Saturday, April 30, 2016

THE INFLUENCE OF PRINCE


The world is still reeling from the shocking loss of the musical genius, Prince. He was a consistent creative force with an inimitable talent and boundless energy. With an impressive body of work that ranged from politically charged anthems, tender love ballads, funky dance tunes and raunchy sex ditties, it's no surprise that other artists were attracted to his material.

Here are some of the amazing covers of songs written by the Purple One or they were created by him for that specific performer. There is even a hit song by Stevie Nicks that was inspired simply by his presence in the recording studio.

"When You Were Mine" - Cyndi Lauper (1983) mp3

"Sugar Walls" - Sheena Easton (1984) mp3

"Do Me Baby" - Meli'sa Morgan (1985) mp3







"Yo Mister" - Patti Labelle (1989) mp3

"Nothing Compares 2 U" - Sinéad O’Connor (1990) mp3

"Round and Round" - Tevin Campbell (1990) mp3

"I Wanna Be Your Lover" - Corinne Bailey Rae (2011) mp3

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BILLY PAUL (1934 - 2016)


Billy Paul, best known for his number one 1972 soul single, "Me & Mrs. Jones", has sadly passed away on April 24th. He had been struggling with pancreatic cancer for the last few years.

He was born Paul Williams and raised in the north side of Philadelphia. He loved to sing as a child and it was female jazz singers in particular like Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone that would influence his singing style. He began singing professionally at eleven, performing at local clubs and college campuses around the city.

Not wanting to be confused with other performers that shared his name, Williams later changed his to "Billy Paul" when he career began to take off. He recorded a few singles (but they didn't make the charts) before he was drafted in the army in 1957. Paul was stationed in Germany with other musicians which included a rising pop star, Elvis Presley. He helped put together a jazz band (that featured Gary Crosby, Bing's son) and they toured the country. Presley was asked to join but turned down the offer as he preferred to become a jeep driver while he served.

After leaving the army, Paul returned to music and performed with various jazz and soul groups.  By the late sixties, he begun working on a solo career and met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. He joined their new label, Philadelphia International Records and together they finally had a breakthrough with Paul's fourth album, "360 Degrees of Billy Paul". The single, "Me & Mrs. Jones", about an extramarital affair between a man and his lover, reached the top of the soul and pop charts and would sell two million copies.

Billy Paul never reached this level of success again but he continued to dazzle audiences with his recordings and concert tours throughout the years.

Here is the singer performing his classic tune on "Soul Train":

Thursday, April 21, 2016

PRINCE (1958 - 2016)


It's with a sad and heavy heart, I have to report that Prince, the boldly innovative and incredibly prolific funk & roll artist, has passed away. There has not been a specific cause of his death disclosed to date, although he was involved in an emergency airplane landing last week and rushed to the hospital.

Prince Nelson Rodgers was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Even after becoming famous and traveling across the entire globe, the city remained his home with him later building Paisley Park recording studio there. Both of his parents were jazz musicians and a young Prince took to music eagerly. At seventeen, he recorded several demos that caught the attention of Warner Bros. Records. He signed to the label with the very rare offer of creative control for three albums and ownership of the publishing rights.

Two years later, Prince released his debut, "For You" for which he wrote, produced and played all of the instruments. The album wasn't a major hit but the single, "Soft and Wet", which made the top-twenty on the soul chart, definitely made people take notice of his dazzling talent and sexually provocative nature. His self-titled follow-up in 1979 would be his first major breakthrough with the song, "I Wanna be Your Lover" reaching the soul and pop charts and selling over a million copies.

With his fame building, Prince took to the world of acting by starring in the film, "Purple Rain" in 1984 which was loosely based on his life. The movie became a box-office hit but the soundtrack was a massive smash selling over thirteen million copies in the U.S alone with four top-ten singles including the title track and "When Doves Cry".

Prince was one of the highest selling artists of all time with sales of over 100 million records. He had recorded thirty-nine studio album with his latest, "HITnRUN: Phase One" and "HITnRUN: Phase Two" both released last year. Prince won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Academy Award and was inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Much like David Bowie, (another icon we sadly lost earlier this year), Prince was a musical chameleon that confidently mixed and twisted many genres to create his own unique sound. Also like Bowie, he pushed the boundaries of gender norms, performing in make-up, high-heels and colorfully flamboyant costumes that some might consider feminine. Yet Prince was unconcerned with questions or comments regarding his sexuality as he was quite secure and seemed to enjoy the controversy his appearance stirred.

Prince rarely gave interviews with the most infamous was during his very first national television appearance on "American Bandstand" when he pissed off host Dick Clark when he barely spoke to answer any questions. I'm sure the singer was just shy but it also seems clear that he preferred to let his music speak for him. The Artist who will forever be known as Prince has left behind a vast amount of great music for us to cherish and enjoy. He will truly be missed.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

ADAM LAMBERT: THE ORIGINAL HIGH TOUR


I caught Adam Lambert at The Orpheum in downtown L.A. for his last show of the North American leg of The Original High tour on April 3rd. The runner-up of the eighth season of "American Idol" (and was robbed of winning the title, in my opinion) is an incredible vocalist and dynamic performer. After fifteen years, the popular singing competition just aired it's final episode which had allowed America to vote for their favorite singers from among your average Joe or Jane. To honor the show, contestants from every season showed up to perform and I was quite surprised that Lambert didn't appear considering he's one of the bigger artists that came from "American Idol".

He just ended a very successful worldwide tour with Queen and wasted no time returning to his solo career by releasing a new album and getting back on the road. Lambert seems to have been heavily influenced by the rock & soul style of Freddie Mercury as his third album, "The Original High" features a looser and funkier side to the singer. The record is also his most commercial using top producers like Max Martin and Shellback to help shape a slicker pop sound.

Lambert (dressed all in red in the first of three costume changes) took to his minimal stage with only a short platform in the middle but had impressive, state-of-the-art video screens behind to add an extra jolt to the show. He kicked-off with "Evil In The Night", a generic dance track from "Original High" before launching in to two of his biggest songs; the title tune from his debut album, "For Your Entertainment" and "Ghost Town", the haunting first single from the latest album.

Lambert continued to burn through many other songs he has recorded over his short time in the spotlight before reaching a tune that took us back to his early "Idol" days . His hypnotic cover of Tears For Fears' "Mad World" was a star-making moment for the singer and from the frenzied response by this audience, still makes quite an impact today. After the song, Lambert turned up the lights and began talking, which I then realized was the first time he actually stopped singing to speak to the crowd. He's an effusive charmer delivering positive energy and literally getting on a soap-box with his modest political statements.

It wasn't too long before Lambert got back to singing that delighted the largely female audience with more dance-powered songs before closing the show with the title track from his second album, "Trespassing" which was written by the singer and Pharrell Williams. He's taking a little time off before continuing his tour throughout Europe, then re-team with Queen for a mini European tour. Even through he didn't take home the top Idol prize, Lambert seems to be doing quite alright.

Here he is performing "Mad World" when he appeared on the show last month, recreating one of his magical moments on "American Idol":



And let's go back to early Adam Lambert with the music video of "For Your Entertainment" when the young singer was going through his goth period:

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...