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  • 0 Baby Makin' Isley Brothers

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/09/2006

    "Baby Makin' Music," scheduled for release today, marks the 36th album, (not counting compilations), featuring the remarkable sound of the Isley Brothers. 1959's "Shout" was their first collection. Ronald and Ernie carry the torch forward with this fourth Isley Brothers CD of the new millennium. "Blast Off," featuring guest R. Kelly, is the first single from "Baby Makin' Music." "Blast Off" is one of the better slow tracks, and there are a lot of them. Out of 11 tracks, "Pretty Woman" can be called uptempo, three songs can be tagged as medium tempo - and the rest are smooth waves pushing the mellow "quiet storm" Baby Makin' ship. You're My Star Blast Off (featuring R. Kelly) Just Came Here To Chill Gotta Be With You Pretty Woman Forever Mackin Show Me Give It To You Beautiful Heaven Hooked Us Up You Helped Me Write This Song Ronald "Mr. Biggs" Isley can still croon with the best of them. His falsetto still has enough silk to compensate for some loss of shine in his velvet voice. "Gotta Be With You," serving up Ernie Isleys' understated signature guitar, brings to mind the rhythm of 2001's "Contagious." Seal has written a couple of songs, rounding out the softer sound of "Baby Makin' Music." For longevity alone, the Isley Brothers deserve praise. Decade after decade, they've stayed current with the trends, without abandoning their unique style or voice. ---------- Here's an Isley Brothers mini concert review I wrote back in 2004: The Isley Brothers, lead by Ronald and Ernie, on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia PA, performed in front of just slightly under 1 million people on July 4, 2004. So what's a 2004 Isley Brothers Concert like? Here's their musical set, in order of performance: Between the Sheets Footsteps in the Dark Who's That Lady It's Your Thing Twist and Shout This Old Heart of Mine For The Love of You Busted Voyage to Atlantis Summer Breeze Keep it on the Down Low Contagious Shout 45 minutes of hits. Compared to an Isley Brothers/Graham Central Station concert I saw back in the day, this show was better, because Ron Isley, like a fine wine, only gets better with age. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Jammin' with Damian Marley

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/09/2006

    Damian Marley, also known as "Junior Gong," has picked up six honors at the recently held International Reggae and World Music Awards. Damian was the center of attention at the 25th anniversary of this awards spectacular held in New York City at the world famous Apollo Theater. He's the youngest son of Reggae legend Bob Marley. Mr. Damian Marley walked away with prizes for: entertainer of the year recording artist of the year best song: "Welcome to Jamrock" best album: "Welcome to Jamrock" best music video: "Welcome to Jamrock" best songwriting award (with his brother Stephen Marley) Earlier this year, Damian became the first reggae artist to win a Grammy Award outside of the Reggae category for his Best Urban/Alternative performance: "Welcome to Jamrock" single. The 2005 CD also won a best reggae album Grammy. Marley is slated to appear at the four day Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, on June 16. He'll tour with Ben Harper, appearing August 10th in Phoenix, Arizona, and September 14th at World's Fair Park in Knoxville, Tennessee. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Tower of Power Heaven

    • Website
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/05/2006

    When it comes to music artist homepages on the Internet, many of them are some of the worst websites ever designed. The majority feature unbelievably large picture images, with pages that load too slowly, urls that constantly change, and valuable information that is often missing in action. Cutting edge bandwidth hogging technologies are stressed on these sites. They forget that simplifying the usability experience for the visitor is more important. These sites are designed to duplicate the look of a theatrical or television performance first. Serving the primary needs of the site visitors comes second. I recently visited the website of a top classic soul R&B superstar, whose message board featured dark purple lettering on a black background - virtually impossible to read. That's the main reason why books aren't published with white letters on black pages! Your eyes would eventually pop out of your head. One of the best music artist Internet sites I've seen belongs to Tower of Power. Even if you aren't a big Tower of Power fan, you'll want to check out their site. TowerofPower.com is extremely easy to use, with clearly labeled links indicating the nature of the information you'll find, and there's plenty to discover. You can grab all of their song lyrics in PDF files, read complete band member profiles with timelines, and access complete tour date information. In addition, there's news, full biographies, an amazing collection of photos, sheet music links, an online store, and much more. Congratulations to the web designers of TowerofPower.com. It's not the fanciest show-off site, with tons of over the top technology, but it's an informative crowd pleaser with powerful features to enjoy. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 'Peace Out' from War on Cinco De Mayo Day

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/05/2006

    I've spent two memorable Cinco De Mayo days having a funky good time. One in San Antonio, Texas, the other in Seattle, Washington. Great music was at the centerpiece of both lively celebrations. According to Mexonline.com, an online guide to Mexico, The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, May 5th, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It's primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla, and throughout the state of Puebla. The holiday is recognized in other parts of Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities (with significant Mexican populations). Cinco De Mayo day is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, (which is September 16). Cinco De Mayo day offers us the opportunity to think about groups and individuals who have effectively blended elements of Latin, soul, rock, and R&B. Santana, Malo, Joe Cuba, Tito Puente, Coke Escovedo, and Shelia E., (Coke's daughter), all have had success expressing their music through strong Latin roots. Perhaps the most successful R&B, soul, rock, and Latin fusion blend, with a touch of jazz, comes from the hit making ensemble: War. Bill Dahl, in a Billboard review, writes about the story of War: "Freewheeling War mixed rock, jazz, and soul influences into a spicy stew throughout the 1970's, resulting in a series of R&B and pop hits sporting funky melodies and politically aware messages. Born in Long Beach, California, in 1969, the large combo initially served as rocker Eric Burdon's group, backing the ex-Animal on his 1970 million-seller "Spill the Wine." The band signed with United Artists in 1971 and enjoyed its first smash the next year with "Slippin' into Darkness." Tapping into a sizzling, horn-fueled rock/soul synthesis, "The World Is a Ghetto," "The Cisco Kid," and "Why Can't We be Friends?" all went gold during the mid 1970's. Despite numerous personnel and label changes, War remained popular throughout the 1980's. In the early 1990's, War experienced a revival, partially due to the fact that all of their albums were reissued. The group was also acknowledged as a primary influence on contemporary R&B and hip hop. War released a new album in 1994 to capitalize on their new found popularity." ---------- War is still touring and performing. Here's their intense 2006 schedule: Friday, May 5, 2006 Victorville, CA San Bernardino Co. Fair Saturday, May 6, 2006 Coarsegold, CA Half Dome Chukchansi Casino Saturday, May 13, 2006 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre Thursday, May 25, 2006 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern Saturday, May 27, 2006 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre Sunday, May 28, 2006 Avila Beach, CA Avila Beach Resort Saturday, June 3, 2006 El Paso, TX Custom Car & Chopper Festival Sunday, June 4, 2006 Beaumont, CA Cherry Festival Sunday, June 11, 2006 Santa Rosa, CA Sonoma Co. Fairgrounds Saturday, June 24, 2006 Sacramento, CA Meadowview Jazz & Cultural Festival Sunday, June 25, 2006 Philadelphia, PA West Oak Lane Festival Friday, July 28, 2006 Canal Fulton, OH Rock & Roll Resort Fest Friday, August 4, 2006 Columbus, OH Ohio State Fair Tuesday, August 8, 2006 Camden, NJ Wiggins Park Saturday, August 12, 2006 Camp Verde, AZ Cliff Castle Casino Saturday, August 26, 2006 Albany, OR Art & Air Festival Sunday, August 27, 2006 Palmer, AK Alaska State Fair Thursday, August 31, 2006 Sparks, NV John Ascuaga's Nugget Saturday, September 2, 2006 Long Beach, CA Blues Festival Sunday, September 3, 2006 Virginia Beach, VA American Music Fest Wednesday, September 20, 2006 Marysville, WA Tulalip Casino Saturday, October 21, 2006 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage Sunday, October 22, 2006 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage Thursday, November 2, 2006 Highland, CA San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino War's unique sound comes from a talented mix of musicians, including keyboard specialist Lonnie Jordan, and Danish-born harmonica player Lee Oskar. "The Cisco Kid" is the song that gained war a strong following in the Latino community. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Great Song Lyrics that Touch Your Soul

    • Songs
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 05/02/2006

    Great song lyrics and great poetry have one thing in common. They both touch your soul. Listening to the radio recently, I heard a couple of masterpieces, and was struck by the power of the lyrics. Linda Creed and Michael Masser, writers of the "Greatest Love of All," communicate a message just as relevant today as when they wrote the song. As I heard the George Benson and Whitney Houston versions play back-to-back, I focused on the deep meaning of the words... I believe the children are our future Teach them well And let them lead the way Show them all the beauty They possess inside Give them a sense of pride To make it easier Let the children's laughter Remind us how we used to be   Everybody's searching for a hero People need someone to look up to I never found anyone Who fulfilled my needs A lonely place to be So I learned to depend on me.   I decided long ago Never to walk in anyone's shadow If I fail, if I succeed At least I lived as I believe No matter what they take from me They can't take away my dignity   Because the greatest love of all Was happening to me I found the greatest love of all Inside of me The greatest love of all Is easy to achieve Learning to love yourself Is the greatest love of all   I believe the children are our future Teach them well And let them lead the way Show them all the beauty They possess inside Give them a sense of pride To make it easier Let the children's laughter Remind us how we used to be   I decided long ago Never to walk in anyone's shadow If I fail, if I succeed At least I lived as I believe. No matter what they take from me They can't take away my dignity   Because the greatest love of all Was happening to me I found the greatest love of all Inside of me The greatest love of all Is easy to achieve Learning to love yourself Is the greatest love of all   And If by chance that special place That you've been dreaming of Leads you to a lonely place Find your strength in love   The "Greatest Love of All" was originally featured in the 1977 autobiographical movie about Muhammad Ali. Now, the 2nd song... Bob Dylan once called William "Smokey" Robinson the greatest living poet of our time. We know why, as the images of "I'll Try Something New," written by Smokey, offer some creative "woman pleasing fantasies," guys dream up that the ladies love to hear... I'll Try Something New wrtten by William "Smokey" Robinson   I will build you a castle with a tower so high It reaches the moon I'll gather melodies from birdies that fly And compose you a tune Give you lovin' warm as Mama's oven And if that don't do Then I'll try something new   I will take you away with me as far as I can To Venus or Mars There we will love with your hand in my hand You'll be queen of the stars And every day we can play on the Milky Way And if that don't do Then I'll try something new   I will bring you a flower from the floor of the sea To wear in your hair I'll do anything and everything to keep you happy Girl to show you that I care I'll pretend I'm jealous of all the fellas And if that don't do Then I'll try something new   I'll take the stars and count 'em and move a mountain And if that don't do I'll try something new On the moon above it's you that I love If it don't do I'm gonna try something new   Oh well, if at first I don't succeed try again is what I'll do Always trying something else Always trying something that is new These lyrics should inspire writers young and old, that the "quality of the craft" of song writing still matters. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 The Secret Life of Sly Stone

    • Radio
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 04/30/2006

    The first time I saw Sly & The Family Stone was at New York City's world famous Apollo Theater. Comedian Red Foxx opened the show. I was a young teen, not expecting the blue language of Foxx, or the audience disapproval of Sly. You see, Sly's concept of interracial funk was loud, in your face, and way ahead of it's time. The second time I caught his show, a couple of weeks later, downtown at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, same Sly, but the accepting Greenwich Village audience had big fun...and danced to the music. Sly Stone, pictured here, performing at the 2006 Grammy Awards, is an icon. You've probably heard all of the Sly Stone urban legends, most of them true, about his legendary shows, his no shows, and his charismatic showmanship. A big part of the secret life of Sly Stone comes from what he learned as a young genius producer/arranger in San Francisco. He produced tracks for Grace Slick, The Beau Brummels, and Bobby Freeman. Sly wrote "The Swim," a 1964 hit for Freeman. Prior to the national break out of Sly & The Family Stone, record producer Sylvester Stewart, also known as Sly, hosted a radio show at KSOL in San Francisco. He used a deeper, mellow speaking voice, especially later in his on-air career. This voice was a few octaves lower than the familiar sound of his singing. Always an innovator, Sly pioneered live dedications, and signed off his radio program each night by playing the piano. According to T. Watts, Sly had a program segment called, "the integration record." This was an affirmative action slot for "white" rock n' rollers every night at 11pm. Watts says for several months during one stretch, Sly's "integration record" song was "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. You may have been lucky enough to hear Sly Stone DJ. I once caught him in New York City, filling in for the legendary Frankie Crocker at WMCA. I regret I didn't record his show, for it was a classic performance. Sly was an excellent radio DJ. I'd love to hear him back behind the microphone. I'm sure he did other fill-in guest appearances in other USA cities, once Sly & The Family Stone became famous. Here's more about Sly on the radio from Dave Billeci at reelradio.com. "He sang in the Saint Beulah Church of God in Christ choir and recorded gospel music at the age of 4, years before attending the Chris Borden School of Broadcasting in San Francisco." "After graduating in October 1964, Sly was hired by KSOL. He was eventually placed on the night shift Monday through Saturday." "He was very popular with the KSOL audience. In early 1967, Sly moved from the night shift to afternoon drive until his departure in June 1967." By the way, if you want to hear airchecks of the secret life of Sly Stone, (an aircheck is a recording from the radio featuring DJ chatter, with most of the music removed), you can find several places online, including Airchexx.com, with recordings of Sly Stone at KSOL in San Francisco, back in the day... Your browser does not support the audio element. Dave Billeci continues: "During those two and a half years at KSOL, Sly gradually made a transition from an imitator to an innovator." "He might have been considered the Bay Area's first "shock jock." Dave adds that eventually, Sly "wanted to devote his (full) attention to the group he had just formed: The Family Stone." "In October 1967, Sly decided to get back into radio and was hired by KSOL's competitor across the bay, KDIA. He only worked there for about two months before signing a recording contract with Columbia records." The rest, as they say, is history. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 The Hardest Battle for Billy Preston

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 04/27/2006

    Billy Preston is seriously ill in an Arizona hospital. Heart disease is among the latest of his medical problems. He's had several recent complicated surgical procedures. The legendary "fifth Beatle," who played organ on several Beatles hits, is also involved in a legal battle over his estate. Rodena Preston, Billy's sister, has petitioned Los Angeles Superior Court for control of the Preston estate. She contends that Billy's affairs are in a state of limbo due to the actions of his business manager, Joyce Moore. Over the past five years, Preston has had a series of health problems. In 2001 he suffered chronic kidney failure as a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure. A kidney transplant in 2002 ultimately failed, requiring several weekly dialysis treatments for the 59 year old keyboard legend. Why is Billy Preston important musically? Organs had been used in jazz and R&B music for years. Billy Preston pushed the envelope for both organs and synthesizers in pop music, using them creatively in his hits "Outa-Space," "Will it Go Round in Circles," "Struttin'," and "Nothing from Nothing." Billy isn't just keyboard flash and style alone. His ballad "You Are So Beautiful," written by Preston, (also recorded by Joe Cocker), features a nice sentimental vocal with Billy at the piano. He goes to church, kickin' out the gospel organ on "That's the Way God Planned It," one of his best "b" side tracks. Billy Preston has had more than a great solo career. He's also played with King Curtis, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland, Sammy Davis Jr., The Rolling Stones, and more musicians than we can mention. Say a prayer for Billy Preston. He's fighting the battle of his life. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Motown Philly back again: A Soulful Tale of Two Cities

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 04/27/2006

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the recording industry, it doesn't matter...what time. When recycling "solid gold," everything's on the table. Things run in cycles in the music business. About once every decade, there's the golden opportunity to revive songs from our distant past. Whether it's Patrice Rushen being sampled by Kirk Franklin, or another hit version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," (think Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Creedence Clearwater Revival, then Michael McDonald), old hits never fade away, they keep coming back for more. Coming June 6, 2006, Philadelphia producer Phil Hurt, who has 11 gold and platinum records in his trophy case, is releasing "A Soulful Tale of Two Cities." The concept is simple. Let the Motown stars record the Philadelphia classic soul jams. Have the troops from the Philadelphia International school record some Motor City magic. Phil Hurt's ingenious project will be released on his new label: Soul Renaissance Records. So how will Philly artists, songwriters, and producers perform songs from Detroit's Motown era? How will the Motown artists re-create The Sound of Philadelphia? Here's just a sample of what we can expect on the CD from the Philly artists: Jean Carn sings Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" Blue Magic's Ted Mills sings the Miracles ?Shop Around? The Delfonics' William Hart sings the Four Tops "Just Ask the Lonely" Writer, producer, artist Bunny Sigler sings Marvin & Tammi's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" And from our Motown friends: Freda Payne, (remember her), does the Stylistics "Betcha by Golly Wow" Bobby Taylor of the Vancouvers sings "If You Don't Know me By Now" of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes fame Lamont Dozier croons ?Me and Mrs. Jones? from the Billy Paul song book In on the project is Detroit native George Clinton, who tackles ?Love Won?t Let Me Wait? (no, it's not a funk version!). Major Harris will be proud. Clinton also covers ?Expressway to Your Heart,? the big Philly hit by the Soul Survivors. Speaking of funk, Motown's legendary house band, The Funk Brothers, play on the tracks recorded by the Detroit Legends. MFSB plays on the tracks recorded by the Philly artists. The Motown folks are recording the Philly songs in Detroit, and the Philly International crew are cutting their Motown songs in the city of brotherly love. If this CD release is successful, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be, look for a possible tour to promote "A Soulful Tale of Two Cities". The best of times indeed. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Michael Jackson's Bahrain Boogie

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 04/26/2006

    On the little island(s) of Bahrain, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, nestled in the Persian Gulf, opposite Iran, Michael Jackson is planning to make music again from his new home base. Having a world famous pop star generate domestic income is good for Bahrain, since the economy of these islands has been based entirely on petroleum exports since 1932. Don't hold your breath, but Jackson's "new" CD is being hyped for a 2007 release on "2 Seas Records," owned by Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of Bahrain's King. The world has yet to see Jackson's long promised Hurricane katrina benefit single, also to be released on 2 Seas Records, so we'll believe the new CD when we see it. M-J is obviously looking for some cash flow in light of his recent financial problems, employee lay-offs at his Neverland Ranch in California, and less than spectacular CD sales since 2001. You can't spend forever, no matter how much money you make. Billionaire Oprah Winfrey recently stated that she spends $1 million dollars a week, (no...not on frivolous things, but on all of her expenses). Regardless, I think Oprah is a little craftier than the very shrewd Michael Jackson. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Roberta Flack Replay

    • News
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 04/25/2006

    Roberta Flack is back, in a manner of speaking. The lady with the golden voice never did actually leave, or stop touring. For the latest Roberta Flack tour (link removed - no longer available), follow her link on our R&B music artists page (link removed - discontinued). Roberta's come a long way, from an early job as a 19 year old twelfth grade English teacher in North Carolina, to an instructor in the art of making international hit music. The "Killing me softly with his song" queen has a new best of CD out, I think. Compare the songs on "The Very Best Of Roberta Flack," (2006), with "Softly With These Songs: The Best Of Roberta Flack" (1993)... The Very Best Of Roberta Flack (2006) Killing Me Softly With His Song Where Is The Love - (with Donny Hathaway) Feel Like Makin' Love First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, The And So It Goes Tonight, I Celebrate My Love - (with Peabo Bryson) Closer I Get To You, The - (with Donny Hathaway) 'Til The Morning Comes Back Together Again - (with Donny Hathaway) Making Love Only Heaven Can Wait (For Love) Set The Night To Music - (with Maxi Priest) You Are My Heaven - (with Donny Hathaway) Oasis Don't Make Me Wait Too Long - (with Donny Hathaway) And So It Goes (Reprise) Trade Winds Softly With These Songs: The Best Of Roberta Flack (1993) First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, The Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow Where Is The Love - (with Donny Hathaway) Killing Me Softly With His Song Feel Like Makin' Love Closer I Get To You, The More Than Everything Only Heaven Can Wait (For Love) Back Together Again - (with Donny Hathaway) Making Love Tonight, I Celebrate My Love - (with Peabo Bryson) Oasis And So It Goes You Know What It's Like Set The Night To Music - (with Maxi Priest) My Foolish Heart Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes) - (Steve Hurley's House mix) According to King's math, 12 of the tracks are identical, with the exception of five on the 2006 CD: "'Till The Morning Comes" "You Are My Heaven" "Don't Make Me Wait Too Long" "And So It Goes (Reprise)" "Trade Winds." Exclusive to the 1993 release are: "More Than Everything" "You Know What It's Like" "My Foolish Heart" "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" "Uh-Uh Oooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes) - Steve Hurley's House" Well, if you are a collector, or a super Roberta Flack fan, I suppose you'll like the newer update "best of" too (if you already have the 1993 collection). In a recent radio interview, Roberta says she's "looking for a man," and is making plans to build a school in New York City. Let's hope she slam dunks both projects. Previous Post | Next Post

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