Thursday, March 31, 2016

2016 NATIONAL RECORDING REGISTRY

I was aware that the Library of Congress inducted films in to a registry for preservation but I really didn't know they did the same for recordings. Since 2002, they have selected sound recordings that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important that informs or reflect life in the United States. The twenty-five selected this year feature a wide range of music, commentaries, radio programs, comedy albums and speeches. To date, there have been 450 recordings placed in the National Recording Registry.

Here is the complete list of the twenty-five recordings being inducted in 2016:

Let Me Call You Sweetheart” — Columbia Quartette (The Peerless Quartet) (1911)
Wild Cat Blues” — Clarence Williams’ Blue Five (1923)
Statesboro Blues” — Blind Willie McTell (1928)



Bonaparte’s Retreat” — W.H. Stepp (1937)
Episode: “Decoration Day” — Vic and Sade (June 4, 1937)
"Mahler’s Symphony No. 9" — Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, (conducted by Bruno Walter) (1938)
"Carousel of American Music" — George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Arthur Freed, Shelton Brooks, Hoagy Carmichael, others (Sept. 24, 1940)
"The Marshall Plan Speech" — George C. Marshall (June 5, 1947)
Destination Freedom — Episodes “A Garage in Gainesville” and “Execution Awaited” (Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, 1949)
"A Streetcar Named Desire" Original Soundtrack — (Alex North, composer) (1951)
Cry Me a River” (single) — Julie London (1955)



Mack the Knife” (singles) — Louis Armstrong (1956) and Bobby Darin (1959)



"Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-Point Game, Fourth-Quarter Coverage (Philadelphia Warriors vs. New York Knicks)" — Bill Campbell, announcer (March 2, 1962)
A Love Supreme” — John Coltrane (1964)
"It’s My Way" — Buffy Sainte-Marie (1964)
Where Did Our Love Go” (single) — The Supremes (1964)



People Get Ready” (single) — The Impressions (1965)



Mama Tried” (single) — Merle Haggard (1968)



"Abraxas" — Santana (1970)
"Class Clown" — George Carlin (1972)



"Robert and Clara Schumann Complete Piano Trios" — The Beaux Arts Trio (1972)
Piano Man” (single) — Billy Joel (1973)
"Bogalusa Boogie" — Clifton Chenier (1976)
I Will Survive” (single) — Gloria Gaynor (1978)
"Master of Puppets" — Metallica (1986)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I SAY YES TO "NO"


I was not "All About The Bass".

I probably was the only person not a fan of last year's inescapable worldwide hit song from Meghan Trainor. I respected the positive message regarding body issues in the song she co-wrote with producer Kevin Kadish however the actual record with it's cheesy, bubblegum girl-group vocals left me cold. The next two singles, "Lips Are Movin'" and "Dear Future Husband" were slightly more listenable for me yet I remained unimpressed with the twenty-two year old singer.

But it wasn't until the fourth single, "Like I'm Gonna Lose You", Trainor's duet with John Legend, that I finally appreciated what she has to offer as an artist. This lovely ballad has a old school vibe that revealed to me her skill as a writer and, at such a young age, awareness of pop music history.

Now after the success of her million-selling debut album, "Title", this year's Grammy winner for Best New Artist is preparing to release a follow-up titled "Thank You" which is due out in May. "No", the soulful, dance-pop first single, is a sassy kiss-off to an aggressive dude who can't take a hint. I must admit that I still find Trainor pretty bland as a pop music personality yet there is no denying her talent as a songwriter and vocalist.

For the music video, Trainor does a major image make-over. Much like Britney Spears at the start of her career, she says "goodbye" to the sweet, blond girl-next-door and introduces a dark-haired, sexually provocative persona. Trainor even shows us that she's got moves in this dance-heavy, femalecentric clip:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

IGGY AZALEA IS NOT A "TEAM" PLAYA


That polarizing figure in hip-hop, Iggy Azalea has returned to the music scene. After burning brightly back in 2014 with her smash hits "Fancy" and "Black Widow", Azalea quickly received tremendous backlash from her success. Much of the criticism stemmed from her being a pretty, blonde Australian appropriating an African-American dialect, which wasn't helped much by her clueless response to the issue.

The rapper took some much needed time off and is now back with Team", the first single off her upcoming second album. I have to admit the track is very hot with Azalea in fine form, rapping over a hard-driving electro beat. She sounds confident and proclaims she don't need nobody on her team. Check out this great dance music video for the tune:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MAVIS!


Over the last few years, there have been many fascinating documentaries made about some of our finest musical artists. The most recent subjects have ranged from Glen Campbell, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, The Wrecking Crew and Any Winehouse, who was the focus of this year's Best Documentary Oscar winner. There are more on the horizon and the latest to hit the screen is on one of the most recognizable voices in music history, Mavis Staples.

The doc, "Mavis!" tells how the Chicago-born singer began as a nine year old performing with her family (which included siblings, Cleotha, Yvonne, Purvis and father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples) in their church. After scoring a national hit with "Uncloudy Day" in 1956, the Staples Singers became a major gospel act. They worked with Martin Luther King, Jr during the civil rights movement to deliver spiritual songs of encouragement. The group received some criticism for their move in to secular music but the Staples found their greatest commercial success with songs like  "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again" with both reaching the top spot on the soul and pop charts in the '70s.

At the age of seventy-six, Mavis continues to perform and just released her latest album, "Livin' on a High Note" in February. In celebration of this glorious performer, here are just a few of my favorite songs she recorded over her long career:

"For What It's Worth" - The Staple Singers (1967) mp3

"A House Is Not a Home" - Mavis Staples (1969) mp3

"I'll Take You There" - The Staple Singers (1972) mp3

"Livin' On a High Note" - Mavis Staples (2016) mp3

Don't miss "Mavis!" which is currently being shown right now on HBO. Check out the trailer for this spectacular film:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

"The Sound" - The 1975 (2016) mp3

"Waves" (remix) - Miguel featuring Kacey Musgraves (2016) mp3

"This Ain't Over" - Alex Newell (2016) mp3

"Atomic Number" - Case/lang/Veirs (2016) mp3




Esperanza Spalding, who went from a child jazz prodigy to become the first jazz performer to win the Best New Artist Grammy Award, has just released some new music. But with her fourth album, "Emily's D + Evolution" (Emily is Spalding's middle name), the thirty-one year old performer has reinvented her sound and image. Gone is the Afro and boho chic style and in it's place are long braids, nerdy, oversized glasses and sleek, theatrical outfits. The music has also shifted from straight-forward jazz to experimenting with adding funkier beats and progressive rock to create an alt-jazz movement. Check out a couple of tracks from the album:

"One" - Esperanza Spalding (2016) mp3



While Lady Gaga gave us a wildly exuberant (and very American) tribute to David Bowie at this year's Grammys, Lorde honored the legendary artist with something far more low-key and tasteful. The nineteen year old performed at the recent Brit Awards with an amazing rendition of "Life On Mars". This also served as a reminder that she is long overdue with a follow-up to her debut album which was released almost four years ago. Here is the complete tribute that features moving words by Annie Lennox and actor, Gary Oldman with members of Bowie's band playing a musical melody of his music before backing-up Lorde's performance:



Ariana Grande was the host and musical guest of the March 12th episode of "SNL". She didn't really leave much of an impression with her comedy skills but was far more successful with the debut of new music from her upcoming album, "Dangerous Woman".  She performed the title track which is a slight change of course for the pop singer. With production by Max Martin, this sexy, guitar-driven ballad has Grande telling her man he's got her so worked-up, she'll pretty much do anything.

"Dangerous Woman" - Ariana Grande (2016) mp3

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


The number one song in America during this week in 1976 was "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" by the Four Seasons. It remained at that spot for three weeks and became the popular group's fifth chart-topper.

The original Four Seasons (made up of Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli) first reached the top of the charts together with "Sherry" in 1961 and, despite a few personnel changes, rode a wave of hit songs throughout the rest of the decade. This featured the classic tunes like "Let's Hang On", "Working My Way Back to You", "Dawn (Go Away)", "Rag Doll" and "Walk Like a Man".

By 1969, the easy-listening, vocal harmonies of the Four Seasons fell out of favor for harder-edged, socially-conscious rock that began to take over the music scene. The Four Seasons struggled with their recording career as they went through several labels (including a brief time at Motown) during the early '70's but had no luck with their music hitting the charts. That all changed in 1975 when lead vocalist, Frankie Valli had a solo number one hit with "My Eyes Adored You" while the Four Seasons reached the top five on the pop chart with "Who Loves You".

Then the following year, the band made a comeback to the top of the charts with a song co-written by member Bob Gaudio and wife, Judy Parker. Disco was just beginning to emerge in popular music and together with the band's slick harmonies and the song's romantic lyrics made "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" irresistible. This would be the last major hit for Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons but thanks to the very successful 2005 Broadway musical, "Jersey Boys", a new generation of fans were introduced to this sensational group.

"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" - The Four Seasons (1976) mp3

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...