A Victim of Circumstance

Posted in Music, Music Video with tags , , , , , , on February 14, 2013 by greedycherry

Tina Kenny

As you may or may not know, dear readers, I attended the esteemed Berklee College of Music a number of years ago.

No lie. In 2005, I packed my bags (filled, of course, with all my hopes and dreams), grabbed my little bass guitar, and moved up to Boston. I signed up for (and even attended!) a whole bunch of classes……hell, I even graduated a few years later (and have the crippling monthly loan payments to prove it)! It was quite an experience, and I can honestly say that I met some truly wonderful and insanely talented people during my time there. Some of them even still talk to me! (And I really try to keep my foot in the door with them because they’re all so super talented that they’re sure to eventually become famous, and what famous musician doesn’t need a roadie or food taster….right??)

Of all the people I met during my time at Berklee, however, I can think of none who was as amazingly diverse and fabulous at every single damn thing she did more so than my uber-talented friend Christina Kenny. I knew her mainly as a keyboard player and vocalist in the beginning, but, as it turns out, the longer I knew her, the more instruments she picked up…..and therefore the more instruments she became good at. Singing and piano? Check. Guitar? Check. Bass? No problem. Drums? Roger that. Ukulele? Sure, why not? How about five instruments at once? Please…is there a real challenge somewhere in that question? (And you don’t know how shocked I am that this is actually done in split screen.) I’m sure by now she’s even mastered the zither and the didgeridoo……Tina Kenny’s nearly a freakin’ prodigy. It’s almost like being friends with Prince or something, just without all the purple and the cane.

So anyway, it was therefore an honor and a privilege when she asked me – at a point smack dab in the middle of my Berklee education – to be a part of her band. Of course I accepted, and never once regretted it…..the music was great, the people were awesome, and we all had such a good time playing together! Don’t believe me? Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words…..so this has to be worth at least a couple hundred. (I’m the bearded dude with the red tie skulking around in the background there…..)

The Tina Kenny Band

But it must be said that being in Tina Kenny’s band wasn’t just a gig to me….one of those things where you’re just playing in a group to get some experience, or to fill in for someone who couldn’t make it, or to do a favor for a friend whose music you sort of like….but you’re really only in the band because that person’s your friend and you like supporting your friends.

No, it was something more than all of that. I actually believed in Tina Kenny.

In a general sense, I think it gives all musicians a great feeling – a pervasive feeling of confidence and inspiration – to be led by a wonderfully talented musician in a group setting. So there’s that. But there was another level to this particular situation……as a songwriter myself, I LOVED her original compositions. Just damn good pop songs, solid in melody, lyric, and instrumentation. It was stuff I would listen to and enjoy even if I wasn’t in the band, and that really doesn’t happen as often as you might think.

After a few gigs around Boston, the group began work on recording a CD, and it all felt like it was really coming together. I thought for sure that it was just a matter of time before that album got released and one of her tunes got some wind beneath its wings….then Tina Kenny would be all over the radio. Fans would be snatching up copies of the CD left and right, people would find themselves singing her songs in the shower, and we’d have more gigs on our calendar than we could possibly handle. I could feel it deep in my bones…..it was simply inevitable.

Sigh.

Sadly, it seems that even things that are destined to be are not always quite that destined to be, and that “inevitable” can sometimes just be an opinion. And so it was, not just with the CD, but with the band as well. Things happened, life intervened, graduations took place….and, alas, both album and group became victims of circumstances far beyond any single person’s control. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes….the ball that looked like a home run coming off of your bat falls into an outfielder’s mitt a foot short of the fence. The game is lost. The season is over. And everyone moves on.

Within a year, I had put together the first incarnation of Greedy Cherry, and was cruising along with my own group of extraordinary musicians. I loved every minute of the new project I had formed, but would still think of Tina Kenny and that old band on occasion. I found myself missing those wonderful, fun gigs where I could just hang back, play some great songs, and take my cues from an inspiring musician instead of having to give them myself.

Of course, being friends, Tina and I have kept in touch over the years, and I knew that I wasn’t finished hearing great music from her…..it was simply just a matter of time before she put something else together and got back to doing what she does best. And now, finally, that time has come.

Enter Tina Kenny and the Balance.

Tina’s new group is (and I quote their press materials here) “the NYC/NJ area’s hottest female-fronted quartet”….they offer not just a mix of great cover tunes and hit songs for your big party or function (always a necessary evil if you hope to earn any money as a musician), but also (and more importantly, to me, anyway) tasty originals as well. So when I saw on their Facebook page that they were looking for some people to review their latest single, “Object Of Obsession” (which you can listen to here, and buy, if you are so inclined, here), I didn’t hesitate to volunteer; you know how I feel about Tina’s songwriting (well, at least now you do). The trickiest part for me would be remaining objective……so let’s see how I do.

Tina Kenny With BassThe first thing I liked right out of the gate about this tune (besides the fact it rocks immediately) was the fact that it uses the old “riff in unison” trick that has anchored so many classic rock tunes, with the electric guitar (lead guitarist Russ Jones) and bass (courtesy of Miss Kenny herself) playing the same line together simultaneously. Famous examples of this device range from Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and “The Ocean” to “Drive My Car” by The Beatles and “Love Will Find A Way” by Yes (or the less awesome but more well-known “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, if you don’t go that deep into Yes’s catalog). This technique lends any tune, especially in the rock genre, added weight and power. A promising start!

After we move past the initial tasty lick, Tina comes in with her passionate, bluesy vocals while one guitar makes distorted stabs in my left ear and another chugs away in my right. This creates a good groove and is an effective arrangement, I think. While not initially paying attention to lyrics, I instead took the first pass through to admire the adventurous melody…although to be honest, I wasn’t sure I quite appreciated the note choice in the line around :24 (I think the words are “dismiss your gentle brevity”?). It just seemed those last few notes sat on the chord wrong, like a major tone on a minor chord….just knocked me out of the bluesy headspace I was in for a moment, and anything that jumps out like that, I tend to notice.

Regardless, drummer Steve Plesnarski gets to go nuts on his kit when the chorus arrives, and the two riff machines that Tina refers to as guitarists keep up the good work. (Unless, of course, second guitarist/keyboardist Chris Trokovich isn’t involved in that part and it’s just Russ doing overdubs….then it’s just one riff machine.) The little background yells on the post chorus give the proceedings an enjoyable kick of personality, although the background chatter at 1:37 (you can find a time-countered version of the track on the group’s ReverbNation page here, if you want to follow along) reminded me of a lesser and more muted version of David Lee Roth’s chatter during Van Halen’s “Unchained”. Interesting, but probably doesn’t add much here…..although, oddly enough, I did appreciate the musical aspect of the breakdown. Like a little sorbet to cleanse the audio palette, so to speak.

The guitar solo that followed could have been a little nastier, in my opinion….at least in tone. I wanted more growl to go along with the vibe of the rest of the song. Frankly, surprisingly enough, I could have used more growl from Tina too in some places……during most of the tune I felt a type of emotional rawness from her, an angsty breathiness, but there were certain phrases and words where she seemed to back off in her delivery, or not go into overdrive the way I expected, given the feel of the rest of the song. One example of this was the way she sang “Object Of Obsession” at the end of the first chorus (:42); it just didn’t seem as passionate or driving as, for instance, the mini-snarl she gives the same phrase on the second chorus (1:26) or the thrilling push she gives it on the last chorus (2:55). Of course, this is just nitpicking (it is a review, after all)….almost all of her vocals are quite excellent. (One of my favorite parts, actually, is the part between the breakdown and the guitar solo at 1:48…..nice and raspy, and when she hits that final high note at 2:01, my memory reaches back to all those impossible high notes she used to hit all the time at Berklee. Nice to know she hasn’t lost any of her range!)

Lyrically, I understand that the song is about an obsessed admirer whose affections are unwanted, but I’ll have to admit I couldn’t always make out what was being sung, even if I greatly appreciated the manner in which it was being performed. I don’t really believe in changing anyone’s personal singing style just to make words more discernable (that goes for you too, Michael Stipe), and it could be just an issue where some clarity could have been added with riding levels or adding some EQ in the mix, but I do find myself hoping that a lyric booklet will be included with what I assume will be a forthcoming CD.

Lastly, I probably could have used a little more drums……especially in the upper-mids/mids and on the toms and snare. With as chunky as the guitars and bass were, I felt a little bit more body out of the kit was warranted in the mix.

(There, now see? It wasn’t all positive and glowing, was it?)

Overall, in my humble opinion, this is a great track, both bluesy and rocking (which is one of my favorite combinations), and worth being stuck on “repeat” in my music player (which it was for at least half an hour last night….and I was still singing it this morning). If it’s any taste of an album to come, you can bet your sweet bippy (ask someone from the 1950s) I’ll be buying a copy of that puppy it when it finally comes out!

You can hear more from Tina Kenny and the Balance (as well as another piano-based original entitled “Pay No Mind”, which features Tina’s voice quite nicely) on their website, tinakennyandthebalance.com. And check the “Performances” page….if you’re near the New York City area (especially Staten Island), you may even get a chance to catch them live, which I would totally recommend doing; I’m pretty sure it would be awesome.

I mean, maybe it’s just these rose-colored glasses I’m wearing, but I don’t think Tina Kenny is capable of putting on a bad performance.

Miss you, my friend.

This Bird Has Flown

Posted in Music, Music Video with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by greedycherry

Patricia Barber

Well, another Super Bowl has come and gone, and it turns out ol’ Edgar Allan was wrong….at least for the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis. Not so much with the “nevermore,” but a ton of the “once more before you go.” No matter your personal opinion of the man, he certainly went out on top, didn’t he?

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all back for the second “Cherry Lounge” post of 2013….hopefully the second of many more to come. In a row. Every week. Yup, that’s the plan.


You know what’s funny? Toward the end of 2012, I was still putting out regular blog entries, and my readership statistics started to plummet. I guess the holidays were approaching, and a lot of you had more important things to do than read about music and music history (although, for the life of me, I just can’t think of anything that could be more important…..). So I’d occasionally peek at my numbers, and they were going down. And, you know, whatever. I was uninspired at the time anyway, so I just figured, “I’ll take the holidays off and come back refreshed in the new year.”

Of course, none of that is what was funny.

What was funny was that the moment I stopped writing blog entries, my readership went UP. For the last couple weeks of December into the first couple weeks of January, I hadn’t posted a darn thing, but my readership rose and was steady. I blinked repeatedly when I saw the stats.

I mean, what does that say, anyway? I write, everyone runs away. I stop writing, everyone comes back. It made absolutely no sense to me, of course…..still doesn’t. But I figure now, at the very least, I can generate a bunch of new content so that the next time I go on vacation, all of those new and returning site visitors will have something to read…..


So let’s talk cover tunes today, shall we? More specifically, one of my favorite cover tunes of all time. But first, I’ll set the scene…..

Between 1997 and 2004, I lived in a lovely suburb outside of Washington, D.C., called Silver Spring. (Actually, it was more technically Aspen Hill…..but the U.S. Postal Service insisted I write Silver Spring on my envelopes, so whatever.) And for almost the first four years of that time, I worked at Borders Books & Music at the White Flint Mall.

(And here I pause in a moment of silence for not only Borders – which, of course, went out of business in spectacular, bankrupty fashion a year and a half back – but also the White Flint Mall itself, which apparently will be biting the dust soon in order to make way for a gigantic parking lot, or swell new hi-tech office buildings, or a new ark for Noah…..or whatever the hell it is they do with the space a giant mall had previously occupied once they tear it down. The real question here is what’s going to happen to the huge stone horse outside of P.F. Chang’s? That would look really swell in my living room….)

While at Borders, I worked mostly in the music department, which meant I was knee-deep in the music hoopla, so to speak….and the job came with some satisfying perks. Of course, free CDs were at the top of the list. Almost everything that was ever in a listening station at a Borders for customers to check out before they bought it was actually a free promotional copy of an album, which would be immediately be placed up for grabs in the back room the second it was removed from the sales floor. Sometimes, we even put our names on CDs while they were still in the listening stations. Competition was fierce, but the music was awesome. (Except for Andrea Bocelli’s albums……if I NEVER see his name again, it will be too soon. Serious PTSD going on from all the CDs of his we sold and all the rabid customers who clamored for them…….)

Another perk was that occasionally (actually pretty rarely) a label rep would come through to check promotional displays or store stock, and would subsequently offer up a free ticket to see an artist he or she was promoting live in concert. This only affected me once, unfortunately, but the show I lucked into provided me an earful of one of the best cover tunes I’ve ever heard.

Patricia Barber is an accomplished American pianist and singer/songwriter whose style could be described as a slick yet primal combination of jazz and blues, and the only reason I’d even remotely heard of her at the time I scored that free concert ticket was the fact that I shelved the jazz CDs at Borders. But hey, a free show is a free show, so no looky-gift-horsey-mouthy, right? (Actually, I think it was one of those “free” tickets where you had to spend a certain amount at the bar to justify your lack of payment at the door, but I wasn’t complaining….)

So off my coworker Jill and I went (we scored not just one, but two “free” tickets!), down into Georgetown and to the famed Blues Alley music club. The lights dimmed, the crowd hushed, and the show began.

Beyond that, I don’t remember much until she got to The Beatles. It’s not that the music wasn’t good, because it was. Very much so. But not knowing the artist at all, I had not heard any material by her before, so there were no “favorite songs” or memorable tunes I’d be able to identify later….just an hour or so of really good jazz. Until…..

At some point, she began to play familiar chords and mouthed those immortal words.

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me….”

And I was transfixed. It was a whole new arrangement, a whole new vibe. There was a simplicity and sense of intimacy in her voice that made the song resonate. Blues Alley is a small venue anyway, but each word seem to hang in the air, the reverberations of her voice washing over the crowd and seeping into, not bouncing off of, the walls. It was just one of those moments that you go to live concerts for; completely impactful, absolutely memorable.

When it was over, I told myself that I had to have a copy of that version of “Norwegian Wood,” but, as I found out (much to my dismay), there was none to be had. It was a cover they had added to the set for live performance only……she had never recorded it.

Oh-woe-woe was me.

"A Fortnight In France" CD coverIt wasn’t until nearly five years later, in 2004, that her CD “Live: A Fortnight In France” was released on Blue Note Records, and, finally, a recorded version of that song…..that glorious song. The environment could not be duplicated, and without it, a little bit of the magic had vanished. But the rest was still there: the strong yet delicate instrumentation, the breathy vocals, the slight pauses for effect. Magnificent.

So now, gentle readers, I share with you “Norwegian Wood” by Patricia Barber. (And, although I would recommend listening to the CD version first so there are no visual elements to distract you from the experience, if you want a longer, more elaborate version and something to watch, here’s a version on YouTube from a jazz festival in 2006.) I can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, but I certainly hope you might.

P.S. – While you’re here and reading this, why don’t you drop me a comment below and let me know what your favorite cover tune is? See you next week!

Sticky Fingers

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on January 28, 2013 by greedycherry

Rolling Stones with Sticky Fingers album art

My creative work ethic seems to be sucking lately. In fact, the way I seem to be slacking, taking two months off between posts, I’m beginning to feel just like a member of Congress. I guess the only difference is that they get paid quite well for taking so much time off. Bleh.

Anyway, hello and happy 2013 to all of you! How was your holiday season and new year? Great, I hope. As you might have surmised, that whole Mayan calendar thing was just a bunch of crap. We’re all still here. Whether that’s fortunately or unfortunately is, I suppose, a matter of opinion….for now, I’ll put it in the “fortunately” column. Wouldn’t take much for me to change my mind, though….gotta be honest.

So, down to business. To slowly get back into the swing of things here in The Cherry Lounge, I’ll make this a short one (at least, that will be my intent as I begin this). It has to do with the story of an interesting letter I recently stumbled across.

In 1969, The Rolling Stones were riding high amid a string of successful albums. At almost a maddening pace – compared to today’s artists, anyway – they had been recording and releasing what amounted to one album a year for the previous few years, and all of them had charted quite highly. “Their Satanic Majesties Request” (an album Keith Richards later called “a load of crap”) came out in 1967 and charted in the UK at #3, followed the next year by “Beggars Banquet”, which achieved the same chart position and featured the classic “Sympathy For The Devil”. When 1969 rolled around, the Stones spent the year recording new material, and in December released “Let It Bleed”. On the strength of songs like “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, this album went straight to #1 in the UK, and it could be said that The Rolling Stones were reaching not only the commercial, but also the artistic peak of their career.

Of course, this would be the perfect time to have a potentially career-altering fork in the road show up. And so it did.

Decca Records, which had been the Stones’ home for their entire career to this point, had – with the release of “Let It Bleed” – reached the end of their contract with the band. Now it was up to The Rolling Stones to figure out whether to re-sign with the label or sign with another.

Make no mistake, Decca had been good to them. Their contract with the label had been quite generous, offering the band a royalty rate that was three times what any other new band was getting at the time, as well as full artistic control of the recordings and ownership of their recording masters. While one could argue that Decca was indeed being quite magnanimous with this deal, one could also argue that they were panicking. After all, they had passed on The Beatles, and all too soon realized their mistake. They weren’t about to let the “next big thing” get away from them again…..and I think there are plenty of instances to be found in this world of people who become extra-kind and giving when they want something from you. Decca wanted their own teen scream-inducing boy band, and they made sure that the Stones couldn’t say no. (Or at least that their manager couldn’t say no.)

So now, years later, their contract is up, and a decision has to be made. What do The Rolling Stones do? A): Re-sign with Decca, where they’ve had plenty of success? Or B): Try to find another label to give them a better deal?

As it turns out, the Stones were outside-the-box thinkers. The correct answer, for those of you scoring at home, was C): Create your own damn label.

In 1970, Rolling Stones Records was born, and, unbeknownst to the chaps at that time, their first band record on that new label, “Sticky Fingers”, was to be their biggest yet, reaching #1 in both the UK and the US and going multi-platinum three times over. Not bad for taking a chance, eh?

But back to that letter…..

As they were starting to put things together for “Sticky Fingers”, Mick Jagger sent a letter to an artist friend of his in New York City, pleased that he had agreed to provide artwork for their upcoming album. As everyone who bought the album when it came out in 1971 knows, the final packaging was something quite special to behold: a black and white portrait of the crotch of a man wearing jeans, with a functioning faux belt buckle and a real, honest-to-God functioning zipper, which came down to reveal cotton underwear (and also to scratch up more than a few copies of the vinyl album inside, much to the dismay of many fans who bought the LP).

Looks like Andy Warhol just couldn’t bring himself to heed Jagger’s warning…..

Letter From Mick Jagger To Andy Warhol

My Starter Won’t Start

Posted in Music, Music Video, Pontification, What? with tags , , , on December 5, 2012 by greedycherry

Justin Townes Earle

I know it’s been just about two weeks since I last wrote anything here, but that whole week after Thanksgiving was, honestly, sort of a write-off, and since then….well, since then I just haven’t felt I had anything to write about. Not enthusiastically anyway.

Most people can just write a blog entry off the top of their head, maybe writing about feelings or a personal experience, quickly typing something out and getting back to their lives in short order. Not me. I think and sketch and draft and discard and research and double-check facts….every blog entry is sort of like a term paper for me (albeit one I quite enjoy doing).

I’ve had a few suggestions from friends here and there that I should stop trying to write such long stories when I do an entry and just keep it brief. And I’d love to do that….but I feel like I just can’t. When I come here to write about music, I want to share things with you, tell you facts and tales that you may not have known about your favorite artists, or maybe even help you discover new ones. I want to make it FUN.

And if I were just to type, “Hey, heard this earlier today. It’s awesome!” and then post a link to a video, what kind of fun would that be?

One of my favorite things in the world is history. Knowing what came before, how it led to what’s happening now, the little decisions that made this thing happen instead of that. And, because I love music so much, music history is my absolute favorite. I can’t get enough of behind-the-scenes stories, little-known facts, interviews that reveal something I never knew about a favorite song or group.

But it’s ridiculous….I can read an article in the newspaper or a book from the library in an attempt to study a subject I want to learn more about, and find myself rereading sentences over and over (sometimes even out loud), not able to soak in all my eyes are seeing. It’s like my brain is a bouncer at a club, and just won’t let the new information in. Unless……..unless it’s about music. Then, all of a sudden, one simple skim of a sentence is enough. I not only understand what I’ve read, but I remember it forever.

What the hell is THAT all about? And what do you think….should I just keep it short from now on, or do you find value in the more in-depth stuff? Be curious to know…

Anyway, before I bore you to death with wave upon wave of pontification, let me do what I don’t really want to do, if only in the name of updating my blog.

Here’s a video that my friend Jessie shared with me a few weeks back. It’s freaking phenomenal. Seriously. If you know the singer Steve Earle (who is a complete badass in his own right), this is his rowdy, badass kid Justin. And you’d better call the police before you start watching this, because he’s about to completely molest a perfectly good guitar. Unbelievable.

So many talented musicians…..so little time. Catch you next week, when – hopefully – I’ll have something FUN to write about!

Thankful and Thoughtful

Posted in Music, Music Video with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2012 by greedycherry

Marvin Gaye Singing While Lying On A Couch

And while we’re on the subject of great soul music….(please see my previous post “Intruder Alert” if you’re confused in the slightest)…..I saw this video on YouTube today and was flabbergasted.

What a colossal loss Marvin Gaye was. Such an immense talent, taken in anger from us by a bullet …. from his own father, no less. Who knows what great music he would have written, what important causes he would have taken up and penned anthems to. When we think of an influential songwriter from the past who embodies the concepts of peace and social consciousness, we often think of John Lennon, but we would be remiss to leave out Marvin. His “What’s Going On” album, released in 1971, was born of a deep concern for the brutality and violence that was going on at the time, not only here in the United States with anti-war protesters, but, of course, in Vietnam itself.  In an interview with Rolling Stone, Marvin explained:

“In 1969 or 1970, I began to re-evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say… I was very much affected by letters my brother was sending me from Vietnam, as well as the social situation here at home. I realized that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world.”

Of course, within two years “Let’s Get It On” was released, taking Marvin from social consciousness to sexual intimacy, and that’s where he would remain with 1976’s “I Want You”, the song you hear him rehearsing in the video above.  (I still can’t believe the vocal quality this guy could get just laying down on a couch in his sweats. CRAZY.)  I am a huge fan of “behind the scenes” video footage, and watching him rehearse this number with these musicians (which I will assume, not knowing where this clip came from, was a touring band of some kind, as the musicians are totally different than the ones listed in the album’s credits) was such a treat for me to watch …. just thought I’d share.

Also, in keeping with the upcoming holiday weekend, I thought I would mention how thankful I am that I have this blog and that some people actually read it.  It’s a good outlet in which to talk about the thing I love most: music …. I just wish making music was as easy as sitting down and typing for an hour.  Actually, I hope to get some new music out before too long, and currently have two songs already in the pipeline: one to be mixed, and one yet to be recorded.  If all goes well, you’ll hear more about that soon.

Until then, here’s a little soul music gift to send you on your way in the proper spirit for the Thanksgiving weekend (and no, it’s NOT “Black Friday” weekend or “Cyber Monday” weekend!!!!!): a new cover of Sly Stone’s “Thankful N’ Thoughful” by Bettye LaVette, off her latest album of the same name.  Bettye’s been doing it for real since 1962, but only in the past decade has she started to receive the kind of success she’s always hoped for.  No wonder she named the album after this track!

Here’s wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Have a great holiday, and I’ll see you next time!

Intruder Alert

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by greedycherry

What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves CD Cover

I am a sucker for old soul records.  Most new r&b music really doesn’t do much for me, I’m afraid … but leave “The Complete Stax/Volt” box set on my desk and I probably won’t come out of my room for a month.  Or more.  (Or maybe a little less, depending on how badly I need to eat and pay rent that month.)

Point is, there’s sooooo much good stuff out there.  And the sad part is that there’s sooooo much good stuff out there I still haven’t heard.  And probably never will hear. Reason being that so many groups in history never became well-known, perhaps barely made one album, or maybe even only ever recorded one single …. but what intrigues me and keeps me searching for that old soul music is that maybe it was an amazing single.

Therefore, every compilation or box set of “old school” r&b that gets released, I give it a long, hard look. I buy if I can. Just last year, as a matter of fact, I purchased “What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves”, which turned out to be four discs of pure heaven sent down to redeem my sinful little CD player.  I mean, maybe you can turn away from Clarence Carter and “Snatching It Back”, but I sure can’t.  My reaction to most of the tracks on that box set is akin to that of Mrs. Mia Wallace after snorting a line of cocaine in the bathroom of Jack Rabbit Slim’s: “GodDAMN!!!!! Goddamn, goddamn…..”  Or as my friend Angelo might say, “those songs are funkier than a dirty Pamper.”

Anyway, back in 2010 a two-CD compilation was released that really got my attention … and the main reason it got my attention was its title.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple years listening to the excellent college radio stations that broadcast in the Boston area (shout out to MIT’s WMBR and Boston College’s WZBC, two of the best), and one of my favorite shows hands-down is an afternoon show on WMBR called “Lost and Found”.  Every day of the week, a DJ comes in and plays old or rare tracks from a different genre for two hours … but nothing gets me happier than Wednesday afternoon’s edition with Brother Wayne, who always manages to unearth some of the coolest soul gems I’ve ever heard.  (He still runs the show to this day …. you should visit their website and check it out.  Trust me on this one.)

Therefore, being a huge fan of the “Lost and Found” show, I was stopped in my tracks one day while checking out new music releases at Newbury Comics. There on the shelf sat a new CD set which read “Keb Darge & Paul Weller present Lost & Found: Real R’N’B & Soul”.  Lovingly assembled by well-known Scottish DJ Darge and journeyman musician Weller (formerly of The Jam and The Style Council), this collection represented their favorite rare cuts from 50s and 60s soul. It’s a stellar compilation, and I can’t see how any fan of the style wouldn’t want to rush out right now and pick it up.

Er…..I said now.  Go ahead……I’ll wait for you.

Back yet?  Good!  Let’s talk about one of the best tracks on the set.  It’s this one (sorry about the crappy YouTube graphic … it’s the best-sounding version I could find):

If you’re familiar with groups like Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and The O’Jays, you already know a little bit about the “Philadelphia Sound”.  When Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff decided to form their own record label in the 1960s, they began with this group, The Intruders, which provided a sound unlike any other at the time. Not as pop-oriented as Motown, but also not as funky or bluesy as Stax, this new sound was more smooth, more soaring, more orchestral.  The kind of record I picture Don Cornelius and his lady curling up with a glass of Courvoisier to enjoy.  Simply delightful.

Anyway, I was listening to this track again the other day, being eternally grateful for its lush sound and soaring harmonies, and thought I’d share. Doesn’t it make you wonder how much great music is still out there, buried in the past, yet to be discovered?  It makes me sad … and yet, at the same time, excited for the searching, and eager in anticipation of the thrill of the discovery.

Man, I love music.

Back In The Saddle Again

Posted in Current Events, Music with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by greedycherry

Aerosmith Playing Live In Allston, Massachusetts

(Before I begin, let me credit the above picture to my talented photographer friend Mathew Tucciarone, who took it with his amazing camera while standing further away from the stage than you can possibly imagine. You can find more photos from yesterday’s Aerosmith concert on his photo blog, which you should totally check out here. And, if you like his stuff and are feeling generous, drop him a comment or the ubiquitous “Like”, won’t you? Gracias.)

After an eleven year wait, today is the day Aerosmith returns with a new album for all their fans, entitled “Music From Another Dimension!” Is it just a coincidence that it’s also Election Day? Perhaps….

Yesterday, an amazing event happened in Allston, a bustling, college-student-infected suburb of Boston. To celebrate the release of Aerosmith’s new record, as well as (so they say) to emphasize the importance of voting, the city and classic rock radio station WZLX put on a show the likes of which I had never seen (not around these parts, anyway). The city shut down a good few blocks of Commonwealth Avenue (a main thoroughfare that runs from the heart of downtown Boston all the way out to the far suburb of Newton, near I-95) and set up a stage right in front of the building numbered 1325. It was here that the members of Aerosmith began their long, arduous climb to the stratospheric heights of rock and roll success, but I’m sure the five guys who shared that small apartment on the second floor in 1971, of course, had no idea of what the future held for them.

So the stage was set. Literally. Hard to believe, but it was a free outdoor concert for all of Boston! Police were everywhere keeping an eye on things, and the streets filled quickly with fans and spectators alike. After a dedication and a few opening statements (including a game ball given to Aerosmith by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft), the band started playing, the crowd went nuts, and it sounded great.

But let’s pause here and take a moment to talk about what’s really important: a HUGE new pet peeve of mine. I’ve recently heard people complain about the proliferation of mobile devices at concerts, and how people, now equipped with a camera and a link to the world outside the concert hall, spend most of their time in the audience looking down instead of up. I’ve read columns and blogs where disgust has been expressed at those who seem more concerned about capturing an 8-megapixel memory than actually experiencing the event itself. And I have to say that I do find it stupid that you would pay so much money for a ticket, and then go to the show and not use your eyes to watch what’s happening on stage. However, I can’t say that I’ve never raised my iPhone and taken a picture mid-show before, so I just figured it was a case of live-and-let-live.

That was until today. When, with thousands of people crowding the streets trying to get a good glimpse of Aerosmith rocking out, there were multiple idiots in front of me with their arms raised straight up, video cameras on and recording. The ENTIRE show.

SERIOUSLY??

Okay, look …. I understand if you can’t see very well, and you raise your camera phone up quickly to try to get a good shot to look at later. I even understand if you do this a couple of times during the show. But……if you insist on putting your arms straight up, blocking any chance I have of getting a decent view of the concert, and then keeping them there for an hour????

Then you are a dick. Plain and simple.

Frankly, I don’t care what your reasons are, and I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you’re Jesus Christ himself. Put your damn arms down and let the rest of us enjoy a little bit of the show, you selfish bastard. So many people around me were having a hard time getting a good look at the band yesterday, and yet there were two guys directly in front of me with video cameras, filming away like they had no one behind them (and don’t even get me started with the girls who think it’s cool to jump up on their boyfriend’s shoulders and sit there for the duration of the show). Sadly, even when I did manage to peer around the video cameras in front of me, I was confronted by a minefield of handheld devices taking pictures and, of course, video. I actually probably would have been able to see some of the show if people had just put their damn arms down.

Anybody else have this kind of thing happen to them? Got a rant or pet peeve of your own regarding live concerts? Lemme hear about it. For now, on to the final paragraph regarding the show….

Despite its proximity to Election Day, of course, this day was really all about Aerosmith and promoting their new record. No one really made an effort to connect the concert to the election, save for the “Vote This Way!” slogan on the red, white, and blue signs WZLX was handing out and the patriotic confetti that was launched skyward at the conclusion of the final number. But it didn’t really matter. I mean, I doubt there was anyone thinking about Election Day, the issues, or either of the candidates as the huge speakers stacked on the flat beds of nearby tractor trailers rocked the massive crowd into a frenzy.

Then again, come to think of it, “Back In The Saddle” would make a good victory song for the Democrats if Obama wins….

P.S. – GO VOTE!!!:)

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