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.

 

Advertisements

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.

75534_1737364213165214_7778801643491489786_n1

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 😉

Forever Motown At The Downtown Cabaret Theatre

It has been ages since we have frequented the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. We’ve always liked the ambiance of this venue. You can BYOB with an intimate setting that seats just 209 people.

We saw the production, Forever Motown, earlier this evening. This is the music near and dear to the music of our heart. We grew up on listening to the sound of Motown on transistor radios and phonograph players in the 60s and the 70s.

The cast was versatile, four male vocalists and three female vocalists, backed by a piano player, guitarist, bassist, and a keyboard/saxophonist.

The tapestry of soul music was performed by a cast of veteran entertainers, including former members of The Jones, Main Ingredient, The Temptations, The Spinners & The Marvelettes, peppered with Broadway savvy performers who had leading roles in “Dream Girls”, ” Your Arms Too Short to Box With God”, “Porgy & Bess” and “Showboat”.

 

The iconic Motown Sound was recreated down to the slightest vocal and musical nuance by such American icons as Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Lionel Richie, Mary Wells & the entire Motown roster of stars.

It was a wonderful show with the performers giving their all. They ended with The Temptations medley and inviting us up to dance to The Jackson Five, “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground).

Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/1969

Historic Debut Concert, Band of Gypsys to Be Released In Entirety For First Time Ever

August 9, 2016- New York, NY- Experience Hendrix L.L.C. and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, are releasing Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69, fully documenting the debut performance of Jimi Hendrix’s short-lived but eternally influential Band of Gypsys on September 30. The group played four historic concerts at the Fillmore East in New York City – two on New Year’s Eve 1969, and two on New Year’s Day 1970. Never before has the first of these sets been available in its entirety. The vast majority of the performances have never seen the light of day in any configuration.

Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 was produced by Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer and John McDermott, the same team who have overseen all of Jimi Hendrix’s audio and audio visual releases by Experience Hendrix L.L.C. since 1995. Kramer served Jimi Hendrix as his primary recording engineer throughout his lifetime and the newly mixed Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 from the original 1” 8 track master tapes. The album was mastered by Grammy Award winner Bernie Grundman and will be simultaneously released, on CD, 2 LP 180 gram vinyl, high resolution SACD and digitally. Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 is available for pre-order on CD: http://smarturl.it/jh_mg_cd and Vinyl: http://smarturl.it/jh_mg_vinyl

Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 marks the first ever Jimi Hendrix SACD and high resolution digital release. Additionally, Experience Hendrix is also releasing People, Hell & Angels on the same day. People, Hell & Angels, a collection of previously unreleased studio recordings, peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart in March 2013. The album features studio versions of many of the songs featured on Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69.

Over the course of four extraordinary years, Jimi Hendrix placed his indelible stamp upon popular music with breathtaking velocity. Measured alongside his triumphs at Monterey Pop and Woodstock, Hendrix’s legendary Fillmore East concerts illustrated a critical turning point in a radiant career which boasted of indefinite possibilities.

The revolutionary impact Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox, and Buddy Miles had upon the boundaries and definitions of rock, R&B, and funk can be traced to four concerts over the course of two evenings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. These performances were first celebrated by Band Of Gypsys, which featured six songs from the two January 1, 1970 concerts including “Machine Gun,” the album’s dramatic centerpiece. Issued in April 1970, Band Of Gypsys challenged and surprised the guitarist’s wide following with its extended arrangements and vibrant mix of rock and soul. Nonetheless, the album proved to be a runaway commercial success and sadly, with his death in London in September 1970, would become the last album Jimi Hendrix personally authorized for release.

Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 documents the first of the group’s four legendary Fillmore East concerts. This set presents an assortment of fresh, exciting new songs such as “Earth Blues,” “Ezy Ryder,” “Stepping Stone,” “Burning Desire,” and “Machine Gun”—none of which had ever before been issued on disc. Moreover, nearly all of the group’s material had never been performed before an audience. “We decided that we couldn’t do any songs that had already been released,” explains Billy Cox. “We wanted to give them something different. So we went at the project in a joyous, creative posture and ultimately developed the repertoire of the Band of Gypsys.”

While promoter Bill Graham had advertised the concerts as ‘Jimi Hendrix: A Band Of Gypsys’, few could have anticipated what Hendrix had in store. “We had two shows New Years Eve and two shows New Years Day,” remembered Cox. “We didn’t know what to expect from the audience and the audience didn’t know what to expect from us, but from the time we hit that first note, they were in awe. You had Jimi Hendrix, a drummer who had been with the Electric Flag and Wilson Pickett, and I was the new kid on the block.”

With the anticipation of the sold out Fillmore audience heightened to fever pitch, Hendrix led his trio through a scintillating, seventy-five minute opening performance. None of the eleven songs presented had yet to grace an Experience album. In the place of signature songs like “Purple Haze” and “All Along The Watchtower” were confident renditions of “Power Of Soul” and “Hear My Train A Comin.’”

Jimi generously extended center stage to Buddy Miles, providing a showcase for “Changes” and a charged rendition of the Howard Tate R&B hit “Stop”. “We had rehearsed “Changes” and a few others for Buddy,” explains Cox. “All of the songs we performed had been rehearsed. We didn’t look at it as Buddy’s part of the show. We were all there to give. We were all there to help and material went on whether it was written by Jimi or not. Former Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke, who authored this collection’s liner notes, describes “Stop” as being something akin to “a psychedelic power-trio Temptations.” Hendrix’s scalding version of Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart” is the set’s only other cover, underscoring the new band’s emphasis on the blues.

As the Fillmore audience roared with approval, the Band Of Gypsys left the stage confident that they had validated Jimi’s new music before his loyal followers. “After the gigs were finished, Jimi was quite relieved,” remembers Cox. “We felt the concerts went well. I might add that in previous gigs with the Experience he had used a fuzz face [tone control pedal] and a Wah-Wah pedal, then at Woodstock he used a fuzz face, Wah-Wah pedal and Uni-Vibe, but at the Fillmore East he used a fuzz face, Wah-Wah pedal, Uni-Vibe and Octavia and it was incredible. In fact you could hear all of it kicking in on ‘Machine Gun.’ It was incredible. There were people in the audience with their mouths open.”

“Machine Gun” stands as one of Hendrix’s finest and most influential compositions. Hendrix pushed Delta blues into places its pioneers could not have imagined, fusing his extraordinary instrumental skills within his passionate expression of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. “Machine Gun” endures as a classic amongst the already classic-drenched Jimi Hendrix canon. Fricke notes of this version, the first that Hendrix and company had ever played in concert, “..Here it is, after 46 years, another revelation – a stunning essay in pain, rage and determined survival, fully formed in its initial outing.”

Long sought after by the guitarist’s worldwide following, Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 presents the complete performance in its original sequence.

Jimi Hendrix – Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69 (release date: September 30)

1) Power Of Soul
2] Lover Man
3) Hear My Train A Comin’
4) Changes
5) Izabella
6) Machine Gun
7) Stop
8) Ezy Ryder
9) Bleeding Heart
10) Earth Blues
11) Burning Desire

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.

 

Jay & The Techniques

I grant you it’s a supercilious song yet I find myself captivated with the hit single, “Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay & The Techniques. I recall it as a hit on AM radio in 1967. The song makes me smile when I hear it. It’s a fun, good time classic. We need more hits like this 🙂

Formed in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, in the mid-60s, Jay And The Techniques were an interracial pop group best known for the Top 10 debut single ‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie’ in 1967. The group consisted of vocalist Jay Proctor and six other members: Karl Landis, Ronald Goosly, John Walsh, George Lloyd, Charles Crowl and Dante Dancho. The group built a following in the northeast and was discovered by producer Jerry Ross, who arranged to have them signed to Smash Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records.

‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie’, was their biggest hit, reaching number 6 in the US in 1967. ‘Keep The Ball Rolling’ was, like the first, based on a children’s game, and it climbed to number 14. The formula held up for one further game-orientated single, ‘Strawberry Shortcake’, which scraped into the Top 40 in 1968. A final chart success, ‘Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music’, ended their run on the pop charts in 1968, but a revived Jay And The Techniques placed ‘Number Onederful’ on the R&B charts in 1976, on Event Records. This was the group’s swan song.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin.

 

 

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.