Friday, July 28, 2017

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


This tune is a song I have heard many times and my reaction is the same every time I hear it. So this time I want to make a comment on this.

"Woman To Woman" was a number one soul hit in 1974 for Shirley Brown and even crossed over to the pop chart, reaching number twenty-two. She was an artist on Stax Records with this single selling over a million copies and was one of the last big records for the legendary label.

If you are not familiar with this tune, let me fill you in; the song starts off in spoken word with Shirley finding the phone number of her man's mistress, Barbara in his pockets and decides to call her. Now I can understand someone wanting to confront a person messing with their spouse and setting them straight but Shirley lost me completely when she rattles off her reasons why Barbara should back off. She proceeds to boast that she pays for her man's clothes, car and "every piece of food he eats" and will do anything to keep him. It just seems sad to me that this woman so desperately wants to hang on to her cheating man who clearly doesn't respect her nor appreciate everything she has done for him. I know I may be betraying my gender but I think she deserves better than this. Have a listen to the song and judge for yourself:

"Woman To Woman" - Shirley Brown (1974) mp3

The following year, Barbara Mason (best known for her 1965 hit, "Yes, I'm Ready") came out with an answer song to Shirley Brown's tune. After a lengthy musical intro and a snippet of Brown's opening line "Barbara, this is Shirley", "From His Woman To You" tells Barbara's side of this affair. What I find humorous is that the man in the middle of all this drama between these women remained silent. Now that's an answer song I would have liked to have heard. Here's a bonus of Barbara Mason's song:

"From His Woman To You" - Barbara Mason (1975) mp3

Monday, July 24, 2017

KOOL & THE GANG 2017 TOUR


Just as much as audiences love new music, they also enjoy looking back at their old-school favorites. Those concert packages that puts together several vintage bands of the past are a rite of the summer and the latest features the slightly odd combo of Village People, Morris Day and The Time and the headliners, Kool & The Gang. I caught them on the first day of a two-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl on July 21st.

The Village People kicked off the night with a surprisingly brief twenty minute set although in hindsight it was plenty of time as it soon began to feel like they were doing slight variations of the same song. It's not really unexpected that most of the original members of these acts have departed in one form or another but this disco novelty act of gay male fantasy types features the most of their founding members. With the Indian (Felipe Rose), the GI (Alex Briley) and lead vocalist, the cop (Ray Simpson who replaced Victor Willis in their heyday) still around, the People did a fun, high-energy show that featured them doing their signature butch-dance moves while performing their greatest hits like "Macho Man", "In The Navy" and the enduring smash, "Y.M.C.A" which they did a detailed demonstration before the song on how to properly do the hand movements.

Before The Time came out, a tribute to Prince, who they were closely associated with, played on the video screens that featured his music and early pictures of him with Morris Day. Then the band arrived on stage to the sound of the Purple One's "1999" with Day checking out his look in a mirror carried by his "valet", Jerome Benton before launching in to their first hit, "Get It Up". They sounded great but seemed to have a hard time getting this crowd engaged. I think it may be for a lack of recognizable hits as The Time didn't have a major impact on the pop charts in their day as Prince did. The group fared better when they touched on his music with them doing a cover of "D.M.S.R". During the sentimental ballad, "Gigolos Get Lonely, Too", Day had his son, Derran come on stage to belt out a verse. While he has an impressive voice, it still came across like a shameless plug with the proud father advising the audience to find him on social media afterwards.

By the time Kool & The Gang arrived to close out the show, the crowd was warmed up and ready to party. Bass player and the namesake of this popular band, Robert "Kool" Bell (who is still on hand) started this group as a funk band in the late sixties before moving towards r&b and pop with the arrival of James "J.T." Taylor as lead singer in 1979. They got everybody on their feet with solid versions of their hits "Hollywood Swinging", "Ladies' Night", "Jungle Boogie" and "Get Down On It" enhanced by a fantastic horn section that features a couple of original players. Taylor has been long gone from the group but Lavell Evans does a serviceable job of filling in for the former vocalist yet not completely escaping moments that made them sound like a wedding band. Kool and company wanted everybody to know they are still in the game as they performed a new song, "Sexy (Where'd You Get Yours)". While it was perfectly keeping with their funky spirit, it was hardly anything noteworthy and just gave people a chance to head out for a beer run. With the sound of Kool & The Gang's biggest hit, "Celebration" signaling that the night is coming to a close, it was an enjoyable evening of music and memories.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

TAKE TWO: TEDDY PENDERGRASS


Back in the '70's, if you wanted to create a sexy mood, all you had to do was turn down the lights, pop open a bottle of wine and put on a Teddy Pendergrass record. Shifting effortlessly from a seductive whisper to a libidinous growl, this undeniable sex symbol used his robust voice to create songs filled with longing and carnal desires and there was no shame in his game. His live concerts were known to be sensual and sweaty affairs that left his largely female audiences extremely hot and bothered.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pendergrass would develop his singing style, not surprisingly, in the church. While it's rumored that he was ordained as a minister at the age of ten, it's factual that he did perform at services as a singer and drummer. As a young man, Pendergrass would join several soul groups playing the drums and providing the occasional vocal. It was during his time with the Cadillacs that would change the course of his musical career.

Harold Melvin, who had his own group The Blue Notes, caught the Cadillacs in concert when Pendergrass took a turn singing at the mike. Thoroughly impressed with his voice, Melvin quickly offered him the chance to be the lead vocalist of The Blue Notes and Pendergrass seized the opportunity. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, who hadn't had much commercial success, signed to a new label, Philadelphia International Records in 1971.

With the label's founders, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff taking a special interest in guiding their new artists, the group had their breakthrough hit the following year with a song written and produced by Gamble & Huff, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" which reached the top of the r&b chart and the top-ten of the pop chart. Other hits soon followed like "Bad Luck", "The Love I Lost" and "Wake Up Everybody" but with big success came bigger problems within the group. Resenting continuously being mistaken for "Harold Melvin", Pendergrass felt his name should be part of the band's title while also unhappy with his financial arrangement with Melvin. In 1975, he decided to leave the group to go solo while Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, who never found a suitable replacement for Pendergrass, eventually faded in to obscurity.

Teddy Pendergrass released his self-titled debut album in 1977 with it receiving a lot of attention on the soul chart with the help of the singles, "I Don't Love You Anymore" and "The Whole Town's Laughing at Me". With his subsequent albums, he began to chart his path as a sexy balladeer with such seductive bedroom jams as "Close The Door", "Come Go With Me", "Turn Off The Lights" and "Love T.K.O.". When Shep Gordon, Pendergrass' manager,  realized his audiences where largely made up of excited women of all races, he created "women only" concerts that proved to be a very popular gimmick.

By 1982, Pendergrass was at the height of his fame as one of the biggest artists in soul music when tragedy struck the singer in March of that year. He was involved in a terrible car accident that left his passenger with minor injuries but he suffered a spinal cord injury, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. After spending several years in rehabilitation, Pendergrass triumphantly returned to music in 1984 with the album, "Love Language" and found himself back on the pop charts with "Hold Me", a duet with then-new artist, Whitney Houston. He would later find himself back at number one on the r&b chart with "Joy" in 1988.

After being treated for colon cancer, he later developed severe complications causing respiratory issues and Teddy Pendergrass passed away on January 10th 2010 at the age of fifty-nine. He left behind an powerful body of music that is still able to get people in an amorous mood. Here are two of my favorite songs from the great Teddy Pendergrass:

"When Somebody Loves You Back" - Teddy Pendergrass (1978) mp3

"Come Go With Me" - Teddy Pendergrass (1979) mp3

As a bonus, here is a live version of the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' timely hit, "Wake Up Everybody" performed on "Soul Train":



Finally, I couldn't resist giving you the love ballad, "Hold Me" by Mr. Prendergrass and Whitney Houston:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"PRAYING" FOR KESHA


After being forced to put her career on hold, Kesha is finally able to return to music. She had been embroiled in a nasty legal battle with her former producer, Dr. Luke over contractual and personal issues during the last five years and the thirty year old's first single, "Praying" seems to be directly about all of the emotional turmoil she has been through.

Kesha reveals in this moving piano-driven ballad, co-written and produced by Ryan Lewis (of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis), that despite all of the pain and abuse one can go through, you can survive and heal. What I found most surprising about this track is that it shows what a full-bodied voice the singer actually has which was never properly put on display on any of her hit singles like "Tik Tok" and "We R Who We R". This is a dramatic and uplifting moment for the singer and will certainly have people anticipating her upcoming third album, "Rainbow" which is due out in August.

Take a look at the striking music video for "Praying", directed by Jonas Ã…kerlund, which shows that Kesha has lost none of her colorful, eccentric style:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

CALVIN HARRIS IS BRINGING THE "FUNK"


After teasing us throughout the year with several tasty jams featuring an eclectic roster of artists, Calvin Harris has just released his fifth studio album, "Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1". This ten track collection has the thirty-three year old Scottish DJ/producer moving away from the dance floor and more towards a hip-hop/soul/ska vibe. And he has enlisted the help from some of the biggest names in music right now; Frank Ocean, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, John Legend and Snoop Dogg to name just a few. One of my favorite songs so far this year is "Slide" which features Ocean and Migos and the album is filled will plenty of other solid grooves that will perfectly add some additional heat to the summer.

"Feels" is the latest single which features Perry, Williams and Big Sean riding on a Caribbean-flavored beat. Enjoy the official video for that tune and here are two other tracks to check out: Nicki Minaj also grooves to a tropical beat on "Skrt On Me' while two rising artists, Kehalni and Lil Yachty deliver a mid-tempo jam with "Faking It".





DAVID CASSIDY (1950 - 2017)

David Cassidy , the popular teen heartthrob who found fame in television and music throughout the 1970's, passed away on November 21s...