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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement

As Black History Month 2010 comes to a close, here’s a great review from BlackHistoryPeople.com of Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement.



Posted by King on 02/25 at 08:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Philadelphia International Records Studio Saved from Inferno

Philadelphia producers Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble are pictured here in the recording studio.

The Philadelphia International Records founders reported at a Tuesday February 23, press conference that their recording studio was spared in a recent weekend two-alarm fire at their headquarters.

Melted in the blaze and gone for good: numerous gold and platinum records, along with about 40 percent of their memorabilia.

Master recordings are stored off-site and are safe.

The O’Jays, The Three Degrees, MFSB, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle, and others recorded hits for Gamble, Huff, and producer Thom Bell in these famous studios.

Philadelphia fire fighters have not yet determined what caused the blaze, but Fire Commissioner Lloyd M. Ayers states that “it’s a little suspicious."

Gamble, Huff, and Bell own the building at 309 South Broad Street.  They pledge to rebuild the structure, which has become a Philadelphia tourist attraction.

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Posted by King on 02/23 at 08:30 PM
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Queen of Soul Creates Golden Aretha Duets

Throughout her fabulous career, Aretha Franklin has collaborated with the best in the business.

In 2007, Arista Records released Jewels In The Crown: All-Star Duets with The Queen.

These ‘song buddy’ partnerships have become so commonplace that it’s easy to take them for granted...but not Aretha’s.

You get a soup to nuts smorgasbord of delicacies from Miss Franklin on Jewels In The Crown, and that’s what I like the most about this CD.

Funk, classic soul, middle of the road, rock, gospel, and a touch of opera on “Nessun Dorma” (with the New York Recording Orchestra) make this a very strong collection of songs.

All of the tunes are powered with emotion.  Her song partners are allowed to shine and share the spotlight.

If you missed this one the first time around, check it out.

Jewels In The Crown: All-Star Duets with The Queen:

  1. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with Keith Richards
  2. “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” with Eurythmics
  3. “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” with George Michael
  4. “What Now My Love” with Frank Sinatra
  5. “Put You Up On Game” with Fantasia
  6. “What Y’All Came To Do” with John Legend
  7. “Never Gonna Break My Faith” with Mary J. Blige & the Harlem Boys Choir
  8. “Through The Storm” with Elton John
  9. “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be” with Whitney Houston
  10. “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with Bonnie Raitt and Gloria Estefan
  11. “Doctor’s Orders” with Luther Vandross
  12. “Ever Changing Times” with Michael McDonald
  13. “Chain of Fools” with Mariah Carey
  14. “Don’t Waste Your Time” with Mary J. Blige
  15. “Love All The Hurt Away” with George Benson
  16. “Nessun Dorma” with the New York Recording Orchestra

Listen to 60 seconds of Aretha swing with Frank Sinatra on the standard:  “What Now My Love."

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Posted by King on 02/18 at 07:30 PM
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recycled Soul Gold Meets Motorcity Hits

When A Soulful Tale of Two Cities, the Detroit - Philadelphia R&B connection was released in 2006, it seemed we had just about reached the creative limit in the reincarnation of classic soul hits.

Now in 2010 comes Motorcity Hits...Real Music Is Back, a new 17 song collection featuring fresh takes on divine Detroit ditties.

The Four Tops, the Dramatics, the Miracles, the Contours with Joe Billingslea, the Original Vandellas, Freda Payne, and other artists are featured.

Be sure to listen to the 60 second montage I’ve created from three of the featured tracks.

One thing is certain, there is an eager market for vintage classic soul, but at what point will we become oversaturated with these infinite recorded retakes?

The original versions are burned into our memories just like our a-b-c’s.

Will you accept essentially carbon copy updates?

I do like the sparser instrumental treatment these songs receive.

Freda Payne (pictured here) sounds just as good as she did back in the day.

I don’t believe the producers wanted to meticulously duplicate the sophisticated layering of the Motown originals.

The updated arrangements salute the originals, but reflect an instrumental slickness that sings “2010."

Here are the tracks:

  1. “Hitsville Hall Of Fame” - Various Artists
  2. “Money” - Paul Hill featuring Barrett Strong
  3. “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” - the Four Tops
  4. “Baby Come Close” - Keith Washington
  5. “Leavin You” - the Miracles
  6. “Needle In The Haystack” - the Velvelettes
  7. “Love Machine” - the Miracles
  8. “Bad Girl” - the Dramatics
  9. “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” - Paul Hill
  10. “Even If My Heart Would Break” - the Contours with Joe Billingslea
  11. “Band Of Gold” - Freda Payne
  12. “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” - Paul Hill Featuring George Clinton
  13. “Miles Away” - the Four Tops
  14. “Do You Love Me” - the Contours with Joe Billingslea
  15. “Since I Fell For You” - Laura Lee
  16. “Dancing In The Street” - the Original Vandellas
  17. “Baby I’m For Real” - Duane Parham featuring Pat Lewis

Laura Lee, (left), takes the Lenny Welch serenade “Since I Fell For You,” plugs in an intro rap, and sings her heart out.

There are original members still with us from many of these groups.

The Motor City Hits Records website has some interesting links about these personalities in their artist(s) information section.

Listen to 60 seconds of: the Four Tops, Freda Payne, and Laura Lee from Motorcity Hits...Real Music Is Back.

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Posted by King on 02/16 at 09:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Black History Month Classic Soul Disc Jockeys

It’s time to have some fun and go back to those thrilling days in our past when spectacular entertainers thrilled radio listeners.

There will be a quiz, so please join in.

In 1999, William Barlow wrote a great book, Voice Over: The Making of Black Radio.

Mr. Barlow presents an outstanding timeline based story about how enterprising African American voices made their way into communities through radio to entertain, inform, and educate.

I highly recommend this book for those of you interested in the real story about how ‘black radio’ was created and evolved.

Our purpose here however is the music, so in honor of Black History Month, we present 5 disc jockeys who had a significant impact on their industry, cities, and fans.

You get to guess who is who.

Listen to the 2 minute feature below.  Can you figure out the names of all 5 disc jockeys.  Maybe you know only one.

But wait.  There’s another angle to this game.  Each disc jockey is featured from an actual vinyl record they released to the public back in the day.

Leave a comment and take a guess about who these folks are.

Some hints: think Windy City, The Big Apple, and The City of Brotherly Love.

At the end of Black History Month, I will reveal who each person is, along with the names of the songs, and the labels they were released on.

These tracks all come from my personal collection.

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Posted by King on 02/09 at 07:30 PM
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Black History Month Classic Soul Anthems

The White House is getting ready to host a civil rights music review on February 10, 2010.

President and Mrs. Obama have invited Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Howard University Choir to perform music from the movement.

A PBS television broadcast on February 11th, as well as a one hour NPR radio special on selected stations during Black History Month will feature the concert.

One of the best classic soul compilations of civil rights era music is Black Power: Music of A Revolution.

This 2 CD set was released on the Shout label in 2004.

It has one of the best collections I’ve seen of both message music and liberation prose from the golden age of R&B.

Here are the tracks on Disc 1 & 2:


  1. “The Black Panther Party” - Huey Newton
  2. “You’re The Man pts. 1 & 2” - Marvin Gaye
  3. “Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto” - Philadelphia Int’l All Stars
  4. “Change It” - Kathleen Cleaver
  5. “Song To The System” - Segments of Time
  6. “Right On” - Sons of Slum
  7. “Tell It Like It Is” - S.O.U.L.
  8. “Mighty Mighty” - Earth Wind & Fire
  9. “Compared To What” - Les McCann & Eddie Harris
  10. “I Don’t Know What This World Is Coming To” - Soul Children
  11. “Power to the People” - Huey Newton
  12. “Give More Power To The People” - Chi-Lites
  13. “Give The People What They Want” - O’Jays
  14. “We Want Black Power” - Stokely Carmichael
  15. “Say It Loud - I’m Black and I’m Proud” - James Brown
  16. “Blackenized” - Hank Ballard
  17. “So Much Strength” - Stokely Carmichael
  18. “Fight The Power (pt. 1)” - Isley Brothers
  19. “Stop Singing and Start Swinging” - Malcolm X

  1. “Standing & Fighting” - Malcolm X
  2. “Message From a Black Man” - Temptations
  3. “Part - E, S’ - Watts Prophets
  4. “Violence is as American as Cherry Pie” - H. Rap Brown
  5. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” - Gil Scott-Heron
  6. “When The Revolution Comes” - The Last Poets
  7. “Am I Black Enough For You?” - Billy Paul
  8. “Black Unity” - Stokely Carmichael
  9. “My People...Hold On” - Eddie Kendricks
  10. “Be Thankful For What You Got” - William DeVaughn
  11. “Chocolate City” - Parliament
  12. “We’re a Winner (live)” - Curtis Mayfield
  13. “We Got More Soul” - Dyke & The Blazers
  14. “I Am Somebody (part 2)” - Johnnie Taylor
  15. “Express Yourself” - Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band
  16. “Respect Yourself” - Staple Singers
  17. “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” - Nina Simone
  18. “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” - Kim Weston
  19. “Ain’t’ No Stoppin’ Us Now” - McFadden & Whitehead

The number of female artists represented is light, but still, this is a powerful music and spoken word reflection of the civil rights social movement.

Listen to 15 seconds of activist H. Rap Brown’s “Violence is as American as Cherry Pie.” Facebook fans, you’ll have to scroll down and click the link “View original post."

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Posted by King on 02/04 at 07:30 PM
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Monday, February 01, 2010

Beyonce Dominates the Grammy Awards

The big story at the 2010 52nd annual Grammy Awards was Beyonce’s dominance with 6 new trophies, but there were some other interesting musical moments.

For instant gratification, the opening performers usually hit some high notes, and that’s what Lady Gaga & Elton John did.

The Grammy show is not for you if you have a short attention span, as you have to sit through the dull moments to experience the true gems of the evening during the three and 1/2 hour marathon.

After Celine Dion, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, and Carrie Underwood performed Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” 2 of Michael’s children accepted a lifetime achievement award with short, moving comments.

Jamie Foxx and T-Pain, who won for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (with Kanye West who did not perform), brought some energy and excitement to the evening (that often dragged along).

Hats off to The Dave Matthews Band for an impressive well played set.

Best act introduction: Quentin Tarantino bringing on the most bleeped performance of the night: Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Drake.  Come on guys! You are on rated G TV.

Beyonce’ has come a long way. Anyone who can win in such broad musical categories can take comfort in knowing that they’ve arrived - big time.

Beyonce’s Grammy Awards:

  1. Song of the Year - “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
  2. Best R&B Song - “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
  3. Best Female R&B Vocal Performance - “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
  4. Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance - “At Last” from Cadillac Records
  5. Best Female Pop Vocal Performance - “Halo”
  6. Best Contemporary R&B Album - I Am...Sasha Fierce

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Posted by King on 02/01 at 01:00 AM
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