Today marks the 33rd anniversary of Elvis’s leaving the building, so to speak. Celebrations and Elvis-themed events took place all week, at Graceland and around Memphis. When I visited the Land of Elvis in May 2008, I was very impressed and the fond memories of my trip remain. While I really liked Graceland as a house, especially the outside architecture and how time stood still with all the 70’s stylish (read: tacky) decor, the thing that impressed me most was the Trophy Room at the back of the house. It was more than a room, as it had cases and cases of his outfits, many of his gold records on the wall, posters from his films, video monitors with concert footage, and much more Elvis memorabilia. Visitors walk around with small hand-held monitors and headphones to guide them through every step of Graceland. It’s a testament to the vast catalog of Elvis music, his extensive film work, and the unmeasurable influence he had on music and culture. Long live the King!
Below, is a short film about the Graceland Trophy Room, where Elvis’s jumpsuits and gold records are on display.
I saw gold records of some of Elvis greatest hits close up, and here are just a few of those songs.
Don’t Be Cruel
In the Ghetto
At the Rock & Soul Museum in Memphis, there was more Elvis memorabilia on display, including one of his guitars and, encased in plastic, the organ on which Suspicious Minds was composed. Below, pictures I took with my cell phone. Of course, visitors are instructed not to touch anything, but I could not refrain from leaning over and touching the organ for a quick second. Plus, my friend and I were the only people at the museum at the time, so I knew I probably wouldn’t get busted.
And here is Elvis performing Suspicious MInds.
When the compilation Elvis 30 #1 Hits was released in 2002, it included one “new” song, the JXL remix of “A Little Less Conversation.” It was a hit, even with the kids who perhaps had heard of Elvis, but didn’t know any of his songs.
One year later, realizing that one collection of Elvis hits wasn’t enough, 2nd to None was released, and included the Paul Oekenfold remixed “Rubberneckin’,” an attempt to re-create the excitement of JXL’s fantastic remix from the previous year. It was so-so.
Check it out below.
On July 13, 1985, the first Live Aid concert brought together musical artists and fans from around the world to raise money for famine relief in African nations and raised $127 million. Thousands gathered at London’s Wembley and Philadelphia’s JFK stadiums and millions of people watched on T.V.
Singer Bob Geldof formed Band Aid to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 1984. His fundraising efforts led to the creation of the Live Aid concert the following year. A performance of “We are the World” wrapped up the historic day.
Do you remember these moments?
U2 – Bad
The Police – Roxanne
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody and Radio Gaga
Cyndi Lauper, with her 80s pop classics like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Time After Time, and She Bop, had us dancing and singing along; however, it isn’t until this last decade with 2003’s album of standards At Last, 2005’s The Body Acoustic, and 2008’s dance extravaganza Bring Ya to the Brink, that she’s had listeners realizing how great she really is. Her voice is a natural force and she can really hit those notes. Not everyone can sing “At Last” but Cyndi can, and her version is my favorite.
Now she’s signing the blues. With her recently released Memphis Blues, she pays homage to the Delta and is joined by great musicians, including the blues legend B.B. King.
As soon as you hear the opening bars of Charlie Musslewhite’s harmonica on the first track, “Just Your Fool,” you know you’re in for something pretty cool. The playful piano of Allen Toussaint is featured on three tunes; B.B. King lends his guitar and vocals on “Early in the Mornin’,” and Ann Peebles duets with Lauper on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” one of the standout songs on the album. Her best partner though, is Jonny Lang, the 29-year-old who has always been talented beyond his years. Their vocals and Jonny’s guitar licks make “How Blue Can You Get?” and “Crossroads” sizzle. Her solos “Down So Low,” “Romance in the Dark,” and “Shattered Dreams” are scorchers!
Blues music, as does the city itself, brings out the best in Lauper. She dedicates this album to “the early blues artists who traveled through the cross roads, suitcase in hand, to Memphis.” On Memphis Blues, Lauper has reinvented herself and has confirmed her true artistry yet again. She’s singing those blues as though she’s lived them!
2009 I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
2008 I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry
2007 Umbrella – Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
2006 Do I Make You Proud – Taylor Hicks
2005 Inside Your Heaven – Carrie Underwood
2004 Burn – Usher
2003 This Is the Night – Clay Aiken
2002 Hot in Herre – Nelly
2001 Lady Marmalade – Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya & Pink
2000 Be with You – Enrique Iglesias
Enrique Iglesias is currently on the top of the Billboard Latin charts with his newest hit
Cuando Me Enamoro (When I Fall in Love), which features Juan Luis Guerra of 4.40.
Cuando Me Enamoro
Coincidently, but not surprisingly, Enrique was also on the top of the charts ten years ago today with his English-language smash hit Be With You.
Be With You
Sarah McLachlan’s Laws of Illusion is her first studio album of new material in seven years. Upon hearing the first song “Awakenings,” her fans will feel like an old friend-one with a soothing and instantly recognizable voice-and has come back into their lives. Even though we don’t hear from Sarah McLachlan very often, it’s as if she never left and her return is always welcomed and worth the wait.
The thing about Laws of Illusion though, is that it could’ve easily been released in the late 1990s; very little has changed about McLachlan’s style of songs and their delivery. But that’s okay with Sarah lovers, of which there are many.
Critics would say that musicians should show musical growth with each new release; however, with McLachlan, it seems that her own personal growth-tackling and recovering from life’s downs-is what motivates her to move us so directly and seemingly without effort. And that’s what a music lover wants from a listening experience-to be moved by someone’s voice or a songs’ instrumentation. McLachlan still has a skillful sense of song construction and a haunting, yet soothing, voice. And that’s we love about her.
On Laws of Illusion, her voice is as strong as ever, and the album, like all her albums, will grow on you with every listen. There are several standout tunes; “Awakenings” is a great starter and the song that follows, “Illusions of Bliss,” has more acoustic guitar than keys-a bit uncommon for a McLachlan tune-and it’s quite refreshing to hear it here. “Loving You Is Easy” is peppy and catchy, and as close to a pop song as we’ve heard from Sarah. With its heavy banging on the piano, it’s the happiest tune of this set. (Watch the video below.) “U Want Me 2” and “Bring on the Wonder” are nice closers.
“Forgiveness” has the strongest lyrics, including the lines: “You ask for forgiveness, you’re asking too much. I have sheltered my heart in a place you can’t touch…I don’t want your deceiving smile standing at my door.” After hearing this one, you’ll hit the repeat button. This is the break-up song of this album.
Laws of Illusion is another strong collection from McLachlan.
Welcome back, Sarah! Please don’t keep us waiting another seven years; we need your familiar and soothing voice.
1979: Hot Stuff by Donna Summer
1978: Shadow Dancing by Andy Gibb
1977: Dreams by Fleetwood Mac
1976: Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney & Wings
1975: Love Will Keep Us Together by The Captain & Tennille
1974: Billy, Don’t Be a Hero by Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods
1973: My Love by Paul McCartney & Wings
1972: Candy Man by Sammy Davis, Jr
1971: It’s Too Late/I Feel the Earth Move by Carole King
1970: The Long and Winding Road/For You Blue by The Beatles
1989: Rock On by Michael Damian
1988: One More Try by George Michael
1987: With or Without You by U2
1986: Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston
1985: Everything She Wants by Wham!
1984: Let’s Hear It for the Boy by Deniece Williams
1983: Flashdance … What a Feeling by Irene Cara
1982: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
1981: Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes
1980: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.
Stevie Nicks was born on May 26, 1948. Her work with Fleetwood Mac and her solo career have collectively produced over forty Top 50 hits.
Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975, along with her then boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham. Fleetwood Mac’s second album 1977’s Rumours produced four U.S. Top 10 singles. Nicks’ “Dreams” which was the band’s first and only U.S. number one, remained at #1 on for over 30 weeks. That album has sold over 33 million copies worldwide.
Nicks went solo in 1981, She has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and, with Fleetwood Mac, won the Grammy for Album of the Year for Rumours. As a member of Fleetwood Mac, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Love Me or Leave Me
2009: Boom Boom Pow by The Black Eyed Peas
1999: No Scrubs by TLC
1989: Like a Prayer by Madonna
Tracy Chapman was born on March 30, 1964. She is a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy-winning musician. She’s been playing guitar and composing since the age of eight!
Happy Birthday, Tracy!
Watch some of her performances below:
Ringo Starr’s new album Y Not is rock and roll at its best. The former Beatle took the helm on this album. As producer, along with Bruce Sugar, Ringo has created perhaps the most personal album of his solo career. This new album is a wonderful way for Ringo to begin his sixth decade in music.
Ringo’s All-Star bands have always been composed of talented musicians. This time is no different, but he’s added guest vocals and instrumentalists, including the only other living Beatle Paul McCartney, which make this album quite special.
Ringo leads a smaller group of friends, including Dave Stewart, Steve Dudas, and the great riffer Joe Walsh on guitar, Michael Bradford on bass, the multi-talented Don Was on bass and upright bass, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench on keyboards. Guests include Ben Harper, Richard Marx, and Joss Stone on vocals, and Ann Marie Calhoun on violin and Tina Sugandh on tabla and chanting. Paul McCartney adds his bass to the inspiring “Peace Dream” and his unmistakable vocals to the wonderful “Walk With You.” Ben Harper does background vocals on the first and both of these tunes are definitely album highlights.
Ringo starts things off with “Fill In The Blanks,” on which he plays both drum and piano and Joe Walsh does background vocals, guitar, and bass. Ringo’s vocals on “The Other Side Of Liverpool” and “Mystery Of The Night,” co-written by Richard Marx, are full of panache. Marx provides background vocals to his composition. “Time” also has a terrific sound that features Ringo singing and playing keyboards along with drums. Benmont Tench’s piano and Ann Marie Calhoun’s violin add a lot of substance to this song. The funky and soulful Josh Stone duets with Ringo on “Who’s Your Daddy.” And it’s a rollicking closer to this energy-filled album.
Y Not proves that Ringo Starr is still performing at the top of his game. And that’s great for the former Beatle, who was often overshadowed by you-know-who and you-know-who. Y Not is a real winner!
The talented and prolific pianist Hiromi is back with Place to Be. It seems that with each release, Ms. Uehara only gets better and stuns the listener with her trademark virtuosity of fingers soaring all over the piano keys. Hiromi composed ten of the twelve tracks, and in her liner notes, she explains her thinking behind the unique song titles.
Place to Be, Hiromi’s sixth album, is full of power and passion, and stirs the emotions of the listener. Trying to aptly describe her music and its effects with mere words is quite difficult. This listener will make a humble attempt at signaling out some of the stellar compositions on Place to Be.
Hiromi kicks things off with “BQE.” Named after NYC’s Brooklyn-Queens Expressway-it’s fast-paced and jammed packed with movement. It’s clear what she was going for with this tune. “Choux a la creme,” the second track, really showcases Hiromi’s deftness on the keys. Midway, there’s a playful duel between the keys and the bass. It’s simply fabulous! “Bern, Baby, Bern” is the shortest track on the album. It’s so fast-paced and dizzying (in a good way), that three minutes is all that’s needed.
“Somewhere” slows things down a little. With a lightness of touch, she creates a plaintive melody-a welcomed deviation from her usual. The eight track is a marvelous interpretation of “Pachelbel’s Canon.” Her improvisation of this classic seems so effortless, that it’s easy to forget it wasn’t originally composed this way.
Hiromi’s music is usually classified as jazz; however, it’s so much more than that. The passion and authority in her playing goes beyond genre as it transports the listener to another place. Hiromi and Place To Be are simply magnificent!
Take a look and a listen at Hiromi in action!
I’ve Got Rhythm
The Tom and Jerry Show
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946, in Sevierville, Tennessee. She is a Grammy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated, Tony Award-nominated, and Emmy Award-nominated singer-songwriter, author, actress, and philanthropist. Mostly, she is the Queen of Country!
She remains one of the most successful female artists in the history of country music, with 25 Number One singles and 41 Top Ten country albums. Dolly has the distinction of having performed on a Top Five country hit in each of the last five decades and is the only artist to score a Number One country single in each of the past four decades.
Visit Dolly’s official site: DollyPartonMusic.net
Sing it, Dolly!
Better Get To Livin’
Coat of Many Colors
Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers
9 to 5
For the first time, 33 of Janet Jackson’s global Number One hits, plus the new “Make Me,” are available together in a two-disc set. Number Ones takes us from the early days of “What Have You Done For Me Lately” and “Nasty” to her more recent work with her late brother Michael, Busta Rhymes, Blackstreet, Q-Tip, and Nelly.
Number Ones celebrates the career and creativity of one of the most successful and influential artists of our time. It spans more than 20 years of hits from Janet’s original albums-from her 1986 stellar breakthrough Control, which included five chart-toppers, to the most recent set Discipline.
Rhythm Nation 1814 was the best-selling album of 1990. Rhythm Nation 1814 contained “Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” “Escapade,” “Alright,” “Come Back to Me,” “Black Cat,” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” which all peaked within the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first and only album to achieve that feat. All these hits are here!
From the later albums, hits like “If,” “Together Again,” “All For You,” “All Nite (Don’t Stop), and “Someone to Call My Lover” are included. Other highlights are “Scream,” her only duet with her brother, “What’s it Gonna Be?!” with Busta Rhymes, and “Got ’Til It’s Gone” with Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell.
Number Ones is Jackson’s first greatest hits compilation since 1995, and is a must-have for Janet fans, especially those of us who had some of the earlier albums on cassette.
Janet Jackson Love Will Never Do (Without You) (live)
That’s The Way Love Goes
All For You
Phil Circle is a musician I first saw perform about eight years ago in what used to be the legendary CBGB’s in New York City. And I’ve been a fan ever since!
The Chicago native plays all the local clubs in and around the windy city and has a great onstage presence.
His most recent CD Minutes to Circle is an eleven-song set of original tunes. His voice and his guitar talent make this a great CD to listen to over and over again.
All the tunes are worth repeat listens, but I especially like “Surreal Life,” “Lipstick & Whiskey,” “Down to the Sea,” “There’s a River” (great guitar solo), and “Psychosis.” The last two tracks “Everything I Touch” and “Will You Go Lassie Go” have a touch of the Irish.
Take a listen to some of the tracks and check out Phil Circle’s performance calendar here: MySpace.com
And download individual songs or the whole disc here: Amazon.com
Teddy Pendergras, the R&B singer of “Love T.K.O.,” “Close The Door,” and “Turn Off The Lights,” has died of colon cancer. He had been confined to a wheelchair after a car accident at the young age of 31.
Aside from having a great baritone voice, he was also a drummer. He was part of the group Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, first as drummer, then as lead singer. Their signature hits include “Wake Up Everybody,” “The Love I Lost,” “Bad Luck,” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”
In my opinion, his voice and sexuality exuded in much the same way as Isaac Hayes, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye. His soulful and explosive passionate voice lives on.
Close The Door (Live)
Turn Off The Lights
Love T.K. O.