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Monday, December 31, 2007

OSCAR PETERSON : Soulville Samba (1966)

R.I.P. 1925 - 2007

TORONTO — Few pianists swung as hard or played as fast and with as many grace notes as Canada's Oscar Peterson.
The classically trained musician could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie, bebop and beyond. He led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who called him "the man with four hands," recorded more than 200 albums and wrote such memorable works as Hymn to Freedom and the Canadiana Suite.
"A virtuoso without peer," concluded his biographer, Gene Lees, in The Will to Swing. When Mr. Peterson died this week, music lovers around the world mourned the loss of a lyrical stylist and one of the greatest piano players of all time.

Sam Jones :
Louis Hayes :
This track was recorded with his trio, but augmented by a number of percussionists, trying to capture the bossa nova/samba feel of the time. This is one of two original tracks on the album "Soul Espanõl", but it definitely has some soul to it.

Song: "Soulville Samba" (recorded Dec. 1966)
From the LP "SOUL ESPANOL" (Limelight LM 82044) 1966

Oscar Peterson : piano
Sam Jones : bass
Louis Hayes : drums
Henley Gibson : congas
Marshall Thompson : timbales
Harold Jones : percussion

Get it here: Oscar Peterson - Soulville Samba

Saturday, December 22, 2007

GREG LAKE : I Believe In Father Christmas (1975)

Merry Christmas everyone! In tribute, here is Greg Lake's Xmas song that has surprisingly remained in the public consciousness year after year. Originally released as a single, it was later reissued as a track on the Emerson Lake & Palmer album "Works Volume II".
Here's the blurb from Wikipedia:

"I Believe In Father Christmas" is a song by Greg Lake(most famously a member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Although it is often categorised as a Christmas song, this was not Lake's intention. It is widely believed that Lake wrote the song in protest at the "Commercialization" of Christmas and its effect on the Middle East.
The song is often misinterpreted as an anti-religious song and, because of this, Lake was surprised at its success. He said in a Mojo magazine interview:
"I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season.' Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas."
The song was recorded by Lake in 1975 and released separately from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, it is currently his only hit solo release. The original later appeared on the group's 1977 album "Works Volume II". It has also appeared on several other ELP and Christmas compilation albums. Mostly notable of these re-releases is the 1995 album titled I Believe in Father Christmas which also featured a re-recorded version of the song by the whole band.
The video for this song contains shots of the Vietnam War, which has led to complaints from some that it should not be shown with "light-hearted" Christmas songs. These images of rocket barrages, air strikes, and mobile artillery are a violent backdrop to a peaceful sounding song and create a hard-hitting message.
The instrumental riff between verses comes from the "Troika" portion of Sergei Prokofiev "Lieutenant Kije" written for a 1934 film.
In 1982, it was covered by Toyah Wilcox. In recent years it has been covered by Human Drama(1999), Vertical Horizon(2002), and The Sloppy Horse (2006). Weird Al Yankovic borrowed significantly from the melody of the song for his song "The Night Santa Went Crazy", although he used a totally different style; however, since Lake's song is itself borrows significantly from the Prokofiev melody (a popular classical Christmas piece), Yankovic may simply be borrowing from the same original source.

Song: "I Believe In Father Christmas"
Single A-side, Nov. 1975

Also released on Emerson Lake & Palmer's "Works Volume II" (Atlantic) Nov. 10, 1977

Get it here : Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas

Saturday, December 15, 2007

IKE TURNER & The Kings Of Rhythm - Thinking Black (1969)

Ike Turner
R.I.P. 1931 - 2007

Here is an except from the NY Times obit:

"Ike Turner, the R&B musician, songwriter, bandleader, producer, talent scout and ex-husband of Tina Turner, died on Wednesday at his home in San Marcos, Calif., a San Diego suburb. He was 76.
"His death was announced by Jeanette Bazzell Turner, who married Mr. Turner in 1995. She gave no cause of death, but said he had had emphysema.
"Mr. Turner was best known for discovering Anna Mae Bullock, a teenage singer from Nutbush, Tenn., whom he renamed Tina Turner. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue made a string of hits in the 1960s before the Turners broke up in 1975."

Whatever can be said about Ike Turner's personal life, he still made some good music. This is the opening track off the "A Black Man's Soul" album, which starts with a great breakbeat, and continues with a driving groove. As Ike continued to work with Tina Turner, his band The Kings Of Rhythm soon morphed into The Family Vibes for two albums.

Song : "Thinking Black"
From the LP "A BLACK MAN'S SOUL" (Pompeii SD6003) 1969

Get it here :
Ike Turner - Thinking Black

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Just got back from Vegas, and it's truly a city unlike any other. The lights, the sounds, the glitter, the EXCESS. So in tribute, here is the most well-known song associated with the town.

And a blurb from Wikipedia:
Released as a double-sided single along with "What'd I Say" from the same film, "Viva Las Vegas" was a modest hit at best at the time, reaching number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart and number 17 on the UK Singles Chart, improving to number 15 after a reissue in 2007.
However in years since, it has become one of Presley's most recognized numbers. In the 1990s and 2000s, the song has been contained in countless movies, TV sitcoms, either as a reference to the city of Las Vegas, or simply as an expression of joy, or bewilderement in related comedic situations. Somewhat amusingly, it is said that Doc Pomus wrote the words to "Viva Las Vegas" some thirty years before ever venturing west of Newark, New Jersey.
In 2002, the city of Las Vegas requested Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company who handles a portion of Elvis's musical legacy, and all Elvis-related music rights, to allow it to be the official song of the city but negotiations, to this date, have been stalled over the price requested by EPE. Notwithstanding, EPE has not owned the copyright to the song "Viva Las Vegas" since 1993, when it became the property of the families of the long under credited and (believed by many) almost criminally undercompensated songwriters Doc Pomus (Halberstadt, Alex "Lonely Avenue The Unlikely Life & Times of DocPomus". 2007 DaCapo Press) and Mort Shuman. That EPE no longer owns the copyright essentially means that EPE does not have the authority or right to negotiate the use of the song "Viva Las Vegas" in Las Vegas or anywhere else within the United States, its territories and possessions. Although, EPE may be able to negotiate the use of the actual Elvis recording of the song.

Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas
-single B-side (b/w "What'd I Say"), Apr. 28, 1964

-also released as an EP, Jul. 1964
Get it here : Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas

And as a bonus, I'll leave it to the Dead Kennedys to respond with their take on the song. Fast as always, and listen carefully to the lyrics for the amusing satire.
Dead Kennedys - Viva Las Vegas
-from the LP "FRESH FRUIT FOR ROTTING VEGETABLES" (IRS / Cherry Red) Sep. 1980

Friday, November 30, 2007

VANGELIS - Tales Of The Future (1982)

Due to the impending reissue of Blade Runner on DVD, here is a haunting track from the film. The singer is non other that DEMIS ROUSSOS, a Greek singer-songwriter. Vangelis had just worked with him on Roussos' last solo album "Demis". They had collaborated in the progressive band APHRODITE'S CHILD, about 11 years earlier. Strained relationships broke up that band, so it's interesting to hear them working together again.

Here's a blurb on the 'lyrics' of the song, from a Vangelis lyrics website: "The lyrics are spoken in Arabic with an Egyptian accent (Demis was raised in Egypt as a child). Most of the words however are gibberish and sometimes almost resemble other Arabic words but they are altered and arranged differently so they sound meaningless. Listening to the lyrics as whole does not build into a story and there is little sense trying to make sense of it. At the end of it there is a little passage where it does convey two meaningful sentences : 'Tell me my dear? Tell me my mother?' (translated)"
:Demis Roussos:

Song : "Tales Of The Future"
From the LP "BLADE RUNNER" (EMI) recorded 1982, released 1994
Demis Roussos : vocals
Vangelis : all music

Vangelis - Tales Of The Future

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ROBERTA FLACK - Compared To What (1969)

This is the first song off of Roberta Flack's first album. She had the talent, but hadn't broken through to the big-time yet. One of her few funky tunes, it has some sweet stand-up bass from legend Ron Carter and strong protest lyrics against the Vietnam War. Carter would be recording for Miles Davis' album "Bitches Brew" shortly after.

This one was written by a certain Gene McDaniels (a.k.a. Eugene McDaniels), a singer-songwriter for Atlantic records, and a groovy solo artist in his own right. This song also has a connection with soul-jazz keyboardist Les McCann. McCann saw Roberta Flack perform at a benefit concert (back when she was a schoolteacher), and was so impressed he had her guest on his album "Les Is More" in 1967 as one of her earliest recorded appearances. An early studio version of "Compared To What" was on this album (although she does not sing on the song).
McCann then arranged for her to audition for Atlantic records, where she got a contract, and quickly recorded this first album. The day after it was released, McCann played this song at the Montreux Jazz Festival with sax player Eddie Harris (released as "Swiss Movement" in 1969). It was so well-received that it became a signature song for him and a strong protest song of the war and civil-rights movement. Perhaps I will post his version later!

Many thanks to Pingus Miloren for the hook-up to this album.
Song: "Compared To What"
From the LP "FIRST TAKE" (Atlantic) Jun. 20, 1969

Roberta Flack : vocals, piano
Ray Lucas : drums
Ron Carter : bass
John Pizzarelli : guitar
Frank Wess : tenor sax
Seldon Powell : baritone sax
Bennie Powell : trombone
Joe Newman & Jimmy Nottingham : trumpets
Joel Dorn : producer

Get it here : Roberta Flack - Compared To What

Saturday, November 17, 2007

QUEEN - Innuendo (1991)

In tribute to the musical "We Will Rock You", here is the title track from Queen's last studio album before Freddie Mercury passed away.

Here is a blurb about the song from Wikipedia:
"Innuendo" began as a jam session in Switzerland amongst May, Taylor and Deacon in spring 1989. Mercury was upstairs and heard them playing the beat, and turned it into a song, creating the melody and starting off the lyrics. From then on they all four worked on polishing the track and Taylor took over the lyrics (which were written as a tribute to Led Zeppelin and their song "Kashmir". David Richards and a flamenco interlude played by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, who had come to visit them and was asked to play what Brian May himself admitted he couldn't. Like "Kashmir", the title of the song is only mentioned once.

And here is the blurb from allmusicguide:
Queen began their final album together in an appropriately regal style with this track, a complex epic that harkened back to their 1970's classics like "Bohemian Rhapsody." The lyrics present a message of hope: in a world where "we live according to race, color or creed" and where leaders rule by "blind madness and pure greed," hope can still be found if one has the will to do better: "Yes, we’ll keep on trying/Tread that fine line/Oh, we’ll keep on trying/’Til the end of time." It also adds a shot of pure hope during the song’s midsection: "You can be anything you want to be/Just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be." The music lends this ambitious lyric the grandiosity it needs, marrying verses that make a determined ascent from minor-key depths to a rousing chorus that reaches for the sky. It also works in a fanciful, delicate bridge whose fluttery phrases add a shot of pure pop to an otherwise rock oriented song. Queen’s recording of "Innuendo" delivers their personalized mix of pomp and power in high style: the main part of the song is built on a mixture of spooky synthesizers and guitar-anchored rock but also works in an unexpected flamenco guitar instrumental break played by guest guitarist Steve Howe and a stunning bridge where cascades of synthesizers and glossy vocal harmonies give way to an electric jam. Freddie Mercury providess a lead vocal that matches power with grace and Brian May and Roger Taylor add lush harmonies that add a final layer of richness to the sound. The resulting combination of power chords and ear candy didn’t make much of a chart impression in the U.S. but became a #1 hit in the U.K. and did similarly well elsewhere in Europe. It remains a favorite with Queen fans everywhere and one of their most inspired latter day efforts.

Song: "Innuendo"
From the LP "INNUENDO" (Hollywood) Feb. 4, 1991

Freddie Mercury (vocals, keyboards)
Brian May (guitar, keyboards, harmonies)
John Deacon (bass, keyboards)
Roger Taylor (drums, percussion, keyboards, harmonies)
Steve Howe (Spanish guitar)

Get it here: Queen - Innuendo

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CAETANO VELOSO - Não Me Arrependo (2006)

The mighty Caetano Veloso, one of Brazil's most endearing singer-songwriters, has probably touched on almost every style of music that came along since the 1960s. One of the architects of Brazil's Tropicalia movement, is alive and well and still recording. He is currently touring North America, and I will catch his show when he comes through town.

This song is from his newest studio album, which is back to a guitar/bass/drums format. The bass starts off with a Lou Reed style, but nicely adds electric piano to the mix, giving it a more organic retro feel. He his still using his voice in his typical dramatic style, and the whole album is quite solid as a group effort. It's impressive that he still coming out with good material after 40 years solid!

Song: "Não Me Arrependo"

From the album "Cê" (Mercury) Sep. 1, 2006

Get it here: Caetano Veloso - Não Me Arrependo (2006)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Eddie Fisher - Cosmic Blues (1977)

Eddie Fisher
R.I.P. 1943 - 2007
OK so the last one on the list is guitarist Eddie Fisher (not to be confused with the crooner of the same name). I personally can't get enough of this guy; a good jazz sense, but oh so funky. He passed away this year from prostate cancer.

Here is the blurb when he was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame:
"Eddie Fisher is not only an honoree but also a guest performer at the 2004 Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame was arranged in conjunction with the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation and the Old State House Museum Associates. That event is called Remembering 9th Street: A Night of Jazz, one of the special events related to the museum's exhibit Send You Back to Arkansas: Our Own Sweet Sounds II.

"Eddie Fisher spent the first 17 years of his life in Little Rock, Arkansas. From the age of 10, he developed a love for music; influenced and supported by his father. After graduating from high school, Fisher left home and headed for Memphis, Tennessee, where he continued to improve his guitar technique and musical skills. He spent the next several years touring with such famous musicians as Salomon Burke and Albert King. Fisher then became a founding member of the Leo's Five Band and decided to settle down in St. Louis, Missouri.
"It was in East St. Louis that Eddie Fisher started making a name for himself when he began playing at the renowned Blue Note Club. Fisher enjoyed great success beginning in the 60s and early 70s when he recorded his first two albums, The Third Cup and The Next One Hundred Years. On his own label, Nentu Records, he has produced Fisher, The Promise and most recently released 42nd Street. Over the years, Fisher has recorded 6 CDs. He recently completed 10 European tours.
"Fisher's guitar playing and compositions span various jazz styles. Critics explain that he began his career as a straight jazz guitarist with relatively traditional soul jazz, while his more recent work has been described as "very trippy guitar funk." Another entertainment writer states, "It doesn't matter whether I'm in a happy mood or feeling depressed. The music is spirited in any possible way. There are jazz, funk, blues and soul influences."

This all-instrumental song is a personal favourite of mine (and I'm sure some of you have heard this one from me before). It is one of those songs where every instrument is playing a part that adds to the whole. You can focus on listening to a different instrument every time you play the track, and it will give you something new (try it, you'll see!). It is quite the busy song, but verrrry groovy.
Song: "Cosmic Blues"
From the album "HOT LUNCH" (Stang ST-1032) 1977
Horn Arrangement by Bobby Washington & Eddie Fisher
All other instruments played by Eddie Fisher (!)
Get it here: Eddie Fisher - Cosmic Blues

Saturday, October 27, 2007

JAMES BROWN and the James Brown Band : Ain't It Funky Now

Richard "Kush" Griffith
R.I.P. 1948 - 2007

"Kush" Griffith, trumpet player, played with some significant acts in the 60s and 70s. His big break was with James Brown's band in the late-60s. He later went on to form Motown house band Bottom & Co, and played with Parliament-Funkadelic, Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns, and Marvin Gaye among others. He passed away this year from a heart attack, suffering from about every ailment you can think of. Check out this article for more sordid details.

Kush was a prominent figure in James Brown's orchestra, as you can see here...
This song is the complete version of "Ain't It Funky Now". James is in charge of the proceedings as usual; I can't understand how anyone can be sooo funky when they ad-lib like James. This tracks simmers with a steady groove, and at 5:22 our man Kush gets to do a rare trumpet solo. He begins playing like he was surprised to get a solo at all! And I love JB's comments afterwards.

Song: "Ain't It Funky Now"
Recorded Oct. 14, 1969
From the album "AIN'T IT FUNKY" (King 1092) Jan. 1970
James Brown : vocals, organ
Richard "Kush" Griffith, Joseph Davis : trumpets
Fred Wesley : trombone
Maceo Parker, Eldee Williams : tenor saxophones
Jimmy Nolen, Alphonso "Country" Kellum : guitars
Charles Sherrell : bass
Clyde Stubblefield : drums
John "Jabo" Starks : co-vocals (no drums for Jab'O this time!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

PETER THORUP with Friends : Grand Mother Watch Your Son (1970)

R.I.P. 1948 - 2007

Well, it's looking like a R.I.P. 6-pack! So here's ANOTHER musician who's passed away recently. This guy was a blues singer from the Netherlands who hooked up with UK blues-legend Alexis Korner in the '70s for three projects: New Church, CCS, and Snape.

This song was from his first solo album in 1970. Good blues-rock with some grrrowling vocals; he used musicians from Dutch bands The Beefeaters (which he used to sing with) and The Young Flowers.

Song: "Grand Mother Watch Your Son"

-from the LP "WAKE UP YOUR MIND" (Philips) 1970

Get it here : Peter Thorup - Grand Mother Watch Your Son

Saturday, October 13, 2007

WILLIE TEE : Get Up (mid-70s)


R.I.P. 1944 - 2007

Wilson Turbinton (Willie Tee), the New Orleans keyboardist, singer, songwriter and producer known as Willie Tee, died on Tuesday in New Orleans. He was 63 and had lived in Baton Rouge after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The cause was complications of colon cancer, said his friend and producer, Leo Sacks.
Willie Tee was a catalyst and innovator in New Orleans music. He was the songwriter and arranger behind a pivotal album: “The Wild Magnolias,” released in 1973, which was the first to meld the parade chants of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, the Wild Magnolias, with fierce New Orleans funk."

Willie Tee and Joe Zawinul were longtime colleagues and friends. Weather Report's 1984 album "Domino Theory" opened with Tee's song "Can It Be Done".

This week's song is "Get Up" by Willie Tee with The Gaturs. Funky goodness for the Fall...

Single A-side (Gatur 8001) ca. 1971-5

NOTE: this song was recorded with his backing band, The Gaturs.

Earl Turbinton (on sax) is Willie Tee's brother. He was also sax on last week's Zawinul track (RIP: Aug.3, 2007)

Drummer Larry Panna died on Feb. 23, 2007 as well. Yikes!

Link in title.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


More SNL favs...

Justin Timberlake Dick in a box

An oldie but goodie, the infamous SNL skit

Saturday, October 06, 2007

JOE ZAWINUL - Doctor Honoris Causa (1971)

R.I.P. 1932 - 2007

"Keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who played with Miles Davis and helped shape jazz fusion with his band Weather Report, died Sept. 11 in his native city of Vienna. He was 75.
"Zawinul, voted best keyboardist 30 times by music magazine Down Beat's critics' poll, including this year, had sought medical attention last month after a tour. He died of a rare form of skin cancer, local news agency APA reported."

More dead folks. Zawinul was really quite a driving force of merging world music into jazz for most of his career. Here is a track off his album from 1971, around the same time that Weather Report was getting off the ground. The Miles Davis influence is quite apparent here, and is a good example of early jazz-fusion. Stick with it, there is a very subtle groove going on throughout the piece...

Song: "Doctor Honoris Causa"
Dedicated to Herbie Hancock for his Honorary Doctorate at Grinnell University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Recorded Aug. 6-12, 1970
-from the LP "ZAWINUL" (Atlantic) 1971

Joe Zawinul : electric piano
Herbie Hancock : electric piano
George Davis : flute
Woody Shaw : trumpet
Earl Turbinton : soprano saxophone
Miroslav Vitous : bass
Joe Chambers, Billy Hart, David Lee : percussion

NOTE: Miroslav Vitous went on to join Weather Report
Earl Turbinton also died this year - Aug. 3, 2007 ; more on him next week!!

Get it here:
Joe Zawinul - Doctor Honoris Causa (1971)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Disco Dancing

We just saw this again last night. Stick to flying, Buck...
"It's called 'gettin' down'!"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bobby Byrd : Back From The Dead (1975)


R.I.P. 1934-2007

"Bobby Byrd, a longtime collaborator with James Brown and co-founder of the Famous Flames, died at his home near Atlanta. He was 73.Byrd died Wednesday Sept. 12, a spokesman for Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home in Atlanta said. News accounts attributed the death to cancer.

"One of the chief architects of Brown's trademark sound, Byrd's contributions can be heard on early James Brown soul tracks and on hits that laid the foundations of funk, like "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine." The punctuating phrase "Get on up," which repeats throughout that song, was sung by Byrd."

First James, now Bobby? The JB family is getting smaller and smaller, that's for sure. Anyway, here's a single he released after he left James, just good ol' mid-70s funk. He re-recorded this for his 1994 album "On The Move". And yes, I'm aware of the irony in the title...

"What you gon' play now?"

"Back From The Dead"
(single A-side, International Brothers 901) 1975

Get it here: Bobby Byrd - Back From The Dead

Saturday, September 22, 2007

This week: P.F.M. - Impressione Di Settembre (1972)

Premiata Forneria Marconi -


The last stop on our Italian trip was Milano, so to celebrate, here is a band that originated from there. Progressive rock magic. I would consider this one of the most important of the Italian 70s scene. And this is one of their more memorable works, from the first album. The keys and melodies are simply classic!

Get it here: PFM - Impressioni Di Settembre (1972)

Let's try this again!!

Okey doke, I'm gonna try to get this blog going again! The purpose of this site is to post one song each week by various artists that I dig. Interspersed will be amusing pictures and vids.

How are artists chosen? It'll be what I'm listening to at the time, or some other relevant reason. Some you know, some you don't, but it's just to put a bit of a spotlight on different music for y'all.
By all means, leave a comment!

Captain Beyond