RIP Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009)
Thriller (1982) – Michael Jackson [Amazon.com]
I’ve mentioned Michael Jackson twice on this blog, once when I was amazed by his choice of footage in “They Don’t Care About Us“, and once when I did the obituary of James Brown when I mentioned that Brown’s “rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson”.
Jackson was the embodiment of things gone awry as the result of mediated fame in the 20th century, when he was catapulted from child prodigy to natural freak.
With more than 100 million albums sold, Thriller (1982) is the bestselling album of all time and is iconic in the history of 20th century popular music, where he is the natural heir to Elvis Presley. Beyond both dying from an abuse of prescription drugs, parallels beween Presley and Jackson are numerous (Graceland/Neverland). Lisa Marie Presley, for a short time married to Jackson in the nineties wrote at the time of Jackson’s death that he knew “exactly how his fate would be played out” and feared his death would echo that of Elvis Presley.
Jackson dies, long live Jackson.
Shinehead‘s reggae version of “Billie Jean.”
Here he is reincarnated in Shinehead‘s reggae version of “Billie Jean.”. But one of the earliest samples of “Billie Jean” was in 1983, when Italian studio project Clubhouse mixed Steely Dan‘s “Do It Again” (1981) with “Billie Jean” as the “Do It Again Medley with Billie Jean“ .
*Daryl Hall has claimed that Michael Jackson admitted to copying the bassline from “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)“ in his song “Billie Jean“.
PS. For those of you who miss the Jahsonic old style of haphazard blogging about anything he finds, please check Jahsonic’s microblog at Tumblr.
RIP Huey Long
Huey Long (April 25, 1904 – June 10, 2009) was an African American singer and musician and the last living member of the Ink Spots.
The Ink Spots were a popular African American vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. They and the Mills Brothers, another black vocal group of the 1930s and 1940s, gained much acceptance in the white community. They are known for such songs as “If I Didn’t Care“ and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore“.
Bernard Purdie turns 70 today. He is best-known in rare groove circles for his “Funky Donkey,” collected on Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999), played on Gabor Szabo‘s “Jazz Raga” and did the soundtrack for the blaxploitation flick Lialeh.
Pamela Suzette Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an iconic American actress. She came to fame in the early 1970s, after starring in a string of moderately successful women-in-prison and blaxploitation films, and has generally remained in the public eye, starring in B-movies such as 1974′s Foxy Brown, and in mainstream films such as Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film, Jackie Brown.
Joel Brodsky (7 October 1939 – 1 March 2007) , American photographer, best-known for his risqué Ohio Players album cover photography. His photographs are also featured on the covers of The Doors‘ Strange Days, The Stooges debut album, Herbie Mann’s Memphis Underground and the Ohio Players’ Ecstasy and Pleasure.
His best-known picture, according to a Washington Post story, was used as the cover of the 1985 The Best of The Doors album. It made in late 1966 and shows a bare-chested Jim Morrison of the Doors, with his arms outstretched.
Brodsky’s photographs appeared on over 400 album covers.
Marvin Gaye @70
Marvin Gaye (April 2 1939 – April 1 1984) was an African-American singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer who gained international fame as an artist on the Motown record label in the 1960s and 1970s. He is best-known for “Sexual Healing,” a 1982 song and the first hit record to use the Roland TR-8081 for bass.
The lyrics of ‘Sexual Healing” song discussed a man’s aching for finding sexual healing with his woman – hence the title “Sexual Healing“. According to David Ritz, when he interviewed Gaye for an autobiography, he noticed comic book pornography in Marvin’s room and mentioned to the singer that he “needed sexual healing” causing Gaye and Ritz to write the lyrics.
1 The famous Roland TR-808 was launched in 1980. At the time it was regarded with little fanfare, as it did not have digitally sampled sounds; drum machines using digital samples were much more popular. In time though, the TR-808, along with its successor, TR-909 (released in 1983), would soon become a fixture of the burgeoning underground dance, techno, and hip hop genres, mainly because of its low cost (relative to that of the Linn machines), and the unique character of its analogue-generated sounds. The TR-808′s sound only became truly desirable in the late 1980s, about five years after the model was discontinued and had become cheaply available on the second hand market.
Gil Scott-Heron @60
Gil Scott-Heron (born April 1 1949) is an American poet and musician known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word performer. He is associated with African American militant activism, and is best known for his songs “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and “The Bottle” (see above).
RIP Uriel Jones (1934 – 2009)
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1967) by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Uriel Jones (13 June 1934 – March 24, 2009) was an African-American musician. Jones was a recording session drummer for Motown Records‘ in-house studio band, The Funk Brothers, during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Jones was first hired by Motown as a fill-in for principal drummer Benny Benjamin; along with Richard “Pistol” Allen, he moved up the line as recordings increased and Benjamin’s health deteriorated. Jones had a hard-hitting, funky sound, best heard on the tracks for the hits “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – both versions, by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell in 1967 and the 1970 remake by by Diana Ross, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, “Cloud Nine” by the The Temptations (in which he was augmented by “Spider” Webb), Junior Walker‘s “Home Cookin’,” “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, “For Once In My Life” by Stevie Wonder, and many more. His influences included Art Blakey. Jones became better known to music fans through his memorable appearance in the feature documentary film, Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.
Island Records @50
Island Records celebrates its 50th in May. Props to Simon Reynolds for summarizing Island’s succes as managing “in its heyday to achieve that rare feat: combining commercial success with artistic integrity.”
In other words: not selling out.
Padlock EP, one of my most prized Island Records releases
Click the footnotes to hear all four tracks.
The Padlock EP is a compilation of 4 musical compositions written for Gwen Guthrie. The rhythm section to the studio project consisted of Sly and Robbie, keyboards were by Wally Badarou, and mixing and remixing was done by Larry Levan. The Padlock mini-LP was released in 1983 on the Garage Records label and included “Hopscotch“, “Seventh Heaven“, “Getting Hot“, “Peanut Butter“ and ends with the title track “Padlock”. The sleeve of the German Island pressing was designed by Tony Wright, the illustrator who was also responsible for the artwork to Lee Perry‘s Return of Super Ape album.
Cecil Taylor @80
Excerpt from Ron Mann‘s 1981 “Imagine the Sound” documentary.
Cecil Percival Taylor (born March 15 or March 25, 1929 in New York City) is an American pianist and poet.
Along with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, he is generally acknowledged as on of the innovators of free jazz. Taylor’s music is cited by critics, however, as some of the most challenging in jazz, characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing exceedingly complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. At first listen, his dense and percussive music can be difficult to absorb, and his piano technique has often been likened to drums and percussion rather than to any other pianists, and resembling modern classical music as much as jazz.
See also: free jazz, atonality, avant-garde jazz