Amoeblog

Anna King

Posted by Whitmore, August 18, 2007 11:29pm | Post a Comment

My son just named his new guinea pig “Sally,” and though I’m not a fan of rodent type critters, I think Sally is pretty cool. Also, guinea pigs make this really odd electronic kind of sound when their excited.

Some time ago I wrote about a Jean Dushon single on Atco Records “I’m Tired,” produced by Phil Specter. And with absolute over the top aplomb I ranted, raved and foamed like peroxide on a road rash about that track. “How,” I thought  “can it get any better than this?”  A discovery like this, out of the blue, only happens once in a lifetime to a lowly record store employee.

I went so far as to write that my aching back was miraculously healed by the Bo Diddlyesque drumbeat; it had to be the vibrations!

Well … I may have been wrong; I know this revelation may surprise you. I’m generally not one to exaggerate. Really. Anyway, my backache returned and eventually worsened, but did I lose hope? Almost … but no! I felt that somewhere down the line something greater, something deeper was going to breathe life back into me, an empty shell of a man. Carpe Diem! Corpus, Mens, Spiritus! E pluribus unum! Eureka! Ars longa vita brevis!

A few months back I discovered a 7 inch record from a somewhat obscure singer, Anna King … and this time I think I actually had a religious experience. My back wasn’t healed, but I swear to god I didn’t have an asthma attack for weeks. It’s as if my ears and lungs and bronchial tubes were touched by healing hands.

“Was that you Katherine Kuhlman?”

Long ago I discovered that the flip side is often the hot side, and "Sally" is the B-side to "Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own", a kind of a dig at Anna King’s old boss. "Sally" is an impossibly soulful, medium tempo ballad with just a hint of a musical arrangement. To start with, there’s a little piano, a touch of a bass line, a kick drum and all the room in the world for the vocals. King first starts off a little breathy, a little hesitant, telling her dear friend Sally about her no Anna Kinggood boyfriend.  But by the end the full band kicks in and the vocals just lay it on the line: Sally should just forget about that son of a bitch, because as Anna King plainly states, “I’m gonna steal him from you.”  And I thought they were pals! I just don’t have the words to explain the greatness of this cut. Find it, if it takes you a decade, it would still be worth your time. Think of it as a religious pilgrimage. I’m serious!

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August 13th in music history

Posted by Whitmore, August 13, 2007 05:20pm | Post a Comment

In a senseless act, legendary saxophonist King Curtis, born Curtis Ousley, is stabbed to death in front of his New York City brownstone on Friday August 13, 1971, during one of New York City’s nastiest heat waves.  King Curtis was carrying an air conditioner into his apartment at 50 West 86th St. when he got into a scuffle with a group of men standing on the stoop doing drugs. He asked them to move, but during the subsequent argument one of them, Juan Montanez, pulled out a six-inch dagger and stabbed Curtis in the heart.


The attack was witnessed by Aretha Franklin and Sam Moore who were meeting Curtis to discuss a recording session he was to produce. Curtis was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, but was dead on arrival. Four days later the funeral was held, Jesse Jackson performed the service. Curtis' band, The Kingpins, played an hour long version of 'Soul Serenade' and Aretha sang the spiritual 'Never Grow Old.' Here are some of the hits he played sax on:

Hang up My Rock and Roll Shoes - CHUCK WILLIS - (highest charting) #24
The Stroll - DIAMONDS - #4-
What Am I Living For - CHUCK WILLIS - #9
Yakety Yak - COASTERS - #1
Along Came Jones - COASTERS - #9
Charlie Brown - COASTERS - #2
I Cried a Tear - LAVERN BAKER - #6
Little Egypt - COASTERS - #23
Tossin’ and Turnin’ - BOBBY LEWIS - #1
Peppermint twist - JOEY DEE  - #1
Respect - ARETHA FRANKLIN - #1
I Heard It Through The Grapevine - GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS - #2

Some of King Curtis’s solo singles:

Soul Twist - #17
Memphis Soul Stew - #33
Ode to Billy Joe - #28
 
In 1990 Curtis Mayfield, best known as the lead singer for The Impressions and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film “Superfly,” is paralyzed from the neck down in an onstage accident after high winds cause a 600 pound lighting rig to fall on him at a concert in Brooklyn, New York at the Martin Luther King Music Festival. Eyewitnesses described the moment as “A small twister of some sort tornado-like, just came out of nowhere.” He was 48 years of age at the time of the accident.

But one great earth shaking event did happen on this day, though it would go unnoticed for years and years, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton records the original version of  "Hound Dog" in 1952.

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Ron Miller

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2007 08:50pm | Post a Comment

This week legendary Motown songwriter Ron Miller died at age 74.


The Associated Press obituary:

Songwriter Ron Miller, whose tunes included pop classics "Touch Me in the Morning" and "For Once in My Life," has died. Miller died Monday of cardiac arrest at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center after a long battle with emphysema and cancer, he was 74.

Miller got his professional start in the music business in the 1960s, when Motown founder Berry Gordy saw him perform at a piano bar and invited him to Detroit as one of the label's first songwriters and record producers. His songs have been recorded by many leading artists, including Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Ray Charles. "For Once in My Life," written with Orlando Murden, is one of the most recorded songs in history, with more than 270 versions, according to All Music Guide. A rendition by Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder won a Grammy award this year. In 2005, Charles' and Gladys Knight's version of Miller's "Heaven Help Us All" picked up the best gospel performance Grammy.

Born in Chicago, Miller was a die-hard Cubs fan, who wrote his first sad song as a child about his beloved but hapless team, his daughter said. Before meeting Gordy at the piano bar, Miller made ends meet by selling washing machines and taking odd jobs. He served in the Marines, as well, and was stationed all over the world. Throughout the 1970s, Miller wrote the book and lyrics to many musicals, including "Daddy Goodness" and "Cherry," based on William Inge's "Bus Stop." Barbra Streisand recorded "I've Never Been A Woman Before," from the musical, for her "The Way We Were" album.

"My father will be reborn every time someone sings one of his songs," Lisa Dawn Miller said. "When they feel joy or sadness or any emotion, that will be my dad and his words." Miller is survived by his wife, Aurora Miller, and six children. Here is a list of some of his songs:

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Sweet Sweet Music

Posted by Mike Battaglia, April 16, 2007 12:43am | Post a Comment
    At Amoeba SF's electronica section, we've usually got at least four or five titles each month that we're extremely hyped on. Here's our current batch:



    First we've got Gui Boratto's Chromophobia on Kompakt. Boratto's Brazilian heritage gives him an edge when making his brand of tech-house, and that's an ear for rhythm. Straddling between minimal and electrohouse, Chromophobia avoids any LP pitfalls by working equally on a dancefloor as on headphones, it's got enough oomph to sound fantastic on a large sound system, but intricate enough that you notice small details while listening at home. I love his way with melody, particularly the swooping tones of "Terminal" and the bleep counterpoint in "Gate 7"; it gets quite emotional. The rhythms are key, though, and it's clear from the first track on that Boratto has a good grasp of syncopation and funk. Between the Hug and Field albums and now this, Kompakt are on a bit of a roll, again!



    Next up is We Are Together by Japanese producer Kuniyuki Takahashi, released on Mule Musiq. This is an album that is a unanimous vote amongst the electronica staff - everybody loves it (well, at least four of us). It's jazzy house music only in the loosest sense of the phrase, managing to perfectly walk the tightrope between noodly and stiff. The thing I like best about this album is its sense of space, the production on every track sounds so expansive and widescreen as to conjure up images of the music's physicality. In that sense it reminds me of the Burial album where there's a very conscious sense of three-dimensional space - it's a real "smokers delight". Check Kuni's MySpace page to hear more of this excellence.

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World Wide!

Posted by Mike Battaglia, April 7, 2007 07:45pm | Post a Comment
I co-produce a radio show on local community station KUSF called the Friday Night Session. Along with my fellow producers Andrew Jervis and Tomas Palermo, we visit brand new music for two hours every Friday night from 10pm to Midnight. While there's no set music policy, we tend to play jazz, soul, funk, latin, reggae and electronic dance music that is influenced by all those things, including Broken Beat, so-called "Nu-Soul" and Disco.

Last week we were lucky to have Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio One DJ and selector extraordinaire as our special guest. Gilles was in town working on the second volume of his Gilles Peterson Digs America compilation series for Ubiquity Records, as well as to DJ at local superclub Ruby Skye, but still found the time to kick it with us at the KUSF studio in SF's Western Addition.





Over a killer falafel plate from Haight Street's Blue Front Cafe and a wonderful bottle of wine, Gilles took us on a tour of his record box for two hours, while regaling us with tales of being a globetrotting DJ. Inbetween sips of cabernet, Gilles managed to play us a diverse selection of tunes ranging from latin jazz from artists like Tito Puente and Ray Camacho to more contemporary jams from Louie Vega and Simbad.

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