Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brit Blue-Eyed Soul

The Brits really love our Soul Music, so 2 of my favorite CD's this year are by Findlay Brown (actually released in 2009 overseas) and Daniel Merriweather. Both mining the Blue-Eyed Soul that I talked about yesterday. Check them out.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blue-Eyed Soul

Chuck Eddy has a column in the March 2010 Spin on Essential Blue-Eyed Soul records. The usual suspects are here, but 2 shocking omissions. Space limitations keep the artists at 8, but missing are Michael McDonald and stunningly the Rascals and the Righteous Brothers. Years ago I made a CD-R of Blue-Eyed Soul music. But I've always been surprised that no label has ever done a definitive one on the subject. Time-Life did a 1 CD of it, but it was lacking.

Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 Country Hall of Fame

Inductees for 2010 Country Hall of Fame announced: Jimmy Dean, Don Williams, Billy Sherrill and Ferlin Husky.
No real surprised here, although Williams might be, but he had a lot of hits. Eric Clapton loved his stuff, so there's your Rock link.
Some names not inducted yet in the Country Hall of Fame: Ronnie Milsap, Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire among the modern day artists.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Playlist for 2/25

Crazy Heart - Soundtrack
Sade - Soldier of Love
Them Crooked Vultures
Jaheim - Another Round
Yeasayer - Odd Blood
She & Him - Volume 1
Four Tet - There Is Love In You

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Although it claims that its never been on CD, Niecy by Deniece Williams has been out before. But regardless, it's a great reissue. Soul records don't get the reissue treatment that others do. In fact, there's tons of out of print Soul records that are languishing in vaults somewhere. Reel Music, who put this out, does it right. Treating this like the great record it is. Liner notes, stellar sound. Soul and Country were left behind by the reissue boom of the 80's. And the ones that did get out are now out of print. There's market for this stuff. Why not let it go?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Man In Mourning

Although Johnny Cash's American VI is promised to be the last of the Rick Rubin's, who really knows? Anyway, it's an odd album to embrace. Cash is at the end. If you're tired of the Rubin/Cash formula of the previous 5, than this definitely is not for you. But I fell for it. Then again, I always fall for albums after death. Warren Zevon, Joey Ramone were all albums in the last decade that I liked. Death breeds sentimentality, especially in music. But I must say that all of these albums were good. And that wins over my misty-eyed love for these artists final moments.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Song Hall

The Songwriters Hall of Fame used to broadcast its awards on Bravo. Hasn't done it in many years, which may be one reason that few people pay attention to it. These shows were pretty good, too. Still, a good time to mention that many great songwriters of the Rock age aren't in this Hall, which tends to go for more mainstream names. Neil Young, Pete Townshend. So, like the Rock Hall it still has problems.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2010 Songwriters Hall of Fame

Talk about slipping under the radar.
Here's the 2010 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees:
SHOF Today: News

and here were the nominees
SHOF Today: Vote

Friday, February 19, 2010

Streaming Warner

The news last week that Warner Music is going to pull their songs from streaming services is but the latest bonehead decision the record companies continue to make at the expense of the consumer. As someone who's been streaming albums for awhile, I can tell you that if I hear something I like, I usually end up buying the album or a song. But if I don't get a chance at hearing something, I'm likely to pass-barring a major critical consensus.
But this is 2010, and for a record company or an artist not to have their material available at the click of a mouse is preposterous, dangerous and irresponsible.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Playlist for 2/18

Willie Nelson - American Classic/Tougher Than Leather
Hot Chip - One Life Stand
Beach House - Teen Dream
Black Crowes - Before the Frost
Kesha - Animal
Easton Corbin - s/t

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Clapton's Commercial Hit

Ironic that the biggest hit Eric Clapton has had in recent years has come from a cell phone commercial. And what's really strange is that the song, "I've Got A Rock 'n' Roll Heart" comes from one of his best 80's albums that wasn't a big seller, 1983's Money and Cigarettes. The song itself peaked at #18 that year, and then was quickly forgotten by all but Clapton fans. It didn't show up on a Clapton compilation until 2007.
Don't we all have a song by our favorite artist that was a mild hit, forgotten, but fondly remembered? The song hovered below Itunes Top 100 singles chart, so somebody is being influenced by the commercial. Maybe they'll seek out the album, too.
P.S. Don't get me started about the whole "sellout" aspect of all this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting The Knack

Well, I got the Knack in 1979. Their debut album has held up pretty damn well. I got to thinking about this when I heard that lead singer/guitarist Doug Fieger died last weekend. Unfortunately, the followup wasn't as good. But some of the things they did afterwards were decent. But for a one-shot, which Get The Knack was, it was pretty good.

Monday, February 15, 2010

They Were The World

The difference between the "We Are The World 25" and the original? Big names. The original really did have the biggest stars of early 1985 singing on it. Okay, there was Kim Carnes, but most of the names were either legends or Top of the Charts at that time.
The remake? We get Enrique Iglesias. The singer of the Pussycat Dolls. BeBe Winans and Toni Braxton. But no Beyonce, Timberlake, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift. Couldn't they have phoned in their parts the way Mary J Blige and Kanye did?
The only part of the remake I like are Orianthi's guitar solo, Michael Jackson's rebirth and the Streisand/Celine Dion lines.
And then there's the Wyclef parts which are pure torture. The rap section is awful.
Let me make this clear. I loved the original "We Are The World". Getting past the trite lyrics was easy when you had dynamic vocal turns by Ray Charles, James Ingram, Stevie Wonder. And the one-liners from Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Kenny Loggins, Cyndi Lauper and even Huey Lewis were pretty great.
Here, on this remake? You won't remember much.
It's a good cause. Buy it for that. But like the British remake of "Do They Know It's Christmas" a few years back, you'll long for the original.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Most romantic song for Valentine's Day 2010, that has shown up recently on my Ipod:

"You Are My Starship" by Norman Connors
classic Old School Soul from 1976

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Playlist for 2/13

Corrine Bailey Rae - The Sea
Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Mary J. Blige - Stronger With Each Tear
Lady Antebellum - Need You Now
Lady GaGa - Fame Monster

Friday, February 12, 2010


Apparently there's something called FreeNapster, which lets you stream stuff up to 3 times before making you buy. I say it's a good call. The regular Napster I got for 1 year free has been a godsend. I've been able to stream albums that I was curious about, and in the past might have spent money on.
Funny thing, though, I wouldn't pay a dime for these (including Rhapsody) services to do the same thing. This is 2010. Give me free streams, let me make up mind about buying something. Or I'll find other avenues to get my fix.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Soul Train

Required Saturday morning viewing where I lived, that was Soul Train. Usually, it was American Bandstand first, followed by Soul Train. Because of sports and other youthful activities I missed a lot of these shows. This was pre-VCR, so if you missed it, you missed it. There were no reruns.
VH1's sterling documentary on Soul Train, commemorating the 4oth anniversary of the show, is a great reminder of how much this show influenced non-black viewers. Even at a young age, I had a love of Soul music, and Soul Train helped keep that going. I think many white viewers throughout the Country got to see many Soul acts on this show than they would have on American Bandstand.
I've often wondered why Don Cornelius isn't in the Rock Hall of Fame (and Quincy Jones, too). The legacy of Soul Train should be enough to put him in. I think Cornelius' legacy has been vastly underrated. More doc's like this one would help.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sade's Comeback

Sade's first album in 10 years runs just over 41 minutes. Much like Maxwell's 2009 comeback which ran just under 40 minutes. Maxwell took nearly a decade for his return, Sade a full one. Remarkably, they both sounded just like they left. Vocally, musically, lyrics also. And like Maxwell, Sade is getting rave reviews for something she never got raves for in the past.
Maybe the reason these albums are so liked is because the R&B field in the 00's was full of mediocre talent. A lot of male singers sounded the same, and female ones were awash in melisma.
But Sade and Maxwell have a distinct sound. Neither one is an exceptional vocalist, but they write good songs, and no their limitations.
I'm hesitant to call either one a comeback, because they never fell off.

Black History Month

This being Black History Month, the recent death of Teddy Pendergrass had me thinking about how hard Soul Music has been hit in the last few years with the deaths of some of its greatest voices. All of these singers had a distinct sound, something you don't get with today's R&B singers. Recent deaths include Levi Stubbs, Isaac Hayes, Michael Jackson. Going back a few more years there's Luther Vandross, Rick James, James Brown, Barry White, Wilson Pickett. And those are the big names. There's been other lesser known R&B singers who have died recently.

Monday, February 08, 2010

State of the Biz

One final thing that always ticks me off about the Grammy's, is Grammy head Neil Portnow's yearly State of the Biz talk. A few minutes every year in which Portnow chastises the listening public for stealing music, yet never does the same to his beloved Industry for failing to come up with things the public wanted: lower prices and easier access to whatever they wanted to hear. No, Portnow still believes that the old RIAA adage about "stealing" music will win over the music public, who now find their music either free or for the cheap.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl Halftime

McCartney, Stones, Prince, Petty and Springsteen. All have performed the Super Bowl halftime since Janet Jackson showed a half second of her nipple. In 2010 we add the Who. Will the Bowl organizers ever run out of Heritage acts? Maybe not. I'm thinking they could still do Mellencamp, Rod Stewart, Elton, the Eagles. They could also add Garth Brooks or a Mary J. Blige Soul show. Lots of safe choices. That's what they are after. You wouldn't want to scare the Soccer moms who gather around the sofa with their little ones. Little do they know that these kids aren't shocked anymore. Not in 2010.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fans Love 'Em, Critics Hate 'Em

Dave Matthews appearance at the Grammy's was enough to send music critics rushing to their computers to write out any snarky comment they can find. Matthews is loved by fans, and mostly hated by critics. His latest record has been a steady seller, and it's pretty good.
But he's turned into a modern day version of the Eagles or even James Taylor. Mention those names to some crits and you'll get howls of disapproval.
But Matthews, like those heritage acts, will continue to outlast all the brickbats. It's odd that I'm defending him here, considering that I've never been even a modest fan. But I see the comparison between today's crits and yesterday's. Some things never change in the crit-world.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Out of Tune

What's the big thing about people finally finding out that Taylor Swift can barely sing? Her previous live performances on MTV or other Country shows weren't watched by as many different viewers as the Grammy's. Lots of people have heard her on the radio but not seen her perform live. And it was as bad as her other performances. Bob Lefsetz believes she's killed her career. I don't think so. But it has made her a punchline for blogs and radio shows. I'm not sure why, at the age of 20, she can't take some singing lessons. Remember, the recording studio can mask many vocal problems. But once you get on stage it's a different story.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Playlist for 2/4

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Flaming Lips - Embryonic
The-Dream - Love vs. Money
Passion Pit - Manners

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Grunge vs. Hair Metal

As someone who is making a 3 hour CD comp of Hair metal stuff for a friend, I can tell you that some of this has aged well, and others haven't. But remember when grunge supposedly wiped these acts off the face of the earth? Nope, didn't happen. Yes it did, but only for a few years. Hair metal has aged better than grunge.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Grammy Performance

The show is all about the performances, and there were some good ones. Pink, Blige (channeling Aretha)/Andrea, Elton/GaGa. There were some bad ones as well. Taylor Swift was barely passable , kind of felt sorry for Stevie Nicks who could have sang her out of the building.
Kudos to Jon Pareles of the NY Times for noticing the auto-tuning of today's R&B singers. Except for Maxwell, who guided the rather staid Roberta Flack to bigger heights than she's seen in years.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Grammy's 2010

Let's face it, the Grammy's are still all about giving awards to big names. And usually for stuff that wasn't that great. The Beyonce, Springsteen, Taylor Swift and that horrible Eminem album are all inferior to anything they've done in the past (I'm being kind to Eminem here). Even the win for Steve Earle doesn't do it for me. It wasn't his best effort. But give them credit, over a 100 categories they are bound to get some right. I do like Kings of Leon, Levon Helm and the Phoenix album. And of course the Maxwell album is picture perfect R&B like they used to make.
But in the end the Grammy's are to be watched for the performances only. I've never bought in to the who wins what stuff.
Add to Technorati Favorites