Saturday, August 29, 2009

൯ MARIAH CAREY, Vision of Love|Emotions|I'll Be There|Without You|Dreamlover|Fantasy|When You Believe|Heartbreaker|Against All Odds|

Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970 in Huntington, Long Island, New York) is an American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States.

Carey co-wrote the tracks on her 1990 debut album Mariah Carey, and she has co-written most of her material since. During the recording, she expressed dissatisfaction with the contributions of producers such as Ric Wake and Rhett Lawrence, whom the executives at Columbia had enlisted to help make the album more commercially viable. Backed by a substantial promotional budget, the album reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for several weeks. It yielded four number-one singles and made Carey a star in the United States, but it was less successful in other countries. Critics rated the album highly, and Carey won Grammys for Best New Artist, and—for her debut single, "Vision of Love"—Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Carey conceived Emotions, her second album, as an homage to Motown soul music (seeMotown Sound), and she worked with Walter Afanasieff and Clivillés & Cole (from the dancegroup C&C Music Factory) on the record. It was released soon after her debut album—in late 1991—but was neither critically nor commercially as successful; Rolling Stone described it as "more of the same, with less interesting material. The title track "Emotions" made Carey the only recording act whose first five singles have reached number one on the U.S. Hot 100 chart, although the album's follow-up singles failed to match this feat. Carey had been lobbying to produce her own songs, and beginning with Emotions, she has co-produced most of her material. "I didn't want [Emotions] to be somebody else's vision of me," she said. "There's more of me on this album."

Although Carey performed live occasionally, stage fright prevented her from embarking on a major tour. Her first widely seen appearance was featured on the television show MTV Unplugged in 1992, and she remarked that she felt her performance that night proved her vocal abilities were not, as some had previously speculated, simulated with studio equipment. Alongside acoustic versions of some of her earlier songs, Carey premiered a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" with her back-up singer Trey Lorenz. The duet was released as a single, reached number one in the U.S., and led to a record deal for Lorenz, whose debut album Carey later co-produced.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds consulted on the album Music Box, which was released later that year and became Carey's most successful worldwide. The album maintained a presence on theBillboard 200 for a staggering 128 weeks. It yielded her first UK Singles Chart number-one, a cover of Badfinger's "Without You", and the U.S. number-ones "Dreamlover" and "Hero".

Carey was named the best-selling female pop artist of the millennium at the 2000 World Music Awards. She has the most number-one singles for a solo artist in the United States (eighteen; second artist overall behind The Beatles), where, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is one of the best-selling female artists and sixteenth overall recording artist. In addition to her commercial accomplishments, Carey has earned five Grammy Awards, and is well-known for her vocal range, power, melismatic style, and use of the whistle register. She is ranked as the best-selling female artist of the U.S. Nielsen SoundScan era (third best-selling artist overall),with sales of over 62.5 million albums in the U.S. and has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.

In 1995, Columbia released Carey's fifth album, Daydream, which combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. A remix of "Fantasy," its first single, featured rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. Carey said that Columbia reacted negatively to her intentions for the album: "Everybody was like 'What, are you crazy?'. They're very nervous about breaking the formula." It became her biggest-selling album in the U.S., and its singles achieved similar success—"Fantasy" became the second single to debut at number one in the U.S. and topped the Canadian Singles Chart for twelve weeks; "One Sweet Day" (a duet with Boyz II Men) spent a record-holding sixteen weeks at number one in the U.S.; and "Always Be My Baby" (co-produced by Jermaine Dupri) was the most successful record on U.S. radio in 1996, according to Billboard magazine.

In 1998 Columbia released the album #1's, a collection of Carey's U.S. number-one singles alongside new material, which she said was a way of rewarding her fans. The song "When You Believe," a duet with Whitney Houston, was recorded for the soundtrack of The Prince of Egypt (1998) and won an Academy Award and #1's sold above expectation.

"Heartbreaker" and "Thank God I Found You" (the former featuring Jay-Z, the latter featuring Joe and boy band 98 Degrees) reached number one in the U.S. and the success of the former made Carey the only act to have a number-one single in each year of the 1990s. A cover of Phil Collins's "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" went to number one in the UK after Carey re-recorded it with boy band Westlife.

Carey's tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), contained contributions from producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey's longtime collaborator, Jermaine Dupri. The Emancipation of Mimi became 2005's best-selling album in the U.S., and The Guardian reviewer defined it as "cool, focused and urban [... some of] the first Mariah Carey tunes in years I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again".

The album earned Carey a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album, and the single "We Belong Together" won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. "We Belong Together" held the Hot 100's number-one position for fourteen weeks, her longest run at the top as a solo lead artist. Subsequently, the single "Shake It Off" reached number two for a week, making Carey the first female lead vocalist to have simultaneously held the Hot 100's top two positions.

"Obsessed" debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. [sorry no YouTube, embedding disabled by request]. This marked Carey's fortieth entry on the Hot 100, making her just the eighth woman in the chart's history to make 40 or more appearances. It is also her highest Hot 100 debut since 1998. The second official single will be "I Want to Know What Love Is". On July 7th, 2009, Carey, alongside Trey Lorenz, performed at the memorial for Michael Jackson, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. She performed what was described as an emotional performance of the Jackson 5 song "I'll Be There", a song which she had previously covered as a single with Lorenz in 1992. [wikipedia]

Sunday, August 23, 2009

൯ MUNGO JERRY, In The Summertime|Baby Jump|Lady Rose|Open Up|Alright Alright Alright|Long Legged Woman|Hello Nadine|It's A Secret|Push Bike Song

Mungo Jerry are an English folk/classic rock group whose greatest success was in the early 1970s, though they have continued throughout the years with an ever-changing line-up, always fronted by Ray Dorset. They are remembered above all for their hit "In the Summertime". It remains the most successful and most instantly recognisable summer song. Their name was inspired by the poem Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. According to Joseph Murrell's The Book of Golden Discs (1978), 'Mungomania' was possibly the most startling and unpredicted pop phenomenon to hit Britain since The Beatles.

Dorset and Earl had previously been members of The Good Earth. Soon after recruiting King and Cole they made their national debut at the Hollywood Festival at Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire in May 1970 the week their first single "In the Summertime" was released. They stole the show and the record topped the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks made number one in 26 countries around the world and to date has sold around 30 million copies. Mungo Jerry made their first trip to the United States in September 1970. After John Godfrey replaced Cole their second single "Baby Jump" also topped the UK chart in March 1971. A third hit "Lady Rose" (also in 1971) gave the group the image as a band for producing summertime based hits.

Mungo Jerry was awarded from Melody Maker the 'best new band' title in 1970and as one of the five best live bands in the world in 1971. Dorset was granted three Ivor Novello Awards as a composer.

Mungo Jerry's hits continued through to 1976 with "Open Up" (Top Twenty in Europe "Alright Alright Alright" (a rewrite of an old French hit for Jacques Dutroncand again a major hit worldwide reaching the Top 3 in the UK) "Wild Love", "Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black", "Hello Nadine" (European hit and Top Five in Canada) and "It's a Secret" (European hit). [wikipedia]

Just fancy that - No chart hit has had more than 13 words in the title so "You Don't Have To Be In The Army To Fight In The War" gave Mungo Jerry one more little souvenir of their hit-making days.

Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,
Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

Ridin’ along on my pushbike, honey
When I nowhere near you
Round down town, in a hurry honey,
Now, I’ve got my sights on you
You look so pretty, she was ridin’ along,
You look so pretty, She was singing this song,….

Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,
Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

Puttin’ on speed, as I tried catchin’ up but you
Were pedaling harder, too
Riding along like a hurricane, honey
Speeding afta you,

You look so pretty, she was ridin’ along,
You look so pretty, She was singing this song,….

*Brrr, Sing this song,
Round, round wheels go round and round
Down, up pedals, down, up, down
Well, gotta get across to the other side of town
B’fore the sun goes down,
hey, hey, hey

Shh, shh, ahh, Shh, shh, ahh,
Shh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

Well, we’re ridin’ along
on a bicylce, honey
That’s a bicycle built for two
Lookin’ at my honey
In the rearview mirror
Now I got a better of view
You look so pretty, she was ridin’ along,
You look so pretty, She was singing this song,….

Saturday, August 22, 2009

൯ MOODY BLUES, Your Wildest Dreams|Go Now|Nights In White Satin|Tuesday Afternoon|Melanchony Man|Legend Of A Mind|Ride My See Saw|

The Moody Blues are an English band originally from Erdington in the city of Birmingham. Founding members Michael Pinder and Ray Thomas performed an initially rhythm and blues-based sound in Birmingham in 1964 along with Graeme Edge and others, and were later joined by John Lodge and Justin Hayward as they inspired and evolved the progressive rock style. Among their innovations was a fusion withclassical music, most notably in their seminal 1967 album Days of Future Passed.

The band has had numerous hit albums in the UK, U.S., and worldwide. They remain active as of 2009. The Moody Blues have sold in excess of 50 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold discs.

They released a single, "Steal Your Heart Away" that year which made it onto the charts. But it was their second single, "Go Now" (released later that year), which really launched their career, being promoted on TV with one of the first purpose-made promotional films in the pop era, produced and directed by Wharton. The single became a hit in the United Kingdom (where it remains their only Number 1 single to date) and in the United States where it reached #10.

The album plus two singles, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" (as a medley with "Forever Afternoon," listed as "Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)" on the album), became massively popular, as was the 1968 follow-up LP, In Search of the Lost Chord. In late 1972, a re-issue of the five-year-old "Nights in White Satin" became the Moody Blues' biggest U.S. hit, soaring to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming a certified million-seller; the song had "bubbled under" the Hot 100 charts on its original release. The song also returned to the UK charts, reaching #9, ten places higher than its original release in 1967.

The group continues to tour; they toured the U.S., Canada and the UK in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and are currently touring North America in the summer of 2009. In addition, Hayward took part in the UK tour of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds in April 2006, and a second tour in November 2007, also with dates in 2009. The Moody Blues also toured Australia in 2006. [wikipedia]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

൯ MONKEES, Last Train To Clarksville|I'm A Believer|Daydream Believer|Pleasant Valley Sunday|

The Monkees were a pop rock quartet assembled in Los Angeles in 1966 for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The members were Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Englishman Davy Jones, who were supervised and popularized by Don Kirshner.

The Monkees' first single, "Last Train to Clarksville" was released in August 1966, just weeks prior to the broadcast and, in conjunction with the first broadcast of the television show on September 12, 1966, on the NBC television network, NBC and Columbia had a major hit on their hands. The first long-playing album, The Monkees, was released in October and shot to the top of the charts.

The Monkees had several international hits which are still heard on pop and oldies stations. These include "I'm a Believer," "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Despite their seemingly permanent reputation as a made-for-TV act, their hits and many lesser recordings present an enduring quality that has earned respect over the years. [wikipedia]

Oh, I could hide neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings.
The six oclock alarm would never ring.
Whoops its ringing and I rise,
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes.
My shavin razors cold and it stings.

*Cheer up, sleepy jean.
Oh, what can it mean.
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen.

You once thought of me
As a white knight on a steed.
Now you know how happy I can be.
Oh, and our good times starts and end
Without dollar one to spend.
But how much, baby, do we really need.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

൯ MEN AT WORK, Down Under|Who Can It Be Now|Overkill|It's A Mistake|Dr Heckyll & Mr Jive|Everything I Need|

Men at Work were an Australian reggae-influenced rock band which achieved international success in the 1980s. They are the only Australian artists to have a #1 album and single simultaneously in the United States (with Business as Usual and "Down Under" respectively). At the same time, they also had a simultaneous #1 single and album in the United Kingdom. The group won the 1983 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The band's sound is distinguished by its use of woodwind and brass.

Colin Hay emigrated to Australia in 1967 from Scotland with his family. In 1978, he formed a duo with Ron Strykert, which expanded with the addition of drummer Jerry Speiser and Australian progressive rock keyboard player Greg Sneddon. They formed an unnamed four-piece group that would later morph into Men at Work. The band's first experience in the recording studio was recording the music to "Riff Raff," a low-budget stage musical Sneddon had worked on. Sneddon soon left, to be replaced in late 1979 by saxophonist/flautist/keyboardist Greg Ham.

The group played a regular residency at Melbourne's Cricketers Arms Hotel and built a strong local following. According to the liner notes in Contraband: the Best of Men at Work, the group did not have a name until, driving the group van one night and desperate for something to put on the chalk board outside the pub, Greg Ham spied a "Men at Work" construction sign, and decided to use that for the group's name. In 1980, they financed a single ("Keypunch Operator") backed by an early version of "Down Under".

In 1981, Columbia Records signed Men at Work. Their first single, "Who Can It Be Now?", reached #1 on the Australian chart in August 1981. A subsequent single (a re-worked version of "Down Under") and their first album (Business as Usual) also went to #1. The album also debuted at #1 in New Zealand.In October 1982, "Who Can It Be Now?" hit #1 in the USA. Then, in November of that year, Business As Usual began a 12 week run at #1 on the US album chart. While "Who Can It Be Now?" was still in the top ten, the second single, "Down Under" was released. It entered the charts at #79; ten weeks later, it was #1. By January 1983, Men at Work had the top album and single in both the USA and the UK - a feat never achieved previously by an Australian act.

The band soon released their second album Cargo. It had been finished in the summer of 1982, but held for release due to the phenomenal success of the band's debut. The new album went to #1. The international market, where Business As Usual was still riding high, kept the album at #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album produced three chart singles in the USA: "Overkill" [#3], "It's a Mistake" [#6], and "Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive" [#28]. The band toured the world extensively in 1983.

Men at Work won a Grammy Award, winning Best New Artist for 1983 ahead of Asia, Jennifer Holliday, The Human League and Stray Cats. This was the first for an Australian recording act. That same year, Canada awarded them a Juno Award for "International LP of the Year." [wikipedia]

Sunday, August 16, 2009

൯ MICHAEL LEARNS TO ROCK, The Actor|Sleeping Child|25 Minutes|Out Of The Blue|That's Why|Paint My Love|Nothing To Lose|Take Me To Your Heart|Strange.

Michael Learns To Rock (also known as MLTR) is a Danish soft rock band that performs songs in English. It was formed in 1988 and has sold over 9 million records, mainly in Asia. It has produced six studio albums as well as live and "greatest hits" albums. In 1987, the singer-keyboardist Jascha Richter and drummer Kåre Wanscher were high school students in Aarhus, Denmark, when they saw guitarist Mikkel Lentz with his group the Rocking Studs and asked him to form a band. A year later Søren Madsen joined, playing bass.

A member of the contest jury, J.P. Anderson, became the band's manager. MLTR played live but did not release its eponymous debut album, "Michael Learns to Rock," until September 1991. A single from the album, "The Actor," topped the Danish chart and also did well in Norway, Sweden, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

The group debuted in Aarhus in May 1988 and later entered the city's annual talent show. The band won and hurriedly had to come up with a name. In an interview Richter admitted that it was named after Michael Jackson: "Yeah, it was like Johnny Hates Jazz and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Sure, I've regretted calling ourselves this many times since, but we were successful so quickly we had to stick with it and over time I got used to it." (Taipei Times, 06 07 2007).

In 1993, MLTR released Colours which sold over 1 million records. The album included the singles "Sleeping Child," "25 Minutes" and "Out of the Blue." It also toured Asia for the first time. Two years later MLTR's third album, Played On Pepper came out, selling 1.2 million units, and the group played 25 shows in 10 countries. Hits from this album included "That's Why (You Go Away)" and "Someday."

The album "Paint My Love" was released in 1996 and sold 3.4 million copies. The band was also chosen as the headliner for the "Celebrate Hong Kong" concert on July 6, 1997, marking the transfer of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China. Its fourth studio album, "Nothing To Lose," was released in September 1997.

Soon after, MLTR's members took a break to spend time with their families and develop projects on their own or in collaboration with other artists. Even so, Richter wrote some new songs and the band's anthem "Strange Foreign Beauty" was added to a 1998 greatest hits album. [wikipedia]

In 2000, Søren Madsen decided to leave the group to embark on a solo career, and the three remaining members carried on and produced the album "Blue Night," which went platinum in Denmark. The band attributed its success in Asia to a clean-living image and singing in English as a second language, and the fact that their lyrics are relatively easy to learn and sing (Taipei Times, 06 07 2007).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

൯ MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep|Tweedle Dee|Soley Soley|Samson&Delilah|Yellow Boomerang|

Middle Of The Road was a Scottish pop group who enjoyed great success across Europe and Latin America in the early 1970s. Three of their singles sold over one million copies each, and received a gold disc. The tracks were "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" (which went on to sell over 10 million), "Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum" and "Soley Soley". By early 1972 alone the group had sold over five million records.

The band had its first and biggest hit with debut UK single, "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" to win UK #1 in June 1971 and keep it for four more weeks. In all, Middle Of The Road had five hit singles in the UK Singles Chart during 1971-1972. The band had enduring success only in Germany, where they achieved eleven Top 40 hits in 1971-1974.

Lead singer Sally Carr (born Sarah Cecilia Carr, 28 March 1945, in Muirhead, Lanarkshire, Scotland), drummer Ken Andrew (born Kenneth Ballentyne Andrew, 28 August 1942, inBearsden, Glasgow, Strathclyde), guitarist Ian McCredie (b. Ian C McCredie, 15 July 1947, in Partick, Glasgow, Strathclyde), and bassist his brother Eric McCredie (born 17 July 1945, inPartick, Glasgow, Strathclyde died 6 October 2007) from Glasgow founded the band on April, 1st ("All Fools Day") in 1970. They already played together under the name Part Four since 1967 and later in Latin American style under the name Los Caracas.

In 1974, very early Bay City Rollers member, Neil Henderson (b. 11 February 1953, Glasgow) joined the band on guitar. He wrote/co-wrote enough songs for Middle Of The Road (including singles "Rockin' Soul" and "Everybody Loves A Winner" and 1974 albums, You Pays Yer Money And You Takes Yer Chance and Postcard, all released in Germany via Ariola like their fist German LP, Music Music), but their commercial success could not keep pace with the earlier songs. [wikipedia]

Totally forgotten about this band when I saw its name and I was saying to myself 'where the world is this place called middle of the road'. Oops..

Friday, August 7, 2009

൯ MARMALADE, Lovin' Things|ObLaDi ObLaDa|Baby Make It Soon|Reflections Of My Life|Rainbow|

Marmalade were a successful Scottish pop/rockgroup, from Glasgow in Scotland, originally known as Dean Ford and The Gaylords between 1961 and 1966. They changed the group name to "The Marmalade" in 1966. The most successful period for the band, in terms of record success, was between 1968-1972. A later version of the band (from 1974 with various further personnel changes), exists to this day, with only Graham Knight remaining from the original members.

Unusually, Marmalade had two bass players, Graham Knight on 4 string, and Pat Fairley on 6 string, and were originally called Dean Ford and The Gaylords; who in 1964, were signed to EMI Columbia by Norrie Paramor and recorded four singles, including "Twenty Miles" which was a big seller locally, but failed to chart nationally.The group were well regarded in Scotland, and despite being crowned, 'Scotland's Top Group' decided to try to make it nationally.

Marmalade's label CBS were concerned at their lack of commercial success and threatened to drop them if they did not have a hit, and after the failure of another self-penned single later that year, "Man in a Shop", insisted they record more chart-oriented material. They rejected "Everlasting Love", which became a Number One for Love Affair, but later gave in to pressure and recorded , "Lovin' Things", arranged by Keith Mansfield, which reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart in the summer of 1968, (this was later covered by The Grass Roots in the USA in 1969, using virtually the same arrangement).

After a lesser hit with the follow-up "Wait For Me Mary-Anne" ( written by Alan Blaikley/Ken Howard), which only made No. 30, they enjoyed their most remembered UK success with their cover of The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", which topped the UK chart in January 1969. As the first Scottish group to ever top the UK chart, the week it went to the top spot, they celebrated by appearing on BBC One's music programme Top Of The Pops, dressed in kilts. This was followed by further success with "Baby Make It Soon", (written by Tony Macaulay), which reached no 9, in the summer of 1969.

Baby Make It Soon
If you're coming home, like your letters say
And the place you're staying now, ain't too far away
Can you write tonight, just to let me know
Cos since you've been away girl, I've missed you so

You won't let me down, cos I'm sure you're homeward bound
And you'll be back safe and sound, cos I just know

*Baby make it soon, make it soon
(I can't wait another day)
Baby make it soon, make it soon
(Lord I know I need you, come on)
Baby make it soon, make it soon
(I need you right away)
Baby make it soon, make it soon
(Lord I've gotta see you)
Right back here, here in my arms

If you're coming home like you promised to
Will you write tonight and tell me what you're gonna do
For I'm lonley now and I'm gonna stay that way
Till I hold you so tightly in my arms again

You won't let me down, cos I'm sure you're homeward bound
And you'll be back safe and sound, cos I just know


After a change of record label to Decca Records, under a deal allowing them to write andproduce their own songs, they recorded what would become their biggest worldwide hit, topping the charts in Europe, (a Top 10 in United States, and No. 1 in most of South America), the melancholy "Reflections of My Life", written by Junior Campbell and Dean Ford, with its distinctive backwards guitar break by Campbell.

"Reflections of My Life" has recorded over 2 million sales and the writers were awarded a Special Citation of Achievement in 1998 by BMI in attaining radio broadcast performances in excess of 1 million in the US alone. Other UK hits included the mainly acoustic "Rainbow" (UK No.3), coupled with "The Ballad of Cherry Flavor", and "My Little One" (UK No. 15). [wikipedia]

Reflections of My Life
The changing of sunlight to moonlight.. Reflections of my life
Oh, how they fill my eyes
The greetings of people in trouble..Reflections of my life
Oh, how they fill my eyes
All my sorrow sad tomorrow, Take me back to my old home
All my crying (All my crying)
Feel I'm dying, dying, Take me back to my old home

I'm changing, arranging
I'm changing, I'm changing everything
Oh, ev'rything around me, yeah,
The world is a bad place
A terrible place to live, Oh, but I don't wanna die
All my sorrow sad tomorrow, Take me back to my old home
All my crying (All my crying) Feel I'm dying, dying
Take me back to my old home, All my sorrow sad tomorrow
Take me back to my old home, All my crying (All my crying)

Love The Marmalade very much, one of my top ten 10 list of fave bands truly dig their hits Baby Make It Soon & Reflections of My Life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

൯ MANHATTANS, Kiss n' Say Goodbye|Shinning Star|Hurt|I Kinda Miss You|

The Manhattans are a popular R&B vocal group with a string of hit records over three decades, but best known for their million-selling songs "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star" in 1976 and 1980, respectively. The Manhattans, originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, formed in 1962 with members George "Smitty" Smith, Edward "Sonny" Bivins (born 15 January 1942, in Macon, Georgia), Winfred "Blue" Lovett (born 16 November 1943), Kenny "Wally" Kelley (born Kenneth Kelley, 9 January 1943 in New Jersey), and Richard "Ricky" Taylor. Bivins, Lovett, and Kelley were graduating from Lincoln High School, whilst Taylor and Smith were graduating from Snyder High School. All five enlisted in the armed forces, and came together as a group following their discharges from their respective branches.

The group's first single was "For The First Time", released in 1964 by Carnival Records. In 1968, the group received the award "Most Promising Group" by NATRA. The group continued recording through the 1970s with Alston on lead. They hit it big in 1976 with "Kiss and Say Goodbye", written by Blue Lovett and arranged/co-produced with the group by top Philadelphia-based musician/producer Bobby Martin, a former member of the MFSB band of session musicians. The song, with an impassioned vocal by Alston and a memorable opening rap by Lovett, quickly became a #1 chart-topper on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. It also became only the second single ever to go platinum.

Taylor left in 1976 to concentrate on his conversion to Islam, (but died in 1987 after a long illness). The group continued as a quartet and hit it big again in March of 1980, with the release of "Shining Star", which reached #5 on the Billboard pop charts and #4 on the R & B chart. Produced and co-written by established Chicago producer, Leo Graham, it received a Grammy award the following year.

The group's largest shake-up occurred in 1990, when Blue Lovett left due to health problems, and Kenny Kelley returned to college, for his PhD. Bivins, now the only original member left, took over management of the group. He recruited new members Alvin Pazant, Harsey Hemphill, and Charles Hardy. This brought the group back to a quintet. Harris proved to be only a short-term lead, however, as he left in 1991, and was replaced by new lead Wade Taylor. Taylor also only remained for a short time, leaving just a few months later. Bivins then recruited Lee Williams, the person who they had originally wanted to replace George Smith.

For what would be their 30th reunion, former member Blue Lovett decided to return to the music scene with his own Manhattans in 1995, bringing back Gerald Alston to be lead in his group. They are currently a quartet with Troy May and David Tyson, brother of The Temptations' Ron Tyson. In the past, the group also featured Eban Brown, now the lead of The Stylistics. This group has also released some CDs, including Even Now. This group was featured in two PBS specials. [wikipedia]

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

൯ MANFRED MANN, 54321|Do Wah Diddy|If You Gotta Go Go Now|Sha La La|Pretty Flamingo|Mighty Quinn|HaHa Said The Clown|Blinded By The Light|

Manfred Mann were a British beat, rhythm and blues and pop band of the 1960s, named after their South African keyboard player and founder, who later led the successful 1970s follow-on group Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers (as the band were originally called) were formed in London in December 1962 by keyboard player Manfred Mann and drummer/vibes player Mike Hugg. Born out of the British blues boom then sweeping London's clubs (which also spawned the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds), the band was completed by Mike Vickers on lead guitar, Dave Richmond on bass, and Paul Jones fronting as lead vocalist and harmonica player; by this point, they had changed their name into Manfred Mann & The Manfreds.

In 1964, the group was asked to provide a new theme tune for the ITV pop music TV series Ready Steady Go!. They responded with the energetic "5-4-3-2-1" which, with the help of weekly TV exposure, rose to No. 5 in the UK charts. After a further self-penned hit ("Hubble Bubble (Toil And Trouble)") the band struck gold with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", a cover of a minor hit earlier that year by the Exciters. The track, reached the top of both the UK, Canadian, and U.S. charts (The Exciters version had only charted #78 in the U.S.).

During 1965, the group continued to have hits with both self-penned and cover material, their sound increasingly moving away from the blues-based music of their early years to a highly successful pop-soul hybrid. They also reached No.2 in the UK with the controversial "If You Gotta Go, Go Now", which was banned or edited by a number of TV and radio stations. They also hit No. 3 in the UK with the single "Sha La La", which also reached No. 12 in the U.S. and Canada.

Jones stayed with the band for one more year, (long enough to play bass on the band's second UK No.1 single "Pretty Flamingo") (#2 in Canada). Jones was eventually replaced by Mike d'Abo - among those on the shortlist was Rod Stewart - and this was one of the few occasions when a band has successfully swapped lead singers and remained at the top.

With d'Abo as vocalist, the group pursued a softer acoustic pop sound, with a tinge of Dylanesque social comment and surrealism in the lyrics. Their first Fontana Records single was another Dylan cover, "Just Like A Woman". Chart success was uneven for a while, with "Semi-Detached, Suburban Mr James" and "Ha Ha Said The Clown" both going Top 5, but an instrumental "Sweet Pea" only No. 36 and "So Long Dad" missing the Top 50 altogether. However they scored a third No. 1 in 1968 with yet another Dylan song, "Mighty Quinn" (#3 in Canada).

Frustrated with the limitations and image of being seen purely as a hit singles band (their last two albums failed to chart), the group split in 1969, while their final hit, "Ragamuffin Man", was in the Top 10.

Mann went on to write advertising jingles after the group's demise, but still continued to work in the group format. Initially he formed Manfred Mann Chapter Three (with Mike Hugg), an experimental jazz rock band, described by Mann as an over-reaction to the hit factory of the Manfred Mann group. This was, however, short lived and by 1971 they had disbanded and Mann had formed a new group, Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

This group had a UK top 10 hit in summer 1976 and No 1 Billboard Hit in February of 1977, a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light". In the 1990s, most of the original 1960s line-up reformed as The Manfreds, minus Manfred Mann himself (hence the name), playing most of the old 1960s hits and a few jazz instrumentals, sometimes with both Paul Jones and Mike d'Abo fronting the line-up. [wikipedia]

Saturday, August 1, 2009

൯ THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS, Monday Monday|I Saw Her Again|California Dreamin|Words of Love|Creeque Alley|Dedicated To The One I Love|Twelve Thirty|

The Mamas & the Papas (credited as The Mama's and the Papa's on the debut album cover) were a vocal group of the 1960s. The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968 with a short reunion in 1971, releasing five albums and ten hit singles. They have sold nearly 40 million records worldwide.

After the split-up of their two previous folk groups—The Mugwumps and The New Journeymen—bandmates Denny Doherty and John Phillips formed a new group, which included John's wife Michelle. The last member to join was Cass Elliot. The band shortly moved to the Virgin Islands, and after running out of money, Michelle Phillips gambled back enough money for them to return to New York. After a short period of going under the name The Magic Circle, the group renamed themselves The Mamas and the Papas before signing a five-album contract with Dunhill Records.

The band's first single, "Go Where You Wanna Go", was released 1965 and failed to chart. However, the second single, California Dreamin' was released late 1965 and quickly peaked at number four in the US, while in the UK, it was less successful, peaking at number 23. The band's debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, was released in early 1966 and became the band's first and only number one album on the Billboard 200. In the UK, the album peaked at number three and remains the group's highest charting album there. The third and final single from their debut was Monday, Monday, which became the band's only number one hit in the US. The song brought the band international success when it peaked at number three in the UK.

The first single from the album, "I Saw Her Again" was about the affair. It peaked at number five in the US and number eleven in the UK. There is a false start at the final chorus of the song, which John Sebastian later mimicked on the Lovin' Spoonful song, Darlin' Be Home Soon. Paul McCartney, however, was impressed by the way the group came in too soon on the recording. "That has to be a mistake: nobody's that clever," he told the group.

When the album was released afterwards, it peaked at number four in the US, continuing the band's success, but peaked at number 24 in the UK. Words of Love was released as the second single in the US and peaked at number five in the US. In the UK, it was released as a double a-side with Dancing in the Street and peaked at number 47. Dancing in the Street was released as the third and final single in the US and peaked at number 75.

The first single from the album was "Look Through My Window", which peaked at number 24 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK. However, the second single, "Dedicated to the One I Love", gave the band a comeback, peaking at number two in both the US and the UK. That success helped the album peak at a strong number two in the US and number four in the UK. Third single "Creeque Alley" showcased the band's history before their success. It peaked at number five in the US and number nine in the UK. The fourth and final single, a cover of "My Girl", peaked at number fifteen in the US, but failed to chart in the UK.

Shortly afterward, a non-album single called "Glad to be Unhappy" was released and peaked at number 26 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK. Also that year, a song from the group's second album titled Dancing Bear was released as a single and peaked at number 51 in the US, but also failed to chart in the UK. The first single "Twelve Thirty" peaked at number 20 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK. The album was then released and was another commercial success in both the UK and US (although it was their first album not to go gold or peak in the top ten in America). After the second single, "Safe In My Garden" failed on the charts, only making it to number 53, their label released Elliot's solo song from the album, a cover of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and it ended up peaking at number twelve in the US. It also became their first single to chart in the UK after five failed singles, peaking at number eleven. It was their only single to ever chart higher in the UK than the US.

In reviewing their contracts, their record company held that the band owed them one more album and threatened to sue each member of the band for US$250,000 for "breach of contract." After about a year apart, the band regrouped and released their final album People Like Us in 1971. The first and only single, "Step Out", peaked at number 81 in the US and failed to chart in the UK. With the failure of the lead single, the album failed to chart in the UK and became the first album of the band's not to chart in the top 20 on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 84. [wikipedia]