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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Classic Soul Memory from the Lost Generation

Chicago’s The Lost Generation recorded 2 albums for Brunswick Records before leaving the label in 1973.

Jesse Dean, Larry Brownlee, and brothers Lowrell and Fred Simon were The Lost Generation.

Their one major hit, “The Sly, Slick & The Wicked,” was Record World Magazine’s Song of the Year (a co-honor shared with “ABC” by the Jackson 5 in 1970).

"Beware young girls of the sly, the slick, and the wicked.” That’s the love song message these guys put over in this significant hit.

The music track is similar to the sound of their fellow label mates, The Chi-Lites.

Writer Kevin L. Goins says that The Lost Generation recorded this song at the tail end of a Jackie Wilson recording studio session.

Listen to 30 seconds of this noteworthy classic soul blast from the past, “The Sly, Slick & The Wicked” by The Lost Generation.

You can find the track on the deluxe 2 CD collection Brunswick Top 40 R&B Singles 1966 - 1975.

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Posted by King on 01/28 at 07:30 PM
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron Hears the Music Again

Who is Gil Scott-Heron?  His official website has the goods about everything you’d like to know about this trailblazing performer.

For Gil, it’s always been about the message in the music.  Here’s what his condensed biography says:

"Gil Scott-Heron is an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word soul performer and his collaborative work with musician Brian Jackson."

"His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues and soul music, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron."

"The music of these albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul."

"Scott-Heron’s recording work is often associated with black militant activism and has received much critical acclaim for one of his most well-known compositions “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

"On his influence, Allmusic wrote “Scott-Heron’s unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists."

Yes, this is all true.

"The Bottle” is probably Gil’s biggest hit, an uptempo prophetic warning about boozing, drinking, and the evils of alcohol.

Gil has a brand new album, I’m New Here, to be released February 8th in the U.K., and Tuesday, February 9, 2010 in the USA.

Watch his new video, “Me and the Devil,” and discover more about Gil Scott-Heron at his official website, GilScottHeron.net.

About the video...once you get past the skate boarders, look for Gil to do his thing!

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Posted by King on 01/26 at 07:30 PM
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge, and Rihanna offer Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) Version 1.0

As telethons go, Hope for Haiti made the right emotional connections urging us all to donate money for the people in need on the devastated island.

Actors and artists provided 2 hours of music, messages, and optimism beamed across multiple TV networks.

I’m sure you have your favorite moments.

Jennifer Hudson’s version of “Let It Be” was touching.  John Legend’s choice of Richie Havens “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” was ironically chilling.

According to iTunes, 100% of proceeds from the sale of the album Hope for Haiti Now and any of its individual live performance tracks will go to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Program, and Yele Haiti Foundation.

Here are the tracks:

  1. “Send Me An Angel” - Alicia Keys
  2. “A Message 2010” - Coldplay
  3. “We Shall Overcome” - Bruce Springsteen
  4. “A Time To Love/Bridge Over Troubled Water” - Stevie Wonder
  5. “I’ll Stand By You” - Shakira featuring The Roots
  6. “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” - John Legend
  7. “Hard Times Come Again No More” - Mary J. Blige featuring The Roots
  8. “Breathless” - Taylor Swift
  9. “Lift Me Up” - Christina Aguilera
  10. “Driven To Tears” - Sting
  11. “Halo” - Beyonce’
  12. “Like A Prayer” - Madonna
  13. “Hallelujah” - Justin Timberlake featuring Charlie Sexton
  14. “Let It Be” - Jennifer Hudson featuring The Roots
  15. “Many Rivers To Cross” - Emeline Michel
  16. “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) live version” - Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge & Rihanna
  17. “Alone and Forsaken” - Dave Matthews & Neil Young
  18. “Rivers of Babylon/Yele” - Wyclef Jean
  19. “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) version 1.0” - Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge & Rihanna
  20. “Lean On Me” - Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock & Keith Urban

A special shout out to Mary J. Blige for taking us to church!

Listen to 60 seconds of “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)” Version 1.0, featuring Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge, and Rihanna.

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Posted by King on 01/23 at 01:00 AM
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hope For Haiti Telethon to Feature Music and Hollywood Heavyweights

As of Thursday afternoon, January 21, from just the generous individual charitable givers in the USA, over 300 million dollars has already been raised to benefit the Haitian people stricken by the recent earthquake disaster.

Friday, at 8 pm Eastern, an all star telethon begins on MTV, with simulcasts on several other domestic and international TV networks .

Look for Wyclef Jean, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce’, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Hudson, Sting, Mary J. Bilge, and other big names to persuade you to give.

Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood, President Bill Clinton, Halle Berry, Chris Rock, Nicole Kidman, Jon Stewart, and several other Hollywood notables will do the same.

I highly recommend watching the Wyclef Jean video in Wyclef Jean Challenges Haitian Charity Critics.  He tells it like it is.

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Posted by King on 01/21 at 07:30 PM
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wyclef Jean Challenges Haitian Charity Critics

Humanitarian relief efforts organized by Haitian native and former Fugees member Wyclef Jean are being closely examined because of questions surrounding the financial management of his charity, Yele Haiti Foundation.

TheSmokingGun.com reported in “Wyclef Jean Charity’s Funny Money,” (just 2 days after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake), that they believe Jean unjustifiably profited based upon their examination of income tax returns filed by The Wyclef Jean Foundation.

Two days later, Jean issued a statement saying “I first learned of these baseless attacks when I left Haiti Friday, where I had been since 12 hours after the earthquake."

"Let me be clear: I denounce any allegation that I have ever profited personally through my work with Yele Haiti."

There are some close connections though between Jean’s charity work, and his music business activities.

What can’t be debated are Wyclef’s authentic emotions regarding the tragedy that has stricken his homeland.

He’ll co-host “Hope for Haiti,” a telethon on Friday, January 22, 8 pm Eastern, to help raise money for the people of Haiti.

MTV will be the flagship network, with simulcasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, BET, the CW, HBO, VH1, and CMT.

Look for international TV coverage too.

George Clooney in Los Angeles, and Anderson Cooper in Haiti are the other co-hosts.

Expect lots of musical performances and celebrity guests during this all-star telethon.

Finally, to answer some questions you may have about Yele Haiti, take a look at this video press conference featuring Wyclef Jean, recorded on Monday, January 18.

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Posted by King on 01/19 at 07:30 PM
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teddy Pendergrass - the Best of Philly

I must have caught Teddy Pendergrass on an off day.  He was coming out of the Club Harlem in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the days when “Bad Luck” was hot.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendegrass were in town for a weekend of performances.

T.P. on this particular afternoon might have been leaving the club after a rehearsal.

I approached him and announced my affiliation with the local R&B radio station, WUSS.  He pretty much ignored me and kept on steppin’.

Such was the sometimes self absorbed ego of Mr. Pendergrass.

When be became too big for just the black clubs and crossed over to the largest venues, Teddy exploded as a solo act.

In his early days by himself after the Blue Notes era, he always included a stint on the drums during his stage act, as he was a very good drummer.

Voice, sexual persona, charisma, and entertainer magnetism cleary puts T.P. in the classic soul hall of fame.

I attended a tribute to Teddy Pendergrass in Philadelphia on December 17, 1980.  Click the link and take a look at all of the folks who participated.

This feature was part of a Teddy Pendergrass spotlight we posted in 2007 as part of the Powerhouse Radio Archive.

Teddy Pendergrass died on Wednesday, January 13, 2010, after battling colon cancer.

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Posted by King on 01/14 at 11:00 AM
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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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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Alicia Keys Uses Elements of Freedom for New Independence

Released in December 2009, Alicia Keys’ latest album Elements of Freedom takes her in some clearly new and adventurous directions.

Some of the sounds on her last album As I Am foreshadowed the artistic growth we get on Elements of Freedom.

You could argue that on many of these songs, Alicia Keys travels down an independent road, away from her successful hit making formulas of the past.

There’s more Brenda Russell and India.Arie here and less Aretha and Beyonce’.

The Beatle-ish “Distance and Time” with it’s intro nod to “Let It Be” is an example of how Alicia feels quite at ease making music her way.

Her singing and keyboard playing are very strong.

For most fans, that’s all this album needs to please.

14 tracks (including a short :13 second intro) make up Elements of Freedom.

The songs are all enjoyable, although on the first few listening sessions, nothing exceptional grabbed my ears.

There’s the stylish “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down,” the kind of song Carole King might have written and performed a few moons ago.  Jay-Z is not on this version.

Overall, I can sum up Elements of Freedom as a worthy singer-songwriter indulgence that could push the Alicia Keys phenomenon to an even broader audience.

Does she succeed?  I like it, but you can be the judge for yourself.

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Posted by King on 01/07 at 01:00 AM
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Monday, January 04, 2010

Mary J Blige is Stronger with each Tear

Why does Mary J. Blige stands out from other contemporary ladies of song including Beyonce’, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna?

Well, Mary J. is… Mary J.

Miss Blige has forged a solid track record since 1992 building on an authentic R&B hip hop fusion that she continues to refine with intricate skill.

Her new album Stronger with Each Tear, released at the tail end of 2009, features spirited, lively, and well produced commercially festive tracks.

The songs reflect positive emotions.  Mary J. belts out the lyrics with expressive conviction.

You know she’s been around the block and communicates her experience through the stories these songs tell.

Despite the slick, catchy hooks in these crafty and memorable numbers, there’s just enough raw grit to keep Mary J. real, relevant, and believable.

With the exception of the very different “I Can See In Color,” a bluesy final track, Stronger with Each Tear, is consistently good.

You’ve read my opinion, now here are 3 others...

Los Angeles Times - “The compositions belie their complexity with expansive hip-hop beats, delicate piano and lush strings. Producers such as Ne-Yo know how to primp and pamper without hitting overload, and guests Drake, T.I. and Trey Songz all deliver strong turns."

"Yet some of the best moments are stripped down: the Raphael Saadiq-produced “I Can See in Color,” also featured on the Precious soundtrack, is a profession of self-worth that’s at once silky and dirge-like."

New York Times - “The standout on Mary J. Blige’s ninth studio album, “Stronger with Each Tear,” is its final song, “I Can See in Color,” from the soundtrack of Precious.”

"It restates Ms. Blige’s favorite message — that tribulation is the beginning of redemption — in an emphatically unadorned minor-key soul setting."

Boston Globe - “The queen of hip-hop soul splits her loyalty between three masters with the agility of a gymnast, but she manages to hold a mood with seamless transitions between each."

"Deliberate, midtempo pop-soul songs help you catch your breath, which is all the better to sing along."

"The highlights include the current single, “I Am,’’ another slice of melodic joy from the golden production team Stargate, and the purposeful “Each Tear,’’ which sounds like a combination of Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin."

"The album closes with a one-two punch of simmering, old-school soul tracks “In the Morning’’ and “I Can See in Color.’’

"The latter, from the Precious soundtrack, is produced to raw perfection by Raphael Saadiq. It’s a reminder that Blige gets stronger with each album."

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Posted by King on 01/04 at 01:00 AM
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