Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ALISON MOYET: THE MINUTES




Long before Adele was even out of diapers, there was another British singer who captivated audiences with her impressively big and soulful voice. Although Alison Moyet never achieved the massive world-wide pop success that she certainly deserved but she still never failed to deliver some strong, memorable music over the years.

The singer has been silent for a little while but she is finally back with new music. "The Minutes" is a collection of new songs co-written by Moyet and producer, Guy Sigsworth that harks back to her early sound with elements of rock, soul and electropop. The album is off to a fine start as it's become Moyet's highest charting in Britain since 1987.

Moyet first came to attention as the powerful voice behind the short-lived but highly influential electronic band, Yazoo (or known in the U.S. as "Yaz" due to legal reasons) way back in 1982. Formed with Vince Clarke (who was first part of the original line-up of Depeche Mode), Yazoo released two popular albums, "Upstairs At Eric's" and "You and Me Both" which contained the hits, "Don't Go", "Situation" and "Nobody's Diary" but by 1983, the duo had disbanded.

Reluctantly, Moyet became a solo artist and released her debut, "Alf" in 1984. The album went to number one in Britain and spawned three hit singles, "Love Resurrection", "Invisible" and "All Cried Out" as well as a non-album song, "That Ole Devil Called Love" (first recorded by Billie Holliday) that peaked at number two on the U.K. singles chart. The singer released seven more popular albums with her last release was "The Turn" in 2007.

I'm glad she's back and loving the new material. Let's hope it will bring Alison Moyet some love here in the U.S.

Here is a tune from "The Minutes":

"Changeling" - Alison Moyet (2013)

This video features Moyet with Vince Clarke together as Yazoo performing live, "Don't Go":


This is the music video for the song, "Invisible" from "Alf". It was written by Motown legend, Lamont Dozier for Moyet and was the only song that managed to crack the top forty in the U.S.

Monday, June 17, 2013

TAKE TWO: DOLLY PARTON


I had recently mentioned in a previous post that I hadn't put much rap on here. Well, it seems that I've put even less country music on this blog. Although country is far from my favorite genre but there have always been a few songs over the years that I have enjoyed. One performer I think is great is the very talented, Dolly Parton and who doesn't love Dolly? With her over-the top stage costumes, larger than life personality and even bigger "assets", Dolly Parton is most certainly a lot of woman but you can tell that deep down she's just a sweet, simple gal with a gentle, kind heart. 

Born in the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, Dolly was one of twelve children living in a one room cabin on a tobacco farm. The family didn't have much but music played an important part in their lives. Dolly began writing and singing music as a young child and would perform on local television and radio programs. By thirteen, she recorded her first single, "Puppy Love" in 1959. While this song wasn't much of a hit but it still gave her confidence to try a move to Nashville. In 1967, Dolly recorded her debut album, "Hello, I'm Dolly" that would move it's way to number one on the country chart. She caught the attention of country superstar, Porter Wagoner and Parton would be asked to join his band and eventually be his co-host on his weekly television show. Wagoner and Parton became a popular duo and recorded twelve highly successful albums. They remained a professional team until 1974 when she went on to concentrate on her own solo career.

While Dolly enjoyed major country music success throughout the rest of the 1970's but soon decided she wanted her music to appeal to a more mainstream crowd. "Here You Come Again" was released in 1977 and the title track became her first major pop hit, peaking at number three on the chart. Parton remained a highly popular act in country but now her music became even more well-known to rest of the world. Dolly soon took on acting and starred in the movie, "9 to 5" in 1980. She wrote the theme song to that smash hit film which would go to to top both the pop and country charts as well as earn the singer an Academy Award nomination.

Dolly Parton is not only one of the most accomplished and highly honored artists in country music with a total world-wide sales of over one hundred million records sold but has also managed to find great success in film, television and the stage.

Listen to two songs by Dolly Parton that I'm particularly fond of:

"I Will Always Love You" - Dolly Parton (1974)

"Two Doors Down" - Dolly Parton (1978)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

DISCLOSURE


Disclosure is the latest electronic band which mixes funky, deep house with a synthpop sound that is taking the world by storm. This British duo is made up of twenty-two year old, Guy Lawrence and his nineteen year old brother, Howard. In 2010, they first started out remixing songs of other musicians before branching out to create their own music.

Disclosure first hit the UK pop chart in 2012 with "Latch" that featured vocals by rising British artist, Sam Smith. That song reached number eleven and was soon followed by two more singles, "White Noise" (featuring AlunaGeorge) and "You & I" (with Eliza Doolittle) that both made it to the top-ten on the British chart this year. After releasing an EP earlier in 2013 that featured these three songs plus a remix, Disclosure has just put out their impressive first full-length album, "Settle". In addition to their hit songs, the record wisely features contributions from other new artists getting plenty of buzz including London Grammar, Jamie Woon and my current fav, Jessie Ware. With this excellent release, there is very little doubt that the Lawrence brothers will not only be ruling the dance floors but also the airwaves all summer long.

Have a listen to Disclosure in action:

"You & Me' - Disclosure featuring Eliza Doolittle (2013)

"White Noise" - Disclosure featuring AlunaGeorge (2013)

"Voices" - Disclosure featuring Sasha Keable (2013)

Check out this sexy video for the first major single from Disclosure, "Latch":

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HIP HOP HURRAY

I've noticed that I haven't put too much rap or hip-hop on this blog to date. It's not like I don't care for it but to be perfectly honest, it's just not what gets me going. Perhaps it's the superficial, homophobic or misogynistic messages in a lot of the music or maybe it's just my age. But what I have always responded to is beautiful voices singing and get less excited over hearing someone rhyming quickly over a beat. When it first hit the airwaves, many thought it was nothing more than a passing fad (myself included) but that became very far from the case. The influence of rap/hip-hop over music today is quite unexpected and very impressive.

Now, having saying all that, there have been plenty of rap/hip-hop tunes that I have thoroughly enjoyed over the years, so this post is in honor of some of the early pioneers of the art form known as rap. Here is just a small selection of my favorite tunes. (sure, some of these might be considered sexist and just plain ridiculous but that doesn't mean they aren't fun or clever):

SUGARHILL GANG













"Rapper's Delight" - Sugarhill Gang (1979)

KURTIS BLOW














"The Breaks" - Kurtis Blow (1980)

ROCK MASTER SCOTT & THE DYNAMIC THREE








"The Roof is On Fire" - Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three (1984)

RUN DMC













"You Talk Too Much" - Run DMC (1985)

JJ FAD










"Supersonic" - JJ Fad (1988)

2 LIVE CREW













"Me So Horny" - 2 Live Crew (1989)

YOUNG MC













"Bust A Move" - Young MC (1989)

PUBLIC ENEMY












"Fight The Power" - Public Enemy (1990)


NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK

I can't believe it but it's been forty years since " Best of My Love " by The Emotions landed at number one on the pop...