Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the low spark of high heeled boys

Traffic's newly expanded lineup focused their live energies into the studio without Dave Mason but with more than a little blind faith. The trio of remaining original members Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi were joined by Ric Grech on bass and violin, Jim Gordon on drums, Rebop Kwaku Baah on percussion. 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys' was produced by Winwood at Island Studios in London. It went gold, hitting number seven on the US album chart and went on to sell over a million copies.

Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood co-wrote the disillusioned title track. According to Capaldi: "Pollard and I would sit around writing lyrics all day, talking about Bob Dylan and the Band, thinking up ridiculous plots for the movie. Before I left Morocco, Pollard wrote in my book 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.' For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The 'Low Spark,' for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The 'Low Spark' meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level."

"The percentage you're paying is too high-priced,
While you're living beyond all your means.
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
From the profit he's made on your dreams
But today you just read that the man was shot dead
By a gun that didn't make any noise.
But it wasn't the bullet that laid him to rest,
Was the low spark of high-heeled boys."

'Light Up or Leave Me Alone'

"Sometimes I feel like I'm fading away
You're looking at me, I've got nothing to say
Don't make me angry with the games that you play
Either light up or leave me alone"


'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys' 
full album:

Side 1
"Hidden Treasure" (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) – 4:16
"The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) – 11:35
"Light Up or Leave Me Alone" (Jim Capaldi) – 4:55
Side 2
"Rock & Roll Stew" (Ric Grech, Jim Gordon) – 4:29
"Many a Mile to Freedom" (Steve Winwood, Anna Capaldi) – 7:26
"Rainmaker" (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) – 7:39

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

you keep me hanging on

The Supremes had their eighth chart-topper with another Holland–Dozier–Holland production. The legendary songwriting team wrote, arranged, and produced 'You Keep Me Hanging On' over nine multi-tracked sessions with the Supremes and Motown house band the Funk Brothers. Lamont Dozier says that although they were going for a rock sound for the song, "All the songs started out as slow ballads, but when we were in the studio we'd pick up the tempo. The songs had to be fast because they were for teenagers - otherwise it would have been more like something for your parents. The emotion was still there, it was just under cover of the optimism that you got from the up-tempo beat." Dozier came up the staccato guitar line, which was inspired by a news flash radio signal. It was played by Robert White.

According to Dozier,'You Keep Me Hanging On' was about a girl complaining about the guys fooling around and we knew all about that because that was what we did. We considered ourselves to be playboys. If you didn't have two or three girls in those days you looked like a wuss." The song went to number one on the US pop and R&B charts, and made it to number eight in the UK.

Set me free, why don't cha babe
Get out my life, why don't cha babe
'Cause you don't really love me
You just keep me hangin' on
You don't really need me
But you keep me hangin' on

Why do you keep a coming around
Playing with my heart?
Why don't you get out of my life
And let me make a new start?
Let me get over you
The way you've gotten over me

Set me free, why don't cha babe
Let me be, why don't cha babe
'Cause you don't really love me
You just keep me hangin' on
Now you don't really want me
You just keep me hangin' on

You say although we broke up
You still wanna be just friends
But how can we still be friends
When seeing you only breaks my heart again
And there ain't nothing I can do about it

Woo, set me free, why don't cha babe
Woo, get out my life, why don't cha babe
Set me free, why don't cha babe
Get out my life, why don't cha babe

You claim you still care for me
But your heart and soul needs to be free
Now that you've got your freedom
You wanna still hold on to me
You don't want me for yourself
So let me find somebody else Hey!

Why don't you be a man about it
And set me free
Now you don't care a thing about me
You're just using me
Go on, get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night
'Cause you don't really love me
You just keep me hangin' on...

Monday, November 28, 2011


For his eighth album Michael Jackson changed producers, embraced New Jack Swing, and debuted at number one. When Michael told Quincy Jones he wanted to try a different producer, Jones recommended Teddy Riley, who had pioneered the hip-hop jazz hybrid of New Jack Swing with his band Guy. He also worked with other producers like Bruce Swedien and Bill Bottrell. Jackson spent sixteen months recording 'Dangerous' in Los Angeles. During that time, he played demos of the song for executives at Sony, who had bought CBS and its subsidiary Epic after he had released 'Bad' in 1987. This led to a major deal for six albums over fifteen years that eventually earned Jackson over two hundred million dollars. The album yielded nine singles over two years; topped album charts in Australia, Brazil, and Norway, making it debut at number one in the UK and the US; won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, and has sold over thirty-two million copies worldwide.

"Jam" hit number one in Spain. The video was directed by Michael Jackson along with David Kellogg with appearances by Michael Jordan and Kriss Kross.

"In the Closet" (featuring Mystery Girl) was a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks charts. Guest vocalist Mystery Girl was later revealed to be Princess Stéphanie of Monaco. Herb Ritts directed the video with supermodel Naomi Campbell in the desert in Palm Springs.

"Remember the Time" reached number one in New Zealand and on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. John Singleton directed the nine-minute video with Eddie Murphy, supermodel Iman and Magic Johnson.

"Heal the World" reached number one in Spain. It led to the creation of the Heal The World Foundation which focuses on the health and development of children around the world.

"Who Is It" made it to number one on U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. The video was directed by David Fincher.

"Give in to Me" (featuring Slash) was a number one hit in New Zealand; it was not released in North America. The video features Slash and was filmed in Germany in front of a live audience.

"Will You Be There" (Theme from Free Willy) peaked at number two in New Zealand.

"Gone Too Soon" reached number three on Zimbabwean charts. The song was dedicated to the memory of Jackson's friend Ryan White, who had been expelled from his school for having HIV/AIDS. White is featured in the music video directed by Bill DiCicco. "Gone Too Soon" was released on December 1, 1993, on World AIDS Day of 1993. It was the last single released from the album.

full album:

All songs written and produced by  Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley, except where noted.

1. "Jam" (featuring Heavy D) (Michael Jackson, René Moore, Bruce Swedien, Teddy Riley) Jackson, Riley, Swedien 5:39

2. "Why You Wanna Trip on Me"   (Riley, Bernard Belle)  5:24
3. "In the Closet" (featuring Princess Stéphanie of Monaco) 6:32
4. "She Drives Me Wild" (featuring Wreckx-n-Effect) (rap lyrics by Aqil Davidson)  3:42
5. "Remember the Time"   (Riley, Jackson, Belle) 4:01
6. "Can't Let Her Get Away"   4:59
7. "Heal the World"   (Jackson) Jackson, Swedien 6:25
8. "Black or White" (featuring L.T.B.) (Jackson, Bill Bottrell) Jackson, Bottrell 4:16
9. "Who Is It"   (Jackson) Jackson, Bottrell 6:35
10. "Give In to Me" (featuring Slash) (Jackson, Bottrell) Jackson, Bottrell 5:30
11. "Will You Be There" (Theme from Free Willy) (Jackson) Jackson, Swedien  7:41
12. "Keep the Faith" (featuring The Andraé Crouch Singers) (Glen Ballard, Siedah Garrett, Jackson) Jackson, Swedien 5:57
13. "Gone Too Soon"   (Larry Grossman, Buz Kohan) Jackson, Swedien 3:22
14. "Dangerous"   (Jackson, Bottrell, Riley) 7:00

Sunday, November 27, 2011

strong persuader

Robert Cray became a star with this persuasive fusion of blues with rock and soul.

He remembers: "That record hit, and 'Smoking Gun' was all over the radio — we'd never heard our stuff on the radio. Then we're making videos and all that. Here we are, this R&B and blues band, and all of a sudden we're on the national scene. It was a breakthrough, and it was incredible."

'Strong Persuader' was recorded in Los Angeles Bruce Bromberg with Dennis Walker at Sage & Sound and Haywood's. Cray didn't shy away from modern recording techniques and his unique sound helped to expand the audience of blues music.

"When that came out I had been thinking that we couldn’t work any harder than we’d been working. That came out in ’86 or ’87 and we’d been going to Europe for a couple years. When 'Persuader' came out and it hit, we were already tired. But, it was good. We were working. The 'Bad Influence' and 'False Accusations' albums took us all over Europe and that was cool. Then the 'Persuader' album came out and all of a sudden the crowds got huge! It got scary, but it was fun! We had that period when we were playing the occasional coliseum gig. That was a big rush for a bar band to go to a coliseum. It was funny!"

'Strong Persuader' went to number thirty-four in the UK and thirteen in the US. It sold double platinum and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

"'Smokin Gun' is so simple, such a simple song and was so spontaneous. Bruce [Bromberg, producer/songwriter] came into the studio with the words, and Richard [Cousins, bassist] and I just started playing", recalls Cray. It made it to number twenty two on the Billboard 100 and number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

"Right Next Door (Because Of Me)" (Walker, Cray)

"Nothin' but a Woman (featuring The Memphis Horns)" (Cousins, Cray, Boe, Bromberg, Olson)