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Music: The Cribs Perform ‘Men’s Needs’ (video)

by on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

The Cribs 'Men's Needs'I am ashamed to confess that I am a Johnny-come-lately to this group. In fact, I only discovered them a few days ago through a Tweet by Edwyn Collins. And so seven years after its initial release, the song finally enjoys heavy rotation in my crib.

This English trio — formed in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in 2002 — consists of three brothers, two of which are twins. To date, the group has released five albums, most of which enjoyed critical acclaim. As if being completely ignorant of their existence wasn’t bad enough, I then went on to discover that one of my favorite guitarists, Johnny Marr of The Smiths, had become a member of the group between 2008 and 2011.

For those who too may have drifted out of the ‘in’ and into the ‘out’ with regards to the new music scene, you will be in for a pleasant surprise here. ‘Men’s Needs’ is The Cribs’ biggest hit to date. It is hands down excellent.

The video was directed by Diane Martel and shot in Hollywood. It is brilliant in its simplicity — much like the promotional music videos that came out of the UK in the late 70s and early 80s. It simply consists of the band performing in front of a yellow backdrop, but with a naked young woman playing the mischievous saboteur and doing a pret-ty good job of poaching their spotlight.



MUSIC: David Bowie And Members Of Queen Describe Writing Their Hit Song, ‘Under Pressure’

by on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

David Bowie and Freddie MercuryThere has been much speculation over the years about who contributed what to the fabulous song, ‘Under Pressure’. Was it a Queen song — to which David Bowie merely lent his vocals, or was it a piece he and Queen wrote together, both musically and lyrically?

Being one of my all-time favorite songs, I set out to investigate. In order to avoid misinterpreting their quotes, and thus mistakenly discrediting anyone for their contributions to the song, I decided to just use their own words in recalling that 24-hour recording session:

David Bowie tells BBC Radio 1 how they came to meet up in Switzerland on that fateful day in 1981:

That was through Dave Richards, the engineer at the studio. I was in town, in Montreux, doing some other work there, and because I believe that Queen have something to do with the studio on a business level, I think it’s their studio or something like that and they were recording there, and David knew that I was in town and phoned me up and asked me to come down, if I’d like to come down to see what was happening, so I went down, and these things happen you know. Suddenly you’re writing something together, and it was totally spontaneous, it certainly wasn’t planned. It was, er, peculiar [laughs]

Queen’s Roger Taylor describes the evening:

Well, I think the process was we were all drunk and in the studio and we were, just for fun, we were playing all sorts of old songs, and then a couple Cream songs, and whatever came into our heads.

And ah … I think David [Bowie] said, “Look, hang on a minute, why don’t we write our own? We don’t have to play other peoples stuff.” And I think he started on the piano.

And then they made a pact that each one … We got this backing track down, and we got the riff, and we got the bass thing together. So we had this pretty good backing track. And Freddy and David would go in and have a go, and just sing what came into their heads. But one wasn’t allowed to listen to the other. It was quite amusing. And this sort of went through the night, and then we had this sort of strange track at the end of it. 

Queen’s Brian May reflects on the recording in a Guitar World Magazine interview:

“David was living in Switzerland, where we were recording in a studio we owned at the time [Mountain Studios] in Montreux. He basically just popped in to see us. Freddie had met him before. We all had a little chart and then went straight in the studio and started playing around. We played a few old songs and then something new started to happen and we said, “Okay, let’s try and record this.” It was a truly spontaneous thing. We felt our way through a backing track all together as an ensemble. And then David brought up an unusual idea for creating the vocal. He was kind of famous for writing lyrics by collecting different bits of paper with quotes on them. And we did a corresponding thing as regards writing the top line for the song. When the backing track was done, David said, “Okay, let’s each of us go in the vocal booth and sing how we think the melody should go – just off the tops of our heads – and we’ll compile a vocal out of that.” And that’s what we did. Some of the original bits even made it onto the record. Freddie going “b-b-b-boom-ba,” that scat singing stuff, was part of the initial track he went in and did off the top of his head. Odd isnt it? That’s why the words are so curious, some of them, anyway. There was a point where somebody had to take control, and I think it’s fair to say that David took the reins and decided that he wanted to rationalize the lyrics and then say what he felt they should say.”

David Bowie fields a question about the song from a fan on his website in 2004:

The song was written from the ground up on the night I visited their studio. I believe the riff had already been written by Freddie and the others so then we jointly put together the different chord sections to make it a cohesive piece of music. Then Freddie and I came up with our individual top line melodies. So when you hear Freddie sing, that’s what he wrote and when you hear me sing, that was mine. Then we worked on the lyrics together. I still cannot believe that we had the whole thing written and recorded in one evening flat. Quite a feat for what is actually a fairly complicated song.

When Bowie says, “the riff had already been written by Freddie and the others,” I’m assuming he is crediting Freddie and the band with that famed bass line.

But Queen’s bass player, John Deacon, was quoted on two separate occasions after the song’s release crediting Bowie for the bass line:

“Freddie and David had been friends for a long time, and he just came in to the studio we were in and we did a jam session. The song itself is mainly David’s and Freddie’s idea, but we were all included in the credits. It was an interesting experience, because David wrote the bass-line, he’s responsible for it. He’s a talented man, and that song is one of those that I really like.” ~1982

“On the album, the track was credited to Bowie and Queen, but in fact it was essentially Freddie, although all contributed. The bass line came from David, it took me a certain time to learn it. But there was also a strong influence from Brian for the middle part. It was an interesting experience which we might do repeat if we have a chance with David and other people.” ~1984

Bowie’s and Deacon’s conflicting memories — crediting the other rather than themselves — probably gives some degree of insight into just how collaborative this effort really was.

One of the most brilliant aspects of ‘Under Pressure’ — which incidentally became an instant #1 hit — was the sheer diversity in the top line vocal melodies. Because Bowie and Mercury agreed not to listen to each other sing their respective visions of the verses and chorus, each of these gifted melody-men enjoyed full freedom to pursue his own unique ideas, unencumbered by the direction the other was taking. And when they finally brought together Bowie’s and Mercury’s visions the song achieved a rare degree of melodic complexity. Each one’s unique vision was not only as strong as the other’s, they were ingeniously complimentary.

Due to their respective touring schedules, neither Bowie nor Queen were available to appear in the song’s video. Instead the video was a composite of stock footage of packs of people hurrying to and from their jobs (interlaced with silent film clips depicting zombies and mental madness). It then cuts to footage of building demolitions, explosions, then to Wall Street, unemployment, food lines, riots … And just when things seem extremely bleak, it cuts to youthful festival and concert goers — to smiles and kisses and hope. The video has been said to celebrate “the pressure-cooker mentality of a culture willing to wage war against political machines.”

Roger Taylor insists it is about love: “Everybody laughed when they asked what ‘Under Pressure’ was all about. It’s quite simply about love, which is the most un-cool, un-hip thing.”

I have always interpreted the song as a call to recalibrate our society’s moral compass — a plea for compassion.



Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

Bah bah bah bah bah bah
Bah bah bah bah bah bah

That’s OK!
It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out!
Pray tomorrow takes me higher
Pressure on people
People on streets

Do do do bah bah bah bah
Chipping around
Kick my brains round the floor
These are the days
It never rains but it pours
People on streets
People on streets

It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out!
Pray tomorrow takes me higher higher higher
Pressure on people
People on streets
Turned away from it all
Like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
Keep coming up with love
But it’s so slashed and torn
Why why why?
Love love love love

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love give love give love?
Give love give love give love give love give love?
Because love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure … pressure

Reggae MUSIC: Marcia Griffiths Sings ‘Gypsy Man’

by on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 1:02 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Marcia Griffiths began performing live in Kingston, Jamaica as an early teenager in the 1960s, and her inspirational shows quickly incited a music industry feeding frenzy to sign her.

At the age of fifteen, her father struck a deal for her with famed Record Producer Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd from Studio One. Coxsone immediately arranged for her to record duets with both Tony Gregory and Bob Marley, but the first of her future hits wouldn’t come until several years later.

One of Studio One’s top singers/songwriters/producers, Bob Andy, took an interest in her, and the two recorded and performed many songs together, spawning hits that enjoyed great commercial success in Jamaica. In 1970, the two released Nina Simone’s ‘Young, Gifted and Black‘, and it topped the Jamaican charts, and also spent twelve weeks in the UK’s Top 5.

In 1974, she recorded a rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Gypsy Woman’, entitled ‘Gypsy Man’, for her Sweet Bitter Love album. This album would be her last solo effort for some time to come. She and her two female vocalists, Rita Marley — wife of Bob Marley — and Judy Mowatt, performed in New Kingston that summer, and Bob Marley was so blown away by the performance that he invited the three to sing harmonies for him as members of the Wailers. 

Marcia, Rita and Judy became known as Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, and Marcia would continue recording and performing with Marley from 1974 until his tragic death in 1981.

From child sensation, to a successful adult recording artist, to a member of Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, to pursuing a successful solo career afterwards, Marcia Griffiths is often dubbed as the ‘Queen of Reggae’.

Gypsy Man is a song that not only illustrates her beautiful voice, but exemplifies the amazing reggae renditions of American soul music being recorded in Jamaica at that time.



MUSIC Video: The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’ Reflects A Period Of Economic Unrest, That Has Come Full Circle

by on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1981, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policies — marked by austerity, deregulation, union-busting, and privatization — pummeled the economy with an 11.3% unemployment rate, and riots erupted literally everywhere in the UK, spreading from city to city, town to town. This was the political climate in which The Specials released their amazing 3-song EP, with ‘Ghost […]

Music VIDEO: Stephen Marley feat. Damian Marley & Buju Banton Perform ‘Jah Army’ (DJ Res-Q Edit)

by on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

This is a fabulous reggae song by singer/producer/songwriter/and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Marley. Stephen has been a member of the Marley-sibling band The Melody Makers since 1979, when he was just seven years old. Before then, he and his older siblings Ziggy and Cedella used to dance and sing onstage with their father, Bob Marley and the […]

Music VIDEO: Jessie Baylin Performs ‘Hurry Hurry’ Live In The Studio on KCRW

by on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 3:57 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Nashville-based Jessie Baylin melds Pop, Jazz, Blues, and Western in a way that evokes the sounds of Burt Bacharach & Dionne Warwick with hints of KD Lang and Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. And yet, she still has her own unique sound. Beautiful music, resonant voice, … I love it! The single, “Hurry Hurry,” is from the […]

MUSIC: Ziggy Marley, Chuck D, And Linda Perry Release Catchy Occupy-Inspired Reggae Tune

by on Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music, Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Inspired by the Occupy movement, Ziggy Marley, 4 Non-Blondes’ Linda Perry, and Public Enemy’s Chuck D recently collaborated in the studio, producing a very catchy reggae song, entitled “Can You Feel It?”  Inspirational political songs, these days, seem few and far between. Too often the lyrics come off as preachy and amateurish, and fail to provoke any passion or soul. […]

Music Video: Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers Perform Their Hit ‘Look Who’s Dancing’ Live

by on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

I’d long forgotten about this amazing upbeat reggae tune from Bob Marley’s eldest son’s 1989 album, One Bright Day.  A wake amidst a torrential downpour couldn’t bring you down with this song playing in the background. What a melody! What a performance!  Recorded live on “Sessions At West 54th” in 1999, here is Ziggy Marley & the Melody […]

Music VIDEO: Throwing Muses Perform ‘Not Too Soon’ Live In Dusseldorf

by on Friday, May 18, 2012 at 12:40 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

From the 1991 album The Real Ramona, the song ‘Not Too Soon’ was penned by singer/songwriter Tanya Donelly. She left Throwing Muses shortly thereafter, taking bass player Fred Abong with her, to form the 2-time Grammy-nominated band, Belly. Belly’s debut album, Star, featured the huge radio/Mtv hit ‘Feed the Tree‘. After Tanya’s departure, Kristin Hersh, the other half of the Throwing Muses […]

70s Disco Icon Donna Summers Dead At 63, After Battle With Cancer

by on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

TMZ is reporting that five-time Grammy Award winning singer Donna Summers has died after a battle with lung cancer.  Love to Love You Baby (1975): [youtube][/youtube] On The Radio (1979): [youtube][/youtube]