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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BECK: Profanity Prayers (2008)

Rocking goodness from Mr. Campbell. This track, taken from his last official studio album, has Beck straying from his usual go-to producer Nigel Goderich and using Danger Mouse. The stripped-down production kicks in with a single-string riff over an E-pedal, with vocals reminiscent of Niel Young's "Mr. Soul". Yet the beat brings the tempo to another level entirely. The choruses are a nice variation on the theme, with key changes bringing a sense of flight before returning to the E-vamp. Also of note is the slide-guitar and effects interlude at 2:32. Given the right marketing, this could have easily been a single off this album.Song : "Profanity Prayers" by Beck
From the LP "MODERN GUILT" (DGC) Jul. 8, 2008

Link in title.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

RUSH : The Camera Eye [1981]

Rush's Time Machine Tour 2010 - 2011 is the third most successful tour of the past year (behind Usher and Lady Gaga, yikes!), proving how enduring the trio is to their legions of fans. One of this tour's selling points is the fact that the band is playing their most popular album "Moving Pictures" in its entirety. Married to this is the re-release of the album as a Deluxe Edition, with a version in 5.1 audio surround! I have said time and again that the only way to remaster music these days is to do something different, and listening to a favourite album in 5.1 is like nothing else! If done well, the remaster will trump all previous versions and become the 'ultimate edition'. Genesis has done it, King Crimson is doing it, and other artists may follow suit. The success of this reissue now has the band considering reworking their ENTIRE back catalogue! That will be a thrill to fans if that comes to pass.
In the meantime, you can check out the new remaster of "The Camera Eye". This is the longest track on the "Moving Pictures", and the last track ever written by Rush to exceed the 10-minute mark! It is basically written in two large parts, the first part has the lyrics painting an image of New York City, whlie the second part deals with London. The beginning is filled with synths, perfectly dating the song. One of my favourite Rush riffs starts at ~2:43, I always felt this kind of sound typifies the band. The flow of the song is wonderfully 'jerky', where the song basically reboots at the 5:59 mark. And Neil Peart's fills, although ever-present, tend to play for the song rather than against it. For example, the understated accents starting at 6:16 lift that part of the song to another level. What's also interesting about this song is it really shows the musicianship of Alex Lifeson - the part of his guitar solo at 9:51 shows a higher level of technique than I've heard from him before! This track may take a few listens to get the true feel of it, but the rewards are there if you do.

Song : "The Camera Eye" by RushFrom the LP "MOVING PICTURES" (Anthem) Feb. 12, 1981

Geddy Lee : bass, synths (Minimoog, Oberheim, Moog Taurus bass pedals), vocals
Alex Lifeson : guitars
Neil Peart : drums, percussion

Link in title

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

WILLIE TEE : Walk Tall (Baby That's What I Need) (1970)

Wilson Turbinton, a.k.a. Willie Tee, the New Orleans singer and keyboard player, recorded a number of great soul, R&B, and funk tunes in his career. This track is from is first solo album, recorded on Capitol Records (he got a deal through sax player Cannonball Adderley), and has just been re-released on CD. The song contains a nice Southern groove, showcasing his warm vocals and pained lyrics. This is the only track on the album with a co-writing credit by friend Joe Zawinul, just before he started Weather Report. The strings and well-placed instrumentation were produced by none other than David Axelrod. The album's lack of success led him to start his own label and form the funk band THE GATURS, which put out a number of classic funk singles. Song : "Walk Tall (Baby That's What I Need)" by Willie Tee
From the LP "I'M ONLY A MAN" (Capitol ST-199) 1970

Check out more Willie Tee on this blog!

Link in title. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

MAX ROMEO & The Upsetters - War Ina Babylon (1976)

*Max Romeo & Lee Scratch Perry*

Jamaican singer Max Romeo was previously known in reggae for his sexually suggestive lyrics (e.g. the song "Wet Dream" - was it REALLY supposed to be about a leaky roof??). But Romeo found his stride when he teamed up with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry and produced the classic album "War Ina Babylon". Backed by Perry's band, The Upsetters, this track has a nice a dark groove (is that a distorted guitar in the background?). The verse and chorus are exceptionally catchy, and repetitive enough to get into your skull and lodge there for weeks (personal experience). Unfortunately, Romeo & Perry had a falling out after this, and Romeo never really produced another album of this caliber.
Song : "War Ina Babylon" by Max Romeo & The Upsetters
From the LP "WAR INA BABYLON" (Island) 1976

Link in title.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

LOCANDA DELLE FATE : Nove Lune (1978)

This progressive rock from Piedmonte came a little late onto the prog scene, even by Italian standards. As the public was picking up punk or disco, this group seemed to be in a time warp, playing symphonic and complex music, with heavy use of instrumentation and odd time signatures. The group lasted only one album and three singles during its lifetime, but has since gone on to become an essential group of the genre (at least among the Italian bands).
This track is in fact the b-side to the band's second single, and has been languishing in obscurity until more recent CD reissues. By this point the band was down to a 5 members (previously a 7-piece), and had even lost their lead singer! It starts with a complex piano line that upon the band's entry, can be counted in a fast 6/8 time, with shorter bars thrown in for good measure. The vocals are almost sweet-sounding, to balance the busy rhythm section. At 1:01, the second part of the song begins, with the sax leading the melody (that IS a sax, right?) over 4/4 time. Almost as fast, the main section restarts with vocals at 1:38. Part 2 comes back at 2:29, and rides out the song. You have to give this band some credit; putting so much energy and ideas into a B-SIDE in a genre that was very unpopular at this point!

Song : "Nove Lune" by Locanda Delle Fate

Single B-side (Polydor 2060 169) 1978

Link in title.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

THE AZTECS : Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy (1972)

Billy Thorpe was one of the most important rock singer/entertainer that Australia produced. Initially a '60s pop-star, bad decisions (musically and financially) left him basically bankrupt by the end of that decade. With his band, The Aztecs, he turned towards hard blues-rock and reclaimed his popularity. The group hit the big-time with this song and an appearance at the first Sunbury Music Festival (Australia's version of Woodstock).
The tune starts with a jangly acoustic guitar, after which Thorpe asserts himself with a strong and catchy melodic line (complete with country-style harmonies). Rollicking piano enters after the first verse to drive the chords, and the rest of the band comes in at 1:19. Thorpe is a consistently strong singer (use the line at 1:44 as an example), so much so that apparently The Aztecs were one of the loudest bands in Australia primarily to match the volume of his vocals. At the 2:00 mark, the band changes to a nice hard-rock riff with a piano solo. After another verse, the riff kicks back in at 3:35 for the ride-out, this time allowing Thorpe to show off his growing guitar skills. There is an underlying country feel to this song; perhaps that's why Aussie country superstar Keith Urband recently covered the track (almost note for note!).
Song : "Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy" by The Aztecs
Single A-side (Havoc H1012) Feb. 1972

Billy Thorpe : vocals, guitar
Warren "Pig" Morgan : piano, vocals
Gil "Rathead" Matthews : drums, vocals
Paul "Sheepdog" Wheeler : bass

Here is a youtube link to the performance at Sunbury '72:

And here is a youtube clip of Keith Urban doing a surprisingly respectful cover:

Link in title

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

By many to be considered the Godfather of Rap, this is a great loss to the music community...

From the NY Times:
"Gil Scott-Heron, the poet and recording artist whose syncopated spoken style and mordant critiques of politics, racism and mass media in pieces like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” made him a notable voice of black protest culture in the 1970s and an important early influence on hip-hop, died on Friday at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan. He was 62 and had been a longtime resident of Harlem."

Read full article here:

Monday, May 16, 2011

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS : How Long Do I Have To Wait For You? (2005)

This is a bit of a no-brainer. Sharon Jones is a soul singer who initially gained popularity in the '90s, releasing a few singles on the Desco Records label in New York. Her backing band, initially called The Soul Providers, became The Dap-Kings when she moved to the Daptone label. This label is one of a handful that attempt to recreate an authentic soul & funk sound of the 60s & 70s, using vintage instruments and recording techniques. The group has been gathering momentum in recent years by regular touring and a solid music catalogue. This was one of her breakthrough tracks from 2005; it starts with a classic breakbeat, that leads into a positive groove and catchy refrain. The band is LARGE, but they make it work by the call-and-response of the horns with the guitar, with Jones singing over all of it. There's even room for a guitar AND trumpet solo! And check out the funky beat of Homer Steinweiss during the ride-out...

Song : "How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?" by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
From the LP "NATURALLY" (Daptone) Jan. 25, 2005

LINEUP :Sharon Jones : vocals
El Michels : baritone sax
Neal Sugarman : tenor saxDave Guy : trumpetHomer Steinweiss : drumsBinky Griptite : guitarBoogaloo Velez : congaTommy TNT Brenneck : guitarBosco Mann : bass, tambourine

Link in title...

Monday, April 18, 2011

BILL WARD : Pink Clouds An Island (1990)

Bill Ward, the original drummer for Black Sabbath, finally made his solo debut with this album. A satisfying amalgamation of hard rock, great melodies, and more introspective work. This track acted as a bridge between two songs with guest vocalists, the first with Ozzy Osbourne, then next with Jack Bruce. However, it does get to showcase Ward's pleasing vocals and interesting song structure. He used Ozzy's guitarist Zakk Wylde, and future KISS drummer Eric Singer.

Song: "Pink Clouds An Island" by Bill Ward

From the LP : "Ward One: Along The Way" (Chameleon) Jan. 10, 1990

Bill Ward : Drums, vocals, keyboards

Zakk Wylde : guitar

Eric Singer : drums

Gordon Copley : bass

Mike Rodgers : keyboards

Leonice : percussion

Check title for link...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

BEAST : Mr. Hurricane (2008)

This is the first single off the debut album by Beast. Hailing from Montreal, Canada, the group is primarily made up of the duo Betty Bonifassi (vocals) and Jean-Phi Goncalves (instruments, production). Bonifassi had previously provided vocals to the soundtrack of the animated film, "Les Triplettes de Belleville". Somewhat like Canadian trip-hop, the funky heavy groove is supplemented by Bonifassi's almost snarling vocals. Good drumming!

Here is a link to the great accompanying music video:

Song: "Mr. Hurricane" by Beast
From the LP "BEAST" (Pheromone Recordings) 2008

New link in title. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

R.I.P. 2011 - the year so far!

Just to get up to date, here are some musicians that have left us this year...

Gerry Rafferty (Jan. 4, 2011) -singer for STEALERS WHEEL, solo -died of liver failure.

Steve Mancha (Jan. 8, 2011) -singer, member of funk/soul group 100 PROOF (AGED IN SOUL).

Steve Prestwich (Jan. 16, 2011) -drummer, singer, guitarist -member of COLD CHISEL.

Don Kirshner (Jan. 17, 2011) -famous producer and promoter, host of "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" on TV -died of heart failure.

Charles Kaman (Jan. 31, 2011) -founded Ovation Guitar Company.

Tony Levin (Feb. 3, 2011) -UK jazz drummer, played with NORMA WINSTONE, NUCLEUS -NOT the bass player!

Gary Moore (Feb. 6, 2011) -guitarist, singer, member of SKID ROW, THIN LIZZY, COLOSSEUM II, etc -died of a heart attack while on vacation in Spain.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

R.I.P. 2010 - Part 2

Harry Beckett (Jul. 22, 2010): UK jazz trumpet player.

Phelps "Catfish" Collins (Aug. 6, 2010): guitar player for The JBs, James Brown, and Funkadelic; brother of BOOTSY COLLINS -died of cancer.

Richie Hayward (Aug. 12, 2010): drummer for LITTLE FEAT and others. Died of liver disease.

Mac Tontoh (Aug. 17, 2010): trumpet for OSIBISA.

Leonard Skinner (Sep. 20, 2010): gym teacher, inspiration for the name of LYNYRD SKYNYRD.
T. Lavitz (Oct. 7, 2010): keyboardist for THE DIXIE DREGS, etc.

Solomon Burke (Oct. 10, 2010): soul singer.

Kim Davis (Oct. 18, 2010): guitarist for southern-rock band POINT BLANK -shot himself.

Denis Simpson (Oct. 20, 2010): singer for THE NYLONS -died of brian hemorrhage.

John Sekula (Oct. 28, 2010): guitarist for metal band MUSHROOMHEAD -possible heart failure.

Jim Clench (Nov. 2, 2010): bassist for APRIL WINE.

Ruben Basoalto (Nov. 3, 2010): member of prog group VOX DEI -died of lung cancer.

Aram Schefrin (Nov. 4, 2010): member of horn-rock band, TEN WHEEL DRIVE -died of cancer.
Harry Whitaker (Nov. 17, 2010): pianist, worked with ROY AYERS, ROBERTA FLACK, and solo -died of heart attack.

Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) (Dec. 17, 2010): singer, etc -worked with FRANK ZAPPA and solo -died of complications from multiple sclerosis.

Myrna Smith (Dec. 24, 2010): also a singer for THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (search this blog) -died after getting pneumonia, complicated by kidney failure and stroke.

Bernie Wilson (Dec. 26, 2010): another member of HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUENOTES -died from stroke and heart attack complications.

Bill Maddox (Dec. 27, 2010): drummer for THE ELECTROMAGNETS and ERIC JOHNSON GROUP -died by being shot during a home break-in.

Bobby Farrell (Dec. 30, 2010): singer for BONEY M -died of heart disease.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back in black! R.I.P. 2010 - Part 1

Hi all, I'm back for 2011, and before I start posting again, here's a selected list of those who have left us in 2010 - R.I.P. :

Teddy Pendergrass (Jan. 13, 2010): singer -died of complications of colon cancer.

Dale Hawkins (Feb. 13, 2010): singer/guitarist, wrote "Suzy Q" -died from colon cancer.

Sylvia Shemwell (Feb. 13, 2010): singer, member of THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (search this blog!), sang behind Elvis.

Doug Fiegler (Feb. 14, 2010): singer/guitarist, lead member of THE KNACK ("My Sharona") -died from cancer.

Tom "T-Bone" Wolk (Feb. 27, 2010): bassist for HALL & OATES -died from heart attack.

Bobby Espinosa (Feb. 27, 2010): keyboardist for EL CHICANO.

Lolly Vegas (Mar. 4, 2010): singer and guitarist for REDBONE -died from lung cancer.

Herb Cohen (Mar. 16, 2010): manager for FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION.

Alex Chilton (Mar. 17, 2010): singer and guitarist for THE BOX TOPS ("The Letter") and BIG STAR -died from a heart problem.

Skip Mesquite (Mar. 19, 2010): sax player for TOWER OF POWER and COLD BLOOD -died from cancer.

Luciano Casa (Mar. 26, 2010): drummer and vocals for Italian prog band CAPITOLO 6 -died of throat cancer.

Peter Herbolzheimer (Mar. 27, 2010): German trombonist.

Malcolm McLaren (Apr. 8, 2010): manager of SEX PISTOLS and NEW YORK DOLLS -died from mesothelioma.

Peter Steele (Apr. 14, 2010): bassist and singer for TYPE O NEGATIVE -died of heart failure.

Bo Hansson (Apr. 24, 2010): prog artist.

Morris Pert (Apr. 27, 2010): percussionist for BRAND X, etc.

Ronnie James Dio (May 16, 2010): vocalist, member of BLACK SABBATH -died of stomach cancer.

Will Orthofer (May 17, 2010): singer and sax player for prog band EELA CRAIG -died of heart attack.

Paul Gray (aka #2) (May 24, 2010): bassist for SLIPKNOT -died of 'accidental overdose'.

Brian Duffy (May 31, 2010): -cover photographer for DAVID BOWIE's "Aladdin Sane" -died of degenerative lung disease.

Marvin Isley (Jun. 6, 2010): bassist for THE ISLEY BROTHERS.

Garry Shider (aka Diaper Man) (Jun. 6, 2010): guitarist/vocalist for PARLIAMENT/FUNKADELIC -died of lung/brain cancer.

Pete Quaife (Jun. 24, 2010): original bassist for THE KINKS.