You may want to hear this before it is removed, a nice remix of Adele’s “HellO” as remixed by $omeone. Not someone as in “anyone random” but his name is $omeone, note the dollar sign. He has a few other remixes on his Soundcloud page along with his own material, you may want to hear it for possible collaborations or remix work.
A man named Funky Christmas has been known for his mixes of Christmas music for those who like to groove and he has made another one. This one is called XXX-MasS Vol.11, subtitled A-Funky-Howdy-Doody-Xmas. How funky is it? It has a bit of the old, the new, the known, and the “I can’t believe their music is in this” but it is.
It may be close to the end of the year but the folks at Audio Fidelity are not slowing down, for they’re already getting ready to release some new remasters in the new year. Two are on the way, one of which is one of my all time favorite albums.
Hearts was originally released in quadraphonic as well so the hybrid SACD will feature both the album stereo and 4.0 surround sound. Sittin’ In was only released in stereo (their Loggins & Messina, Full Sail and Native Sons albums had the quad treatment) so the SACD can be played in two different ways, for those who have SACD players.
(NOTE: Both SACD’s can be pre-ordered above via Amazon.com. They do not show the covers as of this writing but it will lead you to Amazon and show you how to order.)
When they went into the studio, they worked with producer David Rivkin, with Powell assisting. Rivkin was known amongst Minneapolis musicians not only for his work, but he’s the brother of Bobby Z., longtime member of Prince’s band which became The Revolution.
As far as material to record, none of The Jets were songwriters so Powell didn’t have to go too far to find some people to work with. Two of the people he worked with for songs are Aaron Zigman and Jerry Knight. Knight was a member of Raydio (Ray Parker Jr.’s group) and Zigman had done his share of songwriting, including songs by Johnny Gill, Lakeside, and Carly Simon, so Zigman and Knight worked together extensively. It makes sense that three of the four singles from The Jets’ debut were all Zigman & Knight songs, there was a formula and it worked.
“baby, I don’t want to be just a play thang
baby, I got to have it all”
To me, the way they sang “I got to have it all” reminded me of Jermaine Stewart’s “The Word Is Out”, specifically during the chorus when he sang “that you and I are lovers/that you and I are lovers/that you and I been getting it on”. Add to that the chicken scratch of the guitar from Leroy and it sounded like they were ready to be a massively huge group, they wanted to compete and they did. I’m sure the extras within the song were aided with assistance from Zigman and Knight, but that’s what made it work.
BTW: when Elizabeth split herself in two in the video, I was magically hoping she would come out of the TV so we could go out. Only in my head.
“You must have heard it from my best friend
she’s always talkin’ when she should be listenin’
can’t keep a secret to save her life
but still I trusted her with all I felt inside
I never knew, a rumor could spread so fast
‘Cause now the word is out all over town
that I’m longing for you
“Maybe I was the one who left the trace
was there a message written on my face?
were my emotions so easily read
that you would know my love before a word was said
was it my eyes that let you know you had control?
because the way you move was so self-assured
you knew I would surrender”
The song worked off of two verses and that was it, and an addictive chorus that would also help the song and the group crossover to the pop charts. They pulled fans in and kept them there.
My favorite part of the song is during the chorus at the end, when you hear Elizabeth’s voice getting a lot of reverb and she sings “honey it’s true, there’s just you” and the song gradually fades. While the video and song very much had a 60’s vibe going for it, it was very much 80’s too. On top of that, while YouTube doesn’t show the beginning of it, every day will remember when the guys were looking in the jukebox, deciding on what song to play and all of them uniting in saying they wanted to play “H-3”. For a lot of Hawaiians, that referred to the then-unfinished highway that up until that point, had not finished after almost 30 years.
With the nine songs that make up the album, it works very nicely and showed that the group could easily record more music with possible hits. They followed it up with a Christmas album before doing their third LP, Magic, with a song made for the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II, “Cross My Broken Heart”. In between this, they worked with the Kool-Aid company and released an exclusive cassette single that would not be released anywhere else. The group would continue to tour for a few more years, with Eugene leaving the group to become Gene Hunt and become a part of the duo Boys Club. The group ended up recording four albums before taking a brief break from the mainstream spotlight, and maybe that had to do with their hit songs becoming less chart-worthy. It also had to do with the group not being happy with their manager, as Powell had been accused of taking money from the group’s earnings, which would sometimes leave them broke. Trying to keep yourselves together as a group, especially when you’re all in the same family, was a bit too much and they chose to take a break.
Elizabeth did make an attempt to record a solo album in 1995 with producer Brian Blosil (Marie Osmond’s husband) when she would have been 23 but that project never was released. However, she would continue to do tracks with sister Moana for a few compilations. She had breast cancer as well, which did slow her down for a bit. Once her health made her capable of performing, she still does shows when her brothers and sisters decide to reunite The Jets every now and then.
In the end, the group released 16 singles, 12 of which were successful, 6 of which were on the Top 20 R&B charts (4 of those in the top 10), 5 of which were on the Top 10 Pop charts, and 2 of which actually topped the Adult Contemporary charts, not bad for a group who were primarily targeted to teens. The group’s popularity began to fade when they released the first single (“You Better Dance”) from their fourth album, which coincided with the end of the 1980’s and the start of the new decade. Despite never making a fifth album, all of their hits are still remembered by fams who still keep their memories alive through their songs. While “Crush On You” is arguably their post popular song, it was “You Got It All” that went as high as #2 on the R&B Singles chart and was one of the two songs that topped the Adult Contempoary chart. Regardless of chart statistics, it shows how much of an impact they did make on the charts and most importantly the fans, who will still do the choreography from the videos when they hear the song on the radio and think of the crushes they may have had on members of the group, as I did back in 1985 when I had a thing for Elizabeth. We’re all older now but fans of the group will never forget the power of the debut album that kept them in our collections and on the wall when you bought a Jets poster (as my sister did).
How hot is hot? For Powers, things are very hot, enough to give their song that exact name. “Hot” is a new one directed by Stephen Mallett, and their previous songs have already gained a number of streams on different platforms and if you’re in New York City, you’ll be able to check out some concerts by the duo as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. Please attend.
October 14… Brooklyn, NY (Good Room [HillyDilly])
October 14… New York, NY (Brooklyn Bowl [Communion])
October 15… New York, NY (Rockwood [UTA])
October 15… New York, NY (Webster [Neon Gold])
October 16… Brooklyn, NY (Knitting Factory [Most Definitely])
It may sound the same at first but take a good listen. While the original begins with Paul McCartney’s voice, Michael Jackson begins the track in this new remix, which was used as part of the remaster of McCartney’s Pipes Of Peace album. The new mix features unused vocal tracks from the original recording sessions. The video is arguably nothing more than a means of promotion and sure, the original can’t be beat but hopefully this description is enough for you to at least take a listen. You can order the new deluxe edition of Pipes Of Peace by clicking the album cover below.
The album was one of the biggest selling Christmas records when vinyl was king, with the title track still getting massive airplay every holiday season, and has been for the last 53 years. Now, Audio Fidelity is taking the 1960 album on Capitol and releasing a remaster of it. I speak of The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole, featuring a total of 14 Christmas songs that have been classics for decades and generations, and will continue being that. This remaster will be a hybrid SACD.
In truth, Cole and Capitol Records released The Magic Of Christmas in 1960 but two years later, they decided to replace “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” with “The Christmas Song”, which means the song we now know and love wasn’t on the original album. Most people don’t even think of The Magic Of Christmas as the holiday album but The Christmas Song is now the one “everyone knows”. To make it interesting, the song was not even meant for release on an album, it was recorded in 1961 and placed on a compilation called The Nat King Cole Story but once it made it onto an album, it would take a life of its own. The remastered SACD will be released on November 13th, which of course means it’ll be in time for the holiday season. Merry Christmas to you.
In 1985, I was aware of who Todd Rundgren was, for he was a member of Utopia and Nazz, both of which had its share of airplay on MTV, along with the small handful of his own stuff that was played. Radio in Honolulu may have played its share of Rundgren’s solo work but between December 24, 1981 and June 10, 1984, much of my listening came through MTV.
However, it was one album that made me want to hear more Rundgren, and it was much more than because he is “Todd Rundgren.” A Cappella (Reprise) was an album that seemed unusual upon release but considering everything that has come along since then, this album essentially helped pave the way for a lot of great music in the last 30 years. Up until September 10, 1985, producers using sample-based technology did it in an intricate and delicate manner, for one could only sample less than two seconds at a time, and it had to be “played” live. What made A Cappella work was the fact it was promoted as an album where every sound came from his mouth. The title suggest that he was a singer, and he is. He not only did the lead vocals, but all of the harmonies. Not only that, but he vocalized bass lines and filtered his voice tracks so it would sound like keyboards. To make it more interesting, he also was a human beat box by creating snares, bass drums, and hi-hats. Early reviews suggested Rundgren only did the vocals, but he did every sound heard, which seemed like an impossibility, especially in rock circles. It may have been the norm in dance and pop circles, and Frank Zappa’s use of Fairlight’s and Synclavier’s wasn’t understood, partly because no one knew what he was doing with 25K dollar keyboards. What Rundgren did was use an E-mu emulator along with multi-track recording and did something that only a select few knew about. The word “sampling” wasn’t even in use yet but that is what Rundgren was doing in part for this album, sampling himself.
As someone who worshiped the Art Of Noise, A Cappella was mind-blowing because at the time, while I partly understood what he was doing, I didn’t understand *how* he did it in full. I understood the multi-track dubbing techniques, but I used to say “I hear drums and claps, so this thing is not really all from his voice.” Oddly enough, I’d make my own tapes at the same time, sometimes using my Casio SK-1 and while that was lo-fi compared to an emulator, I’d say “psssst” and “kk” and play that rhythmically, which is when I realized what Rundgren was doing. When you overdub one song, a “kk” can turn into a group of people clapping. I was someone who listed to not only a lot of Art Of Noise in the early and mid-80’s, but Kraftwerk. My love of electronic music was only held back by not being able to afford the toys that would make it possible to play it. However, as someone who had wanted a 4-track cassette recorder but knowing how to do pause-tape mixing, I had a sense of how to do it the poor man’s way.
Around the same time, the production in rap music was also drastically changing, go listen to LL Cool J’s first album, also from 1985. That album became a timepiece as a way to say “you know what you had known about the music before this, now you’re going to hear what it’s going to sound like now.” Go listen to Run-DMC’s King Of Rock, the Krush Groove soundtrack, or even the first UTFO. You may not feel there is a link between these albums and something by Todd Rundgren but there is a connection in terms of recording technology. Everyone was upping their game, some intentionally, others just to be adventurous. Once the adventure was heard and understood, there wasn’t any holding back.
The album only went as high as #128 on Billboard, which means it was a flop compared to his previous albums. Some of the songs have been covered, while “Hodja” became an influence for the theme to the ALF cartoon from 1987. A Cappella was very much a midway point for the decade and while it is often ignored by those who expect to talk about albums by Prince, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen but this album is easily one of the best albums of not only 1985, but of the entire decade.
“…cause we’ve all loved something and lost it
and it’s burning my heart
I can’t open my mouth and just let it out”
When the album started, it was uncertain what the album would sound like. What sounded like a keyboard was his voice altered just a bit before you hear a Rundgren vocal quartet, then the “cha cha cha”. All of a sudden, the vocal bass and the vocal drums came through and in a few seconds, a thumping drum beat. This sounded nothing like what I had heard before, and definitely nothing like what I had known Rundgren for with songs like “Hideaway”, “Hammer In My Heart”, and “Time Heals” but looking back, the harmonies are in common. The lyrics are metaphorical, covering on what Orpheus is, a Greek mythological figure who was known for “his ability to charm all living things”. The lyrics touch on ones self-doubt or the other side of happiness, having fears and unsure of what will happen next. In the first verse, Rundgren describes the theme of the album:
“but you have a gift that the rest of us just can’t live without
and it’s something in your voice when you tell us how you feel”
In other words, there’s a sense of confidence he has and he chooses to share it with the talent of singing. Within the song, he shows the song may not only be about him but also of a loved one who he hopes he will find, or hoping she will find the one she longs for:
“Sing, you will one day be together again
though you can not see her
she is somewhere in the world”
Thus it’s the start of a journey, to see what he looks for and perhaps what he will find at its end.
“and the throne, the pulpit, and the politician
Create a thirst for power in the common man
It’s a taste for blood passed off as bravery
or just patriotism hiding bigotry”
What I always loved about the song is the bridge, where there’s an obvious shift before it carries itself to the end.
“If I was blind would you still be my eyes
or hide everything you see
pretending to care about me
When all the time, you’re just wishing I’d fade away
you just can’t bring yourself to say”
One line I could relate to is when he sings “though I’m ashamed to be afraid, I just can’t help myself, can’t help myself” because there have been moments in my life where I hesitated to do things and I’d often question why I’d hold myself back when all I’d have to do is just do it and get it over with.
“Hodja, please show me how to spin now
Hodja, please show me how you do it
all the other boys are laughing at me again now
Hodja, please show me how you do it
whenever I talk they don’t hear a thing
and everyone laughs when I sing
Hodja, please show me how to spin
I want to do that dance ’til I forget where I am
so get up out of your bed one more time
Hodja, make me spin”
The line that confused me for years is the bridge, for I used to think he used to say something about how “nirvana sings”, but that doesn’t quite make sense. The actual line is:
“from every alley in konya
Mevlana sings “turn around, turn around
you’ve got to spin ’til your feet leave the ground”
Mevlana refers to Rumi, a 13th century poet who also was considered a philosopher, mystic, theologian, and Islamic scholar, writing a lot of word that continues to be read, examined, and explored to this day. He once wrote a peace about the universal message of love, and perhaps Rundgren is trying to seek that oneness, by exploring different philosophies and finding that commonality that everyone searches for. Those subtle references to the spiritual throughout the album is almost unknown until you decide to single out what you may not understand, then discover the album is a blueprint for what many of us try to find, that great unknown.
One of the more interesting influences this song has done was when NBC created a cartoon in 1987 for the TV character ALF, and the theme to the cartoon is pretty much pulled from what “Hodja” created.
“I had always believed that you and me
were connected by destiny
but the time never came
it sounds so lame
Is it all just my vanity?
am I the only one to feel the sun
exactly the way I do?
when you sang how you felt I’d tell myself
maybe someday I’ll sing with you”
The theme of the album pops up again, a reason to sing, a reason to open ones mouth as a means to let out what you feel, even though sometimes we hold back due to the fears he lock on to.
“Remember when you were the talk of the town
and you didn’t care if I was around
but still you kept me in the back of your head
just like the teddy bear that you took to bed
I was only something to fall back on”
“As jalaludin rumi has prophesied
this day allah
allah will make his presence known to you”
The song is not eccentric in content but musically, it is off center compared to everything else on the album and it’s safe to say it probably got airplay only on college radio stations, if even that. If anything, the placement in the album allowed the listener to truly listen, to attempt to figure out what he was singing about. Back in 1985, it wasn’t like how it is today where one can just do a Google search and find some sense of translation and interpretation, so “Miracle In The Bazaar” just became the weird song on the album, yet it is an essential part of the chain link that gets us from one point of the album to the other. Oddly enough, it leads us into something even freakier.
“For I’m not afraid to bend my back
I’m not afraid of dirt
but how I fear the things I do
for lack of honest work”
The song gets into what is lost throughout life and wondering if ones on hard efforts will be of value to anyone, but also questioning if it matters to them:
“I know I’m not the only one to fall beneath the wheel
such company can not assuage the loneliness I feel
so many are resigned to be society’s debris
but I will be remembered for the life life took from me”
When the album gets to this point of the album, one wonders if there’s any hope for optimism but as the song reaches its conclusion, it leads to what may matter most to some.
In a song that explores personal and social love, perhaps the ending of A Cappella could only end with a song about a search that may be mighty and strong. It is a cover of The Spinners’ “Mighty Love”, which touches on those hopes and dreams, fear of some sense of failure and not discovering what you have been seeking, or some sense of solace. As the song says, that is the way love goes but there can be more if you keep at it:
“Some say that you’re sure to find true love and piece of mind
at the end of the rainbow, there’s no sign in the sky to follow
’cause that’s the way love goes
and so there’s a rhyme that says life will soon be fine
love is just what you make it
keep on loving, you’ll soon discover
a mighty love”
This is the point of the album where Rundgren’s one-man choir hits his gospel moment, where all of him has found the glory he had been looking for and he can’t stop singing, and it feels like it too. He would return to the gospel vibe four years later with the Nearly Human album and “I Love My Life”, this time with a real vocal choir and a band, but with “Mighty Love” it’s great to know it was Rundgren contributing everything from faithful hand claps to a feeling that may feel foreign to anyone who may not understand where it came from. Did it originate for Rundgren at a church in Philadelphia or did it come from his worldly travels and experience? By even questioning it, it hides the fact that a feeling, a good feeling, can be experienced by all, anywhere and regardless of where it’s found, the truth is that the feeling can be found, especially when that feeling is love. That feeling of love is celebrated by the power of the word, even if that world is vocalized in many variations, from singing to bass lines, keyboard blurbs and drum beats. Rundgren spent the whole album being able to open his mouth and letting it out, and he did so in a glorious manner.
A few things of interest. In 1985, Rundgren did an interview with Entertainment Tonight about how he created the album, and this was considered very weird since the majority of the world had no sense of how any of this worked. Computers weren’t just an everyday thing just yet and to be able to record your voice and play it? That was a fairly bizarre process. These days, we like to look at that episode of The Cosby Show where Stevie Wonder sampled the Huxtables and played their voices in the studio. Meanwhile, people like Rundgren explained how it was done here and was widely ignored by most who didn’t think Rundgren should make music like this. Art Of Noise member Jonathan “J.J.” Jeczalik showed how it was done in 1984 when he and the group appeared on the British music show The Tube, then used host Jools Holland to say a few things before his voice was played in a new version of “Beat Box”. When Chic member Nile Rodgers released his solo album B-Movie Matinee, he briefly spoke on how he’d use sounds taken from other movies, including the voice of actor Harrison Ford and it seemed no one could comprehend how he did it. Herbie Hancock was dabbling with it in the early to mid-80’s too, but what was considered freaky turned into influential hits. Rundgren was explaining it in detail but again, maybe it seemed like it was something only musicians are capable of doing. The compact disc was becoming the format of choice in 1985 and no one knew how a CD worked either, so being able to play a voice you just recorded was an outer space thing. Sample-based production would eventually become a major way of creating music for the next 30 years, and it’s safe to say those in the know heard A Cappella and said “if he can do that, maybe I can create something like this too.”
Liz is back with a brand new song and if you haven’t heard the news, she is now signed to Mad Decent/Columbia. It means that yes, she is now a major label artist. Her new one is called “When I Rule The World”, produced by Sophie, and I really hope that this will help bring her more deserved hits because I like her voice, her energy and attitude she shows in her videos and I hope that helps her gain a greater success.
Finding Neverland: The Album is a forthcoming Broadway musical soundtrack that you may be finding very soon, either at Target, the Mart, or any other place that sells new music these days. Costco? I don’t know if they still sell CD’s with buckets of chocolate covered peanuts but Christina Aguilera has returned with a new song and you may listen to “Anywhere But Here” with a very nice pop ballad that is sure to spruce people’s mood this summer. The album will be out on June 9th.