News for March 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/31/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Soul Kiss” by Joe Jackson

For an artist as ornery as Joe Jackson was on stage berating his audiences regularly; he did come out with some of the sweetest and most articulate music of his time. While critics were rightly comparing Elvis Costello to Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, they kind of missed out on the real carrier of their torch in Joe Jackson. The “Big World” album was conceived on stage and recorded in a controlled live environment in front of audiences. After the three-sided, 2 record set came out in 1986, he took to the road to promote it, hence this video. “Soul Kiss” is one of his funkiest songs, with a piano part that rivals anything Elton John ever came up with. Twenty-six years later, the music resonates and hasn’t dated at all. Indeed, it is still a “Big World.”

Edited: March 30th, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/30/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “We The People” by Garland Jeffreys

Back in 1980, Garland Jeffreys released an album that the record company he was recording for really got behind in an effort to break him big. The record was “Escape Artist” and featured an all-star backing band that included Lou Reed, Roy Bittan (E Street Band), Danny Federici (E Street Band), G.E. Smith (Bob Dylan, SNL Band), Adrian Belew (King Crimson, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa), Larry Fast (Peter Gabriel), plus Reggae stars Lynton Kwesi Johnson and Big Youth. The record was a solid effort that got some radio airplay with its cover of the song “96 Tears.” The record came with an additional 4-song EP that featured a clutch of Reggae tunes including this gem. In the past, I featured another song from this EP called “Miami Beach,” this one is equally as good!

Edited: March 29th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/29/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You’re So Good To Me” by Debra Swisher

She was originally the lead singer of Pennsylvania girl group The Pixies Three whose Mercury Records single “Birthday Party” made it into the top 40 in 1963. Then she met up with the production group of Jerry Goldstein, Bob Feldman and Richard Gottehrer who produced and wrote the hits “My Boyfriend’s Back” for The Angels, “I Want Candy” by The Strangeloves (who were marketed as a group from Australia but were in fact Goldstein, Feldman and Gottehrer themselves) and “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys. When they met up with Swisher in 1966, they decided to record her covering this Beach Boys classic…and another garage gem was born. Criminally, the single didn’t get any chart action and she went on to join The Angels. Richard Gottehrer went on to launch the legendary Sire Records label with Seymour Stein who recorded everyone from the Ramones to Madonna to Talking Heads.

Edited: March 28th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/28/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Idioteque” by Radiohead

For a while there, Radiohead took on the mantle that Pink Floyd left behind in the 1970s. Both bands released a triumvirate of important influential albums: In Floyd’s case there was “Dark Side Of The Moon,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals,” not to mention the Sid Barrett years that preceded them. With Radiohead, we got solid classics like “OK Computer,” “Kid A” (where this song comes from) and “Amnesiac.” While many would disagree with me, I hear a lot of Pink Floyd in Radiohead’s music while their lyrics mine some of the same feelings of isolation that was Roger Waters’ stock in trade. Much like Pink Floyd, Radiohead have sadly jumped the shark by beginning to believe in their own hype. Case in point are their last two albums that while both have their moments, are pretty much soulless exercises. And then there was their embarrassing turn on Saturday Night Live last season with Thom Yorke poncing about on stage showing just how much they’ve begun to drift from relevancy. While I did not get tickets to their upcoming tour, I’m hoping they get back on the right track because they are an important band capable of making some very important music. Here’s a clip from their 2005 tour that shows just how great Yorke and company can be.

Edited: March 27th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 4/27/12

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits

They were the brain child of producer Mickie Most, the man who was also behind The Animals, Donovan, Suzi Quatro and the Jeff Beck Group…and they did have the mildly attractive Peter Noone as a lead singer. Still, it’s hard to believe that Herman’s Hermits gave The Beatles a run for their money during the early days of the British Invasion when they sold over ten million albums and singles over a 12 month period. This song comes from their debut album, “Introducing Herman’s Hermits” that also included the hits “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “Sea Cruise” and “Mother-In-Law.” Here’s a vintage clip of “I’m Into Something Good” from “Shindig!”

Edited: March 26th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/26/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Felt Like A Gringo” by Minutemen

From San Pedro, California came this trio that were so ferocious in concert and so spot-on with their message and “econo” motive, they couldn’t help but transform the people they played before. One such transformed audience member was yours truly, who was lucky enough to witness this band do their thing four times. For the uninitiated, the Minutemen were D. Boon on guitar and vocals, Mike Watt on bass and George Hurley on drums. They were one of the most exciting bands ever with a jazz-punk-funk backbone courtesy of Watt and Hurley under Boon’s caterwauling and scrawling guitar work and political lyrics. They recorded for SST records and toured for five or six years until Boon died in a car accident in December 1985. It was indeed a great blow to me personally, and led to the end of the band. This song comes from their sprawling 47-track magnum opus called “Double Nickels On The Dime” released in 1984 as a double album on SST records. Hurley and Watt continued with Minutemen fan Ed “from Ohio” Crawford as fIREHOSE until they disbanded in 1994. While fIREHOSE were a good outfit, they were no match for the Minutemen. Watt went on to record several solo records and session with the likes of Eddie Vedder, J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Sonic Youth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Black (Pixies), Nirvana, Beastie Boys and Jane’s Addiction. He also toured as the bass playing member of Iggy & The Stooges during their first reunion. He occasionally plays bass and drum shows with Hurley performing duet versions of Minutemen songs.

Edited: March 25th, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/25/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sabre Dance” by Woody Herman & His Second Herd

Everyone knows this catchy tune composed in 1942 by Aram Khachaturian for his ballet “Gayane.” Although, you’ve probably never heard this song within the context of the ballet, but, more appropriately, as background music to some zany competition on a 1960s game show. This recording is from 1948 performed by big band leader, clarinetist, saxophonist and vocalist, Woody Herman and His Second Herd. The Second Herd was also known as “The Four Brothers” band featuring four sax players including Zoot Simms, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward and Stan Getz who’s standout recording was the Jimmy Giuffre song “Four Brothers.” Other members of this band included Shelley Manne, Gene Ammons and Al Cohn. Herman got his start in the mid-1930s in the orchestra of sweet bandsman, Isham Jones who composed the song “It Had To Be You.” He struck out on his own in the late 1930s with his theme song “The Woodchopper’s Ball” and continued to record and perform live right up until his death in 1987.

Edited: March 25th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/24/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Wicked Gravity” by Jim Carroll Band

Some may know Jim Carroll by his poetry, others by books like “The Basketball Diaries” or the movie of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and yet others know him from songs like the harrowing “People Who Died.” But if you know him by the 1980 “Catholic Boy” album, then you no doubt know this song. After a promising high school basketball career that mixed with an addiction to heroin, Carroll formed one third of the mighty triumvirate that included Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith who convinced him to take up music once he kicked his habit. Carroll also went on to work with Lou Reed, Electric Light Orchestra, Blue Oyster Cult, Ray Manzarek of The Doors and Pearl Jam. He became one of the “People Who Died” in 2009 when he succumbed to a heart attack.

Edited: March 23rd, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/23/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Moanin’ At Midnight” by Howlin’ Wolf

It doesn’t come any more lowdown and spooky than this track by the wolf man of Chess Records. Chester Burnett’s stature in American music is as dominant and as imposing as his 6’6” 300 pound frame was. With a repertoire that includes such blues classics as “Smokestack Lightnin’”, “Killing Floor,” “Back Door Man,” Spoonful” and “300 Pounds Of Joy,” he pretty much fed the entire British Invasion with material to record. Burnett may have learned to play guitar from blues great Charley Patton in the 1930s, but his low-down delivery was wholly his own. Here is one of his earliest Chess sides from 1951 that perfectly encapsulates all that made Wolf a legend.

Edited: March 22nd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/22/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Little Latin Lupe Lu” by The Righteous Brothers

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield were best known for their smooth blue-eyed soulful sounds as The Righteous Brothers performing heartfelt ballads. But they could rock out too as evidenced by this Bill Medley original that was not only a hit for them (#47/1963) but also The Kingsmen (#49/1964) and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (#17/1966). It was also a regional hit for the Minneapolis garage group The Chancellors in 1964, who for my money had the best version of all. (http://youtu.be/zK57Dz4KsK0). And nothing could top a sweaty Bruce Springsteen fronting the E Street Band on the 1977 “Darkness” tour encoring with this song. (http://youtu.be/bmDqLjwrmZ8)

Edited: March 21st, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/21/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Get Down” by Gilbert O’Sullivan

You can deride ol’ Gilbert O’Sullivan all you want, but you can’t deny the guy wrote his own hits…and they were indelible. Perhaps, his getup of a floppy hat and short trousers didn’t make you stand up and shout…or maybe ballads like “Alone Again (Naturally)” and “Clair” weren’t to your liking. But his 1973 hit, “Get Down,” made up for all that moroseness (is that a word?) and syrupy drip with its pseudo T. Rex glam slam rhythms and lyrics about a dog. While he hasn’t set the charts on fire since the 1970s, O’Sullivan has not been resting on his laurels…he released an album just last year called “Gilbertville.”

Edited: March 20th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/20/12!!

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Awake” by Canyons Of Static

Not only do they make the most tasty contemporary mood music around, they also possess the coolest band name in all of rock! Canyons Of Static’s brew of instrumental “shoegaze” music built on layers of feedback is experimental, challenging and downright exciting to listen to. The band consists of husband and wife Ross and Aggie Severson (guitar and keyboards respectively), Chris Biertzer on bass and drummer Nathan Gaffney and hail from West Bend, Wisconsin. Their new record is called “Farewell Shadows” and it was released back in January. In concert, the band are a multi-media extravaganza featuring homemade projected films on multiple screens that complement the din and rush emanating from the stage.

Edited: March 19th, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/19/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Got A Job” by The Miracles

Before there was The Miracles, before there was Berry Gordy and before there was Motown, a talented singer and aspiring songwriter named William Robinson formed a group called The Matadors. The Matadors consisted of Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White, Warren Moore, and Claudette Rogers. They met a hungry promoter named Berry Gordy who had his first taste of success by writing the Jackie Wilson hit “Reet Petite.” The Matadors auditioned for Gordy who liked the group, especially their lead singer. When Williams told Gordy that he could write songs, the two sat down and wrote an answer record to The Silhouettes’ 1958 hit “Get A Job.” Gordy thought the name, The Matadors, was far to masculine for a group that featured a vocalist like William Robinson and also a female vocalist, so he changed their name to The Miracles. Gordy negotiated a release of the record on the independent End record label in 1958 and it became a minor hit. With the money earned from the hit record, Gordy went on to found the Motown record label making Robinson the vice-president…so you may say that both Gordy and Smokey Robinson (as he became known) “Got A Job” with the release of the record of the same name.

Edited: March 18th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/18/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The Whistling Gypsy Rover” by The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

Patrick “Paddy”, Tommy, Bobby and Liam were the Clancy Brothers and together with Tommy Makem they recorded dozens of records and were responsible for not only introducing America to traditional Irish Folk music, but helping to popularize Folk music all over college campuses throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were a major influence on Bob Dylan who nicked the melody of The Clancy Brothers’ recording of the song “The Patriot Game” and appropriated it for his own song “With God On Our Side.” The Brothers’ big break came on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1961 when Pearl Bailey was a no show and the boys were given her spot giving them an unprecedented 16 minutes of air time in front of an audience of 80 million people. Although they had been recording for the Tradition Record label since the mid-50s, they were signed by John Hammond at Columbia Records shortly after this performance and it was the connections of their label mentor John Hammond that cemented their success. This performance was from a 1962 PBS special filmed in Chicago.

Edited: March 17th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/17/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bagpipe Blues” by Rufus Harley

Well, it is St. Patrick’s Day and the think I hate most about the holiday is the droning of bagpipes. To me, bagpipes are the most irritating instrument to listen to, especially when they are dragged out for police funerals…oh lordy, they make me wanna cringe! Yet it is the very nature of a droning bagpipe when applied to Jazz by Rufus Harley that makes the instrument take on a new life. Harley recorded four Joel Dorn-produced albums for Atlantic Records in the late 1960s and this tune was actually released as a single. The four albums were collected together a few years ago onto a limited edition 2-CD set released by Rhino Handmade called “Courage: The Atlantic Recordings.” Harley had the knack for taking the limited range of the bagpipes and applying them to a new medium, making them sound like a soprano sax. Hearing him fly on material as varied as Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” “Chim Chim Cheree” from the film “Mary Poppins,” “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds and Henry Mancini’s classic “Moon River” are indeed sonic marvels to behold. Harley remained active on the Jazz circuit until his death in 2006 working as a sideman with Sonny Rollins and Herbie Mann, and recording with Laurie Anderson (on the album “Big Science”) and The Roots.

Edited: March 17th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/16/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Plateau” by Meat Puppets

Psychedelic desert post-punk rock from one of the best bands on the influential SST record label. Brothers Curt Kirkwood (guitar/vocals), Cris Kirkwood (bass) and Derrick Bostrom hailed from Arizona and burst onto the scene in the early ’80s as a hardcore punk band. Indeed their first record was loaded with fast tempos, pounding drums and indecipherable vocals. They then began to slow it down adding psychedelic and country elements to the mix and hit upon a signature sound that was wholly their own featuring the searing guitar playing of Curt. In concert they used to throw in covers by the likes of Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash just to mix it up. We all know that a certain Kurt Cobain was a big fan inviting the band to perform this song with Nirvana on their MTV Unplugged show. Drug problems led to the breakup of the band in 2002 culminating in Cris being shot in the stomach twice during a melee in Phoenix, AZ that landed him in jail. He has since cleaned up enough for the brothers to reform with different drummers, record and tour again.

Edited: March 16th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/15/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Old L.A.” by New Multitudes

While Bruce Springsteen tries to turn himself into Woody Guthrie by writing socially conscious lyrics (that are nebulous at best) and adopting a faux Oklahoma accent, the spirit and songs of Woody are alive and well in the form of New Multitudes. Marrying new music to lyrics left behind by Woody Guthrie is not a new idea, and Woody certainly left behind some great unrecorded lyrics. It had been done before to great effect by Billy Bragg and Wilco on their two essential “Mermaid Avenue” records. Timed to celebrate Woody’s 100th birthday, comes “New Multitudes” featuring Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo), Will Johnson (Monsters Of Folk, Centro-Matic), Anders Parker (Gob Iron, Space Needle) and Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket). The album is sonically reminiscent of classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Fleet Foxes, and is certainly the best folk album released this year. It’s also a solid follow-up in the tradition of the “Mermaid Avenue” records and a deserving tribute to one of America’s greatest songwriters. The twelve track album is available in a deluxe version that adds on a second disc with eleven more songs.

Edited: March 15th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/14/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sailing Shoes/Hey Julia/Sneakin’ Sally Thru The Alley” by Robert Palmer

This is the opening triptych of songs from Palmer’s debut solo album from 1974. But it wasn’t the first time we heard from Palmer since he had been a member of the band Vinegar Joe before this releasing three critically acclaimed albums that were ignored by the public during the early ’70s. “Sailing Shoes” was a Little Feat cover written by Lowell George. The band backing Palmer on this album was indeed Little Feat who would continue working with Palmer on his second album, “Pressure Drop” the following year and backed him on tour. “Hey Julia” was a Palmer original, while the album’s title cut is an Allen Toussaint original. There is a great video on YouTube of “Sneakin’ Sally” that shows where the album cover shot came from, but it does not include the other two songs. (http://youtu.be/ICPAmS1TtIM – Thanks to Mike for pointing this out to me.) Palmer would go on to score numerous hits on the charts, create some of the most iconic music videos of all time and join forces with members of Duran Duran in the group Power Station. Palmer left us too early succumbing to a heart attack at the age of 54.

Edited: March 14th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/13/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Six Women (Me & Henry The Eighth)” by Cliff Edwards

Cliff Edwards was a crooner, musician, voice actor and a star of film and TV. He got his start in the early 1920s playing ukulele in vaudeville acts in Chicago and became known by his stage name, Ukulele Ike. He was largely responsible for the popularity of the instrument during the era. He was probably best known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney film, “Pinocchio” where he sang “When You Wish Upon A Star.” He also voiced the head crow in Disney’s “Dumbo” and sang the song “When I See An Elephant Fly.” He scored a number one hit in 1929 with his version of “Singin’ In The Rain,” and appeared in numerous films for RKO. Here’s a hilarious 1934 novelty from George White’s “Scandals” which was a film revue not unlike “Ziegfeld’s Follies.”

Edited: March 13th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/12/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Did You Ever See A Dream Walking” by Gene Austin

The age of the crooners began in 1925 when recording technology changed from acoustical recording, where artists would sing into conical horns that fed into a cutter that etched sound waves onto wax, to electronic recording using microphones and amplification. The amplification allowed singers to sing smoothly and intimately. Austin was one of the very first crooners and a giant influence on Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. He was a singer, songwriter and pianist who sold well over 80 million records during his career and wrote the jazz standards “When My Sugar Walks Down The Street,” “How Come You Do Me Like You Do?” and “Five Pennies.” He had hits with definitive early versions of such standards as “My Blue Heaven,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Ramona” and “Carolina Moon.” His son is ‘70s country star David Houston. On a personal note, my first came contact with this 1933 gem came from my grandfather who used to sing it all the time when I was a little kid.

Edited: March 12th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/11/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Nurse Jackie Title Sequence” by Wendy & Lisa

Most people know Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman as members of Prince’s background band, The Revolution, during the height of his “Purple Rain” through “Parade” and “Under The Cherry Moon” purple streak. After leaving Prince’s purple reign, Wendy & Lisa went on to release several well received albums on their own while also working with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Seal, k.d. lang, Pearl Jam, Liz Phair, Sheryl Crow, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Eric Clapton and Grace Jones to name but a few. They also wrote several television themes including “Crossing Jordan,” “Heroes,” “Bionic Woman” and “Nurse Jackie” whose theme song won them an Emmy Award last year. Wendy Melvoin’s is also part of the Melvoin musical dynasty that includes her father, Mike Melvoin, who was a member of The Wrecking Crew whose session work can be heard on hundreds of 1960s hits by such artists at Glen Campbell, The 5th Dimension, The Monkees, The Byrds and numerous other groups. Her brother, Jonathan was a touring member of Smashing Pumpkins and her twin sister Susannah was once engaged to Prince who wrote the song “Nothing Compared 2 U” about her. She also wrote songs for Madonna and Eric Clapton and has sung on sessions for Rogers Waters, Eric Clapton and Mike Oldfield.

Click Here To Hear The Song

Edited: March 11th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/10/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Man In The Long Black Coat” by Bob Dylan

Selected later songs like this one by Bob Dylan are a slam dunk. Going to see him in concert is total a crap shoot…you never know what you’re gonna get, but if you go with low expectations, you should be fine. Albums by Dylan fall somewhere in between from the sublime like “Love And Theft,” “Blood On The Tracks,” “Street Legal,” “Blonde On Blonde,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Freewheelin’” to name a few…to the ridiculous like “Down In The Groove,” “Under The Red Sky” and “Knocked Out Loaded.” Some would put “Self Portrait” in the latter category; by I think it’s a masterpiece! Fortunately, 1989 was a great year for Dylan records with the release of “Oh Mercy” and the pairing of his royal Bobness with producer Daniel Lanois. Lanois gave Dylan the perfect settings for his songs, and on this record the set of songs was exemplary featuring now-Dylan classics like “Most Of The Time,” “What Was It You Wanted,” (later expertly covered by Willie Nelson), “Ring Them Bells” and “Political World.”

Edited: March 10th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/9/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors

Whatever happened to The Spin Doctors? They seemingly came out of nowhere in the 1990s to dominate the charts, only to fade away just as fast. The band formed in New York around vocalist Chris Barron and guitarist Eric Schenkman. An earlier version of the band also featured John Popper who went on to form Blues Traveler. It was a perfect storm of the commercial prominence of Jam Bands like Phish and Blues Travelers, coupled with the beginning of the phenomena of touring festivals like H.O.R.D.E. (in which they appeared with the aforementioned bands), add a prime spot on Saturday Night Live and heavy rotation on MTV that led to the band’s multi-platinum super stardom. After a short time at the top, things began to fall apart. Multiple changes in the guitar seat in the lineup, subsequent record sales that didn’t add up to the previous ones and, crucially, a rare form of vocal paralysis on the part of Chris Barron left the band inactive for close to 8 years. They sporadically got together to play as a band for special occasions like the closing of their beloved launching place, Wetlands in New York City. Barron has since regained his voice and released two albums several years ago. Such is the saga of Spin Doctors.

Edited: March 9th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/8/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Rock ‘n’ Groove” by Bunny Wailer

We all know that Neville O’Riley Livingston (aka Bunny Livingston…aka Bunny Wailer) was part of the holy Reggae triumvirate that also included Bob Marley and Peter Tosh giving us the most important Reggae group of all time, The Wailers. What most people don’t know is that Bunny and Bob Marley were stepbrothers and grew up in the same household as children. Bunny was the “quiet one” of the group featured on few vocals but was loud and proud as a percussionist. As a solo artist, Bunny’s songwriting mostly focused on his spiritual beliefs as a Rastafarian with albums like 1976′s “Blackheart Man.” This song is the title track to a more commercial 1981 dancehall album he cut for the Solomonic label. He is the sole surviving member of the “holy Reggae triumvirate.”

Edited: March 8th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/7/12

Song Of The Day – “Eyeoneye” by Andrew Bird

One of our favorite sons out here in Chicagoland, Andrew Bird just released his most ear-pleasing record yesterday called “Break It Yourself.” A master whistler and violinist, Bird has cruised the most non-traditional paths to stardom beginning with his instruments of choice and an amalgam of musical influences including swing, classical, jazz, zydeco and Irish folk tunes. After a stint with the neo-swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bird launched his own Bowl Of Fire band but soon grew restless and struck out as a solo artist creating tape loops of himself on the fly and performing along with the loops. Whether performing solo or with a band, Bird is a must-see in concert.

Edited: March 7th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/6/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Wanna Be Like You” by Louis Prima and Phil Harris

Disney lyricist Robert Sherman has died at the age of 86. Robert Sherman and his brother Richard wrote the songs for such Disney classics as “Winnie The Pooh,” “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “The Aristocats,” “The Parent Trap,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and the Disney theme park theme “It’s A Small World.” The duo also wrote the hits “Tall Paul” by Annette Funicello, “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr and “Let’s Get Together” by Hayley Mills. This joyous jazz-tinged favorite hails from the 1967 Disney film, “The Jungle Book,” and is sung by Las Vegas star Louis Prima and Phil Harris, who is best known for his novelty hit “The Thing.” The song has been covered by everyone from Phish to Los Lobos to Smash Mouth to The Jonas Brothers.

Edited: March 6th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/5/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls

Records don’t come any smoother than this one! Frank Sinatra once said that Lou Rawls had “the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game” and you can certainly hear why in the grooves of this late 1970s Philly Soul million selling hit. Rawls’ career began in the 1950s singing Gospel in groups that also included his friend Sam Cooke. He sang background vocals on numerous records including Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” In the 1960s Rawls recorded a whole slew of popular albums on the Capitol label and scored with a string of Chicago jazz hits including “Stormy Monday,” “Love Is A Hurting Thing,” “Tobacco Road” and “Dead End Street.” The early 1970s saw Rawls win a Grammy Award for his MGM hit “Natural Man.” But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that Rawls underwent a career renaissance resulting in his biggest hits on the Philadelphia International record label under the tutelage of writers and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. While some might dismiss this record as a kitschy pure cabaret concoction, Gamble and Huff created a smooth and soulful masterpiece featuring silky strings and an infectious disco bed for Rawls’ vocals to lie down in.

Edited: March 5th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/4/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cheese And Onions” by The Rutles

From the 1969 album “Yellow Submarine Sandwich” comes this Nasty classic from the Rutles’ psychedelic period. At this point, the prefab four were at odds with each other. Stig was becoming too bossy in the studio trying to control the group’s sessions. Both Dirk and Barry had both left the group and returned. The end was certainly near due to the boys growing apart and poor business deals set up by Stig’s financial manager Ron Decline. Yet they did managed to squeeze out some earth shakingly great music in those final sessions. After the “Stig Is Dead” rumors began to circulate based on the artwork to their “Shabby Road” album, Barry decided to stay in bed for a year leading to the “Barry Is Also Dead” rumors that swept throughout the music world. After the “Let It Rut” release the next year, the group began to sue each other and Stig accidentally sued himself which was the straw that broke the camel’s back. However, the Rutle legacy lives on…and on…and on…

Edited: March 4th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/3/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Coconut” by Fred Schneider

You may not recognize him by his name, but just one listen to the song and you’ll instantly recognize the singer as the lead voice of The B-52′s. The song, of course, was written and originally recorded by Harry Nilsson back in 1971 on his “Nilsson Schmilsson” album and quickly became a hit. It is now considered, with good reason, to be a rock classic. This version comes from an exceptional 1995 tribute compilation called “For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson” featuring covers of Nilsson’s best songs by such artists as Randy Newman (“Remember”), Aimee Mann( “One”), Ringo Starr with Stevie Nicks (“Lay Down Your Arms”), the vocal dream team of Gerry Beckley (of America)/Robert Lamm (of Chicago)/Carl Wilson (Beach Boys) (“Without Her”), Brian Wilson (“This Could Be the Night”), Adrian Belew (“Me And My Arrow”), Ron Sexsmith (“Good Old Desk”) and a whole host of others filling out this essential 21 track collection. The fully annotated CD has long gone out of print, but you can still purchase a download of this collection on Amazon.  And better yet, while you’re there, purchase some of Nilsson’s own albums as well!

Edited: March 3rd, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/2/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera

OK, this is awkward! I don’t really like much of the music I’ve heard by Maroon 5…and I do not watch “The Voice!” (I’m an “Idol” guy!) Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the magic of this record. Great hook…one of the best I’ve heard in years…and a beat you can’t help but tap your toes to. I like the notion of the lyrics name checking Mick Jagger, but I wonder how many in the younger part of the target audience for this record knows who he is. And since I mentioned “American Idol” here, last night they eliminated a guy named Reed Grimm who is one of the most talented Idol hopefuls I’ve ever seen. What were they thinking? Check out his version of this song from the other night below.

Here is the Reed Grimm version from “American Idol.”

Edited: March 2nd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/1/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Never Gonna Cry Again” by Eurythmics

The duo of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox took the ’80s by storm with their synth-pop cocktail of infectious melodies and cool detached vocals. The duo met in the mid-70s and performed in the bands The Catch and The Tourists who released several records with minor success. After the Tourist split, Dave and Annie formed Eurythmics in 1981 with assists from Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of the group Can, and Clem Burke of Blondie. Their debut album, “In The Garden” followed, although it did not receive a release in the US until the late 1980s. This is their first video clip, which also didn’t get an airing on these shores until much later. Superstardom followed with the release of the “Sweet Dreams” album in 1983 with a string of hit albums and singles released through 1990. I went to see them at The Ritz in NYC in 1984 on their “Touch” tour and from what I can remember, they were very good. Since their breakup, Dave had released many solo records, soundtracked some films and has produced albums for the likes of Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks and Joss Stone. He is also a member of the group SuperHeavy along with Mick Jagger, Joss Stone and Damian Marley. Annie went on to release several chart-topping albums including “Diva” in 1992 and “Medusa” in 1995. The duo have regrouped sporadically over the years, the last time was for a Greatest Hits album in 1991.

Edited: March 1st, 2012