With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“No matter what they take from me they can’t take away my dignity” February 12, 2012


By now you may have already heard or read the reports of the untimely and sad demise of Whitney Houston aged just 48. Any comment about the cause of death at this stage is pure speculation. Her body was discovered in her Los Angeles hotel room on February 11th. She was staying there for Clive Davis‘ pre Grammys party. It was Davis who discovered Whitney singing in bars and clubs as a teenager. Whitney won 6 Grammys herself and with the ceremony taking place today it’s likely that there will be a lot of focus on her career.

Her mother was Cissy Houston, a talented singer herself. She was also related to Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick. Aretha Franklin was her godmother. She was just eleven when she started singing in her church gospel choir. As a teenager she would occasionally appear on stage to provide backing vocals for her mother. Her first big break in the industry was when she provided backing vocals on the Michael Zager Band’s hit “Life’s A Party” when she was just 14. One of the biggest hits to be graced with a Whitney backing vocal was the stupendous “I’m Every Woman” from Chaka Khan in 1978. Whitney was still only 15. She carried on as a backing vocalist for a while and even graduated to lead vocals an a Paul Jabara album.

Clive Davis signed her to Arista in 1983 and spent some time developing her and finding the right production and writers which meant that her first solo album, ‘Whitney Houston’, didn’t appear until February 1985. Eventually it rose to the summit of the US Billboard album charts and spent 14 weeks there. It also spawned three US number ones; “Saving All My Love For You”, “How Will I Know” and “The Greatest Love Of All” The album which featured duets with Jermaine Jackson and Teddy Pendergrass and backing vocals from her mother Cissy, went on to sell 25 million copies worldwide.

The follow-up album was the rather unimaginatively titled ‘Whitney’ which stormed the charts in the wake of its predecessor. As well as the album hitting the top of the US charts it gave Houston another four US number ones in; “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”.  Her third album ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’ took her in a much tougher R & B direction and in my opinion showcased her vocal talents better than the first two did. She appeared at the Super Bowl in 1991 where she sang the US national anthem. It was later released as a single and reached the US Top 20. It was the biggest chart hit that any artist had ever had with “The Star Spangled Banner

It was in the 1990s that her career took an even faster upwards trajectory. 1992 was a pivotal year for her. In July She married singer Bobby Brown who she had met at the Soul Train Music Awards three years earlier. She had her only child  Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown with him a year later. After her initial success from 1985 she had many offers of film roles but none of them felt right to her. But eventually she took on the role of a singing superstar in ‘The Bodyguard’ which was released in 1992. She co-starred with Kevin Costner. The film may well be remembered more for its soundtrack though, which included the mega hit “I Will Always Love You”. It was a cover of a Dolly Parton song and frankly is not a song I like very much at all. But I am probably in a small minority there as it reached number one in almost every country it was released. The soundtrack album also included a great version of “I’m Every Woman” a song on which Whitney had provided backing vocals 14 years before. She went on to make a number of other successful movies including ‘Waiting To Exhale’ and ‘The Preachers Wife’

Her next studio album that wasn’t soundtrack related, ‘My Love Is Your Love’ wasn’t released until 1998. It was a much funkier sound from her and includes my favourite Whitney song “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK”. That remains an office catch phrase for me after hearing a colleague (thank you Mr Mangan) use it a lot. Basically if something is not perfect but is ok he would say, ‘It’s a bit Whitney’ meaning in very simple terms, ‘it’s not right but it’s ok’. This album was followed by her greatest hits package ‘Whitney : The Greatest Hits’ in 2000. It included a number of new songs including duets with George Michael and Enrique Iglesias. (Another greatest hits package ‘The Ultimate Collection’ was released in 2007)

The next few years might be seen as wilderness years for her in that she suffered the problems of drug addiction. Plenty has been written about those episodes of her life so I don’t see the point of adding to that here. Even during those low times she was able to release a couple of albums; ‘Just Whitney’ and her first Christmas album. She finally divorced from Bobby Brown in 2007 and got herself back on track by releasing a new album ‘I Look To You’ in 2009. She promoted a single from the album, the rather excellent “Million Dollar Bill” with an appearance on the X Factor in the UK. In 2010 she took off on her first world tour for many years. The shows received mixed reviews and a number were cancelled and rescheduled due to Houston falling ill.

Many of todays generation of female singers owe a debt to Whitney Houston and I am sure she will be sadly missed. Whatever you might think of the way she lived her life it is hard to deny that she was an incredible talent and 48 is just way too young to leave this life. My thoughts go to her family, friends and fans. RIP Whitney Houston.

To celebrate her life I have chosen some of my favourite Whitney Houston songs for you;

 

“These are the days when you wish your bed was already made” March 15, 2009


Well this is it folks the Ides of March, are you scared? Do you even know what the hell they are? Well the term Ides was thought to have meant the day of the Full Moon. The Ides of March (15th March) was made famous in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ as the day on which Caesar was assassinated. If you want more information about those nasty ides click here.

So without further ‘ides do’ and before the usual birthdays and stuff I have another contribution from one more regular reader. This time it’s Karen McP who would like me to mention her mate Martin’s band. They’re called ‘No Drinks On The Dance Floor’ I’ve had a listen to them on MySpace and I think they’re pretty damned good. Click here to go to their MySpace page and let me know what you think of them.

The other day I mentioned Bobby McFerrin and his excellent song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” well I just heard it again in an environment that I hadn’t noticed before. Have you ever watched George A Romero’s ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ Zombie movie? I was watching the DVD last night and there is a great scene where the survivors decide to break into the shopping mall for protection. As they enter the building there is the usual awful electronic muzak playing and the tune is the wonderfully ironic (in this setting anyway) “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. How cool is that? Also I received this picture from Ellen at the Dead Zone group today, how appropriate?

Don't Worry, Be Hippy

Don't Worry, Be Hippy

So onto todays birthdays. Firstly today would have been Arif Mardin’s 77th birthday. He was born in Istanbul and died in New York in 2006. Arif produced some of the greatest acts to appear on the Atlantic label, where he spent 30 years. During his career he produced hits for many artists, these included; Carly Simon, Petula Clark, Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Diana Ross, Bee Gees, Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, Lulu, Anita Baker, Judy Collins, Phil Collins (no relation), Culture Club, Scritti Politti, Roberta Flack, Hall & Oates, Norah Jones, George Benson, Chaka Khan, Ringo Starr, Dusty Springfield, Average White Band and none other than David Bowie (I bet you never thought I’d get a Bowie reference in that list did you?). After meeting Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie at a concert in Istanbul in 1956 Arif submitted a couple of compositions to Quincy. This changed his life as shortly after he became the first person to receive the Quincy Jones Scholarship at the Berklee College Of Music in Boston. He moved to the US with his wife Latife in 1958. He also won 12 Grammys during his career. So what song should we choose to celebrate what would have been Arif’s birthday? It has to be “Cut The Cake” by the Average White Band. OK fact fans, how many of you know that the Average White Band are in fact from Scotland?

This picture says two things to me 1) Caption Competition - come on readers do your worst and 2) I can't be bothered to think of anything amusing myself!

This picture says two things to me 1) Caption Competition - come on readers do your worst and 2) I can't be bothered to think of anything amusing myself!

The second and final of todays birthdays is that of Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 and +44. He is 37 today. Blink 182 is my son’s all time favourite band, so rest assured there will be yet another plug for his band later in this post! Hoppus plays bass and provides vocals for both Blink and +44. In addition to these talents he has also produced other bands such as New Found Glory and Motion City Soundtrack. These are exciting days for Blink fans with the band now back together following their reconciliation after Travis Barker’ horrific air crash earlier this year. They must be playing the UK surely, how about Reading and Leeds in August, any ideas? Mark was apparently conned out of half a million dollars last year by two people who offered him a deal in the development of automated checkouts for McDonalds. They were right cheating burgers weren’t they? Anyway here is Mark with the other Blink boys in the video for “What’s My Age Again?

Mark knew that the rest of the band were incredibly jealous of his invisible stool

Mark knew that the rest of the band were incredibly jealous of his invisible stool

So onto that shameless plug for my son’s band. They’re called ‘Steal The Smile’ and you just need to click here to go to their MySpace page. Let me know what you think of them too. My son Luke is the guitarist and singer. And remaining with Blink 182 for a moment, Luke met Tom DeLonge after his Angels and Airwaves set at the Reading Festival in August 2007!

On this day in 1986 the Bangles were at number 2 in the UK singles chart with “Manic Monday” The song was actually written by Prince using the pseudonym Christopher Nevermind. In a bizarre twist of fate the song was stalled at number two in the US chart, it was held off the top spot by none other than Prince himself with the classic song “Kiss”. I must confess I really dislike the Tom Jones cover of “Kiss” that he did with the Art Of Noise. What do you think of it? Here are the Bangles with “Manic Monday

This was probably the smallest stage the girls had ever played on, particularly as there was only room for three of them

This was probably the smallest stage the girls had ever played on, particularly as there was only room for three of them

And finally for today on this day in 1992 the Beastie Boys appeared at the Marquee Club in London. The Beasties started life in 1979 as a hardcore punk band called the Young Aborigines. They became a fully fledged rap crew after Rick Rubin signed them to the Def Jam label in the early 80s. They released the classic album ‘Licensed To Ill in 1986′ It became the first rap album to top the Billboard album charts in the US and went on to be the biggest selling rap album of the 80s. Arguably the band are the best white rappers there have ever been. Eminem and his fans may disagree but surely Vanilla Ice and his fan won’t? There is expected to be a new album from the boys later this year, tentatively titled “Tadlock’s Glasses’ To finish todays post here are the Beastie Boys with the rather good “Ch-Check It Out

Surprisingly the Beasties play the game for men with small balls

Surprisingly the Beasties play the game for men with small balls

 

“But if you don’t like what they’re going to do, you’d better not stop them ’cause they’re coming through” March 13, 2009


Those Ides are getting a little bit closer, today’s the 13th March, just continue to beware ok. Especially as today is Friday 13th, are there any triskaidecophobics reading this?

Don’t forget to do something funny for Comic Relief today as well and if you can’t do anything funny just donate some money at www.comicrelief.com

Wear your red nose with pride today!

Yet more close encounters of the trivia kind for you today, in the form of two birthdays and three ‘onthisdays’ So if everything is ready on the dark side of the blog, play the five tones!

Kicking off the birthdays is Neil Sedaka, who is certainly way, way beyond “happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen” Neil is 70 years young today. At High School one of Neil’s friends and indeed the pair were romantically involved was Carole Klein. She later became Carole King and was also the subject of Neil’s song “Oh Carol”. She even recorded a riposte to that song which was imaginatively titled “Oh Neil”. Eventually Neil was given a opportunity to work at the famous New York song writing factory the Brill Building. This was along with his friend and co writer Howard Greenfield. Their first big hit was Connie Francis’ “Stupid Cupid” (UK 1 US 14). Here’s one you may or may not know, Sedaka and Greenfield wrote “Is This The Way To Amarillo”. There so now you know who to blame, it wasn’t all Tony Christie’s fault! One of my favourite Sedaka songs is “Bad Blood” on which he duets with Elton John, that song was a US number one in 1975. However there seems to be a distinct lack of that one on YouTube, so instead hear is Neil with the equally excellent, but much older, “I Go Ape

Neil was unaware that he was about to be hit over the head with a jukebox

Neil was unaware that he was about to be hit over the head with a jukebox

Tony Lundon is 30 today, he was a member of reality TV pop poppets Liberty X who had a UK number one with “Just A Little” in 2002. remember them? They were the runners up to Hear’say in the 2001 show Popstars. Actually it’s easier to remember Liberty X really isn’t it? My favourite Liberty X song is “Being Nobody” (perhaps they dedicated this to Hear’say) which was a mash up of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and the Human League’s “Being Boiled”. It was produced by the mysteriously named Richard X and was actually credited to ‘Richard X vs Liberty X. Mr X also produced the rather good Sugababes single “Freak Like Me'” which was also a mash up of Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” and Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army’s “Are Friends Electric?”. Liberty X split up in 2007 but did reform for a one off gig at Belfast’s Gay Pride celebrations in 2008. Here they are in the video for “Being Nobody

The band had been able to hide their short stature for months but having to stand on chairs on stage was a bit of a giveaway

The band had been able to hide their short stature for months but having to stand on chairs on stage was a bit of a giveaway

On this day in 1975 Tammy Wynette apparently didn’t ‘Stand By Her Man’ and opted to D.I.V.O.R.C.E husband George Jones instead. She had married him in 1969. Actually Tammy’s real name is Virginia Wynette Pugh, what’s that all about then? George and Tammy became Country’s ‘First Couple’ and recorded a number of albums together, including some after their divorce. Tammy was often referred to as the ‘First Lady Of Country’ and had more Country number ones than almost all her female competition at the time. In 1963 she went to Beauty School and qualified as a Beautician. This was a qualification she renewed every day for the rest of her life, just in case she needed to go back to a proper day job. Tammy died aged just 55 in 1998. It’s probably one of the most bizarre collaborations ever, but my favourite Tammy song is “Justified And Ancient” which she recorded with the excellent KLF in 1991. OK fact fans what does KLF stand for? It’s Kopyright Liberation Front. Here is the mighty Tammy with “Justified And Ancient” supported by the KLF and on her own with the classic “Stand By Your Man” taken from the 1975 Christmas edition of the BBC’s Top Of The Pops.

Tammy prepares for her cover version of "I Believe I Can Fly"

Tammy prepares for her cover version of "I Believe I Can Fly"

And a special bonus here is the jolly excellent cover of the Tammy Wynette/ KLF single of “Justified And Ancient”

The KLF - did you know they drive an Ice Cream Van?

The KLF - did you know they drive an Ice Cream Van?

In a classic piece of computerised cock up on this day in 1993 the Radio 1 UK Chart show was in complete chaos after Gallup who compiled the chart at the time got a staggering 20 of the 40 positions wrong.

And finally this day in 1998 saw us mourning the death of the late great (yay the l’s & g’s are still around) Alexander Minto Hughes, a former debt collector, nightclub bouncer and DJ known by millions as Judge Dread. He died after collapsing on stage during a performance in Canterbury. He had ten top ten UK singles in the 70s. Most of his songs were never played on the radio owing to their rude rhymes, perhaps that’s just why the teenage me loved them so much. In fact he holds the record for having more songs banned from radio in the UK than anyone else. I do recall that every Christmas my Mum asked me to name one single and one LP for her to buy me for Christmas. I took great delight one year in getting her to buy me Judge Dread’s “Big Seven”. You see my Mum has never been a fan of rude jokes and double entendres, so the thought of her buying this was just hilarious to me. I think she has forgiven me now though. Here comes the Judge with a selection of songs, just click on the title to hear/ watch them; “Big Six“, “Big Seven“, “Big Eight” and finally his nicely smutty version of the classic “Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus

The Judge seemed to have no problem hiding his Big Eight, perhaps he was cold, or was it really only a Not So Big Three?

The Judge seemed to have no problem hiding his Big Eight, perhaps he was cold, or was it really only a Not So Big Three?

 

 
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