


Willow Smith, the nine year old daughter of movie star/rapper, Will Smith and his actress/singer wife, Jada Pinkett has leaked her first song entitled, "Whip My Hair". Willow also acts and in addition to her brother, Jaden who happens to star in the hit movie remake of "The Karate Kid", that Smith family is just an entertainment machine.

Ms Smith's song is a cute hip-hop tune with the trendy auto-tune gliding her vocals through the track. She has just been signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation record label, so I'm sure you will be hearing a lot more from this adorable little girl in the future.

This song made me think of Rihanna vocally (Jay-Z happened to have signed her to Def Jam when he ran the label) and she happens to have an unreleased track called, "Whipping My Hair".

Coincidence?

I think not.

Here are the two songs for you to compare:

Whip My Hair - Willow Smith

Whipping My Hair - Rihanna

Monday, September 6, 2010

THE FIRST TIME: PART SIX

CELINE DION -"UNISON" (1990)


Celine Dion was born in 1968 in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada. She was the youngest of fourteen children and while the family was poor, it was happy home filled with song. The children would sing regularly in their family's piano bar. At a very young age, Celine knew there was only one thing she wanted to do: become a performer.

When she was twelve, Celine composed a song with her mother and her brother. She recorded it and her brother got it in to the hands of record producer, Rene Angelil. He was moved to tears by the sound of her voice and decided at that moment to make her a star.

Mr. Angelil mortgaged his home to help pay for the recording of Celine's first record, "Le Vox Du Bon Dieu (The Voice of the Good God)". It became a number one hit in Quebec and helped make her a local star. She went on to make fourteen French-language albums and her fame spread across the rest of the world. After seeing Michael Jackson perform in 1988, Celine told Rene that she wanted to achieve his kind of success. Mr. Angelil knew that in order for that to happen, changes needed to be made so he gave the young Celine an image makeover and English lessons.

Two years later, Celine completed her first English-language album, "Unison". There were two singles released, which didn't go anywhere before the third song, "Where Does My Heart Beat Now?" was the breakthrough and managed to reach number four on the American pop charts.The album sold over three million worldwide.

Celine Dion soon did actually become an international music sensation, selling over two hundred million records across the globe. In 2002, she staged a very successful stage show at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas that ran for five years and accumulating a total gross of $400 million dollars.

Celine and her manager, Rene Angelil fell in love and despite a twenty-six year age difference, married in 1994. They have a son, Rene-Charles who is nine and she currently pregnant and due to deliver twins this November.

This song was her first U.S. hit single:

Where Does My Heart Beat Now - Celine Dion 


DEPECHE MODE - "SPEAK AND SPELL" (1981)



This English electronic band was formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex and originally consisted of keyboardist, Andrew Flecher, Martin Gore on keyboards, vocals and guitar, Vince Clark on keyboards and main songwriter and Dave Gahan on lead vocals. They had all played in a variety of different bands as teenagers before coming together. The band's name, Depeche Mode came from a French fashion magazine and translates to: "hurried fashion".

While playing at a gig, the band was approached by Daniel Miller, a musician who was interested in having them record a single for his new music label, Mute. The song they would record, "Dreaming Of Me (2006 Remaster)" became a modest hit, reaching number 57 on the UK charts in 1981. This led to another single, "New Life" which went up to number 11 on the charts.

The next single, "Just Can't Get Enough" was the band's breakthrough. The song went top ten in the UK and was a hit in Australia, Sweden and the U.S. Depeche Mode made their first music video for this song and released their first album,"Speak & Spell [digital version]" shortly after.

While touring to promote the album, Vince Clark became unhappy with the direction the band was heading in and decided to leave Depeche Mode. He would later team up with singer, Alison Moyet and form the band, Yazoo (Yaz in the U.S.), then leave that band and create Erasure with vocalist, Andy Bell.

Alan Wilder joined the band in 1982 as a replacement keyboardist and Martin Gore became the songwriter for the group.

Despite Mr. Clark's departure, Depeche Mode managed to continue making hit recordings and became one of the most successful electronic bands in history. Wilder left the band in 1995 and Depeche Mode have continued as a trio.

Depeche Mode have completed twelve albums to date with "Sounds Of The Universe" being released last year. The band has sold over one hundred million records.

This was their first hit chart topper:

Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode 


This was the band's first music video:


Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough
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RICK JAMES - "COME GET IT!" (1978)


He was born James Johnson, Jr. in Buffalo, New York in 1948. He was one of eight children and his abusive father would later abandon the family when James was seven. His mother did the best she could but as a teenager, James would cut classes and got involved in petty crimes. James soon dropped out of school before he was sixteen and joined the US Naval Reserve to avoid the draft.

James went AWOL from the Naval Reserve in 1964 because it was interfering with his music ambitions. He went to Toronto, Canada, joined the band, the Mynah Birds and stated calling himself, "Big Jimmy". The band went through a few personnel changes and would later audition for Motown records. Motown was interested and the Mynah Birds (that now included future rock legend, Neil Young) began recording an album but their manager stole the band's advance money. The group fired their manager and he went and reported James to the US Naval Reserve. The album was never completed.

After serving some time in the brig, James returned to Motown in 1968, under an assumed name as a songwriter and producer. Later that year, he moved to Los Angeles where he either formed or joined a variety of different bands. He did a few recordings with some of these groups but not much came from any of them.

In 1977, James returned to Motown and worked with the groups, Hot Lips and the Stone City Band. Finally in 1978, he released his first solo album as "Rick James" with, "Come Get It" that included the Stone City Band for the Motown-Gordy label. It features the smash singles, "You And I" that hit number one on the R&B chart as well as number thirteen on the pop charts and "Mary Jane", the thinly veiled homage to his love of marijuana that went to number five on the R&B charts.

Rick James would continue with a string of hit songs over the years that include his signature 1981 classic, "Super Freak" that would be heavily sampled by others artists with the most famous being MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" in 1990.

He would also be involved with discovering R&B singer, Teena Marie, creating the group, the Mary Jane Girls, producing an album for comedian, Eddie Murphy and working with Motown legends, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Rick James's music career soon came apart by several bizarre incidents, that were most likely the result of his severe drug abuse issues that include an assault on a record producer and in 1993, holding a young girl hostage for six days with his then wife which led to him serving two years in prison for the crime.

In 1997, Rick James attempted a comeback but he would suffer a mild stroke while performing in Colorado. He would continue to try and revive his career during the following few years but on August 6, 2004, he was found dead due to a heart attack.

Rick James released twelve albums during his career and sold a total of ten million copies.

This is the song that Rick James finally hit the charts with:

You And I - Rick James 

Friday, September 3, 2010

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


The Tune:  Dusty Springfield - "The Look Of Love" (1967)

My last tune of the day shared the same title but this is a completely different song.

This song has been covered by a variety of artists but I think this is the best (and the original) version although Nina Simone's cover is a very close second.

Written for the soundtrack of the film, "Casino Royale" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, I just love the moody and sensual feeling of this timeless classic and I think Ms Springfield has always been underrated as a vocalist. You don't hear her much on the radio these days, even on oldies stations and that's a shame.

Enjoy:

The Look of Love - Dusty Springfield

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