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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time Plays it Cool for New Year's Eve

That’s Morris Day out in front on the cover of the Time’s 1981 album, The Time.

As was normal back in the day, record label Warner Brothers stamped a “loaned for promotion only” sticker on the upper right side of my deejay copy (of the vinyl disc).

Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam, Monte Moir, Jellybean Johnson, Jesse Johnson, and Morris Day were the Minneapolis, Minnesota Time.

They’ll be represented during the 16 hour plus Powerhouse Radio New Year’s Eve Special beginning at 9 am Eastern.

During a portion of the special, I’ll be plugging in my announcers microphone to provide an additional element of that old school classic soul touch.

As 2009 comes to a close, faith is the key, and hope unlocks the door for an optimistic year in 2010.

Before successful on-air times at both WBLS in New York City, and WUSL Power 99 FM in Philadelphia, I got some seasoning working at a variety of radio stations.

So, compare what you hear on these two brief excerpts from way back when to our special on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2009!

Total running time is 4 minutes, 30 seconds for the complete aircheck.  The first clip features WALL contest time.  Remember when radio stations always featured non-stop contests?

Clip two takes you to Atlantic City, New Jersey.

For several of my early artist interviews, visit the Powerhouse Radio archive.

I don’t have any pictures from WALL, but here’s one from May, 1977 taken at WUSS about a year after the clip recording.

By the way, the picture of me at the top of this page is new, from about 2006.

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Posted by King on 12/30 at 12:30 PM
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Millie Jackson gets Naughty again

One of the best live Millie Jackson tracks you’ll ever want to hear is her lustful version of “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)."

Millie takes the Luther Ingram hit and jazzes it up with one of her classic soul old school razor tongued raps.

If you’ve never heard it, listen Thursday morning December 31, (Eastern time) during the Powerhouse Radio New Year’s Eve special (9 am - midnight +).

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Posted by King on 12/29 at 09:00 AM
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

James Brown Christmas

This December 25th marks the 3rd year since the passing of James Brown on Christmas Day, 2006.

The Godfather of Soul believed in the spirit of the holiday.  In 1966, he released the album: James Brown & His Fabulous Flames Sing Christmas Songs.

Another Christmas collection, A Soulful Christmas, was distributed in 1968.

1994 saw the compilation James Brown Christmas.  In 1999, another much weaker collection was released: The Merry Christmas Album.

Without compromise, James Brown stuck to his own style on holiday tunes.  Here is one interesting exception.

Listen to 50 seconds of “The Christmas Song” from James Brown Christmas.  You’ll have a chuckle at the string arrangements which are out of character for Soul Brother #1.

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Posted by King on 12/24 at 01:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kool & the Gang Celebrate to Cheering Cuban Fans in Havana

Kool & the Gang are in the middle of a 4 day tour of Havana, Cuba, treating Cubans to American classic soul at it’s best.

Their Saturday, December 19 - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 shows have been authorized by the US government according to Robert “Kool” Bell, despite general travel restrictions by Washington to the communist island.

This is a rare appearance for an American group.  The last one was by Los Angeles band Audioslave in 2005.

The next stop on the current Kool & the Gang tour is a two-day gig at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida in early January, 2010.

Since many Cuban-Americans in Miami do not like the Cuban government, it will be interesting to see if there is any negative reaction to Kool & the Gang’s Florida appearances.

Robert “Kool” Bell says of Kool & the Gang’s Cuban trip: “our message is love, understanding and unity.  We don’t come as politicians, we come as musicians."

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Posted by King on 12/22 at 01:00 AM
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Earth Wind & Fire Cleveland Christmas Karaoke

"Get Your Hump on this Christmas,” a new 2009 ‘Stoolbend Virginia’ holiday hit, features Fox TV cartoon character Cleveland Brown.

Cleveland sings the track along with the dynamic instrumental and harmonic backing of Earth, Wind & Fire.

"Get Your Hump on this Christmas” is funky, proving once again that if you can dance to it, good taste gets kicked right out of the lyric window.

Who listens to the words anymore anyway?

You can add this song to other infamous novelty holiday fare.

At least Earth, Wind & Fire can proudly boast that they share the billing on this fun Christmas song (but will they want to)?

Here are some group members, along with Cleveland.

The mp3 single is available at iTunes.

Powerhouse Radio’s holiday music special begins Thursday, December 17 and will continue through Saturday, December 26. Yes, we’ll play this one too, along with many of your favorite holiday classics.

Listen to 30 seconds of “Get Your Hump on this Christmas."

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Posted by King on 12/17 at 01:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Christmas Song Video Treat

As recently mentioned, “The Christmas Song” by the legendary Flamingos featuring Terry Johnson is a delightful new treat.  Enjoy the video.  Thank you Terry Johnson and company!

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Posted by King on 12/15 at 08:00 AM
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

5 Soulful Favorites Touch 2009

Although the sun has set on the golden age of classic soul, the sprit of the music continues to live on with new tracks that embrace the tradition.

Every year, there are always great examples of very good new music.

In order, here are my 5 soulful 2009 favorites:

  1. Beyonce‘ - “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” - This could have been a Destiny’s Child track.  Simple rhythms, a fabulous hook, and a razor sharp contemporary message.  It’s brilliant pop music that grows on you.

  2. Michael Jackson - “This Is It” - Somewhat ignored by radio, this track is delightful, reminding us that we’ve lost an amazing prodigy.

  3. Mariah Carey - “I Want To Know What Love Is” - A talent takes a good song and makes it great.  This Foreigner classic has been given a memorable dramatic reading as well as a breath of fresh air.

  4. Lionel Richie - “Just Go” - He didn’t write most of the songs this time around on his latest album, however , Lionel Richie maintains his mass appeal star power with this strong performance.

  5. Whitney Houston - “I Look To You” - Last, but not least, two thumbs up for Whitney Houston, who has come back from despair to share her soul through this charming, but somewhat formulaic, new and appealing ballad.

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Posted by King on 12/10 at 01:00 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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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Beyonce Captures 10 Grammy Nominations

Beyonce’ has been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards.  The 52nd annual music excellence celebration takes place Sunday, January, 31, 2010, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.  CBS TV has the event from 8:00 – 11:30 p.m Eastern.

Beyonce’ has been nominated in these 10 categories:

1) Record of the Year
“Halo,” from I Am… Sasha Fierce

2) Album of the Year
I Am… Sasha Fierce

3) Song of the Year
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” from I Am… Sasha Fierce

4) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
“Halo” from I Am… Sasha Fierce

5) Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” from I Am… Sasha Fierce

6) Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance
“At Last” from: Cadillac Records (music from the motion picture)

7) Best R&B Song
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” from I Am… Sasha Fierce

8) Best Contemporary R&B Album
I Am… Sasha Fierce

9) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
“Ego” Beyoncé & Kanye West

10) Best Song written for Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Media

“Once In A Lifetime” (from Cadillac Records)
songwriters: Beyoncé (and others)

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Posted by King on 12/03 at 10:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Candy Cane Christmas from Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker, vocalist - guitarist of Hootie & the Blowfish fame, has just dropped “Candy Cane Christmas,” a 2009 holiday ditty right out of the Lou Rawls, Sammy Davis Jr. school of pop.

This charming song has all the hooks of an attractive Christmas classic.

"Candy Cane Christmas” offers Darius a way outside of blues-rock to showcase his earthy voice.

Listen to and enjoy 30 seconds of “Candy Cane Christmas” by Darius Rucker.

Download the complete song for free (for a limited time) from the iTunes music store.

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Posted by King on 12/01 at 01:00 AM
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