Monday, February 20, 2017

Art Garfunkel

Artist: Art Garfunkel
LP: 7" single
Song: "A Heart In New York" 
[ listen ]

Speaking of things that aren't my bag, if I had to list ten male musical celebrities whose chest hair I'd most like not to see, Art Garfunkel would be right up there with Roy Orbison and Buck Owens. "A Heart In New York" peaked at #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981, marking Garfunkel's last appearance on that chart.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Al Jarreau [1940-2017]

Artist: Al Jarreau
LP: 7" single
Song: "Trouble In Paradise" 
[ listen ]

True, Al Jarreau isn't my usual bag when it comes to '80s pop music. Yet there's always been something about his 1983 "Trouble In Paradise" single that's drawn me in—something even beyond the delightfully generous profusion of electronic hand-claps sprinkled throughout. The song peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning sporadic airplay on Yakima's 107.3 KFFM.

Alwin Lopez Jarreau has always seemed so upbeat and friendly. Of course, it would be a real struggle to be a downer while wearing a turquoise v-neck sweater with '80s confetti flourishes and a fly-away fringed white scarf. But I've just learned that, in the mid-1960s before he launched his music career, Al worked in San Francisco as a rehabilitation counselor for people with disabilities. The notion of rehabilitation comes through in Jarreau's music, even in "Trouble In Paradise." 

I'm not all that familiar with many of Al Jarreau's other songs, but it was still sad news to hear that he had died. Here's hoping his positive energy has already begun to rehabilitate any Trouble In Paradise he finds on the other side. You can read more about the man and his music in The New York Times.

 
Al Jarreau
[ March 12, 1940 — February 12, 2017 ]
We will miss you, Alwin.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Barry Goldberg Reunion

Artist: The Barry Goldberg Reunion
LP: There's No Hole In My Soul
Song: "Sittin' In Circles"
[ listen ]

Little baby Darla has been healthy and growing; she was the belle of the ball at the Vashon Island Williams Family Dinner this past Sunday; I've got an exciting new position at work; Valentine's chocolate was 50% off at Fred Meyer today. So many things have been going my way! I know it won't last forever, but it sure is nice to be strolling on Happiness Street for awhile. This moody 1968 Barry Goldberg Reunion song is one of my all-time favorites.

[ Love For Sale. ]

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda

Artist: The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda
LP: Calypsos
Song: "You Can Go (But You'll Return)"
[ listen ]
Song: "Sager Boy"
[ listen ]

The Talbot Brothers, who were all the rage in Bermuda when this LP was released back in 1957, have asked me to wish you Happy Valentine's Day, from you to them. They would have told you themselves, but Archie, Austin, Bryan, Ross, Roy and Cousin Mandy are no longer with us. Roy Talbot, who was the last surviving member of the group, died in May of 2009. So anyway, Happy Valentine's Day!

The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda on YouTube:

[ The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda ]

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Platters

 Artist: The Platters
LP: The Flying Platters
Song: "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"
[ listen ]

This afternoon I was listening to this 1957 LP by The Platters while doing some chores, and when "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" came on, these lyrics triggered a funny memory: I'm gonna write words oh so sweet, they're gonna knock me off my feet; a lot of kisses at the bottom, I'll be glad I got em.

I suddenly remembered the time during my first year in college when my friend Angie found me writing a letter to my friend Vladimir back home in Yakima. I was at BYU, a conservative Mormon school in the middle of Utah, and I was lonely and miserable. Only Vladimir seemed to understand. I was writing the letter in the HFAC Building, relating personal miseries both social and romantic, when my friend Angie suddenly appeared, saw the letter, and accused me of having an imaginary friend.

Thoroughly embarrassed, I feebly insisted that Vladimir was real, but she could read me like a book. Besides, there's probably never been a person named Vladimir in Yakima, Washington since the city was founded back in 1883. Why didn't I pick 'Steve,' or maybe 'Ramón?' Or maybe if the people of Provo, Utah hadn't been such lousy friends, I wouldn't have had to invent a phony one in the first place! Anyway, it was nice to have somebody to talk to who actually 'got' me. I'd love to be able to read that letter now. I wonder if I put any kisses at the bottom.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sheila & B. Devotion

Artist: Sheila & B. Devotion
LP: Singin' In the Rain
Song: "Singin' In the Rain"
[ listen ]
Song: "Love Me Baby"
[ listen ]

Sheila (her real name's "Annie," but that was taken) had already been a pop star in France for several years when she hooked up with B. Devotion to record and release a couple of disco records in the late '70s and early '80s, right before disco became a four-letter word. I had already been grumbling in the rain for several hours today when I went to see Darla at my friends' house up in Northgate. All signs indicate that Darla will definitely be disco. It's amazing, the power a little baby girl has to lift you, soaring, out of the doldrums.

[ Sheila & B. Devotion ]

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Guido & Maurizio

Artist: Guido & Maurizio
LP: Welcome!
Song: "Verde"
[ listen ]
Song: "Goodbye My Friend"
[ listen ]

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, whose film THE SALESMAN has just been nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, has decided not to attend the awards ceremony in Hollywood this year. He'd initially planned to be there, but after Friday's executive order banning travel to the USA from seven Muslim-majority countries, Farhadi regretfully announced, "I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community...the possibility of (my) presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me, even if exceptions were to be made for my trip." 

He continued, "To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity. I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations."

That sucks. Asghar Farhadi's A SEPARATION won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of 2011, and he's one of the most exciting filmmakers working today.

Speaking of films, brothers Guido & Maurizio De Angelis made music for lots of them, mostly the ones from Italy. They also made pop songs with vocals, but those were released under the name Oliver Onions.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Céline Dion

Artist: Céline Dion
LP: Tellement J'ai d'Amour
Song: "Écoutez-Moi"
[ listen ]

My dearest friend, who happens to be an immigrant, sent me this article about Canada's prime minister welcoming the refugees from war-torn countries who are being turned away from the USA by the latest executive order issued by Donald Trump. The music of Canadian chanteuse Céline Dion now suddenly sounds like heaven to my ears! 

I'd like to apologize to anyone who's reading this outside the USA—near, far, wherever you are. My country is seriously going to fuck up the world over the next four years. Way more than half of us here are really sorry.

[ Céline & the Dions ]

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Liquorice

Artist: Liquorice
LP: Listening Cap
Song: "Trump Suit"
[ listen ]

So it seems the uneducated masses are perfectly willing to believe that the world is flat, as long as the person who tells them it's flat is wearing a power suit. Welcome to America in 2017. You can read about Liquorice here.

[ Liquorice ]