Tuesday, March 25, 2014

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT HARRY: 40 YEARS OF BLONDIE


It seems unimaginable that over thirty years have passed since Blondie first burst on to the scene with their new-wave/disco hybrid, "Heart of Glass". But it has and the band is now celebrating coming together forty years ago this year. Blondie split-up in 1982 bur regrouped in 1997 and has a new album due out later this year. Out magazine talks to the legendary Debbie Harry as she reflects on her experience as the front woman of this seminal rock band and her views of the current music scene.

Click below to read the article:

There's Something About Harry: 40 Years of Blondie | Out Magazine

The profile also include what the magazine considers to be the twelve best tunes from Blondie. I agree with most and have included three of my favorites:

"One Way or Another" - Blondie (1978)

"Dreaming" - Blondie (1979)

"Maria" - Blondie (1999)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

TAKE TWO: ROBERTA FLACK


There doesn't seem to be many artists like Roberta Flack in pop music anymore.  This classically trained musician is able to create colorful sounds that are silky smooth and filled with great passion which appears to be deceptively effortless. She may not possess a big voice but Roberta Flack certainly knows how to use what she has for maximum effect.

Although she came from a musical family in North Carolina and at fifteen was one of the youngest students to ever be enrolled at Howard University to the music program, Flack first became a school teacher in Washington D.C. She later taught private piano lessons before venturing out herself to perform at small clubs around town. Les McCann, a jazz performer, caught Flack's act one evening and was highly impressed. He arranged for her to meet with executives at Atlantic Records and after a three-hour audition, Roberta Flack was signed and her debut album was quickly recorded.

"First Take" was released in 1969 and received little notice until actor, Clint Eastwood used a song from the album, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for his directorial debut, "Play Misty For Me" in 1972. This song went on to reach the top of the pop chart, sell over a million copies and won a Grammy Award for Record of The Year. Flack hit number one again the following year with "Killing Me Softly With His Song" which also won the Grammy for Record of The Year making her the only artist at the time to have won that honor consecutively (U2 would later also achieve this feat). The song became popular again when The Fugees gave it a hip-hop spin in 1996 and took it back to the top of the charts in the U.S. and Britain.

Roberta Flack is also best known for her musical duets beginning with soul legend, Donny Hathaway. Some of their big hits include "Where is the Love" and "The Closer I Get To You" which both sold over a million copies. They recorded two albums together and won a Grammy for Best Vocal By A Duo Or Group before Hathaway's tragic death in 1979. Flack would also find more success from duets with Peabo Bryson ("Tonight I Celebrate My Love") and Maxi Priest ("Set The Night To Music").

Although her output has slowed down, Roberta Flack has continued to tour and make new music. Her last album, "Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles" was released in 2012. It was slightly challenging to narrow down but here are my two favorite songs by Roberta Flack:

"Feel Like Makin' Love" - Roberta Flack (1974)

"The Closer I Get To You" - Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway (1978)

As a bonus, here are the Fugees with Roberta Flack performing their hit song live at the 1996 MTV Music Awards:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

NEW SOUNDS

NENEH CHERRY


It's been twenty-five years since the hip-hop smash, "Buffalo Stance" hit the airwaves and eighteen years since the last solo recording but Neneh Cherry has finally released her fourth album, "Blank Project".

The writing of the record began as a way to cope with the loss of her mother in 2009 with her husband, Cameron McVey and Paul Simm contributing to the music. Spare, dark and deeply personal, this album is seen as a departure for the Swedish-born songstress but it's simply a more mature extension of her sound.

Listen to "Out Of The Black" that features a guest appearance by fellow dance-pop Swede, Robyn:

"Out Of The Black" - Neneh Cherry featuring Robyn (2014)

BOY GEORGE


It's also been eighteen years since the last time Boy George has released a solo album although he's hardly been idle. During this time the dashing Boy has been a notable DJ, had a Broadway musical about his life, "Taboo" which he also performed in, hosted a weekly London radio program, had his own clothing line, reunited with his band, Culture Club for a few concerts, and spent a little time in prison for various substance abuse charges.

George is now back, healthy and fit, with a new project, "This Is What I Do". The album was released last year in Europe but it's coming out Stateside in a deluxe edition. Here is the music video for the single, "King of Everything" that displays a butcher George and more of a rock sound:




TONI BRAXTON AND BABYFACE


Toni Braxton began her music career recording a demo for the producing team of L.A. Reid and Babyface with a song for the 1992 Eddie Murphy film, "Boomerang". Originally set for Anita Baker, "Love Should Have Brought You Home" would become Braxton's song and her first big single. The soundtrack featured the first duet by Braxton and Babyface, "Give U My Heart" which also made it's way up the charts.This successful partnership lead to her first album, written and produced by the team, and the rest is history.

Now over twenty years later, these two powerhouse artists have come together again for a new album, "Love, Marriage & Divorce". Braxton and Babyface musically explore the full cycle of a relationship through the good times, the bad. and all of the emotions in between. Enjoy the first single, the smooth ballad, "Hurt You" that has become a number one hit on the Adult r&b chart:

"Hurt You" - Toni Braxton & Babyface (2014)

As a bonus, here is the very first musical pairing of Toni Braxton and Babyface with "Give U My Heart". This video is certainly dated and cheesy but still fun to see:

Friday, March 7, 2014

ROCK N ROLL FOREVER

When I was growing up, rock & roll ruled the airwaves back in the '70's and '80's. That slowly began to change when rap and hip-hop began it's dominance in the 1990's and now EDM is the current craze among music lovers.

Let's be real; rock & roll will never die but it does have a little more difficulty getting noticed in this current musical climate. This post is dedicated to the classic rockers and the old school hair bands whose sounds still thrill while making you want to pull out that air guitar and keep on rockin':


"Hold On Loosely" - 38 Special (1981)



"Turn Me Loose" - Loverboy (1981)











"More Than A Feeling" - Boston (1976)



"Dance The Night Away" -Van Halen (1979)














"I Will Follow" - U2 (1980)












"Everybody Wants You" - Billy Squier (1982)















"Dream On" - Aerosmith (1973)



"Witchy Woman" - The Eagles (1972)



"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" - AC/DC (1976)

PINK ASKS "WHAT ABOUT US?"

The last time we heard from Pink it was with her musical contribution to Disney 's 2016 " Alice in Wonderland " sequel, &...