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?

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…

Neil Young | Cowgirl in the Sand

13 10 2010

“Cowgirl in the Sand” is a great song from one of my favorite Neil Young albums, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969). It was Neil’s second solo album and his first with backing band Crazy Horse. This album has 3 of his most popular songs on it, all of which were written when he was sick with a 103° fever. Pretty remarkable stuff. “Cowgirl” was one of those tunes, along with “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down By The River”. As much as I like the studio version of this song, it tends to sound a little like another one of his great ones, “Southern Man”, at certain parts. But, this live acoustic version really makes it feel like it’s own song, and a fantastic one at that. It’s quintessential Neil Young. Although difficult to tell for sure, I believe this performance is from his solo acoustic show at Massey Hall in 1971. That concert captures Neil at his finest. Check out “Cowgirl in the Sand” and I will be sure to post more songs from that performance in the future.


More info on Neil Young

More info on Crazy Horse

More info on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Studio (electric) version of “Cowgirl in the Sand”

Aretha Franklin | I Say A Little Prayer

12 10 2010

This is a great video of Aretha Franklin performing “I Say A Little Prayer”. It was originally released on her 1968 album Aretha Now, but I like this live version from 1970 better. Actually, it’s a Burt Bacharach tune that was written for Dionne Warwick, who recorded it in 1967. Her version is also very good, but Aretha is the best.

The Silhouettes | Get A Job

5 08 2010

This song from the late 50’s Doo Wop group, The Silhouettes, sums up my current employment situation perfectly. Well, not word for word but the key point is the same: I NEED a job. This song is pretty great. It is from that era of music where 4 guys just stood around on a street corner and sung their hearts out. This is the same period where the kids would dance through the streets and music seemed to be an integral part of the everyday youth experience. The Silhouettes were like many of the other groups from this time, just a one hit wonder… “Get A Job” being their one hit. It was released as the B side to “I Am Lonely” in 1957 and reached #1 on the Billboard charts. It was so successful that it sold over one million records, a huge feat back then, and was awarded a gold disc to honor the occasion.

This video is in rough shape because of it’s age but it’s a pretty cool documentation of an art form that has nearly been forgotten. Sure, the dubbing is slightly off and it’s a bit grainy but I still really like it. In fact, I think that’s what I like most about it.


The Silhouettes Official Site

More info on The Silhouettes

More info on “Get A Job”

More info on Doo Wop

Happy Birthday from Wynton & Co.

27 07 2010

One of my friends has a birthday today and while looking for the right B-Day wishes, I stumbled upon this great video of Wynton Marsalis playing the traditional “Happy Birthday To You” tune. This is cool for two reasons: 1. It’s Wynton, who is traditionally a jazz “purist” doing it in a New Orleans R&B/Jazz style (somewhat atypical for him). 2. It’s a N’Awlins style “Birthday” from the masters… c’mon, it doesn’t get any better. To boot, it looks like these boys are having a good ol’ time celebrating the birthday of one of their own. Check it out for yourself:

Now, if you are curious how the hell they do that (it’s about 90% improvisation), check out this video of Wynton and Victor talking about the interplay in this Master Class VIDEO.


Wynton’s Official Site

More info on Wynton Marsalis

More info on “Happy Birthday”

More info on New Orleans R&B

More info on New Orleans Jazz

Celebración: Cinco De Mayo

5 05 2010

In celebration of Cinco De Mayo, I thought it would be appropriate to showcase the music of Mexico. But, being that Cinco De Mayo is more widely celebrated here in the US than in Mexico, it wouldn’t be right to go full on Mexicano tradicional with mariachi bands and outfits of similar ilk. Instead, I bring you one of Mexico’s greatest musical ambassadors and perhaps one of the most influential cultural crossovers in music history, Carlos Santana.

Carlos’ music, specifically the work of the late 60’s/early 70’s, is a great source of inspiration for  musicians and fans alike. He has an unteachable touch that’s so delicate and deliberate, it’s absolutely incredible. There are few guitarists out there that have the control he commands. Each of his notes is like that of a human voice with a very specific yet natural inflection and cadence. You could more accurately compare his sound to that of a sax player or jazz singer rather than to other guitarists. The late, great, groundbreaking bassist Jaco Pastorius had said that his favorite player of all time was Carlos because “when he plays just one note, you know that’s him”. The voicings of his notes and touch of his hands are so personal that it’s not just an extension of his body, but his soul as well.

Below is a great example of Santana doing just that. It’s “Samba Pa Ti” live in Japan 1973. The beginning of this song is slow and sensitive, while the end is uptempo and intense. It’s a classic Santana instrumental. This recording is from about the same time as the live album Lotus. Just like the version on that album, Carlos quotes Bobby Womack’s “Breezin” in the solo section. It’s a great performance… unfortunately, the video is sub-par.

This is a blues soaked, slow burner called “Treat”. It’s one of my favorite Santana tunes. The performance is from 1971, live in studio.

And finally, this is rare audio from Woodstock 1969. It’s an incredible interpretaion of the Willie Bobo classic “Fried Neckbones”. PS- This performance was prior to the release of their debut album. Woodstock essentially ‘broke’ this band to the world and it’s now legendary.

¡Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

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