Thursday, January 26, 2017

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


"I'm a Believer" by the Monkees was the number one song during this week in 1967. This popular song, written by a then relatively unknown singer-songwriter, Neil Diamond, remained in this position for seven weeks, became the best-selling record of that year and was one of the few singles to ever sell over ten million copies. This was the band's second number one, following "Last Train To Clarksville", and they would make it to the top of the U.S. pop chart one more time with "Daydream Believer" later that year.

The story behind the Monkees' creation is certainly unusual. Due to the intense popularity of the Beatles, producers, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider thought the idea of a television program about a rock group might work. After a talent search, British singer, Davy Jones who had performed on Broadway in "Olivier" was the first cast with American actors, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz, who all also had experience as musicians, soon followed.

This fab foursome became "The Monkees" and the comedy series about a struggling L.A. rock & roll band and their wild adventures while seeking fame hit the air in 1966 and ran until 1968. The ironic part was that this fictional band became a very successful real-life musical act. During the height of their fame, the Monkees' records outsold the music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined. After the show's end run, the group continued to record and tour together before disbanding in 1971.

However, the show enjoyed an incredible afterlife through syndication and overseas broadcasts. This created a demand for the Monkees particularly after MTV ran a marathon of the show in 1986. Dolenz, Jones and Tork went out on the 20th Anniversary Tour, the first of many reunion concerts, that year with Nesmith sitting out due to prior commitments with his own band. The trio recorded a new album "Pool It!" the following year and hit the road on a global tour.

Nesmith would reunite with the group rarely throughout the tours but for the Monkees' 30th anniversary, the original four came together in 1996 and recorded "Justus" their first album of original material since 1968. After Davy Jones' death in 2012, the surviving members would embark on a U.S. tour later that year and honored the late singer during the concerts. A 50th Anniversary World Tour just began in December with Dolenz and Tork but Nesmith will join the group on dates when time allows.

Monday, January 23, 2017

PROTEST SONGS OF A NEW GENERATION


I really try to avoid making my political views public but the election of that vile man to the highest office in the country has made me realize I cannot and must not remain silent. I think he's completely unfit for President, I do not support most of his outrageous agenda and I strongly believe he is not concerned about the best interests of a majority of the people he's supposed to be representing. I know I am not alone in this point of view just from the incredible number of people out in the streets protesting the day after the inauguration. Many artists have been inspired to create music to peacefully protest this new administration and to inform them we will not be ignored or pushed around.

I am sharing a few of my favorite songs from a variety of different musicians who are all very concerned about not only the future of this nation but of the entire planet.







"I Give You Power" - Arcade Fire featuring Mavis Staples mp3

Also be sure to check out the Our First 100 Days Campaign which will release a protest song every day over the first one hundred of this presidency. Click below to make a donation to get a subscription with proceeds going to a variety of charities to aide in their fight against the sure-to-be damaging policies of this administration.

Our First 100 Days

Saturday, January 21, 2017

TAKE TWO: KATE BUSH


Kate Bush, the theatrical art-rock performer who first came to fame in her native England in the '70's, never made a major impact here in the states but was a highly revered artist in much of the rest of the world. After an incredible thirty-five year absence from the stage, Bush returned to live performing in 2014 with "Before The Dawn", a multi-media concert which had a twenty-two date residency at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. With all the shows selling out in a record fifteen minutes, it's clear this ethereal songstress was deeply missed.

Bush came from a gifted family, her mother was a traditional Irish dancer and her father was a pianist, so it's no surprise she displayed talent. The aspiring musician taught herself how to play the piano as a young child before eventually writing her own music and lyrics. When she was sixteen, Bush began recording demos of her material and sent them to several record labels but none were interested. However, David Gilmour of the the progressive rock band, Pink Floyd got his hands on her work. The intrigued musician (along with his friend, Andrew Powell who would go on to produce Bush's first two albums) worked with the young singer to record more professional sounding demos, even paying for the sessions. The new tracks were sent to EMI Records and they quickly signed Bush to the label.

At nineteen, her debut album, "The Kick Inside" was released in 1978 and the single, "Wuthering Heights" (based on the Emily Brontë novel) she wrote went to the top of the UK and Australian pop charts. While Bush became a sensation throughout the globe, the album didn't even chart in the U.S. Her record label wanted to capitalize on her rapid success and a follow-up album, "Lionheart" was rushed out later that year. Most of the songs had been written when she was a young teen and while the record was warmly received, it did not do nearly as well as her debut.

It was not until her fifth album, "Hounds of Love" that Bush became noticed in America. The song, "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" would become her only top forty hit here in 1985. The album received worldwide critical acclaim and became one of her biggest sellers.

After her 1993 album, "The Red Shoes", Bush took an extended period of time away from public life. It would not be until 2005 that the artist would resurface with new music. "Aerial" was a two-disc set and while Bush did minimal promotion, the album was still a commercial success and even charted in the U.S. , peaking at number forty-eight on the album chart.

Bush's last studio albums were both released in 2011. "Director's Cut" contains restructured and re-recorded songs from her "The Sensual World" (1989) and "The Red Shoes" albums while "50 Words For Snow" featured all new material. This past November, a live album of her "Before The Dawn" concert was released.

I have always loved the dramatic flair of Kate Bush's music but understand completely why she was not a bigger name here in the states. While her image was certainly video-friendly during the MTV era, Bush's poetic and occasionally esoteric songs was just a little too out-there for American consumption at the time.  Here are two of my favorite from this singular artist:

"Running Up That Hill" - Kate Bush (1985) mp3

"This Woman's Work" - Kate Bush (1989) mp3

Bush began using the music video early in career as a creative extension of her music. As a bonus, here are a few clips that display her innovation and unique vision:





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

JULIA MICHAELS: POP MUSIC'S SECRET WEAPON

What does Justin Bieber's "Sorry", Selena Gomez's "Hands To Myself" and "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld all have in common? That would be Julia Michaels who co-wrote these top 40 hits as well as having a hand at creating music for other pop acts currently on the charts like Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Britney Spears, just to name a few. While this only twenty-three year old prolific songwriter has amassed a large number of songs that have shaped the pop music landscape, Michaels is also a singer but has been reluctant to put herself out there as a performer. She has displayed a little bit of what she can do when Michaels, along with Norwegian DJ, Kygo, sang during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She has now decided to push herself further by just releasing her first single, "Issues". Michaels felt this was the first song she wrote that sounded like herself and couldn't bear to give it to another artist. With production assistance from fellow hit makers, Benny Blanco and Stargate, it's no surprise this tune is catchy. But it's clear from Michaels' vocals on this track that all the singers that have covered her songs clearly used her breathy delivery as a guide on how to perform them. No date is set for her debut album but I think you will be hearing a lot about Julia Michaels, the singer throughout the rest of the year.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

MY FAVORITE MOMENTS IN MUSIC IN 2016

2016 was a difficult, challenging year in more ways than one. From a musical standpoint, it was upsetting due to the loss of some pretty important artists from Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Glenn Frey of The Eagles and Prince at the early part of the year to George Michael near the end. The only real comfort is that we still have their music which will keep them with us forever. I won't even get in to that crazy election and the tragic outcome. So, I'm just going to share some of the music from the previous year that I loved but didn't have a chance to cover here:

"Closer" - The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey (2016) mp3

"One Dance" - Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla (2016) mp3

"Too Good" - Drake featuring Rihanna (2016) mp3



"My Church" - Maren Morris (2016) mp3

"80's Mercedes" - Maren Morris (2016) mp3







"Gold" - Kiiara (2016) mp3

"Close" - Nick Jonas featuring Tove Lo (2016) mp3

"Me Too" - Mehgan Trainor (2016) mp3

ICONA POP ARE "GIRLS GIRLS"

Those Swedish musical party-girls, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, otherwise known as  Icona Pop are back with a new club-banging anthem. ...