Friday, August 19, 2011

THE GO-GO'S: GIRLS GONE WILD TOUR


The Go-Go's are on the road promoting the thirtieth anniversary of their 1981 debut album, "Beauty And The Beat". I saw them on their stop in Los Angeles on August 17th at the Greek Theater.

The ladies marched out to the sound of Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" and looking not much different from when they first came on to the scene. With the original line-up still intact; Kathy Valentine on bass, drummer Gina Schock, Charlotte Caffey on keyboards/lead guitar, the newly, bleached blonde, Jane Wiedlin on guitar and lead vocalist, Belinda Carlisle who came out barefoot and ready to rock.

I have seen the Go-Go's many times over the years and they still put on a high-energy, good time show, doing not only most of the songs from their first album but a few tunes from their other two albums, "Vacation" and "Talk Show".

This time the girls ventured out to do other artist's songs as well as some of the member's solo efforts such as Carlisle's "Mad About You", Jane's hit song with Sparks, "Cool Places" and the Rolling Stones tune, "Mother's Little Helper" in which Belinda got to sarcastically sing the line "What a drag it is getting old" as today just happened to be her birthday. During the encore, a cake was brought out and the audience sang "happy birthday" to her and she looked visibly touched by the moment.

Here are a few songs from The Go-Go's first album, which were performed that night:

"We Got The Beat" - The Go-Go's (1981)

"This Town" - The Go-Go's (1981)

"How Much More" - The Go-Go's (1981)

Enjoy the music video of The Go-Go's first hit song as they were one of first bands to have MTV help break them out:




Monday, August 15, 2011

FOCUS ON: CHAKA KHAN


There have been plenty of soul singers in history but there has only been one Chaka Khan.

There are many words you could use to describe her: wild, fiery, sexy, passionate and outrageous and while they are all certainly accurate but it's hard to properly articulate the feeling you get when you hear her sing or watch her perform. While she has been praised and admired over the years, I think she is still undervalued as a musical performer. So, this is my little part in shining a light on one of my all-time favorite singers.

She was born Yvette Stevens in 1953 in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the city's rough, Southside projects. Yvette was the eldest of five children with her sister, Yvonne who later became a singer under the name, Taka Boom, her only brother, Mark formed the funk band, Aurra and her sisters, Kathleen and Tammy, who is currently her manager.

Her first introduction to music was jazz by her grandmother and later to r&b. Yvette formed an all-female singing group, The Crystalettes which also featured Yvonne. Later, Yvette and Yvonne became a part of another band, Shades of Black as well as joining the Black Panther party in 1967. While a member, Yvette was given the name, Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi by an African shaman.

In 1969, Chaka left the Panthers, dropped out of high school and met musician, Hassan Khan who she later married the following year. Their marriage was very brief but Chaka would later join her ex-husband's band, Lyfe where she sang lead vocals before joining a rock/soul group, The Babysitters but they disbanded in 1971.

Chaka was approached by friend, Paulette McWilliams to replace her as the vocalist for the band, Ask Rufus. This Chicago-based group performed rock and soul that featured Kevin Murphy, Al Ciner, Ron Stockert, Dennis Belfield and Andre Fischer. The band shortened it's name to Rufus, moved to Los Angeles and signed a recording contract with ABC Records in 1972. By this time, Chaka was only nineteen years old. Rufus released their self titled album in 1973 and while the singles that featured Chaka's vocals attracted some attention on r&b radio, the album was not a success.

During the recording of their second album, Al Ciner and Dennis Belfield left Rufus and was quickly replaced with guitarist, Tony Maiden and Bobby Watson on bass. The group had recorded their version of Stevie Wonder's song, "Maybe Your Baby" on their first album which lead to him writing a song specifically for Chaka Khan to sing. That song, "Tell Me Something Good" was the lead single off of the album, "Rags To Rufus", and became their first hit single, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as winning the group their first Grammy Award.

Rufus and Chaka would go on to release six more albums, between the years 1974 thru 1979, with each selling over a million copies that featured many hit songs charting on the r&b and pop charts including, "Sweet Thing", "You Got The Love", "Hollywood" and "Do You Love What You Feel?" As always, with success comes stress and tension, which grew between Khan and other members of Rufus. This eventually caused band members to leave the group between almost every album.

In 1978, Chaka Khan signed a solo recording contract with Warner Bros. Records although she made no plans to leave Rufus at this time. "Chaka" was her debut album released that year and included her smash hit single, "I'm Every Woman" which went to number one on the r&b chart.

The following year, Khan reunited with Rufus for the album, "Masterjam" which was produced by Quincy Jones. In 1983, Rufus and Chaka teamed up for their last album together, "Live: Stompin at the Savoy" that featured the studio recording, "Ain't Nobody (Album Version)". It became their final charting success, peaking at number twenty-two on the pop chart and another number one hit on the r&b.

Now, Khan focused on her solo career full time and on her sixth studio album, "I Feel For You", she released the title track in 1984 which was a remake of a Prince composition. The song, which features a Stevie Wonder sample and rapper, Melle Mel,  became a huge hit for Chaka Khan that topped the r&b chart and sold a million copies.

Chaka Khan has released eleven solo album during her career with her latest, "Funk This" which came out in 2007. She has won ten Grammy Awards including two as a member of Rufus. Chaka has been married and divorced three times and has two children, a daughter, Milini from her relationship with Rahsaan Morris and son, Damien with second husband, Richard Holland. She has battled drug addiction and alcoholism for many years but has declared herself completely sober since 2005.

Here are some of my favorite songs of Rufus featuring Chaka Khan:

"At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)' - Rufus & Chaka Khan (1977)

"Hollywood" - Rufus & Chaka Khan (1977)

"Do You Love What You Feel?" - Rufus & Chaka Khan (1979)

"Ain't Nobody" - Rufus & Chaka Khan (1983)

Here is the band performing their signature song, "Sweet Thing" on Soul Train:



Now enjoy a few of Chaka' solo hits:

"What Cha Gonna Do For Me?" - Chaka Khan (1981)

"Through The Fire" - Chaka Khan (1985)

"Angel" - Chaka Khan (2007)

This is the classic music video for Chaka's first solo hit song:


Chaka Khan - Im Every Woman (1978) from André Costa on Vimeo.

Friday, August 5, 2011

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


Today's post is a slice of classic soul from David Ruffin. If the name is not familiar, than the voice most certainly is, as he was one of the original lead singers of The Temptations.

He sang the lead on some of their classic songs such as "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" but by 1967 after Mr Ruffin missed several rehearsals and performances due to an growing drug problem and insisting on changing the name of the group to "David Ruffin and The Temptations", he was eventually replaced in the group by Dennis Edwards in 1968.

David Ruffin released his first solo album in 1969 with the title song, "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)" reaching number nine on the pop charts and number two on the r&b.

After a successful tour in 1991 with two fellow former lead singers of the Temptations, Eddie Kendricks and Dennis Edwards, Ruffin died of an accidental overdose of crack cocaine but his family suspected foul play as he had apparently $40,000 in cash on him at the time which was missing when his body was found.

His last single to chart, "Walk Away From Love" became his only number one solo hit on the r&b chart during his career.

"Walk Away From Love" - David Ruffin (1975)

Monday, August 1, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MTV


I can't believe that MTV is actually THIRTY YEARS OLD today. It's so crazy to me because it doesn't seem that long ago.

I admit it has been many, many years since I have actually watched MTV beyond catching an episode or two of the reality train wreck, "Jersey Shore" but there was time when I would watch the channel every chance I could get, although this was back when it was actually a music station.


MTV premiered today in 1981 with five hosts called, "video jockeys" or VJs and they were: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter and J.J. Jackson (who passed away in 2004) and the first video aired was The Buggles', "Video Killed The Radio Star".

In some ways that song was accurate as the music video became a powerful tool in promoting music, with record labels spending up to a million dollars on one clip, and created innovative short films that creatively merged music and images. MTV even helped get some of these songs radio airplay based on the popularity of the music video although, the downside to all of this began when the music industry placed an unhealthy emphasis on a band's image with the music sometimes becoming an afterthought which saw a rise of artists who were camera-ready but lacking in true musical abilities. The worst case was the Milli Vanilli scandal where the performers who were in the music video singing and even won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist had actually never sang a note on the recordings.

MTV clearly changed the face of music and television by launching the careers of many artists such as Madonna, Duran Duran, Culture Club, and Prince as well as made already successful musicians as Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson in to superstars.

There have been rumours that MTV is going to attempt to start showing music videos again but who knows? Maybe the time might be ripe for a reinvention of this medium.

Happy Birthday, MTV and thank-you for the music (video).

Here is the Buggles and their music video:


Here are a few highlights from the glory days of MTV:















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