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Soul Singer Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate Has Died

Posted by Billyjam, May 6, 2015 10:55am | Post a Comment

As reported by the BBC and other UK media outlets this morning Errol Brown - the lead singer with the popular UK-based soul group Hot Chocolate - has died from liver cancer at his home in the Bahamas. He was 71.

Errol Brown's powerful voice drove such Hot Chocolate hits as "You Sexy Thing," "Emma," "It Started with a Kiss," "Brother Louie," and "Every 1's a Winner" during the group's heyday throughout the '70s and up through the middle of the '80s. In fact, Hot Chocolate holds the distinction of being the only group in the UK to have racked up a top 40 hit singles for 15 consecutive years during that time frame (1970 - 1984). Twelve years ago, Errol Brown was made an MBE by the Queen for his contributions to the British music arts. And the following year he received an Ivor Novello award for his "outstanding contribution to British music."



Of all the hits that Brown and Hot Chocolate are associated with, "You Sexy Thing" (which Brown co-wrote) remains their best known song of all, one that had enjoyed a few lifespans. It was a Top 10 hit single in the 1970s, and again in the 1980s, and then again in the 1990s when it appeared in the soundtrack for the 1997 film The Full Monty and on its accompanying soundtrack. Meantime, the Hot Chocolate song perhaps most personal for the Jamaican-born Brown, who moved with his single mother to the UK at the age of 12, was the group's 1974 hit "Emma," which reportedly was written about his mom who died from cancer at the young age of 38 when Brown was only 20 years old. Music videos for both "Emma" and "You Sexy Thing" appear below. 
 
In 2009, Errol Brown performed for the last time at his career farewell tour in the UK. At the time he told the BBC that he was most satisfied with his music career and all he had done in life but was glad that he was officially retired once that tour ended. He told the BBC that even though he would never perform again, "the music will be there, so that won't go away!" Look for Errol Brown/Hot Chocolate releases, such as the 2012 released collection You Sexy Thing: The Best of Hot Chocolate, from Amoeba's online store.
 


Hot Chocolate "Emma" (1974)

Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Hip Hop In The Park, Souls of Mischief in NYC, Top 5, E-Lit's New Releases, Amoeba Converse Exhibit + more

Posted by Billyjam, May 1, 2015 09:05am | Post a Comment

This weekend marks the nineteenth year of Hip Hop In The Park - Berkeley's annual free, all ages, all elements inclusive, hip-hop event in Peoples Park, located behind Amoeba Berkeley. Since 1997, the Students For Hop Hop @ Cal have been presenting this always fun afternoon celebration of hip-hop culture. This year's headliner is Fashawn who has been winning over a whole wave of fans since connecting with Nas and the Queensbridge rapper's new label,  Mass Appeal, on which he released the critically acclaimed The Ecology two months ago. Just in the past week, the Fresno rapper unleashed the album's second single and accompanying video, "Higher."

The Souls of Mischief along with their childhood friend and director of the engaging documentary on the Hiero crew, 'Til Infinity, Shomari Smith are all in New York City right now for the screening of the film tonight at the Helen Mills Theater on West 26th Street as part of the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF 2015). So far, the veteran Oakland hip-hop crew have included doing an interview with Birthplace magazine, and stopping by an old friend's radio show. 

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Bay Area's Foothill College Radio Station KFJC Kicks off Its Annual Month of Mayhem

Posted by Billyjam, May 1, 2015 01:30am | Post a Comment


Nestled in the Los Altos Hills of the South Bay is one of the best radio stations not just in the Bay Area but anywhere. KFJC has been serving a rich and diverse musical presentation at 89.7FM for the better part of six decades, including many legendary live sessions from the Foothill College campus radio station's in-studio live performance space, the Pit.

The Foothill College campus radio station has been broadcasting since 1959. For over half its lifespan, KFJC has been dedicating their airwaves each May to the month of Mayhem. It's an entertainment-packed month (referred to as Mayhem, never May, throughout the 31 days) of special programming every day such as today's (May 1st) kickoff specials: The Mini Detest-A-Thon: A Survey of the Musical Obsession of Loathing Part 2, and A Brief Introduction to John Tejada, Part 1. Next Monday (Mayhem 4) brings May the Fourth Be With You: A Star Wars Mayhem Special, Mayhem 5's early morning International Psychedelia (Part 1) special, Bright Spots featuring Light In The Attic Records on Mayhem 10th, and Ms. Tiza and Cadillac Margarita's Pants Off Dance Off on Mayhem 16th.

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Kingsman Founding Member/"Louie Louie" Singer Jack Ely Dead

Posted by Billyjam, April 29, 2015 06:10am | Post a Comment

Jack Ely, who co-founded the Portland, OR rock & roll groupThe Kingsmen back in 1959, died yesterday at age 71 of an unspecified illness. The former Kingsmen member, who lived in his home state up until the time of his death, was most famous for being the main singer of the group's megahit (and widely covered) raw rock'n'roll classic "Louie Louie." The breakout hit single for the group which was a cover, written by Richard Berry six years earlier and covered by The Wailers two years previously, became a top ten single for four straight months in 1963 - both making the band famous and bringing them a federal investigation.

Due to the garage rock record's lo-fi quality - in particular Ely's poorly mic'ed and somewhat indecipherable muttered lyrics - the authorities at the time, under the lead of the FBI no less, feared the worst and believed Ely to be singing naughty words on the record and consequently instigated an investigation into "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen. Fast forward many weeks, much wasted tax payers dollars, and a 455-page report on the Kingsmen single and the Feds determined that Ely was simply singing unintelligibly. Over the years countless bands covered "Louie Louie" making it the most covered song in popular music history, leading to Bay Area radio station KFJC in the 80's doing an annual Louie Louie Marathon of playing on the air the seemingly endless list of cover versions of the song made most famous by the Kingsmen. Although Ely left the The Kingsmen, after a falling out, not too long after "Louie Louie's" chart success he seemed forever tied to the band's famous hit.  Soon after leaving he would go on and form The Courtmen (a not quite as popular rival group) who recorded "Louie Louie '66" and some time after that he would record the "Louie Louie" related single "Love That Louie" for the later group he formed Jack E. Lee and the Squires. After that he quit the music business to raise horses. Regarding the unspecified cause of death reportedly it is because of the singer's religious beliefs that the exact cause or illness, that he had suffered from for the past few years, is unknown.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Native Tongues

Posted by Billyjam, April 28, 2015 11:45am | Post a Comment
Upon digging in the golden era hip-hop LP crates recently I uncovered an amazing album that I had not listened to in full in some time - the Jungle Brothers' 1988 debut album Straight Out The Jungle on Idlers/Warlock - that reminded me of how, upon its release, that was the record that introduced hip-hop fans like myself to the Native Tongues - as well as to Q-Tip who guested on the album tracks "Black Is Black" and "The Promo."

Centered in New York City and with direct ties to the Universal Zulu Nation, the Native Tongues were not a crew but rather a collective of different crews and acts that came together as a loose knit movement bonded by Afrocentric rooted hip-hop with uplifting lyrics focus on positivity and with a musical / production focus on jazzy grooves and eclectic samples (along with jazz, funk, and soul samples, the aforementioned Jungle Brothers album title track sampled Cameroon, Central Africa artist Manu Dibango). In addition to its leading act The Jungle Brothers (aka the JBs), the Native Tongues also included De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest (its core members), as well as such artists as Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, and Monie Love as among its many members. Other Native Tongue members - albeit to a much lesser and/or later degree of involvement - have said to have included Chi-Ali, Fu-Schnickens, The Beatnuts, Brand Nubian, Leaders of the New School, Common, and Da Bush Babees. However while these hip-hop acts continued for many years - some up until the present - the actual Native Tongues collective slowly disintegrated and became no more by the early nineties - many correctly correlating the demise of Afrocentric hip-hop with that of the Native Tongues movement. 

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