James Ray | I Got My Mind Set On You

8 02 2011

Yes, that title should sound familiar to you. That’s because George Harrison had a huge hit with this tune in 1987. “I Got My Mind Set On You” was featured on his otherwise lackluster release Cloud Nine. Considering the popularity of the Harrison version it’s remarkable that so few people are aware that it’s actually a cover. The song was written by Rudy Clark and recorded by James Ray in 1962. No doubt, it’s a great song through and through. Whether you like the Harrison rendition or the original it’s a classic.

Interestingly enough, of George’s three #1 hit singles in the US, this was the only one that was not self-penned and the only one without religious overtones. Also, not only was this the last US #1 hit for ol’ Georgie boy, but it was also the last from any of the other ex-Beatles. To hear Harrison’s version click HERE. As you might expect, I’m partial to Ray’s original…

As enjoyable as that 1987 attempt was, I was floored when I first heard James Ray’s original. It’s just so raw and authentic, especially when compared to Harrison’s version. For me, this was the way the song was intended. The arrangement is so natural feeling that I almost can’t imagine it any other way. How Ray never had his own hit with song remains a mystery to me.





Pops Staples | Nobody’s Fault But Mine

25 01 2011

Here is Pops Staples (as in The Staples Singers & Mavis’ dad) doing an old blues tune called “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” on the Bobby Jones Gospel Hour. Everybody knows that Pops is a mean soul singer but he is one hell of a guitarist too. It’s really cool to see him digging into this solo gospel version of the Blind Willie Johnson classic. I love to hear him all by himself with just a Telecaster guitar and that soulful voice.

You know what they say, you can take the boy out of Mississippi but you can’t take Mississippi out of the boy. Pops truly is a delta legend and one that I have a real soft spot for. Although, the Staple Singers haven’t gotten much love here on The GG, they are a certainly favorite of mine. With that said, you can expect a few  pieces featuring Mavis and the family in the near future. Now check out the video below to see what old Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples was getting into during the latter part of his career. It’s pretty awesome.

There is an additional interview on the end of this video. It’s not really that interesting but if you’re into vintage politics alongside your vintage music, you may dig it.





Missing John Lennon

8 12 2010

December 8th 2010 marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. I often think about what the New York and the world would be like if John were still around. The man would have been a NYC icon and a great one at that. Imagine if he was around to see the booms of the 80’s & 90’s, 9/11 and everything that has transpired since. Crazy.

Here is the famous announcement of his death by Howard Cosell  on ABC’s Monday Night Football. Apparently, there was an ABC reporter who was at Roosevelt Hospital that night for his own injuries and saw Lennon come into the ER. He immediately called his colleagues in the newsroom, who got to the scene right away and broke the story.

I’ve been listening to a lot of John’s solo material lately, and for that matter all The Beatles’ solo work. He has a ton of great songs but not too many from Double Fantasy, the final album he recorded with Yoko after his 5 year hiatus. Nevertheless, this record intrigues me. Not really the music but what it represents for John. It’s a return to recorded music after taking some much needed time to be a good father and husband, something he didn’t do well while with The Beatles. It was essentially the result of this long period of reflection.

Also, there is the fact that his murder, Mark David Chapman, asked Lennon to sign a copy of the LP the night he shot him. Chapman waited outside Lennon’s home, The Dakota, and made the request as he was leaving for the evening. As he’s one to do, John obliged. Later that night, Chapman killed John as he was returning from the studio. I just saw that that exact copy is going up for auction soon. What a weird piece of memorabilia to own. Touched by both Lennon and Chapman on the night of the murder… creepy.

Anyway, here is some cool audio from the recording session for Double Fantasy. This was captured as they were working out one of the album’s biggest hits, “(Just Like) Starting Over”. It displays John’s process, creativity and sense of humor really well.

Here’s a posthumous music video for “(Just Like) Starting Over”…





Kim Carnes | Bette Davis Eyes

19 11 2010

I’ve had this Kim Carnes’ song, “Bette Davis Eyes” stuck in my head for 2 days. Whether you like it or not, it’s hard to forget this one. So, I figure, if I have to suffer, then everybody should share in on it. OK. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh. It’s actually a pretty great song… for 1981 especially. The song, the lyrics, the video; everything smacks of comedy with this one. I’ve got to say though,  the funniest thing to me is how Kim’s trademark raspy voice is regularly mistaken for Rod Stewart. Come to think of it, Rod would probably do a fantastic version of this tune. Hoefully, it’ll make his next ‘great American songbook’ album.

I pick on this tune but it is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine and was actually really successful in it’s time. In 1981 it was one of the most popular songs of the entire year, second only to Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”. And, I have to hand it to Kim Carnes. She not only sings well, she is also quite the instrumentalist; playing guitar, keyboards and harmonica. Now, none of that talent is really showcased in this classic music video but it’s pretty amazing nevertheless. Check it out…





Talking Heads | Psycho Killer

10 11 2010

This tune is an all-time great. Not only are the song and lyrics amazing, but the various versions that exist make it legendary. As I said, the song as it appears in it’s original studio form is great but this acoustic guitar/drum machine version from The Talking Head’s 1984 concert film-meets-performance art piece, Stop Making Sense, is truly amazing. David Byrne, walks out on to an empty stage. Empty. As in, they haven’t even set up the backdrop or any of the band’s gear yet.  He drops a boombox at his feet and presses play to cue the drum track. Within seconds, Byrne begins to play those classic chords and then he rips into the verse. As he continues, the stage crew begins to build the set around him for the rest of the show. There is even an 80’s style drum break that comes at the end. Couple that with his moves and you got a real winner.  Check it out below.

And if you haven’t seen the whole film, make sure you seek it out immediately. It may very well be the best “concert” film of EVER!





RIP Gregory Isaacs

26 10 2010

Yesterday, Gregory Isaacs died of lung cancer at the age of 59 in his London home. Isaacs was a beloved reggae legend who recorded over 500 albums. 500! His most famous song is probably his 1982 release “Night Nurse”, but I really like this old 1978 footage of “Tune In”. I’m also really into “Number One”, another late 70’s hit.

 

Check out the tunes…





Randy Watson & Sexual Chocolate

21 09 2010

This clip from the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming To America cracks me up every single time. The whole movie is hilarious but this is by far the best moment. It seems that the all the really good scenes  in this movie have Eddie and co-star Arsenio Hall playing multiple characters. This was actually the first of many movies where Murphy would take on multiple parts. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must.  His soul-singer extraordinaire Randy Watson is amazing. Caution: You may find yourself watching this over and over again.

Reverend Brown’s introduction is the funniest part. So without further ado, here he is… Jackson Heights own… Randy Watson! PS– The song is Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love Of All”. A little side note about this song: it was actually performed by George Benson first but made famous by Houston. Enjoy the whole clip…

References:

More info on Coming to America

Coming To America on IMDB

More info on Eddie Murphy

More info on Arsenio Hall

More info on John Landis

More info on Whitney Houston

More info on “The Greatest Love Of All”








%d bloggers like this: