Monday, April 30, 2012

solitude standing

New York folk poet Suzanne Vega added a little textured gloss to her sound and drew on a mix of old and new songs for her triumphant sophomore album. ‘Solitude Standing’ was produced by Lenny Kaye and Steve Addabbo at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock and RPM Sound Studios in New York City. Vega recalls: “I think Steve and Lenny, who did both ‘Suzanne Vega’ and ‘Solitude Standing’ together, were inexperienced. We were all sort of hashing it out in the studio, so when I listen to those records, even though they were the most successful ones, I’m not always that happy with how they all came out.” In any case, the pop production did make her more accessible and launched her into the public eye. ‘Solitude Standing’ was a worldwide hit, going to number eleven in the US, eight in Switzerland, seven in Australia, six in Germany, two in the UK, and number one in New Zealand. The album was nominated for three Grammys including Record of the Year and went platinum in the US and the UK.

"Tom's Diner" was written 1981 while Vega was eating at Tom's Restaurant on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street in New York City, which is the same restaurant depicted as Monk’s Café in ‘Seinfeld’. The acappella album version was a top thirty hit in Ireland.

The song became a hit in 1990 when British production duo DNA remixed it with a beat. Rather than sue, Vega and A&M decided to release it as a single. It became a worldwide smash going to number five in the US, number two in the UK, and topped the charts in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

"Luka" was written in 1984 and became an unlikely hit around the world, going to number three on the US pop chart. “It was a big surprise to write a song like 'Luka' that became so popular in part because it was written from the perspective of a boy being abused by his parents... Maybe at that moment it touched a nerve in society that the other songs didn’t, at least not in such a widespread way. I got a lot of letters from people in child abuse agencies complaining to me about “Luka,” saying that I’d written it “incorrectly” and that the correct thing to do is empower the child rather than make him feel bad. I didn’t follow that way of thinking about the issue. Because they made me so angry, I kept those letters for a while before throwing them away. My correspondents wanted me for a cause and felt I hadn’t expressed myself according to their rules.”

"Solitude Standing" was co-written by Vega, Michael Visceglia, Anton Sanko, Marc Shulman, Stephen Ferrera.

“Solitude stands in the doorway
And I'm struck once again by her black silhouette
By her long cool stare and her silence
I suddenly remember each time we've met
And she turns to me with her hand extended
Her palm is split with a flower with a flame
And she says ‘I've come to set a twisted thing straight’
And she says ‘I've come to lighten this dark heart’
And she takes my wrist, I feel her imprint of fear
And I say ‘I've never thought of finding you here’”

"Calypso" was written in 1978. “It was my first year in college and I was taking this Humanities course, and one of the first things we had to read was Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ and I remember being struck by the whole situation. I had a boyfriend at the time that would call me ‘Circe’ as a nickname to annoy me, and it did annoy me. And I don’t feel I’m like Circe, I’m not turning anybody into swine. If I’m like any goddess around here, I suppose I’m more like Calypso, because he was always leaving. So that’s what goaded me into writing the song.”

Vega co-wrote ‘Language’ with Visceglia.

Written in 1978, “‘Gypsy’ was a sincere love song to a man that I was involved with. I still feel myself to be the narrator of that song.”

‘Solitude Standing’ 

full album:

All songs written by Suzanne Vega in 1986–87 except as noted

"Tom's Diner" – 2:09 (written 1981)
"Luka" – 3:52 (written 1984)
"Ironbound/Fancy Poultry" (Vega, Anton Sanko) – 6:19
"In the Eye" (Vega, Marc Shulman) – 4:16
"Night Vision" (Vega, Sanko) – 2:47
"Solitude Standing" (Vega, Visceglia, Sanko, Shulman, Stephen Ferrera) – 4:49
"Calypso" – 4:14 (written 1978)
"Language" (Vega, Visceglia) – 3:57
"Gypsy" – 4:04 (written 1978) Produced by Steve Addabbo, Lenny Kaye and Mitch Easter
"Wooden Horse (Caspar Hauser’s Song)" (Vega, Visceglia, Sanko, Shulman, Ferrera) – 5:13
"Tom's Diner (Reprise)" – 2:40 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

shoot out the lights

Richard and Linda Thompson hit the end of their road together and found their greatest acclaim in the powerful personal reflections of this metaphorical masterpiece.  Most of the songs on 'Shoot Out the Lights' were written during their tour for 'Sunnyvista' as the opening act for Gerry Rafferty.  They had lost their contract with Crysalis Records and recorded some demos on their own at Woodworm Studios in Oxfordshire.  Rafferty financed and produced sessions at  Chipping Norton Recording Studios in Oxfordshire and lost about thirty thousand pounds trying to shop it around to record companies.  The Thompsons were not happy with the Rafferty recordings.  Richard recalls Rafferty's domineering attitude in the studio:  "If I said something it was totally ignored and I thought 'hey, whose record is this anyway?'" When Joe Boyd signed them to his independent Hannibal a year later, they were all too happy to make new recordings with him at Olympic Studios in London.  Linda, who was pregnant at the time, had breathing trouble and couldn't sing some of the songs.  Still, she says 'Shoot Out the Lights' "took two days to record."  Richard went on a small tour before the album was released and developed a relationship with his promoter Nancy Covey.  By the time 'Shoot Out the Lights' came out, the Thompsons were separated.  They toured together and the album was a critical success; but their marriage and professional partnership had come to an end.  

"Don't Renege on Our Love"

"Walking on a Wire"

"Just the Motion"

"Shoot Out the Lights"

"Wall of Death"

'Shoot Out the Lights' 
full album:

All songs written by Richard Thompson except as noted.

Side one
"Don't Renege on Our Love" – 4:19
"Walking on a Wire" – 5:29
"Man in Need" – 3:36
"Just the Motion" – 6:19
Side two
"Shoot Out the Lights" – 5:24
"Back Street Slide" – 4:33
"Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?" (Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson) – 4:52
"Wall of Death" – 3:43

Saturday, April 28, 2012

donny hathaway live

Donny Hathaway recorded this funky and energetic soul classic at two concerts on opposite sides of the country. Side one of ‘Live’ comes from a show at the Troubadour in Hollywood, and side two from a performance at the the Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. His backing band included R&B stars like Willie Weeks on bass, Fred White on drums, Mike Howard on guitar, and Earl DeRouen on percussion. Phil Upchurch played lead guitar in Hollywood, while Cornell Dupree took lead guitar for the Manhattan show. Ray Thompson did the recording at the Troubadour and Tom Fly engineered at the Bitter End. The jams and solos sizzle and Hathaway’s instrumental prowess is just as impressive as his vocals. ‘Live’ went gold in the US, hitting number eighteen on the album chart and number four on the R&B chart.

soulwalking/Donny Hathaway

'The Ghetto' was written by Hathaway with Leroy Hutson.  The playing on this version is stellar.

'Put Your Hand in the Hand'

full album:

Side one
"What's Goin' On" (Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye) – 5:18
"The Ghetto" (Donny Hathaway, Leroy Hutson) – 12:08
"Hey Girl" (Earl DeRouen) – 4:03
"You've Got a Friend" (Carole King) – 4:34
Side two
"Little Ghetto Boy" (Derouen, Eddy Howard) – 4:29
"We're Still Friends" (Hathaway, Watts) – 5:12
"Jealous Guy" (John Lennon) – 3:08
"Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)" (Richard Evans, Philip Upchurch, Ric Powell) – 13:47

Friday, April 27, 2012

never let me down


David Bowie spent a year in Switzerland writing and recording this diverse and casual collection of styles and themes. ‘Never Let Me Down’ was his attempt to get back to a guitar rock sound. Bowie says he worked with Iggy Pop as a way to pass the time: “He and his wife come over a lot, we go skiing together. So we thought it's be a good idea to occupy our time in the evenings. I took up a 4-track and some guitars, a drum machine, and we started writing up in the mountains. It just worked really well. I wrote all through last ski season.” Bowie recorded demos with Turkish multi-instrumentalist Erdal Kızılçay before going into Queen’s the Mountain Studios in Montreux with producer David Richards. Carlos Alomar and Peter Frampton were brought in later. Bowie did not want to focus on any one particular sound: “That was the intention. The album is a reflection of all the styles of writing I've used over the last few years. I had a lot more material than I used. I could have presented a whole surreal album, one with a sort of scrambled-egg theme, or one that was very direct, with each song being very personal; it all sounded like overload on one particular thematic device. I wanted an overall feeling of how I'm writing these days, and it seems to be in all those areas. It's quite stimulating to go from one very personalized interior kind of song, and become more expansive and objective and a little more surreal on another. I'm, not much good at cohesiveness! Something always breaks down somewhere. In this particular album the breakdown is that there is no continuity of style. I guess that reflects my musical tastes. I like all kinds of music.”

‘Day-In Day-Out’ was a commentary on the treatment of the homeless in America. The video was banned in many places. Bowie says: “We asked the LA police to work with us and they did very happily. We wanted to indicate how some of the houses for the homeless are removed, so we asked them to bring along the kind of contraption they use... it's kind of like a tank with a big battering ram on the end of it. And on the end of the battering ram they've made a little joke. As it goes through the windows it goes ‘Have a nice day.’ And I pointed out that it would be in the video and they said they were only too pleased to keep it on, so they kept it on. Is that controversial? I don't know."

‘Time Will Crawl’ was inspired by the Chernobyl accident: “It was a beautiful day and we were outside on a small piece of lawn facing the Alps and the lake. Our engineer, who had been listening to the radio, shot out of the studio and shouted: ‘There’s a whole lot of shit going on in Russia.' The Swiss news had picked up a Norwegian radio station that was screaming—to anyone who would listen—that huge billowing clouds were moving over from the Motherland and they weren’t rain clouds.”

‘Never Let Me Down’ was a last-minute addition to the album with Bowie asking Carlos Alomar to see what he could do with the “funeral” piece. Alomar used chords from his own song ‘I’m Tired’ to revitalize the song.

Bowie saw ‘Zeroes’ as “stripping away all the meanness of rock and coming back to the spirit with which one entered the thing. It’s the ultimate happy-go-lucky rock tune, based in the nonsensical period of psychedelia. So it’s a naivete song about rock, using a lot of cliches.”

The theatrical ‘Glass Spider’ evokes the whimsical Bowie of yore: “I was fascinated by the fact that the black widow spider does lay out its victims' skeletons on a web. I found that out a few months ago; it came up in some documentary on television. I just took it from there. I have this thing about spiders representing motherhood-play around with that one! I always saw spiders as being a maternal thing, and I wanted to have an all-encompassing motherhood song: How one is released from the mother and then left on one' sown, and you have to get by on your instincts. I wanted to develop the fable of the black widow spider, transform it. The reference to glass is obviously fitted. Putting the two together, "glass spider" reminds me of castles and something almost Chinese. Imagine this layer of webs like a castle; it moves from room to room and had a kind of altar at the top. It's fabricating a mock mythology. The subtext for that one was motherhood: being abandoned by one's mother, which is inevitable.”

‘Shining Star (Makin' My Love)’ features a rap by Mickey Rourke. Bowie says it’s about “how people are trying to get together in the face of so many disasters and catastrophes, socially around them, never knowing if they’re going to survive it themselves. The one thing they have got to cling on to is each other.”

‘Bang Bang’ was written years before by Iggy Pop with Ivan Kral, who said it was “about the emancipation of women.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

time and tide

Split Enz reached their high water mark with this tense and passionate pop reflection of their homeland, success, and different personal crises of the band. ‘Time and Tide’ was composed in the wake of a triumphant tour while the members of the band were feeling the pressure. Tim Finn had a nervous breakdown: “I was going through a lot of stuff; I had broken up after a long relationship and I was feeling the mixture of guilt and terror and sadness and whatever that you go through . It was a hard time and Neil was there for me.” Neil Finn remembers: “I suddenly found myself in an unfamiliar position of needing to be there for Tim. And offer support at a time when he was quite fragile where up til them it had been the older brother younger brother relationship where he has really kind of nurtured me, I suppose.” Tim says: “It was really good for us as brothers we hadn’t done any cliff climbing since we were kids. We were climbing up cliffs and just sort of hanging out together. He saw that side of me, that vulnerable side, I suppose. It probably shocked him a bit cause I’d been a bit of a hero figure for so long. No one wants to be a hero figure particularly; but it’s so disappointing when you’re shown that feet of clay. But it also brought us really close.“ Eddie Rayner was also going through a crisis after an experience with a local witch: “It was such an intense time for me…this thing hit me; it was almost physical.  It was like my whole psyche at that time was being invaded by some evil maleficent sort of force…as instantly as it came it was gone about twelve hours later. I went through months and months, in fact years, of trying to find out what it was; because it kept recurring.   It could occur at any time, even on stage...Even thinking about it now, I get a little uneasy; but you learn to control these things."

The band decided to work with a new producer Hugh Padgham who flew to Australia to record with them. The sessions were loose and unrehearsed, with the band trying to capture their live sound in the studio. The result is some, jerky pop, funky folk, and conceptual sea shanties. ‘Time and Tide’ became the band’s third number one album in their native New Zealand as well as in Australia; and won the band numerous awards. It hit fifty-eight in the US and seventy-one in the UK.


‘Dirty Creature’ was co-written by Neil Finn, Tim Finn & Nigel Griggs. It was about Tim’s nervous breakdown. The single reached number three in New Zealand and number six in Australia.

“Dirty creature knows my type, found it in a magazine
He's seen the look of fear before splattered all over the screen
The animal magnet thug draws me out of myself
I need a dragon-slayer who can save me from myself
I don't wanna sail, I don't wanna sail
I don't wanna set sail for the middle of nowhere tonight
Dirty creature's got me at a disadvantage from the inside

I don't wanna sail upon the waters of invention tonight”

‘Giant Heartbeat‘ was composed by Neil Finn & Griggs. 
 “Sun up sun down fade to a lookalike
Hearts and souls move together in time
If anybody’s listening the giant heartbeat is fading”

 Neil wrote ‘Hello Sandy Allen’ about the tallest woman in the world at the time. In New Zealand, it was the third single released from the album; but did not chart.

In Australia, Tim‘s ‘Never Ceases to Amaze Me’ was the third single. It made it to number fifty. This video is so embarrassing for the band that they left it off their video collection.

Neil’s ‘Take a Walk’ starts off side two.

Rayner’s instrumental ‘Pioneer’ segues into ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ which went to number seven in New Zealand and number two in Australia. In the UK, the song was initially popular; but was banned because officials thought it was making reference to the Falklands conflict going on at the time.

“When I was a young boy
I wanted to sail around the world
That's the life for me, living on the sea
Spirit of a sailor, circumnavigates the globe
The lust of a pioneer, will acknowledge no frontier
I remember you by, thunderclap in the sky
Lightning flash, tempers flare,
'round the horn if you dare
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Lucky just to keep afloat”


‘Time and Tide’ 

full album:

"Dirty Creature" (Neil Finn, Tim Finn & Nigel Griggs) – 4:02
"Giant Heartbeat" (N. Finn & Griggs) – 3:57
"Hello Sandy Allen" (N. Finn) – 3:51
"Never Ceases to Amaze Me" (T. Finn) – 3:06
"Lost for Words" (N. Finn, T. Finn & Griggs) – 3:02
"Small World" (T. Finn) – 3:37
"Take a Walk" (N. Finn) – 3:37
"Pioneer" (Eddie Rayner) – 1:32
"Six Months in a Leaky Boat" (T. Finn & Split Enz) – 4:21
"Haul Away" (T. Finn) – 2:27
"Log Cabin Fever" (N. Finn) – 4:36
"Make Sense of It" (Noel Crombie, T. Finn, N. Finn, Griggs & Rayner) – 3:40

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


 Kris Kross made a sudden leap into the spotlight with this wiggity, wiggity, wiggity wack hip-hop jam. Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly and Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith were only twelve and thirteen years old respectively when were discovered in an Atlanta mall by Jermaine Dupri. Dupri got them signed to Ruffhouse Records, then wrote and produced all of the songs for their debut album ‘Totally Krossed Out’. Their first single ‘Jump’ was the fastest selling single in fifteen years and topped the US pop chart for eight weeks. It also hit number one on the US rap chart, the Eurochart, and in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, and Switzerland; and was a top five hit all over the world. The album went to the top of the album chart and sold over four million copies.

Jump, jump, you know, you should know that
Kris Kross is not having anything today
As we stand there totally krossed out
We commence to make you

Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
Don't try to compare us to another bad little fad
I'm the mac and I'm bad give you something that you never had
I'll make ya bump, bump wiggle and shake your rump
'Cause I'll be kicking the flavor that makes you wanna jump
How high? Real high 'cause I'm just so fly
A young lovable, hugable type of guy
And everything is to the back with a little slack
'Cause inside-out is wiggity, wiggity, wiggity wack
I come stompin' with somethin' pumpin' to keep you jumpin'
R&B, rappin' bull crap is what I'm dumpin'
Ain't nothin' sucker about Kris Kross, we all that
So when they ask, "Do they rock?" Believe that
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
I like my stuff knockin'
I love it when a girl is like jockin'
The D-A double-D-Y M-A-C yeah you know me
I got you jumpin' and bumpin' and pumpin', movin' all around G
In the mix, I make you take a step back
They try to step to the Mac then they got jacked
To the back you'll be fortin' again, is that coincidental?
And like you know it, don't be claiming that it's mental

Two lil' kids with a flow you ain't ever heard
And none faking you can understand every word
As you listen to my cool, smooth melody
The Daddy makes you J-U-M-P
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
Now, the formalities of this and that
Is that Kris Kross ain't comin' off wack
And for all y'all suckas that don't know
Check it out

Some of them try to rhyme but they can't rhyme like this
Some of them try to rhyme but they can't rhyme like this
Some of them try to rhyme but they can't rhyme like this
Some of them try to rhyme but they can't
'Cause I'm the miggity, miggity, miggity, miggity Mac Daddy
Miggity, miggity, miggity, miggity Mac
'Cause I'm the miggity, miggity, miggity, miggity Mac Daddy
Miggity, miggity, miggity, miggity Mac
I make you wanna
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump
Jump, jump
The Mac Dad will make you, jump, jump
Daddy Mac will make you, jump, jump
Kris Kross will make you jump, jump