DJ Rahdu has assembled a new mix of songs, this time shining the spotlight on and the one and only Sade. It’s not just the hits, but a wide range of songs, which is perhaps why he titled it Pearls: Sade Remixes, Flips & Covers, so perhaps you may not have heard of some of these songs before, at least in this way. There are a number of ways to obtain this free download, click to BamaLoveSoul.com for more details.
If you’re a huge fan of Kanye West’s song “All Day”, you may want to hear what Mark John treats it. Check out his cover which was produced by Sweater Beats and see how it fits you.
You may recognize her name or her face from the British X-Factor series but now Stacey Solomon is out with her debut album today. Released by Conehead, Shy is the album that expresses her talents and capabilities and while the title track may suggest her bashfulness, the video doesn’t share that sentiment.
DJ Platurn is back with a new remix for all to hear, and this one goes back to 1977 and disco, or at least one of the best pop songs of the era. If you love “Stayin’ Alive”, you are going to really enjoy what he does with it here. If you want to take it with you, head to Bandcamp as well.
If you are a fan of Billy Joel or Patti LaBelle, you are going to love these two remasters on its way from Audio Fidelity. On the Billy Joel side, it’s a reissue of his third album from 1974, Streetlife Serenade, and while this was not a hugely popular album from him like future releases, but it did have “The Entertainer” as a single. Nonetheless, Streetlife Serenade is looked upon by Joel fans as the album where he needed to make some changes not so much with his music, but who was running it, and the album holds up quite well despite lower-than-expected sales at the time.
LaBelle’s Nightbird was the group’s fourth album and their first for Epic Records after releasing an LP on RCA that had minimal success. Whatever it was that caused it to make a hit, it worked, and that had to do with the songs on the album, which included the massive pop hit “Lady Marmalade”. The second single was a double A-sided hit and got a lot of attention on the soul charts, “What Can I Do For You?” b/w “Nightbird”. The spirit of New Orleans in “Lady Marmalade” was also partly due to The Meters, who were briefly label mates with LaBelle by association (The Meters were on Reprise, LaBelle were on Warner Bros.) and played throughoutNightbird, a year after The Meters found themselves in Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time”, also a massive hit on the pop charts. “Lady Marmalade” became not only LaBelle’s biggest hit, but one of Patti LaBelle’s biggest songs in her career.
As is the case with Audio Fidelity remasters, both are being released as hybrid CD’s, which means all regular CD’s will be able to hear the new version of the album. On top of that, if you have an SACD player, you’ll be able to hear the original quadraphonic mixes for the first time in 40 years, both which which haven’t been reissued until now. The discs will be out on April 21st.
Little did Earth, Wind & Fire know how powerful their sixth album would be when it was released on Friday, March 14, 1975. That’s The Way Of The World was not only their 6th LP but the fourth for Columbia Records, which must’ve showed the label that they are more than willing to continue the music they had made since the release of Head To The Sky and Open Our Eyes. The group did have their share of soul hit singles from each album but it seems they wanted to take things higher with help from Charles Stepney. Stepney did work on their previous album, Open Our Eyes, as an associated producer with Joe Wissert handling the production chair but it seems Maurice White needed a much stronger captain. White was more than capable of doing it himself, especially after years of handling some of the work at Chess Records, but he also knew how Stepney could do with his work at Chess and with the Rotary Connection (some of which White played drums on). It may not have been a “make or break” album, as bands did have the luxury of easing up at the pace they wanted to, but if you listen to how the album flows from one song to the other, they were running eagerly somewhere stronger. Look at the album cover. Maurice White is looking as if he’s saying “welcome to my kingdom” while Ralph Johnson has a slight head nod and a “how you like me now?” attitude. Bassist Verdine White has a glare, saying “you’re gonna love this, come inside with us.” Philip Bailey is just getting down to the groove while keyboardist Larry Dunn is flying or levitating in the air, just happy to get off on whatever they were listening to at the time. Meanwhile, Andrew Woolfolk, Al McKay, and Fred White are just taking in the rise while guitarist Johnny Graham is smiling, saying “i don’t know what’s going on, man, but I’m digging it.”
When you wish upon a star
dreams will take you very far, yeah
when you wish upon a dream
life ain’t always what it seems, oh yeah
The double guitar groove from Graham and McKay offers a wonderful groove, while Verdine White’s basslines dance as if he’s on his own path but knows whose foundation he is on.
We come together on this special day
wing our message loud and clear
looking back, we’ve touched on sorrowful days,
future pass, they disappear
you will find peace of mind
if you look way down in your heart and soul
don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold
stay young at heart, ’cause you’re never, never old
For me, the core of the song is centered in two lines which basically doesn’t answer why we are the way we are with one another, but it makes us think how to change, if at all possible:
child is born with a heart of gold
the weight of of the world makes his heart so cold
It could be considered a church sermon of sorts, made very clear in the song’s last minute when it sounds as if he is testifying. You hear the sweet vocals of Bailey and you just don’t want that feeling to end, but does fade out.
“All About Love” ends Side 1 in a beautiful way, a ballad written by Dunn and White that allows a bit of personal reflection about things, be it about self or everything within the vicinity as Maurice White raps with us about spirituality, or the inner self which leads about the expression of what becomes our outer selves. As White says in the song, he’s talking about beauty and perhaps if all of us are beautiful in our own way, we become what we want to see in the world, the way it is not at times.
“Yearnin’ Learnin'” begins Side 2 almost in a way that sounds like the introduction to the 1970’s TV show Battle Of The Network Stars or an energetic scene for a movie. Basically, this is a song that had deserved to be a hit as it has a feeling that could make anyone dance but perhaps the understanding of the lyrics may have been difficult, or if not the lyrics themselves, the manner in which they vocalized. The next song on the album would do its share of positive damage.
There are many ways to describe what Stepney brought to the group but if there’s a perfect example of his contributions to the group, it’s “Reasons”. Listen to the song and imagine what it would sound like without the horn and string arrangements. Then listen to it again with everything blended in. The vocal harmonies are wonderful too, the band are making things mellow, but you can tell that this was done as Bailey’s centerpiece, which he would do in Earth, Wind & Fire concerts for the next 40 years. The song is symphonic in a David Axelrod manner, if not better, for while the song sounds romantic and sensual in the right spots, there’s another layer where you may feel longing, you may feel hope, you may feel engaging, there’s something but you’re uncertain even as the song fades, which happens at the right moment. Stepney genius.
If older fans were feeling the group were losing their jazz roots and origins, “Africano” showed they always kept their feet planted into the ground, rooted with their ancestors. The percussion and horn section tigthened up to show why Earth, Wind & Fire were a band to not mess with but for people who were turned on to their music for the first time, they wanted to let people know why they should stay around. The group kept on doing instrumentals as they moved from Warner Bros. Records to Columbia, with songs like “Spasmodic Movements”, “Runnin'”, and “Biyo” that showed everyone if they wanted to let loose and just jam, they were more than capable. “Africano” would become a staple of the band for years.
The album ends in a song that begins on a 7/4 time measure and the arrangement sounds complex with a statement that becomes part of the moral of the album’s story:
Lookin’ through the clouds, what do you see?
sky of gases, child in need
troubles everywhere, more than I can bear
so I’m searchin’ from within
The band switch up a bit, getting into a melody that sounds similar to “Feelin’ Blue” from Open Our Eyes to allow a bit of continuity from one album to the next, complete with similar vocal harmonies and Dunn’s synth solo. While Bailey has always been a spiritual man, with him releasing a series of gospel albums over the years, this was a song where he was allowed to see and share the light he feels, and to let people know that they too can be inspired to feel the light within, however you want to interpret that.
Looking back, the album is solid from start to finish but it’s also easy to hear it as an album that didn’t get to the power it was trying to achieve. Then again, the album does end with African chanting and Dunn’s keyboard interludes that works as a continuation of the dialogue the group has always shared with people, and a bit of nerdery that ahd them saying “I’m going to doodle a bit, thank you for listening, please come back next time.” For me, I didn’t get this album until long after I had Spirit when I was six and All-N-All at 7. That’s The Way Of The World was always the album a lot of people had when I went to their house. I always wondered why they would have That’s The Way Of The World and not have Open Our Eyes, All-N-All, or Head To The Sky, which my auntie had. It seemed that if families had Earth, Wind & Fire in their collections, it was either That’s The Way Of The World or The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire or both. Yet when I saw someone had Gratitude, I knew they were deep listeners. That was a double album, which meant they had taken time to listen to it deeply. Everyone may have had Frampton Comes Alive but Gratitude made me feel as if they were good people. That’s The Way Of The World released two very successful singles that are played on pop radio 40 years later: “Shining Star” and the title track, and due to the short length of “Shining Star” (under three minutes), it is often played alongside “That’s The Way Of The World” back to back, similar to what Queen would have with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”. For Queen, that was a double-A sided single while EW&F came out with two separate singles yet radio often plays it together as one. As big as the song seems to be, “Reasons” only released as a promotional single to radio, which could mean Columbia had considered to release it as its own single and held it back, or merely pressed it to radio was a way to promote the strength of the album.
As huge as the album is and how powerful it resonates with listeners, I still prefer Head To The Sky, Open Our Eyes, Spirit, and All-N-All. I am more than aware that without That’s The Way Of The World there would be no Spirit, and All-N-All. It is due to the success of That’s The Way Of The World that lead them to a massive North American tour that lead to the release of the double LP live album Gratitude. I have always felt That’s The Way Of The World is penultimate compared to the majesty that is All-N-All due to all of the great songs that are on it. At this point, I’m talking about personal preferences and I shouldn’t take away from the success That’s The Way Of The World achieved. The album was #1 on both Billboard’s Pop and Black music charts, the first time for Earth, Wind & Fire. They now had pop success and would remain there for the next six years and considering all of the songs that were high on the pop charts, that’s a lifetime. That’s The Way Of The World remains on a number of critic charts and remains the first choice EW&F newbies choose if they are to pick out an album, alongside The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. I. The group may not have been aware of the goodness they were about to achieve when they shot the cover but it looks like they just were given gold record awards, with the platinum award that didn’t exist until 1976. The weight of the world can make all of us grow cold but with powerful music, it can lead to brighter and better days.
Australian producer (via Sydney) Nicolas Frost is so chill that he wants to be called Frost (no relation to rapper Kid Frost/Frost) and he has some music on its way. In fact, here’s a song he did, a remix of “Take Me To Church” by Hozier. It may be a “bootleg” remix but if you like the original, you may find this mix to be much better. Find out for yourself. More music from Frost will be on its way throughout the year.
She was nominated for a Grammy and now Autumn Rowe has a new release out. This is for If I Don’t Have You – The Remixes, where you have the original plus the remixes for it. The bassline sounds a bit like one of the bass synth lines in The Police’s “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da” but then it gets sparkly. You can download it by heading to Beatport.
Howlin Wolf began their new tour last night in Portland and are up in Seattle today for two shows, including an in-store at Sonic Boom at 6pm. They, who are simply just he and friends, are on tour in support of Mansion Songs (Easy Sound) so check them out if you can. If you need motivation, listen to a song from it below called “Wild Bush”.
February 27… Seattle, WA (Sonic Boom In-Store (solo acoustic) – 6pm
February 27… Seattle, WA (Tractor Tavern)
February 28… Vancouver, BC (The Hindenburg)
March 1… Bellingham, WA (Shakedown)
March 3… Boise, ID (Neurolux)
March 4… Salt Lake City, UT (Kilby Court)
March 5… Las Vegas, NV (The Bunkhouse)
March 6… Flagstaff, AZ (The Orpheum)
March 7… Santa Ana, CA (Constellation Room)
March 8… Long Beach, CA (Fingerprints In-store)
March 10… San Diego, CA (The Casbah)
March 11… Los Angeles, CA (The Echo)
March 12… Santa Cruz, CA (Crepe Place)
March 13… Oakland, CA (Leo’s)
March 14… Mill Valley, CA (Sweetwater)
April 9… San Antonio, TX (502 Bar)
April 10… Austin, TX (The Parish)
April 11… Dallas, TX (The Foundry)
April 13… Atlanta, GA (Vinyl)
April 14… Asheville, NC (New Mountain)
April 15… Raleigh, NC (Pour House)
April 16… Washington, DC (Black Cat, DC)
April 17… Philadelphia, PA (Boot & Saddle)
April 18… Brooklyn, NY (Baby’s All Right)
April 19… Allston, MA (Great Scott)
April 21… Chicago IL (Abbey Pub)
4/22 – Minneapolis, MN (7th Street)
4/23 – Omaha, NE (Reverb)
4/24 – Denver, CO (Lost Lake)
Pam Steebler places herself in a recording studio to let everyrone know how a recording session can work, and she does so as a means to promote her new song “Mind Reader”, from her EP Give In. She balances between a delicate side with a bit of grit, and for me that’s what makes it work, the ability to sing to not move on either side too strongly but knowing how to be sure those two sides are still heard.