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Filled with Glee

glee

All I can say is….wonderful.

The programming geniuses at Fox have a knack for finding talented, new programs and then “pimp” them behind perennial ratings buster American Idol.  Hit shows like House, 24 and Lie to Me have shared the coveted spot following ‘Idol’ and I doubt that they would have been as readily accepted if they had debuted on Thursday nights.  The Fox guys use the golden Tuesday night time slot to showcase their next new “thing”.  Well, Glee certainly fits the bill.  Click here to watch via Hulu.

Glee is Fame meets Friday Night Lights meets Welcom Back Kotter and is pure fun.  In an unrealistic world of blue-eyed, blonde bombshells and muscle-bound pretty boys who portray the “perfect” Americans on most shows, Glee brings Geek America to the forefront.  Let’s face it, more people relate to the Geeks than the Greeks, right?  Of course, Glee puts our motley crew in the starring rolls (for once) and makes the audience root for the underdog — one of their favorite pastimes.

Fox was smart to take advantage of the ‘Idol’ season to debut it’s next hit, however the season will not continue until the fall (when ‘Idol’ is on hiatus).  They were also brilliant in putting a musical show after a musical show that millions of tweens and teens watch.  I’m betting that middle schools and high schools across the nation are buzzing about Glee this morning.  My prediction is that ALOT of people will be talking about Glee come the fall.

Here is an extended trailer….tell me you cannot identify with SOMEONE in these scenes.

My identification with the show and it’s characters isn’t so much through my own experiences and it is through my kid’s.  It is excruiating to watch your child be pushed aside or left behind.  The worst is seeing them made fun of because they aren’t tall or they aren’t thin or they aren’t rich…especially when you know the wonderful soul that resides in that imperfect body.  That’s what I like most about Glee.  That it will showcase the normal, brave kids who risk and overcome by throwin their talent into the spotlight and getting their voices heard.

Bravo.

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Posted by on August 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Colette’s Corner: The Beatles LIVE, via Sir Paul

Deja Vu

Deja Vu

Colette checks in from Summer with a terrific tribute to those fabulous lads from Liverpool, with a focus on the irrepresible Macca at the fore. 

Music Maven commentary at the conclusion.

Last week was great for Beatle fans.  Paul McCartney was on the Letterman show for the first time, and insisted on performing on the roof of the Broadway theater that used to be The Ed Sullivan Theatre — where (inside) the Beatles made their US debut, 40-plus years ago.  Then he played at the opening of CITI Field in New York, which replaced the old Shea Stadium where the Beatles performed, on the their final US tour.

The rooftop concert on Broadway was also nostalgic because it included Get Back, which the Beatles sung on the roof of a London building in 1969 while doing an amazing, impromptu set during the filming of Let It Be.  They didn’t know it would be their final performance together, ever.  On the “unplugged” album of Let It Be, you hear them chatting about how great it would be to do a tour again.

Alas, it was never to be. 

John and Yoko moved to NYC, and created such amazing tunes as Imagine and Woman, before he was gunned down so tragically in 1980.  George turned out some fine music too (My Sweet Lord, etc.) on disc, and branched out into producing movies (including Monty Python flicks).  Ringo kept drumming, and touring, but low-key as always.

Paul McCartney was the one who kept doing what the  Beatles spent their teens and twenties doing together —  being a working rocker — and staying remarkably youthful, positive and productive, despite losing his wife and his longtime musical partner, both too young.

After John’s death, McCartney gradually dusted off the amazing Lennon-McCartney songbook — which is simply unmatched by any other pop band.  And what a gift it’s been to hear these songs again, by one of the guys who made them, mostly in their grand original arrangements, with Paul keeping the flame going for a new generation of fans and admiring musicians — including Beatles-lovers like American Idol’s Kris Allen (who does Hey Jude on the Idol tour),  Dave Grohl (of the Foo Fighters) and  Eddie Vedder.

Here are some of Paul’s finest post- Beatle live performances of the Beatles catalogue, culled from the last 20 years — with an emphasis on splendid songs that haven’t been covered extensively by others.

I just want to add for people younger than this Baby Boomer:  you can’t imagine how much the Beatles mattered to us.  They emerged right after the death of JFK, which was deeply traumatic for the whole nation, but especially us children, and they brought with them freshness, cheekiness and a musical magic that helped us heal.

Paul at the Citi Stadium concert, with Billy Joel (a huge Beatles fan and NY hometown hero) chiming in, on a rousing early  hit — the “B” side of I Want to Hold Your Hand.

  —  I Saw Her Standing There

Sir Paul gave us Beatlemaniacs a treat with his “unplugged” concert in 1991, where he played acoustic instruments and revived  gorgeous Beatles harmonies with his new band mates, on fab songs like this  from Rubber Soul.  Note that he let the gray show in a mullet “do” — now he dyes it, but who cares?  The man is ageless:

 — I’ve Just Seen a Face (Unplugged)

On this exquisite ballad from Revolver, Paul’s beautiful falsetto gives me shivers …..and, he added accordion!

   — Here, There and Everywhere   (Unplugged) 

Thanks to this timeless ballad, The Beatles eventually started to get serious props from older musicians and “serious” critics, who assumed they were just a pop craze and would fizzle out.   I remember my own snobby, jazz musician brother saying, “Well, maybe they’re better than I thought….”   Here, Paul is singing it at a charity concert, just him and a guitar, in 1997:

 — Yesterday

I adore everything on Meet the Beatles, their first American LP.   This was their first big hit in England, and it still pleases.   I have no idea where this clip originated, but Paul is performing it in a big stadium somewhere with mobs of people groovin’:

Please, Please Me

John’s death hit Paul very hard.   He’s paid homage in several ways, but I love this remarkable medley that begins with A Day in the Life from Sergeant Pepper and ends with Give Peace a Chance, best.   Filmed during a big concert in the Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool, in 2008:

 —  A Day in the Life

 Two from the early 1960s, not often covered, but played by McCartney in the last decade at concerts which always drew in several generations,  all getting high together on the music….

 — I’ll Get You

 — I’ll Follow the Sun

The  Beatles proved they could ROCK like nobody’s business!   They wrote all those pretty love songs, but they loved doing rave-ups too, like this classic, encored by Paul in that Liverpool concert.  Note the trademark McCartney Scream!  It’s still fearsome —

 — Can’t Buy Me Love

At this point, I need to bring The Beatles in on this set.  Paul does a tremendous job keeping their sound alive,  but it’s wonderful to hear the Real Thing too.  They didn’t have decent amplification or recording technology back then.   And as Garth Brooks once noted, it’s astonishing they stayed in tune and together despite the dinky speakers, crappy mikes and orgiastic screaming of fangirls!   They’d just played together so long in so many little divey clubs in England and Germany, that they were TIGHT:

  — Can’t Buy Me Love  (the Beatles version, live in 1964)

Here’s Paul dusting off a rock-out crowd pleaser from the 1960s, in the CITI Field concert — at which he played 30 SONGS! 

  — I’m Down

And The Beatles version at Shea Stadium more than four decades ago…

    — I’m Down,  Beatles at Shea, 1965   

 I adore this clip because it shows both their musicianship and great their love and delight in making music together.  John is cutting up, George is breaking up, Paul is trying to keep it together, and Ringo is bashing away happily behind them.    Pure joy. 

Finally, here’s Paul doing Get Back on the Sullivan theatre’s roof   — and kidding around with the crowd while they were waiting to start.  This is a fan’s video, and expresses the excitement on the street where a lucky 4,000 people were allowed to congregate and watch.   (Sir Paul sang several songs they didn’t show on TV, but they’re all posted on YouTube now).  So here it is:

 — Get Back,  July 19, 2009

 And here are The Beatles singing it in 1969, on a London rooftop — where the cops broke up their final concert!  Well, at least we have this wonderful clip — the good sound makes you pine for what might have been if they’d gotten back on the road.  

 —  Get Back,  1969

 

BEATLES FOREVER!

 

 

Another great contribution from Colette!

I just wanted to interject one small point about the most under-appreciated Beatle of all, Ringo.  While he was never the at the forefront of The Beatles and is sometimes forgotten due to his unassuming, laid back style, Ringo is quite a force himself.

After The Beatles breakup, Ringo rivaled Sir Paul in hits in the early 70s.  First came It Don’t Come Easy in ’71:

He followed up with one of my personal favorites, Back Off Bugaloo in ’72, Photograph in ’73 and You’re Sixteen  in ’74.  While lesser recognized, these hits were certainly on par with McCartney’s Band on the Run and Jet and Hell on Wheels, yet Ringo gets the least love of all The Beatles.  I recognize that many only associate Ringo with the dreadful 1981 film, The Caveman, but Ringo is a solid one-quarter of The Beatles and is as accomplished as John, Paul, and George. 

Lastly, Ringo paid special tribute to John in singing the Lennon-esque I Call Your Name on the 1oth anniversary of John’s death with special help from Joe Walsh and Jim Keltner along with Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty of  Traveling Wilbury fame.

While Sir Paul is definitely the Beatles’ standard bearer, even he recognizes the force that is Ringo.  I’ll close with Sir Paul getting by with a little help from his friend:

 

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The Circus That Wasn’t

It had all the makings of a cheap, promotional opportunity at the expense of a tragic, much aligned icon, but…the Michael Jackson memorial was actually very well thought out and done.  Word is that his baby brother, Randy, took the reins and finalized the plans and format for the memorial.  Hat’s off, Randy.

mjmemorial

 While there were awkward moments, like John Mayer’s instrumental Human Nature, Brooke Shields’ obvious out-of-placeness, and Al Sharpton’s declaration that “there was nothing strange about your Daddy”, all in all the memorial was in good taste and an appropriate send-off for the King of Pop.

Queen Latifah was eloquent, Jennifer Hudson was once again, brilliant and the great Smokey Robinson was touching, but the speaker who captured Michael Jackson the best, was the one and only founder of Motown, Berry Gordy:

Berry’s declaration that Jackson was “the greatest entertainer that ever lived” is difficult to dispute, even though you have to throw up an asterick to ackowledge that he was also the weirdest entertainer that ever lived. 

I’m very conflicted on the whole Michael Jackson over exposure and pedestal topping, in light of the very serious questions around his behavior and thoughts around sharing his love with young boys and the questions around drug use, appearance alterations, and just generally abnormal life — even for a celebrity.  However, one moment put into perspective that this odd, lonely, questionable character was a beloved Daddy who is no longer there.

In the end…the very end, the “event” was brought into stark perspective….by a grieving eleven-year old daughter.

R.I.P.

 

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Another Example of Legacy

While I adored David Ryan Harris’ tribute, this one I’m a little skeptical on.

  I’ll Be There, State Farm Commercial

Watching TV last night, this commercial came on and I immediately thought about the inappropriateness of State Farm resurrecting this ad.  The description of the video says:

Since this ad first aired May 20, the songs lyrics have helped make a strong emotional connection with people. This Jackson Five song is just one example of Michael Jacksons impact and legacy as a pop culture icon. Our condolences to the Michael Jackson family and fans.

 

That’s convenient, but I don’t recall seeing this ad more that once or twice in the last month or so, so I don’t think it was as compelling as State Farm likes to make out.  Nothing had made them look good in recent months where they have increased the hurricane deductibles to 5% of total coverage and have flat out stopped coverage for some areas.

But I digress…

I could be totally off base, but I think that this is using the hype of this superstar’s death to hawk your product.  The commercial did not have a “tribute” to MJ attached or a condolence, it simply was a commercial using a highly identifiable Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 song to get the viewers attention.  All about taking advantage of the moment, ignoring the respect and dignity of the person.  Unfortunately, it’s the dark side of legacy.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2009 in Marketing, rant, TV, Uncategorized

 

Colette’s Corner: Hot Buttered Soul, American Style

Here is a long awaited entry from Colette.  Personally, I think Soul is alive and well in the good, ole U. S. of A.  Of course, if you are a creature of terrestial radio, you’re not going to hear it.  That’s why the interwebs are so important.   I have some additional thoughts on “the new radio”, but I’ll save that for later.  For now, enjoy Colette’s Soul buffet:

Listening Party:   Hot Buttered American Soul Singers 2009

 As young Brits like Duffy and Amy Winehouse and Adele rack up big record sales and Grammy Awards, I’ve been wondering what’s up with our homegrown soul singers.  I’m not talking about that heavily processed dance-beat monotony mulch that is sometimes called Neo-Soul, no no no.  I’m talking bluesy voices, rugged and smoother, that are bringing the Motown/Stax/Philly sound of yore back with a new twist.

 What do you think?  Do they have the right stuff?  

 You’ll note that quite a few of these performances are from the terrific British music TV show Live with Jools Holland.  Holland is a good piano player and an excellent scout for cutting-edge talent — all the great young Brit acts have appeared on his program, and a lot of American artists (young & older) too.  I’m jealous: why can’t we have a show like his?   A new “Soul Train”?

Someday, in my dreams.  In the meantime, here a few I like, and wonder what your take is:

Rafael Saadiq isn’t exactly a new artist — he was one of the members of  the top New Jack Swing group (ok, anyone recall what New Jack Swing was??) called Tony! Toni! Tone!  And he’s been through several musical phases.    Now he’s done a very, very cool maneuver, his own version of Temptation-esque retro-soul, smooth as silk.  (He’s also Joss Stone’s boyfriend, but don’t hold that against either of them….)  Love this hot, hot appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show last month:

  –  Rafael Saadiq, “The Hundred Yard Dash”

And one of the best songs on his recent disc:

  — Rafael Saadiq, “Love That Girl”

Someone here recently put up a link for Melody Gardot.  Is she jazz? Pop? Soul?  Who cares?   This young woman, disabled since a car crash, has just a classic, achy-breaky voice steeped in cool.  Am loving her — she deserves a big future:

 — Melody Gardot, “Worrisome Heart”

Sugarush Beat Company is an  interesting group with a cool Stax-y vibe in their tune “L-O-V-E.”  They released their first album last September.  And they’re multinational, with members hailing from the US, Denmark and Britain.  Here they are on Jools’ show recently:

 — Sugarush beat company, “L.O.V.E.”

Here’s the wildcat kid from Massachusetts (previously featured by Music Maven), who is tearing it up in Europe, but pretty obscure in the U.S.  He plays a mean guitar, and is a wail of a singer, Eli “Paperboy” Reed — love the moniker!  And he reminds a little of a male Janis Joplin:

 == Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves, “Everywhere You Go”

Ruby Turner had some shlocky pop hits in the late 1980s, but her purified blues-soul approach today is kickin.’   Here she is with Jools Holland recently, on a swinging tune they recorded together (check out the female alto sax’s solo!):

  — Ruby Turner, “The Informer”  (with Jools Holland)

One of my favorite American Idol contestants, really too good to win!, is Melinda Doolittle.  She came out with a very fine first album, “Coming Back to You,” and the Idol franchise could help her enormously if they just gave her a guest spot this season!  But nooooo, they have to give the spotlight to the far, far inferior Kellie Pickler!  Drat….but I really encourage you to support Melinda’s career — she’s worthy indeed.  Here is her great opening salvo on American Idol 2007:

 — Melinda Doolittle, “Since You Been Gone”

And here’s her first single from the  new album:

 — Melinda Doolittle, “It’s Your Love”

I also can’t give up on Taylor Hicks.  As Music Maven has duly noted, he has a new album out and while it’s not the soulful stuff of my dreams, its closer to the bone than Taylor’s misbegotten first post-Idol disc.  As usual, it’s always best to hear him entertain live. Here’s a clip from a recent appearance on “Regis and Kelly”:

  –“What’s Right Is Right”, Taylor Hicks

I adore Ryan Shaw, and I just wish he would get a boost because he’s HOT.  He did have a Grammy nomination recently, but not enough people know about this sweet Southern guy, and his superior soul pipes.  Here he is live on the BET network:

 —  Ryan Shaw, “I’m Your Man”

If I can get one other person excited about Tyrone Wells, I’ll be happy.  This Washington State native has a rabidly loyal semi-underground following, and he’s just terrific live. Good songwriter and guitarist, and great singer, and just put out a new album, “Remain.”   Here he is with one of my fave tunes of his:

 — Tyrone Wells, “Baby  Don’t You Change”

Some soulful artists really deserve an encore, and jazzy singer Randy Crawford is back with a cover of a terrific old Staple Singers tune that’s getting a lot of airplay on some FM stations.  Here she is on French TV — you can catch glimpses of  British soulster James Morrison, really diggin on Randy and the wonderful jazz pianist Joe Semple.  Their new album together is a grand groove — sorry the clip is a little out of sync — but it sounds great!

 — randy crawford &  joe semple, “Respect Yourself”

LeRoy Bell, whose folky-soul is very popular in the Pacific NW, and really deserving of more attention.  (His uncle, by the way, is the great Thom Bell, co-architect of the 1970s Philly Sound of Lionel Ritchie, etc.)  This is from his last album, released in 2008:

 

 — LeRoy Bell, “Fly on the Wall”

I gotta end with the hardest working soul singer in show biz, Sharon Jones.    With her fab young band the Dap Kings (who appeared on Amy Winehouse’s record) she’s keeping the funk flame  burning — what a scorcher!   Seeing her live is being sent into a time capsule right back to early Tina-land.  Here she is on French TV, tearin’ it up as per usual:

 — Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Thanks, Colette.  Great list, but I HAVE to include my boy, Marc Broussard.   Marc was at the forefront of the recent soul revival and besides, he’s a child of God’s Country.

  Let Me Leave, Marc Broussard

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 15, 2009 in colette's corner, Soul, Uncategorized

 

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Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Van?

van20morrison

Van the Man.

It’s been a while.  Have you missed me?  Are you cross with me?  I never meant to neglect you.  After all, you are so very important to my musical life.  I know I talked about  Into the Mystic and The Movie Hits months and months ago, but I haven’t told you lately that I love you.  Well, I do.

Tonight, in Madison Square Garden, a Music Maven proxy will be front and center to hear you deliver the sweet nectar of Astral Weeks.  While I will be thousands of miles away watching soccer on the Internet, please know that I will be there in spirit.  And, I promise to give you more of the attention you deserve.

Your Sweet Thing,

MM

  Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

 
10 Comments

Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Concerts, Uncategorized, van morrison

 

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Colette’s Corner: Odetta

odetta

Odetta & Company:  Big Voices, Big Souls

 

One of America’s greatest folk-blues “roots” singers died in December.  That was Odetta Holmes, known to the world simply as “Odetta.”

 

Odetta was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1930, and blessed with one of the most distinctive voices on record — deep, robust and rich with feeling.  Rather than go in a pop direction, as most of her equally blessed contemporaries did, Odetta  studied opera.  When she realized “no one would hire a black girl to sing at the Metropolitan Opera,”  she delved into  indigenous American music and became a leading figure in the coffee house/folk music movement that sprang up in the early 1960s.  (Her full NY Times bio .)

 

While many white artists were also dipping into the traditional American bag, Odetta sang African American folk songs  and blues with tremendous authority, grace and power, and a regal bearing.   She was one of the first black stars to sport an Afro hairdo in the 1960s, championing a natural look that gained popularity later.   And she was very committed to and active in the civil rights movement — marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and performing a concert at the White House for President John F. Kennedy.

 

Though Odetta’s star dimmed a bit as the folk boom ended, she had already gained a big following through folk clubs, hit records and a musical bonding with Harry Belafonte, who toured with her and called Odetta  a “chief influence on my career.”   Other famous singers also named her as a major inspiration — including  Joan Baez (to whom she was “a goddess”),  Janis Joplin (who first got excited about the blues, as a teenager, by  listening to Odetta ) and Bob Dylan, who wrote of her:

 

” The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta. I heard a record of hers   (“Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues”) in a record store, back when you could listen to records right there in the store. Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar…”

 

This first clip is how I best remember Odetta.  She’s performing on a 2006 public TV show here, in which  she sang songs I enjoyed live during her concert tour the same year and which she recorded on a disc (“Blues Everywhere I Go”) which I highly recommend to fellow blues babes: 

 

  — “You Don’t Know My Mind”

 

Here she is on an  early record,  doing a short rendition of the slave work song, “Water Boy,” in her most dramatic  and stirring fashion:

 

 

In her own quiet, dignified manner, Odetta broke a lot of racial barriers.   Here she is on TV’s mainstream variety hour,  “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show,” singing a great Woody Guthrie tune:

 

 — Woody’s ” Pastures of Plenty”  (and “Nine Pound Hammer”) with Tennessee Ernie Ford

 

She also popularized a lot of songs by the incomparable Leadbelly.  Here’s her wonderful take on “The Midnight Special,” in that  2006 TV concert:

 

 

Odetta’s passing got me to thinking about other female blues-folk singers  with that river-deep voice and soulfulness, who were probably influenced (consciously or unconsciously) by her.

 

Here are a few:         

               

 — Joan Armatrading “Down to Zero”

 

   — Ruthie Foster — “Woke Up This Mornin'”  — which she dedicates to Odetta

 

 — Tracy Chapman — “Across the Lines”

 

And last but not least, someone I plan to do an entire set on soon, the great Mavis Staples, who was actually more like Odetta’s contemporary (about a decade younger).  This song seems apropos — Odetta has “come home”:

 

 — “Waiting for My Child to Come Home,”  Mavis Staples

 

I’ll finish with this very short clip of Odetta from the Newport Folk Festival — a wonderful uptempo tune that features her excellent guitar work, and great 1960s vibe.   Rest in peace, dear lady:

 

 — Odetta at Newport