Amoeblog

TEN DISCO CLASSICS FROM 30+ YEARS AGO

Posted by Billyjam, January 8, 2009 10:48am | Post a Comment

Of all genres of popular music from the 1950's up til the present day, disco is perhaps the most discrimated against and unfairly hated upon Ironically, the hate is oft times spewed by the very same people who will be the first to dance to or sing along with said disco hits. Of course, karaoke nights and wedding DJs have only helped make some songs less enjoyable than perhaps they should be due to over exposure and bad sing alongs. A prime example would be Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," which is still a great song even 31 years later but might be more enjoyable if we had only heard 3 million fewer times in our lives. The video for that song, along with nine other disco classics, is below. 

The videos include Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown" from 1979, A Taste Of Honey's "Boogie Oogie Oogie" from '78, Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell" from '79 and, from that same year, Sister Sledge's second biggest hit "He's The Greatest Dancer" (their biggest hit was the eternally popular "We Are Family," which was also released that same year). 

Also included is what I consider to be the greatest and most influential disco record of all time, the Giorgio Moroder-produced Donna Summer song "I Feel Love" from her 1977 album I Remember Yesterday (Casablanca) and released as a single. So innovative was Moroder's futuristic production on this track, according to the liner notes of his Sound + VIsion box set, that, in 1977 while David Bowie was recording with Brian Eno in Berlin, "Eno came running in and said, 'I have heard the sound of the future'...he puts on 'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer…He said, 'This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.'"

Guy Peellaert 1934 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, November 22, 2008 10:02am | Post a Comment


Belgian artist Guy Peellaert, most famous for his album cover illustrations of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and The Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock 'n' Roll and his ground breaking art book Rock Dreams, died this past Monday of kidney cancer in Paris. He was 74.

Born in Brussels in 1934 into an aristocratic family, Peellaert broke with his family as a teenager, first by entering the military, then by choosing an art career over his father’s demands to pursue a career in medicine. Peellaert first major success was the comic strip, Les Aventures de Jodelle, published in 1966 in the French magazine Hara-Kiri. The central character, Jodelle, was modeled after Ye-Ye singer Sylvie Vartan. Peellart's second comic strip, Pravda, again modeled the heroine after a French singer, the iconic Françoise Hardy. In the 1970’s Peellaert went on to design movie posters for such films as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver; Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire and Robert Altman's Short Cuts.

But Peellaert is best known for his rock album covers -- especially his controversial Diamond Dogs design from 1974. The gate-fold cover features Bowie as a half-man, half-dog grotesque. Peellaert painted in a photo-realistic style and the controversy stems from how well he flaunted the hybrid genitalia. I guess that was something of a no-no in the early 1970’s. A few copies of the original cover inexplicably survived, today they fetch upwards of a few thousand dollars each. The initial RCA release had the genitalia airbrushed out, but the recent reissue on Rykodisc/EMI revives the original artwork.

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Roy Buchanan

Posted by Whitmore, August 15, 2008 12:33am | Post a Comment

When I was a kid my dad surprised me one day when he told me that his two favorite guitarists, hands down, were T-Bone Walker and Roy Buchanan-- two mostly obscure blues guitarists whose lofty talents are usually held in awe by only record collectors and guitar geeks. You would have thought my dad was a blues musician or at least someone with a passion for obscure vinyl … well, no, he just digs music -- he always said he was too busy working, customizing hotrods in those halcyon days of the 1960’s to be anything but a just a fan, but he does play a mean "Malaguena" from the Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona on classical piano.

Anyway, T-Bone Walker’s most famous number was "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)." His other classic recordings include "T-Bone Shuffle" and the brilliantly understated parable, "Let Your Hair Down, Baby, Let's Have a Natural Ball."  Walker lived to be a reasonably old man, especially by blues standards, passing away in 1975 at the age of 65. Unfortunately, Roy Buchanan’s life didn’t get that distance.  

20 years go today, Roy Buchanan was found hanging in his cell in the Fairfax County Jail in Fairfax, Virginia, by his own shirt, shortly after being arrested and soon after being placed in a holding tank. Buchanan had been picked up by the police earlier in the evening for public intoxication. Though he had a long history of drunken, restless and destructive behavior, many of his fans, friends and family have always doubted the suicide verdict of his death. He was 48.

Countless aficionados in the guitar world have long considered Roy Buchanan one of the finest and most overlooked guitarists of the blues-rock genre. According to legend, Buchanan's soulful and fiery skills led him to being invited to join the Rolling Stones in the late 1960’s. In 1971 Roy Buchanan found his greatest public exposure in an hour long Public Television documentary appropriately titled The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World. For a moment he was famous and in demand, signing a multi-record deal with Polydor. His 1972 self-titled debut contains one of Buchanan's best-known tracks, "The Messiah Will Come Again." Here’s some live footage of that song from a German television show in the early 80’s.

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(In which we consider the mystical & tragic Judee Sill.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 29, 2008 12:25pm | Post a Comment
robber

Last night I was mugged at gunpoint. The perpetrator not only made off with the $560.00 in cash that I was carrying (which I had intended to deposit today) but he knocked me down to the ground and kicked me hard enough that he left a nasty bruise in my ribs before he made his getaway on a magic, chocolate-colored Pegasus.

None of which is true, but it is a rather exciting way to begin this week’s blog entry, isn’t it? Except that, by lying to you, I have now risked alienating you emotionally, because you will now think twice about trusting what I tell you, even if it’s about how much I like that top you’re wearing and how to sets off the flecks of color in your shimmering eyes.

Speaking of violence and the romantic visage of your enduring beauty, I know some of you haven’t yet heeded my advice and investigated one of my most favorite balladeers of all time: Judee Sill.
 
Judee Sill
Judee Sill conducts herself well.

Judee’s story is one of tragic darkness, from which sprung gorgeous and sage songwriting. She was the Billie Holiday of the “Laurel Canyon sound.”

Influenced more by Johann Sebastian Bach than her 1970’s rock ‘n’ blow contemporaries, methodical composition such as fugue-structure, and over-dubbing of her own voice into chorale-style, inform her heart-wrenched post-hymns.

Her father and brother both died when she was a child, and her mother re-married to Kenneth Muse, an animator for one of my least favorite cartoons of all time, Tom & Jerry. (I mean really, the way that mouse antagonizes that poor cat, who very naturally fights back – both by his nature as a felis catus and in defense of Jerry’s cruelty – only to be downtrodden every time. What kind of message does that send to children? BE A BULLY. That’s what it tells ‘em. And then poor, sensitive, fat kids like me get the brunt of it. And all I ever wanted was to love and be loved. Is that so wrong?!)

[Insert sound of Job sobbing here]
Judee Sill

Judee left her dysfunctional home (I imagine her stepfather probably lured her head into a mouse-hole and bopped her face with a mallet) and hit the road for a life of free-wheeling druggery and armed robbery. She developed an addiction to that precocious li’l drug we call heroin. In order to pay for the habit, she prostituted herself (which almost certainly prepared her for a life as a professional musician).

Nick Drake, happy birthday ...

Posted by Whitmore, June 19, 2008 09:58am | Post a Comment


60 year ago today Nicholas Rodney Drake, enigmatic British folk musician, was born. Today he lives only in myth, legend and allegory. Drake, who released three albums in his lifetime, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon  failed to find a wide audience thirty odd years ago, but since his death in 1974 has found a continuing growth in popularity and influence.

Nick Drake was twenty years old when he signed to Island Records, releasing his debut album Five Leaves Left in 1969. Over the next few years he recorded only two other albums, though none sold more than five thousand copies in their initial releases. His reluctance to perform live or be interviewed no doubt contributed to his lack of commercial success.

Throughout his life Drake constantly battled depression. After the completion of his final album, 1972's Pink Moon, he ceased performing and recording, and chose to withdraw from society to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. Drake died from an overdose of the prescribed antidepressant, amitriptyline, on November 25th 1974.

There was no public announcement or notice of his death. Initially there was no effort to even reissue his three albums, but in 1979 the box set Fruit Tree, compiling his three completed albums plus a handful of home recordings and left over sessions, was released. However, once again, sales were poor, the album received little notice from the press, and by 1983 Fruit Tree was deleted from the Island Records catalogue. Still, a fanatical following and interest never ceased. Musicians such as Robert Smith, Peter Buck, Kate Bush, and John Martyn cited him as an influence. In early 1999, BBC2 aired a documentary, A Stranger Among Us—In Search of Nick Drake. And most notably in 2000, Volkswagen featured the song Pink Moon in a television commercial, and within one month Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous thirty years.

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