Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ahhh...Paree...

Debate moment of last night...

Although I still think John Edwards did the strongest last night, this Biden jab was definitely the highlight of last night's Democratic debate in Philly. BTW please someone deflate Tim Russert and his idiotic questioning?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jam for the night....

TO cleanse myself from the craziness on the John Rich shit.

Les McCann's "Compared To What", from 1969...

The President, he's got his war,
Folks don't know just what it's for.
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason,
Have one doubt, they call it treason.
Prescient words, now.

Country music douchebag of the week (Inaugural award)


John Rich, you are officially a punk-ass dick. Usually I give a little bit of leeway between musicians/actors and their political views that may different from mine, and I had been giving Rich a half-pass already for stumping for "I play one on TV" conservative republitard Fred Thompson, but didn't realize the one in Big & Rich that doesn't wear the weird hat was also a recurring guest on some radio show, where he vomited up this bunch of shit why he supports "I'm like Fred 'Gopher' Grandy without the boat" Thompson...

The pro-lifer is against gay marriage. "I think if you legalize that, you've got to legalize some other things that are pretty unsavory," he says. "You can call me a radical, but how can you tell an aunt that she can't marry her nephew if they are really in love and sharing the bills? How can you tell them they can't get married, but something else that's unnatural can happen?"
As ignorant as that is, he goes on to say that..

John also is known as a woman-loving party animal. "I'm probably somewhat of a walking dichotomy, I guess. Some of my favorite singers were that too, like Johnny Cash."
Well, you, fucktard, aren't Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash made albums about the plight of the Native American, and explored the psyche of a prisoner's mind. He expanded what country music was and influenced generations of people. You made a video with a blow-up sex doll.

And let me get this straight. You can "party" with however many girls you want, however, me wanting to construct a monogamous marriage with another man is "unnatural". And Thompson shilling for abortion-rights outfits is A-OK with you since he "really didn't like it". Idiot. I mean, if you're gonna be a flat-earth, wide-eyed mouthbreather, at least be a little consistent with it.

And by the way, you and "Big Kenny" are lookin' so totally gay together. Hall & Oates look at you and say, "fuck man, they're pretty gay".

At least we know who the "bottom" is now.


Read more on Down With Tyranny....apparently "Big Kenny" is quite the opposite, being all humanitarian in Africa and shit. Kenny, dislodge that dingleberry from yo ass now!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

She's baaaack!

I almost wet myself when I found out that this is out. Kylie's back, and as good as ever. Here's "2 Hearts", from her upcoming album "X"...

Those who act cautious and wise, never have stars in their eyes...


Nothing says mellow more than Perry Como. There’s no edge. Hell, even Bing Crosby beat his kids to make himself “hard”. And this “laid-back” career of Como’s lasted from the 40’s to the 70’s, amassing a string of singles comparable to Sinatra. His first #1 came in 1945 with "Till The End Of Time", the advent of rock 'n' roll didn't stop Como's momentum immediately, placing top-10 pop songs throughout the 50s, leaving the 60s to fade and return briefly in the mellow early-70s with the one-two punch of "It's Impossible" and "And I Love You So" which entranced the Godfather-crowd. Perry managed to put 150 songs on the pop chart during his lifetime, which believe it or not is three short of Elvis himself! He had too many to fit on one compilation. But as opposed to Sinatra, who can be anthologized by record label (Columbia, Capitol, or Reprise), Como was RCA’s baby all the way. And until recently his CD availability has been scattered, with a three-disc box set and a single disc covering a ton of material. Lately, RCA (as well as oldies prints Collectables and Collector’s Choice) has been bringing out more of Perry’s music, anchored by a one and two-disc greatest hits sets that covers his major hits on the label. There also has been smaller CDs that focus on different aspects, with one of the better ones covering his 60’s period. The other, The Long Lost Hits of Perry Como, presents 24 mid-level hits from 1943 until the beginning of the “rock era” in 1955, with five top-10 songs and nothing below #25. As such, nothing here is definitive of his recordings of that time, with remakes of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” (which is way corny) and a slowed down “Please Mr. Sun” instantly recognizable. The major “crank ‘em out” tunesmiths of the day are represented, from Loesser’s postwar lament “Have I Stayed Away Too Long” to Cole Porter’s simplistic “I Love You”. Jerome Kern’s “More And More” is an early highlight, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “So Far” is an overlooked nugget, while its counterpart from the play Allegro, “A Fellow Needs A Girl”, is not as worthy. Warm songs like “Here Comes Heaven”, “On The Outgoing Tide”, and “All Through The Day” are nice, innocuous radio material, and “You Won’t Be Satisfied” and “Patricia” were more upbeat (for him). As the 50’s came in, Como’s output varied from the sweet serenades of “There Never Was A Night So Beautiful” and “All At Once You Love Her” to the ‘nice-guy’ hurt of “Fooled”, to the novelty fodder of “Pa-Paya Mama” and “Hit And Run Lover”. In fact, most of the album is easy-to-swallow, except for his attempts at silliness, such as “Bibbidi”, “Zing Zing Zoom Zoom”, and “Papaya-Mama”. His cardigan croon is unsuited for that kind of fluff. The best if the trio of songs at the end, with “There Never Was A Night So Beautiful” and “Fooled” complimentary songs that rank with his more notable hits. Mind you, The Long Lost Hits Of Perry Como isn’t going to be a revelation into the career of the man MAD-TV spoofed in “Perry Como: Still Alive!”. But for the most ardent fans of the crooner from Canonsburg, this set is a welcome completion piece.

Grade: C
Best Cuts:
“There Never Was A Night So Beautiful”, “Fooled”, “More & More”
Weakest Links:
“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”, “Zing Zing Zoom Zoom”, “Pa-paya Mama”

"Have I Stayed Too Long" hit #19 on the pop chart.
"I Love You" hit #12 on the pop chart.
"More And More" hit #14 on the pop chart.
"I'm Gonna Love That Gal" made #4 on the pop chart.
"That Feeling In The Moonlight" made #9 on the pop chart.
"Here Comes Heaven" made #12 on the pop chart.
"You Won't Be Satisfied" hit #5 on the pop chart.
"All Through The Day" hit #8 on the pop chart.
"So Far" hit #11 on the pop chart.
"A Fellow Needs A Gal" made #25 on the pop chart.
"Just One Way To Say I Love You" made #23 on the pop chart.
"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" made #14 on the pop chart.
"On The Outgoing Tide" hit #16 on the pop chart.
"Patricia" hit #7 on the pop chart.
"Zing Zing Zoom Zoom" hit #12 on the pop chart.
"Tulips and Heather" made #16 on the pop chart.
"Please Mr. Sun" made #12 on the pop chart.
"My Love And Devotion" made #19 on the pop chart.
"My Lady Loves To Dance" hit #19 on the pop chart.
"Pa-Paya Mama" hit #11 on the pop chart.
"Hit And Run Lover" hit #15 on the pop chart.
"There Never Was A Night So Beautiful" hit #21 on the pop chart.
"Fooled" made #20 on the pop chart.
"All At Once You Love Her" made #11 on the pop chart.

Listen: “Fooled” [Click here to listen]

Buy: You can pick up a copy of The Long Lost Hits Of Perry Como at sites like here and here.

And now for my niece, here's Perry singing "Tulips And Heather"...



Goodnight! Croon on in heaven, Perry!




Saturday, October 27, 2007

In memory of Paul...

One of the greatest senators, ever. I'm a couple days late, but the fifth anniversary of Sen. Paul Wellstone's (D-MN) passing in a plane crash in the middle of his re-election campaign. I wish there were more people like him, especially in the political arena.



BIG hat tip to Americablog for reminding me (and get the latest news commentary there)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Twostepcub's music chart for October 26, 2007...


Hey folks, it's time again for my tunes for the week. This week Pink finally makes it to the top to make it three for three from her current album, I'm Not Dead. James Blunt (pictured above) jumps into the top-5, while big hits by Meck, Reba, The White Stripes, Kelly Rowland, Hilary Duff, and Sugarland drop out of the countdown. Mika, Jennifer Lopez, Plumb, , Gary Allan, Sugarland (again), and Paramore make the biggest leaps. Linkmania is still is full effect - you can click on the highlighted name of any artist to go to their website (rightclick and you can bring it up in another tab or window). Go get 'em tiger!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Who Knew - Pink (2)
2. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (4)
3. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (5)
4. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (8)
5. 1973 - James Blunt (10)
6. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (6)
7. Thks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy (4)
8. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (1)
9. Online - Brad Paisley (9)
10. Wake Up Call - Maroon5 (11)
11. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (7)
12. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (12)
13. First Time - Lifehouse (13)
14. White Lies - Paul Van Dyk f/Jessica Sutta (15)
15. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (17)
16. Walk Away - Tony Moran f/Kristine W. (21)
17. I'm Not Featuring You - Taylor Dayne (22)
18. Over You - Daughtry (20)
19. Fall - Clay Walker (19)
20. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie (14)
21. When You're Gone - Avril Lavigne (16)
22. Love Today - Mika (38)
23. The Pretender - Foo Fighters (28)
24. Shut Up And Drive - Rihanna (25)
25. So Small - Carrie Underwood (27)
26. More Than A Memory - Garth Brooks (30)
27. Love Is Gone - David Guetta f/Chris Willis (18)
28. The Way I Are - Timbaland f/Keri Hilson (32)
29. Love Vibrations - Barbara Tucker (29)
30. Firecracker - Josh Turner (34)
31. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (26)
32. Rockstar - Nickelback (23)
33. Stay - Simply Red (35)
34. Everybody - Keith Urban (44)
35. Stronger - Kanye West (37)
36. 4 In The Morning - Gwen Stefani (24)
37. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (39)
38. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney (42)
39. Hold It, Don't Drop It - Jennifer Lopez (52)
40. Activate My Body - Perry Twins f/Jania (40)
41. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon5 (31)
42. Into The Night - Santana f/Chad Kroeger (53)
43. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (45)
44. Pictures Of You - The Last Goodnight (51)
45. Her Eyes - Pat Monahan (50)
46. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (48)
47. Heaven, Heartache, & The Power Of Love - Trisha Yearwood (54)
48. In My Arms - Plumb (62)
49. Love Song - Sara Bareilles (59)
50. Stay - Sugarland (86)
51. All My Friends Say - Luke Bryan (33)
52. Home - Daughtry (46)
53. Stop Me - Mark Ronson f/Daniel Merriweather (43)
54. Hold On - KT Tunstall (55)
55. Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert (56)
56. With Every Heartbeat - Kleerup f/Robyn (66)
57. Make It Last - Dave Aude f/Jessica Sutta (58)
58. Step Into The Light - Darren Hayes (41)
59. Calling You '07 - Blue October (65)
60. Hollywood - Collective Soul (61)
61. As If - Sara Evans (72)
62. Give Me Danger - Dangerous Muse (63)
63. Deep Into Your Soul - Friscia & Lamboy (60)
64. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (64)
65. My Man - Amuka (49)
66. Nothin' Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes (76)
67. Watching Airplanes - Gary Allan (89)
68. The Great Escape - Boys Like Girls (74)
69. But Beautiful - Billie Holiday (82)
70. Last Request - Paolo Nutini (70)
71. Straight Lines - Silverchair (79)
72. Nolita Fairytale - Vanessa Carlton (73)
73. Another Side Of You - Joe Nichols (77)
74. Before It's Too Late - Goo Goo Dolls (57)
75. Misery Business - Paramore (91)
76. She's Madonna - Robbie Williams f/Pet Shop Boys (47)
77. Living Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (80)
78. Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn (71)
79. Everybody Dance (Clap Your Hands) - Deborah Cox (83)
80. If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart (36)
81. Stronger - Inez (DEBUT)
82. Seven Days Of Lonely - I Nine (90)
83. All At Once - The Fray (69)
84. Outta My Mind- Ohsha Kai (67)
85. I Want Your Soul - Armand Van Helden (DEBUT)
86. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls - George Strait (88)
87. Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith (87)
88. Evolution - Korn (95)
89. The More I Drink - Blake Shelton (DEBUT)
90. Girl I Told Ya - Valeria (97)
91. Umbrella - Rihanna (68)
92. Your Love Is Mine - Corinne Bailey Rae (DEBUT)
93. Lost Highway - Bon Jovi (99)
94. Do It - Nelly Furtado (DEBUT)
95. Disrespectful - Chaka Khan f/Mary J. Blige (DEBUT)
96. Breathe In Breathe Out - Mat Kearney (DEBUT)
97. Never Wanted Nothing More - Kenny Chesney (92)
98. Salala - Angelique Kidjo f/Peter Gabriel (DEBUT)
99. What Do You Think About That - Montgomery Gentry (100)
100. Our Song - Taylor Swift (DEBUT)

This week there's nine new songs on my list. The highest is Danish singer Inez (yes, Inez). This version on the YouTube is pretty tame, but the remix of the dance tune's slammin'. The usual disaffected female voice, but hey, the beat's contagious...



here's the remix version - the bigger beats make a difference...



Next up, veteran dance music artist Armand Van Helden, originally from Boston, with "I Want Your Soul", which samples Siedah Garrett's "Do You Want It Right Now", and a video that makes the 90's retro. I'm old. Y'know it took me a couple times to realize nobody's really singing anything but the chorus. Duh. Still good.



Blake Shelton has my pick for the week. I love a good, dirty bar song, and "The More I Drink" has the swagger. The powerful voice, mixed with metal-lite guitars, damn!



And now, my first "Sugarbear dedication. This album's awesome go buy it now if you haven't! Here's British singer Corinne Bailey Rae with the original version of "Your Love Is Mine" (somebody made a cool clip to go with it)...



Nelly Furtado lands her fifth single from her album Loose on the list, appropriately titled "Do It". Pure dance fluff, getting into Fergie-land, eh?



On the other end of the spectrum, you can't pack much more soul than a record with both Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige on it. Here's Chaka's new song, "Disrespectful"...



Mat Kearney puts his third song on the list with "Breathe In Breathe Out", from Grey's Anatomy, and he doesn't stray from the mellow rock of "Undeniable" and "Nothing Left To Lose"...



And for a little something different, here's world music superstar Angelique Kidjo with Peter Gabriel with "Salala"...



and finally country newcomer Taylor Swift's third single from her debut album comes on, and its ok if a little innocuous. Here's "Our Song"...



So here I am, standing in your doorway...



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And when I'm looking at your big blue eyes, I start a-floating round in paradise...

Oh boy. For the most part I adore British pop. There's a thousand arguments how the English music scene towers over American pop. This ain't it.

Shakin' Stevens (nee' Welshman Michael Barratt) was the biggest thing in the UK in the 80's. Yes. You never heard of him? Well, yes, if you're in America, where Stevens crossover was more dismal than Robbie Williams, and he has been considered a flop here so far. With one sole chart single in the US, not even making the top-40, some Americans may be surprised that at the height of the second "British Invasion", fifteen of his singles made the UK top-10. A dozen of those appear on his Hits of Shakin' Stevens collection, along with a few midsize hits and a bonus track.

The best way to describe Stevens' music is retro rock. Not like the Stray Cats, of the same time period. More like Sha-Na-Na retro. Happy Days with Pat Morita retro. American Graffiti 2 retro. Shiny, sanitized, and soulless, he's one step farther than Pat Boone's 60's recordings were. Mind you, his enthusiasm for his material occasionally succeeds, such as his versions of "Green Door" and "Cry Just A Little Bit" (with it's pre-"The Way She Makes Me Feel" beat). Also "You Drive Me Crazy" and "Oh Julie" (later covered for a top-40 hit by Barry Manilow) showed a bare glimmer of promise in kitsch; however in larger doses it becomes a bit pajama-party saccharine. Most of the rest taken together as a whole sound like outtakes from a forgotten Grease 2 sequel. There are karaoke remakes such as Rosemary Clooney's "This Ole House", Dorsey Burnette's "It's Late", and Brook Benton/Dinah Washington's "A Rockin' Good Way" (with Bonnie Tyler). And I do give him props for good ear for material, if not execution, such as Irma Thomas' "It's Raining", John Fred & The Playboys' "Shirley", and the Blasters' "Marie Marie". As for a compilation, even though it is packed with enough major UK hits, there are a few explainable omissions - of the three top-10 songs missing are the #1 "Happy Christmas Everyone" and anything from his EP that hit #2 including "Blue Christmas". Of course, unless its Christmas season, they won't be missed. All in all, The Hits of Shakin' Stevens is a campy curio, but not necessarily a hidden treasure. Though if you're collecting the hits of the UK in the 80's, you can't pass Mr. Barratt by. (and for you completists, there's a Hits Of Shakin' Stevens II).

Grade: D+
Best Cuts:
"Oh Julie", "You Drive Me Crazy"
Weakest Links: "This Ole House", "Marie Marie", "Why Do You Treat Me This Way", "Shirley"

"This Ole House" hit #1 in the UK.
"You Drive Me Crazy" hit #2 in the UK.
"It's Late" made #11 in the UK.
"Green Door" made #1 in the UK.
"Teardrops" hit #5 in the UK
"Oh Julie" hit #1 in the UK.
"A Love Worth Waiting For" made #2 in the UK.
"I'll Be Satisfied" made #10 in the UK.
"Marie Marie" hit #19 in the UK.
"It's Raining hit #10 in the UK.
"Give Me Your Heart Tonight" made #11 in the UK.
"Shirley" made #6 in the UK.
"Cry Just A Little Bit" hit #67 pop and #13 adult contemporary in the US, and #2 in the UK.
"A Rockin' Good Way" hit #5 in the UK.
"A Letter To You" made #10 in the UK.

Listen: "Cry Just A Little Bit" [click here to listen]

Buy:
You can pick up a copy of The Hits Of Shakin' Stevens at sites like here or here.

And here's some clips....very early MTV.

First, "This Ole House"...



Here's two in a row - "You Drive Me Crazy" and "It's Late"...



Here's his #1 "Green Door"...



Here's the doowop "Teardrops"..



I wish I could find Barry's version, but here's Stevens' "Oh Julie"...



Here's "A Love Worth Waiting For"...



"I'll Be Satisfied"...



Here's Irma Thomas' "It's Raining"...



Here's "Give Me Your Heart Tonight"...



and a remake of "Shirley"...



Here's his sole American hit, "Cry Just A Little Bit"....



Stevens teams up with Bonnie Tyler in "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around And Fall In Love)"...



and finally, "A Letter To You"...

Scary costumes half-off!


Caption: (Woman in burka) "What the fuck dollar-store Botox is this bitch on?"

Interview of the day....

Good ol' George Carlin on the Keith Olbermann show. Gotta love him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh, your hair is beautiful tonight....

Remix albums aren’t usually this bad. Nor or compilations. Especially connected to a seminal artist like Blondie. Yet Once More Into The Bleach is neither a normal remix nor a compilation. Billed nebulously as Debbie Harry slash Blondie, Once More is a thrown-together hodgepodge of Blondie songs seemingly re-recorded by only Harry (and thus credited to just her), a couple true Blondie recordings, and a half-album retrospective of Harry’s solo singles. Now where to start with how bad this is?

Well, the first “half” of the set includes Blondie songs. As I said, I assume they were re-recorded since besides “Heart Of Glass” and “Atomic”, they’re credited in the liner notes to “Debbie Harry”. While the vocals are mostly on the mark if so, the mixes included are awful. From the disjointed “Denis” to the annoying “telephone” sound effects on “Call Me”, these mixes scream late 80’s. “Rapture”’s iconic bassline is swamped by clangy post-production, and “The Tide Is High” ramps up the pseudo-reggae factor to laughable levels. Surprisingly included is the original 12” disco version of Heart Of Glass”, and the shorter “Atomic”, both the best that Blondie had to offer, but also available a million other ways unsurrounded by this crap. And tacked on the end is a French Version on “Sunday Girl” which is totally unnecessary.

After Blondie the band splintered in 1982, Harry carried on a solo career that seemed more based on her persona than any musical vision. The usual overblown star excess is piled on in droves in muddled messes like the Chic-produced but un-funky “Backfired”, which is itself a feat. For the “best” of her work, it all sounds like toss-off filler, with “The Jam Was Moving”, “Rush Rush”, and the silly (and not in a good way) “French Kissin’ In The USA” appearing more as background music for a brand than anything else. “In Love With Love” was an almost passable hit at the time, but this collection even manages to put the crappier mix of the song on here. “Feel The Spin” comes the closest to even matching the quality of her band work, though it’s too dated and flighty.

Thankfully Harry reunited (somewhat) with Blondie to produce a couple reasonable albums. As for Once More Into The Bleach, if you’re looking for a piece of product, here you go. By all means run away if you’re looking for good Blondie music, and Harry’s early solo work isn’t much to write home about.

Grade: D-
Best Cuts:
“Heart Of Glass”, “Atomic”
Weakest Links: just about everything else

Once More Into The Bleach hit #50 on the UK albums chart and #46 as an album on the Club Play Chart.
"Denis" hit #50 in the UK.
"Call Me (1988 Remix)" hit #61 in the UK.
"The Jam Was Moving" made #82 on the pop singles chart US.
"In Love With Love" made #70 pop, #1 dance, and #45 in the UK.
"Rush Rush" hit #105 pop, #28 dance club play, and #87 in the UK.
"French Kissin' In The USA" hit #57 pop, #44 dance singles sales, and #8 in the UK.
"Feel The Spin" made #5 dance singles sales.
"Backfired" made #43 pop, #29 dance club play, #71 R&B, and #32 in the UK.
"Heart Of Glass" hit #1 pop, #58 dance club play, and #1 in the UK.
"Atomic" hit #39 pop and #1 in the UK.

Listen: "Feel The Spin" [Click here to listen]

Buy:
You can pick up a copy of Once More Into The Bleach at sites like here or here.

Watch: Let's start with classic Blondie. Here's "Heart Of Glass"....



next up - "Atomic"...



As for her solo work - here's "French Kissin' In The USA"...



Here's the better remix of "In Love with Love (not on this album)"



Here's Debbie in the studio trying to get her B-52's on with "The Jam Was Moving"..



From the movie "Scarface" here's the better (and of course not on the album) Moroder Mix of "Rush Rush"



Here's the Jellybean remix of "Feel The Spin"...



And for extra weird, here's her video for "Backfired"...



and finally, here's the French version of "Sunday Girl" that is on this CD.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

There is none so blind as he who will not see...


Before there was Cletus, before there was "Weird" Al, there was Ray. While the 50's and 60's offered a plethora of comedy acts on the charts from Allen Sherman to Stan Freberg to the Chipmunks, country music offered the one-two punch of Roger Miller and Ray Stevens, two artists that not only were comedians, but also competent singers and songwriters. And if Roger Miller was the cornpone cute of them, Stevens was the flat-out novelty stylist. Willing to go to great lows to deliver overblown cariacatures, his music also included some uplifting anthems. As the 70's FM advent dampered his pop career, country radio continued to embrace him. For the Australian import collection The Most Of Ray Stevens, his slight yet most popular fare is mixed in with a little of his more straightforward work.

The set starts out not with his earliest, but his biggest single, "The Streak", a semi-"break-in" type of novelty, where spoken dialogue (here, in the case of a television reporter) alternates with the silly chorus about the totally passe' fad of running around public naked. I can't picture this happening now, but the song hit the top here and in England. And some people say society's morally corrupt now! Oddly, Steven's first success, the trippy mod parody "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving, Fast Acting, Pleasant Tasting Green & Purple Pills" doesn't appear until the end of the CD. After the "Streak", two of Stevens' more baser stereotypical songs, "Ahab The Arab" and "Harry The Hairy Ape", begin the goofy mindless offerings like "Little Egypt", "Freddy Feelgood", "Gitarzan", and "Bridget The Midget". Most of these include the worst aspect of his recording - the overuse of canned laughter which drains the humor out of mostly everything, especially the cover of the Coasters' "Along Came Jones". However, even though this is terribly dated, it is his most remembered work.

His most enduring work, though, is his more serious songs. The epitome of that is the feel-good white-gospel of "Everything Is Beautiful", complete with children's choir and all. Winner of the Grammy for Male Vocalist of the Year, the song unbelievably isn't as corny as I remembered hearing at the time in my youth but rather naively optimistic. On the other side of the coin, "Mr. Businessman" is a mildly scathing "ode" to the newly-minted white-collar class that has now totally taken over American economic life. "Have A Little Talk With Myself" is a Grateful Dead-style self-help mantra, while "Turn Your Radio On" remakes a gospel song into country hoedown. Also, Errol Garner's "Misty", made famous by Johnny Mathis, is given a brighter, faster treatment, and has aged really well. As a fan bonus, Stevens' original version of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", which he actually turned down as a single, appears, as well as a toss-off cover of "Mr. Custer". "Indian Love Call" doesn't really do anything but reprise 50's style crooning, but the hidden gem of the collection is the maudlin "Funny Man", were the "sad clown" persona is played to the hilt. It would've probably worked much better as the closing number, though the compilers might not have wanted to end on a somber note.

There are only a couple of his minor hits missing, such as "Santa Claus Is Watching You", "America Communicate With Me", "In The Mood" (a remake of the Glenn Miller tune done as the Henhouse Five Plus Too), and the original single release of Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down". They could've fit (yank the "Little Egypt" and "Mr. Custer") but aren't totally essential to "get" Stevens' music. In The Most Of Ray Stevens, You have a substantial retrospect on Ray's career - just be ready for some dated hick humor.

Grade: C
Best Cuts:
"Everything Is Beautiful", "Misty", "Mr. Businessman"
Weakest Links: "Little Egypt", "Ahab The Arab", "Mr. Custer", "Harry The Harry Ape", "Along Came Jones"

"The Streak" hit #1 pop, #3 country and #1 in the UK.
"Ahab The Arab" hit #5 pop and #9 R&B.
"Harry The Hairy Ape" made #17 pop and #14 R&B.
"Turn Your Radio On" made #63 pop, #17 country, and #33 in the UK.
"Along Came Jones" hit #27 pop.
"Have A Little Talk With Myself" hit #63 country.
"Funny Man" made #81 pop.
"Freddie Feelgood" made #91 pop.
"Everything Is Beautiful" hit #1 pop, #39 country, #1 adult contemporary, and #6 in the UK.
"Misty" made #14 pop, #3 country, and #2 in the UK.
"Mr. Businessman" hit #28 pop.
"Gitarzan" hit #8 pop.
"Bridget The Midget" made #50 pop and #2 in the UK.
"Indian Love Call" made #68 pop, #38 country, and #34 in the UK.
"Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving..." hit #35 pop.

Buy:
You can pick up a copy of The Most Of Ray Stevens at websites like here and here.
Here's "Everything Is Beautiful"....



here's "The Streak" (a remake I think)...



and top-10 song "Ahab The Arab



A fan tribute to "Mr. Businessman"...



and here's "Misty" (from the Barbara Mandrell show)...


Friday, October 19, 2007

Song for sugarbear...

I don't know who needs this more...

Twostepcub's music chart for October 19, 2007...


Hey everyone, it's a rainy Friday night, and time for my tunes for the week! This week Rascal Flatts spend a sixth week on top, while Justin Timberlake (pictured above) moves his fifth single from his album FutureSex/LoveSounds within the top-10. Mika, Santana, Trisha Yearwood, Jennifer Lopez, and Plumb make the biggest moves, while former top-40 songs by Miguel Migs & Linkin Park drop off. Links-mania is still in full-effect, so you can click on any artist name to bring up their website (rightclick and you'd be better to bring up in a new tab or window). lisajamesotto, lisajamesotto, lisajamesotto!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
--------------------------------------------------------------
1. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (1)
2. Who Knew - Pink (2)
3. Thks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy (4)
4. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (8)
5. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (5)
6. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (6)
7. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (3)
8. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (10)
9. Online - Brad Paisley (11)
10. 1973 - James Blunt (15)
11. Wake Up Call - Maroon5 (17)
12. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (12)
13. First Time - Lifehouse (13)
14. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie (7)
15. White Lies - Paul Van Dyk f/Jessica Sutta (18)
16. When You're Gone - Avril Lavigne (9)
17. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (21)
18. Love Is Gone - David Guetta f/Chris Willis (19)
19. Fall - Clay Walker (20)
20. Over You - Daughtry (24)
21. Walk Away - Tony Moran f/Kristine W. (30)
22. I'm Not Featuring You - Taylor Dayne (31)
23. Rockstar - Nickelback (14)
24. 4 In The Morning - Gwen Stefani (16)
25. Shut Up And Drive - Rihanna (26)
26. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (22)
27. So Small - Carrie Underwood (29)
28. The Pretender - Foo Fighters (35)
29. Love Vibrations - Barbara Tucker (33)
30. More Than A Memory - Garth Brooks (32)
31. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon5 (27)
32. The Way I Are - Timbaland f/Keri Hilson (44)
33. All My Friends Say - Luke Bryan (23)
34. Firecracker - Josh Turner (42)
35. Stay - Simply Red (39)
36. If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart (25)
37. Stronger - Kanye West (46)
38. Love Today - Mika (51)
39. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (40)
40. Activate My Body - Perry Twins f/Jania (43)
41. Step Into The Light - Darren Hayes (28)
42. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney (50)
43. Stop Me - Mark Ronson f/Daniel Merriweather (34)
44. Everybody - Keith Urban (54)
45. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (47)
46. Home - Daughtry (36)
47. She's Madonna - Robbie Williams f/Pet Shop Boys (37)
48. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (49)
49. My Man - Amuka (38)
50. Her Eyes - Pat Monahan (56)
51. Pictures Of You - The Last Goodnight (58)
52. Hold It, Don't Drop It - Jennifer Lopez (92)
53. Into The Night - Santana f/Chad Kroeger (80)
54. Heaven, Heartache & The Power Of Love - Trisha Yearwood (70)
55. Hold On - KT Tunstall (57)
56. Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert (60)
57. Before It's Too Late - Goo Goo Dolls (52)
58. Make It Last - Dave Aude f/Jessica Sutta (59)
59. Love Song - Sara Bareilles (69)
60. Deep Into Your Soul - Friscia & Lamboy (62)
61. Hollywood - Collective Soul (65)
62. In My Arms - Plumb (93)
63. Give Me Danger - Dangerous Muse (68)
64. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (64)
65. Calling You '07 - Blue October (77)
66. With Every Heartbeat - Kleerup f/Robyn (76)
67. Outta My Mind - Ohsha Kai (67)
68. Umbrella - Rihanna (53)
69. All At Once - The Fray (63)
70. Last Request - Paolo Nutini (73)
71. Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn (71)
72. As If - Sara Evans (81)
73. Nolita Fairytale - Vanessa Carlton (79)
74. The Great Escape - Boys Like Girls (86)
75. Supermassive Black Hole - Muse (48)
76. Nothin' Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes (82)
77. Another Side Of You - Joe Nichols (78)
78. Feels Like Home - Meck f/Dino (41)
79. Straight Lines - Silverchair (85)
80. Living Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (83)
81. Because Of You - Reba McEntire f/Kelly Clarkson (45)
82. But Beautiful - Billie Holiday (96)
83. Everybody Dance (Clap Your Hands) - Deborah Cox (94)
84. Just Might Have Her Radio On - Trent Tomlinson (55)
85. Icky Thump - White Stripes (75)
86. Stay - Sugarland (DEBUT)
87. Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith (88)
88. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls - George Strait (90)
89. Watching Airplanes - Gary Allan (97)
90. Seven Days Of Lonely - I Nine (100)
91. Misery Business - Paramore (95)
92. Never Wanted Nothing More - Kenny Chesney (87)
93. Like This - Kelly Rowland f/Eve (61)
94. Stranger - Hilary Duff (74)
95. Evolution - Korn (DEBUT)
96. Everyday America - Sugarland (66)
97. Girl I Told Ya - Valeria (DEBUT)
98. You Never Take Me Dancing - Travis Tritt (72)
99. Lost Highway - Bon Jovi (DEBUT)
100. What Do Ya Think Of That - Montgomery Gentry (DEBUT)

This week sees five songs enter the chart, with the highest the stunning new song from Sugarland, "Stay" it's my "pick of the week"....



next up, in a completely different direction, is nu-metal act Korn with "Evolution"...



Dance artist Valeria comes on with "Girl I Told Ya"...



Bon Jovi is still going strong, and their second single from their latest album is the title track, "Lost Highway"...



and finally, Montgomery Gentry's third single from the latest CD debuts, here's "What Do Ya Think About That"...



lisajamesotto!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tell me when I can open my eyes...

There's nothing like a big, real country diva. One born from humble beginnings, and triumphing over struggles and scandals. Trisha Yearwood comes close. But in contemporary country, nobody touches Wynonna Judd. Debuting with her mother Naomi as the Judds back in 1984, she followed up a remarkable tally of fourteen #1 songs as a duo with a solid solo career in 1992 that still places albums in the top-10. As with Yearwood, Wynonna stands above much of the country field by producing consistent albums that grow as she does (no cheap shots, kay?). To celebrate her over-20 years of recording, Judd releases her second live album (the first a "reunion" album with her mother), the double-disc Her Story: Scenes From A Lifetime. The title is apropos, since it feels a lot like its taped on the set of a Lifetime special, rather than the Grand Old Opry. And surprisingly that's not such a bad thing. An intimate thank-you to her fans, Wynonna shares stories while singing both past Judd classics as well as remake songs by others that are close to her heart. A little sappy at times, its preciousness is vindicated by her earnestness and genuineness.

Divided into two acts, disc one, subtitled "Harmony & History", shows Wynonna reminiscing about her career begininngs. Beginning with "Dream Chaser" a hidden nugget from the Judds' first EP, tells me already that this isn't just going to be a rote recitation of past successes. The song, recalling their start on the road to Nashville, proves even more poignant now that they have made it. "Girls Night Out" is apt for the "ladies-only" theme, though there's nothing novel to the delivery. A brief synopsis of Judds tunes like the sweet "Love Is Alive", "Maybe Your Baby's Got The Blues", a delicate reading of "Young Love" (where she can put distance now from her youth), and the lightly rocking "Let Me Tell You About Love", culminating in their anthem, "Love Can Build A Bridge". Aside from talks with assorted youngsters in the audience, she goes nostalgic over "She Is His Only Need", "Tell Me Why" and "No One Else On Earth", the last two working really well in a big, live setting. Wynonna recounts how a battered wife left her abuser to "That Was Yesterday", the greatest highlight of the concert, allowing Judd to stretch her bluesy vamp to level 11. On the other side of the coin, "Is It Over Yet" is vulnerable and raw, as heartbreak is. And in defiant honesty, Judd reveals how she was waivering on going the "pop" route, but allowed herself to "fly" with Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is".

The second disc, subtitled "Motherhood and Music", intersperses later hits like the lovely "To Be Loved By You" and "What The World Needs" with album track nuggets like "Don't You Throw That Mojo On Me", the dramatic "Sometimes I Feel Like Elvis", and the haunting "When I Reach The Place I'm Going" (from her solo debut). She seems to be in a real happy place in her life, as proven by her choice of covers, ranging the gamut between Earth Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" (complete with horns) and Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" where she's on fire, to Joni Mitchell's jazzy "Help Me" (already appearing on the What the World Needs album), to the evangelical "I Can Only Imagine". Some if this is too schlocky, like the unnecessary "Burning Love" cover, the oversung "People Get Ready" in a singoff with her backup singers, and Tina Turner's "The Best", which was too commercial to begin with. Bonus song "Peace In This House" is a little too soccer-mom and melodically dull, but at least with all of these she seems to want to sing them instead of need to. And finally tacked on to the end is the studio track "Attitude", written with John Rich (of Big & Rich), which is punchy though bordering on productlike with its self-referencing. Between all the tracks on disc two (which towards the end have a dip in energy), Wynonna exalts her family, with her kids and at that time her newlywed husband (which is kind of creepy, since he was arrested for child molestation a couple years later).

The audience is definitely on Wynonna's side, and for any Judd fan, Her Story is a fun addition to their collection. Of course this shouldn't be the first, second, or third place to start to listen to Wynonna's vast body of work, but it's interesting nonetheless. Hopefully this is just the close of part one of her career.

Grade: B-
Best Cuts:
"That Was Yesterday", "I'm The Only One", "Is It Over Yet"
Weakest Links: "Burning Love", "People Get Ready", "The Best"

Her Story: Scenes From A Lifetime hit #25 pop albums and #2 country albums.
"Attitude" hit #40 country singles.

Listen: "Is It Over Yet" [Click here to listen]

Buy:
You can pick up Her Story: Scenes From A Lifetime at sites like here and here.
(you can also get it on DVD)

Here's Wy doing "I Want To Know What Love Is"....



And here's the clip for the showstopper "That Was Yesterday"...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I hear the weather's nice in California, there's sunny skies as far as I can see...

Season five from American Idol was the year of Taylor Hicks. That alone should give pause to the quality of the pool, but going back, and seeing current big-players as Bucky Covington, Elliott Yamin, and most of all Chris Daughtry that season seems to be one of itsstrongest. Judge this by the fact the Kellie Pickler finished sixth, and out of the country careers carved out of the show, her talent is right up there with Carrie Underwood. The first of the top-10 to release an album, Pickler's Small Town Girl is no slapped-together opportunistic set. Rather, the album is a quite enjoyable if somewhat recycled collection that can connect with her age-group but not be too silly for older adults to appreciate. The album begins with Pickler's out-of-the-gate single "Red High Heels" is a perfectly fun kiss-off song that's been done before, but engaging nonetheless. Its fast two-step beat for the 90s and "girls night on the town" is a great start. The same tempo bleeds into "Gotta Keep Moving", with unusual chord changes that could find a home on adult-40 radio bringing a refreshing tack to the opposite side of the coin, the "can't wait to be with you" theme. Current single "Things That Never Cross A Man's Mind" is a comical man-bash that ten years and a ton of prescriptions ago would've probably shown up on a Mindy ("Guys Do It All The Time") McCready record. A great emulation of Pam Tillis comes next on "Didn't You Know How Much", which is dramatic the way a pleading love song should be, without being overacted. There are two autobiographical songs ending each half of the set, with "I Wonder" the highlight of the whole album, a bare, frank, and bittersweet "letter" to the mother that left her in the care of her paternal grandparents, stating that she'd already been gone into the world if her mom tried to find her. The other, "My Angel", is an ode to her grandmother that cuts so real that others only try to emulate. The title track is a coming of age fast-step in the mode of Martina McBride's "Wild Angels" that seems fitting coming from the 21-year-old. The requisite waltz appears with "Wild Ponies", which reprises Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" with a abused-woman subtext. From that dour subject Pickler picks the pace back up with "Girls Like Me", a slight but engaging girl-country anthem about seeking her own identity. Pam Tillis' influence comes back again on "I'm On My Way", where Kellie's high alto drives the uplifting chorus about pulling one's bootstraps without being grating. The weakest track of the set is the corny "One Of The Guys", which rocks along nicely, but goes the tired "I'm a redneck tomboy" prover path that's the only point on the whole album that screams of filler. And for a debut album these days, 10 out of 11 is an awesome beginning. As long as Pickler can fight the "need to succeed" by falling into inappropriate cliche, her voice can take her to critically take on Underwood anyday. And for an Idol related album, this one has legs, and I expect to be just as happy listening years from now what.

Grade: B
Best Cuts:
"I Wonder", "Small Town Girl"
Weakest Link: "One Of The Guys"

Small Town Girl hit #9 pop albums and #1 country albums.
"Red High Heels" hit #64 pop singles and #15 country singles.
"I Wonder" made #75 pop singles and #14 country singles.
"Things That Never Cross A Man's Mind" so far made #45 country singles.

Buy: You can pick up Small Town Girl at websites like here and here.

Watch: Here's the video for first single "Red High Heels"...




and here's the emotional "I Wonder"...



Just in case there was any question....

All hail the mighty Rude Pundit.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Twostepcub's music chart for October 12, 2007....

Hey folks, I'm back from Denver, and catching up with my tunes for the week (which I listened all to on the plane and airport to and fro). This week Rascal Flatts is at #1 for a fifth week, while Colbie Caillat, daughter of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours producer Ken Caillat, jumps into the top-10. Leaving the list are hit tunes by Gwen Stefani, Delerium, Amy Winehouse, Bob Sinclar. Speakerbox, and Kat Deluna, while Mika, Keith Urban, Last Goodnight, and Vanessa Carlton make the biggest jumps. Link-O-Mania is in full effect, so you can click on the highlighted name of any artist to go to their website. Terminal A, baby!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
-----------------------------------------------------------------
1. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (1)
2. Who Knew - Pink (3)
3. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (2)
4. Thks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy (4)
5. Free & Easy - Dierks Bentley (7)
6. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (6)
7. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie (8)
8. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (11)
9. When You're Gone - Avril Lavigne (10)
10. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (13)
11. Online - Brad Paisley (17)
12. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (12)
13. First Time - Lifehouse (15)
14. Rockstar - Nickelback (9)
15. 1973 - James Blunt (24)
16. 4 In The Morning - Gwen Stefani (6)
17. Wake Up Call - Maroon5 (27)
18. White Lies - Paul Van Dyk f/Jessica Sutta (25)
19. Live Is Gone - David Guetta f/Chris Willis (19)
20. Fall - Clay Walker (21)
21. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (22)
22. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (14)
23. All My Friends Say - Luke Bryan (23)
24. Over You - Daughtry (28)
25. If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart (20)
26. Shut Up And Drive - Rihanna (30)
27. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon5 (18)
28. Step Into The Light - Darren Hayes (16)
29. So Small - Carrie Underwood (32)
30. Walk Away - Tony Moran f/Kristine W. (39)
31. I'm Not Featuring You - Taylor Dayne (40)
32. More Than A Memory - Garth Brooks (36)
33. Love Vibrations - Barbara Tucker (38)
34. Stop Me - Mark Ronson f/Daniel Merriweather (29)
35. The Pretender - Foo Fighters (41)
36. Home - Daughtry (31)
37. She's Madonna - Robbie Williams f/Pet Shop Boys (37)
38. My Man - Amuka (34)
39. Stay - Simply Red (46)
40. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (42)
41. Feels Like Home - Meck f/Dino (33)
42. Firecracker - Josh Turner (47)
43. Activate My Body - Perry Twins f/Jania (49)
44. The Way I Are - Timbaland f/Keri Hilson (51)
45. Because Of You - Reba McEntire f/Kelly Clarkson (26)
46. Stronger - Kanye West (56)
47. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (50)
48. Supermassive Black Hole - Muse (48)
49. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (55)
50. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney (61)
51. Love Today - Mika (81)
52. Before It's Too Late - Goo Goo Dolls (45)
53. Umbrella - Rihanna (44)
54. Everybody - Keith Urban (68)
55. Just Might Have Her Radio On - Trent Tomlinson (57)
56. Her Eyes - Pat Monahan (62)
57. Hold On - KT Tunstall (65)
58. Pictures Of You - The Last Goodnight (71)
59. Make It Last - Dave Aude f/Jessica Sutta (60)
60. Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert (64)
61. Like This - Kelly Rowland f/Eve (35)
62. Deep Into Your Soul - Friscia & Lamboy (63)
63. All At Once - The Fray (53)
64. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (58)
65. Hollywood - Collective Soul (69)
66. Everyday America - Sugarland (43)
67. Outta My Mind - Ohsha Kai (67)
68. Give Me Danger - Dangerous Muse (72)
69. Love Song - Sara Bareilles (74)
70. Heaven, Heartache, and The Power Of Love - Trisha Yearwood (79)
71. Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn (66)
72. You Never Take Me Dancing - Travis Tritt (73)
73. Last Request - Paolo Nutini (82)
74. Stranger - Hilary Duff (52)
75. Icky Thump - White Stripes (54)
76. With Every Heartbeat - KLEERUP f/Robyn (80)
77. Calling You '07 - Blue October (84)
78. Another Side Of You - Joe Nichols (78)
79. Nolita Fairytale - Vanessa Carlton (94)
80. Into The Night - Santana f/Chad Kroeger (DEBUT)
81. As If - Sara Evans (93)
82. Nothing Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes (92)
83. Living Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (86)
84. So Far - Miguel Migs (59)
85. Straight Lines - Silverchair (DEBUT)
86. The Great Escape - Boys Meet Girls (99)
87. Never Wanted Nothing More - Kenny Chesney (83)
88. Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith (88)
89. Measure Of A Man - Jack Ingram (89)
90. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls - George Strait (91)
91. Live Love Dance - Ron Perkov (70)
92. Hold It, Don't Drop It - Jennifer Lopez (DEBUT)
93. In My Arms - Plumb (DEBUT)
94. Every Dance (Clap Your Hands) - Deborah Cox (DEBUT)
95. Misery Business - Paramore (100)
96. But Beautiful - Billie Holiday (DEBUT)
97. Watching Airplanes - Gary Allan (DEBUT)
98. Inconsolable - Backstreet Boys (DEBUT)
99. What I've Done - Linkin Park (90)
100. Seven Days Of Lonely - I Nine (DEBUT)

This week there are nine new songs, with Santana debuting the highest, with guest vocalist Chad Kroeger from Nickelback with "Into The Night"...



ex-teen Aussie grungsters Silverchair have grown up and revamped, and debut with "Straight Lines"...



Jennifer Lopez is back, and with a hot new dance track, "Hold It, Don't Drop It"...



Jesus-rave act Plumb are back with "In My Arms"...



And on the dance roll, here's uber-diva Deborah Cox with a remake of Chic's "Everybody Dance (Clap Your Hands)"...



You'd think Carlos Santana would be the "oldest" debut, but no, here's Billie Holiday with "But Beautiful" no clip as of yet..

Gary Allan's I can't put on yet, but here's a link to it....

The Backstreet Boys (minus Kevin) are "back" with "Inconsolable"...



and finally I Nine enter with "Seven Days Of Lonely" here's a weird "Friends" mock-up (wait for the 30 second mark)..



Cheers!