Friday, February 26, 2021

Playlist for 2/26

This Is MF Doom (Spotify Playlist)
Viktor Vaughn - Vaudeville Villain
KLF - Solid State Logik 1
Barry Gibb - Greenfields
Morgan Wallen - Dangerous
Aaron Frazer - Introducing
Kahil El'Zabar - America The Beautiful
Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President (2020 Documentary)

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: "Philadelphia Freedom" - Elton John

 The Summer of '75.  After moving from North Carolina to Germany, we moved back to the U.S. My Dad's Military days were winding down.  He had the choice of Colorado or California to relocate too, and chose California.  But before we headed there in June of '75, we stopped by my Aunt & Uncle's place in New York City.  Queens to be exact.  This wasn't my first visit there, as we visited them when we lived in North Carolina.  
  One of the first things I did when we arrived in New York was find a Top 40 radio station.  "Philadelphia Freedom" was just peaking (from it's #1 perch) when I got to New York.  By this time Elton John was the biggest Pop star in the world.  Everything he released was a hit.  "Philadelphia Freedom" was a single-only release.  Didn't appear on any of his studio albums.  It's a wonderful hit.  Using his love Philly Soul as a starting point, Elton made the R&B hit he was always looking for.  It's ubiquity in June '75 was such that I heard it a bunch of times during our visit.  It will always define my return to the States.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Playlist for 2/17

One Night In Miami (2020 Movie)
Chick Corea - Plays
Chubby and the Gang - Speed Kills 
A Girl Called Eddy - Been Around
Jazmine Sullivan - Heaux Tales
City Girls - City On Lock
Jeannie Seely - An American Classic
High Note (2020 Movie)
Coverville Podcast: Top 20 Covers of 2020
SiriusXM 50's on 5 Channel: Top 300 of the 50's

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: "Kiss And Say Goodbye" - Manhattans

The one thing that COVID-19  has taught me is the fragility of life.  The swiftness that the pandemic has taken lives should have scared everyone to take precautions.  But it didn't.  Although a vaccine is now being distributed, he slow rollout means many will be at risk for some time.  

I've been thinking about my own mortality lately.  As of this writing, I'm 56 years old.  I've got no pre-existing conditions, consider myself a healthy man and have followed all the COVID protocols so I don't catch the virus.  But there are many stories of healthy men in my age group who haven't been so lucky.

Before the pandemic, I often joked with my wife about what songs to play at my funeral.  Mind you, there won't be a funeral.  I'll be cremated without fanfare.  Which if fine.  When my parents died, I wrote their newspaper obituaries.  It wasn't hard to write about their lives, but in thinking about what to say I found things about them that were not known to me while they were alive.

My own obituary won't be hard to write.  "He was a die-hard New York Jets fan, biggest Elvis Presley fan who loved all kinds of music". Oh, and he spent 35 years working for the USPS.  

But just in case my family wants to remember me, I've told them what music to play in the background.  No surprise really.  Lots of Elvis Presley.  But which songs?  I've told them it doesn't matter.  Play the worst of Elvis ("Yoga Is As Yoga Does", "Do The Clam").  Have a laugh on me.  Or play the best of him ("Suspicious Minds", "Don't Be Cruel").  Knock yourself out.  

But the other song she'll play will get a lot of people talking.  The Manhattans' #1 hit from 1976, "Kiss and Say Goodbye". A great slice of Philly Soul.  The Manhattans don't get much mention when talking about the top tier R&B vocal groups.  But from 1965-85 they charted 33 Top 40 R&B hits.  But they only had 3 Top 40 Pop hits. But their catalog is strong.  Another name for the underrated/overlooked file.  Looking at the title of the song you might think you'd know the reason I picked it.  But that's not it. For years, every Winter, I would always catch a bad cold.  Typical symptoms but eventually always a sore throat which caused my voice to go about as deep as Barry White.  The beginning of that Manhattans songs has a spoken intro by their bass singer, Winfred Lovett (who also wrote it), that is a perfect Barry White impression.  With my voice deepened by a sore throat, I would often talk the opening intro to my wife, "This has got to be the saddest day of my life".  It has been a running joke for years.  Still is, whenever I catch a bad cold.  

So, I've told her that I want "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and any Elvis Presley song you want to be played in the background of any sort of reminicining you do about my life.  

In this pandemic era, everyone has to be feeling mortal.  Music continues to play a big part in my life, and it will long after I die. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Favorite Love Songs (With A Twist)

Favorite romantic songs, with a twist.  They can't be ones that always show up on every Great Love Songs playlist

All of these Valentine's Day type tracks have meant something to me at some point in my life.

If you want to find out what other songs I'm adding, then check out my Spotify playlist
A Not On Every Best Love Songs Ever Playlist

Al Green - Sha-La-La
Alexander O'Neal - If You Were Here Tonight
Atlantic Starr - Send For Me
Aretha Franklin - Day Dreaming
Barry White - Can't Get Enough
Bill Withers - Lovely Day
Boz Scaggs -  We're All Alone
Bread - Make It With You
Con Funk Shun - Love's Train
Daryl Hall & John Oates - One On One
DeBarge - All This Love
Earth, Wind & Fire - Love's Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald - I Concentrate On You
ELO - Strange Magic
Elvis Presley - Fame and Fortune
Flamingos - I Only Have Eyes For You
Frank Sinatra - You Make Me Feel So Young
Gap Band - Yearning For Your Love
Gladys Knight & The Pips - You're The Best Thing That's Ever Happened To Me
Gregory Abbott - Shake You Down
Isley Brothers - Voyage to Atlantis
Janet Jackson - Let's Wait Awhile
Jackie Wilson - To Be Loved
Jason Isbell - If We Were Vampires
Jimmy LaFave - Into Your Life
Joni Mitchell - Case of You
L.T.D.  - Love Ballad
Luther Vandross - If Only For One Night
Major Harris - Love Won't Let Me Wait
Manhattans - Shining Star
Marvin Gaye - After The Dance
Maxwell - Whenever, Wherever, Whatever
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly - I Wanna Thank You
Merle Haggard - That's The Way Love Goes
Michael Jackson - Lady In My Life
Neil Young - Harvest Moon
Norman Connors - You Are My Starship
O'Jays - Lovin' You
Patti LaBelle - Love, Need and Want You
Peabo Bryson - I'm So Into You
Prince  - Adore
Randy Travis - Forever and Ever, Amen
Ray, Goodman & Brown - Special Lady
Rene & Angela - Your Smile
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway - Closer I Get To You
Rodney Crowell - After All This Time
Rose Royce - Wishing On A Star
Roxy Music - Avalon
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan - Sweet Thing
Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love
Smokey Robinson - Quiet Storm
Spinners - Could It Be I'm Falling In Love
Stevie Wonder - You and I
Stylistics - I'm Stone In Love With You
T-Connection - Best of My Love
Teddy Pendergrass & Stephanie Mills - Feel The Fire
Terence Trent D'Arby - Let's Go Forward
Tom Jones - Move Closer
Tony! Toni! Tone! -  Anniversary
Whispers - Lady
Willie Nelson - Moonlight In Vermont

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Playlist for 2/10

Elvis Presley & Others - Good Rocking Tonight (Bopcat 1974)
Bubblerock Is Here To Stay - Various 
Sound of Sheffield 1978-88 - Various
Mayer Hawthorne - Rare Changes
Jake Blount - Spider Tales
Shirley Collins - Heart's Ease
Beatrice Dillon - Workaround
Shadows at Sixty (BBC Documentary)
Story of Ready Steady Go (BBC Documentary)
Nothing Stays The Same: Story of The Saxon Pub (2019 Documentary)

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: Pretenders - s/t

 At age 16, and thanks to a part-time job,  I started to buy more albums.  I also started relying more on reviews from magazines I subscribed to like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and others that I browsed through at the library.  Often, I would hear a song on the radio first and then buy the album as soon as it was released.  
  The Pretenders debut album in 1980 was one of those.  My recollection of buying it revolves around early reviews calling it one of the best debut albums in a long time.  But in looking at my Billboard chart books, the album appeared on the chart before the single.  But only by a month.  Regardless of how I purchased it, it was one of the first albums that I bought without hearing anything other than the first single.  The debut albums by the Cars and Dire Straits also fit that description.
  The Pretenders is now rightly considered a classic album.  It's their best album, with 1984's Learning to Crawl coming in second.  Chrissie Hynde was a Rock and Roll original.  Definitely an influence on many future Rock women.  It played a big part in my record buying life.  What I heard in "Brass In Pocket" was indeed the real thing. 

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Acts Missing A Greatest Hits Album (Updated 2021)

"Unlike proper albums, which typically have some measure of artistic pretense about them, a greatest hits compilation exists purely as a commercial proposition: all the hits in one place, perfect for casual listeners and newbies. The worst of them feel like hastily tossed-together cash grabs, but the best are so well curated in presenting a fertile period of a career that they are arguably an artist's definitive work — Madonna's The Immaculate Collection, Bob Marley and the Wailers' Legend, Squeeze's Singles 45's & Under, ABBA's Gold and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Greatest Hits all immediately come to mind. The format is a gift to artists who are better at producing singles than coherent album statements, and for cash-strapped consumers who can't go from zero to completist for any given pop star who sparks their interest." - NPR's Matthew Perpetua (7/24/19)

Up until the 2010's, you could always count on a current hitmaker to release a Greatest Hits/Anthology/Compilation album. There were still hold outs.  From the 80's, Metallica and AC/DC have never released a compilation.  From the 90's? Beck, Phish. Sure, European labels continue to release compilations on acts that came before the 1990's.  But the streaming era has ended the need for listeners to seek out a hits album.  Even in the case of Metallica & AC/DC, you can now stream a playlist of their most popular songs. Spotify has This Is & Essentials playlists for most acts.

Record companies love Greatest Hits albums.  An easy way to repackage old songs into a one-stop shop for fans and casual record buyers.  There was a reason so many were released around Christmas time.  

My own record collection is full of Greatest Hits albums.  Even by acts that produced classic albums.  But it has been a few years since I added a 2000 era acts' greatest hits to my collection.  In 2019, Spoon put out a compilation, which is where I got the opening paragraph review from NPR. Finally in 2020, the White Stripes put out a hits collection. And in February 2021, The Weeknd, released a compilation. 

Below are some of my picks.  I've also included acts that were popular before the streaming age. And acts that have Greatest Hits sets, but whose last anthologies were years ago (e.g.Willie Nelson).  

Animal Collective
Anthony Hamilton
Arcade Fire
Ariana Grande
Avett Brothers
Black Keys
Bruno Mars
Daft Punk
Damon Albarn (a compilation of all his Blur side project bands)
Darius Rucker (solo Country hits)
Ed Sheeran
Eric Church
Fall Out Boy
Florida Georgia Line
Fountains of Wayne & Adam Schlesinger (music outside of FOW)
Frank Ocean
Gillian Welch
Good Charlotte
Jason Aldean
Jason Isbell
Jenny Lewis
John Prine (post 00’s)
Kanye West
Katy Perry
Kings of Leon
Lady A (Lady Antebellum)
Lady Gaga
Lana Del Rey
Lil Wayne
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Lucinda Williams
Luke Bryan
Mandy Barnett
Mavericks (post 00’s)
Mayer Hawthorne (including Tuxedo)
Miranda Lambert
Missy Elliot
My Morning Jacket
Neko Case
New Pornographers
One Direction
Raphael Saadiq
Rilo Kiley
Steve Earle (post 90's material)
Taylor Swift
TV On The Radio
Vampire Weekend
Van Hunt
Willie Nelson (post 00's)

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Playlist for 2/4

Sound of Metal (2020 Movie) 
Soul (2020 Movie)
Lovers Rock (2020 Movie)
Lovers Rock (Spotify Movie Playlist)
Cafe Exil - Various (Ace)
This Is Fame 64-68 - Various (Ace)
25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2020 (NY Times Playlist)
Spillage Village - Spilligion
Tony Allen/Hugh Masekela - Rejoice 
KeiyaA - Forever, Ya Girl
RaeLynn - Baytown
Bob Mould - Blue Hearts
Guided By Voices - Styles We Paid For

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: "Snowbird" - Anne Murray

Ther routine in the fall of 1970 was alway the same.  My Mom would drive me and my sister to school.  The short drive was always done with the radio tuned to the local AM Top 40 channel.  My sister often sang along to many of the current hits. The same routine would repeat in the afternoon when school let out. The 70/71 school year was big for me because at age six I was finally entering first grade. It was also my last year in the U.S., before my Dad got stationed in Germany.  Those early morning drives were also my first exposure to AM radio music stations.  It wouldn't be far off for me to say that certain songs from that era stand out because I would hear them almost every morning or afternoon in the car. 

One of the songs I remember hearing on those school drives in the Fall of '70 was Canadian Anne Murray's first hit, "Snowbird", which would end up peaking at #8.  I have vivid memories of having that song stuck in my head during first grade class.  That was another early sign that music was going to play a huge part in my life.  But knowing this at age six?  

Murray would go on to have a great career on the Pop and Country charts.  Her cover of the Beatles "You Won't See Me" from 1974 peaked at #8.  It's one of the best Beatles covers, but is somewhat forgotten today.  It's another song that brings back good memories, of the Summer of '74, in Mannheim, Germany.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Top 25 Most Loved Living Musicians (2021 Edition)

The criteria was pretty simple.  I wanted names that everyone knows.  Musicians who are loved as close to 100% by music fans.

The deaths in the past few years of some of our most famous artists like Prince, B.B. King, David Bowie, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Little Richard, George Michael, Whitney Houston, etc., got me thinking about this subject. 

  1. Paul McCartney
  2. Dolly Parton 
  3. Stevie Wonder
  4. Bob Dylan
  5. Tina Turner
  6. Rolling Stones
  7. Willie Nelson
  8. Tony Bennett
  9. Bruce Springsteen
  10. Elton John
  11. Joni Mitchell
  12. Ringo Starr
  13. Quincy Jones
  14. Smokey Robinson
  15. Loretta Lynn
  16. Brian Wilson
  17. Diana Ross
  18. Paul Simon
  19. Barbra Streisand
  20. Beyonce
  21. Mavis Staples
  22. Tom Jones
  23. Barry Gibb
  24. Stevie Nicks
  25. Neil Diamond
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