Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life

In Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life, Jonathan Gould finally does justice to Redding’s unfinished life, drawn on exhaustive research, the cooperation of the Redding family, and previously unavailable sources of information to present the first comprehensive portrait of the singer’s background, his upbringing, and his professional career.

Note: This item is pre-order only now. Expected release date is May 16, 2017.

In chronicling the story of Redding’s life and music, Gould also presents a social history of the time and place from which they emerged. His book never lets us forget that the boundaries between black and white in popular music were becoming porous during the years when racial tensions were reaching a height throughout the United States. His indelible portrait of Redding and the mass acceptance of soul music in the 1960s is both a revealing look at a brilliant artist and a provocative exploration of the tangled history of race and music in America that resonates strongly with the present day.

 

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Mavis!

Mavis! is the first feature documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers. From the freedom songs of the ’60s and hits like “I’ll Take You There” in the ’70s, to funked-up collaborations with Prince and her recent albums with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Mavis has stayed true to her roots, kept her family close, and inspired millions along the way.

Featuring powerful live performances, rare archival footage, and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, Chuck D, and more, Mavis! reveals the struggles, successes, and intimate stories of her journey. At 75, she’s making the most vital music of her career, winning Grammy awards, and reaching a new generation of fans. Her message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.

FEATURING

The Staple Singers
Jeff Tweedy
Chuck D
Julian Bond
Bonnie Raitt
Bob Dylan
Levon Helm
Marty Stuart
Al Bell
Prince
Steve Cropper
Sharon Jones

360 (AWB)- Hamish Stuart, Molly Duncan and Steve Ferrone

360 is a complete return to the soul/funk roots of Hamish Stuart, Molly Duncan and Steve Ferrone: iconic members of The Average White Band.

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The new record is a phenomenal homage to the band members’ origins. Between them, they have created and played on numerous stand-out projects, and have amassed a following as some of the greatest soul and funk musicians of all time.

Recorded live in the studio, the chemistry between the players is undeniable when listening to the tracks. If you’re an AWB fan, or a fan of the genre, this is not to be missed.

Due to be released in limited edition copies signed by the band, on 180g 12″ Vinyl and CD in September, the album is available from 3Ms Music to pre-order now. I ordered my copy 😉

The Legacy of Bert Berns

The purpose of this blog post is to promote awareness of the inherent genius of the late Bert Berns. He was born in New York in 1929 and died tragically of a heart attack at just 38 years of age. But in his short career, Berns left an indelible mark on popular music; he made fifty-one pop chart singles in seven years and became one of the most successful songwriters of the 1960s.

Recordings  – There is an interesting catalog of Bert Berns that spans three volumes from Ace Records, UK.

Book

A gem of a book you will want to sink your teeth into is, Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul Of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business Of Rhythm and Blues researched (16 years) and written by authoritative music journalist Joel Selvin.

Here Comes the Night is both a definitive account of the golden age of rhythm and blues of the early ’60s and the harrowing, ultimately tragic story of songwriter and record producer Bert Berns, whose meteoric career was fueled by his pending doom. His heart damaged by rheumatic fever as a youth, Berns was not expected to live to see 21. Although his name is little remembered today, Berns worked alongside all the greats of the era—Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, anyone who was anyone in New York rhythm and blues. In seven quick years, he went from nobody to the top of the pops—producer of monumental r&b classics, songwriter of “Twist and Shout,” “My Girl Sloopy,” “Piece of My Heart,” and others.

This book serves as a major source for the documentary about Bert Berns mentioned  below. Joel Selvin wrote the narration for the film.

Documentary

I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Bob Sarles. He has captured on film many moving testaments about the important music industry giants of our time. He has an incredible knack for highlighting people who deserve our focus and attention. I’m grateful for his work.

Bang! The Bert Berns Story – Music meets the Mob in this biographical documentary, narrated by Steven Van Zandt, about the life and career of Bert Berns, the most important songwriter and record producer from the sixties that you never heard of. His hits include “Twist and Shout”, “Hang On Sloopy”, “Here Comes The Night” and “Piece Of My Heart.” He helped launch the careers of Van Morrison and Neil Diamond and produced some of the greatest soul music ever made. Filmmaker Brett Berns brings his late father’s story to the screen through interviews with those who knew him best and rare performance footage. Included in the film are interviews with Ronald Isley, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Van Morrison, Keith Richards and Paul McCartney.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award

Bert Berns was inducted as a non-performer and given the Ahmet Ertegun Lifetime Achievement Award with the 2016 class to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Broadway Musical 2016-2017

The Piece of My Heart, The Bert Berns Story, is slated to open as a Broadway Musical.  Steven Van Zandt and Paul Shaffer, along with Maureen Van Zandt and Joe Grano (Jersey Boys), will serve as lead producers. It was also announced that Mr. Van Zandt will serve as the show’s musical director.

Piece of My Heart tells Bert’s triumphant and tragic story through the eyes of Jessie, the daughter he never knew. Experience what Rolling Stone calls “one of the great untold stories of rock and roll.” This world premiere musical pulls you into a journey of discovery told through his chart-topping hits (and some rare gems) including “Twist and Shout,” “I Want Candy,” “Hang on Sloopy,” and the immortal title song, “Piece of My Heart.” Meet the man you never knew through the music you’ve loved for years.

James Brown – Get On Up

I rented this movie yesterday at the Red Box. Got the Blu-Ray edition. They cripple the rental copies these days so you rarely get the DVD extras which are quite substantive on Get On Up. 

I loved this biopic. Chadwick Boseman is a fine actor. His characterizations as Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get On Up have been breathtaking. I also liked him in Draft Day with Kevin Costner.

I was amazed at his transformation into James Brown. He has him down pat. My favorite eras of James Brown are well represented in the combination of history and the interactions he has with Bobby Byrd, Maceo Parker, the audience at The Apollo (probably the best live recording of all time) and Dan Ackroyd as his manager.

You learn how integral James Brown was in forming the Funk for Soul and R&B.  Watch this movie when you can. You will not sit still trust me.

 

Muscle Shoals Soundtrack

We saw the documentary Muscle Shoals yesterday afternoon. All I can say is if you love music and want to know why it sounds so good, go see this movie. The film captures the beauty of Alabama along the Tennessee River and the engineered audio excellence of so many time proven recorded classics.

The Muscle Shoals Soundtrack captures the film’s music essence. I would have loved to have seen “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones and “Main Street” by Bob Seger on the soundtrack but oh well that’s show business 😉

It’s a mind blower to know that “Sitting in Limbo” was NOT recorded in Jamaica! How I love that song. The versatility of The Swampers is amazing.

Tracklisting:

1. Arthur Alexander “You Better Move On”

2. Jimmy Hughes “Steal Away”

3. Percy Sledge “When A Man Loves A Woman”

4. Aretha Franklin “I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Love You)”

5. Etta James “Tell Mama”

6. Clarence Carter “Patches”

7. Wilson Pickett “Hey Jude”

8. Lynyrd Skynyrd “Free Bird” (Original Muscle Shoals Version)

9. The Staple Singers “I’ll Take You There”

10. Jimmy Cliff “Sitting In Limbo”

11. Traffic “(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired”

12. Paul Simon “Kodachrome”

13. Alicia Keys “Pressing On”

Earth, Wind & Fire – Now, Then & Forever

Forty years on the excitement continues with Earth, Wind & Fire. This week saw the release of their latest studio recording, Now, Then & Forever. (September 10th)

Earth, Wind & Fire have a proud history with CBS Sony and Legacy Recordings. I have hung tough with Earth, Wind & Fire the past decade as they attempted to strike flint and make fire with two previous studio recordings on the Sanctuary Records label, The Promise  (2003) and Illumination (2005). I liked both recordings for the collaborative inventiveness exhibited.

Now, Then & Forever on Sony Legacy is the 21st studio album from this prolific group. This is the first album produced without musical input from founder Maurice White.

Earth, Wind & Fire used a sales formula that a couple of their musical peers (The Beach Boys, Rod Stewart) have been effective masterminding. They staged a product launch and musical concert with The Home Shopping Network and HSN Live The HSN marketing machine has tremendous reach with cable shoppers and InterWeb fans. The live television event helped Earth, Wind & Fire sell 10,000 albums in 90 minutes.

Welcome Back Earth, Wind & Fire your perseverance is awe-inspiring.