CLASSICS: WORLD MUSIC
I wonder if any of my readers remember a guy by the name of Malcolm McLaren? Well, he was a musician and songwriter from London. He was also a very well known promoter, and at one time managed a group called “The Sex Pistols!” What a name for a group LOLOL 😀 Now, to be honest, I don’t particularly care for a lot of his music. I don’t mean that to be cruel, it’s just a lot of these London cats love to make a lot of weird experimental shit. LOL.
Anyway, I think he is worthy of writing about, because he produced two very huge hits that I’m sure most of us remember, one is called “Buffalo Gals.” Remember that? The song was a major top 10 hit in the UK. According to a number of articles I’ve read, Buffalo Gals only did mediocre in the united states. However, I remember the hip-hop community completely embracing this music mix. Maybe they just expected more since they killed it in the UK. The other major hit he produced in 1989, actually became #1 here in the states on the Dance Songs Chart, that song was called “Deep In Vogue.” I believe this was the start of the Vogue dance craze. However, just to let you straight people know, Vogue was around loooooong before it was made in to a fad in the late 80s.
A year after, Madonna came out with her smash #1 hit “Vogue,” which was recorded on her “Dick Tracy” inspired album. Interesting that a song like that would be on a comic book inspired album. If you’re interested, here is the video for “Vogue.” Boy!! How did I get from writing about Malcolm McLaren to Madonna!! See how many things are often tied together? Malcolm died in 2010 of stomach cancer.
I’ve always been a fan of Phil Collins from the beginning; and that includes when he started with the group “Genesis.” Phil joined Genesis from early to mid 70s, so, the man has been around for a long, long time! This phenomenal Englishmen, is both a talented music performer and an actor. He started out as a master drummer and lead singer of Genesis; his music has been used on many TV shows and movies such as “CSI NY,” and “Despicable Me 3” just to name a few. Even after leaving Genesis and going solo, he continued to bust out some amazing songs that became hits in both the UK and in the US. One of my many favorite works from him is a song called “Take Me Home,” first released in the UK on 1985; then in the US in 1986. under Atlantic Records. This was a very popular song that reached #2 on the American Hot Contemporary Charts, but in the UK it reached only #19 (which wasn’t exactly bad either).
Another very very favorite song of mine he did, was a song called “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” which was the theme song to the movie “Against All Odds (1984),” starring Rachel Ward and Jeff Bridges. Now, I have to be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot of the movie, but Phil’s performance of this song without a doubt was jaw dropping in my opinion. Such powerful lyrics, together with Phil’s heartfelt performance, it almost makes you want to shed a tear. Unfortunately this historic tune is wiped away from the memories of many. In the U.S., Norway, Ireland, and Canada, the song reached #1. UK it reached #2, everywhere else was in the range between #4 & #10. So this was a hugely successful single. I dare to say it was more popular than the movie itself.
Ok, last one I’m going to share. I absolutely cannot end this article without talking about this song. Phil did a duet with Earth, Wind and Fire’s Phillip Bailey, called “Easy Lover (1985).” This song was a song made perfect for them! Two awesome performers coming together to give us perfection. It is a fun & danceable song; and you know what? That’s right!! You’ve guessed it! It also became another hit, in the #2 position on the Top 100 Chart, and stayed relevant for 23 weeks! So, there you have it! Amazing artists, and three amazing songs to start your Monday morning.
I got a good one for you guys this morning. Do you remember Neneh Cherry? Believe it or not, Neneh was born in Sweden, and grow up to be one of the most well known “one hit wonders” of the 80s (speaking in terms of foreign/imported music to America). I’m really not sure how her music did around the world, so I really can’t say. However, from my perspective, she sang only one song I liked which became a huge hit here. The song is called “Buffalo Stance.” The song peaked at #3 both in the U.S. and in the U.K. It stayed relevant for about 26 weeks. I really liked this pop song, and I used to listen to it all the time. Unfortunately, I didn’t like anything else she produced throughout he career. I know there’s another song that did well on the charts called “Kisses On The Wind,” which I think peaked #8, but I really wasn’t feeling that song. Neneh continues to perform, and even sometimes DJ everyone in a while.
I was soooo tempted to insert these guys in the “One Hit” category. These odd looking characters are from England, and they call themselves the “Thompson Twins.” The first thing I thought was, they don’t look like twins at all! Not by a long shot! 😀 What the hell? LOL. But then I realize that their name was actually genius! Why? Because you read the name, and you look at these three, it kind of forces you to want to see what their music is about. Worked on me! Believe it or not, these guys have been around for a long, long time. In fact, they were originally known as “Thompson and Thompson,” with several more members. The band formed in 1977, and they performed mostly British pop music. But as members dropped over the years, they then decided to rename themselves and go more “mainstream.” I interpret that “mainstream” meant to be more American.
Although they’ve had many hits through their career, I really only liked two songs from them. The one that I love the most, is a song called “Hold Me Now,” from their album named “Into The Gap.” Not sure what it was about the song I liked so much. When you first hear Tom Bailey sing, you can immediately tell he’s British. I found it kind of mesmerizing, because for most British performers, you don’t hear their strong accent when they perform. In fact, most sound quite American if you ask me. However, the Thompson Twins sound very much like a British band singing over American music. Maybe that’s what attracted me, the unique blend of a British voice with American style. “Hold Me Now” shot up to #3 on the American Billboard, and stayed relevant for about 21 weeks. The second song I like from the same album, is a song called “Doctor, Doctor.” Actually to be truthful, it’s still a lame song, but “Doctor, Doctor,” became more of a catchy phrase I could not get out of my head. If I’m correct, this song peaked at #11, and stayed on the charts for about a little more than 15 weeks. These are the only works I liked from the group. I just couldn’t get into them. They were like listening to rebellious 80s teenagers, singing all the type of songs their mom didn’t want them to sing. But I loved their unique look tho.
You know, before I decided to stop doing album reviews and focus more on individual songs, I wish I would have remembered Lisa Stansfield’s first album. Why? Almost every single song on this album I absolutely LOVE!!!! Definitely, this is one of those rare occasions where I liked an entire album, from side A to B. Now, on they day she released the original album, there was only one record. However, Spotify includes bonus tracks making it a deluxe two album set. I would have loved to have this in my record collection. But I’m also sure if a physical copy is available, it would cost an arm and a leg by now. Or probably sold as an import most likely. I used to call her Betty Boop, because this was the image she gave in almost all of her music videos when she came out. Her album “Affection,” to my understanding is still her most successful album. Lisa’s song called “All Around The World,” from the Affection album was her most popular hands down. In March 1990, the song peaked at #1, and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks.
My other original favorite form this album, is a song called “This Is The Right Time,” and the video for this song was awesome too. This song also hit number 1, and stayed on the charts for about 9 weeks. Lisa was definitely steaming hot with her first album! Lastly, there’s a song on this album called “Live Together” which I really, really love. The song did not get as much recognition as it deserved in my opinion. Check it out and see what you think? The album has a number of cute remixes, and extended mixes I’m hearing for the first time as I’m writing this article. Come relive the 90s by listening to Lisa’s classic Affection album.
I was sifting through my old album collection and found the above album. Kraftwerk is actually a German music group that has created probably one of the most popular (globally) hit record ever made! The song is called “Trans Europe Express,” released in 1977, under Kling Klang Records. Now, I’d like to share with you something interesting about the song “Trans Europe Express.” It is very interesting that according to the American Billboard, the song only peaked at #119 on the Top 200 chart. Personally I thought it was quite shocking, because considering its popularity, I’d think it would be number #1. The beat to this song has been sampled on some of the most recognizable hit hip hop songs, including Afrika Bambaataa’s smash “Planet Rock.” The only explanation I can think of for such a low position, is that it must have been a massive hit underground, and it is more than likely we didn’t have a category for it. Which proves my point again, not everything is about the numbers!
No doubt this group is eccentric. I’ve listened to other music from Germany before in the past, and Kraftwerk sounded nothing like the German music I’ve heard. Their music seems to be more of an experimental variety. In fact, a lot of their music sounds like old 70s Sci-Fi scores. Altogether, they’ve made about 7-8 albums, as far as I can tell, they only had one major successful hit which was “Trans Europe Express.” Well, at least in America anyway. Often times it’s really difficult to research music charts around the world. Either the information is just not available, or IPs from the US are blocked. Why, I don’t have the slightest clue. The only logical explanation is these sites actual have music hosted on their sites, and the copyright holders have put restrictions on the U.S.
I know I’ve tweeted this album a couple of times already, but this album is worthy of a blog post. If you’re a Santana fan, and you’ve never heard this album before, I recommend that you take a listen. Now, I have never been a fan of live albums, but of all the music I’ve consumed in my lifetime, I can honestly say there were only two live albums I ever loved. The first was Donna Summer’s “Live And More (1978),” and the second album would be Santana’s self titled 1969 album. Santana’s album sounds so good, it doesn’t even sound like a live album (maybe that’s why I like it). My two favorite songs from this album are “Jingo,” and “Evil Ways.” When I hear Jingo, it literally transports me back to the late 60s; listening to the guitar solo on this piece was so amazing, I didn’t need to watch it on TV! I just closed my eyes and I was there. There were times listening to this album made me feel like I was in Woodstock! I was forced to insert this article in the “World Music” category, because there are too many cultures mixed in this album. Rock, jazz, Latin, the album is a musical gumbo. On Amazon, I found a great Santana concern on Blu-Ray! Could you believe it? There aren’t too many classic performers we find on Blu-Ray. It’s called Santana: Live at Montreux 2011. All the big names play in Montreux.
It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to this phenomenal woman’s music. The insanely popular song called “Pata Pata,” was recorded by Miriam Makeba in 1967. I was just shy of 3 months old when this song was released; yet, I was aware of hearing the song around 6 or 7? That’s how popular her song still was. “Pata Pata” was the song that made Miriam extremely famous; I guess we can say it was comparable to America’s Chubby Checker’s massive hit “The Twist.” Miriam’s “Pata Pata” was not only a great popular Afrodance song, it was that “feel good” song that brought many races together. Miriam changed the world with her music, and her legacy should not be forgotten. What was special about Miriam, she didn’t just spread political awareness with her music, she also sang about the kinds of deep personal struggles that many people of color were going through, and still are. Such as the song I love called “Quit It (1974).” Very deep words that song has, and unfortunately, it is still relevant to the struggles of many today. Her music will speak to you once you listen it (appose to hearing it). Young kids today don’t know what a phenomenal artist she was. Miriam died at the age of 76, some time in 2008. There’s an excellent video I found on Amazon’s streaming, it’s called Have You Seen Drum Recently? It’s a documentary about anti-apartheid and the change of Black culture. This video includes the legendary Miriam Makeba.