This Marina is a slippery character. On the one hand, the anti-consumerism invective of “Hollywood” is a tad on the puerile side, but the ironic pageant queen smile, the oversaturated disdain for the red, white, and blue, and the punchy chorus all make schadenfreude cool again.
Perhaps no band has had a greater impact upon the history of recorded music than the Beatles. The studio wizard George Martin claims that he liked the energy the young four musicians had when he began recording them in 1962 but he never imagined that they had musical ability or the creativity to sustain a long career. His opinion, needless to say, shifted radically over the course of their working relationship. Together, the Beatles and George Martin would produce one of the greatest collections of studio recordings of popular music.
The Beatles on Record, a new documentary on the History Channel, tracks the Fab Four through their recordings. The film is a marvel of editing. It includes filmed footage, enlivens still photographs by giving them a virtual three-dimensional feel, and uses only the voices of the Beatles themselves along with their producer and studio collaborator George Martin as narrators. Obviously the producers of this documentary lavished considerable attention to culling from the various recorded interviews with John, Paul, Ringo, George, and George to find pertinent commentary on each of the record releases. Bob Smeaton, the man behind the Beatles Anthology series, is at the helm here and his attention to detail and his stylish use of archival material creates a truly admirable piece of work.
Those who know something about the recording history of the group may not learn a lot of new information here but the presentation makes for enjoyable viewing nonetheless. Besides, who could ask for better music?
Sweet like a Hershey’s chocolate kiss. Funky as if you forgot how good funk can feel. The sonic equivalent of sun rays bursting through an azure sky. That’s “Better”, the new single by Angela Johnson. How apt a title, because with each passing year and each new production, Angela Johnson only gets better.
A contender for the most infectious tune in her catalog, the song verifies that Johnson is one of the very best writers/producers/singers working today. Recently touring stages throughout France, this NY-native crafts grooves so tight that it’s no wonder why Johnson’s “Happy Feelings” was the highlight on Maysa’s Metamorphosis (2008). Nor is it surprising that Rahsaan Patterson readily agreed to collaborate with her on “Dream Flight”, a track from A Woman’s Touch (Johnson’s producer project of last year).
“Better” is the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of recording, touring, and producing, both as a solo artist and her work with Cooly’s Hot Box. Those who have been following Angela Johnson will recognize the chord changes in the bridge as “distinctly Angela” while the drums and bass are luscious, deep and rich, just like the Cooly’s Hot Box cuts that found a home on the hippest European dance floors. Of course, there is her voice, a strident instrument that can become airborne within the space of two notes. Check her phrasing on “When you’re touching my skin / You’re lighting the fire deep within” at the 3:30 mark and brace yourself.
If you download only one more song before 2009 ends, make it “Better”.