Friday, February 9, 2018

Olympia!

Hey!  It's time for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea!  For some reason, tonight I thought of this song for the first time since the 1980s...


Sergio Mendes did "Olympia" in 1984...  That was probably the last time I heard it.

I actually kind of like Sergio Mendes.  He did that classic duet "Never Gonna Let You Go" back in the 80s, which never gets old...


Someone's video of a classic song.

Sergio Mendes also did some other jazzy hits... some of which were not as well known as they should have been...


I like to sing this one myself.

"Olympia" has always kind of been etched on the brain.  I've always remembered the song, but never really felt like I needed to go out and find it.  Until tonight....  it's probably the second bottle of wine that's driving me.

Anyway, at least it's topical, right?  I can't believe 1984 was 34 years ago.  I am getting old as hell.  It brings me comfort to know that every day, I get closer to being beamed out of this world.  On another note, it's nice to be able to put the name of the artist with the song that's been beaming in and out of my head since the 1980s.



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hey Ricky!

For some reason, I woke up with this song stuck on the brain...


It was in this morning's dream for some reason.  It's been redone by a whole bunch of people, but it seems the Skyliners were the first.

I was thinking about trying this song myself... but then another song came creeping in.  It was an old song by Weird Al Yankovic.  I hadn't heard it in many years until this morning, when I found it on YouTube.


"Hey Ricky" was one of Weird Al's first hits...  I give him credit for being very creative with the lyrics. I'm not sure it would have occurred to me to connect I Love Lucy with "Mickey".

Since Weird Al was born in the 50s, he no doubt used to watch I Love Lucy.  He probably saw it when it originally aired on prime time television.  In the early 80s, he turned the show into the subject of his parody song, "Ricky", which was inspired by the original hit, "Mickey", by Toni Basil.  Toni Basil's hit was a staple on MTV and HBO's Video Jukebox, so the video for that is etched on the brain.


It doesn't get much more 80s than this...

I always have something stuck on the brain.  My head is like a radio that never shuts off.  It usually plays what are now considered "oldies".  

I'm kind of giving some thought to playing around with some music today.  Hopefully, it'll rain.  That makes making music easier, mainly because people don't tend to linger outside when the rain is falling.  I feel less self-conscious.  Also, rain puts me in a moody frame of mind that lends itself to making music over writing blog posts.  

I wish I could remember what this morning's dream was about... but I do know it had a soundtrack.



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reposted review of Shining Star, Philip Bailey's life story!

Here's a reposted book review I wrote in 2015, before Maurice White died of Parkinson's Disease.  I'm putting it here for all who are interested...

Having been a child of the 1970s and 80s, I am well acquainted with the fusion genius of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. I had a sister who played their music all the time and, of course, I heard it on the radio non-stop. When I got older, I started to buy the band’s better known albums. I have always admired the great talents of the people who comprise the elements of Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF), especially the band’s founder, Maurice White, and falsetto frontman and conga player Philip Bailey. When I saw that Bailey had written a book about his life and experiences in EWF, I knew I had to read it. I just finished the book the other day and feel like I came away with new respect and knowledge for a very long running and talented band.


The band back in 1973.

Bailey co-wrote his book, Shining Star, with ghostwriters Kent and Keith Zimmerman, but I always got the sense that the words in this book were coming straight from Bailey himself. He starts at the beginning, explaining how his parents moved to Denver, Colorado, where he was born. Since Bailey’s father was a military man who had a rocky relationship with his mother, Bailey didn’t really know his dad until he was well into adulthood. He and his sister were primarily raised by his mother and his stepfather. Bailey expressly thanks the public education system of Denver, Colorado for giving him strong instruction in music. That education led him to his chosen career as one of the lead singers for one of the most influential, most talented, and best loved bands in music history. He also writes about Maurice White, who grew up in Memphis and eventually moved to Chicago, where his mother and stepfather, Verdine Adams, Sr., gave him two half brothers. Brothers Verdine White, the frenetic bass player for EWF, and drummer brother Freddie, changed their surnames to White’s out of a sense of solidarity with their older brother. 
Bailey offers a colorful account of the band’s earliest days, when they traveled to gigs in station wagons. I got a kick out of his commentary about how the band got around in the early days. Apparently, Verdine White is a fantastic bass player, but can’t drive worth a damn. He also writes about how the earliest stage shows were conceived, where they got their costumes, and even offers some fun trivia about EWF in its heyday. For instance, I had no idea that the band hired Doug Henning and David Copperfield to make their live shows more exciting and… magical. Bailey also writes about some of the less pleasant aspects of being in the band. During EWF’s heyday, Bailey was pretty much an employee in the group and was paid accordingly. Maurice White called all the shots and was paid the most, which naturally led to some friction, especially when the band temporarily broke up in the 1980s. Bailey and the rest of his bandmates were enjoying a steady and generous paycheck, which abruptly stopped when Maurice White determined it was time.

One aspect of this book that I found especially interesting was EWF’s association with David Foster. In 1978, Foster was a young, up and coming composer. He approached EWF with a ballad he’d written called “After The Love Is Gone”. It, of course, became a monster hit for EWF and launched a successful partnership between Foster and EWF. David Foster has gone on to have a great career composing music for other bands and movie soundtracks. Indeed, he’s work a lot with another brass heavy band called Chicago, which has been known to share concert billing with Earth, Wind & Fire. Aside from working with David Foster, Bailey also famously sang a duet with Phil Collins. If you were around in 1984, you might remember “Easy Lover”, which Bailey recorded with Collins right after EWF temporarily folded.


Philip Bailey discusses his memoir, Shining Star.

Bailey also reveals information about his personal life. Bailey married his first wife, Janet, when they were both very young. Life on the road presented a lot of temptations, though, and Bailey admits that he was not faithful to his wife. One affair produced an out of wedlock daughter. He also dabbled a bit in drugs. Nevertheless, they went on to have four children. After their divorced, Bailey got remarried to a woman named Krystal with whom he had two more kids. They divorced in 2010.
Unfortunately, Maurice White no longer performs with EWF. He suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, which makes making music at his prior level impossible (edited to add: Maurice White died in 2016). White still maintains an executive role in the band, which is now wholly fronted by Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson. I still love listening to this band even without Maurice White at the front. Just watching Verdine White dance while he plays bass is enough to get me going. 

Shining Star is required reading for any EWF fan. Bailey does a great job balancing his personal story with that of the band’s, offering plenty of interesting stories without getting bogged down in minutiae. He includes photos and lots of juicy tidbits about what it’s like to work with some of the finest musicians popular music has ever heard, but he never gets long-winded. Naturally, I recommend his book! It made the music nerd in me sing!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

More poor duet etiquette...

Not long ago, I posted some open duets on SingSnap.com.  I got a few takers, including one guy from  the States who sang "Unforgettable" with me.  I don't often do that song, actually.  I'm kind of thinking maybe I shouldn't have done it, now.

Yesterday, I got home after spending the long weekend in a lovely medieval German town.  I don't usually check SingSnap on the weekends, even if I'm at home.  I don't look at it at all when I'm out of town, mainly because I go on that site to make recordings.  I'm not really there to make friends or listen to other people... and while it's nice when people listen to me, I don't necessarily expect them to.  I sing there as a form of mental health therapy.

I do occasionally like to do duets, though.  Sometimes I run into some good singers and it's fun to collaborate with them.  On the other hand, sometimes I also run into people who are tone deaf in more ways than one.

Last night, I got a message from the guy who did "Unforgettable" with me.  He was wanting to know if I'd like to sing "Vaya Con Dios" with him.  I saw the message, but didn't immediately respond because I was busy with other things.  And basically, he'd invited me to check it out, which I figured I was at my leisure to do.  Imagine my surprise when I got another message tonight...


I have to admit, this message kind of made my heart sink...

First off, I don't like it when people want to assign me songs.  It's happened on more than one occasion.  I like to choose the songs I sing, and the duets I do.  It's one thing if I 'm participating in an activity that I signed up for.  It's another when some random person I don't really know wants to assign me a song.  In my mind, the original message was an invitation to see if I wanted to do a duet.  I figured it was my choice whether or not to take him up on the invitation, especially since we don't know each other at all.

Secondly, I only just saw the first message last night.  I've been out of town.  I get that this dude doesn't know my schedule... but maybe that's the whole point?  He doesn't know me, and apparently didn't take the time to read my profile, where I explicitly state that I don't check the site on weekends.   That's my time with Bill.

I also don't get notifications for anything other than comments on recordings because every notification generates an email and they can become excessive.  If I wanted to, I could set up my account to be notified by email for everything-- when someone likes my recording, when someone likes a comment I left, when someone makes a comment, for private messages, for responses to comments on the messageboard, etc.  It can add up to a lot of distracting emails.  It got to be too much, so I drastically cut back on what I wanted to see.  It's worked out to be a lot nicer that way.

Consider that when I make duets, a lot of times I do more than one.  Sometimes I get several takers, all of whom expect me to listen to the whole song, which I admit I rarely do, and leave nothing but gushing feedback.  That can add up to a lot of listening, sometimes to singers who are physically painful to hear.  The guy who wrote to me this time wasn't, as I recollect, a bad singer.  He wasn't that great, either.  I can tell by the comment I left him, although I'm not inclined to listen to a bunch of his stuff now that he's demanded to know why I haven't responded in a timely enough manner.

I'm sure many people would say my attitude about this is shitty and I should be grateful that anyone wants to listen to me, let alone sing with me.  Um... but while I do enjoy nice comments as much as anyone does, I sing more for myself than I do for anyone else.  Duets are fun, but I'm not seeking approval when I sing.  I'm seeking mental health and stress relief.  Getting pushy private messages from some guy wondering why I haven't dropped everything to respond to his PM is kind of creepy and rude.  It makes me think he's not a very nice person.

Anyway... I can't say I am inclined to join this guy in any more duets.  I feel like that would only encourage this kind of behavior.  In fact, now I kind of feel like blocking him.  But I know some people would fault me for that, too.






Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pac Man Fever...

South Park led me to write this post.  They played a clip of "Pac Man Fever", a musical homage to the legendary arcade game.  People of my generation loved Pac Man.  Now it's ridiculously primitive.


Buckner & Garcia sing their one hit wonder...  Holy shit!  They were on American Bandstand!

Pac Man had a hell of a run in the 80s.  I remember they marketed everything from breakfast cereal to Saturday morning cartoons with the little yellow guy and his descendants and "wife", Ms. Pac Man.  And, yes, there was even a hit song.  Man, oh man, does this song bring back some painful memories.

I am still hooked on video games, although now I'm playing them online and blowing too much money on them.  I'd kill for a game I could play for a quarter.





Back in my youth, we even had game shows dedicated to video games.  Of course, Pac Man was a big part of that.  This is Starcade, which used to air on TBS.

Yeah, this is one of those songs that came out at the right time and is now mostly faded from memory.  But the guys who made South Park are my age, so sometimes I relate even more to their show than I should.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

An old song by Lulu...

I have been looking for this song forever.  I remember it being a hit when I was a kid; then I didn't hear it again until today.  A random search on Google brought up this old chestnut from 1982.


When this song was on the radio, I had no idea this was a white woman singing... it always sounded so much like old school R&B to me...

Prior to today, I had heard of Lulu.  I knew her song "To Sir With Love" and had seen her host shows on VH1 back in the day.  I didn't know she did "If I Were You (I'd Fall in Love With Me)".  I'm annoyed that I can't download this... Apparently, the album it came from is out of print.  Figures.

Oh well.  At least I can hear the song on YouTube, thanks to some kind soul who uploaded it.  Anyone else remember this obscure song from my childhood?

Lulu used to be married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, but their marriage didn't last long.

Edited to add...  I just found another song I had forgotten about from 1982... also by Lulu.


"I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)"

Wow, it's been a banner day in the obscure song finding biz.

  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Toby Beau...

I have an old CD that has "hard to find" hits on it.  One of the songs on that CD is by Toby Beau, of the hit song, "My Angel Baby".


Toby Beau is apparently a band, not a single singer.

Wikipedia tells me that Toby Beau is a Texas band that was formed in the early 70s.  The band got its name from one of the last wooden shrimp boats docked in the Gulf of Mexico town of Port Isabel, Texas.    

Toby Beau had one major hit, the aforementioned "My Angel Baby", which I remember was always on the radio circa 1978.  Despite not making it big with a bunch of huge hits, Toby Beau is still in existence today and tours.  Back in the day, they used to tour with big acts like Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and the Doobie Brothers.  But, aside from their one hit wonder in "My Angel Baby", they never really hit it big themselves.

One of the original band members, Daniel McKenna, who had a hand in writing "My Angel Baby", died by his own hand back in 2006.  According to his daughter, Emily, McKenna had really bad allergies to grass, trees, dust, and even some foods.  The allergies were hell to live with and kept him from doing what he loved.  Sounds like a very sad ending for a talented guy.