Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Talk about buyer's remorse!

A guy called
Jose Trujillo is suing Apple because he can't replace the battery in his iPhone himself and it dies a little faster than one should expect in these modern times.

And he's not just trying to get his 533 Dollars and change back. He's asking for 75,000.- because, you know, Apple was mean to him.

I think this case is totally pants.

The Old Songs

Back in 1975, when the Grammys still meant something, Gladys Knight and the Pips presented the nominees for "Song of the Year" as only they could.

And what songs they were! Like them or not, Feel Like Makin' Love, The Way We Were, You and Me Against the World and Midnight at the Oasis are songs that people still remember, that still play on the radio and that have been covered or sampled by artists from D'Angelo to the Brand New Heavies or the Wu-Tang Clan.

Now name 5 songs that have been nominated for best song over the past 5 years.

That's ok, I'll wait.

Not that those are bad songs (well, some are. James Blunt, anyone?). But I don't even remember the songs by U2 and John Mayer who won in 2005 and 2004. And I like both those acts quite a bit.

Maybe it did make a difference when not everybody considered him or herself a singer/songwriter, when the Brill Building and Motorcity, USA where packed with song writers who did nothing but write songs all day.

One thing's for sure: Today's artists are getting a lot of mileage out of the songs of yesteryear. Michael McDonald recorded two CDs with material pulled from the Motown catalog, Rod Stewart turned crooner for a mind boggling four albums full of compositions that are over half a century old and the above mentioned Gladys Knight released her first Jazz album of standards after about as many years in the business, covering the songs of Ella, Billie and Dinah.

And now the young generation of singers seems to jump on the big bandwagon: The criminally underrated Amel Larrieux (formerly of Groove Theory) released Lovely Standards which does indeed live up to its title, thankfully choosing somewhat more obscure songs from the great jazz era like Wild Is the Wind and If I Were a Bell. And now Canadian R&B and Club diva Deborah Cox delivers a tribute to the incomparable Dinah Washington with Destination Moon, a truly luscious set that the gifted singer recorded live in the studio with a 40 piece orchestra - the way this kind of music is supposed to be made, dag nabbit!

Let's hope that exposure to those great songs will inspire a new generation of song writers to dig a little deeper, try a little harder and find that spark that made those old songs shine so bright. I know there are some talented kids out there (I'm looking at you, Ne-Yo!), but we need a real competition going again so that maybe in a couple of years, Deborah, or Amel or maybe even Gladys will sing, not read, the nominees for Song of the Year and the crowd will go crazy again.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

No Disrespect Intended

No disrespect intended, but Chaka Khan's new duet with Mary J. Blige, Disrespectful (hear it for free here) is a bit of a mess.
After 2004's stylish effort Classikhan, which chaka-fied legendary songs like To Sir With Love, Gold Finger or Crazy with the able help of the London Symphony Orchestra, this is going in the opposite direction. Maybe they want to appeal to young crunk fans, but I am not feeling for this.

It's a hard, funky tune, but it's also messy and neither here nor there. Chaka, who just a few months ago proved on the tribute CD "We All Love Ella" that she is indeed capable of singing better than ever, is firmly in screaming mode, as is Mary. Speaking of Screams, if this is indeed the handiwork of überproducers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, why did they have to channel one of their worst efforts, the similarly disjointed and all-over-the-place Scream by Janet and Michael Jackson?

I am still optimistic that I will find things I like on the upcoming album, but I definitely won't purchase it without giving it a good listen first.

I hear that Chaka, one of the very few great soul divas who did not have a strong gospel background, recently found Jesus. Thankfully, that did not stop her from giving the new album the potty-mouth-pun title Funk This. Let's just hope the reviews will deserve to be better than something that almost rhymes with that tilte.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Sobbing of Doris Troy

While browsing IMDB, I stumbled across an upcoming movie version of the musical Mama, I Want to Sing!
This, for those who don't know, is the autobiographical musical of the late, great soul singer Doris Troy, who played her own mother in the original stage version of the musical. In London, that part was played by both Chaka Khan and Micah Paris.

The movie has an interesting cast, including musicians Ciara, Ne-Yo, Bobby Valentino, Ralph Tresvant and the one and only Patti Labelle! Also starring is CSI: NY hottie, Hill Harper.

Doris Troy grew up in the Bronx as the daughter of a pentecostal preacher from Barbados. She may not have been the best versed singer technically, but few reached the sheer amount of emotions she could pack into a song. Just listen to her desperate sobbing on "How my Heart Breaks" - a record that, rumor has it, may have featured a young Dwight Reginald a.k.a. Elton John on Piano!

Doris was a talented song writer, and her big hit "Just One Look" was used in so many movies and commercials, as well as getting covered by acts like the Hollies, that it allowed her not to have to starve like so many of her peers.

Doris Troy died of emphysema on February 16, 2004. I hope this movie will be a worthy monument to her and her achievements.