Sunday, December 25, 2011

HAPPY HOLIDAYS


I offer a simple wish; that everyone have a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and a great new year.

"Christmas Tree" - Lady Gaga (2010)

"Purple Snowflakes" - Marvin Gaye (1973)

"Children Go Where I Send Thee" - Natalie Merchant (1997)

"Jingle Bells" - Barbra Streisand (1967)

"Sleigh Ride" - TLC (1993)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn, who are better known as the British duo, Everything But The Girl first came to fame around the globe with the hit Todd Terry electro-remix of the song, "Missing" in 1994 but they have been around since the early eighties.

This tune comes from their third album, "Baby, The Stars Shine Bright" (I don't know why but I just LOVE that title!) in 1986 and Everything But The Girl initially began with a jazz/pop sound which was popular at the time in the UK (think Swing Out Sister and Sade).

I don't remember exactly where I actually first heard this song, "Don't Leave Me Behind" although I know for sure that it wasn't on the radio as they didn't play this type of song in suburban Michigan but I can recall that I loved it immediately after I heard it. It is an playful ode to the sunny sounds of the sixties combined with horns and the lovely vocals of Ms Thorn which ends up with a song of pure pop perfection.

"Don't Leave Me Behind" - Everything But The Girl (1986)

Monday, December 5, 2011

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

"TALK THAT TALK" - RIHANNA


I would have lost money if I had bet against the idea that the sweet, young girl from the islands who sang the cute but fluffy, "Pon De Replay" back in 2005 would become one of the biggest pop stars in the world. But that is exactly what Rihanna is now.

"Talk That Talk" is the pop superstar's sixth album over the past seven years. After the darker period of the last two albums, Rihanna is now decidedly in a light, sexy mood, confident and looking for fun. The singer hasn't changed the winning formula too much as there is still a very large stable of hot writers and producers to help mold her sound.

"Do Ya Thang" - Rihanna (2011)

"HOW DO YOU DO" - MAYER HAWTHORNE


Meyer Hawthorne has returned with a fun and funky new album, "How Do You Do" on his new major label, Universal Republic Records. He has continued the old school r&b vibe that was featured on his terrific debut, "A Strange Arrangement" and with this new release, Mr. Hawthorne has delivered an even stronger album of classic silky soul perfectly blended with hip-hop beats. He's even has rapper, Snoop Dogg singing on a track!

"Can't Stop" - Mayer Hawthorne Featuring Snoop Dogg (2011)

"CEREMONIALS" - FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE


Flame-haired, English songstress, Florence Welch has reassembled her Machine (Isabella Summers on keyboards, guitarist, Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden on drums, bassist, Mark Saunders and Tom Monger on the harp) to release the follow-up to the band's highly successful 2009 debut album, "Lungs".

On "Ceremonials", Florence delivers a dark, moody and  ballad-heavy collection using that unique voice to create more of her wonderfully, quirky orchestral art-rock songs.

"Lover To Lover" - Florence & The Machine (2011)

"STRONGER" - KELLY CLARKSON


The very first "American Idol" winner, Kelly Clarkson is still the best vocalist to come off of that show and with her fifth album, "Stronger" she delivers more of her trademark countryified pop-rock songs with hints of r&b scattered throughout.

Unfortunately, there are no surprises and Ms Clarkson would greatly benefit from stretching herself much further but it's still a solid, entertaining pop album.

"Mr. Know-It-All" - Kelly Clarkson (2011)

"DUETS II" - TONY BENNETT


Veteran pop singer, Tony Bennett has recorded over seventy albums during his long career and has recently made history, at the age of eighty-five, as being the oldest artist to ever have a album debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 Album chart.

"Duets II" is the a follow-up to his 2006 hit album, "Duets" which, once again, pairs him up with a wide spectrum of musical artists who perform many classic songs from the Great American Songbook. It includes an impressive list of vocalists such as Faith Hill, Andrea Bocelli, Queen Latifah, Alejandro Sanz, Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse.

Here is Mr. Bennett's amusing duet with a game, Lady Gaga:

"The Lady Is A Tramp" - Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (2011)

This is the video of  Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse perfroming their rendition of "Body and Soul":




"MY LIFE II" - MARY J. BLIGE


Mary J. Blige's tenth studio album, "My Life II" is a sequel (of sorts) to her 1994 album. During the time of the "My Life" album, Mary was dealing with drug addiction, depression and an abusive relationship but she is now a happily married woman with a positive outlook which is reflected in the songs on the latest album.

Although Mary lined up some of the top producers (Darkchild, Danja, Tricky Stewart) and performers (Beyonce, Nas, Drake) on this project but the final results fails to live up to the original album. There are are some fine moments to be found but overall it lacks the true passion and power of some of the classic songs, "You Bring Me Joy", "I Love You" and the title track off of "My Life"

"25/8" - Mary J. Blige (2011)

"NOTHING BUT THE BEAT" - DAVID GUETTA


French DJ, David Guetta is currently one of the most popular record spinners in the world and has very successfully moved in to music production.

On his fifth album, "Nothing But The Beat", Mr. Guetta has once again rounded up a group of all-star talent from the world of r&b, hip-hop and pop to perform on this disc. Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Lil' Wayne, Jennifer Hudson and Sia are just a few of the names that make an appearance and the collaboration with Usher on the song, "Without You" has reached number four on the pop chart. The relentless, throbbing beats can grow slightly tiresome after a while but for the lovers of dance music, David Guetta can do no wrong.

"Turn Me On" - David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj (2011)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

54TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

The nominations have been announced for this year's Grammy Awards with Kanye West leading the pack with seven nominations and Adele, Bruno Mars and The Foo Fighters each receiving six.

This is the first year where the awards in each major music category has eliminated segregating the artists by gender and has combined them in to just one. There are now fewer awards to be handed out but that also means that there will be fewer opportunities for artists to be nominated.  In some ways it's good because there have been many years where there have been questionable nominations given just to be able to fill out the categories but this could cause certain deserving artists to be possibly overlooked. We'll see what happens in the future.

The 54th annual Grammy Awards will be presented on February 12th 2012 on CBS.

For complete list of the nominations, please go to:
Grammy.com

Album of the Year

"21" – Adele

"Doo-Wops & Hooligans" – Bruno Mars

"Born This Way" – Lady Gaga

"Wasting Light "– Foo Fighters

"Loud" – Rihanna

Record of the Year

“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele

“Grenade” – Bruno Mars

“Holocene” – Bon Iver

“The Cave” – Mumford & Sons

“Firework” – Katy Perry

Song of the Year

“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele

“Holocene” – Bon Iver

“Grenade” – Bruno Mars

“The Cave” – Mumford & Sons

“All of the Lights” – Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie

Best New Artist

Bon Iver

The Band Perry

Nicki Minaj

J. Cole

Skrillex

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Someone Like You” – Adele

“Yoü and I” – Lady Gaga

“Grenade” – Bruno Mars

“Firework” – Katy Perry

“F***in’ Perfect” – Pink

Best Pop Vocal Album

"21" – Adele

"The Lady Killer" – Cee Lo Green

"Born This Way" – Lady Gaga

"Doo-Wops & Hooligans" – Bruno Mars

"Loud" – Rihanna

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group

“Body and Soul” – Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

“Dearest” – The Black Keys

“Paradise” – Coldplay

“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster the People

“Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera

Best Dance Recording

“Raise Your Weapon” – Deadmau5 & Greta Svabo Bech

“Barbra Streisand” – Duck Sauce

“Sunshine” – David Guetta & Avicii

“Call Your Girlfriend” – Robyn

“Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites” – Skrillex

“Save The World” – Swedish House Mafia

Best Dance/Electronica Album

"Zonoscope"– Cut/Copy

"4×4=12" – Deadmau5

"Nothing But The Beat" – David Guetta

"Body Talk, Pt. 3" – Robyn

"Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites" – Skrillex

Best R&B Performance

“Far Away” – Marsha Ambrosius

“Pieces of Me” – Ledisi

“Not My Daddy” – Kelly Price & Stokley

“Is This Love” – Corinne Bailey Rae

“You Are” – Charlie Wilson

Best Traditional R&B Performance

“Sometimes I Cry” – Eric Benét

“Fool for You” – Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona

“Radio Message” – R. Kelly

“Good Man” – Raphael Saadiq

“Surrender” – Betty Wright & The Roots

Best R&B Song

“Far Away” – Marsha Ambrosius

“Fool for You” – Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona

“Not My Daddy” – Kelly Price

“Pieces of Me” – Ledisi

“You Are” – Charlie Wilson

Best R&B Album

"F.A.M.E." – Chris Brown

"Second Chance" – El DeBarge

"Love Letter" – R. Kelly

"Pieces of Me" – Ledisi

"Kelly" – Kelly Price

Best Rap Performance

“Look at Me Now” – Chris Brown, Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes

“Otis” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

“The Show Goes On” – Lupe Fiasco

“Moment 4 Life” – Nicki Minaj & Drake

“Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

“Party” – Beyoncé & André 3000

“I’m on One” – DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne

“I Need a Doctor” – Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey

“What’s My Name?” – Rihanna & Drake

“Motivation” – Kelly Rowland & Lil Wayne

“All of the Lights” – Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie

Best Rap Song

“All of the Lights” – Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie

“Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa

“I Need a Doctor” – Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey

“Look at Me Now” – Chris Brown, Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes

“Otis” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

“The Show Goes On” – Lupe Fiasco

Best Rap Album

"Watch the Throne" – Jay-Z & Kanye West

"Tha Carter IV" – Lil Wayne

"Lasers" – Lupe Fiasco

"Pink Friday" – Nicki Minaj

"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" – Kanye West

Best Country Album

"My Kinda Party" - Jason Aldean

"Chief " - Eric Church

"Own the Night"  - Lady Antebellum

"Red River Blue"  - Blake Shelton

"Here for a Good Time " - George Strait

"Speak Now" - Taylor Swift.

Producer of the Year (Non-Classical)

Danger Mouse

Paul Epworth

The Smeezingtons

Ryan Tedder

Butch Vig

Friday, November 18, 2011

THE FIRST TIME: PART THIRTEEN

"DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES" - HALL & OATES (1975)


Daryl Hall was born in 1946 in Pottstown, PA. John Oates was born in New York City in 1949 and raised in Philadelphia.

In 1966, while in high school, Oates performed on his first single, "I Need Your Love" with the group, The Masters. After he graduated school the following year, he went to Temple University where he met fellow musician, Daryl Hall who was a senior at the time. Hall was majoring in music and he worked with legendary r&b songwriters and producers, Kenny Gable and Leon Huff as a session musician.

Hall dropped out of school in 1968 and a year later deceided to pursue music full time. Hall & Oates decided to join together and become a duo in 1970. They got a recording contract with Atlantic Records two years later. Hall & Oates released three albums on the label but none of them were commercially successful as they were still developing their sound. There was one song off of their 1973 album, "Abandoned Luncheonette" that wasn't a hit for them initially (it only reached number sixty on the charts), but it became successful for other singers. "She's Gone" was recorded by several artists including r&b singer, Lou Rawls but became a number one hit on the soul chart for Tavares in 1974. After their third album, "War Babies', Hall & Oates decided to leave Atlantic and join RCA Records in 1975.

Their debut on their new label simply titled, "Daryl Hall and John Oates" came out that year and the most controversial issue, certainly in their entire career, was the cover of this album. It featured the men heavily made-up, looking like glam rockers and (most especially Hall) very androgynous which is the complete opposite of their actual image and sound. Despite this distraction, the second single released, "Sara Smile" became their first top-ten hit. The song, written about Hall's then-girlfriend Sara Allen who would later co-write many of the duo's songs with him, peaked at number four on the pop chart.

After the success of "Sara Smile", Atlantic Records decided to re-release the duo's original version of "She's Gone" in 1976 and the song went to number seven on the pop chart.

Hall & Oates released their next album, "Bigger Than Both Of Us" in 1977 and that featured "Rich Girl" which became their first number one song.

After riding high on these hits, Hall & Oates later had difficulty getting radio play with their follow-up albums. They experimented with a more rock sound and when disco ruled the airwaves, Hall & Oates released, "X-Static" in 1979 that blended dance and rock but it also failed to connect with audiences. After this, Hall & Oates decided to take control of their career by producing their music themselves and recording their albums with their touring band instead of using session musicians.

In 1980, Hall & Oates released their ninth album, "Voices" and things started to slowly change for the duo. The first single, "How Does It Feel To Be Back" was their first to crack the top-forty in years, then the next single, which was a remake of The Righteous Brothers' 1964 hit, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", managed to make it to number twelve on the pop charts. The following song, "Kiss On My List" would place Hall & Oates back on the top of the charts with another single, "You Make My Dreams" hitting number five. In addition, the song "Every time You Go Away", which is on the "Voices" album but not released as a single, would be remade by British singer, Paul Young in 1985 and would become a number one smash.

Hall & Oates became one of the top acts of the eighties and they had a long string of hit songs throughout the decade including "Private Eyes", "Maneater", "One On One", "Say It Isn't So" and "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", a song that went to number one on the pop and r&b charts which was the rare time that a white act managed to achieve that feat on both charts. They also performed at the original Live Aid concert as well as on the "We Are The World" charity single in 1985.

In 1987, Hall & Oates decided to sign a lucrative new record deal with Arista Records and they released two albums; "Ooh Yeah" in 1988 and "Change Of Season" in 1990. While these albums went platinum and gold respectively but the singles didn't do nearly as well as their past works and the sales were considered disappointing. The duo didn't release another album until 1997 with "Marigold Sky" on their own indie label, Push Records.

Each artist has recorded solo albums over the years with Daryl Hall releasing his fifth, "Laughing Down Crying" and John Oates released his third, "Mississippi Mile" both earlier this year but the duo still finds plenty of opportunities today to perform together with concert tours and television appearances.

Hall & Oates is considered one of the most successful duos in musical history with a total of eight number one singles, over twenty top forty songs and has sold a total of over sixty million records during their career.

Daryl Hall was involved with Sara Allen for about thirty years before ending their relationship in 2001. They never married and have no children. Hall has a son, Darren from a previous marriage to Bryna Lubin. He is currently married to Amanda Aspinall.

John Oates is married to his wife, Aimee and they have a son, Tanner.

This is the song that introduced this duo to the world:

"Sara Smile" - Hall & Oates (1976)

Here is the music video of Paul Young's hit covering Hall & Oates:




"DREAMBOAT ANNIE" - HEART (1976)


The Wilson sisters were born in California; Ann in San Diego in 1950 and Nancy in San Francisco in 1954. Their father was in the Marines which had him traveling between California and Taiwan before retiring and settling the family in Bellevue, Washington. Music played an important part of their family as their mother was a concert pianist and their father sang in a choir during his time in the military.

While their parents exposed Ann and Nancy to a wide variety of music, but it was seeing The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" that cemented the idea of them becoming rock musicians. Neither of them ever had any formal music lessons but were committed to learning how to play guitar. Ann and Nancy started writing their own songs as well and they performed rock and folk music in a few bands in high school.

In 1972, Ann joined a local band, Hocus Pocus that featured Roger Fisher on guitar, Steve Fossen on bass, David Belzer on keyboards and Jeff Johnson on drums. Ann met Roger's brother, Mike who had avoided the draft by moving to Canada, while he was visiting his family. They started dating, fell in love and Ann moved to Canada to be with him. Roger Fisher and Steve Fossen followed in 1973 and formed a new band with Ann called Heart. Nancy came to Canada the following year and joined the band along with John Hannah on keyboards and Brian Johnstone on drums.

Heart performed many one-night shows throughout Canada before settling in Vancouver. The group recorded some demos with producer, Mike Flicker and session player, Howard Leese who joined the band after Hannah and Johnstone left the band. Heart signed a two-album deal with Mushroom Records and released their debut album, "Dreamboat Annie" in 1976. "Crazy On You" became Heart's first hit song, although it only reached number thirty-five on the U.S. pop charts but it did much better internationally. With two other singles, "Magic Man" (which became their first U.S top ten song) and the title track both doing well which helped their first album sell over a million copies.

Unhappy with how the label promoted the band and their unwillingness to raise their royalty rate, Heart broke their contract with Mushroom Records and signed with Portrait Records, a subsidiary of CBS Records. This resulted in a lengthy legal battle with Mushroom with the label releasing a new Heart album called, "Magazine" in 1977 shortly before the release of Heart's Portrait label debut, "Little Queen". "Magazine" consisted of uncompleted songs that Heart had begun recording before deciding to leave the label.

A court ordered a compromise which had Mushroom Records pull "Magazine" to allow Heart the opportunity to remix and re-record several tracks before re-releasing the album but Heart had actually wanted the album pulled completely. "Magazine" was re-released in 1978 with both albums selling over a million copies each and both had top-forty hit songs; "Barracuda" ("Little Queen") and "Heartless" ("Magazine").

Heart enjoyed plenty of successful albums and singles including "Straight On", "Even It Up", and "Dog & Butterfly" throughout the rest of the seventies. By the early eighties, Heart's next few releases failed to have much chart success although Ann had a top-ten hit as a solo artist with a duet with Mike Reno of the band, Loverboy with the song, "Almost Paradise" from the soundtrack for the film, "Footloose" in 1984.

Heart signed with a new label, Capitol Records in 1985 and released their eighth album simply entitled, "Heart" which turned out to become their biggest in their career. There were four top-ten hits, "What About Love?", "Never", "Nothin' At All" and their first number one smash, "These Dreams". The album, which was also their first number one, went on to sell over five million copies. Heart released three more successful albums; "Bad Animals" (1987), "Brigade" (1990) and "Desire Walks On" (1993) before Nancy decided to take a break to focus on starting a family with her husband, Rolling Stone magazine writer turned filmmaker, Cameron Crowe.

In 1995, Ann assembled a new band and went on tour as either The Ann Wilson Band or Ann Wilson and The Ricola Brothers. Nancy went on to score the music for several of her husband's films including "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous" as well as released a solo album, "Live At McCabe's Guitar Shop" in 1999. Ann released her first solo album, "Hope & Glory" in 2007.

The Wilson sisters reunited as Heart,with new band members, and released their first album in seven years with "Red Velvet Car" in 2010 which debuted at number ten on the U.S Billboard 200 chart. Heart has sold over thirty-five million records worldwide and they continue to tour.

Nancy married Cameron Crowe in 1986 and they have two sons, William and Curtis but the couple divorced in 2010. Ann has never been married.

This is Heart's first big single:

"Crazy On You" - Heart (1976)

Here is the music video for "Never" which I love the big hair, the eighties fashions and Nancy shaking her stuff with her guitar:




"WHAT 'CHA GONNA DO WITH MY LOVIN'" - STEPHANIE MILLS (1979)


Stephanie Dorthea Mills was born in 1957 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. The fifth of six children, Stephanie developed her singing skills at a young child while attending her Baptist church. She entered and won the Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater six times which lead to her appearing in her first Broadway play, "Maggie Flynn" at the age of nine.

Shortly after that, Stephanie signed her first recording contract with ABC Records and released her debut album, "Movin' In The Right Direction" in 1974. Although the album was not a huge success but it lead to her being asked to open for The Isley Brothers. The following year, she won the lead as Dorothy in the Broadway musical, "The Wiz", an African-American version of "The Wizard of Oz".

Jermaine Jackson, of The Jackson 5, suggested to Berry Gordy of Motown Records to sign Stephanie to the label and she recorded an album, "For The First Time" and it was released in 1976. Unfortunately, the album did not do well and she was dropped from the label.

In 1978, Stephanie signed with 20th Century Records and was teamed with producers, James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. Their collaboration produced, "What 'Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" in 1979. The title track was her break-out single where it reached number eight on the r&b chart and twenty-two on the pop chart and the album went gold. The follow-up album, "Sweet Sensation" was released the next year with the single, "Never Knew Love Like This Before" becoming a huge hit, peaking at number six on the pop chart and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Stephanie left this label and after another unsuccessful album was released with Motown, she signed with Casablanca Records in 1982. She recorded three moderately successful albums on this label with her biggest hit song being, "The Medicine Song" in 1984

Stephanie signed with another new label, MCA Records in 1985 and this is where she reached her career peak. The self-titled first album on the label featured the song, "I've Learned To Respect The Power of Love" (written by r&b singer, Angela Winbush) which became her first number one on the r&b chart. In 1987, she released the album, "If I Were Your Woman" which had three top-ten r&b singles with two of them; "I Feel Good All Over" and "(You're Puttin') A Rush On Me" both topping the chart. This album also became her best-selling  with sales of over a million copies. She released four more albums on the label with two more number one hit singles; "Something In The Way (You Make Me Feel)" and "Home" which was a song re-recorded from "The Wiz", both in 1989.

Stephanie is not as active as she once was but still makes occasional live appearances and she recently released a new single, "Yesterday" which is a remake of The Beatles classic with a new album to come.

Stephanie Mills has been married three times; She married Jeffrey Daniel, one of the original members of the group, Shalamar in 1980 but they divorced two years later. She married Dino Meminger shortly after that but they divorced about two years later. In 1993, she married Michael Saunders, a North Carolina radio station manager but they have since separated. Stephanie has one child, a son, Farad who has Down's Syndrome and she has not disclosed the name of his father.

This is the song that began her recording career:

"What 'Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" - Stephanie Mills (1979)

This is the music video for her biggest hit, "Never Knew Love Like This Before":

Friday, November 11, 2011

RIHANNA: THE QUEEN OF POP


There has been no slowing Rihanna down as with her latest single, "We Found Love" is her eleventh number one song on the U.S. Billboard Pop Chart, tying her with Whitney Houston with the most among female artists following Mariah Carey and Madonna.

She has also made the charts working with other artists such as Jay Z, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, David Guetta with her total chart toppers including collaborations with T.I ("Live Your Life") and Eminem ("Love The Way You Lie").

There are two new songs out where Rihanna has added her vocals; the first is not surprising as she is on the title track, "Take Care" from hip-hop artist, Drake's upcoming album. The two team up again after his appearance on her 2010 number one song, "What's My Name?"

"Take Care" - Drake Featuring Rihanna (2011)

The other is more unexpected as Rihanna appears on a track from Coldplay's new album, "Mylo Xyloto". "Princess of China" is a slight shift in direction for the rock band with the song having a funkier edge and being a true stand-out on the record:

"Princess of China" - Coldplay Featuring Rihanna (2011)

This is the gritty and sexy music video for "We Found Love" that follows a young couple's drug-fueled romance. (I think the male lead looks suspiciously like Rihanna's former lover, Chris Brown):

Thursday, November 3, 2011

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


Today's tune is a hot track from Beyonce off of her latest album, "4" which is one of my favorites. "Party" is slinky, slow-groove that features not only Kanye West but also Andre 3000. This song has been released primarily for the urban market and hopefully it will make some noise on the charts as the album hasn't done nearly as well as anyone would like:

"Party" - Beyonce Featuring Kanye West and Andre 3000

This is the music video for the song in which B is giving us trailer-trash diva who is partying with her sister, Solange and former Destiny's Child member, Kelly Rowland who both make cameo appearances. No sign of her baby bump in this clip but the biggest change is that J. Cole has replaced Andre 3000, for some unknown reason, providing a new rap at the bridge of the song. It's not nearly as good but no major harm done:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

FOCUS ON: STEVIE WONDER


Stevie Wonder is certainly one of the most influential musical artists in history who not only revolutionized the sound of soul but altered people's perception of what could be done to music in general. He is daring, bold and fearless, who is willing to try almost anything and throw in any idea that inspires or moves him which is what makes his music so special and unique.

While preparing to write this, I was listening to his music and I was amazed by the wide range and the beautifully, complex textures to his songs. Stevie Wonder's brilliance as a song writer and musician can be quite shocking considering that he has never been able to actually see the world around him but he has the ability to vividly and accurately capture everything.. He is truly a living legend and an important part of our musical history.

He was born Stevland Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950. He was six weeks premature and because the blood vessels at the back of his eyes had not yet reached the front, his retinas became detached and Stevie was left blind.

When Stevie was four, his parents separated and his mother moved him and his five siblings to Detroit. She went back to her maiden name and changed Stevie's surname to "Morris". Stevie learned to play a variety of instruments including the piano, bass and harmonica.and performed in his church's choir.

He was discovered by Gerald White, the brother of The Miracles singer, Ronnie, who first saw Stevie perform at a friend's house. Gerald later brought Ronnie to see Stevie, then Ronnie brought the eleven year old to Motown to audition for Berry Gordy. He was signed to the Tamla label in 1961 and Clarence Paul, one of Stevie's first producers, is the one who came up with his new stage name, "Wonder" and he became professionally known as "Little Stevie Wonder".

Little Stevie recorded two albums in 1962 with little success but at thirteen, he had his first hit single, "Fingertips (Pt. 2)" which was taken from a live recording. The song went to number one on the pop and r&b charts in 1963 and a new star was born. He later appeared, as himself, in the films, "Muscle Beach Party" and the sequel, "Bikini Beach in 1964.

As he matured, Stevie decided to drop the "Little" from his name and continued to have several hit songs including "Uptight (Every thing's Alright)", "I Was Made To Love Her" and "For Once In My Life". During this time, he developed as a song writer in which he wrote not only for himself but for other Motown artists.

By the time he was twenty-one, Stevie was so frustrated by his lack of artistic control at Motown that he allowed his recording contract to expire in 1971. He recorded two independently produced albums as well as wrote and produced for other artists to use as a bargaining tool during contract negotiations with the label. This ploy worked and Motown gave Wonder full creative control, rights to his songs and a higher royalty rate.

Motown released the first of Stevie's self produced albums, "Music Of My Mind" in 1972. It was different from the typical Motown album as Wonder played all the instruments and it dealt with social and political issues with the songs connected together thematically. Later in the year, "Talking Book" was released which featured the smash hits, "Superstition" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" with both songs topping the pop charts. The album won Stevie his first three Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop, Best Male R&B and Best R&B Song.

In 1973, Wonder released "Intervisions" which had two top ten hits, "Higher Ground" and "Living For The City" and the album won him three more Grammys including Album Of The Year.  Later that year, Stevie was in a near fatal car accident that left him in a coma for four days. He recovered and was able to triumphantly return to the stage to perform during a comeback concert at Madison Square Garden in March of 1974.

"Songs In The Key Of Life", released in 1976, was an ambitious and accomplished work that would become Wonder's best-selling and most critically acclaimed album of his career. It was a two-LP collection with a four song bonus EP that features his classic songs, "I Wish", "Sir Duke" and "Isn't She Lovely" which was written about the birth of his daughter, Aisha. The record would go on to sell over ten million copies in the U.S. alone and won four Grammy Awards including his third award for Album Of The Year.

After taking some time off, he returned in 1979 with a mostly instrumental soundtrack album for the film, "The Secret Life Of Plants" and writing and producing a hit song for Jermaine Jackson, "Let's Get Serious" before releasing "Hotter Than July" in 1980. The album, inspired by his love of reggae music and meeting Bob Marley, became a huge hit with the singles, "Master Blaster (Jammin)", "I Ain't Gonna Stand For It", "Lately" and "Happy Birthday" (which was written in honor of Martin Luther King and used to encourage the passage of a national holiday in his honor) helping the album become a million seller.


During this period, Stevie Wonder contributed vocals to two big charity singles, "We Are The World" (1985) and "That's What Friends Are For" (1986), made guest appearances on recordings for a wide variety of different artists such as The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, The Eurythmics, and Paul McCartney, either singing, playing the harmonica or both and he won an Academy Award for the number one song on the pop and r&b charts, "I Just Called To Say I Love You" from the film, "The Woman In Red" in 1985.

In the 1990's, Stevie continued to work but at a much slower pace as he released only one studio album, "Conversation Piece" (1995) during the decade but recorded material for the soundtrack of two Spike Lee films, "Jungle Fever" and "Bamboozled" and continued to make occasional guest appearances on the music for other artists. "A Time To Love" was released in 2005 and has been the last studio album for Mr. Wonder to date but he continues to make live performances around the world.

Stevie Wonder has had thirty top-ten U.S. hits with ten reaching number one, twenty number one r&b hit songs, won twenty-two Grammy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award,  was inducted in to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and has sold over one hundred million records.

Stevie Wonder married fellow Motown artist, Syreeta Wright in 1970. She co-wrote many songs with him on his albums and he worked on her first two solo recordings but the marriage ended in 1972. He has been married to Kai Milla Morris, a designer, since 2001 and they have two sons, Kailand and Mandla. He has a total of seven children from previous relationships.

Here is a sample of some of Mr. Wonder's greatest hits from throughout his career:

"For Once In My Life" - Stevie Wonder (1968)

"My Cherie Amour" - Stevie Wonder (1969)

"Signed, Sealed, Deliered (I'm Yours)" - Stevie Wonder (1970)

"If You Really Love Me" - Stevie Wonder (1971)

"Living For The City" - Stevie Wonder (1973)

"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" - Stevie Wonder (1973)

"Don't You Worry 'bout A Thing" - Stevie Wonder (1974)

"All I Do" - Stevie Wonder (1980)

This is early footage of Stevie performing "Uptight (Everything's Alright):


This is the music video for "Part-Time Lover" that features Luther Vandross on background:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

DISCO INFERNO



I've been having disco fever ever since I had done a post about Chic, one of the super groups of that time. I was just a mere teenager at the height of the disco era, around 1978 and 1979, so I wasn't able to go out and get my groove on out on the dance floor. I had to sadly settle for just listening to the music at home.

I loved disco and never understood the hostility to the music during the whole "Disco Sucks" phase but the music seemed to disappear from radio overnight. The reality is that disco didn't go anywhere. The sound just evolved and it is now known as "dance" which is even more popular today. The sound incorporates house, electronic and hip-hop.

So here are a few classic disco tunes to enjoy and brighten up your day:

"Super Nature" - Cerrone (1977)

"Shake Your Groove Thing" - Peaches & Herb (1978)

"Dance (Disco Heat)" - Sylvester (1978)

"I Love The Nightlife (Disco 'Round)" - Alicia Bridges (1978)

"Dance With Me" - Peter Brown (1978)

"Get Off" - Foxy (1978)

"Knock On Wood" - Amii Stewart (1979)

"Lost In Music" - Sister Sledge (1979)

"Good Times" - Chic (1979)

Here is a new music video from The Young Professionals (TYP) for their song " D.I.S.C.O." that perfectly captures the crazy fun and carefree spirit of the glory days of disco:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

THE FIRST TIME: PART TWELVE

"RAPTURE" - ANITA BAKER  (1986)


Anita Baker was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1958 and her family later relocated to Detroit, Michigan. As a child, she sang in a gospel choir and as a teenager, Anita performed in several singing groups. Shortly after completing high school, she was asked to join Chapter 8, a popular local r&b group that just signed with Ariola Records. They recorded one self-titled album which was released in 1979 with a couple of singles received some local radio play. Ariola Records later became a part of Arista Records but the executives at the label dropped Chapter 8 because they were not at all impressed with Ms Baker as a vocalist.

Discouraged and humiliated, Anita Baker decided to leave the music business and she got a job as an administrative assistant in a lawyer's office. Otis Smith, a record executive who had worked with Chapter 8, approached Ms Baker about recording a solo album on his new label, Beverly Glen Records in California. Reluctantly, she flew to Los Angeles, made the record and "The Songstress" was released in 1983. The album lacked polish but showed great potential, however, there were two highlights; "No More Tears" and "Angel" (which she co-wrote). Both songs received heavy airplay on Black radio and created some well-deserved buzz for the young singer. Electra Records became very interested in her and signed Ms Baker to the label in 1985.

"Rapture" was released the following year on her new label. She wrote or co-wrote half of the album and teamed-up with former Chapter 8 member, Michael J. Powell to produce the project. The first single, "Watch Your Step" didn't get much play on r&b radio but it was the next single that would completely alter her career.

"Sweet Love" became a huge hit, peaking at number two on the r&b chart and reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Three more singles, "(Caught Up In The) Rapture", "No One in the World"(which filmmaker, Spike Lee directed the music video) and "Same Ole Love " became major hits and "Rapture" would go on to sell over eight million copies worldwide. Anita Baker would win the first two of her eight Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female and Best R&B Song for "Sweet Love".

Her follow-up album, "Giving You The Best That I Got" was released in 1988 and went straight to number one on the album charts with the title track making it to number three on the pop chart as well as topping the r&b and adult contemporary and would eventually sell over five million copies. With "Compositions" in 1990, Ms Baler became even more involved in the song writing and production while she began to experiment even further with jazz in her music although the album didn't end up being nearly as popular as her previous works.

After releasing the more commercially successful, "Rhythm of Life" in 1994 and touring to support the album, Anita decided to take some time off to raise her two young sons and spend more time with her husband. It was not until 2004, that Anita Baker signed with the Jazz label, Blue Note Records and released her first album in ten years. Fans were very happy for her return as "My Everything" debuted at number four on the album chart and number one on the r&b. It has sold over half a million copies and she released her first holiday album, "Christmas Fantasy" the following year. Rumor has it that Ms Baker is working on a new album that hopefully will be completed very soon.

Anita married Walter Bridgforth Jr. in 1988 and they have two sons, Walter and Edward but the couple separated in 2007

This is the song that began her career:

"Sweet Love" - Anita Baker (1986)


"PARALLEL LINES" - BLONDIE (1978)


In New York City in 1973, Chris Stein joined the punk rock band, The Stilettos as the guitar player. He started dating the group's vocalist, Deborah Harry and in 1974, they left The Stilettos and started their own band with drummer, Billy O'Connor and bassist, Fred Smith. They were first called Angel and the Snakes but by 1975 after a personnel change with a new drummer, Clem Burke, bassist, Gary Valentine and added on keyboards, Jimmy Destri, the band was renamed, Blondie which came from what guys on the street would yell at Ms Harry to try and get her attention.

Blondie performed regularly at the clubs, Max's Kansas City and CBGB before they landed their first recording contract with Private Stock Records in 1976. Blondie released a single, "X-Offender" and their self-titled debut album later that year.Chrysalis Records wanted to sign the band, so they bought out their recording contract and re-released their debut in 1977. The band's first taste of success came when an Australian music television show, "Countdown" played, in error,  the B-side of "X-Offender", "In The Flesh" and the song ended up becoming a top five single there in addition to the album.

Gary Valentine left Blondie before the recording of their follow-up album, so they continued on as a foursome. "Plastic Letters" was released in 1978 with the first single, "Denis", a cover of the 1963 Randy and the Rainbows song, becoming a hit in Britain, reaching number two on the singles chart and the following single, "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear" also reached the top ten. Blondie enjoyed a successful tour in the U.K. with Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison joining as the new bass guitarists.

"Parallel Lines" was Blondie's third release and three is always a charm. The first couple of singles, "Picture This" and "Hanging On The Telephone" made it to Britain's top ten on the pop chart but it was the third,  "Heart of Glass" that made the band a global sensation. This song's timing as a new wave-disco hybrid couldn't have been better as it reached number one in eight countries including the U.S. Some critics complained that the band had sold-out, abandoning their punk roots for pop success but Blondie never completely left their original sound, they just experimented and pushed it forward.

"Eat To The Beat", Blondie's next album in 1979, combined pop, punk, funk, rock and reggae with it becoming another major seller but it was their next song, which was never actually on a Blondie album, that would become the band's biggest seller. Blondie teamed-up with producer, Giorgio Moroder, best known for his work with the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, to do "Call Me", a song for the film, "American Gigolo". It was another world-wide smash and sold over a million copies.

1980 brought Blondie's fifth album, "Autoamerican" which featured two big number one hits; "The Tide Is High", a remake of a 1965 reggae hit by The Paragons and "Rapture" which is considered to be the first number one song to include the new musical genre, rap. After this album, Blondie decided to take a break and various members released solo projects, including Deborah Harry's solo album, "Koo Koo".

Blondie came back in 1982 with "The Hunter" but the album was a critical and commercial failure. Due to personal issues, financial stress, drug use and Chris Stein being diagnosed with a rare skin disease, pemphigus, Blondie disbanded by the end of that year. Deborah Harry had a moderately successful solo career but she did take several years off to care for Stein. The couple ended their relationship some time after Stein recovered from his illness.

In 1996, Chris Stein and Deborah Harry worked towards reuniting Blondie. Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri and original bassist, Gary Valentine agreed and did several live performances before recording a new album, "No Exit" which came out in 1999 although Valentine had dropped out of the band again by this point. Former members, Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante did not participate and unsuccessfully tried to sue to stop the band from using the name, "Blondie". The foursome released another album in 2003, "The Curse of Blondie" before Destri left the band to deal with his drug addiction. The other three original members still tour as Blondie and have just released a new album this year, "Panic of Girls"

Blondie has sold over forty million albums and were inducted in to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

This is Blondie's breakthrough song:

"Heart Of Glass" - Blondie (1978)

This is the video for the first single, "Backfired" from Deborah Harry's debut album which happens to be written and produced by Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers:



And here is the latest music video for the single, "Mother" off the band's latest album:




"CHIC" - CHIC (1977)


Guitarist, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, a bass player first met in 1970 during a recording session in New York City. They decided to form a rock band together, first called, The Boys and later, The Big Apple and the duo played around the city. Tony Thompson was added to the group as a drummer and he recommended Raymond Jones to play on keyboards.  The group wanted to add a female vocalist, so they hired Norma Jean Wright although she insisted that she be allowed to continue to pursue her solo career.

The new group, renamed Chic, worked on some demos and based on those recordings, were signed to Atlantic Records in 1977. The self-titled debut album (with a young Luther Vandross providing background vocals) was released later that year with the first single, "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" becoming a hit, going to number six on the pop and r&b charts and their first number one on the dance (but then named, disco) chart. The next single, "Everybody Dance" also did well, reaching the top forty.

Luci Martin, a friend of Norma Jean Wright, was added as a vocalist to the group as Edwards and Rodgers felt it was necessary in order to properly recreate their sound while touring. After the success of that first album, Norma Jean released her own self-titled debut solo album in 1978 which was written and produced by the men behind Chic. The record was only a very modest success but it did create a problem because of the terms of her solo recording contract, Ms Wright was forced to end her participation with Chic. Alfa Anderson, who had done background vocals on Chic's first album, replaced Ms Wright.

Chic's next album, "C'est Chic" was released in 1978 during the height of the disco music craze. The first single, "Le Freak", which Edwards and Rodgers came up with after they were refused entry in to the exclusive disco, Studio 54 on New Year's Eve in 1977, became a world-wide, chart-topping smash and one of their most popular songs, selling six million copies alone. "I Want Your Love" would also become a top ten hit and the album became a million seller.

"Risque" was Chic's third album ,which featured another huge number one hit, "Good Times" in 1979. This song has become one of the most sampled in music history with the most notable being "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang which is considered to be the first commercially successful rap songs.

With all of their success, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers became in-demand producers and would write and produce other disco classics for such artists as Sister Sledge ("We Are Family") and Diana Ross ("Upside Down").

Because of the anti-disco backlash, Chic's music fell out of favor and had difficulty getting radio play. After their 1983 album, "Believer", Chic disbanded but Edwards and Rodgers continued to write and produce for a wide variety of artists, together and individually, such as David Bowie, Madonna, Robert Palmer, Duran Duran and Deborah Harry's first solo album.

In 1989, Edwards and Rodgers decided to reunite Chic, although this version featured mostly new members, and they recorded an album, "Chic-ism" which was released in 1992. While touring with the band in Japan, Bernard Edwards died of pneumonia at the age of forty-three in 1996.

Nile Rodgers was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 but received treatment and has recovered. He still tours with Chic and has just released, this month, his autobiography entitled, "Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny" and currently going around the country to promote it.

Chic has not been properly recognized for it's influential sound and their contribution to music as they have never won a Grammy Award and they have been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame seven times but still has not been inducted.

This is a sample of the great music that Edwards and Rodgers created:

"Dance, Dance, Dance" - Chic (1977)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


When I heard that Rihanna was coming out with yet another new album, my first thought was, "She seriously needs to take a vacation." but then I heard the first official single off of that project, "We Found Love".

I have to admit that I really love it. The song is produced by Calvin Harris, the Scottish singer/songwriter and DJ. The song is not very deep lyrically and doesn't demand much vocally from Rihanna but it's still a great dance tune.

This song may or may not indicate what direction the new album might take but it will be entitled, "Talk That Talk" and should be released here in the U.S. on November 21st.

Have a listen:

"We Found Love" - Rihanna (2011)

Here is the music video for "Cheers (Drink To That)", the seventh (!) and final single off her her last album, "Loud" which features the distinctive sound of the pop/punk princess, Avril Lavigne. This clip shows what seems to be the behind-the-scenes of the crazy, hectic but very enjoyable life of Rihanna:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

VESTA WILLIAMS (1957 - 2011)


R&B singer, Vesta Williams passed away on September 22nd. Most people keep asking who she was but I was well aware of this talented woman.

Vesta had a big voice to go along with her big talent but she never achieved the wide acclaim that she truly deserved. She started her music career as a background singer before finally released her self titled debut in 1986 and would go on to record a total of six solo albums. Although Vesta never managed to crossover on to the pop charts but she had six top ten r&b songs including her number one hit, "Congratulations" throughout the late '80's and early '90's.

Vesta Williams was truly a great artist and that unmistakable voice will be missed.

"Once Bitten, Twice Shy" - Vesta Williams (1986)

"Congratulations" - Vesta Williams (1989)

Here is a fun video for one of my favorite songs that best represents Vesta Williams:

Friday, September 23, 2011

FOCUS ON: BILLY JOEL


Billy Joel went from years as a struggling piano man, playing to small crowds in smoky bars to, seemingly overnight, becoming a wildly, popular international rock star, performing in large stadiums in front of millions of fans but the one thing that never changed during this evolution was his music. He has made plenty of memorable pop and rock tunes but is probably best known for his love songs, which are certainly personal and heartfelt but never feel overly sentimental.

What I love about Billy Joel is that all his songs are honest reflections and recollections from a wide variety of influences and combined with his voice of fiery passion and touching tenderness that  comes together to create powerfully, unforgettable music.

He was born William Martin Joel in 1949 in the Bronx, New York. His father, Karl was a classical pianist and Billy began to take piano lessons at a young age at his mother's insistence. By the time Billy was a teenager, he took up boxing because his interest in music instead of sports caused him to be teased and bullied. He was a good boxer, winning several bouts in the amateur circuit but Billy quickly ended his boxing career after he broke his nose during a match.

After seeing The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964, Billy had decided to wanted to become a musician. He formed a band first called, The Echoes and they performed covers of the popular British groups of the day. The band went through a few name changes before settling on The Lost Souls and they played on several recording sessions for local bands. Because Joel was out late playing piano with his band in local clubs, he overslept and missed an important test which left him a credit short to graduate. He decided that as a musician he didn't need a high school diploma and left school to pursue music full-time.

Joel left The Lost Souls and joined a Long Island band, The Hassles in 1967 and they signed with United Artists Records. The Hassles recorded two albums and released four singles but all were a commercial failure. Joel and Hassles drummer, Jon Small formed a duo, Attila and they released a self-titled album in 1970 but they disbanded shortly after.

Billy Joel signed his first solo recording contract in 1971 with Artie Ripp's label, Family Productions. His debut album, "Cold Spring Harbor" was recorded at the wrong speed which caused Joel's voice to sound too high. Joel, to say the least, was not at all happy with the album.

Joel toured around New York before deciding to relocate to Los Angeles in 1972. He attracted some buzz by playing in local bars and clubs before eventually going on to open for such acts as The J. Geils Band and The Beach Boys. An executive from Columbia Records heard Joel's music and wanted to sign him to the label, so they had to buy out his contract with Artie Ripp. However, Joel had signed a ten-record deal with Family Productions so part of the agreement allowed Ripp to collect royalties on the next ten albums on Columbia.


"Piano Man" was the first release on his new label with the title track being the biggest hit, reaching number twenty-five on the Billboard Pop Chart in 1973. The song was inspired by Joel's days of playing in bars in Los Angeles. Billy Joel released two more albums, "Streetlife Serenade" (1974) and "Turnstiles" (1976), which both sold modestly, before his major breakthrough album in 1977, "The Stranger".

"The Stranger" was the first time Joel teamed up with producer, Phil Ramone who would go on to work with him on the next six albums. This album was a commercial hit, ultimately selling over ten million copies as well as a critical success with "The Stranger" ranking number fifty-seven on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time". There were four top-forty singles with "Just The Way You Are", which was written about his first wife, Elizabeth, being the highest charting song, reaching number three. The song would go on to win Grammy Awards for "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year".

With this album, Billy Joel became a superstar with his following albums selling millions of copies, his songs became major hits, played regularly on the radio throughout the 1980's and early 1990's and he performed sold-out concerts around the world including in 1987, being one of the first American rock acts to perform in Russia since 1961.

Following the release of his 1993 album, " River of Dreams", Joel focused on only on touring but after a performance at Madison Square Garden in 1999, he announced that this would be his final live performance. Although he would end up making occasional concert appearances afterwards, including the popular "Face to Face" tour with Elton John that they first began in 1994, Joel hasn't made another rock album. In 2001, however, Joel teamed up with pianist, Richard Joo to compose an album of classical music entitled, "Fantasies and Delusions". Twyla Tharp created a stage musical that was based on the songs of Billy Joel called, "Movin' Out" which was first staged in 2002, won two Tony Awards and has been performed across the globe.

Billy Joel has been married three times; He wed Elizabeth Small in 1973, who was his business manager and she left her husband, Jon Small, who was Joel's musical partner in their band, Attila, to marry. The couple divorced in 1982. His second marriage was to supermodel, Christie Brinkley in 1985 and they had a daughter, Alexa Ray who is now an aspiring singer/songwriter.Their marriage ended in 1994. His last marriage was to Katie Lee who was twenty-three when they married in 2004 but they recently split-up in 2009.

During his career, Billy Joel has had thirty-three top-forty hits, he has been nominated for Grammy Awards twenty-three times and wining six, he was inducted in to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and has sold well over one hundred and fifty million records worldwide.

Here is a small sample of some of Billy Joel's timeless songs:

"Piano Man" - Billy Joel (1973)

"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" - Billy Joel (1977)

"Only The Good Die Young" - Billy Joel (1977)

"It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" - Billy Joel (1980)

"Keeping The Faith" - Billy Joel (1984)

This video for "Tell Her About It" touches on his own experience of watching The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show":



And finally, here is a live performance of one of his most popular songs, "Just The Way You Are":

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


Lisa Stansfield is another British blue-eyed soul singer who first hit it big in the late 1980's.

She started off with the band, Blue Zone UK that consisted of Ian Devaney (who later became her husband) and Andy Morris. They released an album, "Big Thing" with the song, "Jackie", becoming a modest hit in 1987. Then Lisa was a guest vocalist for the group, Coldcut and recorded "People Hold On"  in 1989 with the song reaching number eleven on the UK singles chart and number six on the US Billboard Dance Chart.

It was at this time that Devaney and Morris decided to focus on Lisa as a solo act, so together they wrote and produced the album, "Affection" that was released in 1989. The first single, "All Around The World (Reamstered)" became a worldwide smash with the song reaching number one in eleven countries as well as reaching the top spot on the US r&b chart, making her only the third white female singer to ever achieve this.

Although none of subsequent albums were as big here in the US but I think "Affection" is a near perfect album with every song showcasing a confident and powerful soul vocalist.

One of my favorite songs from the album is, "You Can't Deny It (US Version - Remastered)" with it only being released as a single in this country, where it only reached number fourteen on the pop charts but became her second number one on the r&b charts.

"You Can't Deny It" - Lisa Stansfield (1990)

This is the music video for her first big hit:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

SADE: LIVE IN CONCERT

 

I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a chance to catch one of the three L.A. Sade shows at the Staples Center but luckily a friend managed to get tickets (through Groupon) for the August 31st show at the Honda Center in Anaheim. It was over an hour away (with plenty of hellish traffic) from where I live but this concert was well worth the trip.

It's been ten years since Sade last toured and judging from the wildly, enthusiastic reaction from the audience that evening, the band was most certainly missed.

The stage floor opened up with a bright white light bursting through and Sade Adu emerged from it, looking incredible wearing a skintight black catsuit. The band kicked off the show with the title track off their latest album, "Soldier of Love". After the song, Ms Adu thanked the audience, seeming surprisingly shy, then announced that this evening's show was being recorded.

Sade continued on with my personal favorite, "Your Love Is King (Remastered Version)" and then proceeded to cover many of their classic songs from throughout their long career. They were no surprise covers or any obscure songs from their back-catalog performed as the band knew exactly what everyone had come to hear.

They were many magical moments throughout the show but the highlight had to be the performance of "Is It A Crime (Remastered Version)? " as the other members of the band, Paul Denman on bass, Andrew Hale on keyboards and Stuart Matthewman on the sax, were each given a spotlight to really show off their stuff on this song.

Sade's stage show was much like a stadium rock concert that featured an amazing combination of lights, shadows,and fog, as well as the obligatory projected images on large video screens but they also placed them on a full-length sheer scrim that covered the entire set for a very striking, dramatic effect,  All of this was certainly quite dazzling to see but Sade seems to be a band more comfortable in the "less is more" camp as all of the grand production was more of a distraction to their intimate, slow-groove sounds but the group definitely was able to adjust to performing on a much larger scale.

Best known as a r&b balladeer, John Legend opened the concert and while I can't say I'm a huge fan but he did put on a good show with his hit song, "Green Light" getting the audience dancing in the aisles.

Despite the unnecessary excess, Sade put on quite a memorable and entertaining show and in fact, it is certainly one of the best concerts I have seen in a long time, perhaps ever.

To give you an idea of the concert, here is the music video for Sade's latest single, "Love Is Found" which just happens to be a performance from the tour:

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