Genesis- the Singers.

genesisThis is a slight deviation from my usual blogs. Because music has always played a major role in my life it is nive to acknowledge that every once in a while.

When you think of classic Rock bands, Genesis is usually not a band which springs to mind, strange in a way because that is basically what they are a classic Prog Rock band.

Their rise to fame was a bit of a strange one. although they had some successes in the early years but nothing really noteworthy.

They started off in 1967  with Peter Gabriel as their singer and front man, and their music was slightly psychedelic . Gabriel was only 17 at the time. I think the reason why they didn’t have any real success with him as a singer is because their music and appearance might have been a bit to extravagant.

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In 1975/76 Phil Collins took over the reign as a singer. He had been the drummer until then. And it was with Phil Collins they got their biggest successes and turned out to become a major global band. Their first big hit was ‘Follow You, Follow me’ from the album “.. and there there were three” after guitarist Steve Hackett left , leaving only Collins,Banks and Rutherford in the band

Aside his career as the singer of Genesis ,Phil Collins also was a vert successful solo artiste. As was the former singer Peter Gabriel, both men sold millions of albums as solo artists.

In 1996 Collins thought it was better to leave the band. After 25 years in the band he thought  it was  time to change direction in his musical life and wanted to focus on music for movies and jazz.

This left Banks and Rutherford with a problem. They wanted to continue the band but had no singer. They auditioned several singer, including Francis Dunnery who had worked with Robert Plant before and had been in the prog rock band It Bites, who had  a hit with ‘Calling all the heroes’ in 1986.

Another contender was Nick Van Eede who had been the lead singer of Cutting Crew an  anEnglish rock band formed in London in 1985 and are best remember by their debut single, which became a massive global hit’ “(I just) died in your arms tonight”

They also auditioned David Longdon a British multi-instrumentalist and singer byt eventually they settled for Ray Wilson a Scottish singer and guitarist who had been the lead singer with the Rock Band “Stitskin” who had a hit with the song “Inside” which was used in a Levi’s  501 jeans ad.

The band disbanded in 1996 which gave Ray Wilson to join Genesis. In 1997 Wilson was announced as the new lead singer of  Genesis. Although Banks and Rutherford had already finished writing the album “Calling all stations”  Wilson was still able to make some contributions to to the album which included writing the lyrics to “Small Talk” and riffs on “Not About Us”

Although the albuM did reasonably well in the UK and Europe it only reached the number 54 spot in the US charts.

In 1998 the band decided to take a prolonged break.

In 2014, Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Collins and Hackett reunited for Genesis: Together and Apart, a BBC documentary.

On 4 March 2020, Collins,Banks and Rutherford  announced their reformation and The Last Domino? Tour. It is great to see them back again.

domino

 

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Blackstar- Elvis and David Bowie

2020-01-08.png

January 8 is a significant date in music history. On this day 3 musical legends and Icons were born.

I wont’t go too much into their lives because there is very little I can add.

Aside from being tow extraordinary artists , there is another connection to these 2 musical giants.

In 1960 Elvis released a country and western style song called “Dark Star” and it was to be used in a  Western. However the song title was changed to Flaming Star. It is not clear to me why it was changed.

Like most children of the 1950s and indeed later decades , David Bowie considered Elvis a mythical figure. The two men  who would go on to share a record label, RCA, in the 1970s, also happened to be born on the same day. “I couldn’t believe it,” David  Bowie said. “He was a major hero of mine. And I was probably stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something”

On January 8 2016, on David Bowie’s 69th Birthday and 2 days before his death he released his last album, and I nearly would day his best album, titled Black Star.

The title of that album was aed back to Elvis. by the philosopher Simon Critchley, whose book “Bowie” was released in 2014,  He pointed to the rare Elvis song “Black Star,”

 

Maybe it was David Bowie’s tribute to Elvis.

These are the lyrics of the Elvis song. They are very poignant.

Every man has a black star
A black star over his shoulder
And when a man sees his black star
He knows his time, his time has come

Black star don’t shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

David Bowie’s Blackstar sounds completely different of course

 

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The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore- Musician who died in 2019

captain

The Captain” of Captain and Tennille, died on January 2nd aged 76.

talk

Mark Hollis, lead singer and songwriter of Talk Talk, has died at the age of 64 on February 25th.

flint

On March 4th, Keith Flint, the singer of The Prodigy, took his life at the age of 49.

Dick Dale

Richard Anthony Monsour aka Dick Dale the “King of Surf Guitar died on March 17, aged 81.

Noel Scott Engel aka Scott Walker American-born, British singer Scott Walker, formerly of The Walker Brothers, died on March 22,age 76.

spyro

David Alan Samuels, American percussionist for Spyro Gyra died on April 22, aged 70.

Doris Day

On May 13, legendary singer and actress Doris Day died aged 97.

cassius

Grammy-winning producer Philippe Zdar (half of  French house duo Cassius) fell off a building in Paris, France and died at the age of 52, on June 19.

art

On July 22, Art Neville, the founding member of The Neville Brothers and The Meters (and later renamedThe Funky Meters),  died at the age of 81.

ian

Ian Gibbons was an English keyboardist, most notably known for playing with The Kinks.He died on August 1 at the age of 67.

ric

Ric Ocasek, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and painter. He was the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter for the rock band the Cars.He passed away on September 15, aged 75.

Baker

Peter Edward “Ginger” Baker or simply Ginger Baker was an English drummer and a co-founder of the rock super band Cream. He died on October 6th at the age of 80.

wake

Wake Self American rapper died on November 5 in a fatal traffic collision, he was aged 30.

roxette

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson has died on December 9th at the age of 61, following a long battle with cancer.

These were just some of the musicians who died in 2019. There is quite a band forming beyond those pearly gates/ May they all rest in peace.

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The Look- Roxette’s accidental break through.

the look

The sad news reached us this week that Roxette singer Gun-Marie Fredriksson had died after a 17-year long battle with cancer.

Roxette were very successful in the late 80s and early 90s , in fact at some stage they were the biggest band in the world. But this success may never have been if it wasn’t for a young American exchange student Dean Cushman.

Roxette had already been quite successful in their native Sweden. The Look was the 4th single from their second album. It was actually their Christmas song “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)”  released in December 1987,which had not been included on any of their albums. that had been their biggest selling single to date

The song  became a top five hit in Sweden. In 1990 it was re-released for the movie “Pretty Woman” leaving out the Christmas for the Broken Hearted bit of the original title.

“The Look” was released as the  fourth single of their 2nd album “Look Sharp” in January 1989,=reaching the top 10 in Sweden. American exchange student from Minneapolis, Dean Cushman, had been an exchange student in Sweden where he bought the album and brought it home to the US., giving a copy of it to his local Top 40 radio station, KDWB 101.3 FM. “The Look” soon became very popular, and the station began distributing the track to their sister radio operations. EMI America had previously rejected the duo as unsuitable for the American market, and Roxette didn’t have a recording contract in the US.

“The Look” had already entered the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100 before the duo began official promotion. It would go on to peak at number one eight weeks later. It gradually became a global hit over the next year, topping the charts in 25 countries.

To put things in perspective,their debut album Pearls of Passion which was only released in Scandinavia and Canada sold 800,000 copies(this number includes the sales of th remastered version released in 1997) Where “Look Sharp” sold 9,000,000 copies worldwide.

 

RIP Marie- You always had the look.

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The laughing Gnome-Happy Birthday David Bowie.

bowie

January 8, 1947 probably has not much of a historical significance,however it is the day which saw the birth of a truly musical genius,David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie.

But in order to   become this musical icon he had to make a few odd detours. Before Space Oddity,Ziggy Strdust,Life on Mars, Let’s dance, etc, he had to learn his craft by performing as a 15 year old in a band with the name ” the Konrads”.

It was 2 years later though with another band named “the King Bees” David Bowie’s talents were first captured on a record with a song titled “Liza Jane”.

However this song did not become a hit,also the fact it was credited as  Davie Jones with the King-Bees didn’t help, because in 1964 another Davy Jones was already a well established name as the singer of the Monkees.

In order David Robert Jones changed his name  after the 19th-century American pioneer James Bowie and the knife he had popularized.

With the legend of  David Bowie was born. Well kind of, there was just one more literally small obstacle to overcome before reaching the stellar heights the David Bowie reached. The obstacle was called “the Laughing Gnome” although I love David Bowie’s music a lot that song released as a novelty single on Deram Records in 1967 was awful and an assault to the ears. But hey, all is forgiven for David Bowie did become one of THE musical icons of the 20th century.

 

Happy Birthday David

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The Dirty Mac

Dirty Mac

What if John Lennon,Keith Richards and Eric Clapton formed a band together, surely they must have been the most famous band ever. wouldn’t they?

Well yes they did form a band, together with Mitch Mitchell from the Jimin Hendix experience, And no they didn’t become the most famous band ever, in fact hardly anyone knows they did team up forming the super band ‘The Dirty Mac’

The band was formed  for the Rolling Stones’ TV special titled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which aired on December 11, 1968.

To say things went smoothly would be an overstatement. It had become  nightmare full of malfunctioning equipment and eventually took 15 hours before the Stones hit the stage.

Lennon called  himself as “Winston Leg-Thigh, for the occasion.The Dirty Mac recorded a rendition of the Lennon-penned Beatles track “Yer Blues” and then went on to back up Yoko Ono and violinist Ivry Gitlis on a track called “Whole Lotta Yoko”

Just imagine if the Dirty Mac had become a real band?

mac

 

 

 

 

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Moody Blues-Prague in White Satin

Moody Blues

You’re an immensely popular Rock-Blues band and you have been invited to one of the Warsaw pact countries,Czechoslovakia to be precise.

They just got a new leader a man with a vision,a prelude to glasnost as such. Alexander Dubček opened it up his country for new cultural experiences, so when the Moody Blues got a chance to play a gig behind the iron curtain of course they took it with both hands, After all what could go wrong? They had the blessing of the supreme leader.

Dubcek

Well it was August 20,1968 the day that the Soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact nations decided they did not like these new liberties introduced by Mr Dubček and decided to end this party nick named the Prague spring and took control of this unruly situation.

Tanks

The band did get a chance to shoot a promo for a French TV show the video  was shot in the afternoon . As The Moody Blues played their hit song, Warsaw Pact troops were already preparing for an invasion. By the evening, it had begun, and the British Embassy took no chances and quickly withdrew the band members from the city. Justin Hayward recalled in an interview: “We were in Czechoslovakia when the Russians rolled in. The British Air Force very kindly got us out, and it wasn’t until we got back to England that we realized what was going on.”

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Video killed the radio star

VIDEO

In the history of popular music ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ must be the most ironic song ever to hit the airwaves, Ironic in 2 ways,firstly it was the song that launched MTV on August 1,1981. Secondly, that same MTV eventually killed itself.

The song was written by written by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley in 1978.Initially it was recorded by Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for their album English Garden.

But the version we all know is by the band The Buggles and that is the version which was used by MTV. The Buggles only had the one hit but the musicians involved in the band are genuine Rock and Pop music pedigree.

Geoffrey Downes, a British musician was a member of the prog Rock band ‘Yes’ and in 1981 after he split with Yes, he formed the super group’Asia’ . He  joined forces with Yes’s guitarist Steve Howe , bassist/vocalist John Wetton from King Crimso) and drummer Carl Palmer OF  Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame.

downes

The other member of the Buggles was none other then the aforementioned Trevor Horn. His work is really more behind the scene but significant nonetheless, He co-wrote the song Video killed the radio star. but it is his work as a producer and songwriter is phenomenal. He worked with Seal,Genesis,Hans Zimmer,Lisa Stansfield and many others.

horn

Recently he participated in a BBC documentary  where they tried to scientifically produce the perfect Pop song. Interestingly they had taken data from 7 decades of Pop music. The one thing that surprised me was that according to the data, the Beatles were average and mediocre, the Stones were just a bit more edgy, but the 60s band which was the edgiest was the Kinks.

They did achieve a scientific pop song in the documentary, but had to come to the conclusion it was only mediocre.

MTV started off with a blast.Anyone who grew up in the 80s, grew up with MTV. I don’t know what happened to it but the 21st century MTV has little to do with music but everything with bad to mediocre reality shows, maybe MTV also conducted  a scientific experiment.

mtv

Finishing with the Buggles version of Video Killed the Radio star.(another ironic twist it’s on Vevo)

 

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The special effects in Laurel & Hardy movies.

Brats L & H

Ever since I was a kid I loved watching Laurel & Hardy movies and I believe I have them all in my collection.

The humour in their films has remained fresh till today and they never dated. But it is only since recently I started to appreciate that some of their movies had very advanced special effects for their time, and those effect have also stood the test of time for more then 80 years.

Below are just a few examples.

Brats

In the movie Brat Stan and Ollie play themselves but also their sons and in several scenes the four are seen together.

Brats 2

Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers

That whole movie is filled with special effects. Recently it has become a bit controversial because some people had called some scenes and especially the march of the wooden soldiers anti-Semitic, I have watched this movie hundreds of times and I could not see it, if at all it is more of a warning of things to come.

march

The Flying Deuces

Nowadays having it seem like an animal is talking is not anyone gets excited about, it is even used in TV ads. However in 1939 having a horse mimicking Ollie and telling Stan “That’s another fine pickle you got me in” was a technical masterpiece.

Flying Deuces

Ending with one of my favourite scenes from ‘Way out West’

 

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1978-What a Year

1978

1978 must have been one of the most significant years well at least in a pop culture way, the amount of classic movies that were released that year and classic songs is just phenomenal.

Lets start with some of the songs.

Wuthering Heights

Written by an 18 year old Kate Bush taken from the album which was partially produced by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.

It was Kate Bush’s first single and reached Number 1 in January 1978 and stayed there for 4 weeks. It was the first song composed and written by a woman to reach number one in the UK.

 

The Gibb Brothers

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I deliberately did not say the Bee Gees because in 1978 the Bee Gees and their younger sibling Andy Gibb all had several songs in the charts.

The Bee Gees had several hits from the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever and Barry Gibb’s ‘Grease; sung by Frankie Valli also topped the charts.

Where Andy Gibb had success with songs like “Shadow Dancing” and “An Everlasting Love”

 

 

Dreadlock Holiday

A reggae song by 10CC. Although they had been around for a while and did have other hits like ‘The Wallstreet shuffle’ and ‘ Rubber Bullets’ this British Rock band did get their biggest hit in 1978 with a Reggae Tune.

But the list of massive hits goes on with artists like Michael Jackso,Eric Clapton,Kansas,The Rollong Stones, Paul McCartney and the Wings and ABBA.I could go on forever, therefore swiftly moving to movies

Starting off with the aforemention:

Grease

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The most successful musical ever and although I am not a great musical fan, Grease did something to my psyche, I absolutely love the movie. I am not going to say too much about it, I will leave the music to the talking. This is my favourite song of Grease, it might surprise you that is not one of the countless hits.

Finishing up with one of the best movies ever made

The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter

Co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian American steelworkers whose lives are changed forever after they fought in the Vietnam War. The same Michael Cimino would cause the demise of United Artists less then 2 years later.

But the Deer Hunter is still in my Top 5 of all tine favourite movies.

 

By the way 1978 was also the year of 3 popes

Pope Paul VI dies at age of 80.
John Paul I Becomes Pope from August 26th , 1978 and dies just 33 days later on September 28, 1978
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II

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