Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows ...and Dio

Hey it's still summertime right?



So there's no reason to turn down the Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows abounding out here on the edge of the interwebs is there?


I think that those three nouns will be our topics today...

So sunshine... that's easy...most people are familiar with it. I myself even see it on occasion.

Here's a few "sunny" tunes that explore this fascinating subject, or "Sol" music if you will

Jimi Hendrix - Sunshine Of Your Love

Super Furry Animals - Hello Sunshine

and here's one of those remix things, but done by a guy named sunshine...so I gues it still counts.



Fall Out Boy - Dance Dance ( Tommie Sunshine Mix)

While yer listening to those, let's read up on solar cooking ok?

Now note: that's an 11 page tome on the subject you can click through, all without leaving this site, if ya like...

As for me, i think sun dried tomato pesto is about the closest I'm getting to solar cooking this month...


and then we'll
get on to the lollipop portion of our day...

Note" in every leperchaun tale, The rainbow, always at the end...doh! no cheating...




Now ...Lollipops!!

Most folks only know Leslie as the girl who cried at her party because she wanted to, but that's not all there was to her...

She had her good days too, and dug Lollipops ...


Leslie Gore - Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows

The only other Lollipop tune I knows...well here it is

Mika - Lollipop


Speaking of lollipops...here's one that weighs 5 lbs and costs $35 bucks.

That's New York for ya I guess...




and see, you were patient... and ya know what you get?

the Rainbow!!!

more specifically Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow!

There's no question amongst heshers of a certain age that Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was amongst the prime purveyors of bombastic rock in the 1970's into the early 80's.

With tiny elfen warrior Ronnie James Dio yelping up a storm out front, Cozy Powell pounding on the drums and Blackmore's guitar blistering away, it was a stoner's dream come true, and likely a nightmare for pissed off parents. I also imagine the sonic scenario could likely scare quite a few little sisters into David & Sean Cassidy if they heard this dreadful pagan thumping & wailing coming through the walls while they played Barbie Dolls.

The band emerged out of Deep Purple when Blackmore quit after a long rocky run, and legend has it was hanging with fellow disgruntled rocker Dio. They named their band not so much for mystical multicolored daytime hippie skies, but for the dive bar on Sunset next to the Roxy in LA frequented by lounging heavy metal musicians & their groupies.

The original lineup was

Ronnie James Dio (vocals)
Ritchie Blackmore (guitar)
Mickey Lee Soule (keyboards)
Jimmy Bain (bass)
Cozy Powell (drums)

In a minute we'll delve into their live album On Stage, but prior to this time period, they had put out their debut album called Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow in 1975. This was a more mellow affair compared to the ravaging excesses of their live show. Much more melodically inclined than the live sets, it stands as a sleeper to this day. But here's a track from that, before they decided to bump the bombast level up a serious notch for the cheap seats...

Rainbow - Catch The Rainbow


Now.. that's not exactly my cup of spittle either...

So inn the interest of properly anointing you young uns into the glory of Rainbow...I've carefully chosen some key tracks from a couple live albums they have available from their so-called "classic period" from 1975-1978 before Dio left to replace Ozzy in Black Sabbath.

First I'll highlight side one of the album "On Stage", recorded in 1976 in Japan.

It was a classic 70's gatefold double live LP, and has been ported onto one economical CD these days with some editing. It's available for less than $9 here

as it opens with the medieval themed "Kill The King", which features a sample from the Wizard of Oz at the beginning. So there ya have it... Dio & Blackmore were sampling long before any of those foolish electronica acts relied on it for their entire output. The boys use just the right amount of Dorothy before they just start shredding away, Dio basically showing why he's been one of the great voices in rock for decades. Blackmore in the meantime has built a mean musical machine, and this track shows a fierce well rehearsed combo, forging a liquid metal path for acts like Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and countless others to slide into...

Rainbow - Kill The King

The next track is Man On The Silver Mountain, but in the album sequence, it's left as a 3 part medley of sorts, followed by a 4 minute blues jam and portion of another song called Starstruck. The whole darn file of track deux here is about 10 minutes / 15 megs and is basically a mini concert unto itself. I myself would be satisfied with these hits separated, but if the mighty Dio & Blackmore both want you to experience all three songs at once, who am I to argue?

Rainbow - Man On The Silver Mountain / Blues / Starstruck


The album was pretty much the same set the band would play at most engagements, with occasional shifts in order of songs. The set list for their first stateside show at The Beacon Theater in New York in Nov 1975 shows that during the December 1976 tour this album was recorded at in Japan wasn't all that much different from sets played a year earlier.



This was a band that liked to flaunt a bit o that "Majesty of Rock" that Spinal Tap aspired to, and you can pretty much be assured that Dio & Blackmore were twice as serious about this Dungeons & Dragons-esque stuff as posers like Nigel Tufnel & David St. Hubbins.

The audience there was obviously digging it, clapping along, but here from the 21st century vantage point, if you have a shortened attention span like myself, you might understand why punk rockers were ready to tear down some of these pompous rock conventions. Anyhow.. it certainly provides a time capsule of rock, and I doubt anyone will be replaying a Shins, or The Battles live tape in 2027 and raving about it quite like Rainbow fans do.

I myself being somewhat less under the spell, can become dizzy and amused reading the fawning reviews of diehard fans, but in the interest of explaining Dio's mysterious powers & Blackmore's fantastic six stringed spells I'll let the peanut gallery from across the web chime in & give you the hardcore 5 star run down ...


Underappreciated Live Gem - 5 stars!! - Submitted by kevino (Hunt Valley, MD, USA)

"On Stage" is absolutely one of the best live rock albums ever. What a shame so few people have heard it. Ritchie Blackmore's alternately blistering and melodic guitar solos, Ronnie James Dio's powerhouse vocals, and Cozy Powell's two-fisted, thunderous drumming combine to produce a set of killer performances. The album features Blackmore in his own band, with a free reign to arrange his way, and solo at will. His playing here is fiery and expressive. Epic fretboard explorations in "Catch The Rainbow" and Mistreated", sweet, delicate blues in the "Man On The Silver Mountain" medley, a beautiful intro to “Sixteenth Century Green sleeves” (as well as two great solos), and just plain shredding in "Kill The King" and "Still I'm Sad" (which features one of the most exciting, air guitar-inspiring solos ever recorded) - this is Ritchie at his best. This recording, made five years before the Black Sabbath album “Heaven And Hell” did it for a wider audience, also shows that Ronnie Dio is inarguably one of the finest rock singers ever. Clear, powerful vocals shine throughout. Cozy Powell, just the quintessential rock and roll drummer, drives these songs with a cannonade of percussive fury. Tony Carey’s unique organ and synthesizer sounds flesh the music out nicely. Check out his cool cadenza in “Still I’m sad”. This is very special music, of a type not heard before or after the vintage era of Rainbow (with Dio, 1975 - 1979). “On Stage” captures some great live evidence of this. Highly, highly recommended.




eMusic has uploaded a more recently released Rainbow collection of the same era that was recorded in Munich in 1977.

This album can also be bought as a DVD and has newely remastered sound, and a similar setlist for diehards to dwell on the subtleties. The DVD is only about $12 from this link and fans are raving about it.

All I know is it's not a short attention span release, considering that there's a 17 minute version of Catch The Rainbow and 14 minute epic treatment of Man On The Silver Mountain.

But here's a series of 5 star fan reviews from the eMusic & CD Universe websites:

CLASSIC! iTimbo1 from PA

Great show, with Dio in tow and the band playing in full force. Blackmore is at the peak of his powers.


AMAZING~~~ Sebastian from Hollywood, CA

WOW! Ritchie BlackmoreS guitar work is just amazing on this LP as are Ronnie James Dio's vocal work. The recording sound is excellent... Catch The Rainbow is just a totally amazing version. For ANY Dio fan this is a MUST have. ENJOY


5 stars!! Never knew a film existed of this Rainbow Lineup! - George (New York)
Amazing! Just Amazing! When it comes to vintage concerts on DVD, I use the Led Zeppelin DVD as a standard. As far as I am concerned this Rainbow DVD comes in at a very very close second! The video and sound is just top notch! I wonder how long this concert film had been sitting in the vaults because it should have been issued ages ago! The extras featuring a commentary slideshow, a new informative interview with Bob Daisley, and 3 videos from the Long Live Rock and Roll album are a great addition to this set. My DVD not only came with a booklet of informative liner notes and commentary, but with a miniature replication of an original tour program from that 1977 tour! Overall, the whole package is a MUST HAVE for all fans Rainbow, Dio, Deep Purple and even Black Sabbath-era Dio. I hope there is more to come from the vaults. No disappointments here at all!



5 stars - The DIO Years!! - by Steve c. (Tuson,AZ.)
Don't buy the CD! Buy the DVD and get the best of both worlds.This is the best I've heard RONNIE JAMES DIO sing on any of his live Cd's including BLACK SABBATH LIVE EVIL. But that's only my opinion a must for RAINBOW fans.



5 stars RAINBOWS RISING!! - Submitted by steve t. (BAKERSFIELD,CA.)
I've lost count how many times i watched this dvd since i bought it.This is one for us getting old RAINBOW FANS to show and tell the younger ones that this was a band!



Click below to download from eMusic the MP3s of
Rainbow in Munich !


or click here to purchase a brand new copy of the DVD on sale
for about $12.


Anyhow, check out the 30 second samples at eMusic if yer interested and grab yerself a trial membership...

A free trial gets ya 25 free DRM free Mp3 songs and ya can quit without paying, but if yer like me, you'll stick around for a cheap membership that starts at about $10 a month. It's a much better deal than anything I tunes offers, and each month you'll feast on several albums worth of legal tuneage .

Next time kids we might look into life after Dio... The 80's etc, including the darn near dreaded, yet fiscally frugal Joe Lynn Turner years.

But I doubt it, cause I've got a other stuff to do today, tomorrow & forever.

You might have to dig into that on yer own...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wild Women & Duh Monday Mix

Other than waking up to the concept of Monday in general, veering into the mindless mainstream is one of my least favorite activities...


I hate the mainstream Hollywood movies with more violence than plot, the music with more studio chicanery than songs in it...


The news programming with no no news in it... It's like mainstream food, all sugar, fat & chemicals with no nutrients...

Last night I had a house guest over who wanted to watch hours of crap TV including Nancy Grace ranting about Lindsay Lohan's "problems"

My only problem with Lindsay Lohan is having to hear about her endlessly...

Like anyone should give a flying f*ck!!!

Then every once in awhile, I pay attention to the random mainstream radar just so I can know what everyone's obsessed with this week...

It might be American Idol contestants, or someone's rehab stint, or some athelete's problem/triumph/salary dispute...

one of the one's that popped up earlier this summer was Akon, and his supposed "controversy"


I'm highlighting an interesting new track from Akon today. You may remember we last saw our hero in a concert clip of him mounting, grinding and smackin' the ass of a young girl onstage in Trinidad. The resulting uproar stretched to the boardrooms of Verizon, who pulled a 2 million dollar sponsorship deal for Gwen Stefani's tour with Akon off the table in a NY minute.



Boycotts, and much bad press followed.
including this incident in June where he was clearly seen physically tossing a teen fan off the stage....



Well he's back with what his label & management are hoping is some damage control...

In what may be a first in the Hip Hop world, the artist actually begs forgiveness, and apologizes for all the trouble he's caused. Of course, he's not all about eating humble pie, and attempts to explain his side of the story. This includes the somewhat schizo effect as he also addresses his baby momma, and the nation, and while we're at it Gwen Stefani. He then puts responsibility for the nasty sex act he performed on stage at the girl's daddy for letting her out of the house. A wonderful attempt all in all to set himself up as a musical martyr. All within a tuneful 5 minutes.

We'll see if mainstream radio wants to get back on board the Akon train...

Akon - Sorry, Blame It on Me

Akon


Some lyrical excerpts, for those who can't bear to download & listen:

As life goes on I’m starting to learn more and more about responsibility
I realize everything I do is affecting the people around me
So I want to take this time out and apologize for things I have done
And things that have not occurred yet
And the things they don’t want to take responsibility for



I’m sorry for the wrong things that I’ve done
I’m sorry I’m not always there for my son
I’m sorry for the fact that I am not aware
That you can’t sleep at night when I am not there


(Bridge)

I’m sorry that it took so long to see
They were dead wrong trying to put it on me
I’m sorry that it took so long to speak
But I was on tour with Gwen Stefani
I’m sorry for the hand that she was dealt
For the embarrassment that she felt
Just a little young girl trying to have fun
Her daddy should never let her out that young
I’m sorry for Club Zen getting shut down
I hope they manage better next time around
How was I to know she was underage
Enter 21 you know the club they say
Why doesn’t anybody wanna take blame
For rising back out disgracing my name
I’m just a singer trying to entertain
Because I love my fans I’ll take that blame
Even though the blame’s on you (3x)
I’ll take that blame from you



I've seen the Akon video that caused the uproar, as i'm sure many have, and the guy's tasteless & retarded dance moves more resembled the acts of a depraved rapist, but it wasn't as horrific as watching a news report from Iraq.

I never saw Verizon step up and complain about any of the activities of our soldiers overseas who've been involved with rapes or other even more heinous acts. Go figger...

Instead ... Like Akon, or followers of christianity, muslims in general, and the whole wide world of pickled penis brand misogyny.

I think we should just always blame women...

those damn wild women...

Always tempting men with their infernal ways...

Alien Sex Fiend - Wild Woman

also available on
Alien Sex Fiend - Who's Been Sleeping In My Brain


Shane MacGowan - That Woman's Got Me Drinking


Shane MacGowan & The Popes - The Snake


Minor Threat - Bitch

Cheap Trick - Scent Of A Woman

From the album Special One available at
Cheap Trick - Special One


An I Tunes only version is also available at I Tunes as well
Cheap Trick - Sessions@AOL - EP


Iron & Wine - Woman King

From
Iron & Wine - Woman King - EP


Brian Hyland - Gypsy Woman

From
Brian Hyland - Brian Hyland


Bedouin Soundclash - Waiting for My Ruca

Bedouin Soundclash - Look At All the Love We Found: Live - A Tribute to Sublime, Vol. 1



NWA - A Bitch is A Bitch


from
N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton



anyhow

to continue on the bad women theme...check out this trailer for a 60's film I found at Easy Dreamer's site that exposes this problem in a very thorough manner. It's basically the 60's sexploitation equivalent of a "Fair & Balanced", scientific survey of a relevant and important gender issue confronting modern times...



that's all fer now...

just wanted to get the Monday Mix up...

I have...

and now I must move on to other tasks

hope ya enjoy da tunes...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Media Mayhem & Water Music

Just in case you missed it Friday, in the rush to cover an inane police chase around Phoenix, two TV helicopters collided in mid air. Two pilots & two reporters were killed, and a park in Suburban Phoenix was turned into a messy charred memorial.

Another fine example of the benefits of mainstream television news, racing to tell viewers a typically sensationalized, yet inconsequential story that likely ended the same as every other lame police pursuit: flat tires, crushed metal & deferred dumb ass dreams.


The Ethiopians - Everything Crash
Better Quality versions of this Ethiopians track here at Emusic as a DRM free MP3!




Then while news of the copter crash trickled across the mediascape, word comes from Ohio of a stunt pilot whose death was witnessed by thousands of bored midwesterners gathered at an air show. Now you can ad, yourself to that tally, and enjoy this next classic American media snuff film clip courtesy AP...






Headlines abounded earlier this month when it became apparent aged Oaksterdam mayor Ron Dellums and his administration of mysterious task forces somehow failed to check the calendar and order up the traditional July 4th Fireworks show at Jack London Square.
Ron Dellums
Instead the celebration was to be postponed until tonight, July 28th for some reason, perhaps simply to prove that in Oakland, the terrorists win or something. Well...uh, hold your bong hits folks, and guess what...

The "re-scheduled" fireworks are now canceled following new concerns that the endangered California brown pelican would be totally bummed. The announcement that slipped out on Friday, was oblique, but paid some much needed lip service to not disrupting the breeding and roosting birds.

But fear not dudes, a "friendly alternative" laser show has been substituted at 9pm tonight ..way to go dudes...Think I'll skip the Portfest World Music and Jazz Festival...

Watch the mainstream media look to spin this next newsy nugget out of proportion...

Yurns out that some African-American campaign volunteer for Barack Obama has had a past run in with the law. Iowa police were only to happy to arrest the young man who was fleeing an aggravated battery warrant.




What's surprising about this next story, is not that Pepsi has been repackaging the same tap water they put in softdrinks, as a "premium bottled water", but that people seemed so unaware that this is a common practice.



If you'd like more background on America's billion bottles a week obsession with bottled H2O, listen to this On Point radio program from WBUR Boston's NPR station ...

WBUR - On Point - The Bottled Water Obsession



Or just peruse a quickly assembled "Water Music" section...

Including such item s like the bubbling electronica track by El Farouki, known as "Green Aqua"...

Lost Moments

Download "Green Aqua" (mp3)
from "Lost Moments"
by El Farouki
Night Drive Music

More On This Album



or perhaps you'd prefer Watermelon Slim, an Oklahoma bluesman offering up this track for download...

The Wheel Man

"Black Water" (mp3)
from his new album "The Wheel Man"
by Watermelon Slim
Northern Blues

More On This Album



or how about this classic track from the Sweetheart of The Rodeo album from The Byrds...known as You Don't Miss Your Water

The Byrds - You Don't Miss Your Water

Or perhaps you've heard of the raucous rock band known as the Riverboat Gamblers... offering ya upa healthy blast of "Ice Water".



Something to Crow About

Download "Ice Water" (mp3)
from "Something to Crow About"
by Riverboat Gamblers
Gearhead Records

More On This Album




How about Lou Rawls who has many version available of the song I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water, so picking & choosing is hard, so we'll go with this one featuring Les McCann

Lou Rawls with Les McCann - I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water


Find more Les McCann
& Lou Rawls
at eMusic.



or have you ever heard of McKinley Morganfield?

perhaps you'd know him better as Muddy Waters...



Muddy Waters - Hoochie Coochie Man (Live)

The Lost Tapes

Download "Hoochie Coochie Man" (mp3)
from "The Lost Tapes"
by Muddy Waters
Blind Pig Records

    More On This Album






    Anyhow, I'm gonna split from the water kick... and just mention it's not often ya get yer soul music fix via Finland, but Nicole Willis found her backing band there... and ya know what?

    it works...

    Download a sample of some modern soul sounds from Seattle's Light In The Attic label... and then, if ya dig it, seek out more on yer fave download stores & services...

    Nicole Wills & Soul Investigators - If This Ain't Love ( Don't Know What Is)


    Keep Reachin' Up

    Download "If This Ain't Love (Don't Know What Is)" (mp3)
    from "Keep Reachin' Up"
    by Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators
    Light In The Attic

    More On This Album




    and that's all for now folks...

    if you seek more entertainment, patrol the archives...

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Vinyl Vortex - Culinary Confusion - Groovin High

    Lately over the past few summer weeks, I've been trying to get a grip on my music collection vinyl, CD, strictly digital and combinations thereof...

    I've invested in back uo drives for storage, started trading discs on LaLa, and trying to get some old vinyl into the mp3 realm as well...

    I've got USB cords criss-crossing the living room from turntable to pooter and whatnot...stacks of LPs about, CDs and whatnot...

    and then I got interrupted...




    Instead of burying my head into the headphones, I had a few old friends unexpectedly drop by the ol' homestead...

    So I made time to ignore that pile of vinyl for a spell...

    Had to play maybe a few games of pinball, finish some beers...

    As fer the malty beverages, the remnants are pictured above, including English made Cherry Ale, some beers from all over Northern California, and even one brew from Portland Maine.

    Last night's food intake was also uncentralized, but included some delectable treats, and even some huitalacoche & cotija tacos...

    The sweet portion of the evening's food service included special sundae's at sunset served in the garden, made with a freshly picked berry reduction sauce I whipped up, topped over local ice cream...



    Now fer yer eclectic musical mayhem for today that hopefully matches my stomach's creatively confused but somewhat satiated contents...

    First up, in honor of the blackend corn smut on corn masa tortilla experience...

    Let's go South of The Border...sorta

    You'll hear the troubled trumpeter Chet Baker, and some LA session dudes attempt to cash in at Liberty records on the Tijuana Brass fever unleashed by Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss over at A&M in the mid 60's...


    Chet Baker


    Despite it's predecessor being called a "A Taste Of Tequila", this followups' disposable cheesy quality actually was put together by some highly regarded professionals. Including folks like Jack Nitszche who is doing arrangements, on this tune, a Latin-lite instrumental version of Nancy Sinatra's hit of that summer "Boots"...


    Mariachi Brass ( feat Chet Baker ) - These Boots Are Made For Walkin'


    If that's not exciting enough, how about another from this album... a true 60's maestro-piece written by Sonny Bono fer yer loungey liquored up listening pleasure.

    Mariachi Brass ( feat Chet Baker ) - Bang Bang , My Baby Shot Me Down

    Continuing in the quasi international mode, let's hang with Black Francis of the Pixies who has a new solo album out soon...

    It's called Bluefinger, and nope it's not name after that Steve Martin & Eddie Murphy flick... I think that one's called Bowfinger actually.

    Maybe it's called Bluefinger because he had a "Curse of Lono" type experience and put his hand in an airplane toilet chasing after a lost object.
    If you don't know what a "Curse of Lono" type experience is, brush up on your Hunter S Thompson, who was by far my favorite travel writer.


    Anyway, regarding ol' Black francis i.e Frank Black's upcoming Bluefinger CD is that there is probably some sort of travel theme. I deduce this without too much thought since. on this track, Mr. Black Francis goes off on a poppy tale that namedrops several German cities, and bemoans a certain woman who took all the money and left the fat boy there to die...

    jeez...what's the "DEAL" with that?

    Black Francis - She Took all The Money


    Speaking of Germany...where incidentally some of my relatives emigrated from many moons ago...

    How about a certain German interpolation of a fave San Francisco tune?




    Here's Gerd Konig doing his Deutsche version of a song that Tony Bennett pretty much has the English language patent on...

    Gerd Konig - I Left My Heart in San Francisco

    anyhow...

    It's getting late/early or whatnot and I've got to get out of this post...

    and that leaves me with this track here also recorded in Europe...

    at the Blue Note Cafe in Paris to be precise...

    a classic lively Jazz thang from the early 1960's...

    and one that need's no lyrics to speak it's mind...

    Bud Powell - Groovin' High

    The great & groundbreaking ESP label is reissuing this in the near future I understand...

    so do look it up if you wanna acquaint yer bad self with some boppin tunes ....

    Live At the Blue Note Cafe, Paris 1961

    Download "Groovin' High" (mp3)
    from "Live At the Blue Note Cafe, Paris 1961"
    by Bud Powell
    ESP Disk

      More On This Album

      Wednesday, July 25, 2007

      Big Spotlight on: Little Esther Phillips

      Awhile back I reacquainted myself with the soul singing sensation known as Little Esther or later on as simply Esther Phillips...

      Not that I was acquainted much with her in the first place, but she was sort of on my radar, although I occasionally probably confused her in my mind with Little Eva.

      For Little Eva, that former babysitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Eva's ride pretty much starts & stops at "The Locomotion". While Little Esther manages to grow up and get caught up in a bigger, meaner & much funkier world with far more transportation options. From Jump Blues to Disco, the girl saw some things on her journey through the showbiz canyons, mighty mountains and lonesome valleys...

      Little Esther Phillips debut as a recording artist occurred when band leader Johnny Otis discovered her circa 1949 singing in an L.A talent show, and soon she was 14 hitting the R&B charts after Otis hooked her up with the Bihari's Modern label. Then it was onto Savoy, and despite little regional R&B hits here and there, she was dropped and recorded for numerous other labels like Federal, Regent, and even Decca.

      Here is a side she released on a one off single for the Warwick label in 1961, a possibly self reflective sorta number called Wild Child.

      Esther Phillips - Wild Child


      Here's another track she did on a single in 1964 for Atlantic, it was written by a future Disco king, a talented and hustlin' young Howard University grad named Van McCoy.


      Esther Phillips - Something's You Never Get Used To

      Of course Esther's Atlantic version didn't get far, but Irma Thomas recorded it soon after, while Cilla Black had a hit in the UK with it, and stateside The Supremes took it up the charts in 1968 on Motown.

      Oh Well...

      Here's Esther recorded live doing an old 50's hit called "Misery" excerpted from a 1970 tv special taped with Johnny Otis in Los Angeles that attempted to recreate the atmosphere at his old Barrelhouse Club where a 13 year old Esther first strolled into his life.

      Of course, no longer a teenager, one can hear the great vocalists' many years of living on the road in her voice on this track as well...

      Esther Phillips - Misery ( live 1970 w/ Johnny Otis)


      She bounced around from label to label in the mid sixties including Lennox, and Roulette, but finally emerged, a road weary chanteuse on the Kudu label for a 5 album run in the early to mid-'70s. For me, her undoubtable Pièce de résistance and landmark of that period must be the 1972 release "From A Whisper To A Scream". It was a collection recorded in a chilly New York winter just prior to the holidays, and named for an Allen Toussaint composition within.




      Actually despite the two Toussaint compositions on the album, the disc leads off with a stark, emotionally raw & strikingly done track from a Harlem based musician named Gil Scott Heron, a song called "Home Is Where The Hatred Is"...

      This beautifully bleak track really scrapes the emotional barrel, and leaves the listener agape, wallowing in a beatific agony as we eavesdrop on Esther singing an all too true sorrowful tale of love, addiction, inevitable betrayal and the disturbing ever present aftermath.

      This particular take on this song is truly one of the greatest musical interpretations of the dark side of life, and unlike many tunes by artists that attempt to paint such stylized portraits, Esther's is amazingly personal & real without ever being cloy, preachy, aggrandizing or awkward. One can tell she is familiar in some way with the subject matter, as it resonates quietly in a confessional, fragile and vulnerable wave over the listener.


      It was after all the early 70's, with Vietnam still raging and Nixon poised to win re-election by any means necessary, while America's inner cities were slipping ever further into a horrific period of neglect & decline. Heroin was plentiful, coming into the country through various means, some of which we now know was shipped in body bags from the South East Asia. Esther herself had been dabbling in the drug since the early 1950's, long before the early 70's urban epidemic.

      Esther Phillips - Home Is Where The Hatred Is


      The arrangements were made and conducted by ex-James Brown sideman Pee Wee Ellis, and he has an excellent cast to work with. Amongst the players are stellar guitarists Eric Gale & Cornell Dupree. Bernard Purdie & Airto Moreira handle the rhythm sections percussive side of the things, playing against Gordon Edwards subtle but deeply grooved bass lines. Richard Tee mans the keys, saxophonists galore including including Hank Crawford on Alto Sax who is oined by full orchestral style string sections working in tandem with the affair. The album had some 9 violinists working on it, along with another half dozen folks on harp, violas, cellos etc.

      This is one richly steeped audio stew, captured to tape by the peerless Rudy Van Gelder at his personal studio for Creed Taylor's Kudu label circa December 1971.

      In 1972 when Esther lost the Grammy she was up for to the so-called "Queen Of Soul" Aretha Franklin, the modest Franklin actually presented the trophy to Phillips, saying she really should have won it instead.

      Enjoy another selection from the "From A Whisper To A Scream" album and tell me you can't hear "it". Here's another Allen Toussaint composition, a little bit lighter fare than the title cut.

      Esther Phillips - Sweet Touch of Love




      Sadly, Esther is no longer with us.

      After the Kudu period, she went and worked with Atlantic again, doing some material with The Dixie Flyers under ol' Tom Dowd in Miami. She managed to get a few diva-esque numbers recorded during the late 70's disco era, but later stints on Mercury and other lesser known labels did not chart outside the dance circuit, or amount to much cash. Esther continued to struggle with drink & drugs, and eventually her frazzled liver & kidneys gave out.

      The southern girl born Esther Mae Jones the 23rd of December 1935 in Galveston, Texas died 23 years ago on August 7th 1984 at U. C. L. A. Harbor Medical Center in Carson, Ca.

      R.I.P Little Esther