Thursday, August 30, 2012

TAKE TWO: SHEENA EASTON


The beautiful, Scottish pop vocalist, Sheena Easton was actually one of the first reality stars after she auditioned for a BBC program called "The Big Time". The documentary followed the then twenty year old aspiring singer as she attempted to achieve a music career. A year after the first episode aired in 1980, Easton was offered a contract with EMI Records while the camera crews continued to follow her as she recorded her first single.

The first single, "Modern Girl" had been released before the show aired but didn't have much impact but after her follow-up single, "9 To 5" (renamed "Morning Train (Nine to Five)" here in the U.S. so not to be confused with Dolly Parton's recent hit featuring the same title) hit the U.K. top ten, the song was re-released and also reached the top ten. This officially launched the new artist as an international music star with a string of hit songs including singing the theme for the 1981 James Bond film, "For Your Eyes Only".

Easton moved away from the sweet girl-next-door image to a much sexier one after she recorded the notorious Prince song, "Sugar Walls" as well as a duet with the artist on, "U Got The Look". Her last major hit was the r&b tune,  "The Lover In Me" (written and produced by Babyface and L.A. Reid) released in 1988.

Sheena Easton has recorded sixteen studio albums, had fifteen U.S. top-forty hits and won two Grammy Awards. She currently lives in Las Vegas while she continues to act and perform.

Here are two of my favorite songs by Sheena Easton:

"Almost Over You" - Sheena Easton (1983)

"The Lover In Me" - Sheena Easton (1988)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SCOTT MCKENZIE (1939 - 2012)



Scott McKenzie's hit single captured the spirit of the 60's flower-power movement and inspired a generation.

"San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" - Scott McKenzie (1967)

Monday, August 20, 2012

FIFTY YEARS OF THE ROLLING STONES


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the British musical group who are known as "The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band", The Rolling Stones.

Childhood friends, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both shared a deep love for the blues and r&b and decided to form a band. On July 12, 1962, they first performed with Jagger providing vocals and Richards, guitar along with guitarist, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart on piano and Tony Chapman on drums, as "The Rollin' Stones" at the Marquee Club in London. The band started off playing mostly blues covers but were encouraged by their management to write their own material with Jagger and Richards teaming up to become the group's main songwriters.

The Rolling Stones had their first U.K.top-ten recording with a cover of Buddy Holly's classic, "Not Fade Away" in February 1964 but reached the U.S. pop charts later that year with the song, "Time Is On My Side", peaking at number six. After the song, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" became the band's first international number one smash in 1965 (also the first big hit written by Jagger and Richards), this began a long string of hit records and world tours for The Rolling Stones.

Bill Wyman joined the group later in 1962 to play bass and Charlie Watts replaced Chapman to become the band's drummer in 1963. Also that year, Ian Stewart was removed from the group as their manager felt he didn't fit properly with their image of a "rock & roller" but he would remain as The Stones' road manager and occasionally play piano on recordings until his death in 1985. After developing a serious drug problem causing his inability to properly contribute to the group, it was decided that Brian Jones should leave The Stones in June 1969 but less than a month later, Jones drowned at home in his swimming pool. Mick Taylor joined The Stones as a guitarist shortly after Jones had been released from the band and stayed with the group until 1974. Ron Wood, who was the guitarist for The Faces, toured and recorded with The Rolling Stones in 1975 but didn't decide to officially join The Stones until the following year when his band broke-up. Bill Wyman retired from the group after "The Steel Wheels" Tour in 1992. He later formed a blues-rock band, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings in 1997 and continues to perform with them.

This highly successful band has recorded twenty-nine studio albums to date, seventeen live albums and released over one hundred singles to wind up selling over two hundred million records worldwide. They were inducted in to The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989.

There are rumors that The Rolling Stones are planning a tour to commemorate their anniversary, possibly to begin later this year or 2013 but no exact details have been revealed yet.

Here are a few of my favorite tunes by The Rolling Stones:

"Get Off Of My Cloud" - The Rolling Stones (1965)

"Gimme Shelter" - The Rolling Stones (1969)

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" - The Rolling Stones (1973)

"Beast Of Burden" - The Rolling Stones (1978)

"Shattered" - The Rolling Stones (1978)

"Start Me Up " - The Rolling Stones (1981)


Here is a live appearance by The Stones on "The TAMI Show" concert performing their first U.S. hit, "Tine Is On My Side":


The Stones perform live another hit song, "Angie":



This great video for "Love Is Strong" from The Rolling Stones' 1994 album, "Voodoo Lounge" was directed by film director, David Fincher:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ELLIE GOULDING'S NEW RELEASE


British artist, Ellie Goulding's hit song, "Lights" finally sits in the U.S. top five although it was released here as a single in May 2011. "Lights" is the title track from her highly successful debut album which came out in the U.K. in 2010.

The follow-up album, "Halcyon" is due out in October with the first single, "Anything Could Happen" just out now.

Here is the music video for slow moving hit song, "Lights":

Sunday, August 12, 2012

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

"CONFESS" - TWIN SHADOW


New York based musician, George Lewis, Jr. , who is better known as Twin Shadow, has written and produced his new album, "Confess", the follow-up to his 2010 release,  "Forget".  His sound combines elements of 1980's new-wave with breezy dance pop but his music stands out because of his elegantly poetic lyrics.

"Five Seconds" - Twin Shadow

"ELECTRA HEART" - MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS


Marina and the Diamonds is not actually a band but merely consists of twenty-six year old, Welsh singer-songwriter, Marina Diamandis. She came up with the stage moniker with the help of her last name as Diamandis means "Diamonds" in Greek.

Marina's 2010 debut album, "The Family Jewels" was a critical success in the U.K.and with the release of the second, "Electra Heart", it features more of her offbeat but very catchy pop songs. This time she has production assistance from some of pop music's usual suspects; Dr. Luke, Diplo, Stargate and Guy Sigsworth, so perhaps this solid album will hopefully broaden her U.S. audience.

"How To Be a Heartbreaker" - Marina and the Diamonds

"LOOKING 4 MYSELF" - USHER


Usher has returned with his seventh studio album, "Looking 4 Myself" which features what he describes as "revolutionary pop" that combines r&b, hip-hop, electronic and europop. With the assistance of some of today's top producers such as will i am, Danja, Salaam Remi, Diplo and Swedish House Mafia, Usher creates some risky and innovative songs. While not all of them work but the album is an admirable attempt to broaden his sound and the genre.

"Numb" - Usher

"CHANNEL ORANGE" - FRANK OCEAN


Although r&b/hip-hop artist, Frank Ocean has been in the news recently due to his personal revelations but he has been creating music for a while now. He has worked with the hip-hop group, Odd Future, written material for such diverse talent as Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and John Legend and he recorded a solo mixtape last year.

After two songs, "Novacane" and "Swim Good" created some buzz for the artist but his label, Def-Jam delayed the release of the complete work, so a frustrated Ocean decided to offer, "Nostalgia, Ultra" as a free download to great acclaim. Now, the twenty-four year old, New Orleans native has his first official release, "Channel Orange" out now and it's a raw and honest collection  that at once feel fresh yet familiar. He evokes the sounds of Prince and Marvin Gaye but manages to create music in his own clear, distinctive voice.

"Lost" - Frank Ocean

"THE IDLER WHEEL . . . " -  FIONA APPLE


Fiona Apple has never followed any musical trends and has only created music whenever she was truly inspired which makes her an unusual presence in today's pop music scene. It's been seven years since her last release but Apple is finally back with her fourth CD which features the lengthy title "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do".

The thirty-four year old artist has crafted another collection of her signature eccentric songs that are spare, thoughtful and introspective, as she shares with us her emotional journey during the time she's been away.

"Valentine" - Fiona Apple

The latest female MC receiving plenty of media attention these days is twenty-one year old, Azealia Banks from New York. She just dropped an EP, "1991" with her debut album due out later this fall. I love this video for the song, "Liquorice" which brings her urban fabulousity to the wild west:



This is the wild new music video by Florence and the Machine for "Spectrum", one of my favorite song off their latest album :



Finally, here is the video for Mika's latest single, "Celebrate" from his forthcoming album, "The Origin of Love". I think this is a really great pop song that should become a big hit for him:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

MARIAH CAREY IS "TRIUMPHANT"


The newly appointed "American Idol" judge, Mariah Carey has just dropped a new track entitled, "Triumphant (Get'Em)".

The tune is produced by Jermaine Dupri and features raps by Rick Ross and Mick Mill but I'm not sure why this is considered a new song for Ms Carey as she seems to be only simply providing the hook. This song isn't particularly memorable and not a good sign for her upcoming album.

Have a listen:

"Triumphant (Get'Em)" - Mariah Carey (2012)

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