lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2009

Doris: Did You Give The World Some Love Today Baby (1970) ... plus

A big-voiced blue-eyed soul, jazz, and pop vocalist reminiscent of Lulu, Dusty Springfield, and Petula Clark, Sweden's Doris Svensson is best known for her lone solo LP, 1970's eclectic Did You Give the World Some Love Today Baby, which made few waves on its initial release but became a favorite of rare groove crate-diggers as time went on. Born in Gothenburg in 1947, Svensson performed with several bands throughout the '60s, making her debut with the Strangers in 1960 and going on to score hits in the groups Plums ('Mama Didn't Lie,' 'Wouldn't That Be Groovy' - the latter with a promo video directed by a young Lasse Hallström) and the Dandys ('Go Back to Daddy') late in the decade. Doris (as she was billed) cut her first and only album for EMI/Odeon with several noted local musicians, including jazz pianist, organist, composer, and producer Berndt Egerbladh, who also wrote most of the tunes; drummer and film actor Janne "Loffe" Carlsson of the instrumental jazz-rock duo Hansson & Karlsson; and her husband, bassist Lucas Lindholm. Did You Give the World Some Love Today Baby reveals Doris to be a singer of considerable range with plenty of personality. She's a throaty belter on the funky, country-inflected 'Waiting at the Station,' the Northern soul-styled groovers 'Don't' and 'Beatmaker,' and the brassy pop-soul title tune (even coming off a bit worryingly unhinged as she exhorts "you've got to love the one you love/and the whole darn world as well") - but she scales back the fireworks for sweet, if somewhat fey, ballads like 'Grey Rain of Sweden' and 'Daisies,' which call to mind the sophisticated songwriter pop of fellow lost gem Margo Guryan. There's also a heartfelt, tastefully orchestrated rendition of the Band's 'Whispering Pines,' and - easily the album's most unusual moment - the bizarre, unsettling jazz-psychedelia of 'You Never Come Close,' which sounds like nothing you'd expect to hear on an ostensibly pop record from any era. Add in a smattering of upbeat big-band swing tunes ('I'm Pushing You Out' and the organ-led shuffle 'I Wish I Knew'), the goofy, vaudeville-ish 'Won't You Take Me to the Theatre,' and a jaunty cover of Harry Nilsson's 'Bath,' and you've got a true smorgasbord. Although the album sold poorly and Svensson retreated from the limelight - playing in a dansband with her husband during the '70s before retiring from music altogether - those last three cuts, in particular, piqued the interest of record collectors over the ensuing decades, eventually creating enough demand to warrant several reissues in the '90s and '00s. This one features ten bonus tracks by the bands Doris sang with in the mid-to late '60s, including several Swedish hit singles.

viernes, 18 de diciembre de 2009

The Soul Sisters: I Can't Stand It (1964-1968)

While not being biological sisters, these two sure had the "connected" duo thing happening well! Tresia Cleveland and Ann Gissendanner, known as The Soul Sisters, first came to national attention with their pulsating, rock-a-twist rendition of 'I Can't Stand It', in 1964. As a result of this outstanding debut, the girls became one of the most successful, fast-rising groups in the country. An appearance on the Steve Allen network TV'er was received with the utmost enthusiasm. Prior to that they were building fine reps appearing at such famed spot as the Baby Grand in NY and Brooklyn, the Town Hill Key Club in Newark, the Playboy Lounge, Basin Street South and Boston's Louis Lounge. Before that it was strictly gospel engagements throughout the USA and abroad, receiving return engagement request everywhere they sang. After that promising single, they continued recording done-up Blues, R'n'B, Pop and some Gospel-flavored singles, plus an LP for Sue Records, from 1964 to 1968. This 1996 Collectables' compilation reissues that 1964 Sue album, plus some other singles. Included are 'Good Time Tonight', a bright, medium beat driver; 'Night Time', a potent affair that they stroll through with beat-ballad finesse and 'Loop De Loop', which opens in sermon-like manner and then breaks into a sparkling thump-a-rhythm cha cha that sports a 'Saturday Nite Party' atmosphere. It's an oh-so-soft, slow beat cha cha for the gals on the tender sentimental opus, 'Foolish Dreamer'. And you may never have enjoyed 'Blueberry Hill' as much as you will when you hear their captivatingly slow, waltz-beat-ballad interpretation. I'm sure that after you've heard the collection contained herein you'll agree that each tune is a gem and that whether they're done-up blues, rhythm, & blues, popular or gospel, you are listening to from the Soul, Soul Sisters style.~ Taken from the original liner notes by Gene Redd.

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2009

Cilla Black: The Abbey Road Decade - The Complete Single A&B Sides (1963-1973)

Who was the second biggest selling music star to come out of Liverpool after the Beatles? It wasn't Gerry & the Pacemakers or Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, nor was it the Searchers. It was Cilla Black, a one-time coat-check girl from the Cavern Club who was still learning to sing with confidence, forget developing a technique, just about the time that the Beatles were cutting their first EMI record. She appeared as guest singer with various groups at the Cavern in 1963, and was brought to the attention of Brian Epstein, who during the next few years ably exploited her girl-next-door appeal. Her first single, under the auspices of producer George Martin, was a brassy powerhouse reworking of the Beatles’ unreleased 'Love of the Loved', which reached the UK Top 40 in late 1963. A change of style with Burt Bacharach’s 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' saw Black emerge as a ballad singer of immense power and distinction. 'You’re My World', a translation of an Italian lyric, was another brilliantly orchestrated, impassioned ballad that, like its predecessor, dominated the UK number 1 position in 1964. In what was arguably the most competitive year in British pop history, Black was outselling all her Merseyside rivals except the Beatles. For her fourth single, Paul McCartney presented 'It’s for You', a fascinating jazz waltz ballad that seemed a certain number 1, but it stalled at number 8. By the end of 1964, Black was one of the most successful female singers of her era and continued to release cover versions of superb quality, including the Righteous Brothers’ 'You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’'. A consummate rocker and unchallenged mistress of the neurotic ballad genre, Black was unassailable at her pop peak, yet her chosen path was that of an ‘all-round entertainer’. For most of 1965, she ceased recording and worked on her only feature film, Work Is a Four Letter Word, but returned strongly the following year with 'Love’s Just a Broken Heart' and 'Alfie'. The death of Brian Epstein in 1967 and a relative lull in chart success might have blighted the prospects of a lesser performer, but Black was already moving into television work, aided by her manager/husband Bobby Willis. Her highly rated television series was boosted by the hit title theme 'Step Inside Love', donated by Paul McCartney. Throughout the late '60s, she continued to register Top 10 hits, including 'Surround Yourself with Sorrow', 'Conversations' and the dreadful 'Something Tells Me (Something Is Gonna Happen Tonight)'. Like many of her contemporaries, Black wound down her recording career in the '70s and thenceforth she basically concentrated on television. The material on this 3-cd collection features all of the aforementioned Black's hits, B-sides, and album tracks; also, disc three is made up entirely of rarities, including some surprising demos like 'Step Inside Love', from 1968, with Paul McCartney accompanying her on acoustic guitar. There's also Black's original rehearsal cut of the Cavern-styled 'A Shot of R&B'; a surviving acetate of 'Fever,' accompanied by Gerry & the Pacemakers; plus her unissued versions of 'Heatwave' and 'Shotgun.' Coupled with some good arrangements and George Martin's crisp production, Cilla Black's music holds up astonishingly well and she displays a surprisingly soulful approach on songs such as 'Is It Love', 'For No One,' 'What Good Am I' and Randy Newman's 'I’ve Been Wrong Before'.,
Cilla Black with Burt Bacharach cutting 'Alfie' at Abbey Road, in 1965 :

Cilla Black with Sounds Incorporated at the New Musical Express Poll Winners concert singing 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah', 1965:

With Cliff Richard performing 'The Look of Love' and 'Walk on By', in 1969:

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

Nella Dodds: The Complete Wand Recordings (1964-1965)

The combination of her unusual, highly beguiling voice, some excellent songs and corking dance grooves make the recordings of Nella Dodds have charmed collectors of Northern Soul and girl groups for more than 35 years. Nella should, by rights, have had an album release in the mid-‘60s, when she was signed to New York’s Wand label via a production deal with Philadelphia’s Dyno-Dynamic Productions -essentially the precursor of what would eventually evolve into classic 1970s ‘Philly Sound’. She should also have had several major hits, rather than just the two fair to middling ones that she did have. But by the time that Philadelphia usurped Detroit as the epicentre of commercial Soul music, Nella Dodds had forsaken music for domesticity, destined to be regarded as another ‘great unknown’. Both sides of all six singles Dodds released on Wand between 1964 and 1965 are on this compilation, along with three outtakes from the same era, which have never been heard in public since the day they were recorded. Besides Nella, others who participated in these sessions include musicians who went on to form the core of MFSB, legendary Philly DJ/songwriter Jimmy Bishop (discoverer of and mentor to a host of other Philadelphia soul greats, most notably Barbara Mason) and Philadelphia International co-founder Kenneth Gamble, who wrote many of the songs. As well as Nella’s hit cover of the Supremes’ 'Come See About Me' (a song that made it up to number 74 in the charts) and its Top 100 follow-up 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers', this great collection features the Northern Soul favourites 'Come Back Baby', 'Honey Boy', 'First Date' and 'Maybe Baby'. It also includes what is probably the best cut on the set: Gamble’s moody ballad ‘You Don't Love Me Anymore’ which, sadly wasted on the B-side of ‘Come See About Me,’ sounds like a cross between Dionne Warwick and mid-'60s girl groups. All in all, this is a consistently enjoyable retrospective of an underrated singer who deserved more than she got.,,

lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2009

Yma Sumac: Her Best Albums from the '50s (1950-1957)

The only singer known to possess close to a staggering 5 octave voice, Yma Sumac was said to have been a descendant of Inca kings, an Incan princess that was one of the Golden Virgins. Her offbeat stylings became a phenomenon of early-'50s pop music. While her album covers took advantage of her strange costumes and voluptuous figure, rumors abounded that she was, in actuality, a housewife named Amy Camus. It mattered little because there has been no one like her before or since in the annals of popular music. According to the Sumac legend, she was the sixth child of an Indian mother and an Indian/Spanish father, who raised her as a Quechuan. She began performing in local festivals before her family moved to Lima, Peru. Once she was in Lima, she became a member of the Compania Peruana de Arte, which was a collective of nearly 50 Indian singers, musicians, and dancers. Sumac married Moises Vivanco, the leader of the Compania, in 1942. Four years later, Vivanco, Sumac, and her cousin Colita Rivero formed the Inca Taqui Trio and moved to New York. By the end of the decade, they were performing in nightclubs throughout New York and playing radio and television programs, most notably Arthur Godfrey's TV show. The Trio also became a fixture on the Borscht Belt circuit and the Catskills. Sumac was signed as a solo artist to Capitol Records in 1950, releasing her first album, the 10" Voice of the Xtabay, the same year. Voice of the Xtabay was released without much publicity, but it slowly became a hit and Capitol began pushing Sumac with a massive marketing campaign. The album was one of Sumac's least hokey or pop-oriented. That's not to say it's without its mass-appeal elements, especially in the arrangements, conducted by Les Baxter. The reissue I included here combines the eight tracks with the eight others contained on another of her early albums, Inca Taqui (1953). Legend of the Sun Virgin, released a year before, in 1952, displayed her characteristic mixture of Andean folk music, flamenco guitars and dramatic invocations to obscure pre-Columbian idols. Capitol got on top of two '50s fads at once by issuing Mambo! (1954), an album of Sumac tackling, well ... mambo. Yma held nothing back, and the result was one of her more enjoyable LPs, with respectably swinging mambo grooves crafted by Billy May. 'Five Bottles Mambo' is one of her most astonishing vocal workouts, dropping into guttural growls that are downright bestial, and making one wonder how exactly they got away with that in the conservative milieu of the '50s. Her next album was Legend of the Jivaro, in 1957. According to the liner notes, Sumac and Vivanco, went into the headhunting territory of the Jivaros, tape recorder in hand, to accumulate source material for this album. Whether you believe that or not, what they came up with once it had been run through the studio was one of her chintzier products. If it's folk music, it's been heavily modified for North American audiences, with period '50s pop production, mainstream Latin pop influences, and occasional spurts of quasi-rock'n'roll guitar. By the end of the '50s, Sumac's audience had begun to decline though, and she was no longer as hip as she was before. She retired in the early '60s, performing just sporadically the next three decades.

Yma Sumac, The Secret of the Incas, performing 'Tumpa':

Singing live 'Amor Indio':

viernes, 4 de diciembre de 2009

Manifiesto “En defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet”

Ante la inclusión en el Anteproyecto de Ley de Economía sostenible de modificaciones legislativas que afectan al libre ejercicio de las libertades de expresión, información y el derecho de acceso a la cultura a través de Internet, los periodistas, bloggers, usuarios, profesionales y creadores de internet manifestamos nuestra firme oposición al proyecto, y declaramos que…

1.- Los derechos de autor no pueden situarse por encima de los derechos fundamentales de los ciudadanos, como el derecho a la privacidad, a la seguridad, a la presunción de inocencia, a la tutela judicial efectiva y a la libertad de expresión.

2.- La suspensión de derechos fundamentales es y debe seguir siendo competencia exclusiva del poder judicial. Ni un cierre sin sentencia. Este anteproyecto, en contra de lo establecido en el artículo 20.5 de la Constitución, pone en manos de un órgano no judicial – un organismo dependiente del ministerio de Cultura -, la potestad de impedir a los ciudadanos españoles el acceso a cualquier página web.

3.- La nueva legislación creará inseguridad jurídica en todo el sector tecnológico español, perjudicando uno de los pocos campos de desarrollo y futuro de nuestra economía, entorpeciendo la creación de empresas, introduciendo trabas a la libre competencia y ralentizando su proyección internacional.

4.- La nueva legislación propuesta amenaza a los nuevos creadores y entorpece la creación cultural. Con Internet y los sucesivos avances tecnológicos se ha democratizado extraordinariamente la creación y emisión de contenidos de todo tipo, que ya no provienen prevalentemente de las industrias culturales tradicionales, sino de multitud de fuentes diferentes.

5.- Los autores, como todos los trabajadores, tienen derecho a vivir de su trabajo con nuevas ideas creativas, modelos de negocio y actividades asociadas a sus creaciones. Intentar sostener con cambios legislativos a una industria obsoleta que no sabe adaptarse a este nuevo entorno no es ni justo ni realista. Si su modelo de negocio se basaba en el control de las copias de las obras y en Internet no es posible sin vulnerar derechos fundamentales, deberían buscar otro modelo.

6.- Consideramos que las industrias culturales necesitan para sobrevivir alternativas modernas, eficaces, creíbles y asequibles y que se adecuen a los nuevos usos sociales, en lugar de limitaciones tan desproporcionadas como ineficaces para el fin que dicen perseguir.

7.- Internet debe funcionar de forma libre y sin interferencias políticas auspiciadas por sectores que pretenden perpetuar obsoletos modelos de negocio e imposibilitar que el saber humano siga siendo libre.

8.- Exigimos que el Gobierno garantice por ley la neutralidad de la Red en España, ante cualquier presión que pueda producirse, como marco para el desarrollo de una economía sostenible y realista de cara al futuro.

9.- Proponemos una verdadera reforma del derecho de propiedad intelectual orientada a su fin: devolver a la sociedad el conocimiento, promover el dominio público y limitar los abusos de las entidades gestoras.

10.- En democracia las leyes y sus modificaciones deben aprobarse tras el oportuno debate público y habiendo consultado previamente a todas las partes implicadas. No es de recibo que se realicen cambios legislativos que afectan a derechos fundamentales en una ley no orgánica y que versa sobre otra materia.

Este manifiesto, elaborado de forma conjunta por varios autores, es de todos y de ninguno. Si quieres sumarte a él, difúndelo por Internet.


jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2009

Madeline Bell: Bell's a Poppin' (1967) ... plus

Though born in New Jersey, smooth soul diva Madeline Bell enjoyed her greatest success in the United Kingdom (where she began living in 1963), and her first album, 1967's Bell's a Poppin', is a thoroughly enjoyable example of British pop record-making at its most poised and professional. Bell had a world-class voice and sang supper-club soul in the manner of Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield (the latter of whom was a friend of Bell's and often used her as a backing vocalist). Those looking for Southern soul grit will be disappointed, but Bell's a Poppin' is a marvelous example of the British equivalent of Brill Building pop. The arrangements are clever and sophisticated, the musicians are spot-on throughout, producer John Franz adds just the right amount of polish without rubbing away the personality of the music, and Bell's vocals tell a story just beautifully, boasting smarts and understated passion while maintaining a firm sense of control and balance throughout. Franz also rounded up some great songs for Bell, with Pomus/Shuman, Bacharach/David, John Sebastian, and Ashford/Simpson among the tunesmiths represented on this disc. Highlights include 'You Don't Love Me No More', 'Beat the Clock', 'Mr. Dream Merchant', 'Soul Time', and 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me'. Fans of the slicker side of Northern soul and great mid-'60s pop-soul will delight in Bell's a Poppin'. This reissue adds a handful of non-LP singles that are every bit as enjoyable, especially an interesting cover of the Beatles' 'You Won't See Me' and Baby Washington's 'I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face'.
Madeline Bell perfoming one of the bonus tracks included here, 'Don't Come Running to Me':
Clip of Madeline singing Picture Me Gone (1967):