Sunday, October 30, 2016

PETE BURNS (1959 - 2016)


I had been out of the country for the last couple of weeks and was saddened to learn on my return the passing of Pete Burns, the outrageous lead vocalist of the dance-pop group, Dead or Alive, at the age of fifty-seven from sudden cardiac arrest on October 23rd.

The appearance of the British singer had been heavily altered since the days of the group's worldwide smash, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" back in 1985. He began with a simple nose procedure before claiming to have had about three hundred cosmetic surgeries which gave him a more feminine look with over-sized lips and a sculpted face. There were several major complications and Burns wound up spending his life savings on many reconstructive surgeries, particularly on his lips.

Since he was a child, Burns always had a unique and theatrical nature. He dropped out of school at fourteen after being called to the headmaster's office for arriving with flaming red hair, no eyebrows and an earring.

Burns went on to work at a Liverpool record store and was not exactly a model employee as he gave customers a hard time if he didn't like their selections. During this period, he met some musicians and joined several early goth bands before forming what would become Dead or Alive in 1980. By the time of their 1984 debut album, "Sophisticated Boom Boom", the group had evolved in to a synthpop outfit. The first single, a cover of KC & the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)", became a minor success in Britain.

After their first hit, Dead or Alive had several other songs reach the charts throughout the rest of the '80's like "Lover Come Back To Me", "My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)", "Something In My House" and "Brand New Lover".

With the '90's and '00's, Dead or Alive had a sporadic musical output and what was released failed to find much of an audience. Burns later turned to reality television to make ends meet and appeared on the UK versions of "Celebrity Big Brother" and "Celebrity Wife Swap". He is survived by an ex-wife, Lynne Corlett and a husband, Michael Simpson.

To honor this dynamic musical personality, here are a few videos featuring my favorites songs that spotlighted Pete Burns and his time with Dead or Alive:





Sunday, October 9, 2016

A SEAT AT THE TABLE


It must be challenging for Solange Knowles to be seen as an artist in her own right due to the overwhelming shadow of her superstar older sister. But she continues to go down her own path, stressing there is no rivalry and has very different artistic and creative goals. This is evident in Solange's tenacious third studio album, "A Seat At The Table" which is released on her own label, Saint Records through a distribution deal with Sony.

While the record may share some sonic similarities with her sister's own alt-r&b album, "Lemonade", Solange pushes the boundaries of soul music even further with her introspective lyrics and experimental sounds. She explores the complicated and volatile issues facing African-Americans today through powerful songs expressing anger, indignation, insight and empowerment.

Also like her sister, Solange is using the music video to help further express her creative vision and has released two clips for the songs, "Don't Touch My Hair" and "Cranes in the Sky" that were directed by Knowles and her video director husband, Alan Ferguson.



Thursday, October 6, 2016

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


The song that was on top of the U. S. pop chart during this exact time back in 1966 was "Cherish" by The Association. This group's record label had felt that the song sounded too old-fashioned yet it managed to spent three weeks at number one and has remained a timeless classic.

"Cherish" represents a much simpler time in pop music when the airwaves were filled with tender songs of love and romance. The worst thing you would possibly hear would be about some boy cheating on his girl and breaking her heart. In these darker, troubling times we are living in, it wouldn't be so bad to have a little more love and kindness in our music to help soothe people.

This Los Angeles based band first hit the charts earlier in 1966 with "Along Comes Mary" which reached number seven. "Cherish" became The Association's first number one smash and first record to sell over a million copies. The group, that initially featured Terry Kirkman on percussion, Jules Alexander on lead guitar, Russ Giguere on rhythm guitar, Brian Cole on bass, Jim Yester on keyboards and Ted Bluechel, Jr. on drums, had two more major hits the following year with "Never My Love" and "Windy" which also made it to the top of the U.S. pop chart.

By the end of the decade, the hits began to dry up and by 1978, with difficulties booking gigs and getting a recording contract, The Association called it quits. Ted Bluechel, who owned The Association trademark and heavily in debt, leased out the group's name for a replacement band to perform on tour.

It didn't take long before the founding members, Kirkman, Alexander, Giguere, Bluechel and Yester along with later additions, Larry Ramos and Richard Thompson reunited The Association to perform on a '60's revival tour with The Turtles in 1984. The group continues to go out on the road to this day in a variety of 1960's package tours.

"Cherish" - The Association (1966) mp3

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK

I can't believe it but it's been forty years since " Best of My Love " by The Emotions landed at number one on the pop...