Archive for April, 2011


                                                                   

I hear it increasingly

From my own mouth and that of others;

We will see” or

We shall see…” is part of the answer vernacular regularly.

This idiom expresses our collective growing uncertainty.

This blanket phrase covers many things,

You may have heard yourself say it;

We will see” is what people say when:

We are unsure.

Is what is polite instead of ignore.

We will see” is what people say who don’t truly believe;

Is what we tell ourselves so as not to give-up hope.

Is how we process trying times that challenge faith;

Is when we want things to turn-out right

Is what I think after prayer and as I say “good night”.

We shall see” is how to counteract when our intuition tell us “give up”.

Is the glue that keeps hope new

Is what your loyal lover says to you.

Is what some say when they want to let you down “easy”.

We will see…” is almost taking the easy exit out;

Is to question your circumstance indirectly.

Is doubtful.

Is ever-skeptical about the situation;

Is becoming all too common.

We shall see…” is when conditions aren’t just-right;

Is when “not yet” is insufficient.

Is when we test the waters,

When we narrowly believe;

When we protest disappointment.

Is body armor;

Is like a condom without a “plan B”.

” Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”   ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

I have a great feeling about the vibes I am now receiving.  One reason is that Harold Dow of the Dow Twins in New York City (which should BE a separate state by the way) sent me a link to a video late last week that changed my life.  I will not copy that link herein however.  Nope, but late on Easter Sunday afternoon, the following song began to play in my musical mind and got stuck there – another “tune wedgie”.  Ahh, the good old days of innocent television shows – so far as we could see – in black & white in the right-after-the-Beatles-landed era.

Life IS awesome, but I am unable to move towards living it to the fullest.  Please press the gold button on the right…

Well, you HAD to know that THIS was coming in the ever-never-moving- forward world of race in the “United” States of America, didn’t you?  Once again, It is “Monkey Time!”  (“Oh, we didn’t really mean it”, says Ms. Davenport)  It always amazes me how some people like to compare Black Americans to the Simeon as if there are NO white Simeons running around on the planet.

So exactly HOW stupid is THIS??  And did you read the LAME excuse this “woman” (Davenport) put out there?  She evokes “Christianity” and other bullshit “mistakes” she repents.  All of this during “Easter Week”, mind you.  Hmmmm. Welcome to the “Jimmy The Greek” Hall of Shame.  In past posts I TOLD you that the “Tea Party” is a closet euphemism for “Archie Bunker-styled racist bigots” – yes I did!  They are the voice for those who will NEVA get used to the idea that the majority of the elecorate chose Obama as President in the fall of 2008.  In this land, some people will never “get it”, and that is why I choose to now ignore them as I choose to stay agnostic in the Sidney Poitier way (read his book!).  

 But let’s write a little bit about it all here for fun, what do you say? OK?  There was Howard Cosell’s insensitivity, and many other instances where you wonder just what these people are thinking, if they have a brain at all?  Here a Caucasian female puts foot in mouth, proof that gender hath no sympathy and is often clothed behind a sexy scarf, lipstick and false boobs.

I still dance like that Major Lance, according to my friend, DJ Onasile! lol  “All about the “four-twenty”, y’all! Still one of my favorite songs of all times!  I must have been about eleven when this came out, and l-o-v-e-d “Shindig” !

As I was out getting some exercise over the weekend, it occurred to me that the “United” States of America will not recover from the divisiveness of the post-racial slavery times for about a thousand years.  Really!  The reason that I realized this is by looking at other, older civilizations/societies.  Take, for instance, the Russian, Slavic or even Roman/European or  long ago Mandarin civilizations.  It took them centuries before they woke-up to the wrongs of their past elders.  What makes “God Bless America” think that it will heal and move on any faster? Not.  But one thing is for sure (maybe), all the usual “suspects” like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and others who never really change anything, will jump into the debate-fray, collect ten-thou for being on TV “news” shows now once again, and we will continue to look like a society that cannot get out its own way to the rest of the world.

 

        One year ago, my favorite bartender , Laurien, through my then nightclub manager, Lacey, let me know that my best Nashville friend, Rodney Irvin, who I dubbed (and he accepted) “Roddawg”, had suddenly passed away at the mere age of forty-five. 

He was more than my ticket guy (assistant manager) at the Schermahorn Symphony and other events, he was a true friend from  the night at Applebees when he introduced himself and where we used to hang on those lonely days after I first moved here and was given the bum’s rush by an idiot employer.  He used to listen to me on the radio, and enjoyed R&B music seemingly much more than I, “for a white guy” lol  

The only disagreement we ever had was over Barry Bonds and whether he used “steroids” or not back in 2005 or so, at Applebees one evening.  I didn’t want to dignify the allegations, while wanting to give “the Brother” the benefit of the doubt, while Roddawg was adamant that Bonds “cheated” – even though as a St. Louis Cardinal fan, I don’t remember Rodney demeaning his “boye” Mark McGuire, or Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa with the same fervor – maybe that was why I didn’t want to discuss the divisive matter with him.  I brushed him off as he left “Apples”  that night, because he kept insisting Bonds was “guilty”, and figured it was just another “because he is black” instance. Here is Bonds, the Pittsburgh Pirate, popping-up as usual back then:

Well now with Bonds, convicted on one count of “obstructing justice”, the jury “hung” on the perjury and other more serious counts, I suppose we can move on to better uses of the judicial system.  So as I washed my dishes after dinner tonight, I said, “Are you satisfied now?” to Rodney, posthumously and with a smile.

In my heart-of-hearts, I don’t care about which baseballer of that era used the chemicals of the hour to try to enhance his stroke.  I think that every era has its perceived “magic pill”.  From Babe Ruth and beer to Reggie Jackson’s day and whatever hallucinogenic they did in the 1970s.  I just hope that Roger Clemens gets tagged with something now, otherwise the “great white baseball rocket hope” will live in denial the rest of his days. 

Roddawg, I still do not know the cause of your demise or why you suddenly died, and am still trying to make sense of it all. Sometimes I wish I could trade places with you.  After all, you had a lovely wife and the perfect American family with two kids, a boy and a girl.  I wonder why I am left here to struggle and try to still figure it all out, when you seemingly “had it all”?  I wish you were still around to know that I finally found my soul-mate, Nina, and plan to travel overseas.  I guess what I am trying to express is that while there are no Icelandic volcanoes spewing ash clouds this spring, the Earth is quaking and humans are still mistaking while I and others who knew you still miss you and “the Garagemahal” on many occasions. Why In The World Am I Here?

 Therefore, I want to tell you that, in a way, you were right about Barry Bonds, as with some other issues we tried to answer – and as usual I was correct too; so we’d toast a “beverage” or two and agree even though originally we disagreed.  I love you, ‘Bro…my “brotha from anotha mutha…” lol

 

So there I was, cleaning my lonely Pajama Bar on the shore of southern New Jersey, when suddenly a small entourage appeared centered around one striking figure.  As they ordered their beverages and settled into their framework and my hospitality (re-opening just for them) I learned that if you want to check out a new talented lady who has “soul”, then look no further than the debut self-titled album straight out of the “860”, Connecticut’s own Arika Kane [BSE Recordings TM-9706].

Born into a musical family where her parents jammed genres from Rock and Roll to Broadway show tunes on a regular basis (father playing guitar), Arika is keeping the tradition alive with hopes to be able to give-back to them some “Help” as she said during our interview.

My CD has thirteen songs with eleven originals, two covers and two “bonus tracks” which are remixed versions of the first single, “BCUZ I LUV U”. I dig the House Mix best, and I hope the CD you get has these extra stanzas as well.

Some may describe her essence as cerulean-eyed, but her irises are actually brown, and therefore, in the true Jimi B. Book of WWRL Super Sixteen Surveys from the sixties she is a true nouveau soul sistah through-and-through; it emanates from her voice. She has the vivacity and pneuma to be very successful if she keeps the innate Leo tenacity in and out of the studio when she’s “just chillin!” as she told me about her opposite intensely perfectionist “twin” persona when I asked for her most amusing or quirky vignette relating to the composing of this album.

She changes pace gracefully, track-by-anima-track along the experience. I even saw photos of her and superstar legends Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson at the BSE Recordings website!

Here is some of my Q& A with Arika:

Me: Your Album is very R&B/Hip Hop-sounding like [it should be on] Hot 97 New York City. Who are you musical influences?

AK: I love India Arie for her positivity and message; Mariah Carey, because I think she is amazing; Shania Twain because she is really has so much soul even though she sings Country music; but I got to say that my number one musical influence is the great one, the great Michael Jackson! His message and creativity really inspired me along with my family.

Me: Let’s play my game of “artist association” ok? I name an artist and you say the first thing that comes to your mind about them:

AK: OK!

Me: Well you already addressed that Mariah Carey is one of your inspirations and I was gonna go there first, so we are on the same page already, so how about Tina Marie?

AK: “Rebellious”.

Me: Hey that’s good because at her height she was definitely that having hooked up with one of the all-time rebels in Rick James! Good one. Ok how about Aalyiah?

AK: “an Angel”.

Me: For true, Girl. Some of your selections evoke her memory.

AK: Ooh, Thanks!

Me: and finally, some one who I hear on “4 The Lovers”, how about Tamia?

AK: Oooh, I love Tamia! She is so soulful and definitely an influence of mine!

Me: I thought so! “4 The Lovers” is in the same key as what Tamia sings her songs, so it was a no-brainer, Arika.

I think Arika has done her share of chillin’ with the homies, and those experiences have shaped her body of work thus far.

Whenever I do one of these reviews, I tend to “live with” the album for a couple of weeks; playing it in my personal home “A” rotation during most of my waking hours, especially when the singer or group is new to me. It is a fun time having Arika over to my home studio for a while!

In covering Anita Ward’s 1979 TK Records disco classic, “Ring My Bell”, they first add a little taste of Junior Mafia by whispering “Arika Kane, Arika Kane” over the intro notes, and then slow the song down significantly to the point you can finally understand some of the verses spit on the original classic. Next is a classic R&B sound from start to finis on “Here With Me” as AK croons the story of not quite being satisfied with her lover, “Baby I need you here with me/Or else I’d rather be lonely…” she sings, and since I had a summit with my former to express just the same sentiment a year ago, I second that emoticon.

Later comes an excellent female-perspective rendition of Bobby Brown’s “Rock Witcha” which she told me came about when she and Producer /CEO of BSE Lou Humphrey were listening to the radio one day and the song came on. She instantly vibed with it and Lou said, “We can do it!” They recorded it in a day, she said. I like that playfully shy laugh at the end too. Next, my personal fave on the CD, the strong song ”Tonight I’m UR’s”. A plodding, intensity-mounting tale of attraction and anticipation, this one is my “pick hit” as my mentor, the late Frankie Crocker, would dub it. Play it again and again, and again as you season to taste.

On her upcoming schedule was promoting the album down the Florida coast cities, going to Aruba (take me!) as part of syndie personality Doug Banks’ tour, and traveling to Italy to shoot the video for the song”4 The Lovers” later this year. She is also studying piano and guitar, “My father is left-handed and that is why he never taught me because he had to like play upside down and everything”, she told me. Arika, like her Mother, is right-handed; I encourage Arika to be ambidextrous whenever possible in her life – she has the innate tools to do so. A Personal shout goes out to T.C. Thompkins, my former Epic Records promotion department chief, with whom I am now reunited due to his marketing magic with Arika.

I am sure that Arika Kane will not collect any dust in my studio for years to come – unless it is star dust!

 Mr. Billy Paul has been on my mind a LOT for the past month or so – probably because is a really cool dude!  Therefore, I want to write about this singer while he is still with us in the physical world, because the way time is “flying”, who knows which of us will make it to the “finish line”, which keeps moving  anyway, lol!   To watch or listen to the news these days, brings to mind one of his best album titles, “War Of The Gods”, or as my Mum recently put it, “in our life time we’re seeing the last days of man – the Bible – Revelations.”  1311328880_b45a8daa3a9e67be4345675430711aff

I remember the opening synthesizer sound as used by many of us in commercials we produced for nightclub parties – I used the piercing lazer over just about any upbeat jam at the time – and still will!

Lately I have been playing, not a vinyl, but a “live” CD of his “World Tour 1999”.  The disc affects you with the feel that you are really there at the show, and I love the band that  backs him, especially the drummer.  It reminds me of the time I was lucky enough to get front row center seats to watch him perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City!  Ah, the perks of having record company Promotion Department friends back in the days. If you are too young to know who he is, or just never were “into” R&B music of the 1970s, just think, “Me & Mrs Jones”, and that should nudge those musical memory cells, as that is Billy’s trademark tune!  The first, and one of my personal favorite BP jams I ever heard was the 1971 cautionary song, “This Is Your Life” from the album “Going East” (one I didn’t manage to get hold of, but I have the 45rpm) and of course, as I say often in these posts, heard over the airwaves of WLIB FM, New York City,  as it transitioned to WBLS FM, programmed by the legendary Frankie Crocker.  I met Mr. Billy Paul back in the year 2000 while doing my duty at southern New Jersey station WVLT FM.  Like, I was in there talking to one of my co-workers, or getting ready to do some production,turned around and saw this Brother as my mind went something like, “Hey I know him! That’s Billy Paul!!”  Holy Cow!”  WVLT is not a huge, high-profile radio station, it was out in the woods of Millville, N.J., but not all that far from Philadelphia, the city whose 1970s musical legacy gave Mr. Paul his most famous stardom.  I found him truly a gracious and down-to-Earth celebrity and gentleman, and I believe his obviously very loving, protective wife, Blanche was also with him at the time.  A couple of years later, he granted me a live on-air interview via telephone after I moved-on to kick-ass at a tiny R&B AM station in Nashville.

So, now onto the rest of my vinyls, all on the Philadelphia International label, distributed by Epic at the time I acquired them, and the oldest one which is 1974’s “Live In Europe”.  The featured in-concert version of his “Brown Baby”, was a “catch” for me at the time because it is another cut off of “360 Degrees”.  It also includes his treatment of Elton John’s “Your Song as does the above compact disc (recorded ‘live” in Paris, France).  I always love the way Billy’s unique voice [especially his “high notes” no other singer can match] compliments the Top 40 songs he chooses to cover; he even made a Paul McCartney composition, “Let “Em In”, the title track of an album in 1976 – not to mention the production re-working of it to further politicize it –  into a definite chant of needed racial inclusiveness.  On the album version that I have, you hear clips of the voices of Malcolm X, Huey Newton,  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other legendary human rights leaders.  I love most of the tracks on this album as U can C from my notes on the back cover at the top!  OMG! I am playing “We All Got A Mission” over and over again as I write this: “Change the world around, change the world around, CHANGE IT!”

Next in my library is an album that was huge during my days at the University, 1975’s “When Love Is New”.  It is special because of the schitzo-sided way it plays: you have Billy, the social philosopher at the height of the anti-war/racial civil rights era boogie on “People Power” and the funk of “Let The Dollar Circulate” on side one.  Then flip the side and you hear the tender romantic ballad, “When Love Is New” that progresses into “I Want ‘Cha Baby” and then climaxes on “Let’s Make A Baby” in about nineteen minutes – woo-wee, that’s getting a little bit too “lucky” too fast, IMO!  

I somehow acquired two copies of my final Paul vinyl, the nondescript, “First Class”, a more formulaic MFSB-style album of its time whose outstanding feature is the derby he sports on the cover, at least to my musical mind.  He could always sport some vines (fashions) on his interesting album covers! 

I have always admired that Billy has a penchant for including socially aware and uplifting messages in the lyrics he sings.  He covers the whole spectrum, from love to politics, much like his late and very close soul-brother, the musical genius, Marvin Gaye did.   What is your favorite of his songs?  Where were you when you first heard “Mrs. Jones”?  Have you ever had a “Me & Mrs. Jones” situation? Just 4 fun, can U guess Billy’s given name?

Seek some Billy Paul singing soon and get a needed reality check; find out if you are as good as you think you are! It all depends upon “How Good Is Your Game”?

Congratulations on prevailing in the suit vs. Gamble & Huff, by the way,  Mr. Paul!