New Nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Posted by Whitmore, September 23, 2009 03:51pm | Post a Comment

Twelve nominees
were announced this morning for induction onto the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame located in Cleveland, Ohio. Among this year's possible entrants are first time nominees KISS, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Genesis, the Hollies, LL Cool J and Jimmy Cliff; they join returning candidates ABBA, the Chantels, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, the Stooges and Donna Summer.

Five of the 12
nominees will be chosen for induction from ballots cast by more than 500 music industry voters. An announcement of the inductees is expected sometime in January. The annual event will take place March 15, 2010 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City and a huge celebration is expected for this, the Hall's 25th Annual Induction Ceremony.
Coming this Oct. 29-30 at New York's Madison Square Garden, the Hall of Fame is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an astounding concert and lineup, which includes Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Friends, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Metallica and U2. More artists are expected to be named for this two night shindig. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also releasing a nine-DVD boxed set, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live, and the publication of a book, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years.

Dance Music All Night Long

Posted by Smiles Davis, July 8, 2009 03:43pm | Post a Comment
Music, good music, is popping up everywhere and I’m loving every minute of it. Dance music in particular is really having the best year ever. I’m not just talking about house and techno, I’m talking about music that makes you wanna boogie, music that really makes you wanna get down with the get down and forget all your worries. I don't exactly know who to give credit to for putting the fun back in music but one thing is absolute: everything eventually comes full circle.

Back in the day—we’re talking the 70’s—there was disco, a little bit of hip-hop, some more disco, what was left of modern jazz, rock-n-roll, and a little more disco. The best thing about urban nightlife at that time was disco. And you didn’t hear none of that A.D.D. DJ we hear so frequently today, where the music selector changes songs every thirty seconds (thanks a lot DJ AM). No, none of that. The DJ’s at the discotheques usually played the long versions of songs, nearly in their entirety, to keep the feet on the dance floor all night long. Oh, how things have changed.

At that time, people weren’t up on hip-hop like that quite yet; it was still pretty underground. You had to know where to go to find a DJ spinning hip-hop. And chances are, if you knew about it, you knew it was the only spot in town where you could go to hear that type of music. Not to mention the fact that that one and only spot was probably members only. You had to be affiliated with a crew to gain access. If you weren’t a part of a tagging crew, a breaking crew, or one of the emcees or DJs, chances were you didn’t even know about it. But, back to disco. It started mainly on the east coast in the late 60’s. By the early 70’s disco had cross-pollinated and spread like wild fire all over the globe. Most popular soul and funk acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and The Bar-kays soon jumped ship and found themselves chin deep in the disco trend. Unfortunately, like most fads, disco was finished quicker than morning coffee and soon disappeared from the radar. For the most part, I think the public wanted it that way. Disco Demolition Night, a promotional event that took place on Thursday, July 12, 1979, at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, was in part to blame for the end of an era. However, industry folk and even many consumers talked about the decline of the genre long before this event took place.  

Disco, although short lived, was to music, in part, what the sex, drugs and rock n roll generation, better known as New Hollywood was to post- classical Hollywood in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80's. Well, sort of, not really, but they had many similarities: together they completely altered the conventional format of entertainment, they were relentlessly rebellious, adored by tweens, and utterly despised by conservatives. Also, the misfits of Hollywood during that time were the first to recognize film as an art form, while the DJs of the disco era catapulted advancements in turntablism and too recognized it as an art form. Disco faded to black shortly before the “movie brats” did.  

Still, disco influenced many styles of music, including hip-hop and electronica. Donna Summer, one of the more notable disco singers, was the first to really incorporate electronica into the popular dance style. Today, a number of acts are bringing it back like an 8-track. Holy Ghost, Men, Hercules and Love Affair and compilations like Italo Disco are all making strides to breathe some life back into the genre. Hi-5 disco! The good times are well overdue.

Also influenced by disco, or dance music in general, was Baltimore Club music, better know as Bmore. Bmore is so hot right now. Let me tell you from a DJ’s perspective: All the kiddies love it! Nothing packs the dance floor quicker than a Bmore remix. The “Remix” evolved out of disco, by the way, thanks to Tom Moulton, and later spread into hip-hop, pop and other styles of dance music like techno.

The front-runners of the current Bmore movement are the best things since sliced bread. The key players include DJ Class, Aaron Lacrate, Diplo, Switch, and DJ Blaqstarr, just to name a few. And it just so happens they’re all DJ’s. Major Lazer, the brainchild of Diplo & Switch, and the new kids on the block, is making noise all over the Internet. The single “Hold The Line” packs the dance floor any time and anywhere I play it. Same thing with DJ Class’ “I’m the Ish.” Works like a charm every time. Even mainstream acts like the Black Eyed Peas have hopped aboard the bandwagon with their single “Boom Pow.” Something tells me Baltimore Club will be around for a while. Go on back that thang up, get your Bmore on! Let's dance, not fight.

Continue reading...


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.'"

Playing With the Boys: the Blue Angels are Top Gun

Posted by Kells, October 16, 2008 02:33pm | Post a Comment

San Francisco's annual Fleet Week is over, but I'm still reeling in its aftermath. Every year on the last day of the air show I get together with a few good friends, pack a picnic and some drinks and head to a good vantage point to watch a few fly-boys do what they do best; that is, make a spectacle of their exceptional flying skills. Every day, the show is punctuated by an exemplary performance put on by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels who exhibit nothing but aviation at its extreme finest. It seems like everyone in San Francisco has something to say about the Angels, whether its the oft repeated dour expression of dislike or the rare wide-eyed, glowing expression of praise. Perhaps that's because their presence is impossible to ignore -- it's not every day that one hears what sounds like God taking a seam ripper to the sky. (Thankfully, the Fleet Week air shows did not coincide with the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival this year, much to the delight of all the music lovers who flocked to Golden Gate Park.) I, for one, enjoy their ear-trembling display of non-normalcy. I understand those who argue that the Angels represent a militaristic waste of tax dollars and non-renewable resources, that they're noisy and scary, and that they exist essentially as a weapon, but just look at what they do! There really is nothing quite like them. No matter what is said against them I stand firmly planted on my ground of wondering what the hell possesses people to push themselves to such limits. Whether what they do is deemed right or wrong in your eyes, chances are what they do is something you can't fathom. It is the stuff of dreams and they, the Blue Angels, are like flying rattlesnakes waking you from your sleepy-head, from a world obsessed with headlines, deadlines and the horrid notion of the possibility of bread lines. 

After the show my friends and I settled in for some pints and pitchers at a local pub. To my surprise there were more than a few sailors and Naval officers among the bar patrons. Like the Angels, their presence could not be ignored: handsome young men, clean cut in crispy white uniforms, shiny shoes and the hats hats hats all piled up on a ledge, I imagine for the purpose of keeping them tidy while they watched football or played air hockey. There was certainly a hat for every serviceman in the joint: starchy white and rounded sailors caps and wide-brimmed and polished officer's hats adorned in gold ornaments and filigree. Put together with the flamboyant aircraft we'd watched all afternoon, this picture of seamen at play reminded me of a movie, hard. This meeting of the real and the fantasy of the days' dealings was noticed by everyone and so when it was declared, in friendly buzzing slurs, that before the end of the night Top Gun must be seen, the decision was unanimous. I hadn't seen the film in quite some time and the thought of having to see it with such friends as those who, like me, so suddenly cultured a need for speed sent me into a frenzy of excitement. 

I had forgotten what a music-driven movie Top Gun is. From the opening theme to slamming right into "Danger Zone" it reeks of "soundtrack movie." (I suggest you use the video above more as a soundtrack to read this post to than as a visual representation of the "Danger Zone;" I suspect one might find it as frustratingly lame as I do that Kenny Loggins is pictured singing the bulk of this high-octane hit while lying in bed, taking pictures of a ceiling fan.) Then there's Berlin's "Take My Breath Away (Love Theme From Top Gun)," which went tall the way to #1 on the Billboard charts and won an Academy Award for best song. I learned from watching the music of Top Gun documentary on the special feature disc that accompanies the newest version of the DVD that both of these hit songs were written by Giorgio Moroder, the man famous for producing Donna Summers' best disco hits as well as albums for Sparks and Debbie Harry. This surprised me because I had always thought that "Danger Zone" was purely a Loggins thing, but no. In fact, the lyrics to the song were penned by aspiring lyricist Tom Whitlock who was in fact Moroders' Ferrari mechanic. Whitlock also wrote the lyrics to "Take My Breath Away." He did not, however, have anything to do with the song "Playing With the Boys" -- a song that is indeed all Loggins.  

And it is exactly that song, and the beach volleyball scene it was written for, that pushes Top Gun into the realm of the midnight movie. Clearly the scene was intended for the ladies and the ladies alike. In one of the "making of" docs in the special features, director Tony Scott admits that filming this scene was very much like capturing soft porn: he had all "the boys" get shirtless, slicked them with baby oil and had them strike muscle poses between volleys. And so it was that a big budget Hollywood movie filled with familiar faced-actors would become everything it wasn't meant to be: it became what it really is-- a joke. In watching the extras and behind-the-scenes footage I am amazed at the fact that no CGI was employed to create those entertaining dogfight scenes. The Hollywood people and the Military pilot people really worked their respective kinks out together to create some of the best aerial combat sequences ever seen in movies before computers took over. Maybe this attention to detail concerning these action shots account for the apparent lack of story. Quentin Tarantino, as seen in the 1994 movie Sleep With Me, offers a re-analysis of Top Gun by insisting that the weak story-line has nothing to do with being a crap script but a heroic, bromance of a love story told by not-so-hidden homoerotic subtext that permeates the movie. 

I'd never thought of Top Gun in that way before, but I have to admit that it really works. There is truly something of a man to man bromance that ties the whole wreck of a movie together. Nothing is mentioned of it in the extensive six hours of bonus features that essentially flesh out the back story of what it was like for Hollywood producers to explain to exceptionally trained Navy fighter pilots why "Ma and Pa in Oklahoma" want to see the Top Gun class situated on the deck of an aircraft carrier, flanked by F-14s, taught by a blonde, steamed stocking-clad sex-pot who has the hots for a certain Maverick sitting in the front row like a teacher's pet while a giant American flag wags its colors patriotically in the background. (Doesn't she know he's on the edge?) It was satisfying to hear all those pilots finally have it out about how preposterous it was to be pushed to the limits of Blockbuster moviemaking when they've been trained to withstand seven Gs and countless hours spent sweating through aeronautical science manuals in actual classrooms. 
And did you know that of all the actors who played Top Gun pilots in the film, Val Kilmer was the only one who refused to fly along with one of those real fighter pilots in an F-14? A chance like that comes along only once in a lifetime! Tom Cruise went up, though he became desperately ill, so much so that he apparently ran out of receptacles in which he could vomit. I cannot count myself a fan of the Cruise, but that is a point in his favor in my book. Who knows, maybe Val thought something of his "Iceman" character would be destroyed by actually flying like "Iceman" would. I'd like to grant him that artistic excuse, but I can't, not after what I've seen and learned from the Blue Angels and the lucky ladies and gentlemen of the media who have been honored enough to have been invited to fly with them. I've seen countless clips of this sort of footage and every single reporter and journalist filmed while flying with the Blue Angels, except one, has succumbed to G-LOC (not a hip-hop collaboration of G-Unit and Tone-Loc, but an acronym for G-force induced Loss Of Consciousness, or black out), Gray Out (loss of color vision, a pre-curser to G-LOC) and possible Red Out (experiencing extreme negative g forces resulting in the bursting of blood vessels in the eyes.) If these brave men and women can do it, and all the other actors cast as Top Gun pilots in a movie decidedly titled Top Gun can do it, then why the crap didn't Val? What bothers me more is that in one interview he claims that the only people more full of themselves after actors and rock stars are the real Top Gun pilots who, he explains, claimed at the time of the movies' production that he, Val Kilmer, resembled them the most because he, "had the best hair." Maybe he's a wuss after all.

Anyway, I'll have to wait until next year for my Blue Angels to come back to town. Until then I'll spin Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town" in anticipation and try to find a movie to properly replace what I thought Top Gun would satisfy. Don't get me wrong, it's still an entertaining movie, but nothing I can really get behind if you know what I mean. It's a laugh-riot, a drinking game in the making that you'll think of every time you hear one of the soundtrack hit singles sneak up on you while browsing though the freezer section. Maybe Team America World Police will suffice as a rousing replacement. Because when it comes to admiring the real mavericks of America, as Joe Six-pack knows -- the real "mavericks who aren't afraid of getting all mavericky" up in this, to quote Tina Fey, they are the ones who defy all logic by being all that and more than they can be. And one doesn't need to become a veteran to know it, dream it and be it. Please make the effort to do what you have to do so that you can vote as your conscience dictates in this years' election. And play the "maverick" drinking game while you still can!


Posted by Billyjam, July 22, 2008 09:00am | Post a Comment
Donna Summer's new album Crayons
At a recent music event in San Francisco, where a guy was busily handing out flyers promoting the upcoming Bay Area concert appearance by Donna Summer, I overheard a short but slightly-heated conversation between the guy handing out the flyers for the disco diva and someone walking by.

"Has Donna Summer been fully forgiven for allegedly been homophobic and......?" the passerby began asking, innocently enough it seemed. But before he could even fully finish his question, the street promoter, sounding jaded at still fielding this seemingly recurring question on a long dead topic, had cut him short: "It's not true. It never happened. It was a rumor based on a myth."

Known as the "gay myth" this nasty slice of misinformation has haunted Donna Summer for the last 25 years and, apparently, seems like it will never fully die. The rumor started in 1983, back when the disco bubble had popped and Summer's career along with it. She had also recently gotten divorced, gotten into a mental funk, and consequently become dependent on anti-depressant medication. Because of all of this, the singer, who had topped the charts with songs like "Bad Girls," had found God and become aDonna Summer born again Christian. More importantly it was when the AIDS crisis was tightening its frightening choke-hold on the gay community -- long Summer's core dedicated fan base.

Continue reading...
BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  >>  NEXT