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Found 27 results

  1. My wife has been a fan of Glen Hansard for maybe the last half dozen years or so. My first impressions were that he was overwrought. A little too moody for me. Not inventive. Songs sounded too similar. Meh. But....I love my wife. And she's indulged me in my fascination with metal. And besides, I generally love Scottish and Irish music. I'm a huge Silly Wizard fan, for example. So when she suggested we see Glen Hansard at The Anthem, while I initially was not wild about it, I remembered these things and remembered that she's also turned me on to many bands and other performers that I loe dearly so, of course, we set the plans in motion. This concert was a week or two ago. It was GREAT. Tremendous performer and band. A storyteller. Inclusive. Infectious. And clearly I had been doing things wrong. Many songs, while unfamiliar to me absolutely were great. I need to listen to his stuff MORE LOUDLY. And some blew me away. Like this absolute gem. I think they stretched this to about 9 minutes. To say I was elated to see this performed by folks at the top of their game is an understatement.
  2. I accidentally discovered Brandi Carlile when I found out First Aid Kit was coming to Wolf Trap a year or two ago. We'd seen First Aid Kit in Richmond, VA the fall before and we knew we wanted to go see them again. We checked out the headliner and, at first glance, thought pure country - but not so! Still a goodly bit in that direction, but fun stuff. She's riding the line of country an Indie and I like what she and her band do. Here are a few of her tunes. Lots of good stuff in her discography.
  3. Aretha Franklin is an incredible American institution: the Queen of Soul. Her music blended soul and gospel with a powerful emotive voice. I believe she had over 100 top hits. Her voice was dominant in the 1960's and 70's. She literally helped create an incredibly popular music genre. Her voice was beautiful and powerful. She transcended Soul. Currently she is terribly ill and in hospice care. Bless you Aretha. So many examples of her music: I'm often grabbed by scenes from film. Here are a couple of examples: From the Blues Brothers, 1980. Aretha puts the Song Think, from 1968, into a wonderful scene: Chain of Fools Came out in 1967. Below is a rendition from the mid '90's movie Michael in a dance scene I found mesmerizing: And from 2015, not soul, not a film, but Aretha magnificently performing You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
  4. Peter Gabriel left Genesis mainly because he got tired of clashing so much with Tony Banks. He went on to do some pretty good things. "Humdrum" (1977) "Games Without Frontiers" (1980) "Wallflower" (1982) "San Jacino" (1982) This just scratches the surface....Still, I think the tension of Genesis made for something unusual. But I do love what Pete's done on his own.
  5. Steve Hackett is a rather underrated guitarist. Enjoy. From 'Foxtrot' - 'Horizons' From 'Nursery Chryme' - 'Return of the Giant Hogweed' From 'Voyage of the Acolyte' - Hackett's masterpiece 'Shadow of the Hierophant' From another solo work 'Spectral Mornings'. Perhaps one of his most singular iconic pieces he's ever written.
  6. I'm writing this for my mom, who enjoyed listening to Mel Tillis (among many other country-music singers). From what little I knew of him, he seemed like a really nice person. "Longtime Country Singer, Songwriter Mel Tillis Dies" on abcnews.go.com
  7. As my tribute to "Fats" Domino: my favorite song by him, not quite as popular as some of his biggest hits, "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday":
  8. I just noticed to my horror than neither I nor anyone else ever started an Otis Redding thread. Well, now I have. Let me say up front that I don't like, and never have, "Dock of the Bay," Otis's biggest hit which was released just weeks after his death in a plane crash. The plaintive tone of the song and the fact of the singer-songwriter's recent death are what propelled the song to the top of the charts in 1967. I think it's really a ho-hum piece of material, and it has never ceased to bother me that, contrary to what I was taught at home, it uses "dock" to mean "pier" or "wharf" --an eternal no-no, like calling "foot and mouth disease" "hoof and mouth disease", or calling Welsh rabbit "Welsh Rarebit", or saying "My name is Mr. Browne". ("They call me Mr. Browne" would be perfectly acceptable, but "Mr" is part of no one's name.) If someone cares to link to "Dock of the Bay" they may go ahead and do so, but I won't. But among my favorites:
  9. This is a tough one for me. Soundgarden are one of my favorite bands of all time, and Chris Cornell is one of the truly great frontmen and songwriters in rock history. "With Chris Cornell's Death, We've Lost Another of the Grunge Era's Towering Rock Stars, and One of Its Best Songwriters" by Steven Haydn on uproxx.com I have many memories of Soundgarden, including a number of concerts, but my main one is me and my friend, as freshmen in college, heading to Laserdisk in Salem, OR, to pick up Superunknown at midnight when it was released (this was something you did back in the early and mid 90s). Badmotorfinger was such a monster of an album, and we were so excited. We played the heck out of Superunknown that night.
  10. Everybody needs to start somewhere. I'm not saying this to be mean, but Paula Abdul sings no better than I do, and I have the type of voice where I'm embarrassed to sing the National Anthem at sporting events, or hymns in church - my voice is *that* bad: It's very-much-below average. She's not quite singing out-of-tune (although who knows what technical corrections were made?), but there's absolutely *no* talent behind that voice. What does that tell you about technology in pop music? Next time you watch a music video, see if there are any shots of people dancing for longer than 1/2 second, without the camera cutting to a new scene - if there are, and the dancers manage to keep up good moves for 3-4 seconds, then they're a step-above the norm. Paula Abdul became famous because she has a set of core attributes (she's pretty, she sings somewhat on-key, she dances well enough to keep rhythm, she somehow learned how to choreograph), and most importantly, because she had the personality willing to turn herself over to her advisers. She had enough raw material so that the Suits could take technology, and make this very average teenage girl into a false talent. I will add: This is not a knock on Paula Abdul, the person - she had enough smarts to do this, and to reap the benefits from doing it.
  11. It is so much more fitting calling Chuck Berry the pivot from R&B to Rock-n-Roll than it is "Rock Around the Clock" - Berry lived his music, and wasn't just slapped together to take advantage of some new fad. There's nothing wrong with Bill Haley & His Comets per se, but ever since I began to think for myself, I've had an uneasy, "Columbus discovered America"-type of feeling about this song, reinforced after seeing "Blackboard Jungle." From chuckberry.com: "We are deeply saddened to announce that Chuck Berry - beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away at his home today at the age of 90. Though his health had deteriorated recently, he spent his last days at home surrounded by the love of his family and friends. The Berry family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time." "15 Essential Chuck Berry Songs" by Alan Light on mobile.nytimes.com
  12. Sam Cooke sang like an angel come down to earth. His cruelly curtailed career (shot dead in 1964 aged 33) spanned gospel, blues, rock-n-roll, and, towards the end, a kind of jazz-inflected pop that might be at home in Vegas nightclubs. Here are a couple of more-or-less rock-n-roll numbers. "You Send Me" and "Wonderful World" are better known, but I like these more: "Bring it on Home to Me" (1962) "You're Always on my Mind" (1961) Gospel recordings with the Soul Stirrers (1926-), before Sam Cooke was a pop sensation: "Jesus I'll Never Forget" (Recorded in 1954) "I'm Gonna Build Right on that Shore" (Recorded in 1951) Night-Clubby "Fool's Paradise" (Written in 1955, covered on the 1963 Album "Night Beat"): "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" (Written in 1940, covered on the 1961 album, "My Kind of Blues"): As I say, one for the ages.
  13. A friend, who is always mining for gems musically speaking, turned me on to Ted Hawkins several years ago. I only have one of his recordings. "The Next Hundred Years" is well worth checking out. His voice is somehow warm and sweet yet hardened and haunting. There's definitely a bluesy aspect to his music, but also a lot of folk and soul. I can't really think of anyone quite like him. He was a busker at heart; always reluctant to record his music. One of my favorite tunes is "Strange Conversation": I had a strange conversation My baby called me on the phone She said that your next lover's gonna be the blues And now I'm gonna be gone I like his take on Credence Clearwater Revival's "Long As I Can See The Light": Enjoy!
  14. I'm sorry to inform people that Prince passed away today. This article has been confirmed by multiple sources. "Prince Dead at 57" on tmz.com I have a friend who may have been Prince's biggest fan, and I'm not exaggerating. My deepest condolences, LF.
  15. Strictly speaking, Eric Burdon was the lead singer of "Eric Burdon and War", not of "War", which existed outside his participation with it. Eric Burdon had no role in "The Cisco Kid", which was recorded by War, on their great album The World Is a Ghetto, which was entirely Burdon-less. Don't get me wrong: I love Eric Burdon, but only for the work he actually did.
  16. I almost posted this in "Who are you drinking to", but it's probably better here. Maurice White, founder and presiding genius of the group Earth Wind & Fire, died yesterday. They were among the great musical acts of the 1970s. Here's one of their greatest recordings:
  17. One of the greatest and most influential electric guitar-players in the history of electric guitar, his live performances were, well, electrifying: I had the enormous pleasure of catching Freddie King live at the old Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street in Boston, probably about a year after this recording, and man that cat could wail. He had this way of throwing in some really surprising, flawless lick, and then he'd look out at the audience with a sly grin. His set that night was one of the high points of my life. He really tore the house down:
  18. I have a young friend, 30-something, with whom I've been sharing my old musical loves for the last several years, as an educational exercise. He's been very patient about it. When I sent him off to listen to the song "A Salty Dog" by Procol Harum (1969), with a vocal by Gary Brooker that I've always considered breathtaking, he instantly jumped to talking about the drumming, which was by the late B.J. Wilson. And when I listened to the song again, it struck me that without that gob-smacking drum part, the recording would have been unbearable, pretentious drivel. So listen to Gary Brooker's soaring vocal peformance, with a big orchestra and the rock drumming of B.J. Wilson:
  19. I notice there isn't a thread on one of the finest songwriters of the 20th century - Townes Van Zandt. Unlike some other "songwriter's songwriters," I always always prefer Townes' versions of his own songs over the covers. As the (also) great Steve Earle said, "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." "Pancho and Lefty" "Waiting Around to Die" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDymc0CJ6pQ And my favorite of all time: "If I Needed You"
  20. I've sort of run out of steam with the 20th-century chanteuses I was highlighting. Lots and lots of recordings to listen to, of course, but not a lot of my favorite female jazz singers I haven't posted about at least once. So what about the great rock-n-roll singers? I find that almost all of them were men. I'm setting aside R&B and soul singers, like Aretha Franklin, one of the greatest singers of the 20th century (to anyone with any discernment), and ditto James Brown, say, or Otis Redding. It's not a matter of race: Little Richard and Chuck Berry, along with Jimi Hendrix and others, certainly inhabited the world of rock-n-roll, but it became more and more dominated by white artists as time went by in the 50s and into the 60s, and the only black rock-n-roll singer whose star shines in the highest firmament to me is Little Richard, of whom more later. The prominent female rock singers, like Grace Slick and Janis Joplin, are largely over-rated, in my view. Joplin might have become a really great singer, but her career was so terribly short. Probably my favorite female rocker is Marianne Faithfull, but it's hard to put her in the same category as the greatest male r-n-r singers, such as John Lennon. Charlie Pierce famously maintains that the only wrong answer to "what's your favorite Beatles song?" is "Revolution Number 9", a point of view I'm in sympathy with, but can't agree with in the detail. "Revolution Number 9" isn't a song, but there are songs from the white album that are wrong answers: "Piggies" and "Oh-bla-di", for example. But the white album also includes much of John Lennon's best work with the Beatles. Not just his best writing, but his best singing. Take as an extravagantly great example one of my very favorite Beatles songs, probably not well known to generations younger than mine, but which features one of John's most wonderful vocal performances, among other things - "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" (1968): I loved him as if I knew him.
  21. Those familiar with Rod Stewart's later career might be surprised to find his name in this context, but early in his career he was certainly one of the greatest rock singers. Stewart represents to me more wasted potential than just about any other performer I can think of. Here with the Jeff Beck Group on their 1968 debut album Truth with Bonnie Dobson's "Morning Dew." Here's the title track from Stewart's second solo album, Gasoline Alley, released in 1970. The writing credit is to Stewart and his long-time collaborator Ronnie Wood, later of the Rolling Stones.
  22. I was having a private conversation with somebody on this site, and we were agreeing that more than anyone else, the founding father of rock and roll was Chuck Berry. But Chuck Berry wasn't an exceptional singer, or an exceptional guitarist, although he certainly wasn't bad as either. But I would like to put forward the claim that the founder of rock-and-roll singing was Little Richard. When you listen to his mid-fifties iconic vocal performances, you hear prefigured just about everything to come: Elvis, John and Paul, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, John Fogerty, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Jackie Wilson, even Bob Dylan. Prince. But also the R & B and soul artists like James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and even Aretha Franklin. You can hear all of them learning what to do when you listen to, and watch, Little Richard murder "Long Tall Sally" (1956): Comment on this extraordinary exhibition is probably superfluous, although I will point out that it seems remarkably like a minstrel show, except the performers are black rather than in black-face. I'm not entirely sure what to make of that. But my goodness, the joy shines through Little Richard's vocal technique and the expressions on his face and his physical moves. This was a singer who knew what he wanted to do and damn, he did it. It's also remarkable how beautiful he was to look at.
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