Got The Fever

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Billy Paul

So, am I the last one in the joint that’s been turned on to Billy Paul’s ‘Greatest Hits’?

But, in a way I’m thinking that it’s not such a bad thing when I think of it in terms of being turned on to something I’ve never heard before. And, I loves me music I’ve never heard before – especially by an artist that I only know as a one hit wonder. Which in Billy’s case is “Me And Mrs. Jones.”

I literally only heard something different by Billy just around one month ago driving back home from a friend’s house – I think it was on an NPR station here in the Worcester area, 90.5. And, as it’s playing I’m thinking, “I know this voice, but who is it?” Turns out, much to my surprise, to be Mr. Paul.

I thought it so different, that I knew that I had to have the complete album pronto. To my surprise it has many, many tracks that are simply wonderful! Filled with melody, somewhat radical interpretations and all delightfully soulful.

Your Song
This is the tune my ears were treated to as I drove home that night. As many of you know, I’m a sucker for a tune that almost redefines the original and I believe that this is the case here. At first, I thought it a bit of a stumble when he pauses and elongates the phrases beginning with “How wonderful life is …”, but now I can feel just how much it adds. I try to imagine that Sir Elton smiles when he hears this.

It’s Too Late
Some improvisation displayed here alongside a fine flute, bongos and tight as can be arrangement. Yet again, I think that the original composer - Carole King, is happy knowing that her song is in good adopted hands. This is ‘Light and breezy’, without drifting into bedtime, background music – which in a lesser hand, would have been so easy to do.

Billy Paul: Your Song
Billy Paul: It’s Too Late
From: Greatest Hits

Addendum: Thanks to two readers of this blog, bubblehead and G Simmermaker, I have successfully acquired a title from my 'What I'm (unsuccessfully) Searching For' list which is located to the right of this blog. They both found that I could get it for FREE through the generosity of Tom Robinson on his own web site! Thank you to you both, and thank you to Tom Robinson.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cecilia Noel and The Wild Clam

I live in the ‘penthouse’, the 11th floor, of a very tall building nestled in a cosmopolitan area here in Mass. Unbeknowenced to me, and to my shocking surprise and giddy delight, a cultural festival is taking place directly on the very next block, just across the street, right outside my windows.

The Latin festival, I found out, is a yearly celebration here frothing over with vendors selling beads and baubles of dazzling colors and dozens of configurations twisted into jewelry, earrings, bracelets and mini statues, t-shirts of a thorny crowned, bloody Jesus right next to t-shirts of the grim reaper, a Goya tent with samples and coupons, someone in a costume of the sun (?) shaking hands while posing for the occasional picture, banners representing each and every Latin country from all over the world and food merchants selling dozens of exotic foods tearing gently at my nostrils and which somehow have a direct gravitational pull on my wallet.

The air is filled with an intermittent burst of lost balloons plummeting skyward that compete absentmindedly with the churning waves of the crowd that ebb and flow to one area or another in this densely packed throng struggling with baby carriages, social clots that stand and chatter wherever they collide - bursting with smiles, cheers, handshakes and kisses, and flag wavers, swaying the flag of a certain country left and right, proud of their lineage but oblivious to the head ducking of those around them. The streets around my building are barricaded off for blocks, allowing foot traffic that must have come from miles around judging from the multitudes that have descended.

It’s a tumultuous and exciting festival, crowded and thick with hundreds of colorfully clad people – and I am surprised that many of the women dress as if they’re straight out of a Univision skit.

Not able to withstand the torture of smelling without tasting, I decided on a fried plantain split down the tender middle and filled with a melted, spicy cheese. Almost decadent in taste, I offered a bite to my kids and they nibbled at it like it was asparagus warm off the stalk. More appealing to them were the dozens of unfamiliar fruit smoothies with chunks of guava, pineapple, tamarind and coconut. I also was beckoned, like a dowser with a rod, to the empanadas that are larger than an oversized fist clogged with spicy, hot sausage, mixed vegetables and cheese.

Smack dab in the middle the festival, the centerpiece is a stage set up from the back of an enormous trailer truck that has given performer after performer a vehicle to stand above the crowd and give it their all for about fifteen minutes apiece. Let me be the first to tell you that they brought plenty of excess wattage!

They opened the festival around 11:00AM on Saturday with Santana’s ‘Europa’ hovering over the sound system, followed by a few more of his smoother highlights. But then, it was a free for all in terms of talent and variety of act. A highlight for me were what I first thought was going to be a clown act. From my vantage point in my kitchen, high above the throngs, I can see behind the stage, and noting the clown costumes, I groaned under my breath. But, once onstage they pounded into a Latin musical number that just blew me away! Tight, horn-filled, they buckled the passersby’s with a rhythm designed to sway hips and nod heads. Simply put, outstanding!

The rest of the day (and night) found the stage with every sort of musical act from little girls in very pretty white dresses along with little boys in white ‘peasant’ clothes and straw hats, dancing and singing, then to traditional mariachi and samba acts, over to crooners and toward 6:00 or 7:00PM heavily doused with Latin rap performed by younger kids with the usual crotch grabbing and belt lines near their groins. Kind of tough to listen to in your apartment until 9:00PM – I could literally feel the bass from the system on my windowpanes and it made for a difficult ‘winding down’ time for my kids. Let alone, we had to switch channels multiple times in order to hear the television over the music.

All in all though, knowing it’s only until tonight (Sunday), and the pulsing stops at 9:00 (thank you), it was, and will continue to be today, a much welcome and staggering display of ethnic showcasing and diversity. I’d like to see it happen for many other ethnicities around the year.

Oh yes, it’s very cool to live here.

I found Cecelia on a free download site that I used to frequent every single day called I think (maybe incorrectly) that they now charge for downloads, but back about five or six years ago I used to download with a frenzy like a like a wino that found a lost case of Korbel. I was rabid and incessant, grabbing everything I could that held my interest, and my friends could attest to that fever. What a diverse and rich offering they had that chiseled and picked away at my musical base and inspired me to buy way more than I ever downloaded!

Bawdy, outrageous, brash, sexy, audacious … all are under performing quaint adjectives when trying to describe the incendiary firebomb known as Cecilia Cruz and the Wild Clam. Infectious by a mere one time listen, Cecilia grabs you by the short and curlies and makes you howl in pleasure for, please - more, more, more!

This has got it all senor and senorita, cracklin’ horns, driving harmonica, slithering guitar, congas, timpani’s and drums from the jungle, brazen, sensuous backing vocals and a killer, humping beat.

Listen at 3’20 for the shout out to Cream.

Dance you minions, I say dance!

She knocked 2/3 clave
And ordered champagne
She’s ready to party
Don’t wanna behave
She bends for her glass
And you’re melting for those tender thighs.

She shows you the meaning of lust and foreplay
She acts with experience, you want her to stay
Her mouth on your skin
Drawing pictures of rivers from dark until morning light.

She says "What's that number?"

Crazy Salsa
Have you found yourself needing a sizzling Latin drum fix? My friends, you may listen right here. You and the significant other need this pronto!

Liberating the spirit, free flowing and outrageous in joy one cannot remain in touch with reality while hands and waist part the waves around you in wild abandon. Smile firmly affixed; sing praise to Bacchus with a golden goblet of sangria! Even properly debauched you now have only a timorous taste of Cecilia.

Sadly, I don’t know enough about the band, but I did in fact find a web site! I have vowed to all that is holy in music that I must see Cecilia if they ever venture to my part of the universe. For now, I bask in the heat of what I can.

For me, it’s back down to the whirl of the crowd to eat and experience authentic Latin performances! Adios!

Cecilia Noel and The Wild Clam: 9069
Cecilia Noel and The Wild Clam: Crazy Salsa
Available: On
her web site

Addendum: Heads up! Just hours after I wrote this post, my friend Jeff over at
AM Then FM, wrote a comment connecting Cecilia and Colin Hay! Wha? I read about them touring together while looking at her site, but never connected the two. He's written a fine post about Colin and Cecilia that highlights the two of them on a remake of Colin's Men at Work number 'Down Under'. Both a track from the album and a video with yet another remake of the same tune. Thanks Jeff!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vinyl Record Day

Today, August 12th, we celebrate the birth of the phonograph.

131 years ago today the first phonograph ripped its way out of the birth canal, leaving behind a sparkling, hemorrhaging wake and an unprecedented impact on mankind’s communication consciousness.

To celebrate in an appropriate fashion, the good DJ over at The Hits Just Keep On Coming, has for the second year, refereed an all-star tribute made up of those blogs, which are held in high esteem among their peers, to showcase all things vinyl. I’m proud to say that I am among those participating.

This year, for my part, I am showcasing from among my abnormally large and passionate collection, the slightly odd cover. The cover skewed in bad taste. The cover that made me wrinkle my brow wondering ‘What the heck were they thinking?’ A few so out of the usual mainstream. Some are simply bad, some are tasteless and a few off the wall. Some simply appealed to the collector in me. Yet, for me, they all have one thing in common.

I could never forgive myself if I threw them away. Such is my passion for vinyl.

Nothing like a little self-promotion. Herbie did it in 1971. Jazz leaning toward pop, this also had the genius of Duane Allman throughout. Luckily, Duane didn’t have to stand next to Herbie’s sweaty flute.

I had to have it. I didn’t know, I didn’t ask, I just paid something like $2.50 at the counter, walked home, put it in the bin and never listened to it.

You have to look really close into the slice of apple pie to see why this cover was so coveted. I never opened this and still don’t know what the band sounds like, but that’s not the point – I own it.

A new entry, from 2006, and another that I bought on cover lust alone. I mean, I’m also passionate about baseball, but I never once saw a picture of Yaz or Dewey or Ortiz lick their bat. Had to have it and keep it.

The Scorpions had a few, back in the 80’s, that had us vinyl kiddies (and those just browsing the store bins) staring, laughing and wondering if we missed the deeper meaning. I’m not sure there is.

In case you need more, another Scorpions that elicited gasps from our parents. Unless, of course, we hid it until we went to our room, hiding the album behind an innocuous white-bread album.

Speaking of offensive, how about the Nuge? Loved the high power, the madman persona and the metal god angst. But, this? High art, indeed.

Bjork from 1997. And they cried out in anger over Yoko?

A very rare, round disk packaging of the Small Faces. Again, never opened it, but when given to me for free I almost bounced with joy.

Again, one I own just for the thrill of the cover. However, I have listened to this due in large part to Nelson who went through his P.J. Harvey phase.

A portrait of the champion of plastic surgery - second only to Joan Rivers. I also at one time owned the music store stand-up cardboard cut-out that I left in my apartment hallway. Someone, in their terror, or good taste, hijacked one night after a party.

Roy Wood as an artist. Even for glam he was always ‘out there’ for me. But, a cover I could never part with.

ManOWar. Always with the misogynist covers! Always in bad taste! But, they’re always so over the top that you have to laugh.

Just as I did in last year’s celebration, I’d like to now feature a few of my rare Beatles related disks. Don’t bother to bid – though I need the cash, I would never let them go.

The first bootleg. Breath and stand in awe as I did when I picked it up for about $50 as a kid.

The alternative White Album. Rare, but can be had if you look around a bit. The bootleg has been bootlegged many a time. But, this is the original.

The John and Yoko classic ‘Two Virgins’. A real prize for me. I have TWO of these unopened! I’ll spare you the front cover showing the private parts and show you a rock star bum. Outrageous in its time and a must-have for Lennon fans.

After being forced to repackage, they smartly decided upon a brown bag approach. Again, I also have TWO of these unopened.

I’m not qualified to critique an avant garde artist, so I never understood Yoko’s approach of putting the bloodied glasses of her assassinated husband on the cover of her album called ‘Season Of Glass’. But, there it is.

And now, for totally frivolous reasons, I present a small sampling from my ‘off the wall’ collection.

Get it? I ‘dig’ chicks? Get it?

Let’s close out with a hearty ‘Aloha!’ from Jimmy in Hawaii during the festive Christmas holiday. A ‘must own’, never to be throw away disk of goodness.

Be sure to get out there, beginning with The Hits Just Keep On Coming portal, and celebrate with all, who are enjoying the 131st anniversary of the phonograph during Vinyl Appreciation Day!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes

Black Moses has fallen.

Isaac Hayes:
Walk On By
Isaac Hayes: Hyperbolicsyllablecsesquedalymistic
Hot Buttered Soul [1969]

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Joan Armatrading

Joan has always been a treasured choice of artist to me. One of those artists that you smile about because she’s so inverse from the banality of the “he done me wrong” female artists that pop in and out of the landscape every so often with a minor hit or two only to become an answer to a trivia question a year later.

Personally, she’s what I classify with the adjectives intelligent, reliable, sensitive, temperamental, sophisticated, gifted and wholly entertaining.

She had such an eclectic string of memorable tracks among her albums that it confounds me why she isn’t on the lips of those who make lists of the most influential female artists. “Me, Myself, I”, “I’m Lucky”, “Drop The Pilot” and “The Messenger” are but the first few that come to mind. She’s a sparkling treat when needing a stew of sensitivity and thought.

Presenting two songs of love, one throbbing and unanswered, the other wicked and erotically painful.

Love And Affection
There is a tender, malleable interplay between the brutal hunger of lyrics, the sensual backing bass vocal, the warmth of the string arrangement and a sax that puts emphasis on, and beseeches, for the deepest and basest desire we all so desperately pray for and so commonly call a “soul-mate”.

Desperate in its honesty and delicate in its sensuality, this is an anthem for the unrequited romantic who knows painfully well that even while in the company of others, they are desperately alone. I also feel that this is one of the best opening lines I've ever heard.

I am not in love
But I'm open to persuasion

East or West
Where's the best
For romancing
With a friend
I can smile
But with a lover
I could hold my head back
I could really laugh
Really laugh

Thank you
You took me dancing
'Cross the floor
Cheek to cheek
But with a lover
I could really move
Really move
I could really dance
Really dance

Now if I can feel the sun
In my eyes
And the rain on my face
Why can't I
Feel love

Just make love
With affection
Sing me another love song
But this time
With a little dedication
Sing it, sing it
You know that's what I like
Once more with feeling

(I Love It When You) Call Me Names
Joan could hammer it out as evidenced by this knocker that seems to me to be about the loving vice of pain. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong with my interpretation. What better way to spend a consensual and passionate round of love than to beat each other up?

I remember hearing this for the first time live (in Boston) and thinking “what a kickin’ guitar lead!”

Big woman
And a short, short man
And he loves it
When she beats his brains out

He's pecked to death
But he loves the pain
And he loves it
When she calls him names

She's wearing heavy leather with lace
He dresses up in cowboy taste
They punish then they think up a crime
It's their way of loving - not mine

I love it when you call me names!

Joan Armatrading: Love And Affection
From: Joan Armatrading [1976]

Joan Armatrading: (I Love It When You) Call Me Names
From: The Key [1983]

Random thoughts:

Is it just me, or does the music of The Cars seem surprisingly dated?

Props to Fusion 45 for the range that's presented. Always fun. And he's been requesting one of my fave Boston bands that I used to frequent - The Rings for a while now. It's coming!

Be ready August 12th for the annual "Vinyl Record Appreciation Society" hosted by the good DJ over at The Hits Just Keep On Coming.

Been addicted lately to Slingshot On The Bleachers. Fine, fine choice of tracks that's always fresh.

As usual, RIBS (Rhythms In Black Satin) keeps on taking more and more space on my download directory.

Looking for 70's and 80's albums? Babakazoo's Classic Groove is the stop to shop.

Could only be me, but I'm tired of downloading Blues albums with great reviews only to listen to them and find out that they're the same old, same old.

Finished Hope's Boy (A Memoir) by Andrew Bridge. Foster care memories that never go away. However, they do harden the heart enough to overcome and to eventually not just succeed, but to excel.

Lately, I'm listening to a lot of Big & Rich, Carly Simon, Motels, Association, Diana Krall, Killers, soundtrack to Aspects Of Love and thanks to my daughter's ever bubbly facination, Hanna Montana and Miley Cyrus. It is hilarious to hear my boys listening to Zepplin, Ozzy and Deep Purple as if they're new artists.

Before you leave the house in the morning, give a listen to WICN public radio, New England's Jazz & Folk station. Never get tired of being surprised and asking myself "Who does that?"

Saw Journey to the Center of the Earth - 3-D. Very entertaining and worth the price of admission!

Scored one more from my list to the right titled "What I'm (unsuccessfully) searching for" - The Skatt Brothers and "Walk The Night". Coming to this blog soon.