Thursday, February 28, 2008
Buddy Miles Tribute
Drummer Buddy Miles passed away Wednesday, February 27, at the relatively young age of 60.
Caught in the middle between the musical implementation of pure soul and progressive rock, Miles in his heyday never received the credit he deserved as a creative solo artist.
Radio programmers back in the day could never figure out if his music was appropriate to play for their particular audiences.
Buddy Miles was all about fusing soul, blues, pop, and rock into a unique blend of driving hardcore rhythms.
In 1967, Buddy, working his way up the musical ladder, joined “Wicked” Wilson Pickett’s touring band as the drummer. Soon after, guitarist Mike Bloomfield recruited Miles for the seminal horn-funk-blues group, The Electric Flag.
The Buddy Miles Express debuted in 1968 with the album, Expressway to Your Skull. I used the instrumental track “Funky Mule” from that album as my first and only theme song for a few years when I first started out in radio.
Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles had quite a few collaborations together, beginning in 1968 - 1969. Hendrix wrote the liner notes on Expressway to Your Skull, and produced “Miss Lady” from the 2nd Miles album Electric Church.
Hendrix also produced the unreleased version of the instrumental “69 Freedom Special,” (that does appear on The Best of Buddy Miles) CD.
Miles continued to experiment as he moved on to Band of Gypsys with Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox. I saw their only Madison Square Garden New York City performance live on January 28, 1970.
Unfortunately, what I remember was not positive, as Miles, Hendrix, and Cox only performed a couple of songs. Hendrix “went on strike” after a couple of songs and stormed off the stage because of some disagreement.
Miles and Hendrix recorded the classic jazz-rock “Rainy Day Dream Away” and “Still Raining Still Dreaming” from Hendrix’s historic double LP Electric Ladyland.
I genuinely enjoyed Buddy’s solo albums, as they always contained several stand out tracks.
The PowerhouseRadio.com music vault contains 7 of his solo vinyl albums, plus A Long Time Comin’ by The Electric Flag.
I suppose I should mention that Buddy Miles was the voice of the California Raisins, an animated cartoon used to promote the raisin industry in the 1970’s.
Miles was a very good singer - as soulful as the best of his day.
In 1994, Buddy Miles reformed the Express and recorded an album for Rykodisc.
I was asked if I wanted to interview Buddy in 2007. Unfortunately, we could not sync-up our schedules, so I ultimately passed. Now I’m sorry I missed the opportunity.
Luckily, I did have the chance many years ago to talk with Buddy Miles live at The Bottom Line club in New York City and record the conversation when I was a student at New York University.
If you are not familiar with Buddy Miles, a great place to start is the CD, The Best of Buddy Miles.
It includes his only bonafide hit, “Them Changes."
Take a listen and sample 2 minutes and 20 seconds of the longer “Funky Mule,” and enjoy the Buddy Miles groove. Check out his relentless percussive persuasion.
Here are my picks for the top 5 songs that showcase Buddy Miles:
- “Runaway Child”
- “Power of Soul” (Band of Gypsys)
- “Rainy Day, Dream Away” & “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” (guest with The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- “69 Freedom Special”
- “Take It Off Him and Put It On Me”
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Monday, February 25, 2008
Keith Sweat Sings Just Me 2008
Keith Sweat releases his first new studio album since 2002 on March 18, 2008.
Just Me comes on the heels of his solid 2007 Christmas album, A Christmas of Love.
Sweat has been crooning mellow hits for 20 years. On his new album, Keyshia Cole and Athena Cage are two of the featured guest artists.
Keith says his new album is not trendy, but is true to the sound his fans have come to expect.
"Suga Suga Suga,” the initial single from the album featuring Keith and Paisley Bettis will get early attention.
Sweat rose to the top with the # 1 classic soul hit “I Want Her” in 1987. He hosts The Keith Sweat Hotel, a syndicated nationwide USA radio show.
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Thursday, February 21, 2008
5 Classic Soul Oscars
It’s Academy Award weekend. Here are 5 classic soul “Best Song” Oscars:
- “Say You, Say Me” - Lionel Richie - 1985 White Nights
- “I Just Called To Say I Love You” - Stevie Wonder - 1984 The Woman In Red
- “Last Dance” - Donna Summer - 1978 Thank God It’s Friday
- “Theme From Shaft” - Isaac Hayes - 1971 Shaft
- “All The Way” - Billie Holiday - 1957 The Joker’s Is Wild
Good luck to the 2008 “Best Song” and “Best Score” nominees.
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Monday, February 18, 2008
Dyke & The Blazers Classic Soul Funk
When you think about the creators of funk, James Brown always comes to mind.
Dyke & The Blazers are another legendary late 1960’s funk ensemble, often compared to the Godfather of Soul.
Wilson Pickett covered Dyke’s “Funky Broadway,” resulting in an even bigger hit for the wicked one.
Watch the 3 minute 4 second story of Dyke & The Blazers, produced by PowerhouseRadio.com.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Valentine Love from Henderson & Vaughan
Bassist Michael Henderson wrote “Valentine Love” in 1976 right before a recording session with drummer Norman Connors.
"Valentine Love” is still one of the best songs you’ll hear on Valentine’s Day. The ballad remains a classic soul masterpiece.
“Sassy" Sarah Vaughan, (1924 - 1990), made her name during the golden era of jazz.
Her reading of “My Funny Valentine” from the Rodgers & Hart songbook is timeless.
She recorded the song in 1954 and kept it in her active repertoire for years.
Vaughan, shown here, admits that she panicked when performing the tune in 1979 for a television special. Apparently composer Richard Rodgers was in the audience.
Yes, Rodgers loved her version during the performance.
"My Funny Valentine” was first introduced in 1937 by vocalist Mitzi Green as composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
The song became such a sentimental favorite through the years that it lost it’s cool factor. Sarah Vaughan’s version however still stands the test of time.
Listen to 30 seconds each of Michael Henderson’s “Valentine Love,” and Sarah Vaughan’s “My Funny Valentine."
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Remixes Drive Thriller 25 for Michael Jackson
Can Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas put some pop into Thriller 25 with a resuscitated remix of “The Girl Is Mine?"
Will Kanye West find love with his “Billie Jean” remix for M.J.?
Michael Jackson’s Thriller 25 CD is here with videos, remixes, and zombie artwork galore.
You be the judge. Listen to 25 seconds each of the new “Billie Jean” and “The Girl Is Mine” remixes.
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Monday, February 11, 2008
10 Glamorous and Gritty Grammy Highlights
The 50th Annual Grammy Award telecast was a surprising winner.
Great music performances overshadowed the disbursement of awards.
There was so much eye-candy going on during many of the performances that you could mistake the jamming for a Hollywood musical.
In order, here are my 10 Glamorous and Gritty Grammy Highlights:
- Beyonce’ & Tina Turner’s tag-team performance of “Proud Mary.”
- Rihanna & Morris Day (pictured above) along with the Time delivering a seemingly well-rehearsed showstopper.
- Aretha Franklin’s gospel tribute along with a cast of “thousands.”
- Kanye West’s acceptance speech for Best Rap Album. He refused to take the hook and get off the stage as he saluted the memory of his late mother.
- The “Rhapsody in Blue” jazz/classical tribute to George Gershwin featuring Herbie Hancock.
- Alicia Keys singing duet with a digitally recreated Frank Sinatra video. Good tape editing on Frank to pull this off!
- Amy Winehouse’s mystical comments live from London for winning Record of the Year for “Rehab.”
- George Lopez urging Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to select “a Mexican” running mate for vice president.
- Herbie Hancock winning the Grammy for Album of the Year...River: The Joni Letters. A real surprise.
- Mary J. Blige sticking out her rear end (and never facing the camera) while pimping for Chevrolet in the best commercial of the evening.
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Thursday, February 07, 2008
Grammys Sing for 50 Golden Moments this Sunday
Do you have the patience?
Do you have the stamina for another gut wrenching marathon of garbled gab, glittering bling, boring back stories, and haphazard harmonies from stars who may or may not have ever sung with each other?
This is the promise of the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, this Sunday, February 10th, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
CBS Television is promising an 8 pm – 11:30 pm Eastern show, but look for the live event to run over in it’s time slot, as usual.
Some of the planned artist collaborations look frightening. Many are quite a stretch. However, look for the Grammys to go all out for their 50th anniversary show.
A soulful highlight may be Rihanna teaming up with a reunited “the” Time for a special 50th anniversary segment.
The music industry is in turmoil because of the expectation by a new generation of fans that tunes should be free.
Look for the performers to put their best game face on in an attempt to drive casual and passionate viewers alike to create some buzz about the 50th Anniversary Grammy beat...and to seek out the music.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Billy Ocean Navigates Rough Water for New Musical Shores
Billy Ocean has recorded a new song “Chained,” for the forthcoming Wilburforce 200 album A Change is Gonna Come, due for a February 25th release.
Billy recently performed at the 2008 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues festival on January 26th, in Montego Bay. This show also featured a controversial appearance by Diana Ross.
Billy Ocean is the biggest selling British black artist of all time.
During a 30+ year career, he has sold in excess of 30 million singles and albums worldwide. Most of his success came in the 1980’s.
Billy, birth name: Leslie Sebastian Charles, was born on January 21, 1950, in Fyzabad on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad.
In 1958 his family immigrated to England in search of work, settling in the East End of London.
His first single was released under his own name Les Charles in 1971. In 1975, adopting the name Billy Ocean, he signed a production deal that resulted in little commercial success.
Billy’s first album, Billy Ocean, was released in 1976 and contained four singles that generated increasing attention in the UK.
After another 1979 release, an additional record on CBS, and much touring in the early 1980’s, Ocean finally exploded in September 1984, renaming the single “European Queen” and re-releasing it as “Caribbean Queen."
"Carribbean Queen” would sell a million copies on the international stage and win a Grammy Award.
A 3rd version of the song called “African Queen” was recorded for the African music market cresting on their charts for 10 weeks.
In 1985, Ocean toured America for the very first time, including a gig at JFK stadium in Philadelphia as part of Live Aid on July 13th.
1986 brought more success with “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” and “Love Zone."
Billy spent most of 1987 recording his next album. One song from the record, “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” caused some controversy when it was released as a single in 1988.
Despite reaching # 3 in the U.K., British radio nearly banned the song because a national newspaper implied that “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” referenced child molestation.
Billy explained that while growing up as a teenager none of his friends drove cars, most of them rode scooters, so a song called “Get outta my dreams, get onto my scooter” just wouldn’t have worked.
After years of hard work and well-earned success, Billy decided to take time away from the music business and devote himself to his family.
A “Greatest Hits” collection was released in September 1989, becoming Ocean’s biggest selling UK album going platinum.
By 1993 the music scene had changed and Billy’s next studio album had changed with it. “Time To Move On” was recorded in Chicago with R. Kelly, who had been a long time admirer.
A new image accompanied the album with a younger looking Billy Ocean sporting dreadlocks following his conversion to the Rastafarian religion.
In September 1998 Jive Records issued Love Is For Ever, a 24 track double album covering much more of Billy’s back catalogue.
Ocean continued to stay out of the limelight for the next few years, performing once at the South Africa Freedom Day concert on Sunday, April 29th, 2001.
The Freedom Day concert held in London’s Trafalgar Square honored the 7th anniversary of South Africa’s free elections.
Billy Ocean continues to live in England and enjoys spending time with his family, gardening at his home in Berkshire and performing around the globe with the Ebony Steel Orchestra.
Visit Billy Ocean’s official web site for more Billy Ocean lore.
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Monday, February 04, 2008
Erykah Badu's Classic Soul Shape Shifter
Dallas, Texas, native Erykah Badu’s latest video, “Honey,” contains a buffet of several vintage classic soul album covers and more, but that’s not all...
Watch the entire video to see Erykah morph into some of your R&B favorites.
Be on the lookout for:
- De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
- Diana Ross - Blue
- Earth Wind & Fire - Head to the Sky
- Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full
- Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
- Grace Jones - Nightclubbing
- LaBelle - Chameleon
- Minnie Riperton - Perfect Angel
- Nas - Illmatic
- Ohio Players - Honey
- Olivia Newton-John - Physical
- Rufus - Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
- The Beatles - Let It Be
Her new album, New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War) hits stores Tuesday, February 26th, 2008.
Unpredictable Erykah has a lot going on, so check her out!
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