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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gwen McCrae's New Look at TK Hits

This review is from Frost Illustrated - Fort Wayne, Indiana, “Gwen McCrae’s New Look at TK Hits..."

"There’s an old saying cautioning that you can’t capture lightning in a bottle. But, sometimes-especially when you’re a premier talent-you can come awfully close.

That’s the impetus behind legendary TK Records founder Henry Stone’s latest project, “Gwen McCrae Sings TK” by Gwen McCrae (HSM 6001-2/Phat Sound Promotions).

If you were alive and kicking during the ‘70s, TK has got to be implanted on your soul somewhere. With Stone at the helm, the company produced an astonishing 32 gold and platinum hits-particularly in the disco genre leaning toward the soul side.

Stone assembled an impressive stable of energetic artists, who later became industry icons, including Latimore, KC & the Sunshine Band, George McCrae, Bobby Caldwell, David Hudson and Timmy Thomas to name a few.

Writers such as Clarence Reid and musicians guitarist Little Beaver and bassist George “Chocolate” Perry helped to create the sound that brought joy to America and the world during a time when Vietnam was still on the minds of the nation.

Among that musical royalty was a queen-singer Gwen McCrae, who arguably had-and still has-one of the most soulful and alluring voices in the business.

McCrae scored big in 1975 with the Grammy-nominated “Rockin’ Chair,” further solidifying TK’s reputation as a formidable force on the scene.

Stone and McCrae have chosen 14 of the label’s best blasts from the past to breathe new life into.

Plus, there’s a funky new Reid composition performed by McCrae and special guest, Harry Wayne Casey-better known as KC of KC & the Sunshine Band.

There’s no need to say much else about this record other than it’s great. After all, it’s great material in the hands of a great singer. What else could you ask for?

Well, maybe a little more needs to be said, because McCrae and company don’t just repeat the past. There are some nice new nuances here, such as Latimore’s duet with her on his classic TK hit “Let’s Straighten It Out."

To spice up McCrae’s new version of her hit “Rockin’ Chair,” Timmy Thomas shows up to let you know he’s still got it on the deepest groove ever heard and all too relevant today too -"Why Can’t We Live Together."

David Hudson joins McCrae to revisit his tour de force “Honey, Honey” while KC shows up again to remind us to “Keep It Comin’ Love."

There are plenty of others here you’ll remember including “Misty Blue,” a song that would be a dangerous attempt for an ordinary singer after Dorothy Moore nailed it so tight back in the day.

McCrae is no ordinary singer and does her own brand of justice.  She also accomplishes on “What You Won’t Do For Love,” a tune that has been mercilessly butchered by a host of lightweight Bobby Caldwell wannabes.

McCrae has got the voice, the chops and the heart to make you believe it was hers from the beginning. She’s marvelously smooth on ex-beau George McCrae’s seminal “Rock Your Baby."

Oh yeah, the fellas, including Little Beaver and Chocolate Perry ain’t too bad reproducing some the classic licks of the time on tunes like the instrumental-hook-laden “Clean Up Woman,” and other tunes.

Maybe you can’t capture lightning in a bottle, but “Gwen McCrae Sings TK” comes pretty close 30 years after the first strike, and that’s pretty good shooting."

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Posted by King on 06/29 at 07:42 AM
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kool & the Gang Spirit Rests

The Kool & the Gang message board is alive with messages of condolence over the recent loss of guitarist and co-founder Claydes Smith.

Claydes was an integral part of Kool’s funky rhythm section.

Read some of the messages fans have left in the “boards” section of the Kool & the Gang website.  Don’t miss the “history” link either. You’ll find an excellent timeline documenting the band through the decades.

I’ve been a fan of the group since day one, and still have all of their vinyl albums from the “pre-CD era,” including their first, 1969’s “Kool & the Gang,” recorded when they were still teenagers (weren’t we all back then).

Kool & the Gang are in my personal top 10 list of the best R&B groups of all time.  I’ve seen them live twice, and have never been disappointed.

Although I lean towards their pre-1979 “Ladies Night” releases, their entire body of work, (including 2004’s compelling “The Hits: Reloaded” CD), reflects classic soul, funk, and pop music at it’s best.

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Posted by King on 06/28 at 07:39 AM
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bush and B.B. Sing King's Blues

B.B. King, Patti Austin, and Irvin Mayfield performed at the White House Monday, June 26, as President Bush acknowledged the celebration of “Black Music Month."

Back in 2001, George W. Bush proclaimed June as Black Music Month.  In the first year, Regina Belle and Take 6 performed in the East Room of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while Lionel Hampton was honored for a lifetime of achievement.

While it’s nice that the President is giving some exposure to “the great contributions that black music has made to our nation,” this choice of artists is too safe, and too conservative.

These artists represent a 25 to 50 year gap between the popular reality of black music today, and nostalgia.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest B.B. King and Patti Austin fan, but there’s a lot more happening in the 2006 iteration of black music than just jazz, and the blues.

Irvin Mayfield is only 28.  He’s Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, but he represents a genre of music that has been honored repeatedly at the White House.

In fairness, this year’s Black Music Month celebrates indigenous sounds of the USA’s Gulf Coast, specifically soul, blues, and jazz.

Patti Austin has sung at the White House for every President since Ronald Reagan, so she doesn’t need the exposure (or the work there).

Maybe next year, when Black Music Month is celebrated at the Bush White House for the next to last time, we’ll have much more flava in the mix.

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Posted by King on 06/27 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Marvin Gaye, Grapevine, & Friends

In my article Motown Philly back again - a Soulful Tale of Two Cities, I talk about “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” a song that’s had a life of it’s own.

Grapevine would become Marvin Gaye’s biggest pop hit, a number one song on both the R&B and pop charts for seven weeks in 1968.

This song entered the hot 100 at number 34 on November 23, and hit number one just three weeks later.

Gladys Knight’s version peaked at number two in December 1967.  Motown took a chance by releasing Marvin’s version less than a year later.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first Motown group to record “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.

The Isley Brothers put their special touch on the song after Smokey.  These two classic soul versions of Grapevine are extremely rare.

More “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” tidbits:


  • The song has been on the Billboard Hot 100 list six different times
  • King Curtis’ instrumental version peaked at number 83 (1968)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival’s interpretation went to number 43 (1976)
  • Roger (Zapp) Troutman’s version hit number 79 (1981)
  • Buddy Miles’ version (The California Raisins) topped out at 84 (1988)

The Temptations, Undisputed Truth, Ike and Tina Turner, Elton John, and many others have sung songwriter Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong’s salute to underground communication.

We all know the lyrics, but what was Marvin Gaye really feeling when he belted out the tune?

Here’s a tongue-n-cheek interpretation of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” by satirist John Moe, who tells us what Marvin was really thinking...

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"Marvin Gaye explains what he heard through the grapevine"

“Baby,"

"By now you’ve returned home to discover all my clothing, housewares, and other worldly possessions gone forever. And also me. But you’ve found this note and are reading it.

You are probably surprised to find me not here (or “there” in my case, because at the moment I am not where you and the note both are). You are surprised, I bet, because you didn’t think I knew about your plans to break up with me.

How, you’re thinking, did Marvin learn of my plans to make him blue?

I’ll tell you how: I talked to the grapes.

This surprises you, I know, that I have such a power. And believe me, it surprised me when I first discovered it.

It all started about six months ago when I bought a sack of grapes from an old man on La Cienega. I think he might have been an Indian shaman or a Spanish guy or what have you.

But he said that these were magical grapes and worth a hundred dollars and I figured why would someone lie about something like that to me when I’m Marvin Gaye?

So I paid him, took the grapes home, put them on the table (in that Navajo bowl from your mother) (still there) and stayed up for 36 hours waiting.

And just when I was about to give up, the grapes started talking. Telling me about where they grew, how they were picked and sold and then resold a few times.

It wasn’t very interesting, really, because they were only two weeks old so what did they know? But still, hell, talking grapes.

In the brief time I spent with them, they taught me the language of grapes, how to listen and how to talk it. A few days later I heard their tiny gasping yelps as they died of natural causes and began to rot.

It was remarkable. I buried them in the front yard. You weren’t there, baby. You were probably, even then, spending time with the guy you knew before.

After that, every stroll through a supermarket produce section was like a damn Christmas party, thousands of little conversations everywhere.

Stupid stuff, gossip mostly and primitive grape songs, but still remarkable.

I would buy a few bunches and take them home, trying to entertain them as best I could with some songs and jokes until, within a few days, they all died.

Before long, I had become a legendary figure in grape folklore, a demigod who could provide enlightenment in the too-brief life of a grape.

Well, when you’re a demigod like me you grow kind of distant from mere mortals like you.

That’s why I never told you about this ability and instead grabbed the fruit bowl and ran to the basement whenever you came home. Still, I thought we had a stable relationship that could withstand a few ups and downs.

The grapes, on the other hand, had their doubts, constantly telling me they thought you were up to something. “No! We love each other and everything’s OK!” I shouted. “Quit trying to drive us apart, grapes!"

Finally, I gave them a chance to prove their assertions. I left for a day and instructed one of the grapevines (a particularly observant bunch) to report back to me.

It took me by surprise, I must say, when I found out yesterday what was really happening. You plotting to let me go and take up with that other guy you knew before, never realizing that the fruit bowl was filled with dozens of spies.

You even ate Diane R. Weinstein, Jamal Jackson, Evelyn Matthews, and Dave Griffin (all grapes).

You could have told me yourself that you found someone else. But instead I had to hear it from my friends. Now I know you’re supposed to believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

But why would the grapes lie to me? What would be in it for them? Turns out they’re the only friends I got.

So this is goodbye. I hope you and the guy you knew before (sorry, I can never remember his name) are happy together. I will dedicate my life to the grapes now and to promoting better understanding between our two species.

I’m just about to lose my mind."

Marvin

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In the archive of Misheard Lyrics at amiright.com, most people seem to miss the words to versions by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and this Marvin Gaye misinterpretation...

Misheard Lyrics:

“People say be planned for what you hear

Some and nun of what you hear."


Original Lyrics:
“People say believe half of what you see

Son, and none of what you hear."

And that’s the final word for now on “I Heard it Through the Grapevine."

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Posted by King on 06/22 at 01:29 AM
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Good Times from Chic

Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers is keeping the legacy of his group alive.

Despite the loss of bassist Bernard Edwards to pneumonia in Tokyo, Japan in 1996, Rodgers continues today as “Chic & Nile Rodgers."

Best known as a founding member of the group, He co-wrote “Le Freak” and “Good Times,” and has successfully produced hits for Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Madonna, and David Bowie.

Chic & Nile Rodgers will appear at the 40th Annual Montreux Jazz Festival, along with Solomon Burke, Ben E. King, George Duke, and the Atlantic Soul All Stars featuring Les McCann and Cornell Dupree:

  • June 30, 2006: Montreux, Switzerland, Montreux Jazz Festival
  • July 3, 2006 Brussels, Belgium, Place de Brouckčre
  • August 19, 2006: Los Angeles, CA, USA Greek Theatre

In addition to touring, Nile is staying very busy with different projects.  He tells Computer Music Magazine in the June 2006 issue that he’s heavily involved in producing music for many new video game soundtracks.

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Posted by King on 06/21 at 07:36 AM
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beyonce’ Punk'd by PETA

Guest who came to dinner with Beyonce’?  PETA, - the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group.

PETA recently placed an anonymous winning bid in an eBay auction for the chance to dine with Beyonce’.

When Miss Knowles showed up for the dinner engagement, PETA confronted her about fur in her wardrobe and in her clothing line.

Maybe PETA will be happy with this Destiny’s Child shot (left to right) of Kelly Rowland, Beyonce’, and Michelle Williams, as it features “faux-croc” leather (designed by B’s mother, Tina Knowles).

This is one of the silliest stories of the year.  If PETA has issues with Beyonce’, they should have gone through the proper channels with her management, rather than stealing a “fantasy” dinner away from one of Beyonce’s fans.

A couple of years ago when PETA took on fast food chicken giant KFC, PETA posted some troubling videos on their website taken by some of their undercover operatives at chicken processing plants.  Stealth confrontation by Peta is nothing new.

The animal rights group said it had previously attempted to reach Beyonce’ through faxes, letters, and at rallies outside of her concerts.  Clearly, PETA used shrewd theatrics to get some cheap publicity for their cause with this dinner stunt.

You cross a fine line when you use manipulative tactics to take advantage of the goodwill of others.  PETA’s cause may be a noble one, but some of their sympathizers are turned off when the organization exploits others just for it’s own gain.

As of this writing, Beyonce’ has had no comment on this incident.

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Posted by King on 06/20 at 07:36 AM
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

India.Arie, Janet Jackson, and Beyonce'

India.Arie, Janet Jackson, and Beyonce’ all have new releases rolling out in the coming months.

India’s, “Testimony: Volume. 1, Life & Relationship,” due June 27th, is her third studio album, and her first since 2002’s acclaimed “Voyage To India” (winner of two Grammy Awards).

Miss Janet will be releasing “20 Years Old,” September 26th.  The title is a reference to the staying power of the youngest Jackson sibling.  Her Control album was released in 1986.

2004’s Damita Jo wasn’t as well received as 2001’s “All For You,” so Janet Jackson will have to set the bar high for “20 Years Old."

It’s Beyonce’ who’s on the hot streak.  Her “B’Day” CD is scheduled for release on September 5th, to coincide with her 25th birthday.

The tease promotion for “B’Day” on Beyonce’s website is a little over the top, with a bee repeatedly flying around the computer screen across her larger than life logo (to the beat of Beyonce’s music).

These three highly anticipated releases will certainly be in the race for 2007 Grammy Awards.

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Posted by King on 06/15 at 01:02 AM
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Al Green's Red White & Blue Fourth

Al Green headlines a free Independence Day evening bash in downtown Newport News, Virginia at Superblock and Victory Landing Park on Tuesday, July 4.

Reverend Al has navigated between the worlds of classic soul and gospel music since delivering his string of consecutive number one hits in the early 1970’s.

In 1974, he was ordained minister at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, Tennessee.  Lucky for his R&B fans, Green has recently returned to performing his trademark soul hits.  New albums from 2003 and 2005 feature the vintage Al Green sound.

Catch up with all of Al Green’s Tour Dates on his official website.

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Posted by King on 06/14 at 01:02 AM
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

R&B, Blues, Gospel, and Jazz Stars added to the National Recording Registry

50 classic recordings have been selected by the Librarian of Congress to be added to the USA’s National Recording Registry.

The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library with more than 132 million items, including nearly 2.8 million sound recordings.

Did you know that the Library’s recorded sound section holds the largest number of radio broadcasts in the United States - more than 500,000.

Recordings selected for the National Recording Registry are those that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.

Anyone can nominate a song using an online form provided by the Library.  We’ll give you the address for 2006 nominations after you check out the 2005 inductees.

The full list of 50 performers from 2005 is quite impressive.  Songs/albums are compiled in chronological order, so there’s no meaning to the song number designation.  Song number one is from 1903, song fifty is from 1988.

Here are the folks from the world of R&B, blues, gospel, and jazz who now have their songs in the National Recording Registry.  These are the official descriptions provided by the Library of Congress...

23. "Straighten up and Fly Right,” Nat “King “ Cole (1943)

The King Cole Trio, featuring Nat “King” Cole on piano and vocals, is one of most respected small-group ensembles in jazz history.

Cole’s astonishing technical command of the piano, featuring a deceptively light touch, influenced many of the greatest piano virtuosos who followed him, including Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans.

His vocal solo on this recording introduced audiences to his beautifully smooth singing, immaculate diction and liquid style, launching his career as one of the most popular singers of the mid-20th century.

27. "Move on up a Little Higher,” Mahalia Jackson (1948) )

This recording was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson’s breakthrough disc, a best-seller that appealed equally to black and white audiences and reputedly became the best-selling gospel release to date.

Jackson blends the vocal styles of blues singers, such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, with the heartfelt emotion and commitment common to traditional gospel singing. She helped to make gospel music popular with racially diverse audiences of all religions.

31. "Blueberry Hill,” Fats Domino (1956)

Domino’s relaxed-tempo, R&B version of “Blueberry Hill” was inspired by Louis Armstrong’s rendition of the 1940 composition. The singer’s New Orleans roots are evident in the Creole inflected cadences that add richness and depth to the performance.

Recorded in Los Angeles for Imperial records, Domino insisted on performing the song despite the reservations of the producer of the session. The wisdom of this choice is borne out by the enduring association of the song with Domino, despite a number other popular renditions.

39. "Dancing in the Street,” Martha and the Vandellas (1964)

This rousing dance hit has been cited as one of the first examples of what would come to be known as the Motown sound.

Written by Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter, the song was turned down by another Motown act before Martha and the Vandellas performed it in the Motown studios.

The group, which consisted of Martha Reeves, Rosalyn Ashford, and Annette Beard, had alternated between singing backup for other Motown acts and working on their own material, but, after the success of this song, their career as a backup group ended.

The African American community would come to infuse the tune with political sentiments.

40. "Live at the Regal,” B.B. King (1965)

Bluesman B.B. King recorded this album at the Regal Theater in Chicago in 1964. The recording showcases King’s inventive and emotional guitar style, which blends Delta blues with a rhythm and blues beat, spiking the combination with his “sliding note” style.

The album, one of the first of an in-concert blues performance, documents King’s intimate relationship with his audience. King, who has been called “The King of the Blues” and the “best blues artist of his generation,” has been a primary influence on a number of artists, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield.

41. "Are You Experienced?” Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)

This 1967 release remains not only one of the quintessential statements of psychedelic rock but also has proved to be one of the most groundbreaking guitar albums of the rock era.

Hendrix’s playing, while strongly rooted in the blues, also incorporated a variety of jazz influences and a uniquely personal vocabulary of emotive guitar feedback and extended solos.

Including such classics as “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” the album featured the able rhythm section of Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. It is difficult to overstate the enormous influence that Hendrix’s recordings have had on subsequent guitarists.

44. "Oh Happy Day,” Edwin Hawkins Singers (1969)

Regarded as the springboard for the development of contemporary gospel music, “Oh Happy Day” was based on a 19th century white hymn.

Its popular music and jazz-influenced harmonies, infectious rhythms and use of instruments not often found on earlier gospel recordings have made the recording enduringly popular and influential.

Originally recorded on a long-playing album, “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord,” as a fund-raising effort for the Northern California State Youth Choir by director Edwin Hawkins, its compelling, exhilarating sound found its way onto radio playlists in San Francisco.

Re-recorded under the name “Edwin Hawkins Singers,” the song became an international crossover hit.

46. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Gil Scott-Heron (1970)

This poem, first released on Gil Scott-Heron’s first album, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” served as a rallying cry to black America and proved a foreshadowing of the more politically active strains of rap music.

Having published a novel before he switched to a career as a recording artist, Scott-Heron’s street poetry proved uncompromising in its vision. Flutist Hubert Laws accompanied Scott-Heron’s spoken and sung pieces.

49. "Songs in the Key of Life,” Stevie Wonder (1976)

In addition to Stevie Wonder’s impeccable musicianship, this album features contributions from Nathan Watts (bass), Raymond Pounds (drums), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), Ben Bridges and Mike Sembello (guitar) and a guest appearance by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

To produce the album, Wonder and the group worked in the studio relentlessly for two years, occasionally logging sessions of 48 hours straight. These efforts paid off with a number of excellent jazz, blues and gospel-influenced songs, including “I Wish” and “Pastime Paradise."

The album also includes the Duke Ellington tribute “Sir Duke,” in which Wonder acknowledges his debt to the African American musical tradition.


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If you’d like to view the National Recording Registry master list, or nominate a song for the 2006 National Recording Registry, the deadline is July 6, 2006.

I’m nominating a song.  If it’s accepted, I’ll let you know!

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Posted by King on 06/13 at 01:30 AM
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Friday, June 09, 2006

Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading: June Jewels with Guitars

Cleveland, Ohio’s Tracy Chapman was the most successful folk based artist to emerge in the 1980’s (left photo).

Do you remember this Tufts University graduate’s biggest hit, “Fast Car”?  She won three Grammy Awards in 1988, including Best New Artist.


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Joan Armatrading hails from St. Kitts in the West Indies (right photo).  She eventually relocated to England, where she’s found most of her success.

Three of her albums in the 1980’s made the top 10 in the UK.  Her 1977 song, “Show Some Emotion,” received considerable exposure in America, however Joan never had a single appear on the USA R&B charts.

Tracy and Joan are still touring, making music, and strumming up a storm using their fabulous guitars.

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Posted by King on 06/09 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Billy Preston's Signature Song

With the passing of Billy Preston at age 59, today we look back on his impact on popular music.  We detailed Billy Preston’s health problems, and some highlights of his career, back in April, 2006.

Musicians like Preston who lived in different musical cultures are unique.

  • Billy Preston was playing keyboards with gospel giant Mahalia Jackson when he was ten years old.

  • He was featured as young musician W.C. Handy in the Hollywood movie, St. Louis Blues, when he was only twelve years old.

  • As the organist on the Beatles album, Let It Be, he picked up the nickname, “the fifth Beatle,” a title that stuck, but one that does not accurately reflect his broad contribution to music.

These are just three examples of Preston’s amazing range: gospel, blues, and pop.  His classic soul/pop hits are almost an after thought: “Will it Go Round in Circles,” “Nothing from Nothing,” “Outa-Space,” and “You Are So Beautiful."

Billy Preston toured with Little Richard, was a regular on the 60’s TV show Shindig, jammed with King Curtis on the classic R&B live track “Memphis Soul Stew,” and was the ultimate musician everyone wanted on their session.

Always at the core of Billy’s musical spirit was his gospel roots.  That leads me to the song I think of as Billy Preston’s signature: “That’s the Way God Planned it."

I recently played one of the live versions of this song on my Saturday 4pm Eastern 1pm Pacific radio program, (ironically, just a few days before Preston would lose his long battle with complications from kidney disease).

"That’s the Way God Planned it” really captures the strength of Billy Preston.  It’s a showcase for his church roots, his soul style, and his pop mastery.  The song starts slowly, then builds in speed and rhythmic intensity, until it ends in a powerful vocal climax.

He recorded several versions of this song.  One of the best is the live version included in his “best of” millennium CD.  This version moves the song closer to a soulful prayer meeting, probably what he originally intended when he wrote it.

Billy Preston did it all, and that’s the way God planned it.

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Posted by King on 06/08 at 01:02 AM
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Toni Braxton Revealed in Vegas

Toni Braxton is following in the footsteps of the legendary Gladys Knight, with an extended trailblazing engagement at the world famous Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, beginning August 3rd.

From February 2002 until November 2005, Knight, headlined her own show there several nights a week.  Gladys lives in Las Vegas.

Toni Braxton will be booked in Vegas for several months, giving her fans plenty of opportunities to catch her act.

Toni hit the music scene big time in 1992 when she was featured in the soundtrack from the movie Boomerang, starring Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, Halle Berry, Martin Lawrence, and Grace Jones, among others.

Her first CD was released in 1993 and it was an across the board chart topper.

Braxton has two Grammy and two Soul Train Music Awards in her trophy case.  It wasn’t “Just Another Sad Love Song” for Toni either when she received an Echo Award in Hamburg Germany in 1998 for Best International Female Artist.

Miss Toni got her first shot acting in feature films in 2001 along side of LL Cool J in Kingdom Come.  She also appeared in Play’d, a VH1 vehicle in 2002.

Good luck to Toni Braxton Revealed in Las Vegas.

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Posted by King on 06/07 at 01:02 AM
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Get Closer to Maxi Priest

This article recently appeared in the Jamaica Observer.  Various reporters contributed to the story.  Reggae Sunsplash 2006 is coming to Jamaica in August.

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"Reggae crooner Maxi Priest says he eagerly awaits a return to the Reggae Sunsplash stage.

According to the Grammy Award winning singer, the original reggae festival holds a special place in his heart.

"It made me truly sad and disheartened that Reggae Sunsplash ever went away. It is a foundation type of thing,” Priest told Splash as he relaxed at the Norman Manley International Airport before taking a flight to Miami earlier this week.

Priest, who is known for his silky voice and soulful melodies is set to perform in Scotland and Manchester in England before embarking on a six-week United States tour with internationally acclaimed Reggae Band, UB40 and veteran entertainer, Toots, who are also featured on the festival.

But his mind will not allow him to forget the first time he performed on a Reggae Sunsplash stage.

"Oh my gosh, it was my first time performing in Jamaica. The reception I received was mind-blowing,” said Priest, “I felt at the time that I had delivered something”.

According to Priest, this year he will be going all out to please the thousands who are expected to turn out at the large expanse of Richmond Estate where Reggae Sunsplash will be held this year."

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Richmond Estate is a sprawling 200 acre property on the edge of the Caribbean, with Jamaica’s Blue Mountains as its backdrop. The large area is located in Priory, in the garden parish of St. Ann, home of the world famous Dunn’s River Falls and the birth place of both Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley.

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Priest continues...

"I intend to make this year a very special one for the fans at Reggae Sunsplash. This is a world-class festival which deserves a world-class performance from any artist who is billed to perform. I have a few aces up my sleeve,” he said.

Reggae Sunsplash will be held from August 3-6 and will feature over 100 acts performing for over 56 hours.

At present the singer says he is putting the finishing touches on his latest album. Already, a single has been released and its causing a stir in entertainment circles.

The song, entitled “Makes Me Wanna Hollah,” is a soulful effort which should go a far way in signaling the return of the British-based singer to the top echelon in the competitive entertainment field.

Maxi Priest is the eighth of nine children. When he was a child, his parents moved to England from Jamaica where his father was employed as a steelworker in a factory, while his mother was a missionary at a Pentecostal Church and lead singer for the church choir.

His formative years in music were dominated by gospel, reggae, R&B and pop music.

He worked as a carpenter building speaker boxes for sound-systems, while using his nights to sing at live dancehall sessions. In 1984 Maxi combined with Paul ‘Barry Boom’ Robinson to produce Philip Levi’s “Mi God Mi King,” the first UK reggae tune to reach number one status in Jamaica.

Since then he has produced 10 solo albums. The first effort, Maxi, was recorded in Jamaica by Virgin Records who garnered the services of musicians Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, and Willie Londo.

Maxi scored with singles like “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” a cover of Cat Steven’s classic Wild World and a duet with Beres Hammond, “How Can We Ease The Pain."

The album propelled him into the international spotlight and in 1990 the album, Bonafide, sold gold, and the single “Close To You” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and number two on the Hot R&B Singles chart.

He also had collaborations with Roberta Flack, “Set The Night To Music,” and with Shabba Ranks, “Housecall,” the latter being part of the gravel-toned DJ’s Grammy-winning album. But with all his achievements, Maxi Priest remains humble and is focused on the road ahead.

"The hype has never gotten to my head. Right now, I am just focusing on doing what I do best,” said Maxi Priest."

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Posted by King on 06/06 at 01:03 AM
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Friday, June 02, 2006

Prince Pops on the Web

Way before iTunes and MySpace, one guy stood alone in understanding how music and the Internet could play perfectly together.

Back in 1997, Prince was the first major artist to release an entire album exclusively on the web, “Crystal Ball."

During the “Crystal Ball” era, I recall a BET interview with Prince, Chaka Khan, and Larry Graham, moderated by Tavis Smiley, where Prince talked enthusiastically about how artistic expression was enhanced by the independent distribution of music, (free from the shackles of record company control).

Although he’s now back with major label CD distribution, the Prince website offers seven full-length CD’s of music available exclusively through his NPG Music club.

For his visionary approach to online music distribution, Prince will receive a lifetime achievement honor in the celebrity/fan category at the Webby Awards in New York City on June 12th.

Read our compilation of reviews of Prince’s latest 3121 release, and have some fun by following the link to the Prince quiz.

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Posted by King on 06/02 at 07:30 AM
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Question Time about Mystery Songs

We get more questions about your mystery songs than we have space to answer in our monthly Powerhouse Radio Newsletter, so here’s a bunch that have come in recently.

From Carl: “Hello, I have been looking for a song by Michael Jackson that I cannot seem to find. I don’t know the name of the song either. It was a song that Jeffrey Daniels danced to on Soul Train.

All I have is the video of Jeffrey Daniels performing to it. I think part of the lyrics in the song go “Why don’t you believe me when I say that I love you? I’m crazy bout you!” That’s all that I could hear clearly from the video since the sound wasn’t all that great.

Here is the link to that video. It’s actually the second part of the video where Jeffrey performs” (link removed).

King:  I wish they were all this easy.  Carl it’s “Lovely One” by The Jacksons.

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From Natalie: “Please help...in the late 80’s I heard a song and I don’t know who sang it or the name of it but I know every word to it...it goes like this.."

"When I walked by I was hoping you were home, you smiled and let me in, I told you that I need a shoulder to cry on, you gave me yours again, You said its gonna be alright and turned off the lights and in the darkness you held me tight”...The Chorus goes on to say “the best of friends can be lovers after all."

King: I know this one Natalie (I think).  It’s on the tip of my tongue (almost)!

If you know the answer, please leave it in a comment so we can make Natalie happy.

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From Bella: “I am looking for a song by an artist named muzic? the song is about how he’s still gonna love her even when her hair is gray and she puts on some weight.  Please help me out!"

King: I’m stumped, so If you know the answer, pop it in a comment below.

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From Veronica: “I can’t for the life of me figure out what the title of this song is or who sings it.  I thought it was the Whispers.  Help!?  Here are some lyrics from it..."

“I got a letter from someone who knows me

she said that my loving was better than cookies and wine

she told me she’s lonely and can’t live without me

and she would be grateful if only i’d drop her a line

don’t you know that I would really like to

someone tell me who I’m gonna write to

cause the letter wasn’t signed

was it from Mary? Was it from...? Was it from...?

Or maybe Sue. Was it from someone I hardly knew?

Or baby maybe baby was it from you?

King: Help Veronica out if you know the song by leaving the answer in a comment.  Thanks!




Posted by King on 06/01 at 01:02 AM
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