Thursday, December 29, 2011
Classic Soul Radio Busts a Mobile Device Move
Pandora’s move to mobile devices is no secret, as they have cornered a large share of the market.
As a live365 broadcaster, I’ve waited for the opportunity to listen to the Powerhouse Radio classic soul (and more) stream from various wireless devices using live365’s platform.
iPhone support came first. Now, Android has followed. The Beta version of the Android App (released in mid 2011) was not stable enough for me to recommend.
The updated 2012 Android App is great. Having a 4g phone provides the best listening experience, although you may not have a constant 4g connection if travelling by car.
On a recent 45 minute drive between downtown Washington, DC, and Baltimore, I tried the live365 App on a Droid Bionic using Verizon Wireless.
The signal got dropped only once in downtown DC, and I can honestly say that it was a better listening experience than satellite radio’s frequent drop outs.
If you are the driver, fiddling with a cell phone/smart phone during transit is something you don’t want to do. When listening this way, I try to set it (the phone), and forget it, until I want to turn the music off.
I also recently tried listening to Powerhouse Radio on a Kindle Fire via the built in web browser. Because Kindle uses a much slower connection speed, I don’t yet recommend listening with this device.
Download the iphone, iPad, and iPod Touch or Android App for live365, from iTunes or the Android Market, (Google Play), and tune us in on your phone!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Michael Jackson Mixes Make Immortal Moves
If you’ve been lucky enough to see the international Michael Jackson Cirque Du Soleil Immortal World Tour going on now through the end of 2012, you’ve heard some ingenious new takes on several M-J classics.
In the show a live band plays his music to accompany the visual story of his life through the movement of the Cirque Du Soleil performers.
After seeing the electrifying show in Las Vegas in December 2011, I wanted the CD version of these new mixes.
The ‘Immortal’ versions of Jackson’s amazing hits are cleverly mixed. If the originals are burned in your memory, it may take you several plays of the revised songs to hear them in a new way.
Some of the tracks are unique. A few have not been included in previously available material.
My favorites include the English – Spanish version of “I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” with Siedah Garrett, an acoustic piano only with vocal version of “I’ll Be There,” and an update to Megamix, now called “Immortal Megamix” featuring “Can You Feel It/Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough/Billie Jean/Black or White.”
There are 20 tracks here, all emphasizing Michael’s voice, from the Jackson 5, Jacksons, and Michael Jackson catalogue.
The use of technology to energize the Michael Jackson experience is to be complemented. In some songs, certain pauses are added, or sped up, just for the right effect, without ruining the soul of the original song.
If you ignored Michael Jackson Immortal when it was released, you should take a second look.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
True Soul Classics from Little Rock Arkansas
In the history of classic soul, the grits n’ grooves city of Memphis in the southwest corner of Tennessee gets much well deserved credit for cultivating the music.
Stax ruled the roost back in the day, with The Soul Children, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MG’s, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding, and an iconic list of artists.
Hundreds of miles to the west in the neighboring state of Arkansas, Lee Anthony was building a local presence by nurturing True Soul Records out of Little Rock in 1968.
Anthony, who graduated from college with an art history degree, gathered a stable of local Little Rock musicians, groups, and artists partly collaborated through the many relationships he built while in school.
Anthony was the entrepreneur and somewhat self-taught recording engineer who put his record studio dream together.
Early on he would record tracks in his Little Rock Studio, and travel to Memphis to press 45 RPM vinyl records he could sell.
Anthony gleaned inspiration along with ideas during numerous trips to Memphis, hanging out with the Stax crowd, attending their events, and observing recording techniques in their studio.
He reflects within the liner notes of the recently released True Soul CD/DVD’s that “I came back to Little Rock and tried to duplicate the instrumentation Stax had.”
One thing about the 32 tracks featured across the two volumes of True Soul. The sound is raw, experimental, and adventurous.
Some describe it as southern soul. These songs sound less like multi-tracked studio creations and more like live slices of real performances from some committed, enthusiastic entertainers.
This multi record set is billed as Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax 60s & 70’s Soul and Funk from Arkansas’s Legendary Independent Label.
You generally wouldn’t call the Stax sound layered and sophisticated in production technique, compared to say Motown, as Stax was closer to the root of basic blues.
The True Soul Records sound even more straightforward than Stax, and are driven by basic uncomplicated instrumental tracks to support the vocals.
Most of these songs were not national or even regional hits.
Reviewing them today captures the essence of how local tastes in American music back in the day could make or break artists.
Today, national and global breakouts are commonplace propelled by satellite networks, computers, YouTube, and iTunes.
I was blown away by the 30 odd pages of photos and liner notes (included in each volume) detailing the interesting history of the True Soul label and it’s place in rhythm and blues history.
I admit this is a story I was not familiar with.
Listen to 90 seconds of “Psychedelic Hot Pants” by York Wilborn’s Psychedelic Six, and learn more about Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax 60s & 70’s Soul and Funk from Arkansas’s Legendary Independent Label True Soul Records.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Ohio Players Album Covers
Pain, Pleasure, and Ecstasy. Album titles with cover art guaranteed to attract even more attention than the funky music inside of the exotic grooves.
Take a Powerhouse Radio slide show trip with the “Fire” and “Skin Tight” Ohio Players from Dayton, Ohio.
Both the album covers, and the players, have a special message for you. Watch and listen.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel
While it’s been a long road since her hits “Fame” and “Flashdance,” Irene Cara continues to make enjoyable music driven by her wonderful voice.
Her 2011 release, Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel, introduces 5 talented young ladies who excel in instrumental virtuosity.
Irene sings lead, co-writes, and produces many of the tracks featuring Hot Caramel, however, the sweet ladies, including Audrey Martells, get their chance to shine in both lead and background vocals.
Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel is a double CD release. CD volume 1 has a distinctly different personality from CD volume 2.
CD 1 has a clear rock edge, although hip hop elements keep the sound contemporary. The songs on CD 1 aren’t especially memorable or distinctive enough to be placed in the unique category, but they are competent and well performed.
"Life in the Fast Lane,” a track popularized by the Eagles, is a strong cover, but doesn’t really showcase the strength of this album, which is found on CD volume 2.
The 2nd CD has much better tracks, with the emphasis on R&B, both traditional and contemporary. To really hear these ladies play, you have to check out “The Best,” a mostly instrumental power track that echoes jazz, rock, and soul.
What I like the most about Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel is that it’s different from today’s predictable formulaic R&B releases. This release is a throwback to an era that specialized in great singing and solid musicianship.
This double album would be better served if the promotional emphasis was directed to the stronger tracks on CD 2, including “Forgive Me,” and “Soul Beat."
Visit Irene Cara’s site, and listen here to 60 seconds of “Forgive Me."
Sunday, July 31, 2011
TSOP Soul Radio Salutes Philadelphia
If your passion is nothing but wall-to-wall Gamble & Huff Philly style sounds, you may want to check out TSOP Soul Radio, an online repository of the best of Philadelphia International Records.
You’ll hear a steady diet of O’Jays, Teddy Pendegrass, MFSB, and more. An appealing element of listening to TSOP Soul Radio is the deep track selection, playing almost everything from the Philadelphia International Records catalogue.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Michael Jackson's Solo Timeline
Here’s a video flashback looking at the major albums released by Michael Jackson.
June 25, 2011, is the 2nd anniversary of his death.
The index of his picture book, Michael Jackson: The Man In The Mirror, 1958 - 2009, lists over 60 MJ solo singles released Between 1968 - 2003.
His very first single was “Let Me Carry Your School Books” in 1968, followed by “Got To Be There” in 1971.
Watch and listen to this 2 minute video tribute we enjoyed producing.
Monday, June 13, 2011
20 Years of Mary J. Blige
Why watch the calendar until 2012! It’s been almost 20 years we’ve enjoyed Mary J. Blige.
Watch and listen to our special tribute.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Janet Jackson is all True for You
Inadequate self-esteem resulting from unjustified anxiety. That’s the big take-away from Janet Jackson’s 2011 self-help - autobiography: True You.
As Janet describes it, “fear and uncertainty lead to feeling bad about myself."
Along with writer David Ritz, Janet informally details important life transitions that helped her bridge the growth gap between youth and maturity.
You won’t find a discography of her music in the appendix. You won’t find a list of all of her awards.
What True You successfully reveals is how the youngest of the famous Jackson siblings finally found independence from certain ingrained family values that ultimately allowed her to break free into a new image, body, career, and love comfort zone.
True You is surprisingly different from the expected ‘tell all’ tone of other bios, written by music celebrities, who usually attract readers by sharing seedy tabloid tales.
I like how Janet strategically incorporates some powerful fan letters into her own story to illuminate universal themes of struggle, hurt, pain, and loss.
This book is dedicated to her late brother, Michael. Janet talks vibrantly about their special close relationship.
Down to earth details document siblings who are not hung-up on their celebrity.
Janet relates fond memories about her youngest years with ‘Mike.’ Michael would repeatedly drive the two to different Los Angeles fast food restaurants, buy lots of goodies, and then go to areas in the city populated by the homeless to distribute the food.
Food fables dominate True You. Janet’s battle of the bulge are well documented, including her 2008 drop from 180 to 120 pounds.
A lifetime of eating and yo-yo dieting are the outcomes of Janet’s sensitive personality as she would react to teasing, criticism, and professional demands by turning to food.
I enjoyed the Afterword “It’s Not a Diet,” written by her nutritionist David Allen, who in analyzing their long-term interactions stresses that changes in lifestyle, balanced meals, and adequate sleep were crucial in order for Janet to reach her goals.
"True You” closes with nearly 80 pages of recipes designed by Janet Jackson and cooked for her by Chef Andre. Some of the suggestions detail the preparation of “Veggie Baked Eggs,” (kid friendly) “Baked Oven Fries,” and “Honey Yogurt with Peaches and Toasted Almond Parfait."
Janet ends her self help - autobiography story with these words of guidance:
- “Proper nutrition”
- “Restorative sleep”
- “Wholesome foods”
- “Self-care, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Bravo Janet. Sunshine with plenty of warmth beams through True You. Nasty!
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Grammy Boots Soul to the Curb
In a move designed to downsize the density of awards, the Grammys are streamlining their portfolio of potential winners for 2012.
Categories are being sliced, diced, and reduced to 78 from 109.
Some separate male and female awards will be combined into new categories.
The R&B area was hammered pretty hard. 8 awards have been cut to 4. A review of the awards category restructuring page at Grammy.org reveals that “Best R&B Performance” will take the place of these 4 eliminated classifications:
- Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (dropped)
- Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (dropped)
- Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals (dropped)
- Best Urban/Alternative Performance (dropped)
As a result of discontinuing the “Best Female R&B vocal performance” and “Best Male R&B vocal performance,” “The Best R&B Performance” now becomes highly competitive.
Hip hop lost only one category dropping from 5 to 4.
A date for the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012 has not been announced. Look for the show in February. Hopefully it will be shorter, and more entertaining.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Masters of Funk Tour 2011 Rolls on
Pictured, The Bar-Kays. The Masters of Funk 2011 World Tour rolls on. Here’s the transcript of my interview with James JJ Underwood of JEA Right Now Records talking about the tour.
You can also listen to my Masters of Funk Tour 2011 interview that features the Bar-Kays latest release “Return of the Mack."
King: This is King from powerhouseradio.com and I am on the line with James JJ Underwood and JJ is the Office Manager for JEA Right Now Records. How you doing JJ?
James JJ Underwood: I am doing fine, how about you there?
King: I am hangin’, I am hangin’ in, feeling pretty good today. We want to talk to you a little bit about the Masters of Funk World Tour, which is featuring some of the great classic soul bands like the Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun, Sugarfoot’s, Ohio Players. I see you have a lot of different groups that are actually part of this tour but my understanding is not every group appears at every show. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
James JJ Underwood: Yes, we mix it up a little for every different venue that we go to. The tours’ actually been going on for two to three years now. but we mix it up and give each city a little different taste of each group; because there are like 20 Bands involved in the tour, out of those 20 Bands like 4, or 5 bands perform at each venue. So we kind of spice it up a little and give the people a little bit of everything as far as the funk and the soul goes.
King: Now I see you guys are going to be in Detroit on April 2nd, 2011, so are you in the middle of the tour for the season. How many more dates do you have coming up in 2011?
James JJ Underwood: We go to Detroit April 2nd, Chicago April 23rd, we do Memphis in May then we go to St. Louis in June. There is pretty much two dates a month, until the year is out for the Masters of Funk. People really want to see this, they missed all the soul and funk groups. then, the live music people, are still really interested in the live music so the tour is going really well.
King: Is there any particular group among those that we have mentioned the Bar-Kays, Dazz Band, Sugarfoot’s, Ohio Players, Brick, Klymaxx, Mary Jane Girls, any one of these group at every show, do you have like a foundation group, or is it subject to change every show?
James JJ Underwood: It is subject to change every show it is usually, what the fans usually request. For Phoenix we had Cherelle, the Dazz Band, Con Funk Shun and it was sell out and that’s what people wanted to see in Phoenix.
King: Where could people go to get the complete schedule of the Masters of Funk Tour?
James JJ Underwood: You can go to www.bar-kays.net. There is a complete list of all the tour dates. www.bar-kays.net, a complete list of everything.
King: I am King from powerhouseradio.com, we’re talking with JJ Underwood, he’s with JEA Right Now Records. JJ you have mentioned that the tour is going through the end of the year, is that right into November and December?
James JJ Underwood: Yeah, right until November and December.
King: So tell me about this new Bar-Kays song, Return of the Mack, I was just listening to it its pretty good. How did they get involved in putting this one out there?
James JJ Underwood: Mr. Larry Dodson, he likes to stay current with his music, and he is always coming up with something and he came up with this. I think it’s really a hit, it’s real current it still has the funk to it and it really displays the creativeness the Bar-Kays, still have.
King: And tell everybody who Larry Dodson is?
James JJ Underwood: Larry Dodson is the lead singer of the Bar-Kays.
King: Alright, say JJ I want to thank you very much for talking to us about the Masters of Funk Tour 2011, and you said the tour has been going for a couple of years. I hope in 2012 that you’re back at it one more time.
James JJ Underwood: Thanks for having me I appreciate it.
The Masters of Funk World Tour - 2011
- Saturday, April 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan featuring: The Dazz Band, The Bar-Kays, Zapp, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players
- Saturday, May 7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin featuring: The Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, Zapp, The Dazz Band
- Friday, June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri featuring: The Bar-Kays, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, The Dazz Band
- Saturday, June 11 in Louisville, Kentucky, featuring: The Bar-Kays, Slave, The Dazz Band
- Saturday, July 16 in Nashville, Tennessee featuring: Slave, The Bar-Kays, The Dazz Band
- Saturday, August 20 in Kansas City, Missouri Featuring: The Bar-Kays, Slave, The Dazz Band
Audio • Concerts • Interview • Tour • Video • (0) Comments • Permalink
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Raphael Saadiq is Stone Rollin' Soul
Former Tony! Toni! Tone! talent Raphael Saadiq continues to take retro soul forward with Stone Rollin’, a new album scheduled for release Tuesday, May 10, 2011.
Saadiq is a contemporary evangelist for 70’s soul style. He champions the cause with a track record of solid releases that stay true to his classic soul sensibility.
Raphael, AKA Raphael Wiggins, hails from Oakland, California. He toured with Prince and Sheila E. briefly in the 1980’s, before forming Tony! Toni! Tone! at the end of the decade.
Stone Rollin’ is Saadiq’s 5th solo album.
Put aside 38 minutes, and watch Raphael Saadiq live in concert, performing at the 2011 SXSW (South by Southwest) festival.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Janet Jackson and Friend
Right now is always a good time to have some fun with Janet Jackson. Enjoy Janet and Friend. Do you know who the friend is?
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Dionne Warwick Opens Her Soul in My Life as I See It
Dionne Warwick says in her new autobiography, My Life As I See It, released in November, 2010, that a typo misprint on her first single “Don’t Make Me Over” changed her surname from Warrick to Warwick.
When her astrologer created a numerological chart in the 1970’s, the astrologer suggested adding an “e” to Warwick to create “stronger vibrations."
As Dionne says, “that meant every contract, advertisement, and record cover had to reflect the change."
She explains that record sales dipped, so “I went about getting it taken off all contracts, marquees, and future album covers."
My Life As I See It is a very enjoyable read, as Dionne covers every aspect of her life.
Her grandfather was a minister. She reflects on how people describe her vocal style as “classical or pop, but gospel has been and always will be first and foremost in my world of music."
Dionne Warwick finally released her first gospel album in 2008, Why We Sing. She credits gospel with making her a better pop singer.
Here is an artist who spans the decades from the early 1960’s to now. She began as a demo track and background singer in New York City, commuting from her home state of New Jersey.
When her solo career took off (propelled by songs created by the Hal David - Burt Bacharach writing team), she hit the road to tour. Dionne’s stories about experiencing 1963 “Jim Crow” racism travelling through the South echo what my other artists in the early 1960’s endured.
Apart from her own talent, Ms. Warwick has glorious singing family connections, including her late sister Dee Dee, aunt Cissy Houston, Cousin Whitney Houston, and cousin Leontyne Price.
Excellence takes hard work, and Dionne was no slouch. She took piano lessons every week from age six until her early twenties.
When those singers she respected played within a 100 miles radius of one of her performances, she would go to their shows (Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Sammy Davis Jr.), etc., with a legal pad, ask to be seated in the rear of the room with a direct line of sight to the stage, and take notes about every relevant detail of the performance.
She has real bachelor and master’s degrees in music.
Dionne speaks frankly about whether her style is black enough.
She says receiving the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 2003 was satisfying “to be honored by a sector of the industry that never thought of me as an R&B singer."
"My crossover appeal was one of the factors in my success. My music was played on African American stations as well as white radio stations."
"Ironically, my crossover success in pop prompted something that came as a big surprise: the decline of airplay for my records on African American radio."
When the top New York City R&B station WWRL held off adding “Alfie” to their playlist, Warwick recalls that when the song reached number one (and was finally added by the station), she telephoned into dj Rocky G. while he was playing the song and asked “Why are you playing that white girl’s record?"
G. answered, “That is no white girl, and who is this?” Dionne’s reply: “This is the one you told was too white to play on your show, This is Dionne.” The two laughed about that incident for many years to come.
This anecdote reveals the professional aggressiveness that pushes Dionne Warwick forward through a ground breaking career of many firsts.
- 1968 - First African American since Ella Fitzgerald to win Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Grammy.
- 1979 - First female solo artist to win Grammy awards in pop & R&B in the same year.
- In the 1980’s she was one of the first artists to develop a fragrance, “Dionne.”
- 1980 - 1988. She is one of the first African American females to host a music variety television program (season one and season five) of Solid Gold.
- Say a Little Prayer, her first children’s book, was published in 2008.
You get the sense that Dionne Warwick has clear values with focus, a factor that has contributed to her success.
She talks about embracing collaborations with Barry Manilow leading to the massive hits “Deja Vu” and “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” but being highly fearful about the “Heartbreaker” song project with the Bee Gees.
Dionne explains about several Bee Gees member Barry Gibb songs presented to her: “one I thought was just not me was “Heartbreaker.” “I did not like it."
Finally giving in to producer Gibb, Ms. Warwick adds “needless to say, I was wrong, and he was right. “Heartbreaker became one of my biggest international hits to date."
I’ll close with this Warwick - Mary J. Blige encounter, which gives you further incite into ‘the soul of Dionne.’
In the 1990’s, Warwick participated in organizing talent for a show Celebrate the Soul of American Music.
This program gave her the opportunity “to meet Mary J. Blige. “She was “rough” around the edges at the beginning of her career. But she was an important part of the new sounds that were defining rap and hip-hop."
"Why she had been asked to do this show, I don’t know, because the Stellar Awards honors the gospel community. But there she was, showing up to rehearse in her fatigues and combat boots."
"When the dress rehearsal for cameras was about to begin, most artists brought out what they would be wearing to show the colors. Ms. Blige was still in fatigues and combat boots."
"I asked if she would bring out what she intended to wear on the show. In not such a ladylike way, she let me know that she had on what she was going to wear."
"I had to say that what she had on was not appropriate for the show."
"I told her I could send one of the stylists out to get her something. But, without missing a beat, she again let me know in no uncertain terms that she was wearing what she had on."
"I then said she would have to wear that somewhere else, because she was no longer on the show."
"I ran into her again a few years later at the inaugural ground-breaking ceremony of the Magic Johnson Theatres in Harlem and I almost didn’t recognize her."
"She was beautifully dressed to the nines."
"She approached me and asked if I remembered her, and I said I did. She thanked me for opening her eyes to the reality of who she should be and now was."
"Watching her become someone to respect within her community of young entertainers has been great."
"She is now the epitome of positive imagery and high self-esteem."
"She has fought the battle with negativity and won the war. Thank you, Mary J. Blige, for being."
And thank you Dionne Warwick, for an eye-opening book, an amazing career, and your trailblazing pioneer efforts since the early 1960’s.
Watch and listen to Dionne Warwick’s live performance of “Alfie,” from 1993 in Brazil.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Chris Jasper Does Everything
Chris Jasper refined the famous Isley Brothers sound in the 1970s and 1980s.
The classically trained musician incorporated his mastery of keyboards and synthesizer to clearly brand the signature Isley guys groove.
I enjoyed the last Jasper solo release in 2007. You can read my comments in the article Chris Jasper’s Journey from the Isley Brothers to Invincible.
Before Christmas of 2010, I received both his new CD, Everything I Do, plus Addictive, a dance/pop/techno album by his 17 year old son Michael.
Even though I listened to these releases right away, both have been sitting on the shelf for weeks because of personal distractions.
Sick family members and friends, a fire that destroyed our office building, and two computer server moves by the powerhouseradio.com web hosting company really complicated the last 7 weeks.
Life goes on. One thing on the immediate to do list was to spotlight the new Chris Jasper CD.
This album is stronger than 2007’s Invincible.
You’ll find more funk in the grooves. Spiritual themes that dominated the songs of Invincible are muted on Everything I Do.
An acknowledgment of a higher spiritual power is still present in many of these new tracks. The tone of these songs: less preachy and more secular.
- “Everything I Do”
- “Doing My Thing”
- “In Your Face”
- “Nobody But My Baby”
- “Stand Up”
- “He’s The Judge”
- “One Time Love”
- “Don’t Take Your Love Away”
Isley Brothers fans will be interested in this new Chris Jasper effort.
"He’s the Judge"and “One Time Love” are 2 of my favorites. Listen to 60 seconds of “He’s the Judge” by Chris Jasper.