Happy Valentine’s Day

14 02 2011

The timing of Valentine’s Day this year makes for a weird posting day. With the Grammy’s being last night, I’m inclined to write a bit about the events of the evening. But if given the choice, I’d much rather share a little song I have been digging lately. It couldn’t be a more appropriate song choice for V-Day. It’s “All I Want Is You” by Barry Louis Polisar. This song is really fun and the lyrics are very sweet. With a wedding in my near future (yes, The GG is getting married), I have been considering this tune for some part of the big day. Stay tuned for more on that.

You may actually recognize this from the Juno soundtrack. Check it out… and share it with your Valentine on this special day.





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…





Cee-Lo | Fuck You!

1 09 2010

This is some pretty  interesting $h!t… Cee-Lo Green, of Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley fame, released his newest single “Fuck You!” on YouTube. This first video is just the song with animated lyrics, but nevertheless received instant attention due obvious reasons: 1. the explicit title/lyrics and 2. the explicit pop-stickiness of the song itself. It’s true. It’s one of tunes that you embarrassingly catch yourself humming or singing, not unlike his Gnarls Barkley hit from 2006, “Crazy”.  So, this whole tactic is a relatively new concept. No doubt it’s inspired by the the current state of the recording industry, the ever-growing use of social media and the fact that this particular piece of work would be hard to release anywhere but the internet. He, rather wisely, is using YouTube (an extension of his social media) to promote his new album Lady Killer. At first, I didn’t think much of it but I got to thinking about how clever a move that is… and like that, I had forgotten about it. All of a sudden as of today, Green releases a more “traditional” MTV-style music video but this time via Facebook. The catch is: you have to “Like” his page. When I heard this I was at the same time both disgusted and impressed. All these little teasers actually seem to be working. People are talking about it and he is engaging fans (albeit a tad forcefully). I am only curious what the next step will be. At this same rate, it should only be another week or so ’til we find out.

Below is the original YouTube video with lyrics. Many will tell you that they can not yet offer the Facebook video as it is exclusive to Cee-Lo’s Facebook Page. Well, no here. I was able to obtain a copy and uploaded it as discreetly as possible so that you do not have to officially become a fan on FB. Before watching, I should tell you that this “Official Music Video” is not all that cool. Actually, it kind of reminds me of Pepsi commercial… and not one of the good ones. Check out, it’s the second video below.

References:

Cee-Lo’s Official Site

Cee-Lo’s Facebook Page

More info on Cee-Lo Green

Read more about “Fuck You!” @ PitchFork.com HERE & HERE





Jacqueline Taïeb | 7 Heures du Matin

18 08 2010

This is a really great tune from the late 60’s. Tunisian-born French Yé Yé/Pop singer Jacqueline Taïeb released it in 1967 on Impact Records. “7 Heures du Matin” was a huge hit in Europe, easily the biggest of her career. It’s remarkable considering she was only 18 when it was recorded. The song is about a teenage girl who is obsessed with Paul McCartney. Although, as someone who doesn’t speak French you’d never know. It has a very mid/late 60’s mod feel, with a lot of rawness to it. A very fitting mix of the British beat sound and the garage rock that was emerging. This was the beginning of The Runaways or The Corvettes. Basically,  female-driven edgy rock. Check out the original French version below:

Now, there is also an American version that was produced after it had achieved so much success in Europe. All the lyrics are in English on this one. I typically don’t care for alternate langauge versions because most  languages have a very specific cadence that often doesn’t translate. But, this one made me curious because I was really interested to hear these lyrics about a girl who is obsessing over Paul. Curious? PS- The English version is called “7am”.

References:

More info on Jacqueline Taïeb

More info on Yé Yé Rock

More info on Impact Records

“7 Heures du Matin” Lyrics (French)





Berry Jones | Tonight

3 08 2010

This album from Philly-based Berry Jones is an extremely refreshing release from some young new talent. Tonight is a collection of works that honors two musical legends who spent their careers perfecting the art of the dance song: Quincy Jones and Berry Gordy. Released on a format I happen to think is ideal for today’s consumers (LP w/ free MP3 download), it’s one of my top Summer picks that will surely be great for late night parties and lazy beach days alike.

As I said, all of the music was conceived as an homage to two of leader Jim Thomas’ musical heroes. Creating something that stands up to such visionaries is quite a tall task but Thomas does it with great reverence while being sure to inject his own youthful sensibilities into the mix. The album is separated (rightfully so) into an A Side & B Side, true to vinyl form. The A side tends to showcase the aesthetic and appeal of mid-80’s Quincy Jones. Throughout you’ll hear all the electronic synthesized tendencies that ooze so tastefully from those great Michael Jackson albums of the era, along with a pulse that undeniably makes you want to move. The opening track “Bouffant Bangout” is, perhaps, the best tune on this side as it’s inclusive of all the elements that made Quincy an icon. “Philly Night” is also a standout but it’s difficult to narrow them down as each song has it’s own unique thing happening and all are equally enjoyable. The B Side is full of tunes that bring back that propulsive Motown sound. Wisely, Thomas doesn’t try to recreate the sound of Gordy’s famous Studio A. Instead, he focuses on the power of those old R&B  arrangements from yesteryear. It’s a style that has nearly been forgotten by young musicians but Thomas seems to be a long time fan who grew up listening to old Detroit soul music. Fittingly, there is a little inspiration from the Sweet Philly Soul days as well. As a native to the Philly area, it would be hard to ignore such influences like Jackie Wilson, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and even The O’Jays. As evidenced by songs like “Baby, Baby” and “Work It Out”, he definitely has a firm grasp on this 60’s soul thing. But, what is most interesting to me is how the sound and style of the contemporary singer/songwriter at the heart of Thomas’ solo work blends so smoothly with the material on this entire album. By design, it’s a concept album but in execution it’s much more. Each song is a testament to something old but they all seem so relevant and relatable for young audiences. As an album, it proves to be very accessible and may be just what the doctor ordered for the tail end of this long, hot Summer.

Here are a few of my favorites songs to sample:

“Bouffant Bangout”

“Philly Night”

“Baby, Baby”

“Work It Out”

These guys are pretty cool live too, although  as of lately you can only catch them in the local Philly area. Here is a video I captured from a pre-release gig a few months back. Right on par with Thomas’ typical musical tastes, they do a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s classic “Move On Up”. They were a horn or two short that night but the energy is still all there…

Below are some links to learn more about the album, artist and this interesting side project. Of course,  you will also find a link to sample the album and purchase it in either vinyl or digital format.

References:

Purchase Tonight Online

The Official Berry Jones Site

Berry Jones on Facebook

Berry Jones on MySpace

Berry Jones on YouTube

Blue Floor Records Site

Blue Floor Records on MySpace

More info on Quincy Jones

More info on Berry Gordy





Guilty Pleasures II

21 06 2010

GG fans may recall an earlier Guilty Pleasures post, where I featured some of my more favorite songs that I am a bit ashamed to admit make it on my playlists. Well, the post was quite popular so I’m bringing it back for a second installment. It may even become a quasi-regular feature on The GG, so look for future editions. As stated in the original post, many of these are not necessarily anything to hang your head about. In fact, many people will give me flak for listing them but I know you’ll agree that these songs don’t exactly exude cool despite being great in their own right.

The first one is from Steely Dan. It’s their 1972 release “Dirty Work” from the album Can’t Buy A Thrill. Although the song was never officially considered a “hit”, it has always been hugely popular among Steely Dan fans. In my mind it’s a classic but it often raises a few eyebrows when it pops up on one of my mixes.

This one is Hall & Oates’ fourth #1 hit from 1981 “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”. It’s a song I really do love but I think with one glance at this video you will see why I have a hard time admitting that to the world.

The Doobie Brothers’ “Taking It To The Streets” was released in 1976. It was their first to feature Michael McDonald on lead vocals. The original leader, Tom Johnston, was forced to take a lesser role due to stomach ulcers. McDonald was a Steely Dan “graduate”, who initially was reluctant to join the band. Thankfully he accepted the gig as his contribution has lead to some great music.

This King Harvest song, “Dancing in the Moonlight”, was released as a single in 1973 and reached as high as #13 on the charts. It’s a great song but is very much soft rock… even for this bunch of songs which all seem to fall in that category. The wurlitzer electric piano is a nice touch that gives the song a sweet, mellow sound.

Any GG fan should know that I love Steve Winwood, especially his earlier works with The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith. Much of his solo work is very light but the guy is a musician’s musician, playing 13 instruments. Not only does he play 13 instruments, ranging from guitar to keyboards to drums to horns, but he plays them all really well, plus he’s a superb singer. As evidenced by his extensive catalog he’s certainly no slouch of a songwriter either. “Higher Love” was a 1986 #1 that, despite being a little dated in it’s sound aesthetic, is still a great song. Again, not one I would to blast from my car stereo but I enjoy it every time.

There’s something about this next one that I really do like. It’s Looking Glass’ “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”. This was a true one-hit-wonder from 1972 that will probably live on as a 70’s pop classic in the realm of Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” or Seal’s & Croft’s “Summer Breeze”. Despite being extremely “sugar-coated” for pop audiences, they stand the test of time and even epitomize the pop sensibilities of that era.

Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” is clearly a good song from his wildly popular 1986 release Graceland but it’s so hard to take it seriously, especially with this Chevy Chase video (although I secretly love it). Yea, it has a great hook riff and the chorus is fantastic but for a guy who has such a large and impressive catalog it often it played on way too many Adult Contemporary radio stations, which are now essentially considered synonymous with Muszak… basically, it’s something you would hear while at a shopping mall.  On a side note, there is a really great bassline in this tune from African bassist Bakithi Kumalo. In a master class, I once heard Bakithi tell a story about how we was just messing around in the studio and the engineer liked what he heard so he recorded him to use it as a solo section. However, in order to create a complete resolve he had to take the last bar of the phrase and double it up, then reversed that newly added bar. The result is makes for a really cool effect that still makes me wonder how he plays it live. You can hear it at about 3 mins and 45 secs into the piece.

References:

More info on Steely Dan

More info on Can’t Buy A Thrill

More info on Hall & Oates

More info on “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”

More info on The Doobie Brothers

More info on “Taking It To The Streets”

More info on King Harvest

More info on “Dancing In The Moonlight”

More info on Steve Winwood

More info on “Higher Love”

More info on Looking Glass

More info on “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”

More info on Paul Simon

More info on “You Can Call Me Al”





RIP Corey

11 03 2010

Corey Haim died yesterday at 38 years old of what looks like a drug overdose. Haim is but half the 80’s acting duo “The Corey’s”. Famous for his work in The Lost Boys but perhaps more famous for the countless B and C movies he has done since. As an up and coming child actor both he and Corey Feldman had ongoing drug and alcohol habits that have been very public for years. That aside, let’s remember Corey for his peaks rather than his valleys. Here is the theme music to one of my favorite Corey’s movies, License To Drive. The song is perfect for the movie. It’s Billy Ocean’s “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”. The image in this video is the oh-so-80’s movie poster for the 1988 film, featuring both Corey’s in cool mode.

In case you are not familiar with this epic film, the full trailer is below. In fact, I recommend you honor Corey posthumously and rent it tonight. It’s not quite a John Hughes masterpiece but it’s a classic nonetheless. The saddest part of all this is that there will never be a “Corey’s” comeback as I had always hoped for.

Feldman’s reaction to Haim’s death

License To Drive on IMDB

Corey Haim on IMDB

Corey Feldman on IMDB

License To Drive on Wiki

Haim’s Official Site








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