Well, I apologize for the lack of posts. First, it was a lack of time because of work, and now it's a result of Hurricane Harvey coming through Houston and flooding the entire metroplex! Currently, we have the National Guard flying low all over downtown (where we live) rescuing people from their homes which are now under water. For the most part, our home has been spared, but more rain is to come. We've had an historic 30" of rain in just three days! Regardless, I now have plenty of time on my hands, as work has been, and will be cancelled for this week. Here's some pics:
Now, the post ...
One of the original rock & roll greats, Little Richard merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R&B, pounding the piano and wailing with gleeful abandon. While numerous other R&B greats of the early '50s had been moving in a similar direction, none of them matched the sheer electricity of Richard's vocals. With his bullet-speed deliveries, ecstatic trills, and the overjoyed force of personality in his singing, he was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock & roll. Although he was only a hitmaker for a couple of years or so, his influence upon both the soul and British Invasion stars of the 1960s was vast, and his early hits remain core classics of the rock repertoire.
Richard was at the height of his commercial and artistic powers when he suddenly quit the business during an Australian tour in late 1957, enrolling in a Bible college in Alabama shortly after returning to the States. Richard had actually been feeling the call of religion for a while before his announcement, but it was nonetheless a shock to both his fans and the music industry. Specialty drew on unreleased sessions for a few more hard-rocking singles in the late '50s, but Richard virtually vanished from the public eye for a few years. When he did return to recording, it was as a gospel singer, cutting a few little-heard sacred sides for End, Mercury, and Atlantic in the early '60s.
By 1962, though, Richard had returned to rock & roll, touring Britain to an enthusiastic reception. Among the groups that supported him on those jaunts were the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, whose vocals (Paul McCartney's especially) took a lot of inspiration from Richard's. In 1964, the Beatles cut a knockout version of "Long Tall Sally," with McCartney on lead, that may have even outdone the original. It's been speculated that the success of the Beatles, and other British Invaders who idolized Richard, finally prompted the singer into making a full-scale comeback as an unapologetic rock & roller. Hooking up with Specialty once again, he had a small hit in 1964 with "Bama Lama Bama Loo." These and other sides were respectable efforts in the mold of his classic '50s sides, but tastes had changed too much for Richard to climb the charts again. He spent the rest of the '60s in a continual unsuccessful comeback, recording for Vee-Jay (accompanied on some sides by Jimi Hendrix, who was briefly in Richard's band), OKeh, and Modern (for whom he even tried recording in Memphis with Stax session musicians).
It was the rock & roll revival of the late '60s and early '70s, though, that really saved Richard's career, enabling him to play on the nostalgia circuit with great success (though he had a small hit, "Freedom Blues," in 1970). He had always been a flamboyant performer, brandishing a six-inch pompadour and mascara, and constant entertaining appearances on television talk shows seemed to ensure his continuing success as a living legend. Yet by the late '70s, he'd returned to the church again. Somewhat predictably, he eased back into rock and show business by the mid-'80s. Since then, he's maintained his profile with a role in Down and Out in Beverly Hills (the movie's soundtrack also returned him to the charts, this time with "Great Gosh a-Mighty") and guest appearances on soundtracks, compilations, and children's rock records. At this point it's safe to assume that he never will get that much-hungered-for comeback hit, but he remains one of rock & roll's most colorful icons, still capable of turning on the charm and charisma in his infrequent appearances in the limelight. -Allmusic.com
As husband and wife, Ike & Tina Turner headed up one of the most potent live acts on the R&B circuit during the '60s and early '70s. Guitarist and bandleader Ike kept his ensemble tight and well-drilled while throwing in his own distinctively twangy plucking; lead vocalist Tina was a ferocious whirlwind of power and energy, a raw sexual dynamo who was impossible to contain when she hit the stage, leading some critics to call her the first female singer to embody the true spirit of rock & roll. In their prime, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue specialized in a hard-driving, funked-up hybrid of soul and rock that, in its best moments, rose to a visceral frenzy that few R&B acts of any era could hope to match. Effusively praised by white rock luminaries like the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin, Tina was unquestionably the star of the show, with a hugely powerful, raspy voice that ranks among the all-time soul greats. For all their concert presence, the Turners sometimes had problems translating their strong points to record; they cut singles for an endless succession of large and small independent labels throughout their career, and suffered from a shortage of the strong original material that artists with more stable homes (Motown, Atlantic, Stax, etc.) often enjoyed. The couple's well-documented marital difficulties (a mild way of describing Ike's violent, drug-fueled cruelty) eventually dissolved their partnership in the mid-'70s. Tina, of course, went on to become an icon and a symbol of survival after the resurgence of her solo career in the '80s, but it was the years she spent with Ike that made the purely musical part of her legend. -Allmusic.com
Once again, I've spent too much money at the record store. This time, I walked into a small ephemera boutique in my neighborhood to see what they have. Low and behold, there were about ten crates of records. And, mostly great records at that. I couldn't resist buying this album, among others.
Rock & roll spread through the world like a glorious epidemic in the 1950s and '60s, and there was hardly a nation on Earth where the impact of the music wasn't felt, but it hardly sounded the same wherever it landed; like many invasive species, rock & roll made its way into the local ecosystem, crossbred with the culture, and took new shapes in each land. Anyone curious about the results of this process need look no further than Shadow Music of Thailand, a fascinating compilation of material recorded in Bangkok during the mid-'60s under the aegis of bandleader Payong Mukda. The local genre of "shadow music" consisted of familiar tunes from Thai folk songs performed by rock & roll combos, with the angular melody lines interpreted on electric guitars and Farfisa organs while bass and drums often percolated with an R&B-influenced rhythm underneath. To Western ears, the results seem at once foreign and familiar; this is unmistakably music from Thailand, following a melodic path that's very different from pop music in English-speaking nations, but the firm, steady pulse of the rhythm section and the guitar work suggesting the influence of the Ventures and the Shadows make it clear that rock & roll is part of this formula, even if you usually can't always dance to it. (There are also brief moments where the musicians add "Oriental" melodic flourishes, so an American corruption of Asian music stands side by side with a stylized but ultimately authentic interpretation of Thai music, demonstrating once again how popular culture makes strange bedfellows.) There's a languid power to this music that sometimes runs counter to the firm push of the rhythms, but the yin and yang of these two sides only adds to the beauty of the whole, and Shadow Music of Thailand is a curious but richly satisfying document of how rock & roll helped shape music outside the First World -- and vice versa. -Allmusic.com
You may remember The Freedom Sounds' first release, that I posted back in January. Well, here's the followup album. If you're a fan of The Jazz Crusaders/ Wayne Henderson, then you'll love this. It was cut for Atlantic Records by the nine-piece group put together by trombonist Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders. It was cut around the same time that Henderson appeared as part of Hugh Masekela's band at the Monterey International Pop Festival, and it comes from a similar multi-cultural, musical, multi-lingual sensibility. Enjoy!
This is a record that I found in the trash, and I can't figure out why! The disc and jacket are in great condition. And the content ...well, if you're into lounge/ exotica, this is the tops. Enjoy!
Arthur Lyman's unique blend of tiki and jungle-inspired instrumental exotica takes a rural detour on Cotton Fields (1963). One might not visually connect the incongruous cover art imagery -- of a fiery geyser -- with the early-'60s resurgence of folk music. But with it came yet another hue for the artist's already opulent sonic pallet. Lyman (vibraphone) is joined by Alan Soares (piano), John Kramer (bass/guitar/flute), and Harold Chang (percussion). Collectively they infuse the dozen familiar melodies on Cotton Fields with a palpable Polynesian influence. As was customary, the contents of Lyman's long-player were derived from a wide variety of sources. The jazzy "Jungle Drums" opens the effort in familiar territory for the participants as Lyman's wistful and somnolent marimba gives way to an ornate duet between Chang's tribal percussion and Kramer's invocative woodwinds. The update of "Greensleeves" remains rooted in a suitably majestic madrigal context with the intimacy of Kramer's acoustic guitar and Soares' light piano phrasings providing the folksy ambience. Turning to the silver screen, Lyman and company update the bluesy "Walk on the Wild Side," giving it a lighter, temperate feel -- especially when compared to Jimmy Smith's hit version. While not as prevalent as on other Lyman platters, the Great White Way figures into the proceedings as the upscale "Little Girl Blue" hails from the Richard Rogers/Lorenz Hart musical Jumbo (1935). To the same end, the LP's concluding number, "I Ain't Down Yet," is a spunky reworking thanks to Chang's top-shelf time-keeping. Lyman's refined vibes lead the ensemble through an airy and unmistakably bop-informed rendition. The burgeoning bossa nova craze likewise informs a fair share of Cotton Fields with the catchy Caribbean "Limbo Rock," as well as the equally uptempo groove percolating through the freewheeling "Hawaiian War Chant" and the rapid-fire update of "Brazil." Proving their considerable talents as romantic balladeers, Lyman and company decelerate the pace for the moody, sublime, and intimate "This Is My Beloved." Similarly, "Singing Bamboo" places the listener in a relaxed tropical setting. Although touted as stemming from the folk tradition, the title track "Cotton Fields" is given a rousing R&B makeover that seems to have been steeped in gospel instead of its typical Appalachian lineage. Rather than ramping things up for a big finale, Lyman settles into the haunting "Scarlet Ribbons." Kramer's evocative flute underscores the tender melody, placing it arguably as the album's most folksy entry. In 2008, Collectors Choice Music paired Cotton Fields with Blowin' in the Wind (1963) for a two-fer containing both -- making them available for the first time in decades.-Allmusic.com