Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gifford Children's Choir in Racine, Wisconsin presents "A Christmas Trololo"

A brief history - back in March, I wrote about a video performance that appealed to both the Tall Ships (Keith Andrew is a member of that band) and Josh Haley (who used to be one of the ukelele players in the Ffundercats). That performance, which could be found on YouTube and elsewhere, was sung by Soviet-era singer Edward Anatolevich Hill. Although the name of the song is something along the lines of "I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home," it is commonly referred to today as the "Trololo" song. See my March post for more extensive details about the song and the singer.

It turns out Andrew and Haley weren't the only musicians who enjoyed the song. If you scroll down to the comments for my post, you'll see a comment from Jack Senzig, who was trying to find an orchestral score of the song. I wrote about Senzig's search in September. Senzig is with the Gifford Children's Choir at Gifford Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin, and he wanted the orchestral score so that the children's choir could perform the song.

As it turns out, Jack Senzig received responses to his request:

A man named Alexander Kuznetsov from Russia was very helpful in finding a piano vocal score of the piece. Alexander surprised the choir earlier this year by donating a few dollars on our blog. I emailed him a thank-you and asked if he could help find the score. What an amazing world we live in where people who don't know one another are willing to help with out thought of reward! The choir has had many experiences like that in the past 6 months. We are still looking for the orchestral score and for the copyright holder.

Senzig forged ahead, and now you can see the result - "A Christmas Trololo" as performed by the Gifford Children's Choir. Arkady Ostrovsky's song has been married with costumes and children's dancing moves.

Also note the audience participation. As Senzig notes in the Gifford Children's Choir blog, he was very pleased with the result:

What an incredible event! The kids did an amazing job, the audience participation was great, the band played so well, props and solos went as planned. We had three hours to rehearse and record....

Live, this was nothing short of incredible. I think you are going to be treated to an unique entertainment!

However, Senzig's enthusiasm was topped by the comment from one of his readers:

Did everyone remember their lyrics?

So a hearty congratulations to Jack Senzig, Alexander Kutznetov, Donovan Senzig, Jeni Balch, Keri Bieri, The Gifford Children's Choir, members of the Gilmore Middle School Choir, members of the Racine Community Choir, members of the St. Louis Church Choir, students from other schools (Case H.S., Walden III, 21st Century Prepatory School, and Gifford Elementary), Katie McCormick, Angela Janota-Peavler, Ken Norman Kathy Gabbey, Eric Weiss, Russell Skewes, Mike Cobb, Hallie Senzig, Brad Karas, Jeff Eben (the principal!), Santa Claus, Brett Halladay, Lance Peavler, Gary Alvarado, the Gifford PTA, the parents, and Chris Janus.

Now I have to share this with both Keith Andrew and Josh Haley...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What difference does it make? The ease of making some sort of music

One of the wonderful things about music is that it's very easy to create it. Now it's hard to create professional-quality music, but it's very easy to create music in general.

Let me cite an example.

As my friends know, I'll often get in moods in which I listen to a single song over and over. Last weekend, the song in question was "What Difference Does It Make?" by the Smiths. I found a YouTube video of a performance of the song on Top of the Pops, and just listened to the video (embedding disabled by request) again and again.

Then I had to go gas up my car.

So, as I was driving alone to Costco to gas up, you can guess what I was doing in the car.

Yes, I was creating music.

And even though I was facing several handicaps, I was still able to create music.

The first handicap that I faced was that I don't know all of the lyrics to the song "What Difference Does It Make?" In fact, I only know five of the words in the lyrics. (No extra credit if you can guess those five words.) So my vocal performance sounded like this:

What difference does it make?
What difference does it make? Oh oh oh...
Da da da,
Da da da da-da da...

At this point, I encountered the second handicap - I did not have a guitar with me in the car. And even if I had a guitar with me in the car, I was driving and therefore unable to play it. And even if I were parked and had a guitar, my guitar skills are, to put it mildly, deficient. (I can play a C chord, and I could probably pick out the riff to "What Difference Does It Make?" but it would be at a VERY slow speed.

So you can guess what I did next:

Da da da da
Da da-da da da
Da da da da
Da da-da da da...

So, as you can see, it's very easy to create music. And it's even possible to expand on it. When Morrissey sang the chorus, he had a hint of a yodel in it. As a lover of Slim Whitman, I wondered what would happen if that were converted into a full yodel, with an octave jump.

What difference does it ma-AKE...

And obviously I'm not the only one. All sorts of people, with all sorts of musical skills, have a desire to perform a song that they like. In the car on your morning commute, in the shower before your morning commute, or in your cubicle or dorm room with the headphones on, many of us are creating music.

And some people create videos of themselves making music. For example, here's a video of laydjay (Jacqueline Sinclair of All About the Dots on MySpace and Facebook), possibly in someone's apartment, singing the song (unfortunately, without any Slim Whitman touches, although she does some interesting vocals toward the end). I'm not sure who is accompanying her.

Here's a video of a guy who started playing the Smiths' recording of the song, then played along on the lead guitar part.

Here's another video of another guy who did the same thing.

Here's yet another guy who not only videoed himself playing "What Difference Does it Make?" but also played a bunch of other riffs. ("Difference" is about four minutes into the video.) His name's Johnny.

Seriously, this guy Johnny shares some interesting observations about guitar sound and guitar culture. I guess he knows what he's talking about.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Jersey

I was in one of my "Wanted Dead Or Alive" moods one evening and ended up finding this video in which Jon Bon Jovi sings "It's My Life." But Richie isn't playing the guitar on this performance; instead, some guy name Bruce is playing.

That video serves as a reminder that New Jersey produced both Bon Jovi AND Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Oh, and Frank Sinatra also.

But when you're talking about New Jersey music, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 10 other musicians who have been associated with New Jersey.

Count Basie
David Cassidy
George Clinton
Lesley Gore (see my 2008 post)
Wyclef Jean
Les Paul
Eddie Rabbitt
Patti Smith (see my 2003 post)
Gary Wright

Again, there are many more New Jersey musicians listed here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Opposing views - people who think that Eddie Van Halen is the best guitarist ever

There are plenty of very good guitarists out there. For example, I have a high regard for the guitar playing of Martin Gore. I believe that Gore's guitar playing (beginning in the late 1980s) is a perfect complement to Depeche Mode's music.

But I wouldn't call Martin Gore the greatest guitarist ever.

In my view, the three greatest guitarists ever, in alphabetical order, are Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page. In my view, these three made their guitars sing, and were the equivalent of an excellent vocalist in that regard.

I do not include Eddie Van Halen in that rarefied company of guitarists. In fact, I don't rate Van Halen as great, or as good. In my view, the ability to play guitar really really fast does not necessarily indicate good music.

However, there are those who disagree with me. Let's start with 330 guitarists surveyed by Roadie Crew Magazine, who ranked Eddie Van Halen as the second best guitarist of all time. Ahead of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Slash, and everyone except for Hendrix.

Of course, any such list is going to have its detractors. Let's look at someone who thinks that Hendrix should not have had the number one spot:

I think Ed should be in the #1 spot. Jimmy droped some jaws but Ed re-invented the guitar.

And another one:

In a century’s time, Edward may very well take over that #1 position. Think about it.

And then there was one person who, while agreeing that Van Halen was only number 2, made his case for Van Halen occupying that position:

There has not been a more exciting guitar player since van halen. Edward is still the king. He is the Michael Jordan of our time on Guitar. Good luck to all the rest who are really cool to listen to…but not nearly as fun and as original as Edward.

But among the thoughtful (and less than thoughtful) comments regarding the greatest guitarist, there were some real groaners. Or some really bad jokers. Take Mark Johnson:

Who the hell is Yngwie Malmsteen? And whys isn’t Elton John on this list?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is music with a purpose good music?

A lot of us live in this dreamworld that music is created by artists and is destined to become artistic.

To quote a songwriter or two, "dream on."

All music is written for a purpose. Perhaps a song is written specifically so that it will hit number one on the charts. Perhaps a song is written because the rent is due next week. Perhaps a song is written because the people in the indie club or the indie radio station will really really like it.

Regardless of why it is written, the song is written to appeal to some audience - if not the millions of people who purchase songs on iTunes or Amazon, then perhaps it's written for the 20 people that will gather at the local bar on Thursday night.

Lennon/McCartney, John/Taupin, Page/Plant, Gore, whoever - in the end, they're all hacks who are writing songs for a purpose.

Of course, there are more overt cases of writing songs for a purpose. For example, you might co-write a song to feed the world. When you write such a song, you want to make sure that it is most effective in achieving its purpose of feeding the world.

But is the song any good? Well, why don't we ask Bob Geldof?

I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is Do They Know It’s Christmas? and the other one is We Are The World.

Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every ****ing Christmas.

Spinner offered this critique:

Most of us have mixed feelings toward deathless charity anthem 'Do They Know it's Christmas?' -- on one hand, it has raised millions for good causes and become something of a yuletide institution, on the other, it features groan-worthy lyrics like "There won't be snow in Africa" and Bono's anguished yelp of "Tonight, thank God it's them, instead of you."

And let's face it, "We Are The World" will probably not be performed in formal live shows in the year 2200. Even when it was being recorded, there were misgivings:

Billy Joel told Rolling Stone in 2005, "Most of us who were there didn't like the song, but nobody would say so. I think Cyndi Lauper leaned over to me and said, 'It sounds like a Pepsi commercial.' And I didn't disagree."

Of course, "We Are The World" also suffered from its being recorded out here, in California. The British recording session for "Do They Know It's Christmas" was laid back, but when Geldof arrived in El-Lay to support the American effort, he noted that Los Angeles was not so casual. Or, to put it more accurately, some people were relaxed about the whole affair, while others were not:

Springsteen flew to L.A. immediately after his Syracuse shows to participate in the recording. Arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport, Bruce rented a Corvette, and drove to the studio, parking in a lot across the street. In a humorous anecdote from his autobiography, Is That It?, Geldof recalled that Kragen at one point walked in and said, "'Bruce Springsteen has just parked his car on the other side of the road and walked across -- by himself -- to the studio. Can you believe it?' I could believe it. 'No, I mean he drove himself, no chauffeur, no limo. Then The Boss walked across himself, no bodyguards, no security.'"

The whole scene was parodied by Billy Crystal, who performed (as Prince) the song "I Am Also The World."

Billy Crystal, Hulk Hogan & Mr. T
Uploaded by mjdwfan. - Sitcom, sketch, and standup comedy videos.

At the end of the day, both songs (and all of the related songs) were Events with a capital E.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Led Zeppelin, "What Is And What Should Never Be"

The reason for my posting this video will become apparent on Monday. But even if you don't care about what I'm going to say on Monday in my Empoprise-BI business blog, you have to admit that this is a good song, with a good Jimmy Page solo.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If @scobleizer were an AM DJ (MySpace and music)

After the Lakers loss on Wednesday night, I started fiddling around with my AM radio. After sunset, I am able to pick up radio stations from multiple locations, including northern California. While moving up and down the radio dial, I ran across a radio station in Half Moon Bay that I had never heard before. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that none of you has heard this station either. Because the deejay's discussion is germane to the Empoprise-MU music blog, I thought I'd reproduce it here.

Yes, this portion of the KRS Evening Show is brought to you by Rackspace. And we're back, and you're here with your evening deejay, Bobby Scoble the Scobleizer!

(SOUND EFFECT from James Earl Jones: "This is THE SCOBLEIZER.")
(SOUND EFFECT: standard AM zoo cowbells and whistles)

Yes, it's your good friend Bobby, the original Valley Boy!

(SOUND EFFECT from a Frank Zappa sound-alike: "Valley Boy, he's a Valley Boy")
(SOUND EFFECT: standard AM zoo cowbells and whistles)

And we're broadcasting and podcasting and videocasting live from Half Moon Bay, counting 'em up, counting 'em down, counting 'em left, counting 'em right, down for the count, up for the count, and did I mention we're counting?

(SOUND EFFECT from an old commercial: "Count Chocula!")
(SOUND EFFECT: standard AM zoo cowbells and whistles)

Now I know that you've been submitting your music requests to the @scobleizer Twitter account -

(SOUND EFFECT from a Gilbert Gottfried sound-alike: "FAIL WHALE!")
(SOUND EFFECT: standard AM zoo cowbells and whistles)

Hey, Patrick, let's stop the wacky AM radio sound effects for just a moment, because I want to talk about something. A lot of people accuse me of only pursuing shiny new things and ignoring anything old. And while I do like to explore new stuff, I also like to check out some things that have been around for a while. No, I'm not going to actively participate in FriendFeed again. But earlier this evening, some of you may have noticed that I began playing around with my MySpace account again. In fact, because MySpace can publish your data stream directly to Facebook, a lot of my Facebook friends saw all of the bands that I just liked on MySpace. Sorry about that, guys.

I figured that since I'll be interviewing MySpace's CEO at LeWeb next week, I should do my homework. And since MySpace has turned itself into a music center, I started listening to Neil Young and friending artists such as The Black Eyed Peas and The Doors.

So I know that you have some requests that you've been tweeting to me, but I'm going to close tonight's radio show with a song from one of my new friends. Here's Neil Young with "Walk With Me." And after this song's done, stay tuned for Techno Louie Louie, the Graymaster!This is Bobby Scoble, the Scobleizer, signing off!

My, my.

Hey, hey.

Incidentally, Scoble's session with MySpace CEO Mike Jones is scheduled for 8 December 2010 at 10:50 am local time.

Waylon Jennings cover versions

In some ways it's ironic that the early 70s "outlaw" country musicians spent a lot of time covering some decidedly non-country songs, but that's exactly what Waylon Jennings was doing.

On Wednesday night I was messing around with YouTube and, and I found two Waylon Jennings cover songs that are highly recommended.

The first one that I found was a Waylon & Willie cover of the Fleetwood Mac song "Gold Dust Woman." (My blip of the song is here.) Perhaps Waylon's version isn't as mysterious as Stevie's original, and the drums aren't featured, but the vocals - especially on the chorus - are equal to if not better than the original. (And it's rare that people can vocally measure up to the "perfect" vocal harmonies of the mid-70s Fleetwood Mac.)

But hearing that song just left me craving another, so I found Waylon's cover of the Steely Dan song "Do It Again." (Here's my blip.) Depending upon your point of view, you could argue that Waylon's vocals here far exceed the original - especially when Waylon growls "Wheels turnin' ROUND and round."

But when looking over the Covers Project page on Waylon Jennings (which doesn't discuss "Gold Dust Woman," by the way, unless it's on a separate Waylon/Willie page or something), I was surprised to learn that one of Waylon's most famous songs, "Amanda," is itself a cover of a Don Williams song. (Here's that blip.)

Always learning...

P.S. If you want to see the songs that I blip, and the YouTube videos that I share, why don't you consider liking the Empoprise-MU Facebook fan page?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Families have parents - what preceded the King Family

As someone in the 1960s said, "I should have known better."

When I was a kid, one of the big TV shows was "My Three Sons." I was familiar with the later color version of the show, rather than the original black and white version. In this version of the show, oldest son Robbie (actually the middle son) was married to a woman named Katie who in real life was Tina Cole, part of a popular singing group called The King Family.

Tina Cole
Tina Cole Pictures

When not running around with Fred MacMurray, the King Family was appearing on their popular TV show, singing ultra-psychedelic versions of Jimi Hendrix and Grateful Dead songs. OK, not exactly.

But I wasn't aware of the earlier history of this family until The Music's Over reshared a 2009 entry on Yvonne King Burch.

Yvonne King Burch was a member of the popular singing group, the King Sisters, who came to prominence during the swing era....

Considering their style of music, I shouldn't be surprised that their history predates the Beatles...and Elvis.

Be sure to read the rest of the Music's Over entry for more about Yvonne King Burch.

As it turns out, Tina Cole was Yvonne King Burch's daughter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I can't escape the Electrical Parade - "Above the Northern Lights" (Gene Nery/Mannheim Steamroller)

Those close to me know that I usually equate Mannheim Steamroller with Disney's (Main Street) Electrical Parade.

I HATE Disney's (Main Street) Electrical Parade.

But on Monday evening I heard a Mannheim Steamroller song that I truly enjoyed - "Above the Northern Lights." The vocalist is Gene Nery. Yes, Gene Nery. Oh, you haven't heard of Gene Nery? Neither had Chip Davis:

The new album features vocals by Johnny Mathis, Olivia Newton-John and Gene Nery. Gene who? "Believe it or not, he was some random guy that a friend of mine knew — Ed Wilson, who wrote the words for the song 'Above the Northern Lights.' He sent a demo with Gene singing on it. I called and said, 'Hey, Ed, the words sound great. Who is this guy you've got singing it?' He sings in clubs and stuff. He lives on Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington State. We just met the other day when we played Everett, Washington."

For more about Gene Nery, see this article.

But back to "Above the Northern Lights." So anyways, I looked on YouTube for a video that included the song. And what was the first video that was listed? A video in which the song is linked to a Christmas lights display.

Well, at least there aren't twirling Disney figures.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rob Michael "White Christmas" (solo, and with Rahsheen)

I missed these videos last year when they were originally shared, but it's about that time of year.

The first video is a Rob Michael instrumental solo of "White Christmas."

The second is the same guitar solo, with vocals from Rahsheen.

As far as I know, there is not a third version that incorporates Josh Haley's ukelele or Helen Sventitsky's keyboards.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Prey Before Prey Before Prey Before Prey

Continuing my previous thought, there's also Blacksteel & Badger's "Toxic Jerry," which obviously includes both Gerry (with a G) Rafferty's "Baker Street" and Britney Spears' "Toxic."

I wasn't familiar with one of the songs in the mix, so I looked into it and found out that it was Fatboy Slim's "Sunset (Bird of Prey)."

(Embedding disabled by request.)

The vocals are by Jim Morrison and were released posthumously.

But Jim Morrison wasn't involved with the next little bit in "Toxic Jerry." I don't know whether Fatboy Slim did it or Blacksteel & Badger did it, but someone mixed "Sunset (Bird of Prey)" with another Fatboy Slim song, "Star 69." And no, I'm not linking to that song - too much Wisconsin Tourism Federation for me, if you get my drift. And the Wisconsin Tourism Federation stuff is itself a sample from Roland Clark's "I Get Deep."

At this point I probably haven't identified half of the samples in "Toxic Jerry," but the ones that I know about include Roland Clark, Jim Morrison, Gerry Rafferty, and Britney Spears. Plus some instrumental music from Norman Quentin (Leo) Cook. Now that's an of people.

P.S. If you clicked through to the embedding disabled by request video and would like more information about the filmed flight sequences, go to

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day After Day After Day After Day

I had been listening to "Toxic Jerry" by Blacksteel & Badger, and ended up going to to see what other downloads were available. There really weren't any details on what songs were included in the mashups, so I figured I'd listen to a 30 second sample of the song "Day After Day." Maybe there's some Badfinger in there, I thought.

I listened to the 30 second sample, and all that was in the sample was the Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson song "Say Say Say." That was enough for me to commit to the download.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Kelly Osbourne's "One Word" was a major component of the mix. It turns out that "day after day" are the last three words of the chorus.

No Badfinger though.

You can download the song at The Blacksteel & Badger website is no more, but their podcast blog is still online.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Control - the history behind "Love on the Run"

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Human League had released two albums with minor success (despite highlights such as "Circus of Death"). Then the band ruptured into two parts, with the remaining Human League part achieving stratospheric success with "Don't You Want Me" and other songs such as "Seconds." The band continued to play with their sound, most notably on the guitar-based "The Lebanon," but the record label wasn't pleased because the band wasn't enjoying success similar to that of "Don't You Want Me." In other words, the record label was asking, "What have you done for me lately?"

That's when the "hot producers" idea kicked in, and an agreement was reached to have Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produce the band. Jam and Lewis, ex-members of the Time, were the hot producers of the moment. Three facts about Jam and Lewis were pertinent:

First, they learned their chops under Prince, who was well known for his controlling nature over projects.

Second, they had just finished working with Janet Jackson on an album called "Control."

Third, the majority of the songwriting credits on the song "Control" were held by Jam and Lewis.

Even if you had never heard the story before, you can probably guess how it's going to end. Robert Windle:

Four solid months of stressful recording followed that were full of vocal retakes and some days would end in creative disagreements. In the end, session musicians and backing singers were brought in as Jam & Lewis sought a level of pitch perfection that was simply alien to the appeal of The League. The production team's trademark was that of polished soul with plenty of treble, whilst the League always favoured an understated and sometimes harsher sound of leftfield pop that would stray from obvious.

Adrian [Wright] eventually gave up on trying to record soul styled keyboard rifts that he was completely unfamiliar with and decided to spend the rest of the sessions playing table tennis....

The recording sessions reached breaking point when it became apparent that only six of the League penned tracks would make it to the album with Jam & Lewis adding a few tracks of their own.

Song writing credits were essential when it came to the bread and butter payments once an album was released.

Jam & Lewis were already receiving a huge production fee from Virgin, and the League felt they would receive little in the way of royalties that were so desperately needed.

As a result, the sessions ended in acrimony even though the personal relationship between the band and the production team had been a relatively good one.

The band reaped material success from the collaboration when the Jam/Lewis-penned "Human" reached number one. But was that the destiny for the Human League - to record songs that could have just as easily been recorded by any other male-female singing group?

However, the band wasn't COMPLETELY shut out of their own album, and the song "Love on the Run" is a bright spot for fans of the band.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Genius is pain - the whiners

Now that I've gotten the introductory post out of the way, I can get to my thesis.

Good music is painful. There is certainly pleasant, soothing music that is produced, but music doesn't really grab you unless there is an element of pain in it. While the pain is sometimes lyrical (for example, all of the tragic teenage death songs), the pain that is inflicted on the listener is often musical.

And that pain may be inflicted by the singer's voice. There are a number of examples of singers with voices that are not soothing, but attention-grabbing. In this post, however, I'm going to talk about the whiners.

One of the first whiners that came to mind was Tom Petty. While Petty sometimes sings in a fairly low register, he's often up in treble-land, and he can get pretty whiny up there. He first came to national attention with "Refugee," but Petty's whiniest performance is probably his duet with Stevie Nicks.

But Petty isn't the best whiner out there. He certainly has competition from Canada's contribution to supergroup-dom and grunge hero worship. I speak, of course, of Neil Young - a man who can whine with the best of them when in electrical mode, but who surpasses all when he's in an acoustic mood, as he was during Farm Aid.

Of course, the painfulness of this song, with its delivery and its references to Elvis Presley and the Sex Pistols, was made even more painful several years after this concert, when Kurt Cobain quoted it in his suicide note. (I briefly referenced this noted in a prior post about Steve Taylor, Jim Morrison, and Cobain.)

But Petty and Young, excellent whiners though they be, are exceeded in whining by a man named Billy. I could choose from a number of examples, but in this case I've gone for the song "Eye" by Smashing Pumpkins and lead singer Billy Corgan.

And now that I've presented Billy's whining ways, I can tell you of my dream duet - one that will surpass Petty and Nicks. If only Billy Corgan and Gwen Stefani would sing a duet, the world would truly be a magical place. (Yeah, I know that Moby and Stefani performed together, but it's not the same.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Genius is pain - the origins

I plan to write a future music post that will emphasize the point that genius is pain, but some people may not be familiar with the origin of the line.

Back during the heyday of the National Lampoon (before the low days of the National Lampoon), one of their albums included a rather wicked parody of John Lennon's primal scream period, entitled "Magical Misery Tour." A downloadable MP3 of the parody can be found at this 2005 WFMU post.

Since it IS the Lampoon, it probably goes without saying that there is a language warning here. My favorite line, however, is "The sky is blue." Oh, and a reference to the "the Walrus was Paul" line from "Glass Onion." The latter song, of course, was the one that made fun of all the Beatles rumors...but a year later became the basis for the biggest Beatles rumor of all, the one about the death of Paul McCartney.

That's not funny, that's sick.

But returning to the other National Lampoon album, the lyrics to "Magical Misery Tour" were not written by the Lampoon, but by...John Lennon:

This is an unrelentingly brutal parody of John Lennon made all the more pointed due to the fact that the lyrics are Lennon's own words taken from an interview he granted to Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone in 1970. The interview itself is legendary. At the time it was conducted, Lennon was still hopelessly trapped under the vast, oppressive shadow of The Beatles, and he was angry, whiney, and petulant. With his characteristic cutting wit and candor, Lennon held nothing back and unearthed intensely personal details about his experiences with LSD, heroin, his petty ego issues with Paul and Mick Jagger, and the pain of seeing Yoko publicly maligned and almost universally hated.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kinks reunion - if I may quote Romeo Void...

Stereogum recently ran something entitled Kinks Reunion Impossible Because “Ray Davies Is An Asshole”. The anatomical assessment of Ray came from his brother Dave; Stereogum notes that the Davies brothers were the "Mendelian blueprint for Noel and Liam’s bro-bickering" (Noel and Liam being the Gallagher brothers, formerly of Oasis).

But it's dangerous to bandy about the word "impossible." Remember that the Sex Pistols reunited (with Glen Matlock), the Eagles reunited (in the Hell Freezes Over tour), and that the death of John Lennon didn't stop the Beatles from reuniting.

Quoting Romeo Void, "never say never."

P.S. Although I haven't heard it, there is a link between the Kinks and Romeo Void - namely, the Queens of the Stone Age album Rated R (Deluxe Edition); the bonus disc includes covers of the aforementioned "Never Say Never" from Romeo Void, and the Kinks' "Who’ll Be The Next in Line."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's just another town along the (Bermuda) road

I previously posted a link to an interview with Jon "Bermuda" Schwarz, long-time drummer with Weird Al Yankovic. In the interview, Schwarz took time to point out that a tour doesn't depend upon the musicians alone. First, Schwarz talked about road life for Yankovic and his band.

I wish I could tell everyone that it's vacation and that we have a lot of personal time for sightseeing or recreation, but traveling by coach to five or six cities a week is grueling and gets disorienting. A lot of time is spent just going from city to city, and most days off are better described as travel days; it's rare to have an entire day and night free in the same location.

However, we are pretty comfortable on the road. Al and the band have a coach with satellite TVs, videos, stereos, kitchen, lounge, and plenty of room to move. After each show, we're usually in a hotel to get some real rest, but most of our waking hours are spent traveling.

Then he told the rest of the story.

I have to also mention that the crew works VERY hard, and operates on a somewhat different schedule than the band. They are almost always traveling overnight after a hard day's work, so they can start all over again in the morning setting up the next show. I don't envy them but I do respect them, and we all get along well. There's no 'us' and 'them' in our organization.

Of course, then there are road crew members who will stab the artists in the back. Take Reno 911 refugees Tom Lennon and R Ben Garant, who joined Yankovic's road crew and released a lurid expose with shocking revelations:

Dr. Demento is not a real Doctor.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Three really good parodies

I was musing about parody songs, or cases in which someone takes a song originally written by someone else and modifies it, usually (but not always) for comic effect. I thought I'd list three of my favorite ones here.

I applied a rule to the list - Weird Al Yankovic would only appear once on the list. So what Weird Al song do I put here? I was originally leaning toward "Amish Paradise," but then decided to go in a different direction. Yankovic's mid and late period songs, whether parody or not, are always inventive, professionally done, and the videos are also executed well. But one song of Yankovic's that stands out is one of his early ones - his parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," called "Another One Rides the Bus." Unlike his later productions, this one consists of Al, his accordion, and a guy playing "drums" on an accordion case, all recorded during a live airing of Dr. Demento's radio show. The story of the recording can be found here. The randomness and exuberance of that event is more magical than the most complex device that is planned deep in the bowels of Cupertino.

For more information on that life, and how it changed Jon "Bermuda" Schwarz's life, see this interview.

My second parody is one of those which is not entirely comedic in nature, although it has its comedic elements - heck, when Cheech and Chong do something, there's bound to be comedy in there. The original song, Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," was one that was misinterpreted as a patriotic jingle, but in actuality was a song about injustice. So it's fitting that Cheech and Chong's parody, "Born in East L.A.," also has a serious message embedded within it - namely, the fact that Mexican-Americans who have lived in the U.S. for multiple generations cannot always be equated with the newer arrivals. "Cheech" Marin later turned the song into a movie; here's the trailer.

And if you don't necessarily think of "Born in East L.A." as a serious song, note that Rosa-Linda Fregoso has written a scholarly article on it.

But since this blog (and all my blogs) are all influenced in some way by "The Beatles" (the album, not the band), it's fitting that my third parody choice should be off of that album. The Beatles and the Beach Boys - or, more specifically, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Brian Wilson - had a friendly rivalry in the mid-1960s which led to such "top this!" masterpieces as Pet Sounds and Sergeant Pepper. Wilson began having problems after Pepper (or, more accurately, after other substances), so the rivalry had pretty much ended in the Beatles' favor by 1968, but the band played homage to their American label-mates by constructing a thematic parody of one of the biggest Beach Boy hits, "California Girls." Except, instead of talking about east coast girls, southern girls, and the like, the English version talked about Ukraine girls and Georgian girls (from the then-province of the USSR, not the US state). "Back in the USSR" was a literally wicked opening to the Beatle's double album, and as the Cold War began to thaw, many Western musicians got to sing the song in the USSR itself. McCartney eventually joined them in heading east, not only to Moscow, but to the Ukraine girls themselves, as this 2008 concert clip from Kiev shows:

For a little more background, including who played drums on the original recording and why, consult John T. Marck's site. (And if the Beatles inspired you to find a Ukraine girl, check the ads at the top of Marck's page; you just might get lucky.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking the Beastie Boys literally

As long as I'm looking at literal videos, I should share this literal version of the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." (Embedding disabled by request, so you'll have to follow the link.)

The original video itself is of course a homage to the Quinn Martin productions and other television fare of the Beastie Boys' (and my) youth, and the literal version plays this up with references to Greg Brady (although Screech is technically outside of the period in question).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taking David Byrne literally

I recently wrote a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog that includes a lot of linktext. If you follow one of the links in the text, you ended up at a YouTube video of Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime."

While searching for that video, I happened to find another version of the song - the literal version.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Feldman posts Jesse Stay is posting mashups!

Although in this case, Stay has half a right to post this one. After all, Stay calls his blog "Stay N' Alive." (He also takes Staycations, even when he leaves the house.)

So what musical stuff is Stay placing in one of his latest blog posts? In his case, a mashup - one that he refers to as the Best. Mashup. Ever. This one required one of the songs to be sped up a little, but when you do that, you end up with a mashup of two of the 1970s biggest songs - "Stayin' Alive" and "Another Brick in the Wall":

According to the Wax Audio website, "Stayin' Alive in The Wall" was originally released in 2007, as part of a collection called Mashopolos:

It's a pop, hard-rock, metal, disco, movie-soundtrack, hindi-pop, bhangra type album put together using other people's music. Each pairing was achieved by loving cajoling and violent contortion of the source materials and was produced here in Athens, Greece (hence the album title) throughout February and March 2007. I was supposed to be resting and recouperating after 15 months hard overland slog across Asia - but just couldn't resist getting my hands dirty again.

I definitely want to check out Kate Rogers Nelson and "Mashing Up That Hill."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Loren Feldman posts Adele video - is he encroaching on Empoprise-MU territory?

I've written about Loren Feldman of 1938 Media many times in the past (here's an example and here's another, and here's a more recent example). For those of you who are not familiar with him, Feldman is a rare champion of realism in the world of social media - for example, in advocating that the social media tools should be used to provide a return on investment for the businesses who employ them. Feldman spreads his message through a variety of avenues, ranging from speeches at conferences to micromessages on Twitter to puppet shows on video.

In the past I've appreciated Feldman and his observations.

That is, until he started barging in on my territory.

You see, if there's one thing that I frequently do here in the Empoprise-MU music blog, it's the sharing of music videos that I find (primarily on YouTube). Some of them are original videos from the artists themselves, while others are fan videos - some creative, some not-so-creative.

So what does Feldman do? He posts a similar post - in this case, sharing a song from Adele.

OK, Feldman may be honing into my territory by sharing videos, but I'll tell you one thing that I do that Feldman doesn't do - I write about things even though I don't have the slightest clue about them.

Yes, I had to read up on this song, courtesy Wikipedia. To put it mildly, Adele isn't the only person who has performed this song. This Bob Dylan original has been performed by Adele, Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Gamu Nhengu, Phil Keaggy, Trisha Yearwood, Neil Diamond, Joan Osborne, Timothy B. Schmit, Kelly Clarkson, Ronan Keating, Bryan Ferry, Taylor Hicks, Maria Muldaur, and many others.

Oh, and and if I'm going to be honest about things, Feldman has been sharing songs on his blog for YEARS - in fact, he was sharing songs before the Empoprise-MU blog even existed (this blog started in August 2008). For example, here's a March 27, 2008 video share of a song by the Shel Israel puppet. (Language warning.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh George? (George Clinton Gone Country)

I found it.

Not embeddable, but George Clinton's performance of "What Time Is It" for "Gone Country 3" can be found here.

Oh Sheila? (or, where is Sheila E?)

Over the weekend, while not researching The Famous Al Gunn, I heard Ready for the World's "Oh Sheila" on the radio. Now I was never really impressed with Ready for the World back in the day, since they appeared to have Prince's smuttiness without the talent. "(pant) (pant) (pant) Oh Sheila," indeed.

But that got me thinking about another Sheila (who is supposedly not the subject of the song) - Sheila E. Directly associated with Prince, she was popularly perceived as the one Prince female protege who actually had talent. She certainly had her hits, but like most pop stars, she faded from view a few years later.

Where did she end up?

Well, like any self-respecting musician, she has her own website, And while she may not be topping the charts any more, she's certainly active. She's been out my way recently, appearing at the Thornton Winery in Temecula in August. And back in February, she appeared with her father, Pete Escovedo, in a concert in Ventura. And she's also performing with the purple one. As of now, their European appearances are as follows:


October 18th
Bergen, Norway

October 20th
Copenhagen, Denmark

October 22nd
Herning, Denmark

November 2nd
Rome, Italy

November 3rd
Milan, Italy

Her biography fills in the missing years between her 80s stardom and today.

After taking several years off for health reasons, Sheila's next project, the E-Train, started in 1994. The band that played a mixture of soul, Latin jazz, funk, fusion and gospel toured in Europe in 1994, and finally released a CD, entitled "Writes of Passage" in 1998.

In 1998, Sheila became the first female bandleader on late night television on Magic Johnson's variety show "The Magic Hour," and she co-wrote and co-produced the late night show's theme song.

Sheila has played on countless albums, including the soundtrack to "Prince of Egypt," featuring Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, successful Japanese artist Namie Amuro (whom she also toured with in 1996 and 2002) and Gloria Estefan's hugely successful "Mi Tierra."

The complete biography is here. No word on whether Sheila officially played the conga when playing with Estefan. But the most interesting part of the bio was a cross-musical production with which I was not familiar.

Sheila E. participated in the third season of CMT's hit show, "Gone Country." With the goal of creating a hit country music single, each "Gone Country" cast member is uprooted to Nashville for an intense two-week challenge. Justin Guarini, Taylor Dayne, George Clinton, Tara Conner, Richard Grieco, and Micky Dolenz competed on the third season along with Sheila E. Each celebrity was paired with two of Nashville's finest songwriters with whom they wrote a country single. In addition to meeting with songwriters, the cast competed in challenges that tested them musically and physically to adapt to a life in country music, both on and off the stage. Sheila E. was the Grand Prize Winner of the third season and has gone on to release her first country single & video for her song, "Glorious Train.

When reading the cast list, all I can say is "wow." I still have to find George Clinton's country musings, but I did find "Glorious Train."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nights With Alice Cooper radio show

I was reading a comment from my good Facebook friend Peter Frampton - oh, you've heard of him? - and he offered a comment about a website for a radio show entitled "Nights With Alice Cooper," found at

The show isn't carried by any Los Angeles radio stations, but you can listen on selected radio stations that carry the show on their websites. (Including Canadian radio stations, allowing The Famous Al Gunn to listen.)

The website is jam-packed with pictures, video, trivia, and other information. And if you are scratching your head and wondering who this Alice is that I'm talking about, here's his (yes, his) bio.

Without Alice Cooper, there might never have been the NY Dolls, KISS, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Motley Crue, Slipknot or Rob Zombie ... maybe not even David Bowie, or at least not Ziggy Stardust. The iconic hard rocker...literally invented the concept of the rock concert as theater....

With a schedule that includes six months of every year on the road, Alice Cooper is bringing his own brand of rock psycho-drama to fans both old and new, and enjoying it as much as the audience does.

Known as the architect of shock-rock, Alice (in both the original Alice Cooper band and as a solo artist) has rattled the cages and undermined the authority of generations of guardians of the status quo, continuing to surprise fans and exude danger at every turn, like a great horror movie, even in an era where CNN can present real life shocking images.

The "bio" above is extremely edited, since 90% of it is devoted to Alice's 25th album, "Along Came a Spider." You know, one of THOSE bios.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Well, of course "The Safety Dance" comes to mind at four o'clock in the morning

Yes, it's about 4:00 am in California.

No, I'm not in France.

I couldn't sleep, so I woke up, and I had a mad urge to listen to this song:

Now when you see a guy, a short guy, and a woman, you can be forgiven for thinking that you're watching an ABC video. This is, of course, Men Without Hats, doing the Safety Dance. This, incidentally, is one of the songs by this band which includes a French interlude just to prove that they're from Quebec.

But "The Safety Dance" is not my favorite Men Without Hats song. That designation belongs to "Living in China," with the best line in all rock. Speaking of the then-current changes in China, Ivan and his cohorts talked about "the Gang of Four, trying to make it as a western band." Here's an unofficial video with images from the country itself.

So where are Men Without Hats today? This page offers the rundown on just about every person ever associated with the band:

Ivan lives in Montreal, Stefan lives in a small town in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec about an hour north of Montreal, Colin lives in Victoria on Vancouver island, teaches voice and sings with the Victoria Opera Company, Lenny lives in Montreal and works in computers, Marika lives in southern California, Heidi lives in New Jersey, Allan died of AIDS about 6 years ago, Jerry Arrobas is in telemarketing and living in Mtl, John Gurin is a university professor, Jean-Marc writes jingles in Mtl, the still Famous Al Gunn hasn't left the island of Montreal since the tour in 1985, Bruce Murphy's a dentist in Ottawa, and Tracy Howe lives in Ontario and recently retired from music.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We are fair and balanced - a dissenting view on Jimi Hendrix's talents as a lyricist

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post that contained the following introduction:

As a lyricist, Jimi Hendrix was with peer.

I went on to say:

His hippie 60's lyrical musings are not on a par with Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Simon, or others of that decade.

I was curious to see if anyone ranked Hendrix highly as a lyricist, and I found someone who not only praised his prowess, but also chose to discuss the song that I had implicitly derided. Matt Coleman, the floor is yours.

Let’s look at one of my favorite Hendrix compositions, “The Wind Cries Mary.” Supposedly, Hendrix wrote this song after he and his then girlfriend Kathy Etchingham had an argument over her cooking. Kathy, I am so very happy your cooking did not please Jimi. Kathy, whose middle name is Mary, stormed out of the house and Jimi was left with a decision, eat the unpleasant food or write the song. Just kidding of course. Maybe Jimi was just not very hungry....

Hendrix demonstrates a great adroitness for metaphor and sensitive repetition. I, obviously am partial to the court references, but, they work quite well in the song. “Somewhere a queen is weeping, Somewhere a king has no wife.” These two lines in the second verse are by far the best in the song. The words elevate the song to an ethereal level and help represent Hendrix’s situation mystically.

Read more here.

Now I just have to find someone who thinks that Eddie Van Halen is a good guitarist - whoops, I forgot that some people actually think he IS a good guitarist.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zune marketplace users (and others) hit by geotarding workarounds

I only personally know of two people who ever talk about the Zune - someone who goes to my church and works for Microsoft, and Steven Hodson, who writes the WinExtra blog (among other things). But the Zune apparently offers a whole range of services, including its own store (which you can visit at

Steven Hodson talks about the Zune in a recent post:

While most of the tech blogosphere either ignores or makes fun of Zune, and its marketplace as well as its streaming services, the fact is that it has been around for quite awhile and people like using it.

Well, at least in the U.S. it has, but that is about to change as different parts of the Zune ecosphere starts spreading beyond the U.S.

But wait a minute, you ask yourself. Isn't Hodson like Canadian and stuff? So how can he expertly talk about the Zune?

Very easily, as it turns out. Despite the best efforts of the Cabal TINC (an old Usenet joke), it is possible to get around any geographically based restriction (or geotarding). In Hodson's case, he just created a Microsoft account with a United States address, and he had access to all of the wonderful Zune stuff that we Americans take for granted.

But now that the Zune is officially offered in Canada, Hodson has a bit of a problem.

You see once Zune, and Xbox Live, are legally available in your country, and in my case it would be Canada, you are going to want to go into your profile and switch your setting to show your real country of origin – except you can’t.

I’m serious. There is no way possible for you to go to your Zune account, or your Xbox Live account and change your country.

Hodson then details all of the attempts he made to change his account to a Canadian account, and the frustrations that he's facing in his current US-Canada limbo.

And yes, Hodson admits that this is a problem of his own making. He was so eager to get Microsoft projects (in this case Zune and Xbox) that he gamed the system in order to get it.

And, Hodson admits, there IS a solution to his predicament.

You have to create a whole new Zune profile and Xbox Live account. This means new gamer tags and Zune tags. It means that all your achievements in Xbox Live are history. All your purchases – if you managed to make any – on Zune or Xbox are toast.

But wait – it gets even worse.

Because both your Zune profile and Xbox account are now tied in with your Windows Live ID (your Hotmail account) you will also have to kiss your email account good-bye.

I did some more reading, and learned that the Zune had actually been launched in Canada over two years ago WITHOUT an online store. In a May 7, 2008 article, the CBC explained some of the thorny issues at the time:

Microsoft Corp. is bringing the Zune, its answer to the iPod, to Canada, but the media player's initial launch will be hamstrung by the lack of an accompanying download store.

The company on Tuesday announced the Zune player will be available in stores here on June 13, making Canada the first country outside the United States to get the device. The online Zune marketplace, where device owners can purchase music and video content, however, won't be available on launch....

There are a number of factors that need to be sorted out before the online store can be made available here, said Elana Zur, product manager for Zune in Canada.

But while Zur and others were sorting out those factors, Canadians were figuring out how to get to the Zune Marketplace. Yes, they were. So Hodson isn't the only one who's having to deal with this right now.

Or perhaps I should correct myself, since Canadians don't have to deal with this yet. In its September 20 announcement, Microsoft named a bunch of countries that are getting access to the Zune Marketplace and related services. Canada wasn't in the list.

Zune Marketplace will extend services to several markets in Europe and beyond.

Zune Pass (U.K., France, Italy and Spain). The monthly music subscription service will be available for 9.99 euros /8.99 pounds per month for unlimited download and streaming access to the Zune music catalog and will be accessible on Windows-based PCs, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE. The offer in the U.S. will remain at $14.99 per month for unlimited downloads and streaming access, with the ability to keep 10 MP3s per month.

Music purchase (U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Germany). Expansion to these markets will enable consumers to purchase MP3s and listen on their Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 or any other device that supports MP3 format. Users will also be able to purchase music videos to enjoy on Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune on Xbox LIVE.

Video purchase (U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Consumers will now be able to purchase movies to download and watch anywhere — on the big screen in the living room with Xbox LIVE or their Windows-based PC as well as sync it to their Windows Phone 7 to enjoy on the go.

Movie rental (U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). In addition to Zune video on Xbox LIVE, consumers in these countries will now be able to rent movies for viewing on their Windows-based PC or choose to sync the rental to their Windows Phone 7.

So if you live in Canada and want Zune stuff, you might as well keep on using that 90210 zip code.

Or buy an iPhone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

About the Punch Brothers

I ran across this post by accident (I was doing an ego search and landed on a page that linked to Wendy Bredehoft's former website, which has now been taken over by others), but it definitely looked interesting, so I thought I'd share it here.

Punch Brothers, a band with a style that has been described as introducing bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the structures of modern classical, will perform a free concert Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 8 p.m. in the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences auditorium.

More here, or you can visit

Oh, and as for Wendy Bredehoft, I did some more searching, and it is obvious that the artistic talent that eluded me ended up with her.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh yeah, there was an appreciation event

As I previously noted, I was not at Oracle OpenWorld this year and, other than monitoring a few tweets, I didn't get the full picture of the Appreciation Event at Treasure Island.

In a sense, I didn't miss much, because one of the big attractions at the appreciation event was the ability to read your own tweets on a big screen. Hey, it was a techie crowd.

Oracle also covered the music itself:

On the main stage, Berlin opened with their hits from the 80s plus some modern-sounding new releases. Midway through their set, tiny Terri Nunn hopped onto a roadie's shoulders and took a tour of the audience, happily greeting fans and leading a sing-along.

"Can you believe this?" she asked the crowd. "What a company party ...!"

Berlin was followed by the Black Eyed Peas and Steve Miller, and apparently Miller and Terri Nunn performed a duet.

The alternate stage also had good music, including the English Beat, Montgomery Gentry, and Don Henley. However, apparently there was no Ranking Roger-Don Henley duet.

As I mentioned, I was monitoring tweets during part of the evening, and one of the tweets I saw was a tweet from Larry Wake:

Don Henley opening with 20 minute preso on The Eagles' cloud strategy. #oow10ti

I replied:

@larrywake but i heard that glenn frey was insisting on an ibm cloud solution #oow10ti #oow10

Meanwhile, Accenture is apparently without a celebrity endorser at the moment (or at least a human one), since they dropped the (human) endorser that they had. Obviously Oracle and Accenture are in different worlds when it comes to celebrity endorsements.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's May. It's Stockholm. And the traffic lights are turning blue.

As a lyricist, Jimi Hendrix was with peer. His hippie 60's lyrical musings are not on a par with Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Simon, or others of that decade.

But couple those lyrics with the musical performance, and you have something magical.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was in Stockholm, Sweden in May 1967 and gave a televised performance of "The Wind Cries Mary." In my opinion, it's their best song.

According to various diverse sources, this was recorded at a Swedish TV show called "Popside." But according to this book, the band had other things to worry about - namely, the fact that Stockholm hotels didn't want people looking like them staying in the hotel.

And the wind screamed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

When O.P.M. Sounds Good - Langer, Winstanley, and Buckmaster overwhelm Madness and Elton

Back when I was in college radio, one of the deejays (I've forgotten his last name, but I believe his first name was Paul) would occasionally talk about O.P.M., or Over Produced Music. I don't know if I've really encountered over-produced music (outside of Jeff Lynne's post-ELO work), but I've certainly encountered some HEAVILY-produced songs in my day. Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" comes to mind here.

But then there are some bands that are consistently heavily produced, so that the heavy production becomes associated with the band itself. For example, I was recently listening to the Madness song "Primrose Hill."

If you listen to the song, the most distinctive element of the song, especially toward the end, is the horn arrangement.

Now let me distinguish between horn arrangements that include the band, and horn arrangements that include people outside the band. Chicago's horns were self-contained within the band. Oingo Boingo's horns were self-contained within the band. But when Fleetwood Mac played "Tusk," and Madness played "Primrose Hill," these were peopled who were added to the band.

Now "Tusk" was pretty much a one-off - there's no marching band on "Albatross" - but horns pop up elsewhere in Madness, such as the song "Keep Moving" (brief mention here). It turns out that Madness' producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, kinda sorta liked lots of horns. When discussing a Nitcaps album, this comment was offered.

Sire spent the money where it mattered: top-notch production from Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Madness) and the full-time assistance of the Uptown Horns. (Langer and Winstanley never met a horn they didn’t like.)

But if you want to talk about an artist whose entire sound was shaped by heavy production, take a listen to (most of) the early records of Elton John. That little piano player had a much broader sound on songs like "Your Song," "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," and others, courtesy of the orchestral arrangements of Paul Buckmaster. In fact, in a review of the Elton John self-titled album, John Mendelsohn said that the album succeeded DESPITE Buckmaster.

The major problem with Elton John [the album] is that one has to wade through so much damn fluff to get to Elton John. Here, by the sound of it, arranger Paul Buckmaster's rather pompous orchestra was spliced in as an afterthought to flesh out music that had sufficient muscle to begin with, their choirs and Moogs and strings threaten to obscure Elton's voice and piano, everywhere that they appear at least momentarily diverting the listener's attention therefrom.

Buckmaster's review was dated November 12, 1970. Just five days later, Elton John recorded an absolutely fantastic live album. Forget Buckmaster and everybody else - just three people - Elton on piano, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums - put on an incredible performance. The album, called either 17-11-70 or 11-17-70 depending upon what side of the pond you live on, shows the musical skills of the three-man band, especially the piano player. If you've never heard any of the album, take a listen to this version of "Get Back."

True story - after an incredible and exhausting run of several years, Elton burned out, retreated, occasionally retired, and worked to get his bearings. For a while, the over-the-top piano player seemed to have disappeared. (Luckily, he came back later.) In fact, when I first heard the Double song "The Captain of Her Heart," with its extremely simple piano solo, for some reason (Captain?) I thought it was a new Elton John song, and I thought to myself, "Boy, Elton's hit rock bottom now."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another test post - am I networked here too?

In the same way that I used NetworkedBlogs to publish to my Empoprise-BI business page on Facebook, I should now be using NetworkedBlogs to publish to my Empoprise-MU music page on Facebook.

Or not.

Moby for people who hate AT&T and Herman Melville

I just wrote two (count 'em) posts that were derived from a single video - a post in this Empoprise-MU music blog called People they fall apart, and a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog called People they come together. Both posts are based upon an AT&T Blackberry commercial that included both Herman Melville's Moby Dick and the Moby (Richard Melville Hall) song "We Are All Made of Stars."

But what if you don't like AT&T? (Some people don't.) And what if you don't like Herman Melville? (Some people don't.)

Well, here's an AT&T/Herman-free version of Moby's song. You have to click through to see it; embedding disabled by request, probably because it wasn't posted by a record label.

But the person who did post it, perry8999, provided some helpful information.

("Stars" in order of appearance):
0:10 Moby
0:27 Kato Kaelin
0:44 Verne Troyer
0:51 Corey Feldman
0:59 Todd Bridges & Gary Coleman
1:13 J.C. Chasez
1:17 Dave Navarro
1:25 Sean Bean
1:31 Dominique Swain
1:52 Ron Jeremy
1:57 Thora Birch
2:04 Tommy Lee
2:10 Molly Sims
2:19 Angelyne
2:27 The Toxic Avenger
3:13 Robert Evans

At the time of the video release, MTV posted an article, the meaning of the video, and the celebrities involved. Sadly, one of the two celebrities named below is no longer with us.

All the locations are classic, iconic Hollywood venues: Hollywood Boulevard, seedy strip clubs, bars, tattoo parlors, and, of course, Kinko's. "Places," Moby said, "where normally you'd have debauchery and degeneracy and hedonism happening, but there's a banal side to it. My hope is, through showing the banal side of degenerate Hollywood, there's a sense of humanity to it as well, and we reveal endearing qualities in these iconic figures."

And what better way to illustrate that than with a "Diff'rent Strokes" reunion? "To see Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges together is a fantasy that we've had for a long time," Moby said. "I hope the rest of the world appreciates it just as much as we did. Sitting in Del Taco, watching the two of them sing lyrics to one of my songs, it was really special."

After Gary Coleman's death, Coleman's appearance in this video (and others) was cited as the number one of ten reasons Gary Coleman was cool.

P.S. For those who get confused, it was Corey HAIM who passed away earlier this year, not Corey FELDMAN.

People they fall apart

I'm watching the Bears-Cowboys game right now, and I just saw a commercial that made me put the game on mute (the hated Cowboys are losing anyway, pleasing this Redskins fan), search for the commercial on YouTube, find it, and share it with you.

Now technically I could have put this in my Empoprise-BI business blog and taken one of several angles with it. I could have talked about television, and how companies need to make commercials that are so good that people will put up with bad programs just to see the commercials. I could have talked about the product itself, and how AT&T is emphasizing that they can offer multiple types of phones - perhaps I could have gone into the multi-tasking angle also. Or I could have talked about mashups, the connections between Herman and Richard. Or I could have taken the social media angle, and noted how multiple information sources can be brought together to serve a single purpose.

But instead, I put this in my Empoprise-MU music blog because the music's so cool. And because it has nothing to do with Oracle. (OK, Larry has a yacht...)


[9/19 12:25 PM - MORE ON THE SONG.]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An artful appearance (or how to get pointers for your next job)

I just confirmed via IMDB something that I had read elsewhere regarding a certain person who shared billing with the Beatles.

No, not Tony Sheridan or Billy Preston.

Davy Jones.

Well, technically Jones didn't share billing, since his appearance on episode 17.19 of the Ed Sullivan show was uncredited. You see, Ed Sullivan's show was first and foremost a variety show, and when the Beatles first appeared on the show, they were just one of several acts. For those who have never seen a true variety show before, check out David Bassler's description of that particular episode. In addition to the Beatles:

Dutch comic magician Fred Kaps performs card tricks and a salt shaker stunt, the cast of the Broadway musical "Oliver" performs several numbers and Frank Gorshin does his impression of an imagined committee meeting of the U.S. Senate with its members all famous movie actors. British singer Tessie O'Shea performs three songs, including her hit, "Two-Ton Tessie from Tennessee", the comic team of Mitzi McCall and Charley Brill perform a comic sketch concerning the travails of a Hollywood producer trying to find the right woman for a part in a major motion picture and the comic acrobat team of Wells and the Four Fays perform a number of tumbling stunts.

No, you didn't see Jones' name in that description, but he was there - as part of the cast of "Oliver" (Jones played the Artful Dodger).

And you know what happened next. After his appearance on Sullivan, Jones was signed to Colpix a solo artist. A few months after the "David Jones" album was released without charting, Jones secured the TV job which would bring him a member of the Monkees, a show heavily based upon another of the guests on that February 1964 Ed Sullivan show.

In a 2010 inteview, Jones discussed his impressions of that night, and his time as a 16 year old in New York:

I sang with [Judy Garland] at Carnegie Hall and that was cool. It was all about the time that I was on the Ed Sullivan Show in ’64 – the night the Beatles were on. I did a song from Oliver. That was when I first thought, ‘Ah! Music! It’s good, all these girls! I think I’ll have a piece of that (fame), actually!’ That’s why I got into what I got into.

...Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones was all part of that click and it was like, ‘Goodness gracious, me!’ Years later, David shows up on the lot at Columbia Pictures, he’s in a TV series and his mum there. And he’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness gracious!’

But, as Jones notes, it's been a long time since the Beatles and the Monkees and the Partridge Family and the rest were teen idols.

He (Cassidy) sings, ‘I think I love me, what am so I afraid of?’ Tony Orlando sings, ‘Knock three times on the ceiling if you hear me fall”. Peter Noone singings, ‘Mrs. Brown, you have a lovely walker’. Roberta Flack sings, ‘The first time I ever forgot your face.’ And Willie Nelson’s on the throne again. All this stuff is, like, ridiculous. Ringo Starr sings, ‘I get a little help from Depends.’ It gets crazy. Paul Simon sings, ’50 ways to lose your liver’ and Abba is singing ‘Denture Queen’.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Differences in song sequencing between the audio and video versions of "Thriller"

I've already abused Steven Hodson for this, even though it wasn't his fault.

Hodson recently wrote a post about Microsoft employees celebrating the release of Windows Phone 7. Perhaps you saw my response in my Empoprise-BI business blog entitled "Play at work." You see, the Microsoft employees were in a celebratory mood, and some of them even re-enacted the dance from the video of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

Ever since then, I haven't been able to get the song out of my head.

However, my preferred version of the song is the one that appeared on the record, not the re-sequenced one that appeared on the video. Let me explain the differences.

The version that hit the charts followed a traditional verse-chorus-verse-structure, and then closed with the rap by Vincent Price. The song builds toward this ending rap, with an interjected vocal interlude by Jackson, then the close of Price's rap, which concludes with a horrible (as in horror) laugh.

The video, of course, is arranged a little differently.

In this case, the song had to be re-arranged to fit the story and the dance routine. Because of this, the verses are placed toward the beginning of the performance of the song, with the chorus excluded. Price's rap, which was the ending highlight of the audio song, was instead moved (with Jackson's interlude) to an earlier portion of the video. For the video, the highlight is reserved for the chorus, which is withheld toward the end of the song and serves as the musical background for the famous dance sequence. The VERY last part of the song - Price's laugh - is reserved for the very ending of the video.

One other note about the video version - because of the length of the video, and because of some of the story material (especially the movie-like horror scenes), Jackson's song isn't the only music in the video. Elmer Bernstein "scary music" sequences are also incorporated.

All in all, two different versions of the song, serving two different purposes. But I still like the non-video version better.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lene Lovich, "The Night"

After one of my online friends shared Lene Lovich's Wikipedia biography on FriendFeed, I was moved to find a version of the one Lene Lovich song I remember - "The Night."