Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Party On Plastic (What's Bootsy Doin'?)" By Bootsy Collins

Here's a nasty chunk of funk that Bootsy dropped in 1988. The track didn't get a lot of play upon its release in the U.S., but it was cool to know that the legendary bass man was still keepin' things good and funky in the late '80s. The intro features a nice old-school-style rap by female singing/rap duo Pretty Fatt. And Bootsy lays down a massive space bass solo on the song. The song's intentionally cheesy video is a lot of fun and features a giant Bootzilla terrorizing Japan with his monster funk.

The track is from the album What's Bootsy Doin'? (1988). It was the ace funkster's first album after a six-year hiatus from the music scene. On this album, Bootsy reunites with fellow P-Funk alums Bernie Worrell, Fred Wesley and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper. The album also features newcomers such as Mico Wave and Godmoma. Bootsy's late brother, Catfish, also appears on the album.

Download Party On Plastic (What's Bootsy Doin'?) at Amazon

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thomas Dolby Brings The Funk On A Live Performance of "She Blinded Me With Science"

British new wave funkster Thomas Dolby performs his hit song "She Blinded Me With Science" live at Riverside Studios in London in 1983. This version of the song is even funkier than the studio version.

Dolby released "She Blinded Me With Science" along with its zany music video back in 1982. The track did extremely well on the charts, and the music video received heavy rotation on MTV, causing the eccentric synth wiz to blow up. Dolby was one of the vanguards of the synth-pop movement of the early '80s and has consistently recorded interesting and inventive music during his long musical career.

In addition to his solo work, Dolby has produced and written music for a number of distinguished artists. Some of the artists and bands with whom Dolby has collaborated include George Clinton, Joni Mitchell, Lene Lovich, David Byrne, Joan Armatrading, Foreigner, Andy Partridge, Whodini, Imogen Heap, Jerry Garcia, David Bowie and Bob Weir, among a slew of others.

Related blog entry: Hyperactive! by Thomas Dolby: New Wave At Its Funkiest

Friday, July 27, 2012

James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince Show Off Their Best Moves In Funky Dance Off

I've been watching this really dope compilation of three of the baddest performers to ever hit the stage cuttin' loose. The clip is appropriately set to James Brown's funk classic "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine." The video shows James Brown, Prince and Michael Jackson bustin' some of their best moves on stage. One of the cool things about this clip is that it shows what a tremendous influence James had on both MJ and Prince as performers. They both learned a lot from the Godfather, including the ability to completely mesmerize an audience.

It's interesting to watch the three performers distinct styles on stage. All three bring tons of charisma to their live shows, and, of course, incredible dancing. Also, they never disappoint their audiences, always giving it 110 percent for every show. There are very few, if any, current performers who can captivate an audience like MJ, Prince and James. Over the last five years, we lost probably the two greatest performers in music history: James Brown and Michael Jackson. Fortunately, we still have His Royal Badness, who continues to electrify audiences with his high-voltage performances. The video also contains two brief dance segments of legendary entertainers Fred Astaire and Cab Calloway doin' their thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Get Up Off Your Fat" by Rose Royce

"Get Up Off Your Fat" is a great underrated track by '70s R&B/funk band Rose Royce. The groove creeps along at a nice funky stroll and boasts a treacherous bass line. The song also has a cool Sly Stone-ish intro and bridge. It's super-smooth funk and quite irresistible.

This track is from Rose Royce's third album titled Rose Royce III: Strikes Again! (1978), but it wasn't released as a single. I always thought it should have been since it's such a hot track. The two singles from the album were "I'm in Love (And I Love the Feeling)" and "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," which was a pretty big hit. The song reached #5 on the U.S. R&B charts and #32 on the U.S. pop charts. It also did extremely well across the pond, peaking at #2 on the UK charts. Norman Whitfield produced Rose Royce III: Strikes Again! and wrote most the album's tracks, including "Get Up Off Your Fat."

Rose Royce was formed in Los Angeles in 1973 and was comprised of lead vocalist Gwen Dickey (stage name Rose Norwalt ); Kenny Copeland (trumpet, lead vocals); Michael Moore (saxaphone); Kenji Brown (guitar, lead vocals); Henry Garner (drums); Terral "Terry" Santiel (congas); Lequeint "Duke" Jobe (bass); Freddie Dunn (trumpet); and Michael Nash (keyboards).

Rose Royce blew up big upon the release of their soundtrack for the hit comedy Car Wash in 1976. The soundtrack spawned three top ten hits ("I'm Going Down," "Car Wash," and "I Wanna Get Next To You"). "Car Wash" topped both the pop and R&B singles charts. The band still performs today with a few lineup changes and has a strong following in the UK.

Download track at Amazon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The 2012 Soul Rebel Festival Is Set For September 8th

The Mighty Diamonds
The 11th Annual Soul Rebel Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 8th. The festival will take place at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado. The all-day event will run from 1:00 pm to 10:00 p.m.

According to their website, the Soul Rebel Festival is a grassroots reggae, Afro Pop, world, American roots music festival. The festival’s mission is to "provide cultural harmony, understanding and awareness through the positive medium of music and the arts."

The event will feature a great lineup of musical talent. Some of the musical acts scheduled to perform at the festival include the Mighty Diamonds, the Melodians, Yami Bolo, the Yellow Wall Dub Squad, Frankie Paul, DUTONIC KRU, Selasee and Lion SoulJahs, among others.

For more festival info, visit their website.

The Commodores Perform Funk Hit "Fancy Dancer" Live On The Midnight Special

Here's a great clip of the Commodores performing their bodacious funk hit "Fancy Dancer" live on the late-night music variety show The Midnight Special back in 1976. The band was at its funk pinnacle here. The performance is incredibly tight: The bass, horns, drums, vocals, keyboards and guitar are all clicking like a well-oiled funk motor. The groove has an almost seductive flow. You can envision the fancy dancer in the song doing her thing on the dance floor.

I've always felt that "Fancy Dancer" was kind of underrated. I think it's significantly funkier than their signature dance smash "Brick House," another one of the band's funky odes to a sexy woman. The funk is just nastier and rawer on "Fancy Dancer" in my opinion. It's a sick track, and the power of its funk can't be denied.

And it's cool to see Lionel Richie getting waist-deep in the funk with a gritty, sweat-stained performance. People sometimes forget that Richie could funk with the best of them before he left the Commodores in 1982 to embark on an incredibly successful solo career as a polished pop/soul balladeer. In his solo career, he left the funk far behind, which was probably the savvy thing to do from a business standpoint. The genre's popularity was on the decline around that  time, so he utilized his considerable gifts as a ballad writer. That gift shot him from stardom to superstardom. Nonetheless, I still missed him as the Commodore's front man. Richie and the crew made a great unit.

However, I do like a lot of the stuff that Richie recorded as a solo artist, but I still prefer his work with the Commodores. Plus, in addition to the funk tracks, he recorded some pretty amazing ballads while he was a member of the band, including "Easy," "Sail On" and "Three Times a Lady."

"Fancy Dancer" is from the Commodore's fourth studio album Hot on the Tracks (1976). It was written by Richie and Ronald LaPread, who was the bassist for the Commodores. The track had a strong showing on the charts. It reached #9 on the R&B charts, #39 on the pop charts, and #33 on the dance charts.

Downlad Studio Version Fancy Dancer at Amazon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Eurythmics Perform "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" Live With Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder joins Eurythmics on stage for a beautiful rendition of the British duo's hit "There Must Be An Angel (Playing with My Heart)." The performance is from the 1999 Brit Awards. Stevie delivers a brilliant harmonica solo, and Annie Lennox's voice sounds amazing as usual. Stevie also contributes a few vocals himself and lets loose with a couple of nice runs. I really dig the song's arrangement here. It's more organic and less synth-driven than the original recording, with Dave Stewart playing the acoustic guitar instead of keyboards. The studio version is great too, but this live performance really brings out the soul of song in my opinion. 

"There Must an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" is from Eurythmics' fifth album Be Yourself Tonight (1985). The Motown-inspired love song was penned by Lennox and Stewart, who also produced it. The track has a great gospel-tinged bridge and an angelic chorus. And Stevie Wonder's soul-stirring harmonica solo adds to the track immensely. The song was big hit across the globe, charting in the top ten in a number of countries. It reached #1 in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Brazil and Poland. The song was also a modest hit in the U.S., climbing to #22 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The track has been covered by several musical artists, including Kylie Minogue, Brittany Murphy, Fantastic Plastic Machine and Jessica G. Pilnäs. Eurythmics also performed the song live with the late opera legend Luciano Pavarotti during the concert Pavarotti and Friends in 2000.

Related blog entry: Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This): New Wave Soul

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Marilyn Manson, The Offspring, and RZA Among Lineup For The 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival

Next month, a slew of talented musical acts will take the stage at the fifth annual Sunset Strip Music Festival. The three-day event will kick off on August 16th and will run through August 18th. The performances for the outdoor portion of the festival will take place on two outdoor stages on Sunset Boulevard between Doheny Drive and San Vicente Blvd. Performances will also take place at the following venues: the Viper Room, Key Club, the Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go-Go and the House of Blues.

The event will feature a diverse lineup of musical talent that includes Marilyn Manson, the Offpsring, RZA, Peter Murphy, Bad Religion, De La Soul, Black Label Society, Hank III, Far East Movement, James Ingram and Quiet Riot, among many others. There will be more than 50 bands performing throughout the day.

The festival will also pay tribute to the music and legacy of influential L.A. band the Doors. The tribute will take place at the House of Blues on August 16 and will feature an all-star band celebrating the legendary foursome's musical legacy. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"I Can't Get Next To You" By The Temptations

"I Can't Get Next To You" by The Temptations is one of the most joyful songs about unrequited love I've ever heard. Generally unrequited love songs are kind of mopey, and the person singing generally sounds downcast and lovesick. On this cut, the Tempts sound energized by the rejection. If anything, being constantly shot down makes them even more pumped up and determined to win the girl over.

Compare it to their other smash about unrequited love, "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)." On that track, the song's narrator is kind of passive and dreamy. It's just the opposite on "On I Can't Get Next To You," where they are proactive about getting the girl. Their passion is so strong that they feel they can perform miracles: "I can build a castle from a single grain of sand/I can make a ship sail on dry land."

But all their supernatural powers mean nothing without the object of their affection. Hyperbole, a common feature of poetry, is skillfully employed on the song's lyrics. I also dig the tag-team delivery and vocal interplay of the Tempts here. There's a real sense of camaraderie among the five group members, with each Tempt singing a separate line from the song's verses.

The track was penned by the brilliant Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. And Whitfield also produced the track. The legendary Funk Brothers provided the instrumentation for the soulful, high-energy groove.

"I Can't Get Next To You" was the lead-off single from the the Temptation's album Puzzle People, released in 1969.  The song was an instant smash. It spent five weeks atop the Billboard Top R&B Singles Chart and was #1 for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is one of the group's best-selling tracks.

Download I Can't Get Next To You at Amazon

Related blog entry: The Temptations Deliver The Funk On Hit "Shakey Ground."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bootsy Collins, Jack White, Green Day and Neil Young Set To Perform At Voodoo Experience 2012

Jack White
The 14th annual Voodoo Music and Arts Experience will showcase a slew of big-name talent come October. The three-day festival will take place in New Orleans' City Park on October 26-28. Some of the musical acts scheduled to hit the stage at the festival include Green Day, Jack White, Bootsy Collins, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Dave Stewart, Thomas Dolby, Skrillex, Silversun Pickups and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, among many other talented performers.

The inaugural Voodoo Experience took place on October 30, 1999. It was a one-day event held at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. The festival drew about 8,000 people, and Wyclef Jean and the Refugee All-Stars were the headliners. The festival has grown considerably over the years since its fairly humble beginnings. Now going into its 14th year, the annual event has hosted more than 450 artists and has drawn close to a million attendees. Also, the festival has been twice nominated for Pollstar's Music Festival of the Year. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Everything Is Cool" by T-Connection

Bahamas-born band T-Connection brought the funk on the hot track "Everything Is Cool" back in 1981. The rollin' funk cut has a nice smooth flow with a dope loafin' bass line. There's also plenty of  nasty guitar work, including a few sweet licks on the talk box. It's just a really chill, laid-back  groove but also quite funky.

T-Connection was formed in Nassau, Bahamas in 1975 by keyboardist/vocalist/ guitarist Theophilus "T" Coakley. The other members of the band included Theophilus' brother Kirkwood Coakley (bass/drums), David Mackey (guitars) and Anthony Flowers (drums and percussion). Shortly after their formation, the band relocated to Miami, Florida where they signed a record deal with Dash Records, an offshoot of Miami's T.K. Disco. T-Connection was generally labeled a funk/disco outfit, but their sound was much more varied than that. Their sound was a fusion of pop, junkanoo, funk, R&B, disco and jazz.

The band had its first hit in 1976 with the instrumental track "Disco Magic," which reached #16 on the  U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.  T-Connection scored their biggest hit the following year with the disco/funk track "Do What You Wanna Do." The tracked topped the the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club play chart in 1977, and it peaked at #46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #15 on the U.S. R&B charts.

The band also fared quite well in the UK, posting five entries on the UK charts, with "Do What You Wanna Do" as their highest placing at #11.

"Everything This Is Cool" is the title track from their fifth studio album, which was released in 1981. The song had a strong showing on the charts, peaking at #15 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart.

T-Connection officially disbanded in 1985, but in the last two years, they have reassembled for special performances in the Bahamas. The band has released several retrospectives over the years, including the top-notch greatest-hits collection Classic Masters, released in 2002.

Download Track at Amazon

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stevie Wonder, Metallica And Neil Young Headlining Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival 2012

Some of the biggest  names in music will be hitting the stage at the fifth annual Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco, California next month. The three-day event is set to kick off on August 10th in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and will run through August 12th. The festival will offer a diverse lineup of high-caliber talent, with more than 60 musical acts on the roster. Some of the artists and bands scheduled to perform at the festival include Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Beck, Big Boi, Norah Jones, Santigold and Franz Ferdinand, among a slew of others.

The festival made its debut in 2008, and even in its first year, it was pulling in big-name talent, including Radiohead, Beck and the Black Keys. The festival draws 40,000 to 60,000 attendees a day. For more festival info, visit their website.

Jermaine Jackson's "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" Featuring Michael Jackson

"Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" is a stellar cut by Jermaine Jackson that features his superstar baby bro Michael. The song's hypnotic groove has a mysterious, dreamy vibe that fits the lyrical content extremely well, and it provides a great showcase for Jermaine and MJ's excellent vocal exchanges. Their voices complement one another nicely, evoking memories of the amazing chemistry that the two shared on early Jackson 5 hits.  I think the song is really underrated and is one of Jermaine's best tracks as a solo artist.

The song is from Jermaine's 1984 album Dynamite. It was never officially released as a single due to legal difficulties between MJ's label, Epic, and Jermaine's label, Arista. Nevertheless, the song received tons of airplay. But at the time, Billboard was unable to show the song on any of its "single" charts. However, the track did register on Radio and Records Top 40 chart, a chart based solely on airplay, peaking at # 6 in June 1984.

And the track performed the strongest on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart, where it spent three weeks at #1 in June of '84. Additionally, the song was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group at the 1985 Grammy Awards.

"Tell Me I'm Dreaming (Too Good To Be True)" was written by Michael Omartian, Bruce Sudano and Jay Grusca. Omartian also produced and arranged the track as well as played keyboards and percussion on it. The track also features Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar, Nathan East on bass, and John Robinson on drums. Jermaine plays percussion on the track, and until recently, I thought he was playing the bass part as well. It was kind of disappointing to learn that he wasn't, but he makes up for it big-time with a dope vocal performance.

The song was featured on the set list of the Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984, and Jermaine held down the bass line himself during those performances.

Download song at Amazon

Related blog entry: Jermaine Jackson Gets Funky On The Arsenio Hall Show

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Shake Everything You Got" By Maceo Parker

The legendary horn section from the J.B.'s (Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis) lays down some massive brontosaurus funk on this badass live performance of Maceo's song "Shake Everything You Got." In addition to the tight horns, the rest of the band are bringin' it as well. Bassist Jerome Preston provides some thumpin' bottom, and drummer Jamal Thomas is killin' it on the drums. And guitarist Bruno Speight and keyboardist William Boulware are in the mix keeping the funk good and nasty.  Additionally, Fred Wesley blows up the the stage with a super-funky trombone solo.

"Shake Everything You Got" is from Maceo's two-disc album Roots & Grooves, released in 2007. Disc one features some great covers of Ray Charles classics such as "Hit The Road Jack," Hallelujah I Love Her So," "What I'd Say" and "Georgia On My Mind." Disc two contains original funk tracks written by Maceo, including "Advanced Funk," "Off The Hook" and "Shake Everything You Got."

Maceo will be touring all this month and has a show scheduled  tomorrow at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Check out Maceo's website for more upcoming tour dates.

Download "Shake Everything You Got" at Amazon

Related blog entry: Maceo Parker: Funk's Legendary Saxman

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Detroit Jazz Festival 2012 Kicks Off At The End Of August

Sonny Rollins
The 33rd Annual Detroit Jazz Festival is set to kick off on August 31st and will run through September 3rd. The festival will feature a top-notch lineup of more than 100 acts. The free four-day festival is scheduled to take place over several city blocks in downtown Detroit, from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius Park on five stages. The event will also offer educational activities for adults and children, including fireworks, late-night jam sessions and rare opportunities to meet the artists and much more.

Some of the high-caliber talent scheduled to take the stage at the festival include Sonny Rollins; Wynton Marsalis Quintet; Terence Blanchard Quartet; Pat Metheny Unity Band with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben Williams; Chick Corea, Gary Burton with the Harlem String Quartet; Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade; among many others. The festival will also have an Art Blakey Tribute, featuring Terence Blanchard as the musical director.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is managed and produced by the Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation, a non-profit organization formed in 2006. For more info about the festival, visit their website.

Faith Evans Brings Some Sultry Soul To Her Song "Mesmerized"

"Mesmerized" is my favorite track by R&B singer/songwriter Faith Evans. The song has a great old-school 1970s flavor to it. It sounds like a track that soul/funk divas like Marva Whitney or Lynn Collins might have recorded back in the day. The track has a bad funk groove and a sick chorus. And Evans tears it up with her sultry, soulful voice. She is extremely underrated in my view. She's a talented singer who doesn't have to rely on Auto-Tune or other studio tricks to sound good. Evans is the real deal.

The track is from Evans' fourth studio album The First Lady, released in 2005. This was the singer's first album on Capitol Records after her departure from Bad Boy Records in 2003. She wrote the song with hip hop/R&B producer Chucky Thompson, and the track samples a part of George Benson's song "Footin' It." "Mesmerized" performed well on the charts, reaching #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs. It also charted at #19 in both Australia and the Netherlands.

Download Mesmerized at Amazon