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Monday, July 28, 2008

ELEVEN - You Will Know (1995)

R.I.P. 1956? - 2008
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Singer/songwriter Natasha Shneider, who collaborated with former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and rock band Queens of the Stone Age, died Tuesday of cancer.
The age of the Moscow native was unknown (although some sources say she was 52, which is a bit unlikely; more like 42).

Shneider, her husband Alain Johannes and Jack Irons formed the rock band Eleven in 1990 following the latter's departure from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It released five albums, the best known of which was a 1993 self-titled affair for Disney's Hollywood Records.
"Reach Out," the single from the set, became Eleven's only track to dent the Billboard charts, reaching No. 40 on the airplay-based Mainstream Rock tally.

As the band's recorded output became more sporadic, Shneider and Johannes lent their songwriting and production talents to other projects, such as Cornell's 1999 solo debut "Euphoria Morning." Of late, the pair had recorded and toured in Queens Of The Stone Age.
"She was a brilliant, beautiful, and ballsy woman who will be missed deeply by all those who knew her. Send your loving thoughts her way in the universe," wrote frequent collaborator Troy Van Leeuwen.

Shneider's colorful career also included playing a cosmonaut in 2010: The Year We Make Contact and recording a song for the Catwoman soundtrack.

A PayPal fund ( has been set up to defray costs associated with Shneider's medical care.

This has to be one of the hardest R.I.P.s to post, as she was such a great talent in one of my favourite bands from the 90s, Eleven. Singer, songwriter, keyboard and bass player, she always added a touch of darkness and eccentricity to even the simplest of songs. It was great to hear that her and Alain Johannes joined up with Queens Of The Stone Age, as they received greater recognition than ever for their work. Queens are hosting a tribute concert to Shneider on August 16 in LA to help raise funds to pay for her outstanding medical bills (as outrageous as that sounds). This track is from their third album, which was grossly overlooked by the critics of the time. There is some classic elements to the band's sound on this: the slightly Beatlesque keyboards, the heavy guitar riff, the excellent melodies, the unique harmonies, and of course Shneider's fantastic voice.

Song : "You Will Know"
From the LP "THUNK" (Hollywood) 1995

Alain Johannes : guitar
Natasha Shneider : vocals, Hammond Organ, Left-hand bass
Jack Irons : drums

Get it here : You Will Know

Saturday, July 19, 2008

MIKEY DREAD : Step By Step (1979)

R.I.P. 1954 - 2008
"Mikey Dread—the Jamaican producer and DJ renown for his decades-long devotion to spreading reggae, dub, and dancehall—passed away in Connecticut on Mar. 15 following a year-long battle with a brain tumor.

"Yet another Jamaican engineering student drawn to the country's pop scene, Michael Campbell's "Dread At The Controls" show on JBC radio quickly became essential listening during reggae's '70s heyday, so much so that word of Dread's reputation soon reached reggae fans who had never even stepped onto the island; the show's grass-roots appeal at home and abroad helped launch his own influential career as an artist and producer after unsuccessfully wrangling with JBC higher-ups over his dub-focused playlists.

"Upon leaving the JBC, Mikey Dread ventured into recording and scored with a number of releases such as Weatherman Skanking in combination with Ray I, Barber Saloon, Love the Dread, as well as albums such as Dread at the Control, Evolutionary Rockers and World War III. Over time he attracted the attention of British punk rockers, The Clash, who invited him to produce some of their music, the most famous of which is their single Bankrobber, and contributed to several songs on their 1980 album, Sandinista. Mikey Dread also toured with The Clash across Britain, wider Europe and the US.

"Always a draw on the international reggae touring circuit during the rise of dancehall, Dread spent much of last decade performing and repackaging his out-of-print material on Dread At The Controls, the label he formed following a move to the U.S.; he was diagnosed with a tumor in the summer of 2007, shortly before the birth of his son, as this Jamaica Observer article notes. Dread was 54. "

Here is a track from Dread's first album, most notable for the groovy instrumental break in the second half. Here's the allmusic blurb:

A classic rhythm is reinvented rockers-style with a steppers edge on the irrepressible "Step by Step." It's a rich tapestry of sound and style that resonates across the grooves, abetted by Mikey Dread's own phenomenal arrangement and production and a stunning mix provided by Prince Jammy and King Tubby.
The number is driven by a tattoo-ed drum line and counterpointed by the sinuous high-stepping bass line, a militant roots rockers rhythm whose razor sharp edges are emphasized by the generous use of reverb and phasing. Yet its lighter rocksteady roots sweep into view on a sparkling melody line traded off between the piano and keyboards, while the synths swoop across the grooves.
And above this scintillating sound Dread takes up the theme of the little old lady that lived in a shoe, moves the action to the Jamaican neighborhood of Harbourview, and turns it into a Rastafarian parable. With the song spinning out into a sizzling instrumental/dub, there's no wonder that "Step" was a smash at the sound systems 1978 and then stepped right onto the DJ's debut album, "Dread at the Controls", the following year.

Song : "Step By Step"
From the LP "Dread At The Controls" (Trojan) 1979

Get it here : Step By Step

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Skin - Faithfulness video

Here is the entertaining video to the song. Enjoy!

SKIN : Faithfulness (2003)

"Faithfulness" is the second single from ex-Skunk Anansie front woman Skin. She went solo after the band split in 2001. The song is highly regarded as one of Skin's best solo singles and is commonly featured on the setlist of her gigs. The single is taken from Skin's debut album "Fleshwounds". Good vocal talent, good lyrics, and a good image give her a loyal fanbase in the UK and Europe.
Song: "Faithfulness"
From the LP "FLESHWOUNDS" (EMI) Sep. 9, 2003

Get it here : Skin - Faithfulness

Monday, July 07, 2008

ABBA meets ABLUTION (1973/1974)

R.I.P. Ola Brunkert (1946-2008)

Ola Brunkert, the former drummer with the Swedish pop group ABBA, has been found dead with his throat cut at his home in Majorca. He is believed to have fallen through a glass door in his kitchen.
The body was found in his garden at Arta, on the holiday island's north-east coast, at about 8pm last night (Mar. 16) by a friend and neighbour.
Officers from the Civil Guard are investigating. A spokeswoman at the paramilitary police force's headquaters in Madrid said today: "All the indications are that this was a tragic accident.
"A glass door in the kitchen of the house was shattered and it appears that this man fell through the door. He then managed to get out into the garden where he died."
She added that Brunkert, 62, had been alone at the time and that there were no signs to indicate that there had been any intruders.
But she added: "The investigation is still continuing and the results of an autopsy will be required to confirm that the victim died as a result of the cut he received."
Ola Brunkert had been a jazz drummer and also a member of the blues band Slim's Blues Gang, before joining the pop group Science Poption in the mid-1960s. Then, through working with guitarist Janne Schaffer in the jazz-pop group Opus III later in the decade, he became a session musician from the 1970s onwards.
Ola's first known session with ABBA was also the group's first single, People Need Love.
According to an internet profile Ola, together with bass player Rutger Gunnarsson, is probably the only musician to appear on all ABBA's albums.
He was one of the most frequently used Swedish sessions musicians during the 1970s and also toured with ABBA in 1977, 1979, and 1980.
He had lived in Majorca for many years.
So here are two groups that Brunkert played in. The first, ABBA, was his best known, and "Ring Ring" was an early hit for the group. Straightforward pop with a rock beat.

Here's the allmusic blurb:
This early Ulvaeus, Andersson hit is notable because it gave ABBA their first massive success in Europe outside Sweden. Although "Ring Ring" is a much simpler affair than later ABBA songs like "Mamma Mia" or "The Name of the Game," it displays the melodic inventiveness and the knack for insidiously catchy pop hooks that Ulvaeus and Andersson have shown throughout their careers. Utilizing a simple but well-crafted story line lyric penned by pop songsmith Neil Sedaka with his partner Phil Cody, "Ring Ring" takes its tale of a lonely girl waiting for a phone call from a suitor and pumps it up into an operatic slice of pop that builds from soft but emotional verses into a full-throttle chorus full of frustrated yearning. Ulvaeus and Andersson also throw in a surprising minor-key break in the middle of the chorus that gives the song an added emotional kick before its final line. The latter element adds an unusual richness to "Ring Ring" and thus makes it a good example of the densely layered but easily accessible pop craftsmanship that made ABBA international favorites.

Song: "Ring Ring" by Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid (a.k.a ABBA)
From the LP "RING RING" (Polar) Mar. 26, 1973

Benny Andersson : piano, vocals
Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad : vocals
Bjorn Ulvaeus : acoustic guitar, vocals
Ola Brunkert : drums
Rutger Gunnarsson : bass
Roger Palm : drums
Janne Schaffer : guitar
Mike Watson : bass

In complete opposition to this is Brunkert's jazz side. In 1974, he was in a one-shot group called Ablution that played groovy jazz-rock. Half the musicians were Swedish, the other half British or elsewhere. The group also included two favs of mine: jazz guitarist Janne Schaffer (also with ABBA) , as well as the great John Gustafson on bass (in between Roxy Music albums, it seems). There are plenty of drum fills to sink your teeth into!

Song : "The Nard Finished Third" by Ablution (composed by Pete Robinson)
From the LP "ABLUTION" (CBS) 1974

Ola Brunkert : drums, percussion
Malando Gassama : percussion
John Gustafson : bass
Jayson Lindh : flute, Fender piano
Pete Robinson : keys
Jan Schaffer : guitar
Barry de Souza : drums, trumpet

Get it here : ABBA - Ring Ring
Get it here :
Ablution - The Nard Finished Third