Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ultra-Lounge Divas

Sarah Vaughan photo sarah_vaughan_zpsfd36d0f2.jpg Margie Rayburn photo Margie_Rayburn_zpse6da1454.jpg
Kay Starr photo Kay_Starr_zps9db8f75c.jpg Ann Richards photo ann_richards002_zpse6451673.jpg
Clockwise: Sarah Vaughan, Margie Rayburn, Ann Richards, and Kay Starr.

While I usually allow some amazing performances from lady Jazz singers to deliver torch songs on Saturday nights, tonight was I inspired by an old recording I came across, Ultra-Lounge's 'Divas Las Vegas!'. The uptempo numbers were just what the doctor ordered. I discovered the album while watching 'The Opposite Sex' on TCM, which featured one of the singers on the album, Dolores Gray. While she won't appear tonight, I do look forward to featuring her some evening soon. The 'Divas' album showcased some of the ladies who played the gambling center of the world, delivering great Jazz and Pop mussic to all who paid to hear it. I will start with a favorite of mine, Sarah Vaughan. With a song written by Mann Curtis, Al Hoffman, and Walter Kent, best known when sung by Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack pals. But when Sarah gets hold of it, the song will never be the same. This is "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die" by the amazing Sarah Vaughan.

The next track was also the second off the album. "This Could Be the Start of Something" is a popular song written by Steve Allen, better known as a television host, the first to host 'The Tonight Show' from 1954 to 1957. It was during this time he wrote the song, which was published in 1956. It soon became the theme song to 'The Tonight Show' until Allen left. The song became a big hit, and was quickly recorded by some of the biggest names of the time, including Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald. Margie Rayburn first became known as part of the group The Sunnysiders, who had a couple of hits in the 1950s. This is Rayburn singing "This Could Be The Start of Something".

The next song was written for the great Judy Holliday, who starred in the 1956 Broadway hit, 'Bells Are Ringing'. With a melody written by Jule Styne and the lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, this song was destined to be great. Soon it was being recorded by many of the greats of the time, That list would include Kay Starr, who Billie Holiday said was "the only white woman who could sing the blues". High praise indeed from the singer many believe to be the best Jazz singer of all time. This is Kay Starr singing "Just In Time".

The final track for this evening is a great one, to be sure. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, "Something's Coming" was written for the 1957 Broadway production of 'West Side Story'. The show was a huge hit, and soon people were lining up to sing the songs from the show. Singer Ann Richards began her career as a big band singer, and was noticed what singing for Stan Kenton and is orchestra. Soon there was more than a professional relationship, as Richards and Kenton not only got married, but had two children. This is "Something's Coming" by Ann Richards!

Enjoy your weekend!

Go West • King of Wishful Thinking

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(Left to right) Richard Drummie and Peter Cox in 1985.

I was first moved by the music of Go West in 1985, when I saw.heard the video for their first single, "Call Me". The group was made up by rhythm guitarist Richard Drummie and vocalist Peter Cox. The British artists got together in London, England, in 1982, and apparently, it was a match made in heaven. I loved the first song, and went to my favorite import store and purchased their eponymous debut album. I loved it so much, I couldn't wait for more. And soon as I found it, I purchased it! Of course, it didn't hurt both men were strikingly handsome, and Cox had a voice with just the right amount of grit behind it.

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In 1990, the band had a song in the soundtrack to the film 'Pretty Woman'. Turned out to be a good move, as the song, "King of Wishful Thinking", went to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and they received an ASCAP award for being one of the most played songs in America in 1990. The song was all kinds of catchy, and I, along with many others, found it irresistible. And while it might be hard to believe, that makes the song 24 years old at this point. It was written by Drummie and Cox, and performed to perfection by them. This is the official music video for "King of Wishful Thinking" by Go West.

"King of Wishful Thinking" can be found on the album 'Indian Summer', as well as the greatest hits collection, which included this and many other fantastic songs. You can buy 'Ace and Kings: The Best of Go West' from iTunes and Amazon. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ignite Your Weekend!

Jason Walker - I Can't Get You Off My Mind photo Jason-Walker-I-Cant-Get-You-Off-My-Mind_zps608a4a0b.jpg Groove Armada feat Will Young - History photo GrooveArmada-History_zps0f1aa510.jpg
Christopher Dallman - Nighttime in the City Radboy Remix photo ChristopherDallmanNighttimeintheCityRadboyRadioEditCOVER_zpsf879725a.jpg That Rogue Romeo - Domino photo ThatRogueRomeo2_zpsc64c1008.jpeg
Clockwise: Jason Walker, Groove Armada, That Rogue Romeo, and Christopher Dallamn.

It is time to kick off the weekend, and this time out, I thought I would offer a group of songs I really like, and come together for no other reason than I have put them in the same post. There is no overall theme, same that all four are in my iTunes, ready to be played. I will start with a voice I still find incredible. From the first time I heard him sing, to the last time I played his music, Jason Walker always blows me away, and leaves me wanting more. "I Can't Get You Off My Mind" appeared on his 2007 album, 'Flexible', which also had "Can't Stop" and "Foolish Lover (I'm Sorry)" on the track listing. This is the official music video for Jason Walker's "I Can't Get You Off My Mind".

You can purchase 'Flexible' from iTunes and Amazon. I first discovered Groove Armada, made up by electronic artists Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, when they worked with a favorite of mine, Will Young. The British duo paired up with the fantastic British singer for the 2010 release. The song is "History", and it has a wonderful sound, that was just a bit retro, and just the right amount of current to set it apart. And Young's vocals were dreamy and muysterioius, and I couldn't stop listening to the song. This is the official music video for Groove Armada featuring Will Young with "History".

The song can be found on Groove Armada's album 'Blacklight', which can be purchase from iTunes and Amazon. When I think of singer/songwriter Christopher Dallman, I don't go straight to dance music. But there have been a couple of times when an imaginative DJ picked out a great song and gave it a wonderful treatment. That was the case with his song "Nighttime in the City", which I first came to know off his album 'Race the Light', which is how I got to know Dallman. I was intrigued by every song on the album, and couldn't wait to hear more from the man. Eight years after the first release, out came a remix of the song that I just found so very cool. Give a listen to Christopher Dallman's "Nighttime in the City (Radboy Radio Edit)" and see what you think.

You can purchase 'Nighttime in the City' from iTunes and Bandcamp. Finally, I could listen to just about anything That Rogue Romeo put out. I love the way he pulls together the drive and edge of great Rock music with the sound and energy of fantastic Electronica. He released 'Machine and Magic' in 2012, and I loved it. The following year, That Rogue Romeo released 'Rebuilt', a collection of Remixed songs off the first album, giving a whole new feel to them. I was particularly fond of the song "Domino", written by That Rogue Romeo (aka Kevin Stea) and Stefano Borzi. The love kept flowing with the remixes. This is That Rogue Romeo with "Domino (EmJay's Neomaster video version)".

You can find "Domino (EmJay's Master)" on the remix album 'Rebuilt', which can be purchased from iTunes and Bandcamp. I hope you enjoyed the music you heard here, and think about adding it to your own collection. No matter what you decide, I hope you have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Anthony Starble • We Need to be Loved EP

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Anthony Starble began piano lessons at age 9, and it might be said the future was written then. The young boy became obsessed with the instrument, sitting at the keyboard every chance he got. Stories have it his mother needed to pull the youngster off the piano bench on more than one occasion, whether it was to get him to the dinner table, or to make sure others in the house could sleep. Starble was picked on for being overweight and gay, a really double-whammy. He would escape to the piano, which soon paid off. By age 11, he was winning piano competitions, and was soon attending Denver School for the Arts. Soon he was writing songs, and by 16, he won the prestigious Berklee Songwriting contest for high school students. This lead to studying at CalArts, music continuing to the be focus of his world. He put out his first EP shortly after graduation. That was in 2010, so it was time to get back to work. That lead to the released of 'We Need to be Loved'.

Anthony Starble - We Need to be Loved photo AnthonyStarbleWeNeedtobeLovedCOVER_zps84ac8af1.jpg

I first heard of Anthony Starble from Nicole at LaFamos, telling me about the March 2014 release. I will admit I hear about a bunch of music, and miss hearing about a ton more. It sometimes takes me a while to catch up, as is the case with this EP. 'We Need to be Loved' is a four-song collection, which combines for over 17 minutes of music. The quartet of songs were written by Anthony, who also co-Produced the EP with Jon Sosin. Starble makes music that is a combination of Indie music, Folk, and a pinch of R&B, making his own sound that allows his talents as both a singer and songwriter to soar. His writing has such an authenticity, it is impossible to feel it touch your core. He tackles topics and feelings obviously close to his own heart, which mostly involves love. That is quite apparent in the first track on the EP, the title song. Driven by the piano and his lush vocals, the song takes a look at our need for love. Listen to Anthony Starble sing "We Need to be Loved".

The second song is "Why", a ballad that takes a look at the aftermath of love, which sometimes can lead to pain. There are many reasons relationships don't work out, but the result is often the same. Someone gets hurt, and people need time to recoup, and wonder why it has to be that way. The third track is the searing "Oh Father", where a son tells a very personal story that is so similar to many. This is the official music video for "Oh Father", by Anthony Starble.

That is an inner dialog many an LGBT kid has had, both before and after talking to a parent. I bet other kids have as well, those who feel different, who feel disconnected. The final track is the beautiful "Our Love is Lonely". Once again, Anthony takes an honest look at relationships, and how aspects of love might be great, you need to work to keep it alive and fresh. I was a bit taken aback by this EP, for it is not often you get such honesty put out there. There is a velvety feel to Starble's voice, be it singing solo, or accompanying himself on a layered chorus. The EP has gone into rotation on my iPod, and I just can't get enough. Check it out for yourself, and I am sure you will agree. You can purchase 'We Need to be Loved' from iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Anthony Starble, visit his ReverbNation page. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Von Smith • On To Something

Von Smith photo Von_Smith001_zps818f9427.jpg

Some might remember Von Smith as the ambitious singer from season 8 of American Idol. With a big voice and an even bigger personality, Smith made it through to the Top 36 before being (unfairly) eliminated. He was brought back for the Wild Card competition, and much to the dismay of many fans, he was once again dismissed. The great news was that Von did not give up, working hard over the next few years for a chance to have his voice heard. That lead to the next opportunity, when he Opened for Lady GaGa on tour in Australia in 2012.

Von Smith - On To Something photo VonSmithOnToSomethingCOVER_zps49e7e875.jpg

As I said, Von never gave up on the dream of being a professional singer. Recently, he set a new benchmark for himself, as he released an EP of studio recordings called 'On To Something'. I first learned about this EP from my friend, JD Doyle, curator of Queer Music Heritage. When I listen to the EP, I find Von to be part Freddie Mercury, part Robbie Williams, and part Sammy Davis Jr. But first and foremost, he is always Von Smith. 'On To Something' was released April 2, 2014, a six-song collection with all songs written, composed, and performed by Smith. He has come a long way since he was on Idol, and seems to have truly found his own voice, as well as his own music. The 'On To Something' EP was released on April 2, 2014, a six-song collection that never fails to intrigue, nor to entertain. The show begins with the eccentric and bombastic "Carnival of Life", which allows Von to show off that magnificent instrument, and the ease with which he uses it. This has the drama of Freddie and Queen, melding hyperactive operatic moments with Pop and Rock. From the opening moments of "Pilot Light", we know this is a very different number, part Maroon 5, which the flirty feel of Robbie Williams at his best. "Almost Free" has a slow and easy start, building from Peggy Lee Jazz to Cyndi Lauper pyrotechnics. There is something so simple, to straightforward, so honest about this song, I find it hard to resist. By the way, as you read the rest, you might want to hear a bit of a sample of what I am talking about, here in a YouTube clip I made for you. Of course, the music and album cover is all Von Smith!

There is a coy flirty whisper at the start of "Monster", but soon we get to the core, a full-throated look at love and the consequences of it. This is such a charming song, part 1960s girl group, with a nod to Lady Gaga. And there is such a humor present, I must smile. There is a kooky feel to the idiosyncratic "On to Something", when I suddenly wonder if Von isn't the lost love child of Jim Morrison and Patti LaBelle. He delivers off-centered and slightly off so well, perhaps disturbingly well... But there is real beauty in the song, a melodic and lyric win, for sure. The EP comes to an end with "The Prize", a song with a wistful longing I hadn't felt thus far. There is a wonderful strength to the vocals, and not just in Von's voice. There is a power behind the vocals, not just in his mind-boggling range. As it comes to a close, I can't help but think Smith truly found his niche, and delivered a bold and buoyant EP. It is a wonderful carnival ride, hosted by a ringmaster who knows how to big you up high, and drop you near, but not to, the earth again. You can purchase 'On To Something' from iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. To learn more about Von Smith, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Tumblr and Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Heard It Last Week • Sam Smith, Aris, Cassidy Haley & Spencer Day

Sma Smith - In the Lonely Hour 291 photo SamSmithIntheLonelyHourCOVER_zpsd02b3db0.jpg Aris - Twilight Revival 291 photo ArisTwilightRevivalCOVER_zpsbfe2ebce.jpg
Cassidy Haley - The Lovers 291 photo CassidyHaleyTheLoversCOVER_zps9e3225aa.jpg Spencer Day - Daybreak 291 photo SpencerdayDaybreakCOVER291_zps8ba208e8.jpg
Album covers from (Clockwise): Sam Smith, Aris, Spencer Day, and Cassidy Haley.

I thought it might be nice to revisit some of the new music I posted about last week, in case you missed it. Among the great music I offered up last week, I reviewed three albums by out and proud artists, and a sweet new music video from a British soul singer. That music video was "Leave Your Lover" from Sam Smith, a fantastic song that will be found on his upcoming release, 'In The Lonely Hour'. The song is a beautiful pl;ea to a very special someone. Smith turned many heads with two show-stopping performances on 'Saturday Night Live', and he upped the ante with the new video released last week. People were certainly talking about it! This is a clip of Smith singing the song live for YOU FM. Please enjoy Sam Smith performing an acoustic version of "Leave Your Lover".

'In The Lonely Hour' will be available June 17, 2014. You can pre-order it from iTunes. You can also pre-order the disk from Amazon. For more about Sam Smith, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. I was recently introduced to the music of Aris, a Brooklyn singer/songwriter with a big talent and a sexy growl. I loved his album 'Twilight Revival', and the fantastic song "Twilight". The handsome singer also wrote the song, which was also a fantastic music video. The album also included a wonderful remix, and cut the music video to work. This is Aris with "Twilight (Dancehaus Remix)".

'Twilight Revival' is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. To discover more about Aris, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. I have been a fan of Los Angelos singer/songwriter Cassidy Haley since I first discovered his debut album. Now he has come out with his sophomore effort, 'The Lovers'. It is another exceptional release, and keeps me wanting to hear whatever might be coming from Haley next. I hope there might be a music video or two to come, but until then, I will be enjoying the audio experience. Today I offer you the final cut from the album, a favorite of mine. This is Cassidy Haley with "Bones Gone Grey".

You can purchase 'The Lovers' via iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. To learn more about Cassidy Haley, check out his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. I've made no secret of the huge musical crush I have on Spencer Day, with his rich voice and smooth style just bowling me over every time I listen. His latest album, 'Daybreak', has hit the iStreets, and I just gobbled it up like it was Halloween candy. With a combination of original material and great cover songs, the album a delicious aural pleasure. Check it out for yourself, including this fun take of an old classic. This is Spencer Day singing "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'".

You can purchase 'Daybreak' from Bandcamp. To learn more about Spencer Day, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook and 'follow' him on Twitter. You can check out my original posts for more music and thoughts about the released music.

Nakhane Touré • Christopher Music Video

Nakhane Tour photo NAKHANE-TOURE_zps1cc3006f.jpg

Last summer, Nakhane Touré released his beautiful full-length debut, 'Brave Confusion'. I discovered the music sometime at the end of summer, the start of fall, and have been meaning to talk about it here, but seem to be distracted more often than not these days. Nakhane's music manages to be warm, elegant, and eloquent. It also does not hurt the young singer/songwriter, who calls ohannesburg, South Africa home, blends the American music of Folk and Soul, but also includes flavors from his native Africa to give the music a world fee. For me, it is pretty irresistible. And I was even more interested when I found out Nakhane was an out and proud gay man, I was intrigued enough to purchase the 'Brave Confusion' to check it all out for myself.

Nakhane Tour photo NakhaneToureBracveConfusionCOVER_zps2bd6597b.jpg

The album begins with "Christopher", staring with an ethereal piano-driven sound, that sounds both moody and majestic. But in the new music video, released just a few days ago, they dispense with the moody and just directly to the more Pop-driven sound. Nakhane's performance seems somewhere between Michael Jackson and Pharrell, with a little Peter Gabriel thrown in for in for good measure. There is a joy in both the song and the music video. This is the official music video for Nakhane Touré's "Christopher".

Just a few months ago, back in March, Touré released his second music video from the album, for the song "In the Darkroom". This song has a completely different feel than from the first cut, with a more direct Pop sound fleshed out by the acoustic guitars that sound just right with Nakhane's voice. There is something delicious and complex about the song structure, and so I couldn't wait to see the official must video for "In The Dark Room", by Nakhane Touré.

Finally, the first music video was released about nine months ago, when "Fog" first hit the streets. There is something magical about the song, which somehow sound fresh, yet also like it is speaking with the voice of the ancient. The music video captures this dichotomy, as well as adding a macabre feeling with the visuals, as he sings through a plaster covering. This is the official music video for Nakhane's "Fog".

The entire album is just so mart and clean, and as I listen to it 11 months later, and I swear I still find something new in it. You can purchase 'Brave Confusion' from iTunes. You can listen to his music on his official Soundcloud page. To learn more about Nakhane Touré, You can 'like' him on Facebook. You can also visit his Tumblr page, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dark Monday • Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army

White Christmas - Gee I Wish I Was Back In The Army photo GeeIWishIWasBack002_zpsb468ea68.jpg
White Christmas - Gee I Wish I Was Back In The Army photo GeeIWishIWasBack004_zps7fbc956c.jpg White Christmas - Gee I Wish I Was Back In The Army photo GeeIWishIWasBack003_zps604af9e6.jpg

Today, I wish to post about music, and to celebrate Memorial Day, all in one fell swoop. While it might be hard to do, I figured out a way. Released almost 60 years ago, 'White Christmas' was more than just a holiday movie. The musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen had music and lyrics by the great Irving Berlin also offered several salutes to the armed services, including one I simply love. Toward the end of the film, when the stars were performing in their play-within-the-movie motif, they sang the wonderful "Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army", both sweet and fun. This is the song from 'White Christmas'.

One of the first big production numbers in the movie features Crosby and Kaye joined by the rest of the army division singing a send off for their favorite general. The song is "The Old Man", once again written by Irving Berlin. As the General says his goodbyes, the soldiers all sing of their admiration of the man. This is "The Old Man" from 'White Christmas'.

Happy Memorial day, everyone!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Simply Torch • Simply Streisand

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For some reason, when I was thinking about doing my Saturday Night Torch post, I remembered being a young boy in my earlyish teens, buying the early albums of Barbra Streisand. My sister Kathy enjoyed her, with the more contemporary sounds of 'The Way We Were' and 'Live Concert at the Forum', and, of course, 'Funny Girl' and 'On A Clear Day'. In many ways, these were the early days of my musical education. I started finding the early albums - I know, how stereotypical can you get. But I found the first, second, third, and so on, when Streisand sung the classics, making magnificent recordings of some of the greatest songwriters of the time. And I also remembered her ninth studio album, 'Simply Streisand', and just how good that album can still make me feel. So this evening, I thought I would shard some great songs off that album.

Barbra Streisand - Simply Streisand photo Barbra_Streisand_-_SimplyStreisandCover_zps637e1ec4.jpg

'Simply Streisand was released in the Fall of 1967, while Barbra was busy shooing her first film role. So while she was busy being Fanny Brice for director William Wyler, she had this and 'A Christmas Album', quite the double play for a young Jewish girl. Streisand was in exceptional voice for the album, and in the liner notes, received high praise from a noted composer. Richard Rodgers wrote "No one is talented enough to sing with the depth of a fine cello or the lift of a climbing bird. Nobody, that is, except Barbra."And it is easy to agree with him on that one. Her voice had a richness and robust quality, as you can easily hear when she sings "The Nearness of You" by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington. This wonderful song was featured in the 1938 film, 'Romance in the Dark'. This is the 1967 recording by the one and only Barbra Streisand.

My next song was first heard in the 1951 Broadway musical 'A Tree Grows In Brooklyn', written by Dorothy Fields and Arthur Schwartz. "Make The Man Love Me" is a wonderful love song, and it is easy to see why many great women wanted to record it. I remember on exceptional job done by the incredible Barbara Cook. This is Barbra's take on the song, so very much her. This is "Make The Man Love Me".

This was a big favorite of mine for a long time, and I still think it amazing. "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)" was written by Jimmy Davis, Roger Ramirez, and James Sherman for the magnificent Billie Holiday, and she did a great job. Billie and Barbra are two of nine performers I have singing the song in my collection, and the song still makes me happy. Barbra's more urgent, pining version remains a favrite. This is Brabra Streisand singing "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)".

It is interesting, for my last song of the evening was written by Edward Eliscu, Billy Rose, and Vincent Youmans in 1929, and was first heard in the 1930 Broadway musical 'Great Day'. One of the more popular recordings was by Helen Morgan, who recrded it in the Fall of 1929. The song had lyrics by Billy Rose, who was the second husband of Fanny Brice, who Streisand was played on both stage and screen. And in the 1975 musical 'Funny Lady', a sequel to the film she was shooting, she recorded the song again. But in 1967, it was a track on the album 'Simply Streisand'. This is Barbra singing "More Than You Know".

You can purchase 'Simply Streisand' on iTunes and Amazon.

Sam Smith • Leave Your Lover Video

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It seems as though British singer Sam Smith has people talking, both about his music and his new music video. The above pictures are screen grabs from the latest from Sam Smith, "Leave Your Lover" from the album 'In The Lonely Hour'. The song, "Leave Your Lover", will be featured on his upcoming album, 'In the Lonely Hour', due out next month. Sam has been making great music recently, so the anticipation of his debut album was already high. And when he wowed the world with an astounding appearance on 'Saturday Night Live'. Now with the release of this music video, Sam is once again the talk of the country, all wondering what he might be telling us this the intriguing and beautiful music video. The song, a beautiful piano ballad that sounds just perfect, and allows his voice to soar with a beauty and an ease. But is he telling us something about himself? Watch and see what you think of the official music video for Sam Smith's "Leave Your Lover".

I don't know if Sam is coming out, or just being supportive, but his song and video are gorgeous. I can't wait to get the album. 'In The Lonely Hour' will be available June 17, 2014. You can pre-order it from iTunes. You can also pre-order the disk from Amazon. For more about Sam Smith, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Aris • Twilight Revival

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Just over a month ago, I got an email suggesting I check out the music of Aris from Jeff Dorta of Project Publicity. He also sent along a couple of MP3s, and before you could blink your eyes, I had another artists I wanted to check and and hear more from. And not just because it was impossible to ignore the fact Aris is a strikingly handsome man. I listened to those files sent to me, and they clicked with me. I loved those five songs so much, I went out and purchased the album 'Twilight Revival', where they were found.

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When listening to Aris, I can't help but think he is the lovechild of Patti Smith and Chris Cornell, with a supercharged growl of a voice. But then again, I can hear the edge and grit of Pink in his performance, as well as the strength of Kelly Clarkson. The Brooklyn native writes songs that are energetic and evocative, using a base of Rock and Electronica as a base before launching off to make music that is smart and effortlessly cool. 'Twilight Revival', released last fall, is a 17-track collection, with 14 new tracks, and two additional acoustic versions, and one remix of the songs. The album kicks off with "Twilight", a song that has great energy, and would have me running to the dance floor back in the day, dancing with a clenched fist thrust in the air. This is Aris with the official music video for "Twilight".

If that didn't get your juices flowing, urgency of "Blessed Be" might just be what you need. The drive is is bold, and the lyrics thoughtful. "Let Me In" cranks the energy back up to 12 with a forceful pleading that had me ready to give it up and let Aris in. Just when I feared I had to listen to another cover of the Leonard Cohen song, Aris brings out his own original song "Hallelujah", a bluesy spiritual that grabbed me hard. This is the psychedelic official music video for "Hallelujah".

There is a beautiful opening for "Higher", just before the Pop/Rock heart comes beating through. there is nothing like love to make us believe our lives can be lifted to a higher place. Next up, we have "Pray for Change", which features Kalyn Hemphill, Nina Zeitlin and Jimmy Jenkins in support of the man behind the music, Aris. We find the spiritual center and the heart of a man looking answers in a crazy world. This is the music video for "Pray For Change".

I first heard a snippet of "Astral Symphony" on the official website, so I was interested in hearing the full version. I just have to say, I was not disappointed. Far from it, in fact. There is a depth to the song, and it allows Aris a chance to deliver a deliciously nuanced performance. As he continues his search for answers, Aris shares "Savior" with us. what begins as an acoustic introspective prayer builds to an insistent call for hope. You don't have to be "Deaf, Dumb and Blind" to hear the retro feel to the song, like it was written in the Brill Building. I am surprised by how well it suits his voice, and the innocence it offers. With a throbbing beat and his voice driven by loss, it is not innocence that is found in "Anchor". There is a welcome joy at the top of "Light to Dark". It is palpable in the track, as well as in the music video for "Light to Dark".

There is such warmth found in the love song "Fallen Blind", a ballad with some bombastic qualities that would make Jim Steinman proud, and enough catharsis to move me. "Deliver Me" begins with a simple sound of guitar chords, and a soft feel of Aris' voice. There is something hypnotic about this one. The last new cut, "Revival", starts out with a call and response, bridging Gospel and Pop, before allowing the Pop side to flourish a bit more. We are left with a feeling of new life, new growth, just what we wanted. Both "Blessed Be" and "Light to Dark" are given acoustic versions, while "Twilight" has the Dancehaus Remix to complete 'Twilight Revival'. There is such a grit in his voice, it is hard to listen and not growl back just a little. Aris shows us Rock, Pop, Gospel, Blues, and even a Folky side on the album, leading me to wonder if there is anything he can't do. He writes songs with stories that involved feelings straight from the heart, sometimes with a soft caress, and other times with a pumping fist. I just can't get enough. 'Twilight Revival' is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. To discover more about Aris, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bronski Beat • The Age of Consent

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Jimmy Somerville, Larry Steinbachek, and Steve Bronski.

I could not possibly finish out my birthday week without focusing on a group that positively rocked my world when I first found them. In the fall of 1984, Bill and I moved to the borough of Brooklyn, after finding a big apartment on 7th Street in Park Slope. One day, while channel surfing, I come across this station playing music from I don't know where. I decided to leave it on, and go about my business. At one point, I hear this amazing voice singing a familiar song. I look up, and it is the most incredible sound coming out of the time man on my screen. It was the Bronski Beat, with lead singer Jimmy Somerville, singing "It Ain't Necessarily So", the great song written in 19?? by George and Ira Gershwin for the 1935 musical 'Porgy and Bess'. It was then I realized I needed to pay attention, and figure out who this band was. I learned it was Bronski Beat, a British synth-Pop group, made up by Somerville, Steve Bronski, and Larry Steinbachek.

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The first chance I got, I was in the import record store in the West Village, on Cornelia Street just off of West 4th. After all, I was working close by, at the Circle Repertory Theatre on Sheridan Square. It was at this store I purchased 'The Age of Consent', the first album in my collection from an unabashedly out and proud group. It was amazing on just so many different levels, and still holds a warm spot in my heart. Not only where they out and proud, they were also pissed about being treated like second class citizens. You can really hear that on "Smalltown Boy", the riotous first single off the album. It was written by Jimmy, Steve, and Larry. This is the emotional music video for the Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy".

With the sound of smashing glass and the clarion call of Somerville's voice, "Why?" starts off the album letting us know this is not your typical dance album. Thirty years before talk of marriage equality was commonplace, and before a simple kiss between two men on ESPN could become a topic of conversation for days, if not weeks, the Bronski Beat had the courage to stand tall in the face of oppression and ask a simple question as to how a man should be treated by others. This is the official music video for "Why?".

When this post first started, I mentioned how I discovered this group. They were playing a song this theater geek knew as a song from 'Porgy and Bess', by the great Gershwin brothers. When I was growing up, I had heard people sing a line or two from the song, when making a point that something was not going to happen. The group put their own spin on it, and giving new meaning to it with their gayness. This is the Bronski Beat with the music video for "It Ain't Necessarily So".

Finally, I could not talk about Bronski Beat or 'The Age of Consent' without bringing you the mind-blowing event that was "I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me", a mash-up of the song written by Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, and Pete Bellotte for Summer's 1977 album, with a song written by Geoff Goddard that became a 1961 hit for John Leyton. Summer's "I Feel Love" caused quite the scandal, with talk of orgasms in the recording studio, making women blush worldwide. Goddard's "Johnny Remember Me" was an innocent, yet dark song, but it was given new meaning when paired with the other, and sung by two of the most outspoken gay artists of the time. Here is the heaping teaspoon of amazing that is the Bronski Beat featuring Marc Almond singing "I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me".

Back in the mid-1980s, a gay couple might have been able to walk hand in hand in The Village, but not without a bit of fear creeping in. I worked around the corner from the Stonewall Inn, where the infamous riots were marked with a plaque on the wall. Fifteen years later, LGBT people still did not feel safe, and there were police reports to prove why. But three men put out an album that captured our hurt, our pain, and our rage, and continued the spirit of the Stonewall riot, by standing up and letting everyone know being pushed around was not acceptable. You can purchase 'The Age of Consent' from iTunes and Amazon. To this day, I still follow everything Jimmy Somerville does, as he has remained an inspiration to me.

Brian Kennedy • A Look At...

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The path to me finding new artists is often more scenic route than expressway, and such is the case with talented Irishman Brian Kennedy. I was a fan of Westlife, and still look up the boys since they broke up (Mark Feehily, I am still waiting for your album). A search about Kian Egan's new music led me to 'The Voice of Ireland', which brought me to discover Brian Kennedy, one of the coaches in the first season. His voice intrigued me, and he looked a bit familiar. But then again, handsome Irishmen definitely have their appeal. Further inquiries informed me he had sung with Van Morrison for a few years, including in a few music videos. (Ha! I had seen him before.) I also learned that Brian had come out in 2009, and has continued to write and record great music since. In the four months since I found him, I now have five of his albums, as well as some other wonderful singles. And I bet I will be collecting more soon...

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I have to say, I have been captivated by his voice from the first time I heard it. Sure, he might have the looks to turn heads, but when he sings, I feel myself catch my breath. Take, for instance, his song "Hollow" off his debut album, 'The Great War of Words'. The song was written by Kennedy, and he performed it to perfection. I loved the phrasing, and the rhythmic feel of the song. It did feel like a song by the great Joni Mitchell. And what's not to love about a handsome boy with a guitar? This is the music video for "Hollow", the 1990 single by Brian Kennedy.

That first day, while I was listening to what I could, and watching all the videos available to me, one song drew into the lead in the race to be my early favorite. It was the title track of his sophomore album, released in 1996. "A Better Man" has a wonderful moody feel, a little brooding, and maybe a bit of yearning. It was written by Kennedy, Jon Lind and Phil Pickett. This is the official music video for Brian Kennedy's "A Better Man".

The second cut on the 'A Better Man' album is another song I loved immediately, and it came as no surprise for me that it was written by Brian. Once again, I was captured by the mood of the song. This time out, there is a wonderful joy, and I can't help but be swept up in it. It starts off with such a timid sound, the feel of insecurity love can bring comes out. But as the song goes on, Brian gives me the feel of strength building as love grows. I wish I could find a copy of a music video, but until then this is a lyric video for "For One Kiss".

When it comes to sheer joy, it is hard to imagine a song that captures that spirit more than the last offering is this post. Again, the song penned by Kennedy was featured on the 1996 album 'A Better Man'. "Life, Love, and Happiness" has such warmth, such strength, and such love behind it, I can't help but listen to it time and time again. Since I couldn't find an official music video for it, I am offering you a clip for the DVD 'Live in Belfast', released in 2004. I tell you, if I could make this song my official theme song, I would be one very happy man. Please enjoy the live version of "Life, Love, and Happiness".

I am telling you, since I found his music about four months ago, I have been somewhat obsessed with Brian Kennedy's music. And this has taken me longer to write than it truly should have. Why, you might ask? Because while I was typing and watching videos, I went on to eBay and purchased two more albums, and a DVD. Yes, the 'Live in Belfast' DVD from which the clip for "Live, Love, and Happiness" was taken. It, 'The Great War of Words', and 'Now That I Know What I Want' should be arriving in the next week or so. While I cannot be definite, I am beginning to think I have a problem, and I might be addicted to the music of Brian Kennedy. Well, not a problem, really. More of an issue of having great taste. You can find all four of the songs featured on his album 'Won't You Take Me Home: The RCA Years', which can be found on iTunes and Amazon. This was the first one I purchased, although it was far (so very far) from the last. To learn more about Brian Kennedy, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

32 Years With Boy George & Culture Club

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In the Fall of 1982, the world, and especially the United States, were abuzz about the a new band coming out of England. Culture Club was made up by bassist Mikey Craig, Roy Hay on guitar and keyboards, and drummer Jon Moss. But the person everyone was talking about was lead vocalist Boy George, who sported braids and heavy makeup, bringing the term "gender bender" to the mainstream. He came out of the club scene, where daring costumes and larger-than-life personalities made his stand out. He formed the band, and was a strong part of the New Romantic movement.

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In 1982, Culture Club released their first album, 'Kissing to be Clever'. Aside from the talk of Boy George's appearance, people were also noticing that great music the band was making. The first single off the album was "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", which made it to #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song was an engaging love song that showed off the best of George's voice, allowing him to show strength, softness, and to deliver his truth on in. There is a hypnotic quality to the song, and 32 years later, when I hear the opening, I can't hep but smile. This is Culture Club with the music video for "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"

With the great success of the first album, Culture Club quickly followed it up with the second, 'Colour By Numbers', in 1983. The first single off the album was one of my favorites, "Church of the Poison Mind", a soulful song that brings a bit of Gospel to the plate. The song did well, earning a #!0 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it was the second dingle that earned Culture Club their first #1 song on the Billboard charts. Also released in 1983, "Karma Chameleon" was upbeat and filled with charm, and the undeniable talent of Boy George. Set on the Mississippi River over a century prior, the three band members donned costumes of Riverboat gamblers, while Boy George was anachronistically featured as himself. This is the music video for Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon".

A few years later, the band was not getting along, and the sales were definitely slowing up, so Culture Club decided to call it a day. By George was not on the sidelines for very long, as he went on to a solo career. Most of his success was in the UK and Europe, for his solo material didn't seem to really gel with the American audience. But the one song that did was the 1992 release "The Crying Game", the theme song for the movie 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective', starring Jim Carrey. It went to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song had a real retro feel, which should not be surprising, considering it was written in 1964. It was also produced by the great Pet Shop Boys. This is Boy George with his hit cover of "The Crying Game".

The new millennium has been a mixed bag for George. It began with his great success with 'Taboo', a huge hit in London's West End. The American version didn't repeat this, as rewrites and other issues caused the production to close after just 100 performances. George also battled his demons, entering rehab on several occasions. He also had other legal issues stemming from drug addiction to false imprisonment of a rent boy. By 2010, Boy George had committed to living a sober life, and to put his time in prison behind him. "Amazing Grace" was his first post-prison single, a track off the album 'Ordinary Alien'. I loved the song, and this the music video is cool. This is Boy George with "Amazing Grace".

It has been a blast being a fan of Boy George over the past 32 years. It has been great to see the musical progression of this talented performer, from one decade to the next. To learn more about Boy George, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. You can purchase 'At Worst: The Best of Boy George and Culture Club' from iTunes and Amazon. It includes three out of the four songs mentioned here (not "Amazing Grace"). You can also find his latest album, 'This is What I Do' on iTunes and Amazon.

Cassidy Haley • The Lovers

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I first discovered the music of Cassidy Haley when his good friend, Adam Lambert, was on American Idol. The mention of his name managed to make me look up Cassidy and his music. I instantly became hooked, and not just because he is a truly handsome man. His first album, 'The Fool', was an exciting combination of Pop and Indie Rock, taking the best of both genres, and giving it the best of the talented Haley. I first wrote about Haley's music over three years ago, sharing the videos for "This Time" and "The Fool" from that debut offering. You can check it out HERE.

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It might have taken a bit of time, but the sophomore album has finally arrived. 'The Lovers' came out in February, and somehow I missed that. But since it is my birthday week, I am going to take a look at it now. The nine-song collection takes up where 'The Lovers' left off, with some high quality music coming out of my earbuds. The album kicks off with the slow tempo "Everything", which Haley delivers with an aching heart, which sounds like an audible tear. Next up, we hear "Never Again", which shows off a rough-hewn side of Haley's normally smooth voice. This is an audio track for Cassidy Haley's "Never Again".

The third track on the CD is "Wandering the Night", a song that begins with an eerie feel which belies the positive message. There is a seductive quality to Cassidy's vocals, a growl coming deep from the soul giving weight to the questions being asked. "Only Human" begins with an electronic beat that might be Morse Code, or might just be music. There is a wonderful quality of questioning to the song, of searching for answers we are allowed to be a part of, like peeping toms. As soon as it begins, "Breakdown" has an enigmatic quality that drew me in. This is the audio track for Cassidy Haley's "Breakdown".

The tumultuous end of "Breakdown" dovetails nicely with the lovely beauty of "So Simple". The song stays true to the name, pairing a simple melody with wonderful lyrics only offering more truth. Haley shows a wonderful richness and texture to his voice in "Innocence". There is a delicious fullness to it we have yet to hear on the album. There is an inherent sadness to the story of a man struggling with love. That leads to the next track, which you can hear for yourself. This is Cassidy Haley's "Vagabonds to the Marching Troupes".

The album draws to a close with "Bones Gone Grey". The song is a beautiful sweeping tune, with a strength found in the heartfelt lyrics. I am not definite, but I think this is my favorite on the album. But they are all so good, it is a tough call. The album doesn't Rock as much as the first, but it has a moodier feel, and allows Cassidy to truly soar with his amazing voice. He has added so much more texture and nuance to his performances, I can't help but be engaged in the work. You can purchase 'The Lovers' via iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. To learn more about Cassidy Haley, check out his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thirty Years with Howard Jones

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To help celebrate my birthday today, I thought I would post some music that really matters to me. In fact, I hope to be doing that all week long. Last night, I kicked the celebration off with a song from Raul Esparza, the man who is every bit as talented as he is sexy. This morning I reviewed a new album from Spencer Day, a man whose music I simply love. Tonight, I will look back 30 years to the year 1984, when I became enamored of the music by Howard Jones, the amazing British Electro-Pop singer/songwriter who managed to touch my soul time and time again.

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In 1984, Jones released his debut album, 'Human's Lib', although the first single was released in the Fall of 1983. I am not sure how or where I found his music, be it on the radio, MTV, or U68, one of my favorite stations when living in New York City. But however it happened, I was instantly impressed by "New Song", off Howard's debut. It was so fun and upbeat, and just made my heart feel good. This is the official music video for "New Song" by Howard Jones.

While I loved 'Human's Lib', the follow-up album was just mind-blowing. 'Dream Into Action' was released in 1985, and had song after song that spoke to me. There was "Look Mama", "Life in One Day", and the gorgeous "No One is to Blame". I know this album drove me to see Jones live on several occasions, usually with my sister Kim. Howard was every bit as amazing live as in the studio, and it only made the album that much better. This is the official music video for "Things Can Only Get Better", Howard's first Top Five song in the Billboard Hot 100.

The following year, Howard released another album. 'One to One' hit the record stores in 1986. The first single was the eccentric "All I Want", which would have been enough to get me to purchase the album, if I wasn't already buying it because Howard was putting it out. That album also featured the lively single, "You Know I Love You, Don't You?" I loved the joyful and positive feel of the song, a real celebration of love. This is the official music video for Howard Jones' single, "You Know I Love You, Don't You?".

When the Seattle music scene and Grunge took over music in the 1990s, Howard's music took a back seat both in sales and record play. But it didn't stop me from following the man, and I am pleased to say he is still making music today. In fact, in 2009 he released the impressive album 'Ordinary Heroes', which rekindled my love for his music. Even before I heard it, I had pre-ordered, knowing Howard never let me down. That remained true, for I love the album. The single off the album truly touched my soul, and proved Jones still has what it takes to make music. This is the official music video for the first single off the album, "Soon You'll Go".

You can find the music of Howard Jones on iTunes and Amazon. CDs and DVDs are also available on Howard's online store. You can find the individual albums, as well as several compilation and live albums that have these songs included. To learn more about Howard Jones, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter or 'like' him on Facebook.

Spencer Day • Daybreak

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I am such a fan of Spencer Day, and for so many reasons. First and foremost, he has the most wonderful voice. There is a delicious fullness, a sexy richness to the deep end of his range, and a sweet lightness to the top end. And he is a handsome man, as you can tell from the picture above. His music is also a combines the best of what Pop and Jazz have to offer.I first fell in love with Spencer when I heard his album 'Vagabond', and have been hooked since. I have seen his twice playing live, and like whipped cream on a bowl of ice cream, he is also a very kind and sweet man. And a good man who has a new album out, the newly released 'Daybreak'.

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Last Friday, May 16, 2014, Day released his latest, 'Daybreak'. The ten-song collection is a combination of original songs and amazing covers. As a matter of fact, the songs are split 5 each, with three for #1 hits, and two former #2 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 from the 1960s. There are also five originals songs written by Spencer, which flow seamlessly with the hits, a true tribute to the quality of the songs. 'Daybreak' begins with the original song "Missing Tonight", the song made available when you placed the pre-order. It is a an invitation from Spencer to join him on a trip, which I would accept anytime. That is followed by "Naturally", another original with a sweetness and innocence that drives me to snap my fingers with a smile in my heart.It's a little bit Country, a little bit Pop-licious. Speaking of snapping fingers, the first cover leads off with just that. Lee Hazelwood wrote the next song for Nancy Sinatra, who had a #1 hit with it in 1966. Yes, Spencer tackles "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", and that made me a very happy boy. Day offers us great range, from a seductive whisper to a growling shout. That leads to "Don't Let Me In", the third original song, and one of my favorites. There is a soft sensuality to the song that just draws me in from the first bars through the to the last. This is Spencer Day singing "Don't Let Me In".

In 1967, The Association has the #2 song on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the Cashbox Top 100 Singles Chart. "Never My Love" was written by brothers Donald and Richard Addrisi, and given a soft and dreamy feel by The Association. While that recording might have felt a big Adult Contemporary, Spencer adds more gravity, and I feel like he could sing with with Lulu. When your hands start to clap involuntarily with the opening of "Wait Till I Get You Alone", rest assured you are not alone. The original song has a wonderful and sexy energy, and i find it impossible not to wish he was plotting to get me alone. Next up, Day offers us another hit from 1967. Written by band members Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, The Young Rascals has a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks with "Groovin'". Spencer retains the Folk/Pop feel, but still gives us a Jazz edge with some cool vocals. The calendar pushed forward to 1969, when Creedence Clearwater Revival scored a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Bad Moon Rising". The song was written by frontman John Fogerty, Spencer pulls it from Psychedelic Rock to Acid Jazz, flirting with several genres. In the final cover song on the album, Spencer sings a song by the iconic writing team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Peter and Gordon recorded the song, and it went to #1 on both the Billboard and Cashbox Hot 100 Pop Song charts. I love the laid-back feeling of Spencer Day singing "World Without Love".

The album ends like it started, with a beautiful original from Spencer Day. "You Don't Know You're Lonely" has a wonderful energy, and once more I find myself unable to resist it. There is joy, love, and strength to be found, a combination that is nothing but win. I love the album, and think it might actually top Day's 2013 release, 'The Mystery of You'. I love both albums, but there is something intrinsically loving about 'Daybreak', I just find myself listening to it time and time again. I cannot get enough, and I am starting to feel like I am an addict, and this album is my crack. I can't really pick a favorite cut - if forced, I'd most likely pick the last song I heard, for they are all so damn good! You can purchase 'Daybreak' from Bandcamp. For some reason, it is available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon, and not delivered until June 3rd. I'm glad I went to Bandcamp, and have it on my iPod now! To learn more about Spencer Day, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook and 'follow' him on Twitter. Be sure to check out his touring schedule, and go if he is playing near you. I promise you, you will love it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dark Monday • Raul Esparza Sings "Simple Joys"

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Because I wanted to post something special this week, I went to YouTube and found a clip of my Broadway boyfriend, Raul Esparza, that I had not seen before. It seems 10 years ago, in 2004, Raul appeared at 'Broadway Under the Stars', a free concert in Bryant Park, New York. Before this event started in 2002, Bryant Park was mostly known as the home to many shows during fashion week, including the finals for 'Project Runway'. Raul took part in 2004, singing a song from 'Pippin', the first Broadway show I had ever seen. He performed "Simple Joys", the first act number originally performed by Ben Vereen. That was in the 1972 production of the show composed by the amazing Stephen Schwartz, a fictitious look at the life of Pippin the Hunchback, son of Charlemagne. This is Raul looking all kinds of sexy singing "Simple Life".

The original production also starred John Rubinstein, Jill Clyburgh, Leland Palmer, and Irene Ryan. The show was choreographed by the incredible Bob Fosse, and to this day, I still clearly remember many of the dance moves. After seeing the show, I went out and purchased the Original Broadway Cast album, which I still have today. And now I have this video clip, I can watch as often as I want.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ahlert the Singers: The Music of Fred Ahlert

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The Boswell Sisters photo boswell_sisters_zps0f05d2ea.jpg Lee Morse photo lee_morse_06_zps10c2cf02.jpg
Clockwise: Big Maybelle, Annette Hanshaw, Lee Morse, and The Boswell Sisters.

After receiving a degree from Fordham Law School, Fred E. Ahlert decided to eschew the law and instead pursued a career in music. He started out as an arranger, working with big bands like Irving Aaronson and his Commanders and band-leader Fred Waring. He also enjoyed writing music, and had his first hit song in 1920. He wrote with many lyricists, but much of his songs were written with Roy Turk. His music was recorded by many of the greats of the time, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Fats Waller. This post will not include an of those wonderful artist, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. I will start with one of my favorite singers. Big Maybelle had an amazing career, although her battle with her own demons made it more of a struggle than it needed to be. While she is best known for her recording of "Candy" from 1956, she also recorded many other great songs. That same year, she recorded a song with music by Ahlert, and lyrics by Roy Turk. This is Big Maybelle singing "Mean to Me".

For many, Annette Hanshaw was the "it girl" of the 1920s. She was best known for putting a bubbly personality into her recordings, capturing the spirit of the 1920s flapper when she sang. She had many great hit songs, Her inherent charm made her quite popular with the buying public. In 1931, Hanshaw recording "I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)" while under contract for Columbia. The song was recorded by many, and for several decades to come. With lyrics by Roy Turk and music by Ahlert, this is Annette Hanshaw singing "I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)" with Benny Goodman on clarinet.

The first and most memorable version of "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" was by the great Fats Waller, a big hit in 1935. The song, written by Ahlert with lyricist Joe Young, was a joyful song, filled with flirty humor and fun. It was recorded in 1936 by The Boswell Sisters, a trio of sisters from New Orleans. Martha, Connee, and Helvetia Boswell were known for their tight harmonies and the way they played with the internal rhythms of songs. You can hear it all in their wonderful recording of "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter".

Lee Morse started out life one of 12 children of a Portland, Oregon, pastor. Her dream was to become a musician, and she worked her way toward it. She started out playing silent movie halls, but soon made her way to San Francisco, where she was 'discovered'. When recording, she became known for the depth and richness of her voice. In 1931, she recorded a song by Ahlert, with lyrics by Roy Turk. "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" went to #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, although it was Nat King Cole who was most successful with the song. This is Lee Morse singing "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" from 1931.

Hope your weekend is a great one!

Ricky Nelson • Travelin' Man

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Ricky Nelson started out his career as the son of two consummate entertainers, Harriet and Ozzie Nelson. Like his parents, Ricky started out his career as a as an actor. In fact, he, along with brother David, played Ozzie and Harriet's son on 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet' in the 1950s and early 1960s. Soon he became a teen heartthrob, which lead to more than just acting. Ricky was offered an opportunity in music, and he eagerly grabbed it. Soon released his music, and he was on his way. It seemed like he was born to make music. In 1961, Ricky Nelson had his second big hit of his career, and there were more to come. The song, written by Jerry Fuller, could be one of my favorites. This single made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is Ricky Nelson singing "Travelin' Man".

Have a great weekend!


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