Sunday, October 31, 2010

FOCUS ON: TINA TURNER


I remember watching Tina Turner make her highly anticipated comeback performance on the 1985 Grammy Awards telecast. During the musical break in the song, she simply started strutting across the stage and the audience broke out in wild applause. This tiny, simple act showed how much power she has to captivate audiences.

I was familiar with her long before this appearance. I remember her most vividly shaking her thang on the "Cher" show and her performing with Ike, doing "Proud Mary" on the late night show, "Midnight Special" (yes, I'm dating myself) in the way that only they could do that song. I always loved her look and just simply watching her be TINA.

She is known as the Queen of Rock & Roll and she has truly earned that title. She gives her all in every performance and you can feel it when you see her work her magic on stage.

To say that Tina Turner is unique is putting it much too mildly. She is a fiery, sexy presence that effortlessly commands whatever stage she is on. There is absolutely no one else like her; in the way she uses that voice with either a sensual purr or a raspy growl or in her skimpy and suggestive stage costumes that on anyone else would probably just be too much or in the unparalleled way she moves that body as an extension of expressing her music, it is all in one woman who will never, ever be duplicated.

Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 and raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, which she would later write a song, "Nutbush City Limits", that was about life in that small town. Anna Mae and her sister, Ruby grew up with their grandmother after their parents split up. Ruby later went to live with her mother in St.Louis while Anna Mae stayed in Nutbush. After her grandmother's death, Anna Mae moved to St. Louis at the age of sixteen.

One night, Ruby took Anna Mae to a club where musician Ike Turner was performing. Anna Mae talked Ike into listening to her sing and he was impressed enough to have her as an occasional vocalist in his soul revue.

During a recording session in 1960, a singer didn't show up, so Anna Mae filled in and recorded the song, "A Fool In Love" which hit number two on the r&b charts and crossing over to the top thirty on the pop charts. Ike changed Anna Mae's name to Tina, they married in Mexico and the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was born.

Although they continued to occasionally have songs hit the charts (The group's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's song, "Proud Mary" was their biggest hit in 1971 and also won the group their only Grammy), Ike & Tina Turner became best known for their wild and energetic stage shows. They added three female singers/ dancers and called them The Ikettes who, along with Tina, created sexy dance routines that enlivened their performances.

Ike managed the act and controlled all of the decisions on recording contracts and performances but as his drug addiction and erratic behaviour grew worse, the band suffered. This caused musicians and back-up singers to come and go quite frequently.

Tina was verbally and physically abused by Ike throughout most of their marriage. After sixteen years of this, in 1976, she had finally had enough. Ike and Tina had a violent argument before a concert in Dallas and Tina left him with nothing more than thirty-six cents and a gas credit card. She hid out with various friends while Ike tried to locate her.

By walking out in the middle of a tour, Tina learned that she was legally responsible to tour promoters for the cancelled shows. So, Tina became a solo performer and made numerous television appearances and performed at conventions to supplement her income.

Tina wanted to re-start her recording career on her terms so in 1978, Tina released her third solo album, "Rough". The album had a more rock & roll sound which was the direction she wanted her music to move towards. The record did not do well nor did a follow-up disco album, "Love Explosion" in 1979. Tina was only able to tour small stages in the U.S.but in Europe, where she was still popular, she was able to sell out major venues.

In 1983, she put out a single, which was a remake of the Al Green soul classic, "Let's Stay Together (Single Version)". The song went to number six in the U.K. and charted throughout the rest of Europe.Despite this success, her record label, Capitol, was still not interested in giving her a full record deal and had no intention of releasing the song in the U.S. Capitol only relented because Americans were snapping up the imported version of the record. The song only reached number thirty-six on the U.S. pop charts but went to number three on the r&b.

This was enough for Capitol to finally allow Tina to complete a full album and in 1984, the next single off of it, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" was released. Although it got off to a slow start, it ultimately became a world wide smash hit. At the age of forty-four, Tina Turner had her first number one record in the United States. The album, "Private Dancer" was quickly released and sold over eleven million copies world wide. It would go on to win four Grammy Awards including Record of The Year for her comeback song.

Tina was back where she belonged and she has achieved much success. She released four more popular albums and had many hit singles along the way. Her live performances was always her strength and she had many successful world tours that broke concert ticket sales records, including her last one in 2009 which was a celebration of her fifty years in show business. She gave dazzling acting performances in the films, "Tommy" (1975) and "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" (1985). She wrote her autobiography, "I, Tina" with MTV's news correspondent, Kurt Loder in 1986 that explored her career and revealed her abusive relationship with Ike. The book was adapted into a celebrated film in 1993 called, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" that starred Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, who both received Oscar nominations for their fantastic performances.

Tina Turner was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, she received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005 and she has sold over one hundred and eighty million records worldwide during her career.

Tina has one son, Craig with Raymond Hill, a saxophonist with Ike's band and later, another son, Ronnie which she had with Ike during their marriage. Tina also raised two of Ike's sons from previous relationships, Ike, Jr. and Michael.

Tina met German record executive, Erwin Bach at London's Heathrow Airport in 1985 and they have been together as a couple ever since.

Here are a couple of my favorite Ike &Tina songs:

"A Fool In Love" - Ike & Tina Turner 

"Sexy Ida Part 1" - Ike & Tina Turner

This is a classic performance of Ike & Tina doing "Proud Mary":





This is Ms Turner on her own:

"I Might Have Been Queen" - Tina Turner 

"Typical Male" - Tina Turner

"Better Be Good To Me" - Tina Turner

And here is the video for her slow burn version of "Let's Stay Together":



Here is a bonus of Tina rocking out on a song that was the B-side of her single of "Let's Stay Together":

"I Wrote A Letter" - Tina Turner

Friday, October 29, 2010

TRICK OR TREAT


BOO!

Have a scary good time this weekend and be safe.

It's just not Halloween without hearing this song, so let's kick this off right:

Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett  (1962)

Friday, October 22, 2010

MUSIC AND THE MOVIES: PART ONE

I heard the theme song from "Flashdance...What A Feeling" on the radio a little while ago and it made me wonder:

"When was the last time a song from a film became a hit and made it on the pop charts?"

I was struggling to come up with something and I think it might have been Eminem and his rap song, "Lose Yourself" from his film, "8 Mile" (which actually won the Oscar for Best Original Song) but that was eight years ago.

The right piece of music could be an important part of a film that helped create the perfect mood or feeling as well as being just a great song you want to listen to. There is an obvious hunger for this type of music considering the success of the television shows like, "High School Musical" and "Glee" and their multiple soundtracks.

Unfortunately, there is no longer much thought put into creating a distinguishable song for a movie anymore and the songs that are used today tend to be something you would never want to listen to again. It's too bad but maybe this will make a comeback.

For this post, I'm going to focus on movie songs from the 1960's and 1970's. I think this was the golden age of songs created specifically for a film and a time when people actually loved the music enough to buy the movie's soundtrack. These songs were played regularly on the radio and became pop hits.

Let's go back and enjoy a few of the tunes that became just as memorable as the films they were used in:



Alfie - Dionne Warwick (1966)


Theme From "Valley Of The Dolls" -  Dionne Warwick (1967)


Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel (1967)



Theme From "Mahogany" (Do You Know Where You're Going To?) - Diana Ross (1975)



Night Fever - Bee Gees (1977)


"You're The One That I Want" - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (1978)





And here is a selection of the theme songs from the James Bond, agent 007 films:


Diamonds Are Forever - Shirley Bassey (1971)


Live And Let Die - Paul McCartney & Wings (1973)


Nobody Does It Better - Carly Simon (1977)

Monday, October 18, 2010

HAIR WHIPPED: UPDATE

Ms Willow Smith's music career is now in high gear as her new music video for her first single," Whip My Hair" has just been released.

It's a great video and I love her look in it but the thing that amazes me the most is how mature and confident she comes across in it for a nine year old.

I'm, ahem, a little older and I would definitely have difficulty appearing so poised.

Show biz is in her blood, y'all.

Take a peek:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

THE FIRST TIME: PART SEVEN

NATALIE COLE - "INSEPARABLE" (1975)


Natalie Maria Cole was born in Los Angeles, California to pop/jazz singer Nat "King" Cole and Maria, a former vocalist for Duke Ellington in 1950, so it seems like she was destined for a career in music. At the age of six, Natalie sang on one of her father's Christmas albums and began performing by the age of eleven.

When Natalie decided to pursue music professionally during college, she wanted to distance herself from her father's musical legacy as much as possible. While performing pop and rock and roll songs at a nightclub, Natalie caught the attention of  producers Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy and soon they began working on her first album, which would have a r&b sound.

"Inseparable" was released in 1975 which was lead off with the smash hit single, "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" that went number one on the soul charts and number six on the pop. Natalie would be awarded the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the song as well as winning the award for Best New Artist that year.

She would continue with a long string of hit songs throughout the rest of 1970's but her career would be derailed by 1980 when she would enter rehab many times due to her addiction to heroin and cocaine. By 1985, she was back in health and resuming her place on the top of the music charts.

By 1991, Natalie was ready to perform her father's music. She released, "Unforgettable: With Love" which was a collection of twenty-two standards previously recorded by Nat "King" Cole. The highlight of the album was a duet with Natalie and her father, "Unforgettable" which was done using his original recording and blending the two together using digital technology. The album would go on to sell over seven million copies here and would win six Grammy Awards including Album of The Year.

She has recorded nineteen albums to date with her latest being an another album of standards released in 2008 entitled, "Still Unforgettable (Amazon Exclusive Bonus Track)" which includes another digital duet with her father.

Natalie has been married three times and has a son from her first marriage to Marvin Yancy, Robert, who is a musician and occasionally tours with his mother.

This is the song that started Ms Cole's career:

"This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" - Natalie Cole

THE JETS - "THE JETS" (1985)


Although there are seventeen Wolfgramm children, eight of them, LeRoy, Eddie, Eugene, Haini, Rudy, Kathi, Muana, and Elizabeth began performing professionally as The Jets in 1985. They were raised in Minneapolis, MN and played all of their own instruments. The Jets were signed to MCA Records and later that year released their self-titled debut album," the Jets".

The first single, "Curiosity" made a dent on the r&b charts but their next, "Crush On You" hit it big at number three on the pop charts and number four on the r&b. They would go on to have a total of five top ten singles and be nominated for a Grammy Award.

By 1990, a few of the band members left the group but were replaced by their younger siblings. The family belongs to the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Jets soon moved to performing religious music which they continue to do to this day.

This is The Jets' first big song:

"Crush On You" - The Jets

This is the cute and wholesome music video for the song by the Wolfgramm kids:




THE PRETENDERS - "THE PRETENDERS" (1980)



Chrissie Hynde moved to London in 1973 from Akron, Ohio with dreams of becoming a rock star. She worked at the weekly music paper, NWE and performed with a variety of different bands including early versions of The Clash and The Damned.

She formed a band with James Honeyman-Scott on lead guitar, Pete Farndon on bass guitar and drummer Gerry Mcilduff with Chrissie as the lead vocalist and she played rhythm guitar. The band didn't have a name yet but they recorded a few tracks. Soon, Mcilduff was replaced with new drummer Martin Chambers and Chrissie came up with the name, "The Pretenders" after the Platters hit song, "The Great Pretender".

The Pretenders first single was a remake of The Kinks song, "Stop Your Sobbing", which was a modest hit in the UK as well as their second, "Kid" but their next song, "Brass In Pocket" was their breakthrough and it became a huge hit across the globe. The band released their debut album, "Pretenders" in 1980 and it was a commercial and critical success, selling over a million copies in the U. S. alone.

Shortly after the release of the second album, "Pretenders II", Chrissie fired Pete Farndon from the band in 1982 due to his increased drug use. Two days later, James Honeyman-Scott died of heart failure due to cocaine intolerance. Less than a year later, Farndon was dead due to drowning in a bathtub after passing out from shooting up heroin.

Chrissie and Martin Chambers kept the band together and had a variety of different guitar and bass players over the years while continuing to have many hit singles. The Pretenders have completed nine albums with their latest, "Break Up The Concrete" being released in 2008.

The band was inducted in to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Pretenders still continue to rock on tour.

Enjoy this band's classic tune:

"Brass In Pocket " - The Pretenders



Friday, October 8, 2010

THE OTHER JACKSONS


We are all familiar with these five talented brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and little Michael Jackson who took the world by storm as the Jackson 5. The group signed with Motown Records in 1968 and after years of many chart toppers with the label, they decided to sign with Epic Records in order to have more control over their music.

They were unable to legally continue using the name The Jackson 5, so they became The Jacksons. Jermaine left, then younger brother, Randy joined the group and they continued with more hit songs. In 1979, Michael teamed up with producer, Quincy Jones and released, "Off the Wall" which was the beginning of him ultimately becoming a global musical superstar and because of this, he soon distanced himself from the family group.

Over the years, all of the other brothers (as well as sister, LaToya, although the less said, the better) attempted a solo career as well as tried to continue as The Jacksons without Michael with not much success.

This post is to focus on the rest of the family who managed to step out of Michael's very large shadow to create a moment for themselves.



Jermaine played bass guitar and shared lead vocals with Michael in the group. Like Michael, Jermaine had begun a solo career while still performing with the Jackson 5.

After the group decided to leave Motown in 1975, Jermaine, who was married at the time to Hazel Gordy, the daughter of the label's founder, Berry, remained to continue as a solo artist.

He has recorded thirteen albums and had numerous top forty hits throughout the 1970's and 1980's which includes one of his biggest songs, "Let's Get Serious" (1980), that was written and produced by Stevie Wonder and becoming his first number one on the R&B charts and reaching number nine on the pop charts. He produced three tracks and sang a couple of duets with Whitney Houston on her debut album.

Jermaine has been married twice and has seven children. He converted to Islam after a trip to Bahrain in 1989.

This is a favorite song of his where he teams up with Devo which gives the song a strange funky/new wave mash-up that really works:

 Let Me Tickle Your Fancy - Jermaine Jackson



Maureen Brown or as she is professionally known as Rebbie Jackson is the eldest of the Jackson clan. Although she participated with the family during their Las Vegas stage shows in 1974 as well as the Jacksons television variety series in 1976, she was the last to embark on a recording career.

Rebbie Jackson's first album, "Centipede" (1984) was released when she was thirty-four years old. The title track was written and produced by her brother, Michael and he provided background vocals in addition. The song was her biggest hit and reached number four on the R&B charts and twenty-four on the pop charts. She has recorded a total of four CDs to date.

She has been married to her childhood sweetheart, Nathaniel Brown since 1968 and they have three children.

This is Rebbie's first hit song:

Centipede - Rebbie Jackson

This is the VERY campy and very 80's music video for the song. I have a feeling Michael had a little say in this:






Janet Damita Jo Jackson is the youngest of the family and has had the most success outside of Michael. She began her career at the age of seven during the Las Vegas shows at the MGM Grand Casino. She would initially concentrate on acting with appearances on the television sitcoms, "Good Times" and "Different Strokes" before she moved on to music.

Her debut album., "Janet Jackson" was released in 1982 and was produced by R&B singing duo, Rene Moore and Angela Winbush as well as Leon Foster Sylvers III of another family musical group, The Sylvers. The album was a modest hit that consisted of light r&b with touches of pop and new wave and it sold a half a million copies in the U.S.

In 1984, shortly after the release of her second album, "Dream Street", Janet eloped and married James DeBarge of the singing group, DeBarge. Her father, Joseph, who was her manager at the time, saw to it that the marriage was quickly annulled.

Soon after the divorce, Janet dropped her father as her manager, took over control of her music career, went to Minneapolis to record a new album and the rest is history.

This is Janet's first single off of her first album:

Young Love - Janet Jackson

ICONA POP ARE "GIRLS GIRLS"

Those Swedish musical party-girls, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, otherwise known as  Icona Pop are back with a new club-banging anthem. ...