Tag: 1980s

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Diana Ross!

This week is a rather auspicious week in music history: Yesterday Elton John and Aretha Franklin shared a birthday. And today, the legendary Diana Ross turns 77, I firmly believe that we should celebrate our legends while we have them — and Diana Ross is one of the most influential and important out of the entire Motown Records universe.

So I thought the best to celebrate her birthday would be to post some throwback live footage of Ms. Ross doing her thing.

Deriving their name from the chain of curves made by the overhead cables seen suspended from pylons or above electric trains, the Kent, UK-based act The Catenary Wires — founding members Amelia Fletcher (vocals, harmonium) and Rob Pursey (vocals, guitar) with Fay Hallam (Hammond organ, backing vocals), Ian Button (drums, backing vocals) and Andy Lewis (bass, production) was founded in 2014 after its founding duo had spent lengthy stints in beloved British cult acts like Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and Tender Trap. The then-duo’s full-length debut, 2015’s Red Red Skies was a marked departure from the fuzzy, ’60s-inspired, girl-group pop of their previous work, as it featured acoustic-leaning material that was much more melancholy and emotive.

The duo followed up with a one-off 7 inch single, 2018’s “What About The Rings?”/”Was That Love.” But by the time the Pursey and Hallam began writing and recording their sophomore album, 2019’s ‘Til The Morning, the band expanded into a quintet with the additions of Hallam, Button and Lewis. The album’s material was centered around a much bigger sound while retaining the focus on the dual, boy-girl vocals of Fletcher and Pursey.

The newly-minted quintet have just completed their third album, Birling Gap, which is slated for a June 2021 through Shelflife Records here in the States and the band’s own label Skep Wax throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Their forthcoming album will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting songs for grown-up indie kids: maybe their knees and the backs hurt a bit from time to time, maybe their hair is receding or they’re bald or have some other sign of getting older. So, they’ll openly admit that their 20s are far in the rearview mirror –but they fondly remember what it was like. Fueled by their experience and wisdom, their material touches upon innocence and the loss of innocence, joy, egret, experience and so on.

The members of The Catenary Wires will be guest DJ’ing at a virtual indie pop disco held by the folks at How Does It Feel To Be Loved next Saturday — March 27, 2021 — and to promote the DJ set, the act released a cover of The Human League’s smash hit “Fascination” that sees the band rearranging the song so that the main synth-based melody with harmonium and strummed guitar while retaining the dueling boy-girl vocals. And as a result of the new arrangement, the song possesses a nostalgic feel, as though its narrators are looking back at their younger selves through the bittersweet prism of experience. Of course, the bigger point here is that great songs manage to be timeless — to the point that a completely different generation can find something of themselves in it.

You can check out more information about the DJ set here: https://www.facebook.com/events/448872316317961

 

Throwback: Happy 88th Birthday Quincy Jones!

This weekend has proven to be a rather auspicious weekend for music and music history: Yesterday Roy Haynes celebrated his 96th birthday and the equally legendary Quincy Jones celebrates his 88th birthday today. Much like Haynes, Jones has worked with a who’s who of music. including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and a lengthy list of others.

Of course, Jones has been behind some of the best-selling, most memorable and beloved songs of the past 60 years — including some very obvious ones. So it should be unsurprising that he is one of the most decorated producers, composers and arrangers of the past 60 years. But instead of the regular choices, I went with some earlier and more jazz-based work of Jones’ including some live footage shot in 1960 with his big band.

Happy birthday Quincy! Thank you for so much great music!

Throwback: Happy 96th Birthday, Roy Haynes!

Yesterday was the legendary Roy Haynes’ 96th birthday. Over the course of his 77 year career — yes, 77! — Haynes has played swing, bop, fusion and avant garde jazz with a who’s who of jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Oliver Nelson and a long list of others. And unsurprisingly because of such a lengthy and productive career, Haynes is one of the most recorded drummers in jazz history.

I had the pleasure and honor of photographing and watching the imitable legend play on a SummerStage bill that featured Ron Carter and McCoy Tyner. At the time, I believe that Haynes was around 91 and even in his advanced age, he was full of energy, charming and incredibly spry: during his set, he got up from his drum kit to tap dance and sing. I hope to have that kind of energy and joy if I get to that age! He’s also still regularly playing and touring. And if it wasn’t for the COVID pandemic, Haynes would have been playing his annual Blue Note residency to celebrate his birthday.

Happy birthday, Mr. Haynes! May there be many, many, many more!

Throwback: Happy 75th Birthday, David Gilmour!

This week has been an important week in music history:

The 48th anniversary of Dark Side of the Moon’s release was earlier this week — March 1.
David Gilmour’s birthday is today. The legendary Pink Floyd guitarist turns 75. He’s been behind some of my favorite albums and songs and I felt it was appropriate to celebrate his birthday with some live footage of Glamour and Pink Floyd. Happy birthday, David. May there be many, many more!

Throwback: Happy 77th Birthday, Roger Daltrey

One of the things you should probably know is that I’m a huge fan of The Who. Roger Daltrey has one of the most unique voices in rock. And as it turns out, yesterday was Daltrey’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday, Roger! May there be many, many, many more. Thank you and the band for music that has meant the world to me.

Throwback: Black History Month: Gil Scott-Heron

Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Gil Scott-Heron is sort of a spiritual godfather to hip-hop and neo-soul — and I can make a fair argument that Public Enemy, Common, Talib Kweli and Mos Def, a.k.a Yasin Bey are indebted to the legend’s work, which threw together spoken word poetry, jazz, the blues and rock in a difficult to pigeonhole mix. And although he hasn’t been with us in about a decade, his work is still an incisive, unnerving look at race in America and globally.

Throwback: Black History Month: Big Mama Thornton

Today is February 27, 2021. It’s the 27th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

It’s February 27, 2021. The 27th day of Black History Month, which is rapidly coming to a close. Of course, let’s not forget Big Mama Thornton. Without her, Elvis wouldn’t have one of his signature hits. And she just kicked ass and took names in her own brassy way.

Throwback: Black History Month: Miles Davis

Today is February 26, 2021. It’s the 26th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

It’s February 27, 2021. The 27th day of Black History Month, which is rapidly coming to a close. I don’t think you can talk about Black History Month without showcasing Miles Davis, one of the towering figures of jazz and modern music.