Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ethel Waters - Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue? - 1981

I think I first became acquainted with Ethel Waters when I got a 2 disc CD called Women in Blues. On that CD there is a track called My Handyman by Ethel Waters. It is a racy double entendre song where every line about what the handyman did for her also had sexual innuendo.

I then learned more about her when watching Ken Burns' Jazz series. Around that time is when I picked up a couple Ethel Waters records, this being one of them. The cool thing about this record is that the recordings are from TV broadcasts (or as the jacket reads
telecasts") as well as unreleased 78's. This came out back in the early 80's so I'm sure by now some of these have been released on other various compilations. However because that is the source, you won't find "My Handyman". I think that would have been a little too racy for TV in the 50's.

Some of her best recordings are from the 20's and 30's. She has a few records that have been inducted in to the Grammy hall of fame from that period. She however did enjoy a resurgence in popularity in the lat 40's and 50's. I'm guessing that part of that was due to her Oscar nomination in 1949 for Best Supporting Actress in Pinky.

the following year she was in the play and film The Member of The Wedding. Below is a clip of her singing "Eyes On The Sparrow" from the film.

She won a New York Drama critics award for this role.

For more on her life check out the wikipedia entry.

As far as this record goes there are quite a few good tracks. I really like the opening track, "Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue?". The piano has a nice saloon quality and the recording is very intimate.

I also really like the song "The Birth of The Blues" and Ethel does a nice version here. You'll notice that I like her blues songs and if they have blue in the title I tend to like the song. Hence i also recommend "The Blues In The Night' and another good track. Again I like the live back saloon quality of the recording and the arrangement. Very simple and real.

I like "That's What Harlem Means to Me" I think mostly because it reminds me of the Sinatra song "That's What America Means to Me". I'm sure the two songs are related, but I'm not sure how. If you have any insight on that history, please let me know.

Another favorite for me is "The Sunny Side Of The Street". It is a good song to start off your day literally on a good note.

One other song that seems like a good theme for this weekend in Southern California is "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". I say that because I write this on a Saturday morning, the smoke from the fires around Los Angeles is horrible. It makes me think that I wish I had a song called "Smoke Gets In Your Lungs" because it would be even more fitting. But "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" will have to do.

And the last song to point out is another blue song. The last track "I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues" is another really good track.


01 Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue_.m4a
02 Young At Heart.m4a
03 My Gal Sal.m4a
04 How Are Things In Glocca Marra_.m4a
05 Eli, Eli.m4a
06 The Birth Of The Blues.m4a
07 My Man.m4a
08 Come Rain or Come Shine - The Man I Love - The Floodgates Of Despair.m4a
09 The Blues In The Night.m4a
10 That's What Harlem Means To Me.m4a
11 I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good.m4a
12 Easter Parade.m4a
13 You're Just In Love.m4a
14 I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart - Music Maestro Please.m4a
15 The Sunny Side Of The Street.m4a
16 A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid.m4a
17 You Took Advantage Of Me.m4a
18 Yesterdays.m4a
19 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.m4a
20 I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues.m4a

Ethel Waters - Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue part
Ethel Waters - Who Said Blackbirds Are Blue part

Friday, August 21, 2009

Donnie Osmond - Disco Train - 1976

I know what you've been thinking, "enough with the photos already". Yeah, yeah I hear you. Let's get some cheeseball music going again. What better way to fill that cheeseball hankering than some later 70's Donny Osmond.

The cover alone is worth the purchase. I love how literal the photo is. You have Donny dressed in full on disco garb and then you have a train, hence Disco Train. Brilliant. Now would someone explain why the piano is being played on the tracks?

The music you say? How does that stack up? Well the album gets off to a great start with a song called "C'mon Marianne" that has an opening lifted right right from "Touch Me" from The Doors. I am surprised there wasn't a lawsuit over this one. I guess the song didn't do well on the charts and didn't warrant the lawsuit. I'm including a youtube clip so you can listen and compare.

Rip off aside, the song is a fun little pop song and is a god album opener.

The songs that follow after that fall into the faux white man funk genre. There is just something weird about them in that they aren't quite authentic and give them a weird feel. It is as if aliens came to this world and tried to mimic the popular music of the time.

Track 2 "Old Man Auctioneer" is a really weird number. It has a twangy hillbilly thing going on while also being heavily funk influenced. There is also another suspicious bit in the song where the melody and lyric phrasing sounds a lot like "Dancing Machine" by The Jackson 5. Think of the part in that song where Michael sings
"Automatic Systematic
Full of color self contained
Tune that channel to your vibes"

Then listen to Donny's singing at around 1 minute 3 seconds in. You can sing those "Dancing Machine" Lyrics right over Donny and it fits right in. The really offensive line is "Nobody could sing his funky song" that sounds exactly and I mean exactly like "tune that channel to your vibes". I mean even the way Michael breaks the word vibes into two syllables is copied by Donny. Teen heart throbs stealing from each other.

If you are interested in any other other lyrics from the song on the record someone who must really love Donny has published them on the web. Good for them. Find them here at

Another cheeseball effect on the record is the faux live recording. This album is so desperate. Let's travel back in time to the late 70's. The Osmonds were growing up. Their luster was fading. They needed hits and so Donny is doing whatever he can to stay relevant. So he does what other pop acts do, he looks around and sees what is selling. So beyond coopting the disco thing he also sees that live records like "Frampton Comes Alive" and Kiss's "Alive II" are selling like hotcakes. Now let's be honest, Donny's not the only one who jumped on this band wagon and more than likely it wasn't Donny's idea to make track 4 seem like a live recording. There are cheering crowds and such, but it is obvious that this was all done in the studio, which is what makes it all the more desperate. The song isn't too bad and the studio trickery makes me giggle a little.

I'll cut short the review of every single song on the record. I think if you check out the first couple I talked about you'll get the idea for the rest of the album.


01 C'Mon Marianne.m4a
02 Old Man Auctioneer.m4a
03 Swinging City Gal.m4a
04 I Follow The Music (Disco Donny).m4a
05 Don't Need No Money.m4a
06 I Can't Put My Finger On It.m4a
07 Disco Train.m4a
08 Reachin' For The Feeling.m4a
09 I Got Your Lovin'.m4a
10 Disco Dancin'.m4a
11 Never Gonna Let You Go.m4a

Donny Osmond - Disco
As an extra bonus here are the other Osmond brothers performing an accapella more country version of "Old Man Auctioneer".

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jay Reatard @ Amoeba Records in Hollywood 08.18.09

Tuesday the family and I made a trip to Amoeba records in Hollywood. I roped the whole family into the adventure instead of just my son because it was my wife's birthday and we planned on going to one of our favorite restaurants after seeing Jay Reatard play.

I actually took half the day off from work so that we could go plenty early and avoid the late afternoon traffic. It also gave me plenty of time to look for records and such. I hadn't been to Amoeba since last summer. Unbelievable, I know. I had a whole list of cd's and records I have been waiting to buy and plus I love looking through all the latest 7 inch records to see if I can find something to perk my interest. I got some new 7 inch records, but I also found a really cool bin of fifty cent records. I picked up 3 of them and I can say that one of them that I listened to this morning is great. I'm sure it will make an appearance here some day.

So I finished all my browsing and shopping by 5PM and Jay didn't go on until 6. I did pick up "Watch Me Fall" Jay's latest record. I was fully planning on buying the CD, but for only 2 dollars more I could get the record and that had a code for a digital download of the record as well. For me that seemed like a deal and so I got the vinyl. After putting the purchases in the car, we just started hanging out by the stage as Jay and Stephen Pope (bassist) set up. I'm glad we did, because after a few other people gathered with us near the stage the security roped the area off. We got roped in and no one else was allowed up that close. Sweet!

Jay had some problems with the guy on the mixing board. His frustration came out in a lot of F-bombs over the mic. Needless to say, my wife didn't think this was the best atmosphere for my 9 year old daughter. I have to say I agree, so they left. I was kind of bummed about that, because I think they would have liked the show, but what can you do. Jay has a mouth like a sailor and he has no qualms about cursing in front of the kiddies.

Finally 6 Pm came and Jay rocked the house. Before he started I took a picture of the set list and I was very excited by what I saw. I was really excited about the prospect of some acoustic numbers. Sadly, though, Jay didn't play the set list. I don't know the reason for diverting away from the setlist. He ended up only playing 30 minutes. I don't know if that was the plan all the time and before hand they agreed to do a cut down playlist or if for some reason he was pissed about the whole situation and decided to cut it short. Whatever the reason, he didn't open with Blood Visions which he has done the last two times I saw him and he didn't do any acoustic numbers. Still he did play Nightmares (my favorite) and everything and everything on the second half of the setlist.

One of the cool highlights of the show was during "Death Is Forming" jay pulled the guy with a sailor's captain hat next to me up on stage and gave him his guitar. That guy strummed mad noise out of the guitar while jay sang. He grabbed one of his own records off the shelf and smashed it by repeatedly punching it. Not exactly original, but it was effective and dramatic.

After that we went out for a lovely dinner to celebrate my wife's birthday. Happy birthday honey and thanks for indulging me on your birthday.

Enjoy the photos. Here is a link to the entire album of photos I took that evening.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Battleflask, Hollow Points, Bad Reaction and Angry Samoans at Blue Sky in Los Angeles - 08.14.09

It's been a long time since I've been to a show, hence it has been a long time since I posted some rock photos. Last night I went to an Angry Samoans show in a very sketchy part of LA. Angry Samoans were great as per usual, but Bad Reaction simply blazed. They played stuff off their latest release and they sounded very tight. Battleflask who played with the Samoans last time I saw them opened the show. They play some good old school punk. I highly recommend them and if you hav a chance to pick up their disc, you should do it. It was a shame that more people weren't there when they played. They have some catchy danceable songs. Hollow Points were next. They were from Seattle. They were pretty good, but to be honest they did kind of sound like a lot of other mainstream punk bands on Warped tour. Not exactly my cup of tea. They started out great and they played well, but after a while things started to sound formulaic and too similar. I know that is a weird comment, while at the same time praising Angry Samoans and other more hard core bands. I guess I don't mind the conventions an similarity in some hard core bands because I just like hard core more. I can say they were photogenic and I got some great pics of them playing. Anyway, this was the first show I had been too since buying a bigger memory card for my camera. So I shot and shot and shot and shot. I spend hours this morning going through the photos adjusting things here and there and weeding about about 200 photos that just didn't make the cut. I got a lot of good band photos, but I must say the crowd was particularly great at this show. It wasn't too crowded and it didn't get too violent. I could move around and get lots of angles. For the most part people didn't mind my flash going of in their face. There was one girl that had a problem, but she quicly got over it. You'll notice I kept in the photo of her trying to cover my lense. I think it actually makes for a better shot. I'm including here a few major highlight photos and a link to the whole album on Flickr.