fredag 30. september 2011

Mayer Hawthorne - The Walk

Wow, I just got a new favourite artist! Mayer Hawthorne has released one album called A Strange Arrangement two years ago and is back with a new album in a week called How Do You Do. His new single is "The Walk", a supercatchy soul number, sung by a young white guy who obviously loves Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Barry White, Smokey Robinson and other soul legends. "The Walk" is the only song I've heard from Hawthorne, but I'm about to do something about the situation, believe me. Hope you like this as much as I do!


Katzenjammer - When The Laughter's Gone

My oh my, this is a great song - and video. Katzenjammer are four Norwegian girls performing a wonderful miix of acoustic pop music, folk, country and Balkan music. It's great fun all the way, and they play as if their lives depended on it. Live they're known for switching instruments from time to time, and those can also be quite unusual, such as balalaikas, ukuleles and zithers - not your traditional pop or rock instruments. "When The Laughter's Gone" is the lead single from their second album, A Kiss Before You Go, out in Norway next Friday. It's already been released in Germany, Switzerland and Austria as the quartet has a good fan-base in those countries.

Watch and listen

T. Rex - Get It On

T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan would have been 64 today, if not for the fact that he died way too young, 29 years old. He left a few good tunes to put it mildly, and the 1971 single "Get It On" is one of them, built on an old Chuck Berry riff. The song is 40 years old and sounds as fresh now as it did back then.

Watch and listen

Johnny Mathis - Misty

Happy 76th birthday to Johnny Mathis, crooner of 50's and 60's fame especially, whose signature song "Misty" is one of the most romantic songs ever, gracing love song compilations and appearing at weddings everywhere. Mathis recorded it in 1959, and it was originally a jazz standard written in 1954 by pianist Erroll Garner, whereas Johnny Burke later added the lyric. Nobody remembers that now, it's a song that will forever be linked to Mathis.


Nina Hagen Band - African Reggae

Sorry, Germany! I'm not a big fan of German language music, but Nina Hagen Band's "African Reggae" (1979) is a wonderful exception. I love the production, the dub arrangement, and not least her experimental singing both yodeling, toasting and trying out at a kind of aria in the same song, although I have absolutely no idea what she's singing about. It's a song so vibrant you can feel it deep in your gut, and it sounds completely crazy. It's also more than six minutes long which I find to be a real treat.


Skee-Lo - Top Of The Stairs

This is a very typical 90's California rap single. Skee-Lo's "Top Of The Stairs" is quite similar to pop/rap hits by acts such as Coolio, Warren G and Will Smith, i.e. laidback, melodic and in most respects pretty cool. Skee-Lo will basically be remembered for his hit "I Wish" from 1995, but although that's a great song, my money is on this. "Top Of The Stairs" was featured in the movie Money Train featuring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, also from 1995. Both songs are from the same album, also called I Wish. Skee-Lo also released an album in 2000 called "I Can't Stop", but if he truly couldn't stop, he went nowhere fast.

Watch and listen

torsdag 29. september 2011

R.I.P. Sylvia Robinson

The great singer, musician, record producer and record label executive Sylvia Robinson died this morning at 75. She's one of popular music's more versatile figures, enjoying commercial success in the 50's and 60's as part of the duo Mickey & Sylvia (most notably with "Love Is Strange" in 1957), had a successful solo career in the 70's, and then in 1979 she was a frontrunner of hip-hop and rap music as producer and label boss for Sugar Hill Records, the label that released "Rapper's Delight" with The Sugarhill Gang, widely regarded as the first commercially successful rap single. She also produced another hip-hop staple, the 1982 classic "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five. R.I.P.

Mickey & Sylvia - Love Is Strange

The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight

sylvia robinson circa 1970

John Hiatt - Slow Turning

The title track from John Hiatt's 1988 album, the second of a kind of trilogy where Hiatt finally established himself as a recording artist to be reckoned with after years of writing genius songs (recorded by others) and recording fair to middling albums for himself. That whole situation changed with the classic Bring The Family album in 1987, and continued with Slow Turning and then Stolen Moments in 1990. The three albums don't have one weak song among them, and all are played with fervor and intensity. Sonny Landreth's slide guitar especially shines on the song "Stolen Moments". It's grand!

Watch and listen

She & Him to release Christmas album

Good news for lovers of Christmas albums. The wonderful duo She & Him (that's singer/songwriter/actress Zooey Deschanel and singer/songwriter/musician/producer M. Ward) will release the holiday album A Very She & Him Christmas towards the end of October, featuring 12 Christmas classics such as "Baby, It's Cold Outside", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree". Full track list and more info here.

A Very She & Him Christmas

Roger Whitaker - Durham Town (The Leavin')

Upon request I have paved way for whistling troubadour Roger Whitaker and his first UK Top 20 hit, "Durham Town (The Leavin')" from 1969. The early years of the 70's were the Anglo-Kenyan singer/songwriter's most successful, whistling his way to the top of the charts. "Durham Town" however, did not feature any whistling, but it's still a nice little song.


The Carpenters - We've Only Just Begun

The Carpenters's signature song "We've Only Just Begun" (1970) was written by Roger Nichols and lyricist Paul Williams, and is understandably in high demand as a wedding song. It's one of those utterly faultless ballads, sung with true sincerity by Karen Carpenter with her brother Richard's perfectly timed harmonies. Classic!

Watch and listen

Herb Alpert - This Guy's In Love With You

Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David are among the best songwriting pairs of all time, something this extraordinary ballad goes a long way to prove. The story goes that famous trumpet player Herb Alpert one day asked Bacharach if he had any old songs lying around that he might use, and he found this. A perfect vehicle for Alpert who ordinarily didn't sing, but "This Guy's In Love With You" was well within his vocal range. He originally performed it at a 1968 TV show, but the phones didn't stop ringing afterwards, so it was released as a single, eventually reaching the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100. And just how great is the trumpet part that starts at 2:19? This whole song, including the arrangement, is genius is its purest form.

Watch and listen

Rumer - Aretha

British singer/songwriter Rumer (born Sarah Joyce in Islamabad)  was one of last year's greatest surprises, a talent that surpasses most of her peers. It's no wonder people like Burt Bacharach, Jools Holland and Elton John have embraced her. She's got the voice of an angel, and musically she inhabits the same room as The Carpenters, Carole King, Bacharach, Karla Bonoff and their like. "Aretha" was her second single, about a troubled teenage girl walking to school, listening to Aretha Franklin on her headphones. It's a wonderful ballad, an extraordinarily well-crafted composition. This is in every way classic songwriting, and Rumer also has the voice to pull it off perfectly.

Watch and listen

onsdag 28. september 2011

Bernhoft - C'Mon Talk

Last night Norwegian one man band sensation Jarle Bernhoft (or Bernhoft as he simply calls himself these days) were invited by Ellen DeGeneres to her popular TV show. He did a great performance, and judging by the applause at the end of the clip it went really well. Norway's next international superstar? You never know. At least he deserves it.

Watch and listen

Suzi Quatro - If You Can't Give Me Love

Suzi Quatro was the only truly successful female glamrock artist. She was actually born American, but moved to England in 1971 after being discovered by producer Mickie Most and was signed to his newly established RAK label. The following years proved very successful for Quatro when the songwriting team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman supplied her with hits such as "Can The Can", "48 Crash" and "Devil Gate Drive". In 1978 she enjoyed a second wind when "If You Can't Give Me Love" became a big hit in the UK and Australia. I think it's a great pop song.

Watch and listen

Another new Tom Waits single - Back In The Crowd

"Back In The Crowd" is the second single to be released online from Tom Waits' forthcoming new album Bad As Me (October 24th). It's truly different from the title track that was the first release. "Back In The Crowd" is a sweet little acoustic number with a slight Mexican flair to it. Sorry about the poor sound quality, but the song is available to buy in online stores all over in much better quality.