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Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010
by PopMatters Staff

Legendary hip-hop icon the Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down 13 years ago today. He’s still very much missed. Here are some career highlights…



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Thursday, Feb 11, 2010

I remember looking through a friend’s Rolling Stone as a freshman in college. It was the issue that touted the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Being a list fiend and a music geek, I devoured the list, skimming through 500 - 101. The top 100 was what I really cared about. Hell, the Top 25 was I all I really cared about. I wanted to make sure I had every one in my music library so I could make my own iTunes playlist based on the Rolling Stone list. 


There were a few songs I didn’t have, so I bought them on iTunes to complete my playlist. However, there was one song I didn’t own that I was completely blown away by and that was #12, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”. For some odd reason, I had NEVER heard the song until 2005, when the list came out. The first time I did hear it, in my stuffy college dorm room, I was nearly moved to tears. Since then, the song seems to have become a staple of American cultural literacy. President Obama even referred to the song directly in a speech after he was elected as President of the United States in 2008, saying “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, change has come to America.”


Below are various versions of the song, in chronological order. First, Sam Cooke’s original recording, released after his death in 1964. Otis Redding included the song as “Change Gonna Come” on his 1965 album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul. In 1971, Chicago underground soul legend Baby Huey recorded his version of the song that was released posthumously in 1971 on The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend.


Tagged as: sam cooke
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Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010

“I Shall Be Released” is an iconic, universal anthem. It’s been covered by everyone under the sun, from Nina Simone to the Deftones. Below I’ve included several variations on the tune, starting of course with Bob Dylan’s original 1967 version from The Basement Tapes. Dylan’s original (where he is joined by the Band) is followed by the Band’s own rendition from their 1968 classic Music From Big Pink. It’s set to a socially motivated Vietnam YouTube video. The British Beatlesesque outfit, the Tremeloes, recorded their own version of the tune, which reached number 29 on the UK charts. 


Nina Simone’s take on the song is from her 1969 album To Love Somebody. I also had to include a 1969 version from the Mama Cass television program featuring the Mama herself, Joni Mitchell and Mary Travers. Joan Baez’s live performance of the song at Sing Sing Prison in 1972 follows.


Tagged as: bob dylan, the band
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Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010

I just finished watching the sexy 1989 thriller Sea of Love that I picked up from the library. The title intrigued me, and it was a VHS. My DVD player is broken, so I’ve been renting VHS tapes. Well, the movie was a gem; if you haven’t seen it, you should. More appropriately, the film piqued my curiosity about the song it was named after, “Sea of Love”. 


The song was written by Phil Phillips and George Khoury and, in 1959, Phillips’ version of the song charted at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and #2 on the Billboard top 100. It’s had several reincarnations. In 1981, ‘60s rocker Del Shannon took the tune to #33 on the Top 40. In 1983, the Honeydrippers (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck et al) launched their version to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Since those early ‘80s covers of “Sea of Love” topped the charts, “Sea of Love” has come in to the hands of two less mainstream artists who have made it their own for respective soundtracks. Tom Waits covered it specifically for the aforementioned Sea of Love film. Indie crooner Cat Power played it as part of her 2000 album The Covers Record and her version was catapulted into the pop culture zeitgeist on the Juno film soundtrack.


Here are the different versions of the song in chronological order.



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Monday, Feb 8, 2010

I pressed “songs” on the iPod within my iPhone, and then pressed “shuffle”. The first song that came up was “The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva from an album called The Best of the Girl Groups Vol. 2.  What a precious tune. It was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and first topped the charts with Little Eva’s version in 1962. The song appeared on the American top 5 two more times, each from a different decade. Grand Funk Railroad released their chart-topping “Loco-Motion” in 1974. In 1988, it was Kylie Minogue who took her version of the song into the top 5. 


Here are the three versions in chronological order.  I’ve included the videos to get a real taste of the eras.



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