Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Halloween Funk from the Devil Town Vampire
Flashback to Ghoulish Grooves Make up Funky Halloween Treats from 2006, then listen to the Halloween “Devil Town” vampire get funky for 60 seconds!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
American Gangster Grabs Classic Soul Gold
The explosive movie American Gangster grabs the audio gold of 1970’s classic soul to help give the story emphasis and emotional guts.
American Gangster opens this week. 2 different soundtracks will be available next Tuesday, November 6, 2007.
Bobby Womack, Sam & Dave, and the Staple Singers keep the battle between Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe grounded in the sonic grooves of urban America during the Vietnam War era.
Public Enemy is here too, as are a couple of blues legends, Lowell Fulson, and John Lee Hooker.
Anthony Hamilton, Hank Schocklee, and Marc Streitenfeld also perform songs on the original motion picture soundtrack.
Note that Jay-Z has a separate CD, American Gangster with his own music inspired by the film.
Bobby Bland’s hit “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City,” prominently used to promote the flick, is surprisingly missing in action from the original soundtrack.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007
Retro-Soul makes a Mighty Comeback
Retro-soul has made a mighty comeback.
New generations of inspired singers are latching onto musical arrangements from the old school.
These artists make no apologies for belting out classic soul vocals wrapped around horns, organs, and bluesy keyboards.
This is what separates them from neo-soul troopers Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, and others.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings have released a new 2007 CD that sounds like a time warp from 1967. Sharon and The Dap-Kings have a cult following, and it’s easy to see why.
She packs a punch delivering sounds reminiscent of Aretha, Gladys Knight, and Etta James.
James Hunter is the real deal. His 2006 release People Gonna Talk blends a fusion of reggae, soul, and blues.
Britian’s Hunter has a lot of authenticity in his music.
When you dig deep into his song catalogue, you realize that his love of classic soul is legitimate.
The Dynamites are slightly over the top in lead singer Charles Walker’s penchant for James Brown licks.
This Nashville based band drives heavy and hard, as if they were the Stax rhythm section on speed.
Even though I think James Hunter is a lot better, The Dynamites offer a nice recipe for some relentless R&B that pounds along using a commanding rhythm section.
For my money, Charles Walker sounds more like David Clayton Thomas, (of Blood Sweat & Tears), Huey Lewis, or Wayne Cochran of Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders, rather than James Brown – the big influence on The Dynamites.
(A big shout-out to you if you remember Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders!)
Last but not least, another Brit, 20 year old Joss Stone is in the house.
When her debut record came out in 2003, I couldn’t believe I was listening to a 16-year-old. Joss Stone has an original sound mimicking no one, although she does have the blood of Janis Joplin running through her veins!
Stone’s voice caught my immediate attention as her song played through store speakers at a Tower Records outlet I was visiting.
We’ll see how her career develops.
On a side note, it’s interesting how reviewers generally place these artists in the wrong musical categories. But then, in the modern music business, it’s all about the marketing.
Don’t miss our 2 minute 59 second playlist featuring all four of these retro-soul sensations.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Dynamic Classic Soul of Betty Davis
In the past couple of years, I’ve received an incredible number of requests asking if I have the legendary classic soul album by Betty Davis, Betty Davis.
Yup, and here it is.
The LP is leaning against a microphone boom while sitting on top of a turntable in the PowerhouseRadio.com studio.
Betty Davis was briefly married to trumpeter Miles Davis. On this album, released in 1973, she’s joined by musicians Larry Graham and Hershall Kennedy (of Graham Central Station).
Sly & The Family Stone’s drummer Gregg Errico produced the release.
Pointer Sisters Anita and June join the fun with other background singers on the session, including Sylvester! (the “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” guy)...
Journey guitarist Neal Schon is prominently featured on several tracks.
Betty was raw and extreme in her vocal approach. She wrote and arranged all of the music on this album too.
Ms. Davis cooked up some dynamic funk with a rock edge, similar to later solo efforts by Nona Hendryx of LaBelle fame.
Enjoy a 60 second segment of the Betty Davis track “If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up."
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Thursday, October 18, 2007
Patti LaBelle's Christmas 2007
Patti LaBelle’s Miss Patti’s Christmas is a pleasant surprise, but it shouldn’t be.
The vocal chops of Miss Patti are never in question, but the fear that this would be another typical Christmas song collection was.
Fear not! Miss Patti’s Christmas is an unusually surprising good mix of both the secular and sacred.
Dynamic duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who’ve had a great 2007 with plenty of work, guide this project as the executive producers.
Clearly, there was a careful process to select just the right mix of songs for Miss Patti’s Christmas. The contemporary songs are great, the traditional songs are wonderful, and the 2 gospel songs sparkle with praise.
You won’t find all of the usual suspects on Miss Patti’s Christmas.
She imprints her legendary personality on traditional holiday favorites: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” “Do You Hear What I Hear,” and “Away In The Manger."
We get a different arrangement and a slightly faster tempo on “Away In The Manger,” a Christmas song Patti has previously recorded at a slower tempo.
"What Do The Lonely Do at Christmas,” made famous by The Emotions, gets a nice update by LaBelle.
It’s hard to imagine a version of Luther Vandross’ “Every Year, Every Christmas” as good as the original, but once again, LaBelle rises to the occasion. This is one of the best tracks on the collection.
You’ll like the contemporary “Christmas Jam,” a rhythmic rouser that opens the album.
As a package, there’s a good balance between uptempo and slower selections. Her voice is right in the pocket on the following 10 tracks...
- “Christmas Jam”
- “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”
- “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas”
- “Holiday’s Mean More To Me”
- “It’s Going To Be A Merry Christmas”
- “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
- “Jesus, Oh What A Wonderful Child” featuring The Soul Seekers
- “Every Year, Every Christmas”
- “Away In A Manger”
Deck the Halls! Miss Patti’s Christmas is excellent, and highly recommended.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
7 Jeffrey Osborne Melodies on the Wings of Love
Jeffrey Osborne, the golden voice of L.T.D., (Love, Togetherness, and Devotion), has had several successful solo hits.
The Providence, Rhode Island native hooked up with L.T.D. in Los Angeles in the 1970’s and spent a decade with the group first as a drummer, then exclusively as their lead vocalist.
Jeffrey has been one of the dominant male voices in classic soul, distinctive for his bellowing baritone.
He’s had several hits with many duet partners including Joyce Kennedy ("The Last Time I Made Love” - 1984), and Dionne Warwick, ("Love Power” - 1987).
In late 2005, Jeffrey released From The Soul, an excellent collection of classic soul favorites elegantly performed to perfection.
Here are 7 Melodies from Jeffrey Osborne’s solo songbook:
- “On The Wings of Love”
- “You Should Be Mine” (Woo Woo Song)
- “We’re Going All The Way”
- “Don’t You Get So Mad”
- “Stay With Me Tonight”
- “Room With A View”
- “So Emotional”
Jeffrey Osborne in Concert:
- Tuesday October 23, 2007, Fairmont - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Thursday November 15, 2007, Apollo Theater, New York City
- Monday, December 31, 2007, Hyatt Regency - Huntington Beach, California
5 Jeffrey Osborne hits with L.T.D.
- “Love Ballad”
- “Back In Love Again”
- “Shine On
- “Holding On (When Love Is Gone)”
- “We Party Hearty”
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Thursday, October 11, 2007
Chaka Khan Funks Up Her New Release
She digs deep into her soul to project some sonic emotion through an adventurous collection of songs, all produced by the crafty song-hook magicians Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
Chaka pulls you in and commands your attention with her magnetic voice, but the subtleties of her mastery of different genres reveals the cadence of a song styling surgeon who knows what she is doing.
When called for, her trademark powerful pipes still pump up the vocal volume.
Overall, Funk This takes risks with material that you might not expect on a Chaka Khan record.
Most of the songs are uptempo, and they don’t all fit into the classic definition of “funk."
The track that will sell the album, (or downloads), is “Disrespectful,” a soul shoutin’ hootenanny with the mesmerizing Mary J. Blige as Chaka’s duet partner. This is the best cut on the collection.
Guitarist Tony Maiden of Rufus & Chaka Khan fame contributes to a couple of tracks, including the opening cut “Back In The Day,” and a medley: “Pack’d My Bags/You Got The Love."
Do we really need a rehash of “You Got The Love?” It seems to appear out of nowhere as “Pack’d My Bags” fades. The synthesizer arrangement on this version of “You Got The Love” lacks the horn overlay of the original, but it is true in tone to the way the song was sung the first time around, and Chaka punches it out.
"Back In The Day” has that ‘Rufus rhythm’ old school fans should enjoy. Track 2, “Foolish Fool,” reminds me more of Macy Gray than Chaka Khan, despite the voice differences. In “Foolish Fool,” guitars dominate and drive the track with Chaka in control.
"Castles Made Of Sand,” from the Jimi Hendrix songbook, parallels the original song. Chaka does not jump into uncharted “funk” on this one. You are listening to a mostly mellow mid-tempo rock classic.
I never really liked Prince’s “Sign of the Times” because it’s much too depressing. Chaka Khan’s version builds on Prince’s arrangement but just can’t rescue me from the morose.
Michael McDonald stops by for a remake of the Carly Simon classic, “You Belong To Me.” To my ear, this new duet with Chaka sounds overproduced.
More successful is “Ladies Man,” a Joni Mitchell song which lends itself to Chaka’s careful reading of the lyric while fusing elements of jazz into the pulse of the song.
"Super Life,” an uptempo anthem about carrying the flag forward in the memory of those who have lost their lives (through genocide) is a great cut that features Chaka Khan radiating the energy of “I Feel For You."
Funk This is a misleading title for this CD. Yes, it’s a departure from the jazz of her 2004 Classikahn, but Funk This is much more of an expansion into a broader array of music.
There are several hits here. Chaka expands her scope yet again. Ms. Khan has also co-written 7 of the 13 songs.
Producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis show some restraint and don’t get in the way. What they do is guide the project with creative resourcefulness, showcasing the unique manifestations of this daring diva: Chaka Khan.
- “Back In The Day”
- “Foolish Fool”
- “One For All Time”
- “Will You Love Me?”
- “Castles Made Of Sand”
- “Disrespectful” featuring Mary J. Blige
- “Sign ‘O’ The Times”
- “Pack’d My Bags/You Got The Love” featuring Tony Maiden
- “Ladies’ Man”
- “You Belong To Me” featuring Michael McDonald
- “Hail To The Wrong”
- “Super Life”
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Here’s a bonus Chaka Khan treat from the past...
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Millie Jackson & Isaac Hayes Exposed
What are Millie Jackson & Isaac Hayes so happy about in this photo?
The pair are celebrating during a photo shoot from their 1979 album Royal Rappin’s, a much overlooked release featuring:
- “Sweet Music, Soft Lights, And You”
- “Feels Like The First Time”
- “You Never Crossed My Mind”
- “Love Changes”
- “I Changed My Mind”
- “Do You Wanna Make Love”
- “If I Had My Way”
- “If You Had Your Way”
- “You Needed Me”
Although not a chart topper, the album was a unique collaboration between Jackson, and Hayes, two gritty R&B entertainers who extended their reputations as flirtatiously naughty sex symbols.
As for the music, the songs are thoroughly enjoyable, rolling through some smooth and entertaining tongue and cheek adlibs between Millie and Isaac on both slow and medium tempo tracks.
Favorite songs: the uptempo “Do You Wanna Make Love,” and the old Anne Murray hit ballad, “You Needed Me."
Royal Rappin’s is a regal effort from a noble king and a majestic queen of soul: Millie Jackson & Isaac Hayes.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Ronald Isley & The Isley Brothers Celebrate Christmas 2007
The first ever Isley Brothers Christmas album will be released on Tuesday, October 9, 2007.
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, famous for their work with Janet Jackson and others, are the executive producers.
Recorded and completed in Santa Monica, California, this past Summer shortly before Ronald Isley’s incarceration, I’ll Be Home for Christmas features a mix of old and new.
Single holiday tracks have previously been available from The Isley Brothers on several Christmas anthology collections (featuring various artists).
I’ll Be Home For Christmas offers 8 traditional, and 2 contemporary tracks on this brand new collection:
- “Winter Wonderland”
- “I’m in Love” (a new song written by Jam & Lewis)
- “I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
- “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
- “First Noel/What Child Is This/Joy To The World” medley
- “What Can I Buy You” (another new Jam & Lewis song)
- “The Christmas Song” featuring Doc Powell
- “White Christmas”
- “Silent Night”
I’ll be Home For Christmas follows 2006’s Baby Makin’ Music from The Isley Brothers.
Former Isley Brothers member Chris Jasper also released a new album this year, the contemporary gospel oriented Invincible. I’m playing a special remix of “Testify” that I created from the Jasper album. You can hear it online from Powerhouse Radio.
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