News for March 2011
Another slice of pop perfection compliments of the team of Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Dionne Warwick. This early ’60s gem will help you to forget what a disaster Dionne’s appearance on “The Celebrity Apprentice” has been…
Edited: March 31st, 2011
This early ’60s gem by Frank Sinatra has just the right amount of “Ring-A-Ding-Ding-Mad-Men” vibe to make us forgive the sexism of the lyrics. This one comes from the “Sinatra And Swingin’ Brass” album with arrangements by Neal Hefti.
Edited: March 30th, 2011
For over 30 years Los Lobos have proven to be one of the best and most consistent American rock’n’roll bands ever. Whether they’re delivering a set of traditional Mexican tunes or some of their more psychedelic tinged experiments, you can always count on Los Lobos for a good time. This ferocious concert staple originally comes from their 1996 album “Colossal Head.”
Edited: March 29th, 2011
Song Of The Day – Women by Lou Reed – One of the many highlights from Lou’s essential 1982 album “The Blue Mask.” This album featured his most consistent lineup of musicians since the original Velvet Underground including the late, great Robert Quine on guitar, Fernando Saunders on bass and Doane Perry on drums.
Edited: March 28th, 2011
With samples from Otis Redding and Steely Dan, De La Soul unleashed this bouillabaisse of good times onto a hip-hop public in 1989. The “3 Feet High And Rising” album is a stone-cold masterpiece and sounds as fresh today as it did in ’89. If you’ve never heard the album…it’s your loss…
Edited: March 27th, 2011
Marc Bolan and company at their finest from the killer 1971 album “Electric Warrior.” Before Bowie there was Marc Bolan and while Bowie certainly surpassed him in popularity, Bolan’s influence was profound on making David Bowie the glam king he became in the early ’70s. It wasn’t a rip off…but this song is “Rip Off.”
Edited: March 27th, 2011
A nice cover of one of the most melodic and tender songs in The Smiths’ catalog. It’s Morrissey at his finest…performed by Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering. Thanks to Steve for hipping me to this gem!
Edited: March 25th, 2011
One of Chet Baker’s last recordings was this Elvis Costello-penned song from the Bruce Weber film “Let’s Get Lost.” Although a drug-addled mess towards the end of his life, musically this recording finds him in top form on horn and vocals. It’s ironic how someone with such a warm tone could be so definitively associated with cool jazz…
Edited: March 25th, 2011
Here’s some musical comfort food for you from the good ol’ Grateful Dead featuring the late great “Pigpen” Ron McKernan on vocals. Originally from their exceptional “Workingman’s Dead” album, this is a funky live version from 1970 recorded somewhere in Canada probably along the “Festival Express.”
Edited: March 24th, 2011
As with much of their material, I don’t really know what Kevin Barnes is going on about here…but hearing him tap into his inner Prince is always a treat. This one comes from their new EP “thecontrollersphere” which is due out in April. They’re also taking the show on the road this spring.
Edited: March 23rd, 2011
A duo of songs from the 1974 album “Rufisized” performed live on the Mike Douglas Show in 1975. What can be said of Chaka Khan that hasn’t been said already…dynamo performer…dynamite set of pipes! No need for auto-tuned vocals here…nothing processed…everything is real down ‘n’ dirty groove. Little known fact…Rufus with Chaka Khan grew out of the ashes of Chicago group The American Breed who scored a hit in 1968 with “Bend Me Shape Me.” Side note: How Mike Douglas managed to keep his job as talk show host is totally beyond me. What a buffoon…
Edited: March 22nd, 2011
To think that when most of the world was first introduced to Steve Earle, he was presented as a “New Country Traditionalist” alongside Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam. Over the years, Earle has gone on to be either a ferocious rocker as heard here, or a literate folkie. With the exception of a brief foray into Bluegrass with Del McCoury, country has been largely absent from his repertoire. It shows how manipulative big record companies were…and still are in introducing new artists to the public where having a hook or a gimmick is everything even if it really doesn’t fit the artist. Here’s one from his amazing 2000 album “Transcendental Blues.”
Edited: March 21st, 2011
Possessing an otherworldly approach to singing and an obtuse sense of fashion, Iceland’s greatest musical export is Bjork! Go ahead…name another! Bjork started out as a children’s recording artist making her first record at the age of 11. By the late ’80s, she joined The Sugarcubes and had a large alternative hit with “Birthday.” The band could not sustain its Fleetwood Mac-like relationship issues and broke up after a few albums allowing Bjork to spread her wings (ever seen that dress) and become the most original vocalist since Yma Sumac.
Edited: March 20th, 2011
Dion was one of the acts on “The Winter Dance Party” tour of 1959. On the fateful day of February 2nd, he decided he could not afford the $36.00 that would buy him a seat on the plane that ultimately crashed and took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Had he (or for that matter Waylon Jennings) taken the seat offered to him, the music world would have been robbed of some great music…including today’s pick from 1962.
Edited: March 19th, 2011
Guilty pleasure? I think not! I’ve been a card-carrying Yes fan since the early ’70s. Sure they’ve had their missteps…the “Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe” debacle of the late ’80s…”Big Generator”… However, from 1969 through 1977, Yes released a series of challenging and tuneful records that have indeed stood the test of time.
Edited: March 18th, 2011
Great Irish music…hold the dreaded bagpipes!
Edited: March 17th, 2011
Live version of a classic from their 1986 magnum opus “The Queen Is Dead.” The combination of Marr’s incredibly catchy melodies surrounded by crisp guitar playing and Morrissey’s laser-sharp lyrics led the Smiths to be cultural heroes throughout the late 1980s. They only toured the USA once and I was fortunate enough to catch their show at The Pier in NYC. Morrissey was one heck of a frontman…a fey whirling dervish in an oversized shirt…we all felt and shared in his pain…
Edited: March 17th, 2011
Steven Gene Wold (aka Seasick Steve) spent most of his life as a drifter throughout the U.S. and Europe. With a sound reminiscent of Tony Joe White and ample guitar chops, he finally brought his talents to a recording studio in his 60s causing a sensation in Europe. This one comes from his 2008 album “I Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most Of It Left.”
Edited: March 16th, 2011
One of the fiercest songs on the Stripes’ last studio album, “Icky Thump,” is even fiercer in concert! I was fortunate enough to see them tour behind the “Get Behind Me Satan” album and had tickets for the “Icky” tour before they imploded and called off the shows. They were a force to be reckoned with in concert with Jack White perhaps one of the most charismatic performers of all time…right up there with Prince and Iggy Pop…and Meg a whirling dervish behind the drum kit. Oh well, oh well…
Edited: March 15th, 2011
One of the legendary “Basement Tapes” recorded in 1967 at the Band’s Big Pink house in Woodstock, NY and subsequently released on the 1975 album called “The Basement Tapes.” Several years ago, a terrific 5-CD set of these tapes called “A Tree Without Roots” was released highlighting that there are so many more great Basement Tape recordings in the vaults. It’s time for the folks from both Dylan & the Band’s camps to release the ultimate Basement Tapes box set! The fact that they are not officially out yet is the real “Yazoo Street Scandal.”
Edited: March 14th, 2011
Soulful song from a solid album by one of the blues’ greatest voices. Nuff said!
Edited: March 12th, 2011
From his 1980 third solo album also known as the “Melty Face” album, that to me was the pinnacle of his solo career. Yes, commercial success was right around the corner in the form of “Shock The Monkey” and the “So” album, but here was a record that made good on the proposition of his last album with Genesis “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
Edited: March 11th, 2011
I sought out their excellent album “Before Today” after seeing them on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” They released their first few records on home-burned CD-Rs until they were signed to Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks record label. Listening to “Before Today” is like gaining admittance into a dark and dank club where everything is off-kilter in the best way possible. They will be one of the featured bands at this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
Edited: March 11th, 2011
They were the most melodic and yes, funky of the progressive rock bands as evidenced in this performance. Featuring the musicianship of brothers Derek and Ray Shulman, Kerry Minnear, Gary Green and John Weathers, the Giant were adept mutli-instrumentalists who would dazzle in concert with their intricate vocal arrangements and odd time signatures. This track originally comes from their 1974 album “The Power And The Glory” and is seen here from a performance of unknown origin. I was fortunate enough to see them in 1976 at the Calderone Concert Hall in Hempstead, New York!
Edited: March 10th, 2011
A song about the power of three from the 1972 film version of the musical “Cabaret.” The film starred Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey and was directed by Bob Fosse with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. For those who observe Lent…here’s something else you never want to give up…
Edited: March 9th, 2011
Fat Tuesday is upon us and I do believe a “Yellow Moon” is rising. From New Orleans’ first musical family – Aaron, Art, Charles and Cyril – comes this Daniel Lanois-produced track from 1989 featuring equal doses of swamp and funk. For those who are contemplating Lent…don’t give up the funk!
Edited: March 8th, 2011
After Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart left to form Faces, Beck went on to form this new version of The Jeff Beck Group culminating in the recording of the 1971 album “Rough And Ready.” A more freewheeling jazz oriented sound ensued pointing in the direction Beck would take in the late ’70s with Jan Hammer.
Edited: March 7th, 2011
Song Of the Day – “The Beat Goes On” by Gabor Szabo from the album “The Sorcerer”
Hungarian born Gabor Szabo was one of the first jazz guitarists of the 1960s to tap into the rock repertoire of the day. Szabo’s trademark fluid style of jamming is in full bloom on this funky 1966 jazz-raga rendition of Sonny Bono’s classic hit. Szabo introduced the song “Gypsy Queen” to Carlos Santana who had a big hit with it in 1970.
Edited: March 6th, 2011
Supposed true story…”She was a winner that became the doggie’s dinner…” Marie Prevost (the correct spelling) was a 1920s Hollywood actress whose career fell to alcoholism. When she eventually died the police found her body with arms and legs partially eaten by her faithful dachshund who nipped at them in a failed attempt to wake her up. This song comes from Nick Lowe’s 1978 debut solo album called “Pure Pop For Now People,” or if you are from England, it was originally titled “Jesus Of Cool.” Bad video…great song!
Edited: March 4th, 2011
On one hand they are cold, soulless and impenetrable. That’s usually my take on any new Radiohead release upon first spins, including their latest album “The King Of Limbs.” Perseverance does pay off and songs begin to insinuate themselves with you. Then you come to realize that what was cold and soulless is about as deep as it can get and what you thought was mechanical and lacked any hint of melody begins to get under your skin in a way you were unprepared for. On this record, Thom York lays down some of his most soulful singing ever. Stick with it…it will pay off.
Edited: March 4th, 2011
One of composer/lyricist Frank Loesser’s most enduring songs…and who knew that Marlon Brando could sing! During production, this film was considered to be totally miscast. Smooth voiced Frank Sinatra’s Nathan Detroit was considered too smooth for the part and Brando as Sky Masterson was chosen over Gene Kelly purely because of his marquee power. The lead female characters in the film played by Vivian Blaine and Jean Simmons were up for consideration by Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly…just imagine the possibilities…
Edited: March 3rd, 2011
“Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart),” “Message To Michael,” “Alfie,” “Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” “I Say A Little Prayer” — the list goes on and on, making an argument for the notion that the songwriting partnership of Burt Bacharach and Hal David was one of the most important in the history of pop music on par with Lennon and McCartney. Add the supple voice of Dionne Warwick to the mix and pop music magic was sure to follow. This 1965 gem from her fifth album, “Here I Am,” is one of many should’ve-been-hits she recorded and it is certainly as good as some of the bona-fide hits mentioned above.
Edited: March 2nd, 2011
Formed in the mid-1960s by Roy Wood, The Move was a quintessentially British rock band and as a result had trouble crossing over to these shores with any commercial impact. At home they scored such hits as “Blackberry Way,” “I Can Hear The Grass Grow,” “Flowers In The Rain,” “Fire Brigade” and “Do Ya.” They were a band whose personnel was constantly in flux and this incarnation of The Move features members Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan. Shortly after the release of this song from their final album, Wood, Lynne and Bevan formed Electric Light Orchestra. After one record together, Wood departed their ranks to form Roy Wood’s Wizzo…of course, ELO went on to become superstars of the 1970s.
Edited: March 1st, 2011