A Real “Rochelle, Rochelle” Musical!

“Imagine what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher…”

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Rochelle front

Richmond, Virginia, April 21, 2019 – One of the great things about traveling the Airbnb way is that you meet some very interesting people, on an almost neighborly and intimate level, in a short period of time! I have gotten to cook in some very well-stocked kitchens and love to taste and cook gourmet dishes to chow on with a smorgasbord of sound in the background.  Check out my latest, recipe:

Imagine now, what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher?  Mix all into a bowl with her lead-guitar husband “Boz”, funky horns (including a baritone sax), Hammon organ and solid percussion.  Don’t let it simmer too long before firing it up, and you get medium-well done and tasty to your ears, the rangy Rochelle Harper (and her Mississippi band) jammin’!

She told me her music is “Americana” and while defined as contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues and also often uses a full electric band, to debate categorization is a whole other post.  I’ll highlight the tunes that swooned me on recent road trips, transcending mere categorization.  If you must narrow, I’d play several of the songs on my Contemporary Hits, Top 40 and jammin’ music radio stations!

Her 2014 solo effort, “Lilt” is in a class by itself, while her band showcases and performs under a more funky, free-form umbrella.  The first song from “Lilt” is a mid-tempo rocker called “Bittersweet”. Its soulfully fulfilling because the lyrics are realistic and hook repeated often,  “You’re the thing I shouldn’t do, but I know I wanna do anyway…”  Next is “Stars Out” which brings Fleetwood Mac to my DJ mind. They could have changed the ending to a vamp-to-fade and gone on longer, IMO.  I kept hitting ‘repeat’, trying to keep the feeling!!!

 

At this point,  I am needing to reach for a lyric sheet because, like most great crooners, we mortals cannot always understand the heartfelt words!  One of those occasions where, sometime in the future, you hear a cut and suddenly understand what they were singing all along!  Rochelle rear

The disc settles-down after that, into “Cajun Wind” and “Say”, two tracks that let her explore forks in her vocal road that may be more in-tune with that “Americana” thing; she sounds like Cher here, for the first time on my drive (she will again on “Angelina”), and I am just crossing the South-to-North Carolina border on I-95!

Suddenly, there I sat, while the road was closed for a still inexplicable reason – I-95 used to never come to a standstill as I remember it – I shut the music off, in frustration while we sat still for at least sixty minutes. There went my ETA of the day.

When we began to move fast again, Rochelle helped me find my favorite and a-pro-po jam, “Highway One”!  Becoming a tune-wedgie, I’ve played it again and again.  The guitar solo sounds a bit like that of Redbone on the classic 1971 song, “Maggie” and its brass from the outset gave my trip momentum like the legendary Memphis Horns section. Rochelle also covers Bobby Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” on this album.  I’d had enuff of that one growing up, but it might be insightful for a younger audience to listen to.  On “Comin’ Home Again” we are happily greeted by Randall Bramblett’s Hammond B3, and throughout this poppin’ buster, his presence is prevalent like pew prayer in church.

Finally, Rochelle’s signature message song, I suspect, after having talked to her a few times at our AIRbnb Inn, is the reggae-rocker, “Universal Love” whose lyrics – and she wrote eight of the eleven songs – identify her as a strong “Rasta” goddess voice in a body of a natural Gulf Coast girl. Major props to Blair Shotts, whose solid drumming caught my ears, as a once-upon-a-time drummer.  He does Motown accents really well!

Rochelle jacket

When she first introduced herself to me I thought of Seinfeld’s “Rochelle Rochelle!”  With wishes to hear newer success and happier for having met this couple, my rating is  four-out-of-five, “Peace Within Music” signs, (like Rochelle’s Hippie pants) peace-sign-1066713_960_720!

** Next post,  I will revu the separate Band album, Mississippi Hippie Blues.

This video is a sneak-preview:

 

**Sureshot: Please remember to check out my other Rochelle-related review and other topics at the Mothership blog, achilliad.wordpress.com

There’s No Waning Mark on Glasmire, Thru My Eyes (and ears) 

[Nashville, Tennessee, December, 2018] Proving that you can put a new slant on tried and true formats, is listening to the new album by Mark Wayne Glasmire [Traceway Records MWGCD 2018-1] who “Can’t Be Denied” stardom.  Take out your neatly included little lyric booklet, so you can follow along with me…

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From the first snare drum accents of “I’ve Got A Feeling”, this album captivates you into the professionally gleaned clean sound of “MWG”.   Hark! I think I even hear a friendly banjo pluckin-away and soulful, groovin’ organ on that first track! Yes! Checkin’ one of the SoMuchMooreMedia press advances, I read that we are hearing wonderful Wanda Vick on banjo, fiddle and mandolin (I so wanna see her, upon hearing this!) and Dennis Wage on the Hammond B3. It all comes so-together from start-to-finish on this record musically;  the band is tight.

Next in line, the very relaxing ‘Those Nights”, my first-favorite song here and reminiscent of The Eagles in the the late 1970s/early 1980s of my early Top 40 DJ days on the radio.  It changes the pace of the former by starting with a three-note piano flair, the bluesy, plaintiff organ and then midway through a classic Country music piano/guitar solo interlude. I frown my face up to keep from cryin’ with joy.  The more you listen, the more you’ll love it.

I have a feeling that Mark “Can’t Be Denied” consideration for a CMA award.  This tune continues the feel of the former, flowing naturally next; great song positioning! I love the unique way the guitar’s three note progression becomes the hook!  Tracks four and five play in the same key and “Alysia” is the best of that hook-up. This song is somehow reminiscent of “Spanish Lei”, an instrumental on the late Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra’s “White Gold” album.  Mark sings to and the guitar workings, (“bling, bling,bling…”) reveal her Latino roots. “Hey Alysia, (strum, strum, strum), You’re inside my [musical mind] heart …” It must be the mandolin; all they need is a marimba to complete the south of the border groove!  She also mixed into my head magically, on other songs of the album as I went about my daily chores in recent weeks while working-up this review.

The sixth song, “Borderline”, is a bad-ass story of waking up to a bad day, a card game gone sour and attempted escape, only to cross that final ‘borderline”, that we all must at some point.  Shades of Kenny Rogers on this one and I like that kinda storytellin’.

With so much to describe on this album, I don’t want to leave much out nor bore you because I “Feel Your Love”, as Mark so cleverly works real talk lingo into the lyrical mix. You have to hear how he hides the last word in this (paragraph) to know what I mean,  “I guess that I could walk away and hang it up with dignity and class/But I would rather swing away and tell them all to kiss my…aaaaa-asss!”  I smile out-loud, every time I hear it.

Unfortunately, we all know someone  “Gone Too Soon”  these days.  A a nice fiddle interlude contributes perspective within the complimentary guitars and a Glen Campbell-style feeling throughout.  “This Too Shall Pass” is a sobering ballad towards the end of the album, that addresses earthy, serious topics in all of our lives and its so philosophically introspective that I almost teared-up again, here at the end of a oft-sobering 2018 year. “Sometimes I sit back and wonder/How I made it this far/Nothing to show for the battles I fought/But the pain and the loss and the scars…”  

Honorable mentions to check out are, “Deep Inside” for your traditional uptempo Country music jam-party foot-stomper and “Frying Pan Into the Fire” to hear some of our elders favorite admonitions when we were going up, in-song.  ‘I’ve got a feeling’ that Mark will be heard at the upcoming 2019 CRS in Nashville and wish I could spy it.

This is cool, traveling and radio ready – even in radio’s current configuration – music.  An Adult Contemporary, Americana or Country Music Director would have to be deaf not to add these tunes; yet, use’em sparingly, because the album can last a long time. With a glossy CD cover that spells label commitment, I couldn’t even make notes on it with a sharpie!

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Congratulations, Mark! Major Props on producing music that truly touches all bases and produces potential dreaded “tune wedgies” at every other track. Five-out-of-five Country acoustic guitars is my rating.  5 gold guitars

Thanks for reading, please comment, if you wish and remember to check back to my “mothership connection” blog at www.achilliad.wordpress.com anytime for non-music  opinion.

Paul Manchin Pools a “Swim”

“Paul has a penchant for adding a few instrumentals late in the game/ I wonder if he will revisit those tracks on his next album – but this time with lyrics added seeing how he sounds when the majority of songs are new originals…” 

When you listen to a Paul Manchin album, you are guaranteed variety of sound, increasing, Michael Franks-style vocal creativity and his own, slightly quirky arrangements which transcends genres – even if not intentionally. He seems a slightly  sad and solitary soul who expresses his sullen longings via these vacillating tracks.

“Swim”, complete with sound effects, is the first song and if you’ve seen the “Lift” video, you know that he is stroking in his pajamas, dreamlike. It needs not be weird – yet is surely and slightly thus.  Pull your swimsuit drawstrings tight for the ride!

Swimm

The next pool dip is “Lift” (you make my day) and then the jazzy “What Makes People Happy”, followed by a remake of a song from his previous, “Salutations” album, “Take A Ride”; another cut is the same, but with a funky beat.  Are we in Remix City, Paul?

On track five, he explores Madonna’s 1980s smash, “Like A Virgin”, a totally different way.  I teased him that Madonna is going to come after him and, to my surprise, he replied that he secured permission from her!  Apparently this isn’t the first time Paul has covered it either. He did so back during his Fly-Life days on the 2011 album, “Prolific”.  Hmm.. This time it blends into “Blackjack”, another cut from his last collection.  “Power of Love” is a beautiful piano solo ballad. “Fly”, my favorite and representative of how I first met Paul Manchin, is a nice dance club number with breakbeat-into-the-mix possibilities for DJs.

I really love his respectful, guitar-only cover of Elton’s “Your Song” (track nine).

Tracks ten and eleven, “Chance” and “Decline” respectively, are both big beat instrumentals and “Trinity” is basically sfx and a pure question mark for this listener. Number fourteen, is really jazzy, while “Promise” takes us back to Paul’s penchant for adding a few curious instrumentals late in the game.  Any chance he will revisit those tracks on his next album – this time with lyrics added?  “Want” sounds like a piano soundtrack from a horror movie!

Track sixteen, “Wonder” is my second-place favorite here.   It also apparently has two remix versions, inside an overall retro theme, taking us back to the 1960s “British Invasion” sound of the likes of The Dave Clark Five on one; the next remix is ten years hence from the former. What is very troubling is that in the video for this song, he burns and acoustic guitar! What did this have to do with the lyrics?  Why not put out the album version and then the remix version as a single and video?!

Just snorkel-spy “Try”, and listen to an introspective guitar monologue.  “One” is also from the previous ‘Salutations’ album; this time with a different beat.  How bout more original new fare and fewer remixes, Paul?  Some of the blends and revisits seem random and are confusing to those listeners who desire a more consistent thematic approach to their listening.

That being said, this bath is the most listenable Manchin album throughout that I have enjoyed by him.  Four out of five stars for listenability ( the burning guitar almost makes me deduct a point).  I want to see how he sounds when the majority of songs are new originals – even if fewer overall – in the deep end.  Please do not drown us in remixes next time!  four of five stars

 

Please remember to stop by the ‘mothership’ blog, www.achilliad.wordpress.com to read what is currently goin’ on.  Thanks and please keep the dialogue going with a comment.

New Countrytime musikal lemonade revu: Sylvia “Second Bloom – The Hits Re-Imagined”

“I’d never heard of her previously, apparently these songs were originally released three decades ago!  Wow, they are still fresh and relevant.  From the first orchestral notes of the album, “Drifter” paints a story…”

 

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June 8, 2018 saw the reincarnation and rejuvenation of ten tunes by Country/Pop and Adult Contemporary singer, Sylvia, entitled “Second Bloom – The Hits Re-Imagined” [Red Pony Records RPR-1104].  Since that date, she’s been holding court at Country music conventions and hosting radio shows! All grown up now since her early 1980s debuts of these tunes, Sylvia (Hutton) croons often about romantic heartbreak.

I’d never heard of her previously, apparently these songs were originally released three decades ago!  Wow, they are still fresh and relevant.  From the first orchestral notes of the album, “Drifter” paints a story that could be a cowboy plains rider or old USA western-style movie – Pause! “Country & Western” is what people used to call this music! images

The proof is on track three, when she tells her friend, “Tumbleweed”, “you live in a cowboy’s dream…”. Initially sounding like a yodel, that track grew on me!

Slightly sad but not depressing, Sylvia sings about the quirks in romantic relationships from a woman’s perspective; often unrequited with cheatin’ involved like on “Nobody”, a cute play on the word, and often-used tactic by the writers.  I can hear why these were hits – and they still are!

Sylvia’s selections are delivered in typical blunt Country music style,but without the raw edges and always with a lesson. You get ten songs, 70% of which are instant tune wedgies and 60% penned by the duo of Fleming and Morgan.   718oyIXF2kL._SX522_

I dig the fiddle and arrangement on “Fallin’ In Love”!  I like how she handles the boyfriend assuming the posture of “oh she’s just a friend” on “Like Nothing Ever Happened”and the catchy little ditty, “Snapshot”, track eight, which is a different kind of “hold it, say cheese…” as in “caught ya cheatin’!” This version is more mature-sounding that the 1983 original, which had a bubblegum feel to it.  Its “you’re busted, Dude” story-line and playful melody will entrance you instantly! No wonder that the song originally rose to #5 with a bullet from her third album.

“Sweet yesterday” is almost acapella at times and showcases her perfect pitch.  Later, you get a wee taste of easy Caribbean island flavor on “I love You By Heart”.

Professional, crisp and clearly enunciated polished singing, Sylvia is a natural with excellent phrasing like on “Cry Just A Little” which begins with a nice acoustic guitar intro of a few licks. How can we not love this music?

Finally, there once was only one “Sylvia” in my musical life, the late Ms. Robinson, head of Englewood, New Jersey’s R&B label, All Platinum (“Pillowtalk”).  Now, I am happy to add another. Therefore, unequivocally I give this four-out-of-five western boots to “Second Bloom” and you should add it to your collection.   ls

Compare the “blooms” for yourself and watch for any new videos of the re-imagined…

 

and the “Second Bloom” version

Check out her website!  www.SylviaMusic.com  and as always, check in with my mothership www.achilliad.wordpress.com    Thank you and please leave comments.

Southern Halo, the sequel: “Just Like In The Movies”

 

Halo

The sister trio who I wrote about in 2016, Southern Halo [Southern Halo Music] , is back with their sophomore effort, “Just Like In The Movies”.   Sibling in-unison harmonies fall into the southern rock, indie and country pop categories, .

Flying high on stages and in-studio, the trio consists of Natalia {“Nata”) on guitar/lead vocals, Hannah on bass and  “Tinka” who really bangs-out the beat on those drums –She is hard workin‘! (Reminds me of  the late John “Jabo” Starks of the James Brown’s band! lol)

All of the lyrics are interesting, true-to-life and written against the prism of them having grown up in Mississippi, while listening to blues, rock and country stylings, which has translated into an initial regional appeal-gone-slightly international.  This is especially accurate on “Anything Is Possible”, which was the first single released.

For best songs, “Tom Girl” is recommended because of its movin’ tempo; if only it had a fade ending like the only cut which does, “Notice Me”, also a standout. Cold endings mostly leave me…”cold”.

Eldest lead sister, Natalia Morris says of the recording, “the most important thing is that it’s a concept album. All of these songs are like pieces of a puzzle that all fit together”. That concept is their fantasy world, born of a dream that they have a successful and long musical career, which may happen, “Just Like In The Movies” has fourteen songs and there is even a title song to go with their “Southern Halo” theme on track one.

I prefer to listen to a couple of these tunes out of the total context for best enjoyment – otherwise it became a bit trite.

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Personally, their sound is not my cup of tea but I appreciate their family-affair effort, which isn’t always easy in life.  Their sound doesn’t groove with my multi-format disc jockey mind – and I dig a lot of country and blues music – it may be that it is too lovely, and I like “bad” girls. Or maybe this is more the “musical” genre of stage.   Regardless, their “movie” is “G”-rated and I prefer at least a “PG’ or an “R”.  My inner “Siskel and Ebert” likes more drama in its cinema and rates the “movie” with two-and-a-half stars. TWO-AND-A-HALF-rating

Having said that, they will likely be the next number one sensation, lol

 

 

 

[Check out my Mothership blog for book reviews and other commentary/random bachelor diary notes and more at https://achilliad.wordpress.com/  ]

 

Triple Confunkshun! “Loves Train” Then and Thereafter Version

I did not click upon a LinkedIN message to my email entitled “Con#Linkedinpuoi”; didn’t look like something I wanted to learn about.  Yet, simultaneously, reading the letters “Con”  reminded me of one of my favorite music bands of all times, Confunkshun! Can you see why?  It was the “Con” thing.  Immediately, I went to YouTube to hear them again – it has been a while – and my/their classic slow jam, “Loves Train”.

Original Soul Train:

I want to show you three versions of this favorite song that only time has changed from Soul Train to the best one I have on vinyl.  If you’ve never sung along to this great song, here are the words:

Warm night, can’t sleep
Too hurt, too weak
Gotta call her up
Dial that, number, no one, answers
Till it’s two o’clock
And if by chance, you let me come over
Out on the street, I want to see ya baby
And if by chance you let me just hold ya
I’m down on my knee, I wanna please ya baby, I
[I’ll be your righteous lover!]
She said ‘sugar, honey, darlin’
I really wanna see ya too
It’s just that someone’s, over, and baby
I really wanna be with chu’
But if by chance you let me just hold ya
I’m calling I’m free, I wanna see ya baby
When in need you said you would be here
And you hold the key
To my very being baby and I
[I love you, baby]
If you are that special lover
And love keeps you tied to another
That’s the way it goes on love’s train
Sometimes heart strings can be broken
But you’ve just have to keep on goin’
That’s the way it goes on love’s train…
On a warm night, lady, wants her, baby
So she calls him up
Dial that, number, no one, answers
Till it’s two o’clock
If by chance, you just come over
‘Cause darlin’ please, I’ve got to see ya baby
And when in need you said you would be here
And now I’m in need and please believe me baby
I love you darlin’ (listen babe)
If you are that special lover
Love keeps you tied to another
That’s the way it goes on love’s train.
[You don’t need no, you don’t need no ticket to ride]
Sometimes heart strings can be broken
But you’ve just got to keep on goin’
That’s the way it goes on love’s train
[Listen babe, listen baby]
If deep sorrow you’ve been soakin’
But you’ve just have to keep on strokin’,
That’s the way it goes on love’s train
[Loves a hurting thang ya’ll that makes you want to (cry, come on)]
If you are that special lover
And love keeps you tied to another
That’s the way it goes on love’s train
[Find yourself alone]
Sometimes heart strings can be broken
But you’ve just have to keep on flowin’
That’s the way it goes on love’s train
[In time everything’s gonna be alright]
If deep sorrow you’ve been soakin’
But you’ve just got to keep on strokin’
That’s the way it goes on love’s train…..
Major Props to Michael Cooper & Felton C Pilate 
And this nice version, (if Tom Joyner were not following Michael on-stage, like his usual ass! )

 

Which version do you prefer?  Let the world know in “comments”.  Michael is better not bald; his voice seems still on-point and the band the same.  As for me, the original will always be one of the songs that lives inside the soundtrack of my life as the Vinyl version below, with ALL of the above lyrics (not just an edited version).

“In Time Everything’s gonna be alright, C’mon…”

If The Fates Allow

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be
out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together
If the Fates allow.