Thursday, October 29, 2015

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


Forty years ago this week, "Island Girl" became Elton John's fifth number one single in America. At this time, the wonderfully colorful Brit, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet. His 1975 album, "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" became the first album ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Album Chart and the follow-up released later that year, "Rock of the Westies" (which "Island Girl" appears on) also debuted at the top of the chart. John also made an appearance as "the Pinball Wizard" in the filmed version of "Tommy", the rock opera by the Who. And the singer was so popular that he became the first solo white artist to perform on "Soul Train".

As for this number one song which held on to this spot for three weeks, "Island Girl" is pretty risque, especially for pop radio. It's about a New York city prostitute trying to be lured back home to Jamaica to save her from this life. This dance-flavored number, written by John and Bernie Taupin, was an interesting change of pace from the moving ballads and hard-edged rockers we usually heard from the singer.

"Island Girl" - Elton John (1975) mp3

One more interesting side note: "Island Girl" had knocked "Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka out of the number one spot and Elton John made an uncredited appearance on that song performing background vocals. Enjoy this bonus of that song:

"Bad Blood" - Neil Sedaka (1975) mp3

Sunday, October 25, 2015

ADELE RETURNS


The wait is finally over!

After months of rumors and speculation, Adele has officially announced the release of her third studio album entitled, "25".  Due out on November 20th, the first taste was released on October 23rd with the moving ballad "Hello".  The track, co-written and produced by Greg Kurstin  (The Bird and The Bee), is classic Adele with a powerful vocal and deeply emotional lyrics.

The music video for the song was released as well and it's directed by one of my favorite film makers, the twenty-six year old, French-Canadian, Xavier Dolan. This is a sweeping cinematic clip that works perfectly with the song and features actor/musician, Tristan Wilds ("The Wire"). You must experience this right now:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

TAKE TWO: REGINA BELLE


Regina Belle is a remarkably flexible vocalist that can easily glide between a smooth jazz ballad, slick pop tune, fiery soul jam or a tear-the-roof-off gospel number with very little effort. While she never became a major player in the business, Belle consistently made wonderful music that delivered inspiration, explored heartbreak, brought you to tears or made you want to fall in love.

Born and raised in Englewood, N.J., Belle found her voice in church as she sang her first solo at the age of eight. She explored all areas of music throughout school and attended the prestigious Manhattan School of Music after graduation.

While trying to make her way with a career in music, Belle met the soul group, The Manhattans, best known for the hits "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star", through a friend. She eventually would open for the band on tour and recorded a duet with them called "Where Did We Go Wrong" in 1986.  This opened doors for Belle as she was signed to their label, Columbia Records and released her debut, "All By Myself" the following year. The album had three top-twenty hits on the r&b chart with the first single "Show Me The Way" peaking at number two.

More hits followed for Belle with her reaching the top of the r&b chart in 1989 with "Make It Like It Was". She was asked to perform a duet with Peabo Bryson for the animated Disney film, "Aladdin". Not only did the film become one of the biggest hits in 1992 but the love theme,  "A Whole New World" became a number-one smash on the U.S. pop chart.

In 2001, Belle signed with Peak-Concord, a jazz label and released two well-received albums, "This Is Regina!" and "Lazy Afternoon" in 2004. Four years later, she recorded her first inspirational album, "Love Forever Shines" which made it to number three on the gospel chart. During this time, it was discovered that Belle had a brain tumor.

After recovering from this serious health issue, she recorded another gospel album, "Higher" in 2012 . Recently, Regina Belle has focused on her family; husband, John Battle, a former NBA player, married since 1991 and together have four children. Listen to two of my favorite songs from this dynamic singer:

"Show Me The Way" - Regina Belle (1987) mp3

"Baby Come To Me" - Regina Belle (1989) mp3

And this is a bonus of the music video for Belle's number one hit with Peabo Bryson:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

LADY GAGA SERVES FASHION WITH TOM FORD



Music and fashion comes together in the most fabulous way with Tom Ford presenting his spring/summer 2016 collection in the form of a music video. The designer enlisted the one and only Lady Gaga (who will be displaying glamour and terror in the new season of "American Horror Story" starting on October 7th) and teamed her with producer Nile Rodgers to do a cover of the disco classic "I Want Your Love", a top-ten hit by his band, Chic back in 1979. Directed by Brit photographer, Nick Knight, the clip was inspired by the line dance on "Soul Train" with Gaga and models strutting on the dance floor while showing off the clothes of Ford's next collection. It's the perfect combination and a wild collaboration. Take a look:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


For this Number One Flashback, we're going back forty years ago to "Fame" by David Bowie. At the time, the singer was more of a rising cult figure with a rabid following than a major rock star, at least here in the states. That would completely change once this track became a big hit in this country, taking the top spot for two weeks.

During the recording sessions of what would become "Young Americans", an album inspired by Philly soul music, he traveled to New York where he met former Beatle, John Lennon. They hit it off and began jamming together. This lead to Bowie covering the classic Beatles track, "Across The Universe" and creating "Fame" together along with guitarist Carlos Alomar for the album. Bowie has said the idea of the song came from a place of frustration and anger as he was having difficulties with his management company at the time. "Fame" became so popular that Bowie even made an appearance on "Soul Train", making him one of the very few Caucasian artists to perform on the program.

"Fame" - David Bowie (1975) mp3

ABSENT FACES IN POP MUSIC

I had read a interesting article recently in the Los Angeles Times about the difficulties of a new generation of Black female singers being...