Posts Tagged ‘Soul’

BARRY WHITE

20 February 2011

I know of the “The Long Black Veil” because I dabbled a wee bit in the pub folk scene.  After I heard it a few times I asked whose song it was — a difficult question as I got a different answer each time!  The Chieftains, Nazareth, Lefty Frizzell, Dave Matthews — even Johnny Cash.

If you don’t know this song, you can get a pretty good idea of what it is like just from who has covered it!  The lyrics reinforce this; they are very story-telling, moral and folksy:

[D] Ten years ago on a cold dark night
There was [A] someone killed beneath the [G] town hall [D] light
There were few at the scene, but they all agree
That the [A] slayer who ran looked a [G] lot like [D] me
The judge said “Son what is your alibi
If you were [A]somewhere else then [G] you won’t have to [D] die ”
I spoke not a word though it meant my life
For I had [A] been in the arms of my [G] best friend’s [D] wife

She [G] walks these [D] hills
In a [G] long black [D] veil
She [G] visits my [D] grave
When the [G] night winds [D] wail
Nobody knows, [G] nobody [D] sees
[G] nobody [A] knows but [D]  me

The [D] scaffold’s high and eternity near
She [A] stood in the crowd and [G] shed not a [D] tear
But [D] sometimes at night when the cold wind blows
In a [A] long black veil she [G] cries o’er my [D] bones .

So – imagine my surprise to find “The Long Black Veil” covered by Barry White!

It was on one of my father-in-law’s CDs — a greatest hits compilation of all things.  I just had to give it a spin — and it could well be the soundtrack of the summer! This is now my favourite version, even though it is completely instrumental.  It is so perfectly dated, so wonderfully cheezy: early soul drumming, great fat bass guitar, soulful horns, lush strings, wah wah guitar.  They redid the tune like it was “Shaft“.

I found a link to buy this track for a few pence at Amazon — click here to do that or to listen to a free sample.  Some girl with an afro ought to sing an R&B version of this song based on Barry’s instrumental interpretation.  It instantly transported me back to the very hot summers of the early ’70s “Sigh”!  Check out Barry White in general for this summer – that’s what I might do myself.

I’m big enough and old enough now to be able to admit to Barry White being part of my life tapestry.  His stuff is interwoven into the fabric of growing up — I cannot say I ever bought a Barry White record, or that I know the names of his tunes or albums.  Still, though, he has a strong presence.

As soon as Barry sings, men go into lethario mode.  Barry meant seduction. Hence my ignorance of his work!

Now, it is nostalgia for the oranges, browns and beiges of the early 1970s, and the warmth that era evoked.  It also reminded me that it was the time of the afro, the tan leather jacket, big collars and flares.  That was the time when Black people in America styled themselves, and hustled and shuffled themselves into the mainstream media.  Polo-necks and medallions, side burns and Cuban heels — all appeal more to me than the image of a hoodie with his trousers pulled down with the gusset at the knee, and his underpants showing.  Just shows how wrong things can get!

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HUE AND CRY

22 February 2009

I first chanced upon the Labour of Love video back in the early 1990s, and from that I bought Hue and Cry albums — but I did not manage to catch any of their gigs — and I am not sure why.

I have always liked funk, soul, jazz — fat bass riffs, guitar chops, good vibe, fun tempos, interesting words, good singing, and there has been a good tradition around here for just that sort of thing.  Musically, Hue and Cry reminded me of Cado Belle or The Average White Band, but not vocally; Cado Belle had a female vocal (Maggie Reilly), and AWB sang falsetto like the Bee Gees!

There is a strong vocal tradition from these parts too — from the gravelly Dan McCafferty of Nazereth, or the legendary Frankie Miller, through the mumbling John Martyn, and the power of Paul Buchanan and Justin Currie, to the soulful rock voices of the likes of  Kim Beacon and Jimmy Dewar.

This is what set Hue and Cry apart — Pat Kane’s voice was unique; it was jazzy — almost Sinatra at times!

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Back then, there was a market for jazz-influenced stuff watered down for pop charts — Level 42, Nik Kershaw, Paul Young, Terence Trent D’Arby, Jamiroquai, The Blockheads, Chic, McFadden and Whitehead — and Hue and Cry.

Hue and Cry are back, but the market has changed.  Their new album is Open Soul — and if you liked them back in the day, this is more of the same. You could say that their old material doesn’t sound dated, or you could say the new album sounds as dated as their earlier stuff. The fact is they are still doing what they do — it has not changed.

If you liked them then, you will like them now. I did and I do.

The biggest problem back then was Pat Kane’s politics, or rather his approach to politics.

I personally do not think musicians should abuse their celebrity — they are merely entertainers. I should mention that I hate Bono, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and Sting for that same reason.

The shame of it is that I know this put a lot of people off the music — people actually chose not to allow Hue and Cry to entertain them! Pity really.

At the end of the day, Pat Kane is a really good singer.  I like his singing, and I like his songs.  His brother’s music is right up my street.  I have artists I adore, albums I love to bits, and there will be maybe one or two tracks I don’t like so much — track I delete from my MP3 player, y’know?  But — for me — Hue and Cry have not done a bad track.  Every track is good on Seduced and Abandoned, Remote, Stars Crash Down and Open Soul.

OK, there is a still a jazz market — but can Pat Kane’s Jazzy voice take on the massively popular Michael Bublé, Jamie Cullum, Harry Connick, Jr.James Morrison, Ray LaMontagne, and even locals Paulo Nutini and Leon Jackson? Rod Stewart and Sting have done the swing Jazz thing, but there’s no real market for soul or funk these days (sadly). On top of that (no pun intended), The Brothers Kane have gone baldy.  They are in their 40s now, and it shows — can thick-set bald men in suits appeal to the pop record buying kids? I doubt it.

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Dance has gone techno rather than disco.

Unless they change, and try to modernise — add beats or raps bits, I guess Hue and Cry will have to bank on being a come-back band — like Take That! — and bank on there being a market for nostalgia.  All they have to do is tap into their old fans again.

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I was a fan, and I still am.  The brothers from Coatbridge still deliver the goods in a world full of tedious, sad music.  Hue and Cry make me smile, it’s enjoyable and uplifting – – and what’s wrong with that?  They’ll never be a pop band, they are unlikely to have hit records, but they will sell-out gigs and they will make good records and video clips, and hopefully make a living.

It’s a vain hope, but I wish Glasgow would be more like New York in recognising home-grown talent — wouldn’t it be great if we had stars in the pavement or some hall of fame or something?

People of Glasgow — know what you have and have had, appreciate and support the amazing talent and celebrate bands like Hue and Cry! Come on!

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BEVERLEY KNIGHT

13 November 2007

Boys sometimes have to go along.  It’s a birthday — or Valentine’s — so you have to buy TWO tickets and “go along” to keep her happy, and keep her company.  This is called “romance”.

To be frank, that’s how this one started out.  She loves Beverley Knight, ever since she saw her on “Loose Women” ( a show she tries never to miss).  Beverley Knight did an “unplugged” version of  “No Man’s Land” and my wife was hooked from then on (despite the terrible out-of-tune guitar playing)!

[Embedded video clip from YouTube]

Surfing channels trying to
Fool my feelings it’s like they’re
Still resisting those
Little daemons
Try to leave it but they
Keep on playing over again

These four walls share my
Conversations
Wish I
Could tell someone but my
Voice keeps breaking
So ashamed that you’re still
Living rent free
In my brain
In my brain.


I’m saying I can’t move on.
Stumbling ’round
Hanging on
But going down
No man’s
No man’s land

People say keep your head up
Watch the sun rise and
Everybody has big advice for me
But all I want to know is
What the hell went wrong
Tell me what went wrong

No man’s
No man’s land
But I will rise to start again
I have no doubt
But I just don’t know when
Sometimes I can change anything
But then again…

So I got us tickets!  And, boy were my “Good Books” full of “Brownie Points”.

Sorted — er — except I would have to “go along”.  *Oh well*.

However, as it tuned out, I had a great time!  We both did — this woman can entertain!

[Embedded video from YouTube]

Head down to my toes
Everything is in place
My cup overflows
Mama’s settin’ the pace
Time’s the only thing I need
To help you feel like it should
Just a little piece of me
I ‘ain’t nothing but good

I’m sweet black butta
I gets chilled like a water fall
Turned on like a light switch
I gets hot like a late night phone call

Nothing goes to waste
I still got it in spades
Once you get a taste
You’ll be digging for days
I know exactly what to do
I got this down to a tee
This woman right in front of you
Is all that I’ve ever been!

Got me excited
My fuses have blown
You got me delighted now
Don’t leave me alone
You got me ignited
I’m ready to blow!
So much energy, I got plenty in store
Everyone is scared of me
I have done this before!

I’m sweet (yeah) Black butta baby (spread it all over you)
I’m sweet uh (yeah) Black butta baby (I’m nothing, I’m nothing)
I’m sweet uh (yeah) Black butta babe (spread it all over you)
I’m sweet sugar uh (yeah) Black butta baby (I’m nothing, I’m nothing)
I’m sweet yes! (yeah) Black butta baby (spread it all over you)
Oh I’m sweet yeah, Black butta, butta baby, (I’m nothing, I’m nothin)

You can read our  review of the gig at 2007/11/12/beverley-knight-at-the-abc/

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