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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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…





George Harrison | My Sweet Lord

8 10 2010

Lately, I’ve been listening to the Beatles’ post-Beatles solo work a lot. As one would expect Paul & John have the strongest catalogs but George & Ringo are not short on great work either. Here is one of George’s solo hits. Probably not my all-time favorite but it’s near the top and comes with a cool little story. “My Sweet Lord” was originally written for one of Harrison’s friends, former Beatle session man Billy Preston. Preston released it on his 1970 album Encouraging Words, which George produced. Just 10 months later, George released his version of the song on his first post-Beatles album All Things Must Pass. I love this album, it was huge. Originally a triple album (3 records/6 sides), it was produced by Phil Spector and featured 23 songs. Some of which were long jams with various guest spots from friends like Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, Gary, Wright, Alan White (of Yes), a young Phil Collins, Preston and it is even said that John Lennon appeared on one track, although uncredited. There is also a song co-written with Bob Dylan and then a cover of Dylan’s “If Not For You”. It’s a really great album. “My Sweet Lord” was only released as a single after All Things Must Pass, at which point it went right to the top 5 and then occupied no. 1 for five weeks. It later topped the charts again after Harrison’s death and then again upon the release of a re-mastered anniversary version. Remarkable as that is, it’s not the juicy part of the story.

In 1971, George was sued by The Chiffons for rights to the song as it was incredibly similar to their hit “He’s So Fine”. Harrison later stated that he was actually inspired to write “My Sweet Lord” after hearing the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day”. A US federal court ruled that Harrison had subconsciously copied The Chiffon tune and he had to hand over the majority of his royalties from the song. This ordeal was parodied by The Chiffons afterward in order capitalize on the publicity. In good humor, George would later record his own song about the case, called “This Song”, which featured many direct references. Soon after, he just bought the rights to “He’s So Fine” anyway. So in the end, he owns his song and theirs… right on, George!

If you’re not familiar with this Chiffons tune, here it is. You’ll hear the similarities instantly. So much so, it’s hard not to side with the courts on this one.

One last thing, there is a great version of this song from The Concert For George, with Billy Preston leading an allstar band that includes Ringo, Paul McCartney, Dhani Harrison, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Tom Petty. 

note: If you’re a Billy Preston fan and want hear his original version from Encouraging Words, THIS is a great old live version, true to form.

References:

More info on George Harrison

More info on All Things Must Pass

More info on “My Sweet Lord”

More info on The Chiffons

More info on “He’s So Fine”

More info on Concert For Bangledesh

More info on Concert For George

More info on Billy Preston





Return of The Green Gorilla

6 10 2010

The GG is back! Sorry for the short hiatus and infrequent posting over the last few weeks. I’ve been busy with some other projects and thus, have been less active here on The GG. Everything should be back up and running with new posts daily… or at least close. It’s also time to update the On The Turntable page. It’s long overdue and I would like to fill in the lost months in the archive.  Look for that, and more, in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this dated 90’s R&B classic, “Return of the Mack”. I dunno, it seemed oddly appropriate. PS– You may recognize this sample as Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”, which was also famously covered by the Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense.

…I’m Back!





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





Journey | Lights

23 08 2010

I’ve written about all-time great guitar solos before, most notably Robbie Robertson’s on The Bands’ “Ophelia”. Well, here is another that I would put into that category. I’m not a huge fan of Journey for various reasons that I won’t elaborate on, but this song is a real gem from early in their career. It was written and recorded just as, lead singer, Steve Perry joined the group  in 1977. The story behind it’s origin is pretty cool. Perry has said that he wrote most of the tune while leaving in Los Angeles and it was originally about LA. In fact, the original lyric was: “When the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on LA”. He admits that it never quite sat right with him so he shelved it. Soon after, he joined Journey and moved to their home city, San Francisco. After a short time in the Bay City, it hit him… “the sun shines on the BAY”. And, like that, he penned a classic. Released on the bands fourth album, Infinity, it was the beginning of their most popular period as a band. To me the guitar solo has always stood out as the most compelling part of the song, which is played oh-so tastefully by lead guitarist and co-writer Neal Schon. Although the opening lick sounds a little too similar to the solo from Queen’s “Somebody To Love”, the statement as a whole is arranged really well. It’s succinct, lyrical, catchy and, above all else, memorable. As a little side note: Schon was actually one of the few original members of Journey. He was an alumni of one of San Fran’s biggest groups, Santana. After leaving Carlos & Co, they built Journey around his sound. I had no idea until just recently, but I’m not at all surprised.

Below is a live video that became the “official” video in the early MTV days. It’s decent if you consider the era. You may have to look past the poor audio dubbing but once you do, it’s pretty good stuff. To jump to Schon’s solo, go to 2:07 – 2:34.

References:

Official Journey Site

More info on Journey

More info on “Lights”

More info on Steve Perry

More info on Neal Schon

More info on Infinity





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.

References:

The Silhouettes Official Site

More info on The Silhouettes

More info on “Get A Job”

More info on Doo Wop








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