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.

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Al Green | Tired Of Being Alone

1 02 2011

Check out this footage of Al Green, circa 1972. This Soul School TV performance is Al with some serious swagger. It’s the look, the voice, the hair.  The song is “Tired Of Being Alone” from Green’s 1971 album Al Green Gets Next To You. It was was written in 1968 and originally intended for his previous album Green Is Blues. It never made that album due to numerous recording and production issues. But, alas, it was worth the wait. As you can see, he  definitely perfected it on the second attempt.  It was an instant hit, reaching #7 when it was released and has since been named as #293 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs list.

There are numerous covers of this famous tune. Although, none are half as good as Al’s. If I had to choose one, I’m fond of this Subdudes version. Check it out.





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.





RIP Gerry Rafferty

5 01 2011

Gerry Rafferty died early this week at age 63. Gerry was the frontman of 70’s era rock group Stealers Wheel. Gerry is most famous for his hit “Stuck In The Middle”, a tune that is often confused as a Bob Dylan song and rightfully so as it was written to mimic his lyrical style. The song was released in 1973 on their self-titled album. It instantly became a hit, rising to #6 on the charts and has since been further popularized due to it’s use in the cult-classic Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. Here’s a 70-style music video for the song… I love it because its so dated.





Vintage Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

15 12 2010

I just found this old video of The Miracles from 1967. At this point they were just billed as The Miracles. It wasn’t until later, that Smokey’s named was brought to the fore.  Despite The Miracles being Motown’s first really successful group, Berry Gordy decided it was clever marketing to lead with Smokey’s name. After all, he  was one of the biggest songwriters and producers in the business. In their almost 20 years, The Miracles charted over 50 hits, 26 of which reached the top ten. Not to mention that Smokey has written and/or produced countless other hits for Motown.

I’m not exactly sure where this footage is from, but it’s a great little medley of two early 60’s classics, “(Come ‘Round Here) I’m The One You Need” and “More Love”. Whether you’re a Motown fan or not, it’s hard to deny that this was truly a great era in music.

While we’re checking out some vintage Smokey, here are just a few more. The first is “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. While the second is “I Second That Emotion” …and in color no less! Take a look at these dance routines. They’re where it’s at, no?





Sony Ditches the Walkman… Finally!

14 12 2010

I recently read a funny article announcing the retirement of the Sony Walkman. I’m talking about the original Walkman, as in the portable cassette player. It made it’s debut in 1979 and has been in production ever since. It’s actually quite incredible that it took them this long to pull the plug on it, considering the Discman was released in 1984! You would think that by the time it became cheap enough for the masses to afford (about 1990), it would have killed the Walkman altogether. Now consider that the iPod was officially introduced in 2001. Digital music and the MP3 age was in full swing soon after and yet somehow the folks at Sony still saw a market for the portable cassette player… shocking. Well, here we are nearly 10 years since Steve Jobs changed portable music consumption and Sony has finally succumb.

Check out this funny old TV commercial for one of the first models of the Walkman. It’s pretty great.

You can also read more about the farewell of this obsolete gizmo HERE.





Roger Waters | The Wall [Live 2010]

13 12 2010

This past week I saw Pink Floyd frontman, Roger Waters at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In case you hadn’t already heard, Roger has redesigned his old live production of The Wall since it debuted  30 years ago. If that original 1980 tour was spectacle, this updated version is a spectacular. I mean that in the truest sense of the word. Not only has Waters brought it up to date in terms of message and context, but in technology as well. Yes, the concept is similar at the core (build a HUGE wall and knock it down) but this show is produced incredibly well. I have seen 100’s of live performances, and I think this may be the most thrilling of them. Some feat when you consider I’m talking about everything: big venues, small venues and everything in between; rock, jazz, blues, and all the rest; music, theater and even sporting events. Regardless of the magnitude, style, or even medium, this left me completely floored.

When they begin the performance the wall is only partly built, with the band playing just behind it in full view. As the night progresses, the wall is built up brick by brick. As ths goes on, you start to see less and less of the band until they are only viewable through a few missing bricks. And then, like that, they are gone. They continue to play out view and all the while there are amazing projections on the wall, both providing context for the music and creating atmospherics to set the mood. There are even puppets, pyrotechnics and other cool props, all of which just add to the ambiance. The whole experience is really amazing throughout and totally engaging like I’ve never seen before.

By intermission the wall is fully built, with the band still playing from behind it’s cover. As the second set opens they continue the routine, until there is a moment where Roger appears from an odd compartment that unfolds from the wall’s exterior. It’s a “hotel room”, where he sits in an armchair and sings “Nobody’s Home”. True theater and a really cool addition to the performance. Soon after, the band is moved to the front of the wall to “perform” some other more theatrical bits. Then, it’s just Roger out front, with the rest of the band in their positions hidden behind. For various solos and singing parts other members of the band appear 35 feet in the air at the very top of the wall. The guitar solo on “Comfortably Numb” is a great moment where they do this. Finally, there is this huge crescendo that is really effectively created using the projections and the mood rather than merely the tempo. At the climax, the wall is toppled to the ground, revealing the band behind.  At which point the band comes out to the forestage bearing only acoustic instruments and play “Outside the Wall”. After a few thanks and some introductions, each member marches of stage one by one until Roger says his final farewell.

The whole thing is mind blowing and unfortunately my account, these photos and any videos will never do it justice. Whether you’re a fan of the music or not, this is a show you MUST see. There are still tour dates available into 2011. I recommend hitting stubhub to see if you can catch it. Quality live footage from the show is rather difficult to find but there are some nice promotional videos that were designed to tease you on the experience. Check out these few. The first 2 provide a solid picture of the show with actual HD footage, there are even a few fan interviews and testimonials too. The third provides some great insight into Roger’s feelings on the music, the show and it’s design. That one, I think, is particularly good.

Now, I purposely avoided all of this stuff online as I wanted to go in totally blind, which is definitely why it was so impactful. However, if you are not going to be able to see it live, you have to check these out to know what the hell this thing is all about.

If you’re going to go ahead and spoil this by sneaking a peek, you might as well watch this footage shot from the audience of “The Trial” into “Outside the Wall”. This piece in particular, gave me goosebumps. It’s the whole thing. The dénouement, if you will. The footage is amateur but you absolutely get a sense of what it’s like. Check it out…








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