Archive for Tongue and Groove

Adjusting to things

Rebecca Black’s “The Great Divide,” after a 10-week stay, has finally slid out of the Top 50 on Billboard’s dance-club chart. Which is fine: it’s time to focus on “Foolish.” For now, there exists a lyric video, on RB’s own channel, and an audio-only track which purports to be from “RebeccaVEVO” but which bears no Vevo logo.

Tomorrow afternoon, the full-fledged video, at least slightly steamy, shows up on RB’s channel. If you can’t wait that long, Entertainment Weekly got it first.


It’s a great magnetic field

No, there’s no reason why you can’t hang a fuzz pedal off an electric harp. Why do you ask?


They were billing themselves as “2 Girls 1 Harp,” and — no, I’m not going there. Besides, there are clearly three harps being played here.

I note for reference that besides Black Sabbath, they can do white satin.

(Via Miss Cellania.)


There’s no exception to the rule

That bony guy in the dark robe comes calling for us all:

Cuba Gooding Sr. was found dead in his car in Los Angeles, according to ABC. He was 72.

The soul singer was reportedly found slumped over inside his car in Woodland Hills, Calif. at 12:58 p.m. on Thursday, but he could not be resuscitated by CPR. A spokesperson with the Los Angeles Fire Department would not confirm Gooding Sr’s identity, but confirmed to Variety that they responded to a call on Ventura Blvd. and determined the death of an adult male at that same time.

Gooding had four children, of whom the best known was Cuba Jr., who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Jerry Maguire (1996), playing a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. (“Show me the money!”) But you remember Cuba Sr. for this:

It jolts me a little, then a lot, to remember that “Everybody Plays the Fool” is forty-five years old.


I got a replay up in Reno

For clearing off the board; now the other pinball players, they simply say, “Oh, Lord.”

(Via BoingBoing.)

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Nothing more than feels

“Feels” as a noun seems uncomfortable to me, especially when it’s rendered with a Z, but I suspect it’s too late to do anything about it now.

Wilmington, Illinois singer/somgwriter Kiara Saulters, known professionally as “Kiiara,” actually had the temerity to record a song called “Feels.” Released as the second single from her low kii savage EP, following the big hit “Gold,” “Feels” is weirdly atmospheric and liberally salted with F-bombs, perhaps even more so than “Two Weeks” by FKA twigs, whose emotional range it shares.

For my introduction to “Feels,” I am indebted to, yes, Rebecca Black, who cut an acoustic cover with Olivia O’Brien this week under the auspices of Vevo. If anything, the F-bombs seem even more prominent here, what with two voices joined together. If you stay for the whole video and wait for a couple of seconds, you get the audio (but not the video) for RB’s single “The Great Divide,” which in its Crash Cove remix dropped one spot on Billboard’s dance-club chart this week, to #34. And the fact that Vevo is getting involved makes me wonder if there’s going to be some industrial-strength push behind “Foolish,” the next Rebecca Black single.

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A tale from the Vinyl Jungle

Phase One:

“I’ll take Rock Bands for $800, Alex.”

The Cars; Eagles; Earth, Wind and Fire; Billy Joel; Little Feat; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; Bob Seger; U2; Van Halen; and Yes.

“Who has opened for the J. Geils Band?”

Phase Two:

From Fark, four years ago:

J. Geils sues J. Geils for using the name J. Geils while J. Geils goes on tour despite not having J. Geils in the band. J. Geils unavailable for comment, but J. Geils was willing to discuss the lawsuit.

To explain:

The J. Geils Band embarked on a short U.S. tour in August/September 2012. However, they left for the tour without J. Geils. Geils filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the other members of the group over use of the name for a tour without him. He named band members Richard Salwitz, Danny Klein, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman in the lawsuit filed in Boston Superior Court, claiming that they “planned and conspired” to continue touring without him, and were unlawfully using the group’s trademarked name. Geils, angry at his bandmates for what they did, permanently left the band.

Phase the Last:

And now “permanently” is, um, permanent:

John Warren Geils Jr., the artist known professionally as J. Geils and part of the rock group The J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Massachusetts home. He was 71.

My blood runs cold.

Nightmares … and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle, the sixth LP from Geils and then-friends, came out in 1974. And it’s a shame that whatever they once had, it must of got lost.

(List of opening acts from Dave Marsh’s The Book of Rock Lists, updated by me.)

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Uee, Uee

Her family named her Kim Yu-jin, but for most of her life she’s been simply Uee, and you might think that one does not adopt a name shorter than Cher’s without some attitude slipping in. I’m not seeing any myself. I’d mentioned yesterday that she’d had a solo hit in 2011, and there were others, but most of her musical career has been spent as a member of the girl group After School.

Uee recommends this soft drink

Uee stretches out

Uee stands tall-ish

“First Love,” whose title would seem to belie its pole-dancing imagery, sold over 600,000 copies for After School in 2013.

And Uee’s a far better singer, or actor, or dancer even, than she is a pitcher:

She’d be the first to admit it, too.


Meanwhile in 1964

First week of April 1964, this was the very top of the Billboard Hot 100:

Billboard Hot 100 4 April 1964

This moptop monopoly was made possible by the fact that three different record labels were involved. (Tollie was a subsidiary of Vee-Jay which released 48 singles over two years, eight of which charted, and four of which were by the Beatles.)

If this seems like a heck of a lot of Beatles, consider the next week, in which the Fab Four had a fab fourteen entries on the Hot 100, up from twelve. They’d vacated two spots in the Top 5, replaced by Terry Stafford’s “Suspicion” at #3 and Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” at #5, but they held down positions #7, #9, #14, #38, #48, #50, #52, #61, #74, #78 and #81. (Here’s the complete chart.)

And two more labels would eventually be involved, reissuing tracks from the 1961 Tony Sheridan sessions with “The Beat Brothers,” MGM with “My Bonnie” and “The Saints,” and Atco with “Ain’t She Sweet,” the only Sheridan track on which any Beatle sings lead. (Before you ask: it’s John.)

Still, I am heartened, five decades and change later, by the fact that there was still room in the Top Ten for the likes of Satchmo.

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Do you have tabs for this?

Leroy Anderson’s 1950 composition The Typewriter does in fact require a typewriter on stage, though there’s a catch:

The typewriter is modified so that only two keys work; although many listeners have suspected that stenographers are enlisted to “play” the typewriter, Anderson reported that only professional drummers have sufficient wrist flexibility.

Suppose you had non-drummers and no orchestra? Then what?

“Challenge accepted,” say the Boston Typewriter Orchestra:

Though admittedly, it’s hard on the equipment.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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The go-go bhoot

The sort of person who sends me a link to something like this can be safely said to, um, know me entirely too well:

A young man Kanan (Suraj Sharma) returns to India from Canada to marry his long-term girlfriend Anu (Mehreen Pirzada), but comes to know that as he is a manglik (born under an unlucky star) he has to get married to a tree before getting married to her. He very reluctantly marries the tree, which is duly chopped down after the completion of the ceremony. As a result, from that day onwards he is haunted by the spirit of a woman named Shashi (Anushka Sharma), who lived in that particular tree and hence claims to now be “married” to him.

This is consistent with Hindu astrology:

In Hindu astrology, Mangal Dosha is an astrological combination that occurs if Mars (Mangal) is in the 1st, 2nd (Considered by South Indian Astrologers), 4th, 7th, 8th, or 12th house of the ascendant chart. A person born in the presence of this condition is termed a manglik.

It is believed to be unfavorable for marriages, causing discomfort and tension in relationship, leading to severe disharmony among the spouses and eventually to other bigger problems. This is believed to be caused due to the “fiery” nature of the planet Mars, named after the Roman god of war.

There is a belief that the negative consequences for a single-manglik marriage can be resolved if the manglik first performs a ceremony called a kumbh vivah, in which the manglik “marries” a banana tree, a peepal tree, or a silver or gold idol of the Hindu God Vishnu.

And what of this mysterious tree-dweller?

Anushka Sharma looking pensive

Anushka Sharma, twenty-eight, is a model turned motion-picture star; according to one source, she was the highest-grossing actress in all of India in 2016.

Anushka Sharma posing for one of those lad mags

Anushka Sharma strikes a pose

Her first release in 2017 is Phillauri, which doesn’t seem to have anything much to do with famed Hindu writer Shardha Ram Phillauri. There is, however, a lot of poetry, and, as mentioned before, a wedding to a tree. This being Bollywood, there is also a lot of music:

She has almost 10 million Twitter followers. I can’t imagine why.

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Not that she’s incendiary or anything

Singer/songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs regrets to inform you that her show at Union Hall in Brooklyn has been cancelled:

I’m the most bummed to report that my show on 4/8 at Union Hall is cancelled due to the recent fire at the venue. So glad everyone was okay and that the venue will be able to reopen soon, and I’ll look forward to rescheduling next time I’m out east!

Jenny Owen Youngs working that Jackie De Shannon look

Jenny Owen Youngs gives you that look

Over her twelve-year career, she has opened for a dizzying number of acts, headlined a number of shows, and recorded three albums.

Jenny Owen Youngs' first album, Batten the Hatches

Her first album, Batten the Hatches, was self-released back in 2005 and picked up for reissue by the Nettwerk label two years later, largely on the strength of this song:

The song in question (1) appeared in the second-season premiere of the Showtime series Weeds and (2) was not, um, blipped therein as it is here.

In 2013, she exited The Closet for good and was wed to longtime girlfriend and LGBTQ activist Kristin Russo.


It’s just like heaven

Rosie Hamlin wrote “Angel Baby” when she was fourteen. The record by Rosie and the Originals came out in 1960. It was their only big hit, but it was enough to sustain a career:

From a 2002 PBS special. She was fifty-seven.

And now, at 71, she dwells with the angels for all time.


A likely story

Jane Powell, I am delighted to report, is still with us today, her 88th birthday. She’s been performing for more than 75 years; before she was 13, she had a singing gig on a radio station in Portland, Oregon, making music and selling Victory Bonds for the war effort. (Yes, that war.) She was Suzanne Burce back then; in 1943, after winning a talent competition, she auditioned for Louis B. Mayer of MGM, was signed to a seven-year contract, and was promptly loaned out to United Artists for the lead in the 1944 musical Song of the Open Road, not at all related to the Walt Whitman poem of that title, playing a child star named, um, Jane Powell. MGM thought this name was swell, and before the film was even released, assigned her the stage name “Jane Powell.”

Jane Powell does a boudoir shot

Jane Powell stands tall

Apparently she wasn’t impressed by life in MGM’s musical unit:

Those movies didn’t reflect reality. I was at MGM for 11 years and nobody ever let me play anything but teenagers. I was 25 years old with kids of my own and it was getting ridiculous. Publicity was froth. Everything you said was monitored. With me, they didn’t have to worry. I never had anything to say, anyway.

She did, however, have things to sing:

Jane Powell's The Girl Most Likely LP

The Girl Most Likely, a 1958 RKO picture, starred Jane as a girl who wound up engaged to three guys. Capitol issued no single from the soundtrack, though I remember “I Don’t Know What I Want”. She did have one hit single: a cover of Cole Porter’s “True Love,” from the soundtrack of High Society (1956), where it was sung by Bing Crosby with a couple of words from Grace Kelly.

Jane’s recording (Verve 2018) charted at #15, not bad at all for a one-hit wonder, but nothing was going to beat der Bingle, who claimed the #3 spot.

Jane Powell was married five times, the last time to child star turned PR man Dickie Moore, whom she met in 1984 while he was writing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: (But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car) They had 27 years together, from 1988 until Moore’s death last year.


There have been better weeks

Upward progress has been halted for now:

The Great Divide by Rebecca Black at 25 on Billboard dance chart

Still, seven weeks in Billboard. “Friday” managed only six. And there were other issues to contend with:

Shortly thereafter:

So it’s not been her week. Still, she keeps on singing. “Issues” was Julia Michaels’ debut single, appearing in January of this year:

And hey, it keeps this department humming. Still, there’s a Rebecca Black original on the way:

There was room for 30, but it filled up almost instantly.


A warmish winter

I mean, it’s hot enough to melt your confections:

(Offer not good, or at least not funny, south of the equator.)

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Hum a tune, save a life

It’s the way CPR works:

Music can be a lifesaver — literally.

When first responders are being taught to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation, known as CPR, on an adult whose heart has stopped beating, they’re told to administer 2-inch sternum compressions (between the nipples) at a rate of around 100 beats per minute (bpm). That’s a little less than twice a second, and can be hard to approximate. So thank goodness for pop music.

“Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees is a classic example of a song that hits that 100 bpm benchmark (and has obvious connotations to the task at hand). Ditto Gloria Gaynor’s breakup anthem, “I Will Survive.” Looking for something a little less on the nose? Try Hanson’s mega-hit “MMMBop.” All of those tracks appear on a 100-bpm playlist released this week by New York Presbyterian Hospital.

And if you dig reverse psychology, there’s Norman Greenbaum’s evergreen “Spirit in the Sky” — and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”

(Via Fark.)

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Six weeks on

“The Great Divide” continues to unite us on the dance floor, up two spots from last week:

The Great Divide

And yet another cover served up, this one a duet with Drumaq. The original was recorded last year by Noah Cyrus, who is Miley’s younger sister. (“Lana Montana”?)

Warning: One brief untoward utterance at the end.



“Walk right in,” the song begins. “Sit right down:”

Oh, the song absolutely was a hit for the Rooftop Singers, two weeks at #1 in 1963, and they even get a little songwriting credit for their sparkling-clean version —

But the original was old even then: in 1929, Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers recorded “Walk Right In” with considerably more complexity — and a kazoo solo!

Heaven knows we don’t get enough kazoo solos. Herewith, an attempt to redress that issue. First, Dion, despite the titling actually post-Belmonts, with “Little Diane” (1962):

Ginny Arnell, in a song they will never, ever play on the radio anymore, from the very end of 1963:

Even the Beatles — okay, one ex-Beatle — dug the buzz:

And speaking of buzz, a 1982 classic from the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra:

We may now put aside this keyword for a decade or two.

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Musique afrique?

Jeanne Galice — call her Jain — is twenty-five, musically gifted, about ten degrees off plumb, and she has one album out: Zanaka (2015), which the cataloguers at Discogs have described as “Reggae, Funk/Soul, Pop.” Somewhere in the middle of that continuum is track eight, “Makeba,” a sort of tribute to the late Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), unbelievably catchy and yet visually implausible.

That bit of drawing-room silliness at the beginning is actually the end of the video for “Come”, the first track from Zanaka. (“Zanaka” means “child” in Malagasy; Jain’s mother has roots both in France and Madagascar.)

Jain is currently touring North America; she won one of three Grulke Prizes at SXSW this year. Said they:

The Grulke Prize winner for Developing Non-U.S. Act is Jain. A captivating French singer-songwriter, Jain has already reached Platinum status with her album Zanaka. Her unique sounds draw listeners in with their dazzling international flavor and magnetic hooks. Though success has been quick in Europe, she’s been working on her music since she was a teenager moving around the world with stops in the Congo, Abu Dhabi, and Paris.

Zanaka has no US distributor as yet, though Amazon will sell it to you as an import.

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The motor cooled down

Some thoughts on the life and times of Charles Edward Anderson Berry (1926-2017), the man who caught Maybellene at the top of the hill, and much, much more.

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Not the usual J-pop

Kana Nishino gets a mention here because:

  • It’s her 28th birthday;
  • Unlike many J-pop artists, she writes most of her own lyrics.

Neither of these necessarily explains why she had a hit record titled “Esperanza”:

Still, why shouldn’t the Japanese be treated to an occasional Latinesque beat?

Of course, Kana ranks high on the Disturbingly Cute scale, as is seemingly mandatory in J-pop:

Photo from session for Kana Nishino's album To Love

Kana Nishino in cover art

Portrait of Kana Nishino

Okay, one more single. This is “Aitakute Aitakute” (“I miss you, I miss you”), which is perhaps more typical J-pop:

For some reason, I never get tired of this stuff.


A walking, talking melody

Chart progress: continuing.

The Great Divide by Rebecca Black at 25 on the Billboard dance chart

Meanwhile, Kurt Hugo Schneider has contributed this song to the cause:

We can dig it, as they used to say back in the day.


While the city dreams

Robin Trower, after leaving Procol Harum, embraced the power-trio format, with James Dewar on both bass and vocals. By 1977, the trio had grown to a quartet, with Dewar still out front but Rustee Allen taking over on bass. This ensemble, with drummer Bill Lordan, cut In City Dreams, which eventually became my favorite Trower album, mostly due to its opening track, “Somebody Calling,” based on a ferocious bass line — Allen, after all, had replaced Larry Graham in Sly’s Family Stone — and featuring some Trower licks that Hendrix himself might have appreciated. The studio track still sounds amazing today — in fact, I spun a tape of it on Monday’s commute, mostly to help me forget it was Monday — but it’s deeply satisfying to know that Trower still has the chops.

This performance was recorded in Glasgow last fall. Trower turned 72 this month.



“The Great Divide” continues to climb the dance-club chart:

The Great Divide by Rebecca Black at 27 on the Billboard dance-club chart

And there is, yes, another cover for your delectation, this time of “Starboy” by The Weeknd.

You should probably consider this totally unsafe for your workplace, what with the pseudo-Oedipal references scattered throughout.


The standard Fate

They buried John Schroeder last week, which struck me as slightly odd, since he died back on the 31st of January following a long battle with cancer.

Schroeder’s musical career was long and varied; where it intersected with my life was right in the middle of the British Invasion, when he teamed up with pianist Johnny Pearson at Britain’s Pye Records to provide, for lack of a better term, easy-listening sounds that could compete for radio airplay, and maybe even sales, with the beat groups.

At the end of 1964, using the name Sounds Orchestral, they cut this version of a Vince Guaraldi standard:

Pye had no formal US distribution in those days. Cameo-Parkway eventually acquired the US rights, and issued the 45 on Parkway 942 this week in 1965; it climbed to #10 in Billboard, and the subsequent LP made it to #11. Said LP contains two “Scarlatti Potions,” Number 5 and Number 9.

Schroeder and Pearson and various players kept up the Sounds Orchestral name through sixteen albums, the last of which came out in 1977. I saw only the first two of them here in the States until the CD-reissue era.


Not suddenly slinky

Singer Işın Karaca was born in London on this date in 1973 to a Cypriot mother and a Turkish father. (Perhaps understandably, she shortened her surname from Büyükkaraca.) Despite a degree in theatre, she didn’t start singing in earnest until her middle twenties, when she recorded songs for the Turkish version of Disney’s Hercules.

Işın Karaca in blue

Işın Karaca in red and blue

Işın Karaca with singing partner Sefa Chesmeberah

By the middle of last decade she’d put on something like 30 kg, and in 2005 she wrote a book titled Büyümek İçin Küçümek Lazĭm (“Need to get smaller to grow”), which, she said, would not be published until she got down to a size 36. The book came out in 2007.

The chap with her in the third picture is singer Sefa Chesmeberah, who duets with her on the single “Sevmekten Anladığım” (“What I understand about love”), from her so-far-unreleased album Eyvallah (“Okay,” more or less):

The single, the second from the album, was released this past January.

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Seven points higher

First, the chart action:

The Great Divide at 35 on Billboard dance chart

Next, the obligatory cover song:

Which is that Taylor Swift/Zayn Malik song from Fifty Shades Darker. I note in passing that the original peaked at #33 on that same Dance Club chart. (Okay, yeah, it hit #2 on the Hot 100, but you I can’t have everything.)


Up seven notches

Progress continues:

The Great Divide reaches Number 42 on Billboard's Dance Music Chart

Meanwhile, it’s back to the covers, this time a song first recorded by Katy Perry and released a whole two weeks ago. Whatever else you might say about Rebecca Black, she does pay attention to what The Industry is doing.

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Trapeze be unto you

I’d wandered over to the iTunes Store for something or other, and got to wondering: “Geez, how long have I been doing this?”

We turn back the clock ten years and change, and find this statement:

I opened up the Store and said, “If they have [insert song information here], I will sign up, and I will purchase that track, and no doubt there will be others to follow.”

They had that track. It was, in fact, “The West Wind Circus,” a narrative by Adam Miller that Helen Reddy cut back in ’73 for her Long Hard Climb LP; it has stuck in the back of my head for lo, these many years, but never pushed its way far enough to the front for me to track down either the LP or the current CD release. (Yeah, yeah, I know: Helen Reddy. Forget those 45s you threw away; this is a lovely song, beautifully sung.) Ninety-nine cents well spent, I’d say.

There are a couple of live versions on YouTube, but they stay so close to the studio-recorded original that you might as well listen to the LP track, which led off side two:

“Is that all there is to the circus?” Peggy Lee had asked four years earlier. Well, yeah, if you can retain your ironic detachment. Not here, though.


That southern Northern Soul

And the twain shall meet somewhere in between:

I grew up listening to polka, since I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, where there was a large Polish-and-other-Slavic immigrant community. (In fact, until I was in college, I just assumed everywhere had a radio station that played polka and broadcast in Polish for at least part of the day. Well, where I am now there are channels that broadcast Norteño music and broadcast in Spanish part of the day, so that’s similar — a lot of Norteño is polka-influenced.)

And in turn, Norteño, once inflected by other American styles, gave rise to something called Tejano. Did any of this reach the Anglo audience? I give you the Sir Douglas Quintet, practitioners of the Norteño two-step polka beat as filtered through a standard 12-bar blues, who achieved a #13 hit in 1965:

Some background information on Doug Sahm and the band here. Note that despite the lyric, “she,” at least in the video, isn’t much of a mover at all.

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