After nearly five years of writing, singing, recording and mixing, my first full-length album is complete and available for sale on practically every major internet music store. I actually finished “Funeral Business” three weeks ago but had to wait until iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and all the other music stores made sure I wasn’t uploading copies of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson instead of my own original music.
While “Funeral Business” isn’t “Thriller,” it certainly is a thrilling joy ride of electrifying rock and roll and heart-felt folk-rock stylings. I hate to be one to wave my own banner but I love every song on this record. In many way that was the main inspiration, to create a rock and roll record that I wanted to hear. Well, now that I’m sold on the wonderfulness of “Funeral Business,” I think it’s only appropriate that I share it with the world.
Before I re-list all the sale links, I’d just like to thank everyone who helped me make this record, starting with my great friend Andrew Lee. I’d also like to thank Matt Sturm, Ian Wehrle, Ken Kocses, Sonia Rapaport, Feliziano B. Flores and Lilja Nielsen. Thanks to all you wonderful and beautiful people who not only contributed to the music but also to the overall enrichment of my life.
Ok, to get your paws on “Funeral Business,” please follow the links presented below. All the best,
Welcome back to part 3 of my live reporting at 85th annual “Battle of the Bands! We have the Rolling Stones and the Beatles continuing their quest to impress the judges with their finest music, and after a short break, the bands are ready to hop back on the stage to meet at loggerheads once again…But before we do, we’d just like to point out today’s sponsor; George Martin’s ridiculously pimped out album cover for his rare LP, “George Martin Instrumentally Salutes: The Beatle Girls.” Just absorb that image of the dapper producer knee deep in London’s finest ladies. My God, that’s amazing, and so on that note, lets get back to the show. First up we have the Rolling Stones with “Ruby Tuesday” from Between the Buttons.
Well, that was just charming and dandy. Let’s see how the Beatles respond…ahh, I can tell by the first few notes that they are launching into “Girl” from Rubber Soul.
Wonderful, I can tell the judges are going to have a hard time determining the victor here, let’s see the results.
BEST DRUMMING: Ringo, and it’s not really close. Mr. Starr lays down a gorgeous shuffling beat, filled with elegant cymbal play, accentuating the slurping post “girl” passages. The song is incredibly atmospheric and intimate, and I think Ringo’s restrained and careful style has a lot to do with it. Charlie does a fine job, but the percussion on “Ruby Tuesday” doesn’t envelop me the same way Ringo’s does. Next!
BEST BASS PLAYING: Paul, but it’s not fair. “Ruby Tuesday” doesn’t really feature Bill Wyman’s electric bass so much as it does him hand playing a double bass, which is cool, but boring. Paul is clearly heard on “Girl,” and as expected, he delivers a subtle and melodic performance, playfully bouncing around the outer edges of the song and giving it an enriching atmosphere.
BEST RHYTHM PLAYING: John, and again it’s not so fair as “Ruby Tuesday’s” rhythm is mostly piano based. But even comparing the piano rhythm on “Ruby Tuesday” to the guitar rhythm on “Girl,” the Beatles still come out on top. What can I say, I’m just lifted away on the gentle cloud of John and George’s beautiful Martin guitars, maybe because its a cloudy cool day.
BEST LEAD PLAYING: Brian Jones. I love the Beatles Greek style guitar picking on “Girl,” but Brian Jones plays that lead solo line a frigging recorder! You know, the thing from elementary school they give to all kids? He sounds masterly on it, gleefully sharing the spotlight with Mick’s vocals.
BEST GROUP SINGING: TIE! It was too close, I was instinctively going to give it to the Beatles for their gorgeous and intricate “tit-tit-tit” backing vocals (yes they are saying tit,) but I can’t deny the charming and often underrated harmonies that Keith and Mick produce. While Keith’s voice doesn’t stick out as much as Mick’s in the mix in the way that John and Paul’s do, he just sounds like the coolest friend ever, and his presence just always makes the affair much happier.
BEST LEAD SINGING: John. Mick is amazing as ever singing Ruby Tuesday, but there is something very singular and unique about John’s performance on “Girl.” I can’t really think of another Beatle or solo John song that comes close to matching the style or the energy of “Girl.”
BEST SONGWRITING: TIE! My reasoning for this is that I truly think “Girl” is the better song, but I can’t ignore that “Ruby Tuesday” was a smash hit. Also, the Stones tie the Beatles in the area because there is legitimate confusion as to who was responsible for “Girl.” John insists he wrote the whole thing, probably because he was proud of how it turned out, but Paul humbly differs. In fact, it might not just be the music, but a bunch of the Lennon-esque lyrics might have belonged to Paul as well. Such details don’t detract from the song, but sort of muddy up the history of a really interesting and important breakthrough Beatle song.
WINNER: Well, the Beatles win this round 3-1, not counting the ties, and why not? “Ruby Tuesday” might be catchier and more known by the public at large, but “Girl” has a cool philosophical mystique that is really stunning. Even though the Beatles seemed to win this contest easily, it was really much closer than that, illustrating yet again the knock down, dragged out fight for glory this contest has become. Reporting live from Wimbledon, I’m Willie Simpson saying, see you tomorrow for the second to last installment of our battle royale between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Oh the hits keep rolling for Hall and Oates. “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” was a #1 for Daryl and John in 1981, and another track that set the tone for 80s pop. Their embarrassing cover art for the single also help set trends of decadent ugliness for the 80s as well. Pop music from the 1980s had many uniting broad themes from futurism, celebration, dark sexuality, and paranoia. “I Can’t Go For That” has those trademarks in spades. It also holds the distinction for being the first song by a non-African American group to top the R&B charts. Daryl Hall, the songs primary writer, was most pleased with this achievement, stating, “I’m the head soul brother in the U.S. Where to now?” Good question. One direction led to an even bigger hit, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Michael admitted to Daryl that he copped the bass line from “I Can’t Go For That” for his own ultra-smash hit, to which Daryl replied, ‘I took that bass line from someone else to begin with, and that it’s “something we all do.”‘ That reminds me of another theme in 80s pop, superstar collaboration. It’s as if their was one continuous party of mega rich famous rock stars, who all inflated each others egos, and played on each others records. Heady times, heady coke fueled times indeed…
Before Michael Jackson, before Justin Bieber, there was Frankie Lymon. Well, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers to be exact. Frankie is the original rock and roll prodigy, a 13 year old backup singer from Harlem who by a stroke of fate stepped in to sing lead for his vocal group the Teenagers when original lead vocalist Herman Santiago caught the flu on their crucial audition day. Even when Herman got better, it was no contest, Frankie was the goods, blessed with the voice of a rock and roll angel, annihilating audiences with his golden pipes. When Frankie and the Teenagers became a smash, they hit the road hard. Frankie was dating 25 year old women, smoking cigars, drinking booze, and using heroin. He ended up marrying 3 women, without divorcing any of them, losing his front teeth, joining the army (well he was sentenced to join by a judge) and then quickly dropping dead in a NYC bathroom at the age of 26. Frankie burned out quickly, but his voice and songs live on. “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” and “Little Bitty Pretty One,” are testaments to inhuman voice, a voice he lost quickly when puberty hit. I guess he was basically one of the early prototypes for childhood stars who got success too quickly, and turned to drugs in an effort to destroy their lives. It’s hard to imagine a time when the songs below rocked hard, but at one point they did, so give em a play and let Frankie’s voice soar one more time.
Youtube is kind of awful. I found some absolutely golden clips from “Seinfeld” that I’d love to post and do intensive analysis of, but nearly all of the clips are disabled for embedding. Luckily, I have found a few killer scenes that have escaped the clutches of the youtube machine for now. They’ll probably be taken down in the future, but I live for the moment. The first montage clip is my favorite. It’s the gang all dancing around to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” from Off the Wall. It’s short but sweet. The next clip is everybody making crazy noises, and the clip after that you see them in their craziest get ups. The last clip, the famous Superman montage, is a bonus that I’m linking off site to represent the both the tyranny and wonder of youtube. Enjoy.
This was the third killer single (I Want You Back, ABC) from the Jackson 5 after they made their killer debut on Motown. It’s a song with a crazy soaring melody and complex vocal arrangement that came from the hit making geniuses “The Corporation,” the Los Angeles wing of Motown’s machine. This performance, from Ed Sullivan, is lip-synced, but who cares, the recorded version is so insanely good that its still thrilling to see the boys go all out performing it. For my money, this is young Michael Jackson’s greatest vocal achievement. It’s the most exciting and challenging lead vocal he ever did, and he absolutely owns it, breathlessly showcasing his unlimited talent and potential. It’s spellbinding to see how relaxed and confident Michael is on that stage. He just exudes cool, even at 11 years old. I really think it’s almost impossible how god-like young Michael was. He is simply one of the greatest child prodigies in music history, and that includes the likes of Mozart. Unreal.
The year was 1981. Michael Jackson was staying over Paul and Linda McCartney’s house. The pair of ultra stars were recording songs with Quincy Jones and George Martin for their respective albums. For Thriller, MJ and Macca were laying down “The Girl is Mine,” a horrendous piece of saccharine pop. For McCartney’s equally successful album ; ) Pipes of Peace, the pair laid down “Say Say Say,” a more superior pop song, but equally stupid in its generic lyrics and execution. For Jackson, the pairing with a Beatle was both an artistic and commercial turning point for his career. For Paul McCartney, it was the most costly business mistake he ever made. When Michael was in the studio for “Say Say Say,” it was the first time he didn’t have Quincy supporting him, and he found he could hold his own with the very musical McCartney. It was an experience that massively boosted his musical maturation and confidence. Paul was a gracious host this whole time, even giving the young pop star an inside glimpse into how he was making billions, by purchasing music publishing catalogs. MJ took the advice to heart. In 1985, the long disputed “Northern Songs” catalog, which contained the entire Lennon/McCartney catalog was up for sale, and Michael Jackson outbid Paul for the controlling interest, dropping 40 million underneath Paul’s nose. In years since the incident, Jackson has been painted as the villain that stole Paul’s songs. The real story is more complicated. Paul was actually offered the songs privately, but he wanted to share it with Yoko Ono out of fairness, but she wanted to hold out for a better deal. If anything, Yoko is the biggest culprit in the Beatles not owning their own songs. Anyway, the friendship between Michael and Paul fell apart not because Jackson bought “Hey Jude” and “I am the Walrus,” but because Michael wouldn’t raise the royalty rate John and Paul agreed to all the way back in 1961. Paul has felt that the Beatles had been cheated and underpaid for decades, and the fact that Michael wouldn’t give him a boost was unforgivable. So, even though Michael and Jackson would never perform or record together again, at least they left a legacy of a massive abortion of commercial pop for us musical archeologists to examine for the next 1000 years. Thanks boys.
Sex sells! I want to thank this “Drunken Angel” above and Tal Wilkenfeld from yesterday for drawing a few extra clicks to my humble little site. Before anyone accuses me of perversion or lechery or something, I’d like to defend myself a bit by saying this is one of the better lists of rock and roll you are gonna find on the internet. So, in that spirit, lets close it out right now with clips 24-1 and put this beautiful list to bed once and for all.
We knocked off 100-50, now its time to begin rounding off the list of my 100 favorite youtube videos with part 3. In this list you’re gonna find a lot of amazing super groups, all-star pair ups, and ultra rare collaborations! Let’s begin the magical mystery tour right now!
Now that my countdown is complete, I thought it’d be fun to look back at the whole list, organize it, link it up, and add a fresh comment or two for posterity’s sake. So, without further ado, here it is, part 1 of my youtube countdown featuring the last 25 songs to appear on the list.
#100. The Beatles, All You Need is Love – Is it my favorite Beatles song? Not technically, but I think it’s their greatest triumph. FYI, this video was originally in black and white until the art gurus at Apple colorized it based on photographs from the event.
#99. The Beatles, Nowhere Man – The song that inspired me to become a Beatle slave, and a musician myself. Fun fact, not many songs have a guitar solo after the first verse.