Friday, 28 December 2012

Jack Green - This is Japan

Shinto and rock and roll at the Buddakan

Pick of the Week

“This is Japan” by Jack Green (1980)

With its references to ‘Highway 2’1 and ‘Indian Summer’2 Jack Green’s “I Call No Answer” seemed like it was about Alberta. In fact Alberta seemed to have a profound affection for this English rocker in the early 1980’s – it was a regional anomaly which does not happen very often.

 In the early ‘80’s I recall driving this particular piece of highway (the #2) a bit and one of my favorite road soundtracks for the ride was ‘Humanesque” (of course vinyl recorded onto cassette tape – which always sounded better than the cassette tape format to me).
 I had a pair of white canvas Nikes that lent themselves to the style of the times which I would sometimes wear a dress jacket over a  tee-shirt and narrow leg jeans. It just was the style. If you look at the videos of the time, that is what they wore – the post-punk uniform if you will.

Jack Green seems to be underrated and somewhat forgotten except by his most ardent fans. Was he ahead of his time? Behind the times? Or was it a lot of things like life usually is?

The sound Jack Green made was derivative of a few experiences he had. He had been a member of the T-Rex and The Pretty Things (he was on the recording of ‘Silk Torpedo’ and “Savage Eye’). He had been writing songs professionally since he was 16 years old and had already had two hit singles in Holland and Germany. He was in the cast of ‘Hair’ and played with Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Not bad credentials!

The influence of punk and then more new wave opened the door for his more punchy power rock. The guitar was the thing and he played it well.  Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) even came out to help out on “I Call No Answer” when Jack recorded it.

‘Humanesque’ still plays well from beginning to end (That is if you can get a hold of a copy – seems to be somewhat rare strangely).

Saturday, 22 December 2012

There she stood in the doorway; I heard the mission bell And I was thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell

 Songs Everyone Should Know

“Hotel California” by the Eagles (1976)

The surfer boys were growing up and moving on by the late sixties. The beautiful sons and daughters of the migrants to this magnificent coast with its tinge of the Mexican influence were changing. California was not the same place as the fictitious Joad family sought out in “The Grapes of Wrath”. It wasn’t the California of real characters like Brian Wilson’s father’s family either – they had moved to California from Kansas when he was five and were so poor they tented on the beach.

No indeed California of the ‘60’s had become the dream. From  surrealistic places like the LA suburb called Laurel Canyon Joni Mitchell (remember “Ladies of the Canyon”) the Byrds, The Buffalo Springfield (with transplanted Neil Young) and others like a young Jackson Browne, had made a sound of their own – what loosely could be called the Southern California sound.

As the decade clicked off into the seventies a young DonHenley from Texas met Glen Frey from Michigan at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles. Both of them had their own bands and wanted to make it big in California. It was Linda Ronstadt who by instructing her manager John Boylan to recruit her some session musicians in spring of ’71 who set in motion the events that would ultimately produce one of the biggest bands of all time.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Maxi Priest - That Girl

She's the kind of woman who lets you know when she knows what she wants she won't let go

Pick of the Week

“That Girl” by Maxi Priest featuring Shaggy (1996)

You can hear the R&B influence – kind of like a green-onoionish Booker T and the MGs sound running behind this song which is not a surprise really. That was one of the influences underlying reggae in fact this style is often called ‘reggae fusion’.

Booker T. and the MGs
The island sound of reggae music is irresistible. In 4/4 time if you emphasize the third beat and not the first and put in a strong funky bass line that sometimes meanders you have the musical rhythm for reggae. Of course there was Mento, then Ska, Rocksteady and dub but reggae is the most well known universally. As I have often talked about, music is often influence by other music and evolves. No different with reggae: Traditional Jamaican folk music and then Mento was influenced by Jazz and then R&B to become Ska/Reggae toward the end of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s.

There is a spontaneity about reggae. It is soulful music that has its origins deep in folk music of sorts.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas Albums that don't suck!

Beach Boys' Christmas

Vince Guaraldi - Charlie Brown Christmas

Phil Spector - Christmas Gift for You

Nat King Cole - Magic of Christmas

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A chip off the ol' block!

It is interesting to note that sometimes it doesn't matter what your Dad did for a living - or does it?

Below is the names of 13 rocks stars and 13 occupations. See if you can match the rock star with the occupation of their father........Ready, Go!
Rock Stars
Elton John
Neil Young
Jim Morrison
Gwen Stefani
Carly Simon
Deborah Harry
Eddie Van Halen
Keith Richards
Jimmi Page
Janis Joplin
Olivia Newton-John

Occupations of their father's in no particular order:

Sports writer/editor
Navy Admiral
Co-founder of famous publishing  company
Clarinetist, saxophonist and pianist
Pianist and songwriter
Design engineer for Chrysler and General Motors
Gift shop proprietor
Flight lieutenant
Factory worker, stormed the beach at Normandy
Yamaha Marketing Executive
MI-5 officer
Personnel manager
Engineer at Texaco

Good luck!

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Mamas & The Papas ~ Monday Monday

Monday Monday, can't trust that day, Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way

Songs Everybody Should Know

“Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas (1966)

Why would a song writer think that anyone could relate to a day of the week? I guess because it is a universal experience – wake up on Monday morning (“Manic Monday” the Bangles, “I Don’t Like Mondays”, Boomtown Rats), get your butt through the week (“Tuesday Afternoon” Moody Blues). Get over hump day (“Wednesday Week” Elvis Costello, “Wednesday Morning, 3AM” Simon & Garfunkel) and cruise through to Thursday (“Thursdays Child” David Bowie) until we make it to Friday (“Friday I’m in Love” the Cure, “Friday on my Mind” Easybeats). Then comes Saturday, (“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” Elton John, “Another Saturday Night” Sam Cooke, “Saturday Night” Bay City Rollers1, “Saturday Night” Skyhooks).

So I think you get my point. It is the cheating lyricists’ way out. Of course we can relate – we are alive aren’t we!

This particular day of the week song was the 1966 #1 hit for the Mamas and the Papas from their debut album “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears”.  It is a great album which also has their hit “California Dreaming” which is absolutely embedded in the tapestry of popular culture now. I mean teenagers know this song and that is saying something. This is prime hippy freedom/hedonism gone commercial. But a very solid album blessed by the song writing of John Phillips – not too spacey so that you can’t relate to it. No, it was sort of a folk-rock melodica, somehow transcending pure folk.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Classics - Always Good!

Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Boston - Boston

T.Rex - Electric Warrior
Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Live Montreal 1981)

There goes my baby She knows how to Rock n' roll She drives me crazy She gives me hot and cold fever Then she leaves me in a cool cool sweat

Pick of the Week

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen (1980)

He was born to be a showman. With his flamboyant charismatic presence, the soaring, brilliant, multi-octave voice of Freddie Mercury is easily worthy of being called one of the top male voices in rock ever.

His lives on in videos, DVDs, records, CDs, Mp3s and millions of people’s memories all over the world.

Born Farrokh Bulsara he was born in Zanzibar, Tasmania and was raised in India till he was a teen. In Bombay he had already started playing piano when he entered St. Peter’s British-style boarding school at age 8. Soon to be called Freddie, he formed his first band when he was 12 and did Cliff Richard and Little Richard tunes.

After school he returned to the family home in Zanzibar only to leave again for England due to the Zanzibar revolution that saw thousands of Arabs and Indians killed. In Felltham, Middlesex he enrolled in Islesworth Polytechnic where he studied, what else, art. His diploma in Arts and Graphics was later put to good use when he designed the ‘Queen’ logo.

After kicking around with a few bands he teamed up with Brian May and Rodger Taylor who were a bit nervous about the name “Queen”, but reluctantly agreed. It was about this time that Freddei changed his surname from Balsara to Mercury.

Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe with whom Mercury recorded an album, said of him, “The difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was that he was selling the voice. His technique was astonishing. No problem of tempo, he sung with an incisive sense of rhythm, his vocal placement was very good and he was able to glide effortlessly from a register to another. He also had a great musicality. His phrasing was subtle, delicate and sweet or energetic and slamming. He was able to find the right colouring or expressive nuance for each word.”

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Eighties for a Sunday Afternoon

Pat Benatar - Crimes of Passion

The Police - Ghost in the Machine

Bangles - Different Light

Yes - 90125

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Bonnie Tyler - Holding Out For A Hero (Official Music Video)

Laura Branigan - Self Control

1984: The Raspy Show-down. Head-to-Head Bonnie Tyler vs. Laura Branigan

“I’m Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler (1984)
“Self Control” by Laura Branigan (1984)

In retrospect the ‘80’s looks all carefree and colorful, but it was likely still difficult for female artists. Things were still not as progressive as maybe one might think. Were they bimbette airheads? Or, under the multi-colored ultra-teased hair, leg warmers and spandex were they artists?

Where were all the pioneering women of rock and what had they accomplished? The forgotten singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Carole King soldiered on in ‘80s – very much out of style. How things had changed - so much but so little.

MTV drove a male definition of what feminism should have been in the 1980’s. MTV drove fantasy, not reality. Who needs that? Capitalizing on the appearance of female artists like Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, and Deborah Harry of Blondie was standard for record companies in the early ‘80’s. Sex symbols were alive and well – it sold records. Would Big Mama Thornton who died alone and impoverished in 1984 tell them not to do it? No Mam!

Like Lena Lovich1 and Souxsie Sioux (the Banshees) from the punk movement of the late ‘70’s it was trendy for women to be exclusively singers – it was hard to drum and strut around in a video in the latest fashions. They were to appear wandering down the street or rolling on a bed not playing a guitar like would  later happen in the ‘80’s.

Was the pop song “Watch Her Strut” by Sheena Easton a response to Prince who she once dated? Some women embraced the use of their femininity. Did Deborah Harry know what she was doing? Damn right she did.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Leaving punk behind for post-punk...

A Flock of Seagulls
Adam and the Ants - The Very Best of

Siouxsie & the Banshees - 7 Years Itch
Sonic Youth - Experimental Jet-Set Trash and No Star

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sonny Boy Williamson I - Good Morning Little SchoolGirl

The Boomtown Rats. I Don't Like Mondays.

Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall Official Music Video (Lyrics In D...

We don't need no education. We don’t need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teachers leave them kids alone

School Songs

“Good Morning School Girl” by Sonny Boy Williamson (1937)
“I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats (1979)
“Another Brick in the Wall” Pink Floyd (1979)

School has such a huge impact on our lives that it is no wonder there are many, many songs about school and teachers. The songs vary, from hatred of school to love of school. It is a very formative emotional time so again, no surprise on the spectrum of emotions expressed over the years.

We seem to think that school should be a certain way – proper, orderly, rule-based. When it isn’t we seem to think that is bad or somehow a breaking of a taboo. Are we corrupted by that? Are they brain-washing us to think a certain way to fit into society? Does it really work? Do we have minds of our own?

Friday, 25 May 2012

ABBA : Take a Chance On Me (Switzerland '79)

If you change your mind, I'm the first in line. Honey I'm still free. Take a chance on me

Hip to be Square

“Take a Chance on Me” by Abba (1977)

Back in the day, I would sometimes buy albums on spec. I had maybe heard one song on the album; not really knowing what it was. Sometimes you were pleasantly surprised. This was one of those times.

Peeling it out of its cellophane the album cover showed (to me) a more mature set of two couples enjoying some champagne in the back of a limo....So I threw on the album (o.k. gingerly placed), not expecting a lot really.

A funky piano intro and this weird sound on the stereo leading into this punchy bass beat and this exotic euro sound floating around on top of it with those voices. Those voices – controlled yet somehow evocatively emotional. What was going on? Who the hell was this band? ‘Mamma Mia’ what the hell is that? Some Italian thing?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

I'm goin' to Memphis, Memphis, Memphis Tennessee...

Johnny Cash - Behind Prison Walls

Chris Isaak - Memphis Recordings

Elvis Presley - The Memphis Recordings

Otis Redding - The Dock of the Bay

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Gary Numan - Cars HQ

Here in my car I feel safest of all I can lock all my doors It’s the only way to live In cars

Pick of the Week

“Cars” by Gary Numan (1979)

If you are singing along to a song when driving, say researchers, you are paying more attention to your driving.  I think they are right, but clearly I am biased. The most intimate music we play is often behind the wheel of a car.

So let’s see, what would be the perfect driving song?

The song would have to enhance the experience of the short jaunt or the long haul. For longer trips the highway sound of your wheels has to kind of blend. A song with a steady rhythm and a strong beat for starters. It probably has guitars, decent drumming, and maybe a little cowbell for good measure.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Boogie Shoes by K.C. & The Sunshine Band

Girl, To Be With You Is My Fav'rite Thing Uh Huh And I Can't Wait Til I See You Again Yeah, Yeah

70’s Song of the week

“Boogie Shoes” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band (1975)

Some say Disco was spawned because the Nazi’s banned jazz. The next best thing was to develop clubs where they played records. The first ‘discotheques’ sprung up in WWII and continued after in clubs like the ‘Whisky a Go-Go” in Paris. The ultra chic set did not have exclusivity to this trend for long.

The seedy ‘Peppermint Club’ in New York spawned the short-lived dance craze ‘The Twist”. The culture of this was embedded in the teenagers who would drive the commercial direction of music. The Beatles would swoop in to NA in 1964 and no one cared about their ‘Twist” records anymore which had every variation you can imagine by this point.

There was something slightly Victorian about the new dance crazes though – you danced alone. There was no contact with the other person. Sock-hops and record parties in the sixties were somehow made safer to on-looking adults because of this.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Country-flavoured Rock for a Thursday...

Poco - Legend

Eagles - On the Border

Byrds - Mr. Tamborine Man

Flying Burrittos - Guilded Palace of Sin.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf

In touch with the ground I'm on the hunt I'm after you Smell like I sound, I'm lost in a crowd And I'm hungry like the wolf

Pick of the Week

“Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran (1982)

My sister once shared an elevator with Duran Duran - that is as close as I ever got to this ‘Second British Invasion’ band of ‘80’s fame. With their slick designer clothes, professional production videos and pretty-boy looks, they were Princess Diana’s favorite band at one point.

The first real attention they got in 1981 was with their third single, “Girls on Film”. Directing duo, Godley and Creme told the management to do something erotic that would get people’s attention and that would be played on the new big screens that were starting to appear in night clubs. The video showed girls mud wrestling, fighting a sumo wrestler, and other suggestive images. The song went to number 3 in the U.K. and the voice of Simon Le Bon was starting to be well known in the U.K. Unfortunately some of the stops on their second tour coincided with riots; tension over unemployment and racial unrest.

The core band in 1981 was Simon Le Bon (vocals), Nick Rhodes (keyboards), John Taylor (bass), Andy Taylor (guitar) and Rodger Taylor (drums). (None of the Taylors were related and there is no relation to the drummer of the band Queen.)

By May of 1982 they release their second and most well know album “Rio” with songs “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Save a Prayer”, “My Own Way” and title track “Rio”. They toured Australia, Japan and then opened for Blondie on the American tour.

The ‘Rio’ album did not do so well in the U.S. at first. The band was labeled as being ‘new romantic’, and it just did not work. They were more than Spandau Ballet or Adam and the Ants weren’t they? The British press had already dubbed them the ‘Fab Five’ comparing them to the Beatles. What was wrong?

At wits end as to how to sell Duran Duran in the U.S. Capital records hired famed producer David Kershenbaum to remix the songs more in the style of the popular EP dance track ‘Carnival” that was gaining popularity with DJs in the U.S. That was ticket. Appearing on a U.S. dance show performing “Hungry Like a Wolf” and “Rio”, the rerelease in November of 1982 finally kick-started the U.S. market.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Sam cooke - Only sixteen

She was only sixteen, only sixteen But I loved her so But she was too young to fall in love And I was too young to know

Hip to be Square

“Only Sixteen” by Sam Cooke 1959

John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Ain’t Even Done With the Night” says, “You got your hands in my back pockets, and Sam Cooke's singin' on the radio”. There is a mystique about Sam Cooke.  He is a legend: a dream-like spirit of something past. His influence was deep and strong. His life was short and brilliant.

Known as the ‘King of Soul’ Sam Cooke had a profound influence on people like Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, and Marvin Gaye and many to follow  His soaring voice and delivery – smooth as silk; vulnerable yet strangely strong and able to take you away with it.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Some Ideas for a Mellow Sunday...

Jack Johnson - On and On
Al Di Meola - Electric Rendezvous
Amy Winehouse - Lioness: Hidden Treassures

Emmylou Harris - Red Dirt Girl

Monday, 5 March 2012

TIme is one my side, yes it is...

 Quiz Time

The theme this time, is time. It is a long one!
As you read this some time will go by. If you decide to try to solve this quiz, some more time will pass.
Hopefully it is time well spent. Enjoy!
If I had a box just for wishes and dreams that had never come true -
Sitting on this barstool talking like a damn fool. Got the twelve o'clock news blues and I've given up hope on the afternoon soaps and a bottle of cold brew.

It was a very good year for city girls who lived up the stair with all that perfumed hair and it came undone. It's the time of the season where love runs high. In this time give it to me easy.

Time has come today; young hearts can go their way. Can't put it off another day. I don't care what others say. Go ahead baby go ahead, go ahead and light up the town. Baby, do anything your little heart desires. Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.

It's astounding, time is fleeting; madness takes its toll. Sometimes you picture me. I'm walking too far ahead - you're calling to me I can't hear. Confusion never stops, closing walls and ticking clocks. Come back and take you home, I could not stop - that you now know.

No time for a gentle rain.  No time for my watch and chain. Seasons come and seasons go but our love will never die. Let me hold you darlin' so you won't cry. 

Let me know all the songs and srtists if you have time to figure it out...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Rikki Don't Lose that Number(1974) by Steely Dan

We hear you're leaving, that's OK I thought our little wild time had just begun I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run

Songs Everybody Should Know

“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan (1974)

Welcome to the funky bohemia that is Steely Dan. Building a complex musical web around lyrics that run the gamut about anything from love to bandits, to greed, lust, and glory and back again.  The jazz-infused mosaic of life is almost parody-like. A thinking man’s funk, Steely Dan delivers a diverse, rich sound while taking you to some of the weirdest places you could ever go – and yet they seem familiar in some strange way…

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Way out on Muscle Shoals Beach they are listening to a little Southern Rock

Lynard Skynard - Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd'

Allman Brothers - Brothers & Sisters
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Atlanta Rhythm Section - Champagne Jam

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen

Just like the white winged dove, sings a song sounds like she’s singing Oooh...Baby...Ooh...Baby...Oooh

Pick of the Week

“The Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks (1981)

Her voice is one of the most instantly recognizable female voices in pop music. With her platform boots, her top hat, and shawls, she developed a ‘mystic’ persona. She could have easily been the inspiration for ‘the Witches of Eastwich’. She sang lead on “Dreams” from the phenomenal Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumors’ album;
the only single to go to number one on that album. Other classic songs ‘Mac’ with the Nick’s stamp on them are “Landslide”, and “Silver Springs”.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Jackson Browne--Doctor My Eyes

Doctor, my eyes have seen the years and the slow parade of fears without crying. Now I want to understand.

70’s Song of the week

“Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne (1970)

The first time I really paid attention to the Jackson Browne “Running on Empty” album I was at a friend’s place; actually his older sister’s.  We were playing charades. I couldn’t believe we were playing charades – it seems pretty lame to me; I already had a pretty healthy cynicism about me in my teens. What had caught my attention though was the Jackson Browne album on the stereo. When it was my turn to demonstrate something and my clue was’ Deep Purple’ I was kind of useless

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Classics IV - " Spooky " 1968

Love is kinka crazy with a spooky little girl like you. You always keep me guessin’. I never seem to know what you are thinkin’.

Hip to be Square

“Stormy” by the Classics IV (1968)

This is the story of a band few know the name of, but because they have been covered so often many have heard.

The British invasion was in high swing in mid sixties in the U.S. when this southern band formed in Jacksonville Florida. Doing covers of instrumentals (like the Ventures surf music), they were soon asked to sing. Dennis Yost the “stand-up” drummer as he was called started singing and drumming. The band, originally called the “Classics” was so named because of the brand name on his drum kit.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun

The phone rings in the middle of the night My father yells what you gonna do with your life. Oh daddy dear you know you're still number one but girls they wanna have fun

‘80’s Pick of the Week

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper (1983)

There ain’t no stoppin’ the whirling New York dervish called Cyndi Lauper. In 2010 at age 57 she had the number one selling blues album on Billboard called “Memphis Blues”. 

Seems like she came out of nowhere. Her contribution to ‘80’s styles is unquestionable. Was it her inextinguishable New York charm? Was it her little high pitched squeals interjected into songs? Was it her hair? Or does it really go deeper; like she really is an amazing singer with a innate feeling and understanding for the material, whether her own or the interpretation of others?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Disco: Get Down!

BeeGees - Spirits Having Flown

Blondie - Parallel Lines

Chic - C'est Chic

Silver Convention

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Paul Simon et al. - Late In The Evening

I remember there’s a radio coming from the room next door, my mother laughs the way some ladies do

Pick of the Week

“Late in the Evening” by Paul Simon (1980)

Imagine for a moment what the world would be like if the 5 o’clock train never showed up, or there were no such thing as hot dogs, or your grandma hopelessly and endlessly missed a stitch every time she knitted. Now think of a world without Paul Simon right?  It was Simon himself who said “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts”. He may not have been talking about himself, but damn he wrote some catchy pop songs.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

One bright morning when my work is over I will fly away home.....Reggae on mon.

Street Gospels - Bodouin Soundclash
Exodus - Bob Marley

Toots & the Maytals - Light Your Light
Jimmy Cliff - The Harder they Come

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Van Morrison - Into The Mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry. Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.

70’s Song of the week

“Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison (1970)

My friend Jim from Belfast knew who the brown-eyed girl was. She ended up marrying a bartender and they ran a pub. Jim also used to see Van Morrison on the street corners of Belfast many years ago. He would perform on street corners when he was not performing his duties as a window cleaner.  He is maybe not the friendliest guys in the world but he can sure write and sing a song!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Get Down. Get Funky!

James Brown - 20 All Time Greatest

Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

Prince - 1999

Sly & the Family Stone - There's a Riot Gonin' On