Sunday, September 28, 2014

EARLY ARETHA - PART FOUR


For this final installment on the early part of the career of Aretha Franklin, today's song is "Cry Like a Baby". This was taken from "Soul Sister", the last official album by Franklin that was released on the Columbia label. The single was the last charting song before she moved over to Atlantic Records. Like most of the previous releases, "Cry Like a Baby" made no impact on the charts although I think it's a really solid track by the future Queen of Soul.

Shortly after Aretha hit it big on her new label in 1967, Columbia Records attempted to cash in on their time and investment with the artist by re-releasing singles and creating compilation albums from previous recordings. Still, nothing really clicked and the outcome remained the same. What the reocrd label failed to realize is that while the music recorded was actually very good, it just didn't allow the singer to unleash all of her power and passion. They were much too busy trying mold her to sound like other popular vocalists on the radio at the time instead of letting her be . . . Aretha.

Here is another song by Miss Aretha Franklin that displayed her early promise as an artist:



"Cry Like A Baby" - Aretha Franklin (1966)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

EARLY ARETHA - PART THREE


Today's early song from Aretha Franklin is "One Step Ahead". This was released as a single from Columbia Records in 1965 but was not included on any album from the singer. Far from a major hit, the record barely cracked the top-twenty on the soul chart and didn't even make it to the top-one hundred on the pop chart.

However, "One Step Ahead" would go on to be warmly embraced years later by the hip-hop community. The song would be sampled or remixed by several artists including Mos Def, Clutchy Hopkins and Xaphoon Jones.

Sit back and enjoy the smooth sounds of the original version by the one and only Aretha:



"One Step Ahead" - Aretha Franklin (1965) 

As a bonus, here is "One Step Ahead" remixed with a modern beat by Xaphoon Jones:



"One Step Ahead (Empire State Riddim)" - Xaphoon Jones + Aretha Franklin (2011)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

U2 FOR FREE



When Apple announced the arrival of the latest IPhone and the introduction of the Apple watch last week,there was an additional surprise. The latest studio album from U2, "Songs of Innocence" has been given away for free to every person who has an ITunes account, which is roughly about 500 million people . While the news was met with some excitement, there has also been some critical backlash. The already-quite wealthy band has been accused of selling out for the all-mighty buck (U2 reportedly earned about 100 million for this stunt) to people feeling violated for having this album forced in to their ITunes libraries  (Sharon Osbourne and rapper, Tyler the Creator have been particularly vocal) and simply that U2  has further damaged the fragile music industry by giving away music.

I can certainly understand these viewpoints and perhaps some of them may be valid but I also think the record business needs to desperately breakout of the dusty mindset of trying to hang on to doing business as usual. Regardless of what you think of this promotion or their new album, U2 has benefited greatly as their back catalog has seen a surge in sales directly because of this publicity.

As for the record itself, despite the presence of contemporary producers, Ryan Tedder, Paul Epworth and Danger Mouse, "Songs of Innocence" still feels very much like a typical U2 album. This isn't necessarily a good thing as the expectation of the band's first album in five years was particularly high. With that much time spent, this album should be exciting, challenging and modern, There are certainly moments to be found on this nostalgic look back to their early days and musical influences but overall, "Somgs of Innocence" doesn't exactly inspire these feelings. The hit-making producers add their touch to the group's sound but what they contribute make some of the songs feel warmed over instead of fresh. I may come across a bit harsh but I actually liked much of this record. The problem is that it just feels too safe for a band known for their gritty, rebellious rock-n-roll spirit.

Here are two tracks that I particularly like from my free copy of U2's newest work:



"The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" - U2 (2014)



"Raised By Wolves" - U2 (2014)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

EARLY ARETHA - PART TWO




Aretha Franklin would become well-known for taking a popular song from another artist and recording a version that would make you completely forget about the original. The most famous example is her 1967 recording of "Respect".

Otis Redding had a respectable hit with this song he wrote a few years earlier but once Aretha got a hold of it, it became something else entirely. With her providing a woman's point-of-view and adding a bridge with the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and "Sock It To Me" lines, Franklin not only created a massive smash about female empowerment but this was also embraced as an anthem during the civil-rights movement. This wasn't the first time these two musical titans would record the same song with very different results.

While at Columbia Records, Franklin recorded a version of "Try A Little Tenderness" in 1962. The song had been around since the early '30's and her take is fairly traditional but with a little bit of soul. Otis Redding took the song and completely reworked it in 1967. Later, Redding's slow burn take would become the definitive version of the song.

Let's listen to Aretha deliver a beautiful rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness":



"Try A Little Tenderness" - Aretha Franklin (1962)

As a bonus, here is Otis Redding's original version of "Respect":



"Respect" - Otis Redding (1965)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

UNHEARD ADELE SONGS


There is some new music leaked from Adele. These songs, "Never Gonna Leave You" and "You'll Never See Me Again" are rumored to have been recorded during the "21" sessions. Another tale from the rumor mill is that they are from her upcoming album which I seriously doubt because they would have been yanked so fast.

I don't really like to get involved with unreleased music but these tracks are just too good not to share. This should whet your appetite and keep your satisfied before Adele's official new music is released.



"Never Gonna Leave You" - Adele

Sunday, September 7, 2014

EARLY ARETHA

Everyone is familiar with the classic songs from Aretha Franklin such as "Chain of Fools", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Think" and "Respect". But before she became the undisputed "Queen of Soul", Franklin was struggling to find her voice as an artist.

An eighteen year old Franklin recorded a demo that was passed around music circles. Many labels were very interested in the young vocalist but with her father/manager, Reverend C.L. Franklin's help, she decided to go with the well-established Columbia Records in 1960. The label knew they had an amazing talent on their hands but unsure exactly how best to utilize her gift. They had her sing everything; jazz, blues, pop standards and gospel. The results were a mixed bag but Aretha gave it her all.

I'm going to explore some of my favorite songs the singer made before she moved over to Atlantic Records and made musical history. The first tune is "Won't Be Long". This was the second single from her debut album, "Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo" and her second top-ten hit on the r&b chart. This blazing track is a perfect showcase of her power and control while clearly indicating what's to come from this rising star.



"Won't Be Long" - Aretha Franklin (1961)

NEW SOUNDS

WHITNEY HOUSTON Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston . It's been five years since her passing...