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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

El DeBarge gets a Second Chance

What has El DeBarge been doing for the past 16 years? A trifecta of occasionally making some music, experiencing some rough times, and rediscovering the magic of songwriting.

In 2008, he teamed up with George Clinton and his Gangsters of Love.

Best known as the lead voice for “Rhythm of the Night,” “Who’s Holding Donna Now,” and other group hits with DeBarge, El’s solo career has charted reasonable success.

Read the complete El DeBarge story at his official website.

He’s scheduled to release Second Chance, a new album of songs on Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

The already released title cut is charming, featuring El DeBarge’s high register vocal trademark.  Watching the video, I’m reminded of Lionel Richie, as “Second Chance” pushes El DeBarge squarely into soulful adult contemporary territory.

Watch the video and see if you like the song.

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Posted by King on 08/18 at 12:30 AM
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Winstons Color Him Father

"Color Him Father” is one of those rare positive message songs that graced the classic soul - pop radio airwaves back in 1969.

Washington, DC’s the Winstons created this song.

Fast forward to 2010, as a new group of Winstons under the direction of trademark owner Joe Phillips continues to keep the sound alive.

Although none of the original members from the 1969 crew are in the current group, the new Winstons have been performing since 1996.

They’ve released a new 4-song EP disc with: “Don’t Blame It On Me,” “Still,” “Good Single Lady,” and “Put Your Hands Up.”

My favorite, “Put Your Hands Up” (for your father), salutes those great dads who take care of business.

“Still" captures the sound of love by staying true to the Commodores original.

"Good Single Lady” gets going with the Johnnie Taylor “Disco Lady” rhythm.

Novelty hooks are great to generate a buzz about a song, and the EP title track “Don’t Blame It On Me” has one.

There’s comical amusement in the serious message scorning those deadbeat dads who refrain : ‘The kid is not my son.’ We’ve heard this before in “Billie Jean."

Listen for yourself to 59 seconds of “Don’t Blame It On Me,” but first...watch the Winstons perform their classic “Color Him Father."

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Posted by King on 05/06 at 01:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jeffrey Osborne Goes all the Way with LTD

Jeffrey Osborne has had a marvelous career.

He moved from behind the drum kit to center stage as lead vocalist for L.T.D., Love Togetherness & Devotion.

From 1969 to the present, Osborne has dived into funk, soul, and ballads propelled by powerful pipes pushing his resonant voice forward.

In 2009, Greatest Hits Live! was released, featuring a solid mix of L.T.D. and solo Jeffrey Osborne hits.

It’s a strong showcase of his deep catalog.

Take a look through the track list, then listen to 25 seconds of L.T.D.’s “Holding On” sung live by Jeffrey on this album.

  1. “We’re Going All The Way”
  2. “Don’t Get So Mad / medley I Don’t Need No Light”
  3. “Only Human”
  4. “Party Hearty”
  5. “Stranger”
  6. “Stay With Me”
  7. “Close the Door”
  8. “On the Wings of Love”
  9. “Holding On”
  10. “Concentrate On You”
  11. “We Both Deserve Each Other’s Love”
  12. “Love Ballad”
  13. “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song)”
  14. “Back In Love Again”
  15. “I’ll Be Around”

As of this writing, here are Jeffrey Osborne’s 2010 tour dates through October.

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Posted by King on 04/27 at 09:00 PM
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Can Record Store Day Save a Sinking Ship?

Album sales are down 6.1 percent in the first 3 month of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

They add that for the first time, iTunes and CD sales online have passed the traditional big box retailers.

Amazon and their digital brethren now make up the largest distribution channel for music, and for good reason.

Big boxers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have dropped the ball when challenged with stocking a satisfactory variety of the newest music being released.

You’ll always find the A-list performers in their racks, but you are hard pressed to find a deep selection of new music representing a variety of artists from different niche genres.

Jazz, soul, and R&B are frequent victims of this trend.

Bookstores including Encore and Barnes and Noble do a better job stocking tunes, but as with the big box stores, music sales no longer represent a growth area.

The digital music download world is hurting too.

Nielsen SoundScan says that downloads experienced their first year-to-year quarterly sales decline ever, falling about 1 percent between January 1 and April 4.

In the same period in 2009, digital download sales were up 13 percent over 2008.

CD’s will eventually go the way of the horse and buggy, just as electric vehicles will slowly take market share from gas engine cars.

Computers inevitably crash, and unless you back everything up, there’s still a better element of permanency when investing in compact discs.

The CD for many is still an important part of their music collection.

Once upon a time, the best place in town to salivate over new releases and bountiful catalogs was the record store.

I worked in an independent record store for 3 years part-time as a teenager.

Today, only the bigger cities can still support the few independent record emporiums that are left.

In Philadelphia, my favorite is Sound of Market Street (JazSound), surviving in 2010 with an awesome collection of CD’s (and vinyl discs).

A worldwide event has been created to spotlight stores just like Sound of Market (JazSound).

Saturday, April 17 will mark the 3rd annual Record Store Day.

RecordStoreDay.com says that the original idea for this promotion was “conceived by Chris Brown, and was founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally."

The website further amplifies the concept explaining “this is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music."

"Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances."

Record Store Day is now celebrated on the 3rd Saturday every April.

At RecordStoreDay.com, I did a random ‘search by state’ to see what was happening in Texas.  Over 50 independent record stores came up in the Lone Star State, so there still is a heartbeat left in this disappearing institution that’s now on life-support.

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Posted by King on 04/15 at 01:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Angelique Kidjo OYO

Back in 2002 on Powerhouse Radio, I started playing “Iwoya,” an Angelique Kidjo duet with Dave Matthews from her album, Black Ivory Soul, released that year.

Kidjo is a unique artist from West Africa, (Benin), mixing it up with a potpourri of eclectic world rhythms and soulful funky beats.

She’s just released her 9th album, OYO, singing in both traditional and English languages.

James Brown’s “Cold Sweat,” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” (with John Legend & Bono) are a couple of the English language tracks.

Don’t worry about the language barrier, as this is universal music.

Kidjo has unfortunately never received a lot of exposure in the USA.  Perhaps this time around with a new album, things will change.

Her current tour is catering to her European fan base, with these 2010 dates:

  • April 11, Krefield, Germany - Kulturfabrik
  • April 12, Berlin, Germany - Kesselhaus
  • April 13, Hamburg, Germany - Fabrik
  • April 15, Frankfurt, Germany - Botfabrik
  • April 16, Cully, Switzerland - Cully Jazz Festival
  • April 17, Paris, France - La Cigale
  • April 20, Copenhagen, Denmark - Amager Bio
  • April 21, Helsinki, Finland - Savoy Theatre
  • April 22, Oslo, Norway - Cosmopolitan
  • April 24, Stockholm, Sweden - Götakällaren

Watch Angelique Kidjo & Joss Stone perform “Gimme Shelter,” a blast from the past.

Listen to Angelique, John Legend, and Bono sing “Move on Up” (59 seconds) from her new album, OYO.

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Posted by King on 04/06 at 09:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jackie Wilson the Legend

The man known as “Mr. Excitement” began and ended his career as a member of a group.

He sang with the Dominoes in 1951.  In 1975, Jackie Wilson, the singer and the showman, performed the lead vocal for the Chi-Lites on “Don’t Burn No Bridges."

In the period between these 2 groups, the explosive solo career path of Jackie Wilson paved the way for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

As a 16 year old amateur Golden Gloves welterweight boxing champion in 1950, Sonny Wilson pretended to be 18 to qualify for the sport.

Luckily for the music world, Sonny Wilson would abandon boxing to thankfully morph into Jackie Wilson and launch his singing career just one year later.

By 1960, vocal sensation Jackie would break the one week attendance record at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

He lived with a bullet in his stomach that could not be removed, the result of a 1961 encounter with a Juanita Jones, a female fan, who shot him in his New York City apartment.

There would be more tragedy for Jackie, as he suffered a 1975 heart attack on stage in the Philadelphia area while singing his classic “Lonely Teardrops” at the Latin Casino dinner theater in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

With 47 songs on the R&B charts, and at least 54 in the top 100 pop singles chart, Jackie Wilson’s 17-year-plus solo career is the stuff of legends.

His voice sends chills up and down your spine.  Just listen to “Baby Workout” if you have any doubts.

Jackie Wilson died on January 21, 1984.  His music lives on for new generations to enjoy.

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Posted by King on 03/30 at 09:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Sound of Philadelphia Challenge

Do you know your Philadelphia International Records classic soul?

Try the Sound of Philadelphia challenge just for fun.

All of the clues in this original game are easy, except for one!

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Posted by King on 03/02 at 01:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recycled Soul Gold Meets Motorcity Hits

When A Soulful Tale of Two Cities, the Detroit - Philadelphia R&B connection was released in 2006, it seemed we had just about reached the creative limit in the reincarnation of classic soul hits.

Now in 2010 comes Motorcity Hits...Real Music Is Back, a new 17 song collection featuring fresh takes on divine Detroit ditties.

The Four Tops, the Dramatics, the Miracles, the Contours with Joe Billingslea, the Original Vandellas, Freda Payne, and other artists are featured.

Be sure to listen to the 60 second montage I’ve created from three of the featured tracks.

One thing is certain, there is an eager market for vintage classic soul, but at what point will we become oversaturated with these infinite recorded retakes?

The original versions are burned into our memories just like our a-b-c’s.

Will you accept essentially carbon copy updates?

I do like the sparser instrumental treatment these songs receive.

Freda Payne (pictured here) sounds just as good as she did back in the day.

I don’t believe the producers wanted to meticulously duplicate the sophisticated layering of the Motown originals.

The updated arrangements salute the originals, but reflect an instrumental slickness that sings “2010."

Here are the tracks:

  1. “Hitsville Hall Of Fame” - Various Artists
  2. “Money” - Paul Hill featuring Barrett Strong
  3. “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” - the Four Tops
  4. “Baby Come Close” - Keith Washington
  5. “Leavin You” - the Miracles
  6. “Needle In The Haystack” - the Velvelettes
  7. “Love Machine” - the Miracles
  8. “Bad Girl” - the Dramatics
  9. “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” - Paul Hill
  10. “Even If My Heart Would Break” - the Contours with Joe Billingslea
  11. “Band Of Gold” - Freda Payne
  12. “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” - Paul Hill Featuring George Clinton
  13. “Miles Away” - the Four Tops
  14. “Do You Love Me” - the Contours with Joe Billingslea
  15. “Since I Fell For You” - Laura Lee
  16. “Dancing In The Street” - the Original Vandellas
  17. “Baby I’m For Real” - Duane Parham featuring Pat Lewis

Laura Lee, (left), takes the Lenny Welch serenade “Since I Fell For You,” plugs in an intro rap, and sings her heart out.

There are original members still with us from many of these groups.

The Motor City Hits Records website has some interesting links about these personalities in their artist(s) information section.

Listen to 60 seconds of: the Four Tops, Freda Payne, and Laura Lee from Motorcity Hits...Real Music Is Back.

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Posted by King on 02/16 at 09:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Classic Single and Album Cover Collections

According to Royal Mail, “the album cover has been the medium of choice for some of the world’s great graphic artists. Their work has not only reflected many musical cultures, but helped define them too. These images give a visual language to music that has influenced generations."

A press release from Royal Mail caught our eye, as they have just released ten iconic classic album covers as part of their 2010 stamp program.

Thousands of album covers were reviewed through various lists and polls.  The result, a UK centric collection of images that include album covers from David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones.

Let’s not forget about all of those 45 RPM sleeves that showcased creative graphic designer excellence.

For a great collection of single song picture sleeve covers, perfect for wallpaper, check out PictureSleevePop.com.

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Posted by King on 01/12 at 08:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Flamingos Flock to the Christmas Song

The Flamingos featuring Terry Johnson have just released a classy 2009 rendering of “The Christmas Song."

You’ll like this ‘retro harmony’ version from these doo wop legends who are in both the Vocal Group and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It’s been a long time since their iconic smash, “I Only Have Eyes for You,” hit the charts in the late 1950s.

"The Christmas Song” is Terry Johnson’s first Flamingos release since 1962 and is The Flamingos’ first-ever holiday recording.

Listen to 30 seconds of “The Christmas Song,” and visit Terry’s website: Terry Johnson’s Flamingos.

Bonus: Don’t miss my 2006 article: “Baltimore Flamingo Terry Johnson Soars to the Sky."

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Posted by King on 12/08 at 01:00 AM
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Friday, December 04, 2009

Steve Arrington Slides into a Pure Funk Thang

I was pleasantly surprised with the good news about Steve Arrington’s new 2009 release, Pure Thang, a collection containing 17 tracks.

Arrington was the vocalist fronting Slave, and Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame.

These groups brought us “Just a Touch of Love,” Slide,” Weak at The Knees,” as well as other hits.

When Steve left classic soul to become a minister in the early 1990’s, one assumed that his funky grooves would forever take a back seat to sacred melodies.

Like the metamorphosis of Al Green, and to a greater extent former Isley Brother Chris Jasper, Pure Thang keeps a legacy sound authentic while seeding the songs with positive spiritual messages.

This record is definitely a funk album, however Steve subtlety works in lyrical references to reflect his faith and beliefs while keeping the devotional anecdotes about love respectful.

There are lots of positive messages to pick up on between the funky grooves.

Pure Thang is heavy on the bass and percussion, a signature Steve Arrington treatment.

He plays most of the instruments on several tracks.  Guest musicians round out the sound on other songs throughout the project.

Arrington has his own style.  He improvises a lot lyrically travelling through these tunes while keeping the pace lively.

You’ll find two instrumentals, “Coolin” and “Sunrise.” These are jazzy mid tempo movements providing a couple of ‘time out’ breaks from his gritty n’ glorious groove.

The ballad “Song for Coretta and Rosa” is an ode to two great women of civil rights history.

Spiritual shout outs don’t distract from the fun as the tone of Pure Thang is to entertain rather than to preach.

My favorite track is “Soul Food,” a driving culinary confection complete with yummy references to ‘stick to your ribs’ delights.

Arrington praises all things wonderful at the dinner table, including family, tradition, and history.  He then tips his hat to both Marvin Gaye, and the Staple Singers.

"Right On Time” talks about the beauty of a romantic relationship blessed and guided by virtuous good.

In “The Devil Can’t Sing Amazing Grace,” Steve asserts that ‘the devil doesn’t run the show any more.’

"It’s True” follows the ‘devil’ track and pulls no punches with it’s message of salvation.

Steve reminds us with glee that ‘you know this funk it’s got power’ in “Power.” Funk rules.

Overall, Pure Thang is a welcome return for Steve Arrington.  When an artist writes, arranges, and produces their own album, it’s hard to objectively balance the right mix of creative variety while you wear all the hats.

I think some additional collaboration with other talent might have pushed Steve a little further.  With that said, the stand-out tracks help sustain continuity throughout the release.

The arrangements are not overly elaborate, keeping the funk groove up front without complicated distractions.

Listen to 30 seconds of “Holla” from Pure Thang, and visit Steve Arrington’s official website.

Steve Arrington Pure Thang:

  1. “Right Here Right Now”
  2. “I’m on Fire”
  3. “Time To Ride”
  4. “Nobody Else”
  5. “I Like What You Do”
  6. “Song For Coretta and Rosa”
  7. “Coolin”
  8. “Right There”
  9. “Power”
  10. “Holla”
  11. “Sunrise”
  12. “Tones”
  13. “Soul Food”
  14. “Pure Thang”
  15. “Right On Time”
  16. “The Devil Can’t Sing Amazing Grace”
  17. “It’s True”

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Posted by King on 12/04 at 01:00 AM
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Temptress Tina Turner Tantalizes at 70

Anna Mae Bullock, the international diva from Brownsville, Texas, celebrates her 70th birthday as Tina Turner on Thursday, November 26, 2009.

She has a wonderful 3 minute video on TinaTurnerLive.com featuring recent concert footage that includes her reflections about 50 years in the music business.

Tina says in the video that her act is still rock n’ roll, but she’s added more entertainment to her repertoire.

Given her dynamic visual appeal, bombastic vocal range, and trailblazing crossover success, she’s being humble with that statement!

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Posted by King on 11/23 at 07:28 PM
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hip Hop Gods are Disciples of Classic Rap Web Site

Here’s the “honorary” official time keeper of the new website, HipHopGods.com.

Public Enemy’s Flava Flav wants you to check in for news, information, videos, content and commentary about classic old school hip hop.

The plan for this site is to immortalize the legends of the genre.

Check out the HipHopGods.com news page, poke through their blogs, (written by Darryl Mack, Chuck D., and others), and watch some of the classic videos from back in the day.

HipHopGods.com has a nice clean look.  Visually, it’s well designed.

One suggestion: where’s the search engine?  Maybe I missed it, but you’ve gotta have one of those.

To get the VIP content, you should register with the site.

A big shout out to Public Enemy for their excellent Washington, DC show yesterday (November 18), to benefit homeless youth.  Thank you Chuck D. for turning everyone on to the HipHopGods.com website.

See 18 of my 134 photos from the benefit concert on the new Powerhouse Radio Facebook fan page.

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Posted by King on 11/19 at 10:15 PM
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Picture Sleeve Pop Features 45 RPM Record Memorabilia

Once upon a time, before the dawn of the compact disc, popular songs were creatively marketed using visual art to tease interest in the new releases.

A cottage industry driven by music fans quickly blossomed as collectors enthusiastically embraced these colorful slices of culture containing cool images.

Oh yeah, the music was pretty good too!

45 RPM vinyl records were a showcase for picture sleeve pop…the images of Elvis, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the stars.

Charles Szabla has written Goldmine 45 Rpm Picture Sleeve Price Guide, one of the best definitive reviews about the artful genre.

You’ll find these pictures sleeves offered by collectors worldwide all over the Internet.

I started collecting these sleeves when I was 12 years old, and I have a ton of them.  That’s why I created a showcase for them, PictureSleevePop.com.

Classic soul, classic pop, and classic rock are all represented, so relive some magical memories, grab some wallpaper, and take a look at my personal collection of original picture sleeves from the 1960s through the 1980s.

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Posted by King on 11/10 at 09:00 AM
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bootsy Collins, Teena Marie, Klymaxx, and ZAPP! get Unsung

TV One will be profiling more vintage R&B talent on the 2nd season of their revealing documentary showcase: Unsung.

To the lovers of classic soul, Bootsy Collins, Teena Marie, Klymaxx, and ZAPP! are successful performers with large fan bases.

Unsung explores the premise that these artists peaked professionally at a level somewhat short of the massive impact of some bigger superstars, however, they deserve an investigative nod for their valuable contributions.

Catch the new shows beginning Sunday, November 1, 2009, on TV One.

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Posted by King on 10/15 at 07:30 PM
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