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Saturday, June 27, 2009

JACKSON 5IVE : You Made Me What I Am (1973)

R.I.P. Michael Jackson (Aug. 29, 1958 - Jun. 25, 2009)

From michaeljacksonobit:
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5 and began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group. Referred to as the “King of Pop” in subsequent years, five of his solo studio albums are among the world’s best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).

In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. The popularity of his music videos airing on MTV, such as “Beat It”, “Billie Jean” and Thriller—credited for transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool—helped bring the relatively new channel to fame. Videos such as “Black or White” and “Scream” made Jackson an enduring staple on MTV in the 1990s. With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced many hip hop, pop and contemporary R&B artists.

One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records—including one for “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time”—13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career—more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era—and the sales of over 750 million albums worldwide. Cited as one of the world’s most famous men, Jackson’s highly publicized personal life, coupled with his successful career, made him a part of popular culture for almost four decades.

On June 25, 2009, he collapsed at his home in Los Angeles. After being taken to the hospital in a coma, Jackson was pronounced dead.

There's not much needed to be said about Jackson's importance in popular music in the last 40 years. He encapsulated the pinnacle of 'entertainer', and was ultimately a victim of the media that catapaulted his career. His songs are SO well-known, that it would be somewhat redundant to post a majority of them. Instead, here is a relatively unknown Jackson Five song, from a relatively unsuccessful album, from a relatively unhappy period of the band. The Jacksons were demanding to be able to write some of their own songs, a request to which Motown chief Barry Gordy flat-out refused. The album, "Skywriter", was the first to start showing the cracks in the group's energy, plainly evident by their unhappiness on the cover! The album did moderately well, but was a step back from previous heights.

This track is a b-side from the album, written by The Corporation, and is a forgotten funky soul gem. The brothers are singing as well as ever, and the rhythm is infectious. I would LIKE to think that Tito and Jermaine were playing the guitar and bass, respectively, but who knows when it comes to Motown?

Song : "You Made Me What I Am" by Jackson 5ive
From the LP "SKYWRITER" (Motown) Mar. 1973

Get it here : You Made Me What I Am

Saturday, June 20, 2009

EMBRYO : Side Track (1974/5)

R.I.P. Charlie Mariano (Nov. 12, 1923 - Jun. 16, 2009)


Born Carmine Ugo Mariano on November 12, 1923 in Boston MA died June 16, 2009 in Cologne Germany at the Mildred Scheel Hospiz. Charlie’s music career spans from 1940 when at the age of 17 his sister Colina gave him his first saxophone to 2009 when at the age of 85 he was still performing and recording music. Charlie served three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II where he met his first wife Glenna Gregory.

Following his service in the military he became a student at Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) graduating in 1951. He became a well known alto saxophonist during his time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and Shelly Manne through his West Coast era. In 1958 with wife and four daughters in tow Charlie returned to Boston to teach at Berklee where he immersed himself in the Boston jazz scene. Along with Herb Pomeroy and Ray Santisi he founded the Jazz Workshop which became a popular jazz club featuring many jazz greats. During this period he met and married Toshiko Akiyoshi and formed the Toshiko Mariano Quartet. Afterwards he also performed with Charles Mingus and appeared on the Black Saint and The Sinner Lady and Mingus Mingus Mingus albums. At this time his fifth daughter was born.

From 1965 to 1971 he raised two of his daughters as a single father while teaching at Berklee. During that time he moved to Newburyport and formed a rock fusion band called Osmosis with local pianist Charlie Bechler. Prior to moving to Europe his sixth daughter was born with his partner Charlotte Bulathsinghala. While in Europe he played and recorded in many diverse musical genres including jazz rock fusion, South Indian music and contemporary European jazz. Charlie is considered one of the pioneers of world music.

Mariano was a true musical sponge, he played with SO MANY European jazz artists, it didn't seem like he ever took a break. Notable artists he played with (especially in the '70s): Sadao Watanabe, Osmosis, Supersister, Embryo, Philip Catherine, Eberhard Weber, Rolf Kuhn, Jasper van't Hof, and of course The United Jazz + Rock Ensemble.
This obscure track is by German jazz-rock/world music band Embryo. This is from the period when they were quite funky, as you can tell by the sloppy drum groove. Mariano is one of the featured sax soloists, and you can hear him blowing after some of the verses. This was one of the many songs that fell through the cracks due to labelling. Too funky for jazzheads, too jazzy for rockers, too straightforward for progressive rock fans, and too 'western' for Europeans. But it fares better without the pigeonholing. It does have a progressive side to it, starting at 3:41, with the continued funky beat. A very underrated album, and a fantastic cover!

Song : "Side Track" by Embryo (recorded 1974)
From the LP "SURFIN'" (BASF) Jan. 1975

Christian Burchard : drums, mellotron
Roman Bunka : guitar, vocals, bass, percussion
Charlie Mariano : soprano sax
Edgar Hofmann : soprano sax, violins)

Get it here : Side Track

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SOFT MACHINE : 1983 (1973)

R.I.P. Hugh Hopper (Apr. 29, 1945 - Jun. 7, 2009)
From Jazzwise:
Bass guitarist Hugh Hopper has died at the age of 64, it was announced yesterday. The Kent-born musician is best known as the bass player in Soft Machine which he joined in 1968. He remained with them until 1972 but later became an important part of Soft Machine Legacy which has toured the world in recent years.

Before Soft Machine Hopper worked with Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt in the Daevid Allen Trio before forming the Wilde Flowers joined by his brother Brian, Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Richard Sinclair. But it was with Wyatt, Allen, Ayers and also Mike Ratledge that he was to make his mark on the history of progressive rock and forward-looking jazz-influenced psychedelic groups of the period and since with his innovative fuzz-bass sound.

After Soft Machine, Hopper worked with a range of groups including the influential Gilgamesh and Isotope and began an association with free jazz saxophonist Elton Dean who joined Soft Machine in 1969. Later important collaborations also included work with the late Pip Pyle, Phil Miller’s In Cahoots and since 2002 with Soft Works which later became Soft Machine Legacy. Hopper had been suffering from leukaemia in recent years.

NOTE: Hopper has also worked with Syd Barrett, and toured with Jimi Hendrix.
This strange track was his last recording with the progressive rock/jazz/psych group Soft Machine. All the fuzzy bass and sound effects were his. It's interesting that although the piano sounds almost completely random, it is actually completely written out (as you can tell by the band being completely in synch with the accents). This 'song' sounds like the soundtrack to an unreleased future horror movie, and was his jumping-off point to his first solo album, "1984". He later joined jazz-rock groups Isotope, Gilgamesh, and Soft Heap.

Song : "1983" by Soft Machine (written by Hugh Hopper)
From the LP "SIX" (CBS/Columbia) 1973

Hugh Hopper : bass
Mike Ratledge : organ, electric piano, grand piano
John Marshall : drums, percussion
Karl Jenkins : electric piano, grand piano

Get it here : 1983

Saturday, June 06, 2009

THE RACONTEURS : Salute Your Solution (2008)

This side project of The White Stripes' Jack White and solo artist Brendan Benson has a serious preoccupation with hard rock with driving beats. This was the first single of their latest album, and did fairly well in the US. Of note is the dirty noisy guitar sound they employ, as well as the distorted keyboards. The half-time middle section is a great throwback to '70s rock.

Song : "Salute Your Solution" by The Raconteurs
From the LP "CONSOLERS OF THE LONELY" (Third Man Records) Mar. 25, 2008

Patrick Keeler : drums, percussion
Brendan Benson : vocals, guitar, keyboards
Jack White III : vocals, guitar, keyboards
Jack L.J. Lawrence : bass, backing vocals

Get it here : Salute Your Solution