Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dandy Warhols

All the Money Or the Simple Life Honey (2005)
(from Odditorium Or Warlords of Mars)

The Dandy Warhols have always been an intriguing band. Interest in the band has grown signficantly in the last year thanks to Dig! Their new record drops in mid-September, and the lead single "Smoke It" is at your local alternative radio station right now. The album seems like a step forward, but y'all can be the judge of that when you hear the track and pick up the album in September.

Odditorium won't be for everyone, nothing is, and for many it might take a couple of listens to get used to the style changes from track to track. "All The Money Or the Simple Life Honey" is an early favorite and features some horns (present on a lot of the album), heavy acoustic guitar, and an overall earthy feel (no...I don't know what I mean by that). Check out Odditorium when it comes out on September 13 and enjoy the preview. For more information on the band head to their official site.

Monday, August 29, 2005


A Word In Your Ear (2002)
The Lighthouse Keeper (2002)
(from A Word In Your Ear)

A friend was recently talking about a new record that Alfie was coming out with, and it was one of those moments where you start to think about a band that had become an afterthought. When A Word In Your Ear came out in 2002, Britpop was not on my favorite genre list but it did make my "all right to listen to and tell your friends about" list. About a year later the record was selected to accompany me to work and has graced my collection ever since. Their first full length (If You Happy with You Need Do Nothing), released a year before A Word In Your Ear, is definitely better overall but both albums are quality. Their third album (Do You Imagine Things) is foreign to me, and the new album is called Crying at Teatime.

It seems like Alfie's releases have not received much love on this side of the pond, but maybe the tracks above will gain the band a few more fans. They aren't going to change the world or make you like bunny rabbits. However, maybe you'll sing along in the car...baby steps to change. Baby steps. Enjoy.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Fashionable Phoenix

Victim of the Crime
(Dior Homme fashion show, 04-05)

If you've heard Phoenix's newest studio album Alphabetical, then you know the song "Victim of the Crime." The version included in this post is rare and was created for a Dior Homme fashion show in 2004.

The band is French (and a pleasure to interview). They've done a few tours in the states now, have three albums out (two studio, one live), and continue to gain popularity. Most recently they had an iTunes session come out, and they plan to start recording studio album number three soon. If nothing else, you probably know the band from being on the soundtrack of their friend Sofia Coppola's movie Lost in Translation. This version of "Victim of the Crime" is 13 minutes long and is perfect for your weekend runway modeling. For more information, head to the official Phoenix website. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

Bet You Never Thought... (2003)
She Wants to Move (2003)
(from I Bet You Say That to All the Boys)

If you look at the cover of this record, and even the name of the band, you might be thinking it is some sort of side project of members of Belle & Sebastian. However, the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are actually from Chicago. I Bet You Say That to All the Boys is the bands first full-length record. They had two singles come out prior to the LP, and they are in the studio right now recording full-length number two.

SYGC is a group that provides its audience with orch-pop. The group has only a handful of core musicians and features a number of guests (both on record and on tour). Some may consider this album typical orch-pop, but it is good typical orch-pop. "Bet You Never Thought It Would Be Like This" is a song that shows off the male and female vocal talents of SYGC. "She Wants to Move" is more of a straight-up pop song that will likely find you bobbing your head.

If you live in the Chicago area, they are playing a show in front of Wrigley Field tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24. The full details are up on their website. When you decide that you have to check out more SYGC, you can pick up this album and get a free 2 song EP. Yay! Enjoy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Raul Midon

Sittin' in the Middle (2005)
(from State of Mind)

It seems like It's Magic! has been doing a lot of 2005 stuff lately, but there has just been a lot of good recently recorded stuff sliding across the desk. Anyway, Raul Midon was born blind (and in a quite a few pictures he looks like Stevie). He grew up in New Mexico and started playing drums at a young age. After a few years Midon switched to the guitar. At some point during those years of perfecting his style, he realized he had a nice smooth voice, as well. He sang back up on a bunch of Latin pop recordings in the 90s (while at college in Miami).

Fast forward to the 2000s and we find Raul Midon in NYC. His first album entitled State of Mind came out earlier this year on Manhattan Records (a subsidary of EMI). The album is filled with tunes influenced by all types of music, and feature primarily Midon and his guitar. Stevie Wonder and Jason Mraz both guest on the album. "Sittin' in the Middle" is one of the more soulful tunes off of Midon's album. That isn't by mistake as the song is dedicated to Donny Hathaway. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Dane Train

Creepy Guy @ Work (2005)
(from Retaliation)

Dane Cook is one of my favorite comedians. His fast-paced show and somewhat raunchy humor can be a bit overwhelming at times, but he is always hilarious. Comedy Central has featured him on almost all their stand-up features, he has two CDs out, and has done shows all across the country. His first CD, Harmful if Swallowed, shows off all of Cook's potential. The follow-up, Retaliation, was recently released and features a tremendous amount of material. On 2CDs and 1 DVD, Dane Cook shows off that he will be around for at least a few more years with his comedic antics. The track included is from Retaliation and describes a situation that everyone goes through if they work in the office. Gary was the name of the creepy guy at a radio station I used to work at--gives me the shakes just thinking about it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Early Registration

Heard 'Em Say (feat. Adam Levine) (2005)

In yesterday's post, Adam Levine (singer of Maroon 5) was mentioned in passing. John Mayer is doing a bunch of different stuff, playing with some credible musicians. Levine hasn't quite hit the level of Mayer this year (although he did sing with Stevie and Alicia Keys...not too shabby), but the man did make the cut on the new Kanye album Late Registration, which leaked last night, and is due in stores August 30th.

"Heard 'Em Say" is the first song on the new West album, and shows off Levine's surprisingly pleasant voice on a laid back and soulful beat. Having only listened to the album twice all the way through, so it is a bit early to make generalized comments, but, this song is definitely an instant favorite.

If you want to hear all of Late Registration, it was originally leaked here. Not sure if it is still functioning, but at least you know. Oh and seriously--if you like it, as always, pick up the album when it comes out. Download the album now because you can't wait, not because you're a cheap bastard. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Herbie Hancock

(live @ Bonnaroo, 2005)

In a random music conversation, with a professor who is a huge jazz fan, the question "what do you know about John Mayer?" came up. I asked him if he was looking for a CD for his wife or kid or something, and then he responded, "No, he played with Herbie Hancock at some festival." After about ten minutes my jaw was recovered from the floor, and almost instantaneously a computer screen was in front of me, with Google on overdrive. Needless to say it was very true, and by the sound of the recording that boy can really play himself some guitar.

Mayer has been diversifying himself lately (same with that guy from Maroon 5). Mr. "Your Body is a Wonderland" was supposed to have a duet with Kanye on Late Registration, but that won't make the final mix by the looks of it (mixtape material, though). He's also playing on an upcoming B.B. King duet album, he did some kind of PBS thing with a country star, and he's been doing other various session/live work. It isn't that prior to all of this I thought John Mayer was a hack, but damn! If you're getting respect from Herbie Hancock and B.B. King, you're all right with me.

Hancock reformed the Headhunters for this Bonnaroo show (Roy Hargrove graced the stage along with Mayer and some other heavy cats). Herbie's new album is called Possibilities and features a number of collaborations (comes out August 30th). This version of "Chameleon" (which appears on the legendary Head Hunters album) showcases almost everyone in the group. Not surprisingly, the new Headhunters are as tight as can be. The recordings of Bonnaroo prove that Herbie never lost it and Mayer definitely gots it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Na na na na na na na na na...Batman!

The Bat Cave (1966)
Joker is Wild (1966)

In 1966, Batman was one of the most popular television shows on the air. Popular culture history explains that almost everyone tried to make some money off of the craze. And, why shouldn't two top-notch musical forces get it on the cash flow? That's why, thanks to a toy company dishing out some dough to Sun Ra and his group, as well as members of the Blues Project, an album called Batman and Robin came out in 1966, credited to "The Sensational Guitars of Dan & Dale."

Apparently, the licensing of the theme song and cover art cost the toy company more than the session itself. All Music has a full review and back history on the record, which is a must read once you hear the tracks. An original copy is almost impossible to find, but Dusty Groove has an Italian reissue of the album (just search for "Batman and Robin").

This album, for me, is a lot more fun than a Sun Ra or Blues Project album. Not quite the same innovative quality, but you can't help but smile and bob your head to great musicians just jamming out. The two tracks above show some of the diversity on the album. "The Bat Cave" is a much groovier tune than "Joker is Wild." It is obvious that the guys from Blues Project are highlighted on "Joker is Wild," while "The Bat Cave" shows off a much more collaborative effort. There are a number of other great tracks on the album as well: "Batman and Robin Over the Roofs" is a really fun track, and probably the most musically sound on the album. "Robin's Theme" is the only track with vocals (Although, it is just a woman howling "Robin, yeah! I said Robin."). You find yourself singing to Beatles songs when "Riddler's Retreat" comes on because the band inserts a number of riffs from the group in the song. Superb stuff. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Million Dollar Quartet

Down By The Riverside (1956)
When The Saints Go Marching In (1956)

Today marks the 28th anniversary of Elvis Presley's passing. It seemed pointless to post one of his hits from the 60s or 70s, and it also seemed pointless to copy and paste or link some biography of the man. Instead, a personal reflection is in order.

Last summer, a childhood friend and I took a trip down to Memphis. As the insane music freak, that was an obvious roadtrip choice for me. We hit up the Stax museum, Sun Studios, the Gibson guitar factory, and of course, Graceland. Before that trip to Memphis I wasn't that big of an Elvis fan. My mom loved the guy, saw him in concert, and always told stories about how huge he really was. None of that ever had an impact, but actually seeing Graceland changed my perception of Elvis.

He was a guy who hit it big but never really grew out of his roots. Sure, he had more money than any of us could ever imagine, but he was still a country boy (a country boy with a huge house, beautiful women, a private plane, and a disturbingly loyal following, but still). Graceland wasn't some kind of religious experience for me, but it was somewhat overwhelming as a music fan. You can read about him all you want but seeing the impact and the history is a completely different trip. Two weeks after returning from Memphis, all three major Elvis boxsets graced my collection, as well as the CD pictured above.

The Million Dollar Quartet was recorded on December 4, 1956. While the forty-track piece of recording history is not a proper studio session, it features four legends goofing around and jamming in the studio where they all began. Elvis stopped by Sun and joined Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash for a little sing-a-long. Sam Phillips knew not to just watch, so he started rolling tape. The end result is a mish-mosh of full songs, fun dialogue, and rock and roll history. Cash appears in the famous picture of the event, but you can't hear any vocal by him throughout the album. But, Million Dollar Trio just doesn't have the same ring to it. This album is currently only available on import...enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Jon Brion

Ruin My Day (2001)
(from Meaningless)

This is my favorite pop record from the last five years. It never gets old or stale. The whole thing is tightly produced, beautifully arranged, and always easy to listen to. Jon Brion is probably better known to most for his scores/soundtracks: I Heart Huckabees, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch Drunk Love, and some others. He was also in the band The Grays with Jason Faulkner, was the producer for a number of people (Aimee Mann and Fiona Apple to name a few), has played various instruments on countless records, and most recently was co-executive producer on the forthcoming Kanye West LP Late Registration. Since that LP is supposedly going to leak this week, and more people are probably familiar with Kanye's work, it seemed fitting to post a Jon Brion track.

The combination of Brion and West has been much talked about and much anticipated. While most of us won't know until August 30 if the quality of the duo's output is worth talking about, one can't help but ponder what it will sound like when a usually ego-driven hip hop star gets together with one of the unsung heroes of indie/alternative music.

Meaningless was self-released by Brion in 2001. His website has been under construction for over a year now, however, you can pick up a copy for yourself at CD Baby. Needless to say, most people don't even know that the album exists. It hasn't been in-stock or on order at any indie retailer I've been to recently, but plenty of people buy it because CD Baby (the main retailer of the album) runs out of stock every few months. The album is 11 tracks of pop bliss, all meticulously constructed by Brion. Rumor has it that Brion is putting the finishing touches on his second solo LP, to be released later this year. That is, however, a rumor. The source is fairly reliable, but you never know until the album hits the shelves. For now, look out for Late Registration at the end of August and enjoy one of the best tracks off of Meaningless, "Ruin My Day."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Kanye West vs. the Beach Boys

Kanye West vs. the Beach Boys - New Workout Plan (2005)
Kanye West vs. the Beach Boys - Two Words (2005)

This fits into the "old news but new to me" category. Apparently, this mash-up has been circulating for awhile. Today was the first that It's Magic! heard of it, thanks to an e-mail that was received from an anonymous reader.

Having only listened to all the tracks once, there are a few observations. First off, the guy who does the mash-up, Lushlife, inserts some of his own vocals into the mix. That sort of defeats the purpose of mashing up two other artists' stuff and just doing some shameless self-promotion. But hey, everybody has got to get paid some day.

I've directly linked to two songs that are available for download at the Kanye West Sounds website. Check the tracks out--it isn't as musically sound as some of the mash-ups in recent history, but it has its moments. Enjoy the novelty of it all.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Duane Allman

No Money Down (1969)

It is almost impossible to label someone the "greatest of all-time" no matter what you're talking about. However, Duane Allman is the greatest guitar player of all-time. Yes, this can be easily debated, and if you want to change that label to one of the greatest guitarists of all-time, go ahead. The fact is Duane Allman's recording career only lasted about five years, and inside that time he has made a lasting impact on music--rock and roll, blues, soul, all of it.

There were few musicians during Duane's era that did not want to meet, record, or work with him in some capacity. Before his tragic motorcycle accident in 1971, he had been working on a solo record. It was never finished, but according to the record's producer, Duane was just beginning to truly find himself as an artist (that comes from statements made in the liner notes of An Anthology). One track from that album can be found on An Anthology, and two more can be found on An Anthology Volume II. The solo tracks show enormous potential. It is actually hard to imagine, considering Duane's amazing body of work in such a short period, what his output would have been had he not met an untimely demise.

To get the full story on Duane, you can check out his Wikipedia entry here. There doesn't seem point to regurgitate information here that can easily be found elsewhere. Duane had worked with a laundry list of legendary artists before his death. The anthologies available are a good summation of his work, however you can't really get enough Duane Allman. Included for your enjoyment is a solo recording of his--a Chuck Berry tune called "No Money Down." You really can't go wrong with this guy. If you don't have his anthologies, they really are must-haves. To check out some of his soul recordings, head over to Soul Shower. Enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Magic Sam

Give Me Time (1968)
I'm So Glad (1968)

Magic Sam is a fantastic vocalist and phenomenal guitar player. His album West Side Soul (1967) is considered by many to be one of the best blues records of all-time. Sam was born in Mississippi but moved to Chicago and made a few friends. Magic Slim grew up with Sam, Syl Johnson was known to give Sam a few pointers here and there, and Syl's brother Mack Thompson was Sam's bass player.

Sam's recording career began for Cobra Recordings--his labelmates included his friend Magic Slim and legend Otis Rush. Sam did some great recordings for Cobra, but the label folded around 1959. Instead of following Slim and Otis over to Chess, Sam recorded for the Chief label after his Cobra years. However, after making a few recordings for that label, moved to Delmark Records. Delmark released the essential West Side Soul and the follow-up Black Magic.

There was never a chance to really tap the potential of Magic Sam. After years of playing to huge crowds both in the Chicago area and around the States, Sam was primed for a big break. Stax was planning on signing him after his deal with Delmark was through but the label never got the chance. Magic Sam died of a heart attack on December 1, 1969--he was only 32 at the time.

"Give Me Time" is from the album of the same name, released 22 years after Sam's death. All the recordings on the disc were made in his basement, straight onto a tape deck (you can here some domestic noises throughout the recording...kids, washing machine, etc.). This song shows off Sam's voice more than it does his guitar playing while "I'm So Glad" shows off Sam's guitar ability a bit more. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

United Future Organization

Magic Wand of Love (1994)
United Future Airlines (1994)

This group is made up of some Tokyo DJs and a French guy--thats about as much as I know. It was picked up at a used CD store in the bargain bin a few weeks ago, and is worth much more than the $2 price tag. The CD takes you through all sorts of twists and turns in terms of style, and by the end you realize that you've enjoyed the listening experience, but don't care to classify it. The smoothest track on the album is entitled "Magic Wand of Love." That song features a woman named Linda Muriel on vocals. "United Future Airlines" is also a hot track. It features a cat named Simon Richmond on percussion, and is the first track off of No Sound Is Too Taboo. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pair Extraordinaire

All My Loving (1966)
Run For Your Life (1966)

These guys were wild. The cover pictured here features Carl Craig and Marcus Hemphill. Those gentlemen make of The Pair Extraordinaire. Carl (on the left) sang and Marcus (on the right) played bass. That's it! No other people on stage when they performed. Occasionally, drummer Earl Palmer would join the boys on stage, but it didn't matter--these boys could bring it.

The Pair is kind of a lounge act, but a good one. Carl tells cocktail jokes during and in between songs, while Marcus does a fantastic job of plucking the bass. All four of their albums appear on Liberty records, and all were recorded and released between 1964 and 1966. Bill Cosby did a number of shows with the duo, and even wrote the liner notes on the back of the pictured album. There isn't all that much information available about them on the Internet, so you'll just have to check out the tracks and see one of the first true two-man bands. Both songs are Beatles covers, showing off Carl's voice as well as Marcus's quality bass playing. Enjoy the Pair Extraordinaire.

Monday, August 08, 2005

California Raisins

Sweet, Delicious and Marvelous (1987)
(from Sing the Hit Songs)

First, there were commercials--then came some TV specials. Shortly after, the group that was behind an insanely successful ad campaign for raisins, became pop culture icons. California Raisins stuff could be found as fast food kids' meal incentives, a Nintendo game (no idea what you were supposed to do in the game), action figures, t-shirts, a Saturday morning cartoon and three albums. Back in the 80s, I remember having two California Raisins cassettes. Unfortunately, I was about 7 and they have long been lost and forgotten. Thankfully for eBay, when I began to have interest in the Raisins again, I was able to get their debut album on vinyl.

Why would a guy in his early twenties all of a sudden become interested in an old ad campaign? Because said guy found out that a legendary funk, rock and soul figure was the person singing on the bulk of the tracks. That man's name is Buddy Miles. The charismatic Miles is a musical giant who has played with an unbelievable amount of great artists (for more info on his soul and funk stuff, head over to Soul Shower).

What started off as an ad campaign became a phenomenon of sorts. Claymation was cutting edge at the time, and people were amazed at the technology. Not to mention, these little shriveled up cats were singing some of the greatest songs ever written. Primarily doing Motown and classic soul songs, the Raisins introduced an entire generation of kids to that genre of music. For parents, they were happy to let their kids listen to these "oldies" and watch some innocent claymation raisins.

There are heaps of information about the Raisins--they even have an entry at All Music. The song included with this post is the only original track off of their debut album Sing the Hit Songs (Priority, 1987). "Sweet, Delicious and Marvelous" is a fun tune. It could have easily fit on the charts with a lot of the slick and commercial R&B of the 1980s. However, with Raisins singing...I don't suppose too many people took them seriously. It was and is a novelty. Still, enjoy.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Ibrahim Ferrer (1927-2005)

La Música Cubana (2003)
Oye El Consejo (2003)
(from Buenos Hermanos)

Not a good week for music folks...earlier this week, Little Milton passed away. Now, according to Ibrahim Ferrer's representatives in Cuba, he has passed away at age 78. Ferrer was the lead vocalist of the Buena Vista Social Club. Ferrer began singing in the 1940s in Santiago, Cuba. He led a lengthy career, but he limited his musical career in the 80s. Ry Cooder brought him back into the public light in the late 90s.

The two recorded an album, along with a number of Cuban music legends, which was extremely successful. Shortly after that album, Cooder went back to Cuba to record an album with just Ferrer. Those recording sessions were documented and released in 1999. In his 70s, Ferrer picked up a Latin grammy (for new artist nonetheless!) thanks to the Buena Vista Social Club presents Ibrahim Ferrer album.

I had planned to do a post about Ferrer in a few weeks, but decided to bump it up because of his passing. There are a lot of albums that Ferrer appears on, but Buenos Hermanos was the album that introduced me to the legend. It came out on Nonesuch Records and is available pretty much everywhere. Ibrahim Ferrer was still active. His newest album was just released on May 3rd of this year.

Glottal Stopping

One (1969)
Damn Nam (Ain't Goin' to Vietnam) (1969)

Real men yodel. That makes Leon Thomas a man's man. Thomas got his big break singing with pharaoh Sanders in 1969, that same year Thomas released the album pictured on the left (titled Spirits Known And Unknown). It came out on Flying Dutchman Records, and was subtitled "New Vocal Frontiers." The record stands up to that claim, as Thomas' style is something that cannot be matched by many.

Thomas would scat and sing, but that was not uncommon for a jazz vocalist. What made him unique was that he also yodeled. His knowledge of this ability came about by coincidence. Thomas busted himself up bad in his apartment from a yoga accident (no joke), and needed to get eight stitches. This happened just before a show he was supposed to do with Sanders. Deciding he had to do the gig, Thomas went up in front of the crowd (it was a benefit for anti-police activists) and tried to scat. When he did, the sound that you will hear on his recordings first came out. He is really a very interesting person in jazz history, and a more detailed version of the yodeling story, along with interviews with Thomas, can be found on this website.

Spirits Known And Unknown is an album that makes the voice the primary instrument. In the liner notes of the LP, Thomas says, "We're into a new period. So far the horns have been in the forefront in terms of exploring the new dimensions of sound and expression. But no one has been nearly adventurous enough--for this time [he had earlier referred to music found in ancient Africa and the Himalayas]--with the possibilities of the voice. I feel I'm into that, and I feel it can be unusually therapeutic, for the listener as well as for the singer." While the vocals are the lead instrument, pharaoh Sanders (billed as "Little Rock") and Lonnie Liston Smith, Jr. add some musical muscle to the recording.

"One" and "Damn Nam (Ain't Goin' to Vietnam)" are beautiful songs that are lyrically and musically complex. Thomas continues to make a statement, saying (in the liner notes), "through everything I do now, there's my conviction that you have to be more than an entertainer. It just doesn't make any sense pretending nothing else is happening outside of wherever it is you're performing." Thomas keeps his music a beautiful art while also making social commentary.

A discography of Thomas can be found here. He also worked with another artist in the 70s, one who has much more popular acclaim: Santana. More information on their history together can be found on the previously linked site. Thomas had a great career, one that ended in 1999 when he passed away from leukemia. He left plenty of great music for the masses. You can pick up the reissues of his stuff over at Dusty Groove. Enjoy.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Basher

They Called It Rock (1978)
Nutted by Reality (1978)

These songs are taken from Nick Lowe's first solo album. If you lived in the States in '78 it was called Pure Pop For Now People. If you lived in the UK, it was called Jesus of Cool. The albums are identical with the exception of "Shake and Pop," which appears to only be on Jesus of Cool.

My fascination from Nick Lowe came through his body of work, most notably some people he produced. One of those people, Elvis Costello, has a number of records on my "favorite records of all-time" list...so I figured that the guy who is producing all of these records might not be too bad on his own. Not to mention the fact that he was a member of Rockpile, a band that I liked long before I realized who Nick Lowe is.

Needless to say, thanks to his work with Costello, Rockpile, and The Damned, when I saw this LP at a store, it was a must-have. The album does not disappoint--12 tracks that have fun and intelligent lyrics surrounded by well-crafted instrumentation. Lowe's wit and intelligence is apparent throughout the album, especially on the track "Nutted by Reality."

Nick Lowe still performs and had a live album come out some time last year. His official site has all the updated information about him and his projects. This album joins the long list of albums that should be reissued but won't (another example is Al Kooper's entire solo back catalog...however, that rant will be saved for another post). Enjoy.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fat Bottoms Everywhere

Dead On Time (1978)
In Only Seven Days (1978)

Jazz was Queen's seventh album. On my ranking list, it comes right after A Night at the Opera in terms of quality. Queen could really do no wrong in the 70s. They were huge in Europe, big in the States, and every album they recorded had some level of hit on it. Jazz contained "Bicycle Race," "Fat Bottomed Girls," and "Don't Stop Me Now." Three solid songs, all with a different vibe to them, that just about everyone can identify with. Diversity was inherent with Queen.

Rock critics never took them seriously, and a Rolling Stone review of Jazz called Queen, "the first truly facist rock band." You can read the entire Rolling Stone review by clicking here. The reviewer obviously had major issues with the band.

The two songs included above are both taken from side two of the album. "Dead On Time" is a straight out rock tune. May's guitar work crushes while Mercury wails over the top of the tight instrumentation. "In Only Seven Days" is a fairly mellow track, included to show Queen's the diversity in their catalogue. Reviews didn't seem to matter to the creative direction of Queen. The only thing the band seemed to have on its agenda was making sure that the fan base grew and that the music was pleasing. Well, the music is pleasing and people are still buying the albums. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Oh, Big Mama!

I'm Feeling Alright (1966)
Big Mama's Shuffle (1966)
(taken from Big Mama Thornton
with the Muddy Waters Blues Band - 1966
, 2004)

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton is best known for recording "Hound Dog" three years before Elvis. That song was the only success she had on the charts--which is a travesty. Big Mama's voice is easily recognizable, and just hits you right in the heart. These recordings on the Arhoolie label, place Thornton alongside one of my favorite blues performers, Muddy Waters. In the Muddy Waters Blues Band during this session are Otis Spann (piano) and James Cotton (harmonica). Luther Johnson (bass), Samuel Lawhorn (guitar), and Francis Clay (drums) round out the band's line-up (Muddy was obviously wailing on the guitar).

Big Mama was having trouble sticking with a regular band. She was not getting steady gigs in the 60s, but thanks to some shows she played with Buddy Guy that all changed. After seeing Thornton play with Guy, the founder and president of Arhoolie, Chris Strachwitz, decided he wanted Big Mama to record for him. A few days before the session was to take place, Strachwitz saw the Muddy Waters band play in San Francisco and offered them the session with Thornton. Waters was getting as much work for his band as possible, and happily signed on. That series of events led to some fine recordings. Two tracks from those session in '66 are here for your enjoyment.

Two versions of "I'm Feeling Alright" appear on the album. The first is a bit downtempo, while the one above is the "fast version." This tune is a perfect example of the stellar combination of Big Mama's voice and Muddy's superb backing band.

The second track off the album features a different side of the talented Big Mama. "Big Mama's Shuffle" pits harp against harp. James Cotton wails on his harmonica as Big Mama responds on hers. This tune further supports the fact that Big Mama was and is underappreciated.

After this session, Big Mama told Strachwitz that she wanted to record a gospel album with Muddy and his group. It, unfortunately, never happened. Two tracks on the album are spirituals, but a whole album of Thornton doing gospel...with this band? Phew!


Blues Brother Castro

Dress (2004)
Where is Your Army (2004?)

Blues Brother Castro is Holland's best kept secret. If you check their website, you see that they've got two releases that look like EPs (released in 2000 & 2002), and one LP called Money Maker Me (released last year). With some minor digging on-line, it appears that BBC will make its American debut at CMJ 2005 in New York City. They've signed on with a publicity firm here in the States, and it looks like said firm has put Money Maker Me out in the States. You can find it at CD Baby.

BBC are Dutch. That created somewhat of a problem when trying to find information on the band, because there were a ton of sites with Blues Brother Castro featured...but they were all in Dutch. However, in all the press and reviews that were found, no one had anything bad to say about them.

"Dress" is a song off of Money Maker Me. "Where is Your Army" seems to be the B-side to that song, but that is not entirely clear. Enjoy.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Macca and the bass line...

Silly Love Songs (1976)

This song came on the radio in the car Saturday morning after a long night of drinking. At first the reaction was "Oh, it's Paul McCartney." Then, after the absolutely killer bassline came in, everyone was like "Damn! This is Paul McCartney?" It isn't that anyone in the car thought Macca was a hack musician, but to be jamming out thinking "this bassline is jamming!" is a reaction one usually saves for funk songs or hip hop beats. I went home after breakfast and listened to "Silly Love Songs" about thirty-five times. The song comes off of a weak album from Wings (and labeled as popcraft), but damn those reviewers--sometimes you just need a senseless pop song that makes fun of similar senseless pop songs. The bass line just makes you jovial. Since everyone else has examined this McCartney guy's career, and information is pretty easy to come into...no need to waste space on it here. Groove to the bassline and enjoy.

It's all right man...it's magic!

Welcome to It's Magic! This is the sister blog to Soul Shower. Whereas Soul Shower is dedicated to purely soul music...It's Magic! is an attempt to provide the world with an eclectic mix of tunes. These songs will range from top 40 hits of today and yesteryear, to random jazz or blues recordings, some world stuff, psychedlic pop, hip hop, spoken word, comedy tracks or whatever else is crossing my desk at the moment. Feel free to enjoy and make fun of the tracks on this page. It's Magic! is not an attempt to be obscure...just random.