News for January 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Turned You On” by The Isley Brothers
From gossamer to “grit-tay”…yesterday I featured a track by the smooth soul group, The Delfonics…today we’re going gritty with this funky 1969 track by The Isley Brothers. They were one of the longest running R’n’B groups of all time forming in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959 and recording and touring together in some form through 2010. At the time of this recording, the group consisted of brothers Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly Isley and their cousin Chris Jasper. Brothers Ernie and Marvin were listed as musicians but weren’t full time members of the group yet. They would join as full members in 1973 with the release of their landmark album “3+3″ and the smash hit “That Lady.” The Brothers were responsible for such indelible hits as “Shout,” “Twist And Shout,” “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You),” “Black Berries,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Pop That Thang,” “Love The One You’re With,” “Summer Breeze,” “Fight The Power,” “Harvest For The World,” plus many others. This song comes from their 1969 album called “The Brothers: Isley.”
Edited: January 31st, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Somebody Loves You” by The Delfonics
Before there was TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) there was Philly Groove and the deep soul sound of The Delfonics featuring the songwriting of legendary producer Thom Bell and the group’s lead singer William Hart. The Delfonics classic blend of Hart’s soulful falsetto floating above a bed of gossamer harmonies courtesy of Wilbert Hart and Randy Caine sent songs like “Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love),” “La La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” up the pop and soul charts during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Their songs have been covered by the likes of Todd Rundgren, Prince, Aretha Franklin and The Jackson Five and sampled by The Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. This song was the B-side to the “Ready Or Not” single and was originally on their 1969 album “Sound Of Sexy Soul.”
Edited: January 30th, 2012
Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Little Cloud” by The Incredible String Band
Albums didn’t come more psychedelic than the third offering from The Incredible String Band from 1967 called “The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion.” Robin Williamson and Mike Heron offered their special blend of acoustic guitars, madrigal inspired songs and sitar layered music to create a brew that was of another time and otherworldly. When I listen to this album, I get an almost claustrophobic feeling thick with the smoke of incense and a stoked hookah staring me in the face in the middle of the room. Not such a bad thing…but not too practical either. You just wanna lie down and take it all in before drifting off. Such is the power of this album and the music of The Incredible String Band.
Edited: January 28th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “On The Road To Find Out” by Cat Stevens
“Tea For The Tillerman” is one of the greatest albums ever made. Hands down…no arguments! It’s been a part of my life since it came out in 1971 and I just revisited it tonight for the first time in a while and it still speaks to me. From 1970′s “Mona Bone Jakon” album through 1976′s “Buddha And The Chocolate Box,” Cat Stevens released a group of consistently stellar albums that have stood the test of time. Even the “Foreigner” album from 1973 which many didn’t think was very strong still looms large in my collection. In my book, other records that share world-class status with “Tea” are “After The Gold Rush” by Neil Young, “Talking Book” by Stevie Wonder, “Ram” by Paul McCartney, “Mad Dogs And Englishmen” by Joe Cocker, “Blood On The Tracks” by Bob Dylan, “American Beauty” by Grateful Dead, “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles, “Get Happy” by Elvis Costello, “Marquee Moon” by Television, “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” by Laura Nyro, “Tunnel Of Love” by Bruce Springsteen, “Rain Dogs” by Tom Waits, “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, “Face To Face” by The Kinks, “Stand Up” by Jethro Tull, “A Wizard A True Star” by Todd Rundgren, “Court And Spark” by Joni Mitchell, “Coney Island Baby” by Lou Reed, “Aladdin Sane” by David Bowie, “Electric Warrior” by T. Rex and “The Power And The Glory” by Gentle Giant. These are records that cut so deep with me; I could not imagine what life would be like without them. You can best believe there are many others and I could go on naming them. But I’d rather hear what some of yours are…
Edited: January 27th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The OtherSide” by The Roots featuring Bilal Oliver and Greg Porn
They are much more than just the house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on TV every night. The Roots crew from Philadelphia was formed by vocalist Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and drummer Ahmire “Questlove” Thompson in 1987. For over 25 years they’ve been providing their own brand of soul-infused jazz and hip-hop to a loving audience. But it wasn’t until they became the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s TV show that they gained in popularity and acceptance by a wider audience. This song is from their latest album, a concept record, called “Undun.” Even if you’re not a hip hop fan, tap into the lyrics to the chorus for some insight into their brilliance: “We’re all on a journey, down the hall of memories. Don’t worry ’bout what you ain’t got. Leave with a little bit of dignity. Never loved what I had. Always felt like I deserved more. But when I get to the other side, that’s when we settle up the score.”
Edited: January 27th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “St. James Infirmary” by King Oliver and his Orchestra
All of the greats in Jazz have someone to look up to and Louis Armstrong’s mentor was Joe “King” Oliver. Oliver was born in New Orleans and formed a band with trombonist Kid Ory who dubbed young Joe “King.” Oliver became known for his muted coronet playing and rose to fame in New Orleans before moving on to Chicago in the 1920s. It was there he formed an all-star band of then relatively unknown musicians featuring Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Baby Dodds on drums, Lil Hardin on piano and Louis Armstrong on second coronet. He then moved on to New York City where he made this recording in 1930 with Henry “Red” Allen joining Oliver on trumpet and Frankie Marvin on vocals. Oliver was a lousy business man who was offered a run at The Cotton Club which he turned down because he thought if he held out he would get more money for the gig. Duke Ellington took the job instead and rose to fame. Oliver’s playing suffered from gum disease and he died in 1938 a broke and destitute janitor after losing his life savings in The Great Depression.
Edited: January 26th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” by Miley Cyrus
Yup…you got that right…Miley Cyrus…and not only that, but a credible cover of this Dylan classic from the just released Amnesty International 4 CD collection “Chimes Of Freedom.” At 76 tracks, this collection of Dylan covers is all over the map with as many cool additions to the canon…”Most Of The Time” by Bettye Lavette, “One Too Many Mornings” by Johnny Cash & The Avett Brothers using an unreleased Dylan-Cash outtake for source material, “No Time To Think” by Belle Brigade, “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” by Cage The Elephant and “Love Sick” by Mariachi El Bronx …as there are clunkers “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” by Ke$ha, “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” by Sugarland, “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance, “Just Like A Woman” by Carly Simon and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by RedOne & Nabil Khayat. Along the way you get good versions of Dylan songs by some of the likely suspects who always show up on this type of collection: Elvis Costello, Sting, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Billy Bragg, Patti Smith and Bob Dylan himself. You bet it’s a mixed bag…but when you consider the source material, you could do worse…
Edited: January 25th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Fungii Mama” by Blue Mitchell
Although he’s worked with the likes of Chick Corea, Cannonball Adderly, Horace Silver, Ray Charles, John Mayall, Tony Bennett and Lena Horne, Blue Mitchell is kind of unknown to most Jazz fans. It’s indeed a crime when you consider tunes like this that live on stellar albums like “The Thing To Do” from 1964. Personnel on this track is Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Chick Corea (piano), Junior Cook (tenor sax), Gene Taylor (bass) and Al Foster (drums).
Edited: January 24th, 2012
Song Of The Day – “Please Call Me, Baby” by Tom Waits
He released one of last year’s best albums, “Bad As Me,” but longtime fans of Tom Waits still mourn the days when he crooned instead of bark and played lots of piano on his records. Don’t get me wrong, I love what he’s been doing since “Small Change” when his voice got super gruff and “Swordfishtrombones” when he began working with his wife Kathleen Brennan and augmented his instrumentation with anything that could be found around the junkyard. Albums like “Rain Dogs,” “Frank’s Wild Years” and “Real Gone” are indeed among his best records and it was nice to hear him playing more piano on his last record too. But the sound of his early records were built around his piano playing and were lushly produced by Bones Howe who also produced classic pop records for The 5th Dimension, The Mamas and The Papas, Elvis Presley, The Monkees and The Turtles. This song comes from his second album, 1974’s “The Heart Of Saturday Night.”
Edited: January 23rd, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Save The Country” by Laura Nyro
Laura Nyro was one of the greatest songwriters of the 1960s responsible for many hits recorded by others. Even though she will finally get her due this year by being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, she is still relatively unknown to most people until you survey some of the songs she’s written: “Stone Soul Picnic” and “Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension, “Eli’s Comin’” by Three Dog Night, “And When I Die” by Blood Sweat & Tears, “Stoney End” by Barbara Streisand are just some of her gold standard compositions. There is precious little footage of Nyro performing her own songs since she suffered from bouts of stage fright particularly during the 1960s. I was fortunate enough to see her once in 1976 at the Garden State Art’s Center in New Jersey and once in the early 1990s at The Bottom Line in New York City where in both instances she was in fine voice. Nyro’s own versions of her songs are still, in my mind, the definitive versions.
Edited: January 21st, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” by Of Montreal
Of Montreal formed in 1996 around key member Kevin Barnes and was part of the Elephant 6 collective that gave us the bands Apples In Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Beulah and Neutral Milk Hotel. Their sound is a little bit Prince, a little bit Bowie, some Queen, a heaping helping of prog rock and an ample dose of acid to add a dash of color to the mix. Their psychedelic album artwork comes courtesy of Kevin’s brother, David Barnes, and the albums come donned in some of the most elaborate packaging I’ve seen in years with die-cut posters, custom record labels, colorful inner sleeves and artwork on the inside pockets of the gatefold. This song comes from their upcoming album, “Paralytic Stalks,” which comes out in February. They will be on tour this spring with Polyvinyl Records label mates Deerhoof.
Edited: January 20th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Silly Love” by 10cc
They were a super group before anyone ever knew it. 10cc consisted of two sets of songwriters. Graham Gouldman wrote the classic hits “For Your Love,” “Heart Full Of Soul,” and “Evil Hearted You” for The Yardbirds, “Bus Stop” and “Look Through Any Window” for the Hollies and “No Milk Today” for Herman’s Hermits. His partner, Eric Stewart, was a member of Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders scoring hits with “Groovy Kind Of Love” and “The Game Of Love.” Kevin Godley and Lol Creme (with Eric Stewart) were members of the group Hotlegs scoring the hit “Neanderthal Man.” After 10cc, they went on to record hits under the name Godley and Crème (“Cry”) and produce music videos for the likes of U2, Paul McCartney, Sting, The Beatles (“Real Love”), Phil Collins, Rod Stewart and others. This song was originally from the band’s second (and best) album “Sheet Music” from 1974. Today, most of us remember them from their indelible hits “I’m Not In Love,” “The Things We Do For Love,” “Dreadlock Holiday,” “The Wall Street Shuffle,” “Donna” and “Art For Art’s Sake.” Graham Gouldman currently tours around the world with a version of 10cc today.
Edited: January 19th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Joy In Repetition” by Prince
There are guitarist who can play from the head, but rarer are the guitarists who play from the heart….you know, the ones whose emotions are left out hangin’ to dry with each note. Jimi Hendrix did…so did Jerry Garcia and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Derek Trucks sure does and so does Neil Young. Here we have the dynamo known as Prince who is perhaps the greatest living performer we have today. He is certainly one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. His guitar chops are on full display in this live 2002 version of a track that was originally on the 1990 “Graffiti Bridge” soundtrack album. “Bridge” was a crap movie, but it was a great Prince album recorded right before things began to go bad for Prince at Warner Bros. Records. The version of “Joy” heard here was from his “One Nite Alone…Live” box set he self-released in 2002 and was recorded in April of 2002 in New York City.
Edited: January 18th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Something Came Over Me” by Wild Flag
Featuring members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium and The Minders, Wild Flag joined forces last year labeled a supergroup. I always thought supergroups happened when members of really well-known bands came together to form new bands with even more marquee strength. With Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney is the only band of the three that ever made a dent into the larger consciousness of rock fans…but I quibble. More interesting is band member, Carrie Brownstein, who currently stars with SNL comedian Fred Armisen in the hilarious sketch comedy show “Portlandia” which spoofs the hipster culture of Portland Oregon.
Edited: January 17th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr
Ms. Carr was born Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona in El Paso Texas and was a humanitarian regularly entertaining the troops in South Vietnam. Phil Spector heard her recording her first hit, “He’s A Rebel” in the studio in 1962 and quickly cut a cover version with The Crystals bringing it to the top of the charts. Many of her hits were cut in Spanish as well as English, a move that was unusual for its time making her a popular Latin American entertainer. She appeared on countless TV variety and talk shows throughout the 1960s and early 1970s and took this song to the number one position in 1967 scoring three Grammy Nominations along the way. She is still very much active on the entertainment circuit as well as with her fundraising activities for various charities.
Edited: January 16th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” by Cream
Cream were rising to the top and riding high with their “Wheels Of Fire” album when they took to the stage of The Smothers Brothers’ TV show in July of 1968. With proclamations of “Clapton is God” spray-painted all over the walls of England, Cream began to feel the pressures of having THE deity in their group. The song was inspired by Judy Collins’ recording of the Leonard Cohen song, “Suzanne,” and features Clapton’s first use of a wah-wah pedal on a record. In fact, it’s been said that it was THE first use of a wah-wah pedal on any rock record.
Edited: January 13th, 2012
Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “Midnight City” by M83
France’s M83 is so epically 1980s that even the band’s name references the decade. In actuality, M83 named themselves for a celestial galaxy called Messier 83 and the “band” really boils down to French musician Anthony Gonzalez and whomever he chooses to work with on a project. This song comes from their breakthrough 6th album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,” which was inspired by Gonzalez’s dreams and The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.”
Edited: January 13th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sax-O-Phun” by George Olsen And His Music
During the Jazz age of the mid-1920s, the dance band leader as personality came into vogue with Paul Whiteman, Art Hickman and George Olsen at the forefront of the trend. Their music was closely tied to that of the stage with lots of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in their repertoires. This song was recorded in 1924 and features lots of slap-tongue saxophone playing courtesy of Rudy Weidoeft. A few years later, this type of music would move from the stages of the Ziegfeld Follies to the “Our Gang” – “Little Rascals” film comedies.
Edited: January 12th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “It Don’t Come Easy” by Bettye LaVette
Bettye LaVette had several deep soul hits back in the early 1960s including the 1962 top-ten “My Man, He’s A Lovin’ Man” and 1965′s “Let Me Down Easy.” She then sank into obscurity for nearly 40 years. She was rediscovered by European soul fans in 2000 resulting in several critically acclaimed comeback albums. Here she is singing her version of the Ringo Starr classic in New York City. She was touring behind her latest album called “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook” a very daring record she made covering songs by Pink Floyd (“Wish You Were Here”), The Beatles (“The Word”), Eric Clapton (“Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad”), The Who (“Love Reign O’er Me”) and others by The Moody Blues, The Animals, Elton John, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. While she doesn’t improve on many of the songs, she does put her own stamp on them and doesn’t just parrot the original arrangements. A flawed album, perhaps, but the high marks make it all worthwhile.
Edited: January 11th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Beware Brother Beware” by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five
Some stone cold advice from Mr. Jordan and company waxed back in 1946. That’s Wild Bill Davis on the piano and, of course, Jordan himself on the vocals and the alto saxophone. When it came to big band, jump blues, jazz and boogie woogie, Jordan was top of the heap ranking just behind Duke Ellington and Count Basie in popularity back in the day. His releases regularly topped the R’n’B “Race” charts and he sent numerous records into the upper regions of the pop charts. Listen closely and you’ll hear the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and rap in this song.
Edited: January 10th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Consoler Of The Lonely” by The Raconteurs
It’s been way too long since they released their last studio album a few years ago for this Jack White-led band featuring singer-songwriter Brendon Benson and members of The Greenhornes. I’ve been a member of Jack White’s Third Man Records’ record club which is a subscription service since its inception and every few months you get an exclusive vinyl LP, a vinyl single and either a DVD or a t-shirt by one of the artists on the label. My tenth shipment came yesterday in the mail and it is a live album by Raconteurs recorded live to tape at Third Man Records headquarters in Nashville from this past September. Pretty ferocious stuff…and I’ve been fortunate to have seen the band a few times in person over the years to confirm it is always this good. Let’s hope this means that there will be more music to come from this great band!
Edited: January 7th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The Book Of Rules” by The Heptones
Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn joined forces in 1965 as “The Hep Ones” before changing their name to The Heptones. Their early singles were produces by legendary Jamaican producer Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. This song was a big hit in 1973 and was later featured on the Reggae soundtrack to the 1979 film “Rockers.” They also provided the backing tracks to dozens of Reggae hits by other artists, most notably for Musical Youth’s 1980s hit “Pass The Dutchie.” The original group last recorded together in 1995 and original member, Barry Llewellyn, died on November 23, 2011 in Kingston Jamaica.
Edited: January 6th, 2012
Song Of The Day – “Everyday I Love You Less And Less” by Kaiser Chiefs
Seven years is a lifetime in the music industry, and so it goes for Kaiser Chiefs. Their debut album, “Employment,” hit the shelves in 2005 giving fans a collection of taught exhilarating early XTC-inspired songs harking back to late ’70s New Wave and Punk Rock. They have released three subsequent albums to less acclaim especially in the US. Last year, they launched a 5th album on their website by posting 20 songs. Fans were allowed to make their own version of the album by choosing any ten to download. Their versions of the album would be posted on the site. If anyone wanted to download a fan’s version of the album from the site, the fan would receive a £1 reimbursement. The band’s version of the record will release this March.
Edited: January 6th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Syeeda’s Song Flute” by John Coltrane
Two weeks after participating in the recording of Miles Davis’ watershed album “Kind Of Blue,” John Coltrane began sessions for his fifth album and first for a new record label. The record was “Giant Steps” released 52 years ago this month and featuring Tommy Flanagan on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums. The song, a Coltrane composition, has a simplicity about it until Coltrane cuts loose. The Syeeda of this song title is Sayeeda Coltrane (also known as Antonia Anderson). As a young child, Sayeeda moved to the Coltrane House when her mother, Naima, married John Coltrane. Naima also has her own classic song on this very album.
Edited: January 5th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles
Prudence was, of course, actress Mia Farrow’s sister. They were in attendance in India studying Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi along with The Beatles, Donovan and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. Prudence was very serious about TM and spent most of her time in her room meditating. Beatle John was concerned for her wellbeing and wrote this song inviting her to come out to play. Prudence went on to become a teacher and still practices TM to this day. The song appeared on “The Beatles” better known as “The White Album” from 1968 and features Paul McCartney on drums because a frustrated Ringo had walked out of the sessions — and the band — for a few days.
Edited: January 4th, 2012
America doesn’t have the same relationship with Polly Jean Harvey as does England. Here her albums are met with a shrug except by a fervent minority who wait on her every word. Over the pond, her latest record topped most of the critic’s lists for best album of last year. Her “Let England Shake” album was a stunner and probably the most England-centric record she’s ever made. It is indeed a potent record right up there with her best albums including “Rid Of Me,” “To Bring You My Love,” “Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea” and “White Chalk.”
Edited: January 3rd, 2012
Song Of The Day – “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate” by Mission Of Burma
Mission of Burma came up in a late 1970s Boston independent music scene that really hadn’t been developed yet and released a handful of singles. They really were ahead of their time as far as having no framework for record distribution, publicity and all of what goes with it for them to succeed. They were a four-piece band whose lead singer, Roger Miller, suffered from tinnitus and whose sound man, Martin Swope, served as a fourth band member creating tape loops on the fly from the sound board as the rest of the band performed on stage. This was all before the days of sampling. Their brand of “Dada Punk” was singularly their own and as a result they never really reached a larger audience, but remain to this day a highly influential band. This song comes from their 1982 album “Vs.” The band reunited in 2002 and continues to tour and record new albums.
Edited: January 2nd, 2012
Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “Making Plans For Nigel” by XTC
I had my iPod at the New Year’s Eve party I attended this evening and at one point we played the XTC album “Black Sea.” Now I was fortunate to see them on tour in 1980 behind that album and little did I know at the time that it would be their last tour ever due to Andy Partridge’s stage fright. While spinning “Black Sea” at the party we decided that this song from the 1979 album “Drums And Wires” would be an appropriate song to start off 2012 since it looks to the future and concerns making plans. We’re all making plans…not for Nigel…but for the future. So Happy New Year to all and enjoy the first Song Of The Day of 2012!
Edited: January 1st, 2012