Saturday, November 30, 2013

briefcase full of blues

The Blues Brothers started a blues revival when they opened up their 'Briefcase Full of Blues'.  John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd developed their characters "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues as part of the sketch comedy variety show 'Saturday Night Live'.  Aykroyd says the idea began early on in his relationship with Belushi when he brought him to a small blues club he ran in Toronto:    "So we're sitting there…the windows all fogged up, and John listens and says, 'Hey, what's that music?  Well, I say, 'John, that's a local blues band,' and he said, 'Wow, that's great.' 'Well, it's just local…you come from Chicago, which is the home of the blues.' But John said he was into heavy metal, and I said, 'Well, you can teach me 'bout that, and I'll teach you about the blues.'  So we started listening to this record, and Howard Shore says, 'Yeah, you guys should start a group. You could call yourselves the Blues Brothers.' So that early, even back then, before we went to 'Saturday Night Live' and were hired there, we were thinking about doing a band together."  A year later, when they were reunited in New York, John told Dan:  "'Hey, remember when we were in Toronto and we were talking about doing some music? Well, I got these blues albums...Oh, yeah....He said we should pick a couple of songs…. 'You could play harp, I could sing.'  I said, 'Who's going to back us up?' and he said, 'Ah, we'll figure that out.'…So we began together to figure out songs we could do effectively that wouldn't sound too bad...So we got the suits from Lenny Bruce, ("just to fool the straights") the shades and hat came from a record that John Lee Hooker had called House of the Blues.  All of a sudden, we had material that we could do. We had a look. So how and where were we going to play?"      Willie Nelson and his band were playing at New York's Lone Star Café and invited the Blues Brothers down and they would back them up:  "We did five songs the first night, and it was a big hit; and the next night it was a bigger hit and the next night it was an even bigger hit. We did three nights, with the briefcase on the arm, and John would unlock it and out would come the harmonica…we thought to ourselves, We really have something here."

Belushi revealed:    "It's really strange.  I used to play drums in bands in Wheaton. Stones-Beatles stuff. It was the most fun I've ever had, playing parties and garages. Then this concert happens and it's like living out your fantasy. I never even listened to the blues. Shit, I listened to more Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in one week...Even though I grew up in Chicago and I guess it was all around me, I didn't really hear it. Not until I was in Eugene [Oregon] last year shooting 'Animal House'...There were a lot of rainy nights with nothing to do and this guy I met there, Curtis Salgado, began playing me all this music. It was fucking unbelievable. I was starving for it and Curtis kept asking me if I was really interested. Interested. I couldn't stop playing the stuff! Magic Sam, Lightnin' Hopkins, Junior Wells--I walked around playing that shit all the time. I bought hundreds of records and singles. And then I knew Danny had played the harp in Canada, and I always could sing, so we created the Blues Brothers...The music we play--Stax, and Chicago blues--all of it is music we like to listen to. I just can't handle all the pre-programmed, processed fuckin' disco. There's no feeling in that shit. Our music isn't perfect but it's emotional...We have to play this or we can't hear it.! And it really should be heard. There just aren't that many places you can go and see the blues any more."

'Briefcase Full of Blues' was recorded live at the Universal Amphitheater, L.A. when the group opened for Steve Martin.  The album was produced by Bob Tischler with Paul Shaffer as musical director and features John Belushi as Joliet Jake Blues on lead vocals and Dan Aykroyd as Elwood Blues on harmonica and lead vocals on "Rubber Biscuit";   with Paul "The Shiv" Shaffer on hammond organ, wurlitzer electric piano and acoustic piano; Steve "The Colonel" Cropper and Matt ""Guitar" Murphy on guitar; Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass guitar; Steve "Getdwa" Jordan on drums; Lou "Big Lou" Marini and Tom "Triple Scale" Scott on tenor sax; Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin on trumpet; and Tom "Bones" Malone on tenor sax, baritone sax, trombone, and trumpet.  Horns were arranged by Tom Malone and background vocals by Elwood Blues, Steve Jordan, Lou Marini, Tom Malone, Al Rubin, Tom Scott and Paul Shaffer. 

'Briefcase Full of Blues'  reached number one on the Billboard 200 and went double platinum, spawning two top forty hits and eventually inspiring a motion picture.  The album was dedicated to Curtis Salgado. 

King Bee on SNL on January 17, 1976

The Blues Brothers - King Bee by OReily0201

Hey Bartender

'B' Movie Boxcar Blues

Soul Man

Blues Brothers- Soul Man (SNL) from Cole Williams on Vimeo.

'The Blues Brothers' motion picture features musical performances from James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker.   .  The album was dedicated to Curtis Salgado.

'Briefcase Full of Blues'

full album:

1. Opening: I Can't Turn You Loose (Otis Redding) (0:00) 

2. Hey Bartender (Floyd Dixon) (1:49)
3. Messin' With The Kid (Mel London) (4:50)
4. (I Got Everything I Need) Almost (Donnie Walsh) (8:26)
5. Rubber Biscuit (Charles Johnson and Adam R. Levy) (11:16)
6. Shot Guns Blues (Donnie Walsh) (14:14)
7. Groove Me (King Floyd) (19:38)
8. I Don't Know (Willie Mabon) (23:24)
9. Soul Man (Isaac Hayes and David Porter) (27:40)
10. "'B' Movie Box Car Blues" (Delbert McClinton) (31:08)
11. Flip, Flop, And Fly (Charles E. Calhoun and Lou Willie Turner) (35:16)
12. Closing: I Can't Turn You Loose (Otis Redding) (38:55)

'Briefcase Full of Blues' 
liner notes by Miami Mitch Glazer:   
"Jake had a vision. It was his, the only real one he'd ever had, and he clung to it. There had been too many messy gas station holdups with only some green stamps and a case of Valvoline to show for the risk. Joliet Jake had always been full of schemes. But this was different; it played across his tiled cell wall 24 hours a day. And the ending was always the same – Jake and his younger brother Elwood cruising out of Calumet City, Ill., with the sun in their shades and a full tank of gas. He absentmindedly rubbed his Buddha belly; even on a diet of jail food and Chesterfields, Jake had gained weight. Someday they’d have a penthouse on Lake Shore Drive … float around with bourbons and blonds. It was out there for the taking and Jake could smell it like ozone in damp air.
It had always been the blues. Even back in the Rock Island City orphanage (that sweaty kid factory with the black windows) Jake and Elwood were saved by the music. actually, saved by a gray-haired janitor everybody called Curtis. He wore these sinister midnight shades, a narrow black tie and a porkpie hat that he kept pushed back on his head. Curtis wrapped his waxy brown hands around his guitar neck and played the most dangerous blues this side of Robert Johnson. The nuns scorched their days with holy threats and Curtis rescued them by night. Down in the coolness of his basement he taught the brothers the blues.
Silent Elwood never did put more than two sentences together, but all those lost words burned from his Special 20 blues harp. And Joliet tore that voice from some hidden darkness, twisting his chubby body, snarling at the heavens, a born sinner. They used the basement because it was secret and because the echo gave them a nice dirty sound: Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walker, slapping like a bad dream around the chilly room. and then one night, Jake brought in a gleaming E string he said came from Elmore James’ guitar. He held it tight and as it glowed in the bulb light, Jake sliced Elwood’s middle finger and then his own. Now the solo boys with soul in their blood were brothers. Jake and Elwood Blues … the Blues Brothers.
When Jake could keep himself out of jail, Elwood took off from the Taser factory and the brothers rode the state bare. They played everywhere: after-hours clubs, black-light bars. Word spread quietly across the steel belt about the two men in the porkpie hats who still played the blues. And soon other musicians crawled out of the night. The Colonel showed up in Decatur with his Telecaster and Duck. The Shiv, Mr. Fabulous, Blue Lou, Bones, Triple Scale, and crazy Getdwa strutted in one Saturday night. Finally, Guitar Murphy, bigger than life, joined up and they were set. One scary soul band as mean and righteous as a fist."

Friday, November 29, 2013


Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi
(15 May 1567  – 29 November 1643)

This innovative Italian composer and Catholic priest pioneered the transition from the Renaissance style to the Baroque.  Born in Cremona, Lombardy, Monteverdi studied under Marc'Antonio Ingegneri, the maestro di cappella at the Cathedral of Cremona as a member of the cathedral choir and composed his first published music at the age of fifteen.

He became proficient on the viola da gamba and worked at the court of Vincenzo I of Gonzaga in Mantua as a vocalist and musician; eventually becoming the court conductor.   Monteverdi married the court singer Claudia Cattaneo, who died eight years later.  He became dissatisfied with his compensation; and, by 1613, he had taken a prestigious position at San Marco in Venice as conductor.   He worked at St. Mark's Cathedral for the rest of his life. 

 In 1632, he became a priest; but he continued to compose until his death in Venice.  Monteverdi helped to popularize opera and developed two distinct compositional styles: his prima pratica of Renaissance polyphony and his seconda pratica of the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque. 

Vespro Della Beata Vergine (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin).

Cruda Amarilli was singled out by Giovanni Artusi in his criticism the "crudities" and "license" of the modern style of composing.  Monteverdi proposed separating musical practice into prima pratica, and seconda pratica. 

La Venexiana - O Mirtillo, O Mirtill'anima mia from The Quinto Libro (Fifth Book) of Madrigals.  The Fifth Book was conceived as a response to Artusi.

La Favola d’Orfeo (The Legend of Orpheus)—an opera.


L’Arianna (Ariadne)—an opera.

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to His Country)—an opera.

L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea)—an opera.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

astral weeks

Van Morrison ventured in the slipstream and found revelation and redemption in the free form transcendental jazz poetry of this magical confessional vision quest.  Having seen none of the money from his big hit 'Brown Eyed Girl', Morrison grew increasingly discouraged with Bert Berns and Bang Records and sought more freedom in the studio.  Things got worse for Morrison after Berns died from a heart attack and his wife, who inherited the contract, blamed Morrison for his death.   She contacted the office of  Immigration and Naturalization Services and refused to let him go into the studio.  New York clubs would not book him out of fear that they would be sued.  Morrison escaped deportation by marrying his girlfriend  Janet (Planet) Rigsbee and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he found work in local clubs.  He began experimenting with a more acoustic sound with Berklee School of Music student Tom Kielbania on upright bass.  Kielbania invited jazz-trained flautist John Payne to join their jam sessions; and Morrison invited Payne to play on his new album.  Warner Brother Records offered him a record deal; but they had to buy out his contract with Bang.  

Bob Schwaid secured an arrangement with Bang that included:  1) Morrison had to submit three new songs per month during the next year (he banged out thirty six nonsense songs in one session); 2) Morrison had to give half of the copyright for any single released over the next year (Warner did not release any singles during that time); and 3) Morrison had to include two song on his next album that were controlled by their publishing company (he recorded versions of  "Madame George" and "Beside You" that were completely different from the versions he had been pressured to make for Bang).  Schwaid's partner Lewis Merenstein was not the first producer sent to see Morrison; but he was the first to connect with how much his sound had developed from his big hit single.  When he first heard Morrison  playing the title track at Ace Recording studio, Merenstein says:  "I started crying. It just vibrated in my soul, and I knew that I wanted to work with that sound."

'Astral Weeks' was recorded at Century Sound Studios in New York City with Van Morrison on vocals and acoustic guitar; Jay Berliner on classical and steel-string acoustic guitars; Richard Davis on double bass; Larry Fallon on harpsichord on "Cyprus Avenue"; Connie Kay on drums; Barry Kornfeld on acoustic guitar on "The Way Young Lovers Do"; and John Payne on flute and soprano saxophone on "Slim Slow Slider";  Warren Smith, Jr. on percussion and vibraphone;   and contributions from arranger and conductor Larry Fallon.

Morrison looked back in a recent interview: "Well, first, I think I have probably always been more advanced in my head, in my thinking, than the calendar age of 22. My thinking musically has always been more advanced -- it is difficult to get it down onto paper sometimes, even now. And the Music on 'Astral Weeks' required these great musicians because no one else could have pulled it off like they did. There is another reason, too, and that is the fact I did not settle for anyone other than these guys -- they were the ones I insisted on...I had been with Bert Berns’ Bang Records label, and I didn’t get paid, so I was living on a shoestring -- a very hand-to-mouth existence at that time -- in Boston and for a long time after that too. I went down to New York and this is when I got the offer from Warner Brothers. They had told me they had to buy out the Bang deal. Then I got involved with [producer Lewis] Merenstein, et al. The real reason I made 'Astral Weeks' recordings in New York is because I was literally broke and they kept me stranded there...I had already written “Ballerina,” in 1966!, if this tells you anything, and the poetry written on the backside of the 'Astral Weeks' album [cover] was an excerpt from something else I had written prior to that! Matter of fact, thinking back, I had previously recorded “Madame George” and “Beside You” well before the '68 Warner release, for Bang Records. But the arrangements were nothing like what I had in mind for those songs. I had also previously played versions of a few of the songs Live at the Catacombs [club] in Boston well before going in and making what became the 'Astral Weeks' recordings that ended up as the record. We made that record straight through finally like I wanted them, without stopping. We did it my way in the studio that day...So, yes it took a very long time and a lot of thinking and arranging and hard work to structure these songs like I wanted them, like I envisioned them in my head. That was the hardest work, but then I found out I then had to work through the people in the music business, and then the people that come around as a result that you are in the music business, and that was even harder, but in a different way. All for the sake of making my music, my song...Merenstein came about when my back was against the wall. I did not have a choice at the time. I was all the way on the ground. People only have a choice when they have money -- I did not have either, they made sure of that. Then I found out when you have success, then come the sharks in disguise -- and those [were] quite obvious. I did most of the [production] work myself, though, if the truth be told. I wrote it all, put it all where it needed to be... 'Astral Weeks' songs were written over a period of time -– some early 1966 -- and evolved musically. They are timeless works that were from another sort of place -- not what is at all obvious. They are poetry and mythical musings channeled from my imagination...The songs are poetic stories, so the meaning is the same as always -- timeless and unchanging. The songs are works of fiction that will inherently have a different meaning for different people. People take from it whatever their disposition to take from it is. It is like Tolkien’s “Hobbit” -- the hobbit is what it is. I doubt he would change what the stories [are] just because time went by... 'Astral Weeks' are little poetic stories I made up and set to music. The album is about song craft for me -- making things up and making them fit to a tune I have arranged. The songs were somewhat channeled works -- that is why I called it 'Astral Weeks'. As my songwriting has gone on I tend to do the same channeling, so it’s sort of like 'Astral Decades', I guess...I am about the arrangements and the layers of depth in the music. So, no, I do not see it any differently than it is -- it just is whatever it is...Now that I really think about it, this, like all of my work, comes from the collective unconscious, I suppose. That is why it speaks different things to different people. All of my records are unique unto themselves and this one is no different. It is just part of what I do as a songwriter. These are just another set of stories and poetry, like all of them."

 'Astral Weeks'
full album:

All songs written by Van Morrison

Part One: In The Beginning
1. "Astral Weeks"   7:06
2. "Beside You"   5:16
3. "Sweet Thing"   4:25
4. "Cyprus Avenue"   7:00

Part Two: Afterwards
1. "The Way Young Lovers Do"   3:18
2. "Madame George"   9:45
3. "Ballerina"   7:03
4. "Slim Slow Slider"   3:17

live at the Hollywood Bowl

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

life's too good

The Sugarcubes erupted out of Iceland with the primal post punk pulchritude of this tragicomic triumph.  Björk Gundmundsdottir had been in numerous bands since she recorded her first album at the age of eleven, eventually forming Tappi Tikarrass; Einar Örn Benediktsson was in Purrkurr Pillnikk; and Sigtryggur Baldursson had been in Peyr.  All three appeared with their bands in the 'Rokk Í Reykjavík' ('Rock in Reykjavik') documentary and later formed supergroup  Kukl with keyboardist Einar Arnaldur Melax from Medúsa; bassist Birgir Mogensen from Spilafífl; and guitarist Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson from Þeyr.  

There were several splinter groups that formed with other members from the various bands; and on  June 8, 1986 a new group was formed to celebrate the birth of Sindri Eldon, the child of Björk and Medúsa’s guitar player, Þór Eldon Jónsson.  This new group was called  Sykurmolarnir, which was later translated to become the Sugarcubes.  Motherhood had transformed Björk's voice to something completely unique and otherworldly and the band was quickly signed to One Little Indian in the UK and Elektra Records in the US.

Their debut 'Life's Too Good' was produced by Ray Shulman at Stúdíó Grettisgat, Reykjavik, Iceland; Berry St. Studios and Orinocco Studios in London with  Björk Guðmundsdóttir on vocals and keyboards;  Einar Örn Benediktsson on trumpet and vocals;  Þór Eldon Jónsson on guitars; Bragi Ólafsson on bass; and Sigtryggur Baldursson on drums.  The album went to number fifty-nine in Canada, fifty-four in the US, forty-eight in Sweden, fourteen on the UK album chart, and number one on the UK alternative chart.



who's kissing Björk at 1:55?

Cold Sweat



'Life's Too Good' 
full album:

All tracks written by the Sugarcubes. 

1. "Traitor"   3:08
2. "Motorcrash"   2:23
3. "Birthday"   3:59
4. "Delicious Demon"   2:43
5. "Mama"   2:56
6. "Coldsweat"   3:15
7. "Blue Eyed Pop"   2:38
8. "Deus"   4:07
9. "Sick for Toys"   3:15
10. "F***ing in Rhythm & Sorrow"   3:14
11. "Take Some Petrol Darling" (Hidden track) 1:27

bonus tracks
12. "Cowboy"   3:27
13. "I Want..."   2:55
14. "Dragon" (Icelandic) 3:07
15. "Cat" (Icelandic) 2:56
16. "Coldsweat" (Remix) 3:42
17. "Deus" (Remix) 6:03

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Eurythmics painted a rumor and cemented their place pop history with the expansive electronic experimentation of this stylish pop sequel.  The duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had found worldwide success with their sophomore album 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)' and struck while the iron was hot, going right into their studio that they had just set up.   Stewart recalls:  “We made 'Touch' very quickly recording it upstairs in the Church Studios in Crouch End. We made it so quickly in fact that they hadn’t actually finished the studio and Michael Kamen ended up conducting the orchestra in the corridor...The first cheque I ever got was for 'Sweet Dreams' and I’d always dreamed of going to the Caribbean. So I booked a flight and arrived on Christmas Eve and I spent the night on the beach thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’  Before 'Touch' we were focused on an icy, cold, electronic, European type of music and the success of 'Sweet Dreams' meant that we could experiment. We were free in our minds and we didn’t have to repeat ourselves.”

'Touch' features Annie Lennox on vocals, flute, percussion, and keyboard; Dave Stewart on vocals, dulcimer, bass, guitar, drum programming, keyboard, and xylophone;    with Dick Cuthell on trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn; Martin Dobson on baritone saxophone; Dean Garcia (later of Curve) on bass; and Michael Kamen  conducting the British Philharmonic on strings.  Kamen did the string arrangements and Stewart and Lennox were arrangers for the album.  Stewart produced the sessions with engineer Jon Bavin.   

'Touch' surpassed the success of 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)' by going to number twenty in France, fourteen in Switzerland, nine in Germany and Sweden, eight in Norway, seven in the US, four in Australia, and number one in New Zealand and the UK.    Lennox looks back on Stewart's influence on her:   "Wherever he is, whoever he's with, he's not fazed by anything at all.  He's fearless in that sense. And when it comes to music-making he's a facilitator...I didn't have the drive. I didn't have the self-belief....I was actually content to be defined as half of a duo... I really divested my own independent, individual self into being one half of a duo. In fact I didn't often say 'I'. I would quite purposely say 'we'. It seemed appropriate."

"Here Comes the Rain Again"  
Stewart says he and Lennox wrote this sweeping mini epic when they were staying at the Mayflower Hotel in New York City:   "I'd been out on 46th Street and bought an early Casio keyboard, about 20 inches long with very small keys. It was an overcast day. Annie was sitting in my room, and I was playing some little riff on the keyboard sitting on the window ledge, and I was playing these little melancholy A minor-ish chords with the B note in it. I kept on playing this riff, and Annie was looking out the window at the slate grey sky above the New York skyline and just sang spontaneously, 'Here Comes The Rain Again.' And that was all we needed. you see, like with a lot of our songs, you only need to start with that one line, and that one atmosphere, that one note, or that intro melody. And the rest of it was like a puzzle where we needed to just fill in the missing pieces...'Here Comes The Rain Again' is kind of a perfect one where it has a mixture of things, because I'm playing a b-minor, but then I change it to put a b-natural in, and so it kind of feels like that minor is suspended, or major. So it's kind of a weird course. And of course that starts the whole song, and the whole song was about that undecided thing, like here comes depression, or here comes that downward spiral. But then it goes, 'so talk to me like lovers do.' It's the wandering in and out of melancholy, a dark beauty that sort of is like the rose that's when it's darkest unfolding and bloodred just before the garden, dies. And capturing that in kind of oblique statements and sentiments."

"Right By Your Side"

"Who's That Girl?"

"No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)"

"Paint a Rumour"

full album:

All tracks written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart

1. "Here Comes the Rain Again"   4:54
2. "Regrets"   4:43
3. "Right By Your Side"   4:05
4. "Cool Blue"   4:48
5. "Who's That Girl?"   4:46
6. "The First Cut"   4:44
7. "Aqua"   4:36
8. "No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)"   5:24
9. "Paint a Rumour"   7:30