Sisters doing it for themselves … two hours of great music, and not a male voice to be heard

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The latest edition of The Beat Goes On, the quirky radio show hosted by the editor of this website, is a special edition entitled Sisters with Voices – two hours of great music featuring only female artists, with hardly a male voice to be heard apart from the presenter (me).

As well as a tribute to the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, you can hear Ella Fitzgerald, Grace Jones, Kate Bush, Sister Sledge … and many more. Listen to the whole show any time online by following this link to Mixcloud.

If you haven’t time to listen to the whole thing, this is the first of two blogposts containing a full playlist and cool links to all the music, with video clips.

So settle back and enjoy the show!

Britney channels her inner Cher – or is it Sonny? – with this strange, but oddly haunting, live version of the show’s theme song. The album track was produced by The All Seeing I, whose own version of the tune was featured last month. Both were based on Buddy Rich’s arrangement, starring his 12-year-old daughter Cathy, 30 years earlier.

Now it’s time for a welcoming Hello, Hooray from Judy Collins. If you only know this song from the Alice Cooper cover, you are in for a treat. Judy’s beautiful, pure voice is at its thrilling best. From her fine 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes. The superb guitar is by Stephen Stills.

The theme of this show is “sisters with voices”, so here are S-Double-U-V in 2000, sampling Human Nature, the best song (in my humble opinion) on Thriller.

Coming up next: one of the first singles of the 1980s, and one of the best. Two Marthas and a bunch of Canadian guys singing about a beach that didn’t exist. Catchy and exhilarating, it sounds as fresh today as it did 38 years ago.

From Echo Beach to Sandie Shaw. The 1967 Eurovision Song Contest winner had acquired a bit more attitude by the time she recorded this with The Smiths (minus Morrissey) in 1984.

Patrice Rushen is such a superb artist, as singer, composer, and (more recently) jazz pianist. She is still best known, and destined to remain so, for her 1982 post-disco classic Forget Me Nots. Patrice cowrote the song with Freddie Washington, who is on bass; Gerald Albright plays the saxophone solo.

Before I played this, I tried to teach my listeners, the good people of Newbury and Thatcham, in Berkshire, England, how to clap along with it. Feel free to join in. Ready … one (clap), two (clap), three (clap), four (clap clap) …

Next, in The Beat Goes On’s regular People Say We Monkee Around slot, it’s Susanna Hoffs, of the Bangles, aided by Matthew Sweet, with a lovely live version of Michael Nesmith’s Different Drum (written for, but not recorded by, The Monkees, although briefly performed in the TV show). From Under the Covers, the duo’s 2006 album.

And now, ladies and gentlemen … HERE’S GRACE!

Style or substance? How about both, as demonstrated by Grace Jones on not just one of the finest records, but one of the most iconic events, of the 1980s. Strange now to think Slave to the Rhythm was originally intended as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s follow-up to Relax. Click here, and you can join the 100 or so people who have heard the demo of their very different version.

American Spring – originally a trio called The Honeys, then Spring, but there was a rival Spring, so they changed again – were Marilyn Wilson, wife of Brian Wilson, and her sister Diane Rovell. Shyin’ Away (1972) was co-produced by Brian, and the instrumental arrangement is very Brian-esque.

Great title for the latest single from one of my favourite British bands, a restrained affair by their standards: a steel band sound with a lilting choral melody. Live, The Go! Team resemble The Spice Girls on speed. Fun, but exhausting.

From Nuyorican Soul’s 1997 debut album, which features guest appearances from, among others, Roy Ayers, George Benson, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Tito Puente. Jocelyn Brown is the lead singer on this faithful cover of the stunning 1971 recording by Rotary Connection (a psychedelic soul band whose members included the late Minnie Ripperton).

The best Motown single EVER. Or at least, one of the best. If an alien from Mars ever lands in your garden and you want to teach them what pop music is all about in just a couple of minutes, I suggest you play them this. And it’s not just Diana Ross: the backing vocals are great too.

James Taylor, the world’s greatest Hammond organist, and his brilliant quartet, featuring Yvonne Yanney’s fine lead vocal, bring the first half of the show, and this blogpost, to a close.

Coming soon: the second half of the show, featuring Duffy, Ella Fitzgerald, The Slits, The Go-Go’s, Aretha Franklin and lots more!

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The Beat Goes On at the movies, part 2 … Beatles, Blues Brothers, Barbra and more

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Welcome to the second half of the soundtrack special edition of The Beat Goes On, featuring an eclectic variety of music from the movies, ranging from A Hard Day’s Night to The Blues Brothers and from South Pacific to Sex and the City.

The Beat Goes On is a new radio show, hosted by the editor of this very website, on Kennet Radio, a community radio station in Berkshire, England, on 106.7 FM (no static at all … well, not much). You can listen to the whole show online by following this link to Mixcloud.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, this two-part blogpost contains a full playlist and cool links to all the music, with added film and video clips.

Enjoy the second half of the show!

Great theme tune. The show was going to be called The Alley Cats, and then Harry’s Angels, but they changed it to avoid confusion with Harry O. This brings back memories of heated playground discussions as to which one was our favourite. Mine was David Doyle.

Heatwave (initially Chicago’s Heatwave) were a class act, and this is one of the great records of the 1970s, composed by the late Rod Temperton, who went on to write Rock With You, Thriller and other classics for Michael Jackson. Boogie Nights has appeared in several movie soundtracks, including Eyes of Laura Mars and The Stud, but ironically not in Boogie Nights itself (lead singer Johnnie Wilder Jr, a devout Christian, objected on moral grounds).

Boogie Nights to Thriller: Rod Temperton, the soul genius most fans have never heard of

In the regular “Hope I Die Before the Band Gets Old” slot are Kool & The Gang, formed in 1964 as The Jazziacs and not just still in business more than 50 years later but, incredibly, with four original members, including main men Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother Ronald. Listen closely to this wonderful, all too brief clip from Saturday Night Fever and you will hear the Gang play a few bars of Streets of Cairo (the “snake charmer” song), which is even older than the band, dating from the 1890s.,

“Are you a mod or a rocker?” “I’m a mocker.” Funny, innocent, but slyly knowing, and still watchable today, A Hard Day’s Night captures the moment when Beatlemania (the original title of the film) captured the world’s imagination and The Beatles changed it for ever.

Want to know how to play the opening chord, the most famous guitar chord in history? John, Paul and George each had a crucial role. Keith Smart tells you exactly how they did it.

“You won’t have heard of them. It’s by a group called The Beatles”

“What’s New, Pussycat?”, the 1965 movie in which this appeared, was a greeting Warren Beatty used on the phone to his many girlfriends. Paul Jones of the Manfreds does a decent job on a fine Burt Bacharach-Hal David song that was not really suited to his style. Love’s punkier version was much better, and here’s amazing footage of Arthur Lee and friends (including Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer on snare drum) miming to it on TV in 1966.

If the Kids are United, which reached No 9 on the UK charts exactly 40 years ago, was featured in the 1996 film When Saturday Comes, a poor man’s The Full Monty in which Sean Bean, improbably, propels Sheffield United to FA Cup glory by scoring a last-minute penalty against Manchester United. Blades fans, of whom I am one, still sing “Sheffield United will never be defeated” (not true, sadly) to this tune. But of course in Sheffield, we ‘ad it tough in them days …

Michael Palin, the only Yorkshireman, is the only one to get the accent right but it’s still a pretty funny sketch. And accurate.

Jennifer Hudson’s power-packed All Dressed in Love – written by Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley, MC Jack Splash from Plantlife and producer Salaam Remi – brings Sex and the City, the movie, to a suitable close. Sadly, they made a sequel in 2010; it gained seven Golden Raspberry nominations and three awards, including Worst Actress (for all four principal characters).

From the depths of The Damned to the top of the charts, Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns), introduced by John Peel and backed by guitarist Robyn Hitchcock and Dolly Mixture, in 1989 with his surprisingly likable version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, from South Pacific.

“Parfait mélange” indeed: a hauntingly beautiful song, in any language, by the French singer, dancer and actor Guesch Patti, the title track of her 1995 album and the best thing in Peter Greenaway’s movie The Pillow Book, perhaps the ultimate example of his obsession with style over substance.

It’s 106 miles to Chicago … we got a tank full of gas … half a pack of cigarettes … it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses … HIT IT!

Jake and Elwood Blues at their best.

Great lyrics from an original Modern Lover and Talking Head: “Pretty girl, young man, old man, man with a gun, two people in love – the rules do not apply.” Like Sister Carol’s Wild Thing (see previous blogpost), this is from Jonathan Demme’s excellent 1986 black comedy Something Wild.

Now it’s time for Frank of the Month, another regular feature in the show. Last time we had Frank, the Amy Winehouse album. For The Beat Goes On soundtrack special it’s … Lieutenant Frank Drebin. Here are some of Leslie Nielsen’s best moments from The Naked Gun trilogy.

When I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people I shoot the bastards!

That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron. You killed five actors – good ones.

The next edition of The Beat Goes On, later this month, will feature two hours of great music featuring only female artists, from Aretha to Ella, from Sister Sledge to The Slits. To whet your appetite, here’s Barbra Streisand.

Pass me a hanky, please. I think I’ve got something in my eye.

And that’s about it. But there is one more thing …

Listen to The Beat Goes On live at kennetradio.com – the next show will be broadcast on Wednesday 22 August from 9-11pm (21:00 to 23:00 BST).

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The Beat Goes On at the movies: from Bill Haley to Jack Black, the soundtrack of our lives

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The July edition of The Beat Goes On, the quirky radio show hosted by the editor of this website, was a soundtrack special featuring an eclectic variety of music from the movies, ranging from Casablanca to Pulp Fiction and from South Pacific to Saturday Night Fever.

Artists include The All Seeing I, Bill Haley and His Comets, The Commitments, The Dandy Warhols, The Monkees and many more. You can listen to the whole show any time online by following this link to Mixcloud.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, this two-part blogpost contains a full playlist and cool links to all the music, with added film and video clips.

So settle back with a Royale With Cheese and a beer, and enjoy the show!

Brilliant video for The All Seeing I’s 1998 update of the theme song for this show, from their album Pickled Eggs and Sherbet. The All Seeing I also produced Britney Spears’ version of the Sonny Bono number, which will be played to kick off the August edition of The Beat Goes On.

Here are Pumpkin and Honey Bunny in Pulp Fiction. And here’s the great Dick Dale.

The Hendrix line “And you will never hear surf music again” (in Third Stone from the Sun, from Are You Experienced?) was a response to hearing that Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar, had cancer and had been given three months to live. But he survived to became a cult hero thanks to Tarantino’s decision to open Pulp Fiction with his 1962 recording of Misirlou. Dale is now 81. There’s a good 2010 interview with him here.

Another fine video, filmed in the now defunct Slabtown bar in Portland, Oregon. Bohemian Like You has featured in numerous movies and TV shows and was used in a highly successful Vodafone advertising campaign in 2001 (as a result of which the single was rereleased and rose to No 5 in the UK charts). Ford also used the song in advertising. Theresa May, the British prime minister (at the time of writing), walked off stage to Bohemian Like You at a Conservative Party conference, prompting its composer, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, to opine: “Why don’t these assholes have right-wing bands make them some right-wing music for their right-wing jerkoff politics? Oh, because right-wing people aren’t creative, visionary, or any fun to be around.” He’s not wrong.

Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving strut their stuff to Ce Ce Peniston’s dance classic in Stephan Elliott’s funny, touching 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. If there’s such a thing as low camp, this is it.

It may not look that threatening today, but my father told me when he went to see Blackboard Jungle, teddy boys tried to smash up the cinema. (He may have been exaggerating a little.) This song has the distinction of being the opening number not just in Blackboard Jungle in 1954, but Rock Around the Clock (rushed out the following year) and American Graffiti in 1973. “Haley’s Rock-Roll Dance Biz Whiz” is still a great record, especially the guitar of Danny Cedrone – who died after a fall, two months after the recording, so never knew how iconic the song, or his contribution, were to become.

Now can I please have the attention of the class … today’s assignment: kick some ass! The best song in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is not a Lloyd Webber composition: it was written by Sammy James Jr, of The Mooney Suzuki, and Mike White, who wrote the screenplay for School of Rock, the 2003 movie. The guys who play Dewey Finn in the stage show do a good job; it’s not their fault they’re not Jack Black. Here he is in the movie version of the song.

School of Rock report: Andrew Lloyd Webber gets a B+ but it’s A-stars all round for the kids

The Monkees have a regular slot in my show, People Say We Monkee Around, featuring some of their less well known songs (everyone’s heard Daydream Believer). A highlight of the band’s weird, wonderful 1968 movie Head, Carole King and Toni Stern’s haunting As We Go Along is beautifully performed by Micky Dolenz as Davy wanders about moodily. While you’re here, check out the sublime The Porpoise Song (King again, with Gerry Goffin) from the same film. You can even listen to King’s demo version of the song.

The Commitments are the house band of this website. (Full story here.) A terrific performance of the Wilson Pickett classic. But will he turn up to see them play?

In an attempted scam that sounds like the plot of a movie, Stretch – featuring a bloke from Curved Air and Elmer Gantry of the 60s outfit Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – were put together to masquerade as Fleetwood Mac (who were otherwise engaged) on an American tour. They weren’t best pleased when the Americans rumbled them, and wrote Why Did You Do It? as a riposte to Mick Fleetwood. It became a big hit for them in 1975 and and appeared, a quarter of a century later, in Guy Ritchie’s crime caper Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Here’s a compilation of the best lines from the film. My favourite is: “You don’t look like your average horti-fucking-culturalist,” a tribute to the morphological versatility of the great English swearword.

Jonathan Demme’s slow-burning black comedy Something Wild (1986), one of the best films of the 1980s, boasts sexy, funny and scary performances from, respectively, Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta, and an amazing soundtrack of familiar and unfamiliar music. Jamaican reggae star Sister Carol (AKA Black Cinderella and Mother Culture) contributes this charming cover of Wild Thing.

If it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York? Bogart and Dooley Wilson in a timeless scene from Casablanca. Leading into …

“Well, talk about bad taste!” The funniest scene from the funniest film ever made, though arguably less funny than it was in 1968, when no one could have imagined in their most dystopian nightmares that 50 years later there would be actual neo-nazis in power in parts of Europe and among the entourage of the President of the United States of America.

Tony Christie, 75 years old this year, gives a fine performance of Avenues and Alleyways, the theme from The Protectors, to perhaps the un-coolest audience of all time. Was it really like this in the 1970s? It was.

John Barry’s haunting Midnight Cowboy theme, beautifully performed by the great jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans, brings the first hour of The Beat Goes On to a close.

Coming soon: the second half of the show, featuring The Beatles, The Blues Brothers, Barbra Streisand and lots more!

Twitter: @AAA_Band_Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

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