Throwback Thursday-Caron Wheeler

Everyone knows Soul II Soul’s songs “Keep on Moving” and “Back to Life”; those songs are classics, and don’t sound dated, even though they came out 25 years ago (that was my freshman year of high school, and I can’t even wrap my brain around that).  The lead singer you hear on the tracks are Caron Wheeler, who also cowrote them as well.

After the success of Soul II Soul, she released a couple of solo albums, one of which is the brilliant Beach of the War Goddess in 1992.  The standout track is “I Adore You”, which was also featured on Mo’ Money soundtrack (raise your hand if you’ve seen this movie…).  I don’t remember it getting a lot of airplay, and it didn’t do well on the charts, but it’s worth a download.  It’s the kind of song that is meant for a playlist when you really like someone, and you’re not quite at the love stage yet, but can see yourself getting to that place.  Check it out.

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Uptown Funk

So I promised you guys a post about the new Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson song, “Uptown Funk”.  If you didn’t listen to it (and I’m not sure why you wouldn’t…because you need this in your life), go ahead and click play…you can thank me with a case of San Pellegrino later.

So a little bit of background; I’m pretty sure you’ve heard his work, even if you didn’t know who he was.  Mark Ronson is a British musician, DJ, singer and music producer.  He’s probably best known for his production work on Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album; that retro yet utterly modern sound is largely attributed to Ronson.

So it’s no surprise that “Uptown Funk” has that same sound; except instead of needing candles and a glass of wine while listening to Back to Black, this song makes you want to put on that too short dress, some heels, and dance all night.

I’ve been listening and dancing to this at least three times a day at full blast in the car, and would love to hear what you think.  Let me know!

 

All Woman

“All Woman” by Lisa Stansfield came on the radio while I was driving earlier today, and while this has always been a song that I’ve loved (great melody, strings, Lisa’s voice), I never really took a moment to listen to the lyrics.  Of course I’ve sung along and enjoyed it on a surface level, but today, the lyrics hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was THAT woman in the song.

I was in a relationship with someone who thought that I could go to work, pick up our daughter, come home to cook dinner and clean up, and still look as though I was ready to go out at a moment’s notice.  Of course, I believe you should still make an effort for your partner; it’s important to do that for your partner.  But on those days when the baby has a cold and you’ve been up during the night dealing with that, have a presentation at 8:30 the next morning, and are on deadline for another project, the dishes might sit in the kitchen overnight.  It doesn’t mean that I’ve lost the desire to provide a wonderful home environment for my partner; just that there are some days that I just can’t do it all.  It took me a very long time to realize that even though I may not be super woman at all times, that doesn’t mean I’m any less of a woman.

The London Sessions

There’s an album coming out in December that I’m absolutely obsessed with already (and I’ve only heard three tracks from the album); if you haven’t heard about it, Mary J. Blige has recorded The London Sessions.  She moved to London, and wrote ten new songs in a month.  The songs feature British artists Disclosure, Emeli Sande, Jimmy Napes, Naughty Boy, Sam Romans, and Sam Smith.

Blige said, “Our idea was to become part of London… to really embrace the culture – to really live in it. Not that I haven’t been here before, but I’ve never had the chance to really soak in it the way I have this time. To make records from the London-scene perspective. The music is free over here the way it used to be in the States. Artists are just free to do what they love. Listening to the radio you can hear the freedom.”  And that’s really what I love about what’s coming out of the U.K. right now; it doesn’t sound like recycled beats made by protools or fruity loops on a macbook.

On a personal note, learning about this album has really inspired me to get passionate again and focused; I’m going out on a limb and doing what I love to do, which is write about music.  This blog has already brought me a sense of joy and I’m excited to see what it can become.

British Black History Month…Who Knew?

bassey

So I just found out that October is Black History Month in Britain, and came across this photo of Dame Shirley Bassey on Facebook (hat tip to KP for sharing this with me).  First…can we talk about the gown?  Apparently, it’s covered with 156,000 diamante stones and weighs 28 pounds; it’s simply gorgeous, and I need one of those in case I need to fill in at the Grammys (like Aretha did for Pavarotti a few years ago). 

But back to Shirley Bassey, AKA Bassey the Belter.  Most people know her from her rendition of “Goldfinger”, from the James Bond movie of the same name, and more recently, Kanye West sampled “Diamonds Are Forever” (also from a James Bond film).  But her catalog is much deeper than that.  Get into her rendition of “I (Who Have Nothing)”…in my opinion, it is the gold standard of the song.

So here’s a clip of her singing “Goldfinger” from the 2013 Oscar Awards…skip ahead to the 3:09 mark if you don’t want to watch the intro, and go ahead and get acquainted with this diva.

 

And so it begins.

Welcome to my blog, and thanks for stopping by!  I feel as though I should explain why I have a blog about British music; I mean, I don’t have any British relatives, was raised in the south, and have no logical connection to the UK.  After a bit of introspection and trying to figure out where this borderline obsession came from, I think it’s a twofold answer.

First, I’m 13 years older than my brother, so for most of my formative years it was just me…sure, I had friends at school, but I was a painfully shy kid most of the time, and I was chubby and pretty sickly, so I didn’t spend a lot of time outside.  Obviously, this led to a lot of time to think, read, and watch tv and movies.  Somewhere along the way I discovered Sherlock Holmes (probably on a PBS show), and from that point on, I was into all things British.  I went to the library and checked out every VHS tape I could find that was featured England as a backdrop; Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Bedknobs and Broomsticks…before long I started to wonder if somehow it was a mistake that I was in Virginia and not London.  I have no doubt that I exasperated my mother and grandmother during that summer I only spoke in a British accent.  Good times.

Anyway, my other outlet as a kid was music.  I started taking piano lessons when I was four, and can read music, but I learned to play by ear (basically because I was lazy and always forgot to do my music homework), which I think forced me to listen to music on a bit of a deeper level, rather than just casually.  Add to that my mom listened to everything; The Supremes, Isaac Hayes, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand…and pretty much everything else you can think of.  I listened to all of that as well as what was on the radio; needless to say, I’m a beast when it comes to playing Name That Tune.

So when you put music and the ability to speak in a fairly convincing British accent together, it’s only logical that I would be into British music, right?  So there you have it.  I imagine that at some point there’s going to be some music that I’ll write about that has nothing to do with what’s going on over the pond, but for now, it’s going to be all about British Soul music in particular.  Somehow they’ve taken note of what R&B should sound like, and it isn’t like what’s played in heavy rotation on our radio stations over here, and good music is good music…so I’m here to let you know all about it.

Hope you guys enjoy it!