Monday, June 26, 2017

We remember Charlton Heston (1923-2008)




We remember that Charlton Heston died in 2008. (Charlton Heston, Epic Film Star and Voice of N.R.A., Dies at 83)     

I'm not a big movie fan but love Heston's movies. It's hard to pick a favorite but I like "The Ten Commandments" and the great "Ben Hur".

In recent years, he was active in politics as president of the NRA.

Charlton Heston had a great life. His movies will be loved 100 years from now. Can we say the same about the garbage coming out of leftist Hollywood these days?



A word about Ron Silver (1946-2009)



We remember that Ron Silver died in March 2009.  He had been fighting cancer for a few years.

Like many of us, Ron Silver got a big wake up call on 9-11.

Silver understood that there were people in the world determined to blow up one of our cities and kill thousands of innocent people.  Let's not forget that they'd cut your head off if you disagree with them, too.

On top of that, he was a great actor.

Thomas Lifson has a great post about Silver.

Rick Moran looks back at Silver's political activism.

In fact, Silver did not change. He was always a liberal on social issues.

Silver understood that the terrorists were opposed to everything that liberals believed in, from women's rights to any kind of tolerance.

Silver concluded that you couldn't do business with people who think that we should live under some kind of 12th century justice.

Rest in peace Ron Silver! It's a shame that there aren't more people like Ron Silver in Hollywood!

P.S. Make sure you watch "Fahrenhype 9-11", a response to Michael Moore.

Ed McMahon was a very funny man!





We remember that Ed McMahon died 8 years ago this month.

My generation grew up watching The Tonight Show. It was Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, a great team!

Bill Katz has a great post about Ed McMahon:
"He was a warm, gregarious and totally accessible guy, a former Marine pilot, who seemed genuinely grateful for his luck."
Rent a Tonight Show DVD this weekend! They were great shows!






A word about Eric Segal (1937-2010)





In the early 1970's, Eric Segal wrote a popular book that became an even more popular movie.

Who didn't see "Love Story" back then?

It was the easiest way to get a date with your favorite girl!

We remember Eric Segal today.

He was 72 when he died in January 2010:

"Segal wrote the bestselling book about love and bereavement, which became a chart-topping film, in 1969 when he was 32 and a classics professor at Harvard.

As its most famous line, "love means never having to say you're sorry", entered popular culture, Segal became a celebrity and regular on TV shows, as well as a commentator on the Olympic games for the ABC network.
However, he continued to write right up to his death, producing more than half a dozen novels, essays..." (Obit) 
He also wrote the screen play for The Beatles' movie "Yellow Submarine". Wonder how many people know that?    

"Love Story" also made huge stars of Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw.







Sunday, June 25, 2017

The week in review with Bill Katz, the editor of Urgent Agenda




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1967: The Beatles and “All you need is love” go global



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World War II: The Battle of Britain 1940 with Barry Jacobsen




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January 2010: A lot of Massachusetts in the news....





Massachusetts has been in the news lately.

As we enjoy Scott Brown's victory in that special election to replace Senator Kennedy Massachusetts, let's remember another Massachusetts.

Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb wrote and recorded "Massachusetts" in 1967.

It was the lead song of "Horizontal", their second international album.

It is still one of my favorites and featured in their concerts, such as "One Night only" in 1997.

Friday's show: Democrats after Georgia, violence in Mexico, Illinois & June Carter Cash





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Mary Hopkin 60-something?







Mary Hopkin, the beautiful young woman from Wales who sang so many wonderful songs, is now 60-something.   She was born in 1950 so do the math.

Is that possible?

How can this beautiful folk singer get old? Where did the time go?

Happy birthday Mary!   Again, where did the time go?

Mary is best known for "Those were the days", now available in a digital format.   This is specially good for those who grew up with the scratchy 45!

It was one of the first records released on Apple Records, the company started by The Beatles.

Mary was a beautiful 18-year old woman when she recorded this tune. It quickly became an international best seller.

I loved her voice. Let me confess that I loved her elegant look too! She looked and sounded great!



Thursday's show: We look at US-Mexico issues with Allan Wall.




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"First of May" gets better with time...






We listen to this one every first of May.   And it gets better every year.

This is one of the nicest songs written by the Gibb Brothers.    The song was the only 45 released from the double LP "Odessa", an extremely underrated album.


 Barry does the lead vocals and it was great:  "First of May", now in a digital format.    

By the way, the B-side "Lamplight" was also a great song but did not get much airplay on the radio.


Wednesday's show: The Georgia election aftermath and other stories of the day




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January 1964: "I want to hold your hand" charted in the US






Let's file this one in two sections:

1) "time really flies", and

2) "very favorite songs" category.

Years ago, The Beatles were very popular in the UK and some of Europe.

They had recorded big UK hits like "She loves you" and "Please please me". The Beatles even had a best selling album.

However, The Beatles had struck out in the US. None of their songs had charted over here.

Everything changed with
"I want to hold your hand", the first song released in the US on Capitol Records.

It was so popular that it was even recorded in German!

The single had advanced order of one million copies!

In early February, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the most popular Sunday night show of its time.   They toured the US before sold out crowds. They dominated the charts for months.

It started many years ago in January 1964:   "I want to hold your hand" now available in a digital format!

Tuesday's show: A look at the the Trump foreign policy & Middle East with Richard Baehr




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Spring 1967: Who knew that Ed Ames could sing like this?




For many of us "baby boomers", Ed Ames was "Mingo' or Daniel Boone's sidekick in the very popular TV series.

Who knew that this guy could sing like this? I didn't know! I learned later that Ames had performed professionally with his brothers over the years.

In the spring of 1967, Ed Ames shook up the charts with "My cup runneth over", one of the most remarkable performances by a male vocalist ever!

It was popular enough to compete with the heavyweights in the charts: The Beatles' "Penny Lane", The Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and The Turtles' "Happy together"!


It was a great song:




Monday's show: Trump and Cuba, Trump and the Mueller probe, Lou Gehrig 1903 & Afghanistan




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January 1965: "Beatles' 65" was released in the US





Getting old or big Beatles' fan? I guess that a little bit both!

In January '65, The Beatles released their 5th US album:  Beatles '65.   By the way, many of the songs in this LP were in the UK LP "Beatles for sale".

It included some wonderful Lennon-McCartney songs, such as:

"I'll be back", John lead with Paul;
"I'll follow the sun", Paul lead, and;
"No reply", John lead with Paul.


It also included the single:   "I feel fine", a # 1 song, and the strong B-side, "She's a woman".



Eddie Haskell superstar!






As a new arrival in the US, I fell in love with '"Leave It to Beaver".

! In fact, I give Wally and Beaver a lot of credit for teaching me English.

Furthermore, Mrs. Cleaver is still my favorite TV mom. Is there a sweeter mom on TV than Mrs. Cleaver?

A few days ago, I saw
Ken Osmond, who played the legendary Eddie Haskell. He was a special guest on The O'Reilly Factor.

After all, how many characters get their own
page?

Eddie was great. In fact, I often try to find the "Eddie Haskell" among my kids' friends. I won't reveal their names but I've identified a couple of them.



Dissolve Illinois and federalize the Cubs



As we speak, Illinois is facing a self-inflicted financial crisis that may require some very drastic measures.
Who would have believed that Illinois may be on the verge of bankruptcy the year that Cubs’ fans are chanting repeat in 2017? 
John Kass has a neat idea that should be listened to:
Dissolve Illinois. 
Decommission the state, tear up the charter, whatever the legal mumbo-jumbo, just end the whole dang thing.
 
We just disappear. With no pain. That’s right. You heard me.
The best thing to do is to break Illinois into pieces right now. Just wipe us off the map. Cut us out of America’s heartland and let neighboring states carve us up and take the best chunks for themselves.
The group that will scream the loudest is the state’s political class, who did this to us, and the big bond creditors, who are whispering talk of bankruptcy and asset forfeiture to save their own skins.
Kass is frustrated, as must be everyone who lives between Cook County and the Missouri border.  They’ve seen their state soaked to death by politicians who just care about getting re-elected and promise what they can’t deliver.  Then they call you a racist or inhumane if you inquire how they plan to pay for it.
Beyond that, the Illinois way, not too different from the crony capitalism that we’ve written about in Brazil, has benefited the political class, the public-sector unions and the businesspeople who are shaken down to make campaign contributions.  The Illinois way is on the wrong side of history, to borrow the liberals’ favorite phrase.
So I understand Kass’s frustration.  He has a good idea.  Let’s break up Illinois and let the surrounding states pick up the pieces. 
I would only add one amendment to the idea.  I hate the idea of the Milwaukee or Des Moines Cubs.  So let’s federalize the Cubs and turn them into a national treasure and keep them in Wrigley Field.  They can still be a private company but with the understanding that they belong to all of us.  We all need the Chicago Cubs, even if it means dissolving Illinois!
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) (YouTube) and follow me on Twitter.

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June 25, 1942: Eisenhower assumes command


Dwight Eisenhower was one of the giants of the 20th century:
“On this day in 1942, General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes commander of all U.S. troops in the European theater of World War II, continuing the steady ascent in military rank that would culminate in his appointment as supreme Allied commander of all forces in Europe in 1943. As U.S. commander, Ike developed diplomatic skills that he would later employ as America’s 34th president.
U.S. Army military historians Carl Vuono and M.P.W. Stone have described Eisenhower as a dynamic leader who successfully planned and oversaw military strategy in a complex global environment. These qualities came in handy when Eisenhower was elected president in 1952. The Cold War between democratic and communist nations was in full swing and Eisenhower’s ability to form cooperative relationships, his military experience and calm demeanor reassured anxious Americans.”
Ike, as he was called, was one of those men who comes along at the right time in a country’s history.   His work as a military man was exceptional.   His quiet and stable presidency was exactly what the nation needed after World War II and Korea.


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Happy # 72 Carly Simon


Let's add Carly Simon to the growing list of pop singers who are over 70.    

My first memory of Carly Simon was her 1971 hit "That's the way I've heard it should be", a very 1970's song.   It was also a great song and her vocals were beautiful.

After that, Carly had other hits, such as "You're so vain", and married James Taylor.

We wish Carly a happy # 72.    She was one of a group of great female song writers/performers that released music in the early 1970's.    It was great music.




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I love the "doo wop" chapter of rock music!




In the 1970's, I took an interest in the "doo wop" chapter of rock music.

It happened because of the American Graffiti soundtrack and a Sha Na Na concert that I attended with friends!

I felt in love with the songs and the harmonies.   (It was also the music that some of our parents danced to in the late 1950s!)

"Doo wop" was a great period in the history of rock music.  The format was great songs, super singers, spectacular harmonies and the kind of music that every girl wants to dance to!  

What more do you need?









Saturday, June 24, 2017

Remembering Ellie Greenwich (1940-2009)


As we wrote a few years ago, Ellie Greenwich died:

"For a time Ms. Greenwich and Mr. Barry, who was then her husband, were the most successful of the teams, especially when they wrote for the girl groups the Crystals, the Dixie Cups, the Shangri-Las and others.
In 1964 alone, 17 singles by Ms. Greenwich and Mr. Barry landed on the pop charts, according to “Always Magic in the Air,” a 2005 book by Ken Emerson about the Brill Building days. They included “Chapel of Love,” a No. 1 for the Dixie Cups, and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” which became a No. 1 for Manfred Mann.
Ms. Greenwich and Mr. Barry also wrote “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “River Deep — Mountain High” (all with Mr. Spector). They were also singers, recording their own songs and those of others as the Raindrops.
Perhaps their most famous song was “Leader of the Pack,” which Ms. Greenwich and Mr. Barry wrote with the producer Shadow Morton. His previous hit, for the Shangri-Las, was the idiosyncratic “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” a song about a girl’s heartbreak that included sound effects and spoken words."


That's a lot of good songs.

Ellen Greenwich was a big part of the "girl groups" era of pop-rock music. Her songs were generally about girls singing of love and that man of their dreams! (Again, great songs that still sound great!)

She was inducted in The Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1991.






We remember Les Paul (1915-2009)



As I mentioned to a friend a few days ago, Les Paul impacted every kid who ever tried playing an electric guitar.

Better than that, his rifts and innovative sound impacted Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and lots of other rockers born after Les and Mary recorded so many tunes. Read Colby Cosh: The man who changed the guitar, and us!

This is what Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys said about Les Paul:
""He was the first guy to do multi guitar, multi track recording and that turned me on to guitars and stacking vocals for our records."
P.S. This is Les Paul, wife Mary, and all of those extra "tracks" doing "How high the moon":

video

The Beatles: I have not heard "I don't want to spoil the party" in a long time



The Beatles recorded many songs. Some of them are on the radio often. Some you hear in elevators. Some are now ring tones. Some have also disappeared into our closet of old LP's and 45's.

A few days ago, I heard "Eight days a week" on the radio.  It reminded me of that great B-side:  "I don't want to spoil the party".

This song was also included in The Beatles VI, another US LP. I don't know whether it was released in any UK LPs.

It's a simple song.   It's John and Paul doing the vocals.


My umbrella and listening to The Cowsills!




It's scheduled to rain later today. 

So I'm going to sit back, work, post a few things in my blog and listen to one of my favorite tunes.


This is Mrs Cowsill and all of her kids: "The Rain, the park and other things":





"I saw her sitting in the rain

Raindrops falling on her
She didn't seem to care
She sat there and smiled at me
Then I knew I knew.. I knew.. I knew.. I knew..
She could make me happy Happy.. Happy..
She could make me very Happy..
Flowers in her hair ... flowers every where
Every where ...I love the flower girl
Oh I don't know just why; she simply caught my eye
I love the flower girl
She seemed so sweet and kind; she crept in to my mind
To my mind ... to my mind
I knew I had to say hello Hello ... hello
She smiled up at me
And she took my hand and we walked through the park alone
And I knew I knew.. I knew.. I knew.. I knew..
She had made me happy Happy.. Happy..
She had made me very Happy..
Flowers in her hair ... flowers every where Every where ...
I love the flower girl
Oh I don't know just why; she simply caught my eye
I love the flower girl
She seemed so sweet and kind; she crept in to my mind
To my mind ... to my mind
Suddenly, the sun broke through
See the sun
I turned around she was gone
Where did she go?
And all I had left was one little flower in my hand
But I knew I knew.. I knew.. I knew.. I knew..
She had made me happy Happy.. Happy..
She had made me very Happy..
Flowers in her hair ... flowers every where
Every where ...
I love the flower girl
Was she reality or just a dream to me?
I love the flower girl
Her love showed me the way to find a sunny day
Sunny day ... sunny day ... sunny day
I love the flower girl
Was she reality or just a dream to me?"







John Lennon and that terrible night in December 1980





It was many years ago but we remember.   It was December 1980!  It's still hard to believe that John Lennon was killed in New York City.

John was shot around 11 pm ET and rushed to a local hospital!

Where were you?   Most of the country got the news when Howard Cossell broke the story during the Monday Night Football game!

As for me, I fell asleep early and missed it all.

I got the news very early the next morning when my radio went off at 6 AM.

I was shocked and saddened! What a terrible tragedy!







What an amazing version of "First of May"




Sarah Brightman has a beautiful voice. She's had a wonderful singing career all over the world. Her voice is so special.

A few days ago, I found this version of "First of May", the great song written and recorded by The Bee Gees.

"First of May" is one of my very favorite Bee Gees' songs. It was released as a single in the spring of 1969 and was included in the ODESSA album.

I guess that "First of May" is a song about childhood memories.

You gotta love this version of this song!

The Beatles: "Paperback writer" & "Rain"



The Beatles recorded great songs.  

Over the next few weeks, we will look at one of their best singles:  "Paperback Writer" and the B-side of "Rain".

For years, I owned the original Capitol Records 45 rpm single released in '66.   (I sold it to a record collector in Mexico in the 1980's)

This single was not included in the "Revolver" or "Yesterday and today" LP's in the US or elsewhere.  

In fact, "Paperback writer" was finally released in a US LP "Hey Jude" &  "1962-66" or greatest hits LP released in 1973.    Unfortunately, "Rain" was not released in stereo for a long time.

"Rain" was clearly ahead of its time.  It could have been released on "Sgt. Pepper's" or "Magical Mystery Tour".   At the end of the song, the vocal track is placed in reverse, which is why the lyrics don't make any sense.    

A great 45!   I heard that the 45 cover photo was a mistake.   It shows John & George playing the guitar as lefties.   



'I'm down" and other rare B-sides by The Beatles





In my Beatles' 45's collection, there are 3 very strange B-sides. 

They did not make it to an LP. 

In fact, they were hidden until the 2-volume CD released in the late 90s. ("Past Masters, volume 1 and 2")

The first one is "I'm down". It was the US B-side of the big hit "Help". The lyrics are repetitious but the song is catchy.

This song reminds of "Long Tall Sally", a Fats Domino song from a very early album.

The second choice is "The Inner Light", the US B-side of "Lady Madonna".   

On this one, George Harrison plays the sitar and sings. The lyrics are interesting, specially if you are into a lot of philosophy.

I am not sure what all of that means. It does have a nice melody.

The last one is a classic. 

It really shows that The Beatles had a big sense of humor. "You know my name, look up my number" was the US B-side of "Let it be".   The songs' lyrics are the title over and over again.

The Beatles wrote and recorded many great songs. These are not among them.  Yet, they were fun to listen to now that they are available in a digital format!

The great "girl groups" and a few other ladies!







Like most baby boomers, I'm a huge fan of those "girl groups" from the 1960's.  They were great.  They had great harmonies.  I won't say anything about their hairstyles.

Let's start with the biggest "girl group" or The Supremes.   At one point, Diana Ross and her two friends from Detroit competed with The Beatles for the top of the charts.   My favorite was "Come see about me",

The Marvelettes had a great name and some big hits like "Too Many Fish In the Sea", "I'll Keep Holding On" and "Don't Mess With Bill".  My favorite was "Beachwood 4-5789", a catchy tune and one of the greatest song titles of all time.

The SHIRELLES were a very close second to The Supremes. They recorded songs like "Soldier Boy", "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", "Dedicated To The One I Love" and "Mama Said". I did not know this: The Shirelles were the first all girl group of the Rock and Roll Era to score a number one record! It's hard to pick one but I liked "Foolish little girl"

The Shangri-las were from Queens, New York. They were sisters Betty and Mary Weiss and twins Margie and Mary-Ann Ganser. They met at Andrew Jackson High School. These girls had a very unique look. Their biggest hit was "Leader of the pack".

The Ronettes were also from NY City. Their biggest hit was "Be my baby" but I liked "Walking in the rain".

Leslie Gore was not a part of a "girl group". She had songs like "It's my party", "Judy's turn to cry", "She's a fool", "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" and "That's the Way Boys Are". Most of her songs were about "teen boy-girl" issues. My favorite was "California Nights", a song recorded at the end of her career.

Let me say a word about Petula Clark. She was my favorite female vocalist from this period. My parents enjoyed her songs because they were so polished. Petula Clark had an amazing voice. She had hits like "Downtown", "My love" and "I know a place". My favorite song was "Kiss me goodbye".

Let me add Carole King. She was a great songwriter in the 1960's. In 1971, she released her own album called "Tapestry". She recorded several songs in the 1970's. My favorite song was "Sweet seasons".

Barbara Lewis was a hit machine. She recorded "Hello stranger" and "Baby I'm yours". My favorite was "Make me your baby".

Let's go back to the Supremes. As I wrote before, they were the top girl group. This is "Stop in the name of love".

The girl groups were great. They were one of the most interesting chapters of the pop-rock era!

Did you know that the Brothers Gibb wrote these tunes?



Over the years, we've followed the amazing career of The Bee Gees. 

The brothers started performing at a very young age and eventually became international superstars in the late 1960's.

Today, we recall some of their songs recorded by other artists.   It's a long list and this is just a sample:

1)  "Sweetheart" by Engelbert Humperdinck, one of the big male vocalists of our generation.


2)  "Come on over" by Olivia Newton-John.

3)  "Islands in the stream", a huge hit for Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton.

4)  "Heartbreaker" by Dionne Warwick. 

The great Brothers Gibb and their songs.    You can hear a medley of some of these songs on the "One night only" concert CD.






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