Friday, 3 June 2011
God, it was too hot to sleep I followed the sound of a jukebox coming from up the levee All of a sudden I could hear somebody whistling
“Somewhere Down the Crazy River”, Robbie Robertson (1988)
Robbie Robertson is a Canadian icon and renowned world-wide for his work in ‘The Band’ having written such treasures as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “The Weight”, “Up on Cripple Creek”, and many more.
Robertson’s mother was a member of the Mohawk nation and his father was Jewish. He spent his summers at “Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations”. The rest of the year he was arguably in the epi-centre of Canadian music at the time. Toronto, with its folk singers and later burgeoning rock bands of Young Street had its impact also.
Thursday, 2 June 2011
Songs Everybody Should Know
“Tutti Fruiti”, Little Richard, 1955
Who inspired James Brown, Michael Jackson, Prince, Elton John, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, the New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, even Elvis himself? Who put the funk in the rhythm?
If there was a black Elvis, Little Richard was him. Probably as important to the birth of rock and roll was Richard Wayne Penniman, or ‘Little Richard’ as he called himself.
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Sister Christian, Night Ranger (1984)
I had this 45 (rpm record) in 1978 with the song “I'm Gonna Take Care of Everything”. It was by a band called “Rubicon” and I thought it was very cool. A bit old school sexist, but none-the-less, cool.
The band Rubicon was lead by Jerry Martini, who had cut his teeth in ‘Sly and the Family Stone”. After Rubicon called it quits in 1979, Jack Blades, bassist, and former band mates Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis, talked off-stage keyboard player for Van Halen, Alan Fitzgerald to join them in a new heavier band.
Monday, 30 May 2011
Bright lights the music gets faster. Look boy, don't check on your watch, not another glance. I'm not leaving now, honey not a chance.
Pick of the Week
“Kids in America”, Kim Wilde, 1981
After Sheena Easton’s “9-to-5” and her baby taking the morning train, and not long before Cyndi Lauper was having fun as a girl, and long before Kylie Minogue, there was this blond sensation out of the U.K. known as Kim Wilde.
Kim Wilde had a good start in her musical career having been born right. Her father was U.K. ‘50’s rock n’ roller Marty Wilde. In 1958/59, Marty was right in there as one of the first to successfully emulate the American sound, right alongside the likes of Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele. He was the singer/songwriter and producer behind his first born, Kim.
Her brother Ricky had formed a band and played a song him and their dad had written called “Kids in America”. Micky Most of RAK records in the U.K. heard Ricky’s demo and asked who the background singer was. He took the tape and remixed it to bring out Kim’s voice as the lead. The rest of the album quickly followed. Ricky must have been pissed! Well until they got the first pay check anyway...
The album “Kim Wilde” kind of grew on me. I liked the single, but after a few listens, starting to really get into “Water on Glass”, and “Checkered Love”. Even the reggae-influenced “Everything We Know” was pretty good. There was innocence about Kim Wilde that just seemed to be true. Her voice was different from many of the female vocalists at the time that tended to sound well, more mature. She just sounded like some chick you could know. The ‘new wave’ sound of the band was a bit more ‘garage band’ sounding in sharp contrast to the likes of Duran Duran or Flock of Seagulls. Again, this could be done by guys you might know; accessible.
Her next album with “Cambodia” and “View From a Bridge” were chart-toppers in France, Germany and Austria. I don’t recall hearing them. I did not see the album “Select”, or her last RAK record “Catch as Catch Can”.When she moved to MCA records and released “Teases and Dares” it was largely overlooked.
Then in 1987 she had a huge world-wide hit on her hands with a remake of the Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On”. Of this, she said that she really didn’t know the song much before going into the studio to record it for her 1986 album “Another Step”. She said she just kind of changed the words here and there. It went to number one in the U.S., Canada and Australia, number 2 in her home U.K.
Her biggest selling album was 1988’s “Close” spawning the European hits “You Came”, “Never Trust a Stranger”, and “Four Letter Word”. It did not fare nearly as well in North America; in fact again, I don’t remember seeing it. The release of this album coincided with Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ world tour and she opened for him. Later she opened for fellow Brit David Bowie. Not bad.
A mother of 2, and an award-winning gardener, Kim appeared on two U.K. shows, “Better Gardens” and “Garden Invaders”. She is also in the Guinness Book of World Records, with fellow-gardener David Fountain, for moving the largest tree ever, from Belgium to England in 2001. The tree unfortunately was toppled in a storm in 2007.
If you feel the sudden urge to garden you could read Kim’s 2006 book “The First-Time Gardener”, while listening to her new 2010 album “Come Out and Play”.
Sunday, 29 May 2011
(Very apropos in this case!)
Kung-Fu Fighting, Carl Douglas, 1974
In the early seventies there was a fabulous series of Bruce Lee movies: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, and then Enter the Dragon in 1970-1973. This started a resurgence of interest in martial arts that had not been seen since Elvis took karate.