Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bonus clip time!

Here's some of the other songs that debuted on the week I skipped. First up is Danish DJ Enur (aka Rune DK) with the late Danish/Sudanese singer Natasja Saad with "Calabria"...



Next up, Rodney Atkins makes it four for four on his latest album, here's "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)"...



Rock band Yellowcard also debuted with "Light Up The Sky"....



Underground dance act Underworld also debuted with "Crocodile"...



Chevelle also returned with "I Get It"...

Twostepcub's music chart for December 28, 2007...

Hey everyone! I'm sorry for the small break, but the holidays this year did get the best of me timewise. I'm also busy putting together the best of 2007 posts, which will start with the new year. In the week that's skipped, Daughtry stayed at the top another week, but now Sugarland (pictured above) jumps from 5 to 1 with their fourth single from Enjoy The Ride, "Stay". Brad Paisley, Erika Jayne, and Georgie Porgie make some of the biggest leaps (marked in red), while songs by John Mayer, Trisha Yearwood, and Kanye West drop out. Also a teen idol from the 80's spent a solitary week on here (more later). The "last week" in parentheses was the songs position on last week's unposted chart. And Link-o-rama is still in effect, so you can click on the highlighted name of any artist to go to their website. Heck, "rightclick" and you can bring it up in a new window or tab and still have this one up. Happy New Year's, and I want to thank anyone who's taken the time to read my assorted musing this year. It means a lot to me.

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Stay - Sugarland (5)
2. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (3)
3. Over You - Daughtry (1)
4. Wake Up Call - Maroon5 (2)
5. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (4)
6. Into The Night - Santana f/Chad Kroeger (7)
7. The Pretender - Foo Fighters (9)
8. Apologize - Timbaland f/One Republic (13)
9. Everybody - Keith Urban (12)
10. Amazing - Seal (11)
11. Love Song - Sara Bareilles (15)
12. Firecracker - Josh Turner (14)
13. Fake It - Seether (18)
14. More Than A Memory - Garth Brooks (6)
15. Watching Airplanes - Gary Allan (19)
16. No One - Alicia Keys (21)
17. Pictures Of You - The Last Goodnight (17)
18. Who Knew - Pink (16)
19. Shut Up And Drive - Rihanna (8)
20. So Small - Carrie Underwood (10)
21. As If - Sara Evans (23)
22. Winner At A Losing Game - Rascal Flatts (24)
23. International Harvester - Craig Morgan (27)
24. Keep Your Body Workin' - Tony Moran f/Martha Wash (28)
25. Do It Well - Jennifer Lopez (25)
26. 2 Hearts - Kylie Minogue (35)
27. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (20)
28. In My Arms - Plumb (26)
29. Nothin' Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes (29)
30. Carry Me Away - Chris Lake f/Emma Hewitt (30)
31. Empty Walls - Serj Tankian (34)
32. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney (22)
33. Kingdom - Dave Gahan (39)
34. Sorry - Buckcherry (36)
35. Breathe In Breathe Out - Mat Kearney (37)
36. Calling You '07 - Blue October (31)
37. I Want Your Soul - Armand Van Helden (40)
38. Relax, Take It Easy - Mika (43)
39. Shadow Of The Day - Linkin Park (47)
40. Falling Down - Duran Duran (45)
41. I Don't Want To Be In Love - Good Charlotte (49)
42. Your Love Is Mine - Corinne Bailey Rae (32)
43. Band Of Gold - Kimberley Locke (61)
44. Lost Highway - Bon Jovi (48)
45. Letter To Me - Brad Paisley (74)
46. The More I Drink - Blake Shelton (38)
47. Love Today - Mika (33)
48. Gimme More - Britney Spears (52)
49. The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson (56)
50. Big Casino - Jimmy Eat World (51)
51. Somebody's Me - Enrique Iglesias (67)
52. Stars - Erika Jayne (81)
53. Two Times Blue - Debbie Harry vs. Soulseekerz (54)
54. Whatever It Takes - Lifehouse (64)
55. The Way I Are - Timbaland f/Keri Hilson (46)
56. Fall - Clay Walker (42)
57. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (50)
58. Somewhere Beyond - Michael Gray f/Steve Edwards (59)
59. D.A.N.C.E. - Justice (60)
60. What Kinda Gone - Chris Cagle (68)
61. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls - George Strait (63)
62. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (44)
63. Life Your Voices - Georgie Porgie (89)
64. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie (58)
65. Ready, Set, Don't Go - Billy Ray Cyrus f/Miley Cyrus (71)
66. Tattoo - Jordin Sparks (78)
67. Hate That I Love You - Rihanna f/Ne-Yo (87)
68. No, No, No - Ono (69)
69. Be With You - Taxi Doll (70)
70. The Great Escape - Boys Like Girls (55)
71. Her Eyes - Pat Monahan (66)
72. First Time - Lifehouse (72)
73. Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis (82)
74. I'll Be Waiting - Lenny Kravitz (86)
75. Our Song - Taylor Swift (80)
76. Love Like This - Natasha Bedingfield f/Sean Kingston (84)
77. Disrespectful - Chaka Khan f/Mary J. Blige (57)
78. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (77)
79. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (79)
80. Stronger - Inez (41)
81. Livin' Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (73)
82. Baby - Angie Stone f/Betty Wright (DEBUT)
83. I Get It - Chevelle (91)
84. Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift (90)
85. What Do Ya Think About That - Montgomery Gentry (85)
86. Do It - Nelly Furtado (65)
87. You Don't Know What Love Is - White Stripes (62)
88. About You Now - Sugababes (53)
89. Taking Chances - Celine Dion (DEBUT)
90. Seven Days Of Lonely - I Nine (83)
91. Crocodile - Underworld (93)
92. Get My Drink On - Toby Keith (DEBUT)
93. Stealing Cinderella - Chuck Wicks (95)
94. Clumsy - Fergie (DEBUT)
95. Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy) - Rodney Atkins (99)
96. Best Days (The Rest Of Our Lives) - Graham Colton Band (DEBUT)
97. Light Up The Sky - Yellowcard (97)
98. Calabria 2008 - Enur f/Natasja (100)
99. Baby Love - Nicole Scherzinger f/will.i.am (DEBUT)
100. Hustler - Simian Mobile Disco (DEBUT)

This week there are seven new songs, starting with neo-soul artist Angie Stone, pairing up with the "Clean Up Woman" herself, Betty Wright, with "Baby"...



Next up is Celine Dion returning with "Taking Chances"...



Fergie has "Big Girls Don't Cry" descending the chart, while her new single, "Clumsy" debuts...



The Graham Colton Band has their first song come on the list. Here's "Best Days"...



Meanwhile, Pussycat Doll lead Nicole Scherzinger teams up with Black Eyed Pea frontman will.i.am and "Baby Love"...



Finally, alternative dance act Simian Mobile Disco comes on with an ode to the five-finger discount, "Hustler"...



And last week, Tiffany, yes that Tiffany spent a solitary week on the chart with "Higher". Here she is performing it at Diamondz in Bethlehem...



Get your mall on!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Twostepcub's music chart for December 14, 2007...


Hey everyone! Christmas shopping with the SB and working filled up the weekend, but i'm ready for my tunes for the week. This week Chris Daughtry finally reaches the top spot with his third single with his self-named band, while Santana featuring Nickelback's Chad Kroeger hangs on in the top-10. James Blunt, Rascal Flatts, Elliott Yamin, Brad Paisley, and Tim McGraw have songs dropping out of the chart, though there's a whole bunch of big jumps with 19 songs moving 10 spots or higher (marked in red), with Kylie Minogue, Alicia Keys, and Good Charlotte making the largest. Look at that line!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Over You - Daughtry (2)
2. Wake Up Call - Maroon5 (1)
3. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (3)
4. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (4)
5. Shut Up And Drive - Rihanna (5)
6. More Than A Memory - Garth Brooks (6)
7. Into The Night - Santana f/Chad Kroeger (7)
8. Stay - Sugarland (8)
9. The Pretender - Foo Fighters (9)
10. So Small - Carrie Underwood (10)
11. Who Knew - Pink (11)
12. Everybody - Keith Urban (13)
13. Amazing - Seal (19)
14. Firecracker - Josh Turner (15)
15. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (14)
16. Love Song - Sara Bareilles (18)
17. Apologize - Timbaland f/OneRepublic (23)
18. Pictures Of You - The Last Goodnight (20)
19. Love Today - Mika (12)
20. Watching Airplanes - Gary Allan (21)
21. In My Arms - Plumb (17)
22. Fake It - Seether (34)
23. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney (24)
24. Your Love Is Mine - Corinne Bailey Rae (25)
25. As If - Sara Evans (29)
26. No One - Alicia Keys (50)
27. Do It Well - Jennifer Lopez (37)
28. Winner At A Losing Game - Rascal Flatts (43)
29. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (16)
30. Nothin' Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes (30)
31. International Harvester - Craig Morgan (41)
32. Calling You '07 - Blue October (33)
33. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (22)
34. Stronger - Inez (35)
35. Heaven Heartache & The Power of Love - Trisha Yearwood (28)
36. Carry Me Away - Chris Lake f/Emma Hewitt (45)
37. The Way I Are - Timbaland f/Keri Hilson (26)
38. Keep Your Body Workin' - Tony Moran f/Martha Wash (57)
39. The More I Drink - Blake Shelton (40)
40. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (36)
41. Empty Walls - Serj Tankian (51)
42. Fall - Clay Walker (27)
43. Breathe In Breathe Out - Mat Kearney (47)
44. Disrespectful - Chaka Khan f/Mary J. Blige (31)
45. Sorry - Buckcherry (53)
46. Do It - Nelly Furtado (38)
47. I Want Your Soul - Armand Van Helden (55)
48. The Great Escape - Boys Like Girls (49)
49. 2 Hearts - Kylie Minogue (78)
50. Falling Down - Duran Duran (58)
51. Stronger - Kanye West (32)
52. Lost Highway - Bon Jovi (54)
53. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie (48)
54. About You Now - Sugababes (59)
55. Two Times Blue - Debbie Harry vs. Soulseelerz (60)
56. Her Eyes - Pat Monahan (52)
57. Shadow Of The Day - Linkin Park (71)
58. Seven Days Of Lonely - I Nine (44)
59. I Don't Want To Be In Love - Good Charlotte (80)
60. Somewhere Beyond - Michael Gray f/Steve Edwards (70)
61. Big Casino - Jimmy Eat World (66)
62. You Don't Know What Love Is - The White Stripes (63)
63. D.A.N.C.E. - Justice (72)
64. First Time - Lifehouse (56)
65. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls - George Strait (69)
66. Gimme More - Britney Spears (79)
67. Livin' Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (68)
68. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (64)
69. What Kinda Gone - Chris Cagle (84)
70. Be With You - Taxi Doll (73)
71. Relax, Take It Easy - Mika (89)
72. The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson (90)
73. No, No, No - Ono (88)
74. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (74)
75. Again - Kim Leoni (65)
76. 1234 - Feist (42)
77. I'm Not Featuring You - Taylor Dayne (39)
78. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (46)
79. Hold It, Don't Drop It - Jennifer Lopez (62)
80. White Lies - Paul Van Dyk f/Jessica Sutta (61)
81. Ready, Set, Don't Go - Billy Ray Cyrus f/Miley Cyrus (87)
82. Kingdom - Dave Gahan (DEBUT)
83. Our Song - Taylor Swift (85)
84. Whatever It Takes - Lifehouse (100)
85. What Do Ya Think About That - Montgomery Gentry (86)
86. Letter To Me - Brad Paisley (97)
87. With Every Heartbeat - Kleerup f/Robyn (83)
88. Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis (99)
89. Tattoo - Jordin Sparks (94)
90. Love Like This - Natasha Bedingfield f/Sean Kingston (95)
91. Straight Lines - Silverchair (67)
92. Valerie - Mark Ronson f/Amy Winehouse (DEBUT)
93. Hate That I Love You - Rihanna f/Ne-Yo (DEBUT)
94. I Need A Miracle 2007 - KLM Music f/Coco Star (96)
95. Band Of Gold - Kimberley Locke (DEBUT)
96. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (92)
97. Stealing Cinderella - Chuck Wicks (98)
98. Somebody's Me - Enrique Iglesias (DEBUT)
99. I'll Be Waiting - Lenny Kravitz (DEBUT)
100. Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift (RE-ENTRY)

This week there are six new songs and one re-entry on the chart, starting with Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan with the first single from his second solo album. Here's "Kingdom"...



Next up, producer Mark Ronson teams up with Amy Winehouse for a cover of the Zutons' "Valerie"...



Rihanna can't help having a big presence on my chart. Soon after leaving the list with "Umbrella", having "Shut Up And Drive" in the top-5 and "Don't Stop The Music" still in the top-40, she adds a third song to the current chart with "Hate That I Love You" with Ne-Yo...



American Idol alum Kimberley Locke follows up "Change" with a remake of Freda Payne's "Band Of Gold"...



..meanwhile Enrique Iglesias also follows up his big dance hit "Do You Know?" with "Somebody's Me"...



Lenny Kravitz is back, with his timeless sound, and "I'll Be Waiting"...



and finally, Taylor Swift's "Our Song" is hanging on the chart, but her previous single, "Teardrops On My Guitar" is back on the list...



Feel better, stuffyhead.

Stronger than any mountain cathedral...

RIP...



Wake up, Sugarbear...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm touched by your show of emotion, should I be fractured by your lack of devotion?


Eerie. I happened to have this album playing in my car last week. Before Ike died. Karma. You got to hand it to a woman who can endure being around Ike Turner and Phil Spector at the same time.

By 1984, Tina Turner (nee' Anna Mae Bullock)'s career was at a low. Broke and in debt from leaving Ike and the tour she was on, it seemed like a classic oldies-act denouement of a almost evolved career. But new wave can be thanked for the turnaround. Yes, new wave. Ex-Human League members Ian Marsh and Martyn Ware went to form the fluffy band Heaven 17. But while doing that, they put out a "collaboration" album called Music of Quality and Distinction under the nom British Electric Foundation. They rounded up a bunch of "has-been" singers and covered classic songs, the first track being Tina's rendition of "Ball Of Confusion". Now while that didn't storm the charts (except apparently in Norway where they hit #5?), the Marsh/Ware duo saw enough potential as to try it again with another cover, this time Al Green's "Let's Stay Together". That song, with Tina's wail over the steely British faux-funk that didn't overpower or intrude, was the break she was looking for, bringing her first into the British top-10, then across the ocean to hit the American pop top-40, as well as reaching the top-3 on the R&B chart and #1 on the dance club chart. Well, now everyone's interested, and an album to support the single was thrown together. Private Dancer's longevity is a testament to Tina's talent to shine through what very well could have been a slipshot cash-in affair, and with a couple of aces in her hole, produced a disc that was one of the very few that could rival the Jackson-Price-Springsteen male triumverate at the time.

The album starts off strong with "I Might Have Been Queen", one of the two fantastic cuts here where she's backed by "One Thing Leads To Another" band the Fixx. Her growling, fierce voice owns this song, and you know right off the bat that she hasn't lost anything since "Proud Mary". That segues into her truly "comeback" hit, the powerhouse that is "What's Love Got To Do With It". Notoriously originally spurned by Turner, that song was everywhere in 1984, where the sing-song melody got grating on twelve plays a day. However, looking back in retrospect, it is a sweet, accessible nugget that deserved the attention it received, and the extended version found on the "Centennial Edition" version actually enhances rather than drags out the piece. Tina also gives "Private Dancer" the world-weary performance that Mark Knopfler-written song what it needed - and not only gave Turner a new persona to draw upon, but possibly the best "sigh" in pop music in the 80's. The other most enduring track on here, "Better Be Good To Me", utilizes the Fixx again on her demand, not request, but demand, to her man to treat her better. No wilting flower from years of abuse, mind. "Show Some Respect" has the same attitude, though not as anthemic as "Better Be..." was. The same goes for the remaining original number, "Steel Claw", which in the hands of anybody else would have been totally parodic. The rest of the proper album are covers, with Tina totally making "I Can't Stand The Rain" her own, while cribbing some of Bowie's drama for "1984" with the Heaven 17 boys backing her up. The original American album stopped there, though the British version tacked on a slow gospel remake of the Beatles' "Help" that at the start rattled me, then won me over.
This "centennial" edition adds on seven more tracks to the work. Three of the B-sides to Tina's singles are there, with only the sublime "Rock N Roll Widow" (the flip of "What's Love...") a keeper, while "I Wrote A Letter" (flip of "Let's Stay Together") and "When I Was Young" (flip of "Better Be Good To Me") as well as the toss-off "Don't Rush The Good Times" are more slight, and prove their absence from the original record. However, criminally missing is Turner's version of Prince's "Let's Pretend We're Married" that graced the B-side of "Show Some Respect", or her live version of "Nutbush City Limits" that's on the back of "Private Dancer". Finally, there's three extended versions, the big singles "What's Love Got To Do With It" and "Better Be Good To Me", as well as a longer mix of "I Can't Stand The Rain", though the extended version of the song that did make #1 on the dance chart, "Let's Stay Together", would've been a great addition.
Now, if you're a fan of pop music in the 80's, I don't have to go tell you to go pick up Private Dancer. If you already have it in the "old" version, the remastering does brighten up the sound a bit, though the extra tracks aren't totally essential.

Grade: A-
Best Cuts:
"I Might Have Been Queen", "I Can't Stand The Rain", "Private Dancer", "Let's Stay Together", "Better Be Good To Me"
Weakest Links: "Don't Rush The Good Things", "I Wrote A Letter"

Private Dancer hit #3 on the US pop album chart, #1 R&B albums, and #2 in the UK.
"Let's Stay Together" hit #26 US pop singles, #3 R&B, #1 dance club, and #6 in the UK.
"Help" made #40 in the UK.
"What's Love Got To Do With It" made #1 US pop for 3 weeks, #2 R&B, #8 adult contemporary, #21 dance club, and #3 in the UK.
"Better Be Good To Me" hit #5 US pop, #6 R&B, #16 dance club, #32 mainstream rock, and #45 in the UK.
"Private Dancer" hit #7 US pop, #3 R&B, #30 adult contemporary, and #26 in the UK.
"I Can't Stand The Rain" made #57 in the UK.
"Show Some Respect" made #37 US pop and #50 R&B.

Listen: "Rock N Roll Widow" [click here to listen]

Buy:
You can pick up a copy of Private Dancer at websites like here and here.

And some clips. Seven singles made either the US or British charts, the first being her take on Al Green's "Let's Stay Together"..



Next up, her #1 song "What's Love Got To Do With It". I never noticed the Twin Towers till now in the opening shot. Damn.



And here's my favorite song from the album, "Better Be Good To Me" (with the Fixx onstage!)



and this song has become her signature, "Private Dancer"...



And here's another fave of mine, "Show Some Respect"...



In the UK, Tina released "Help" as her second single. Here's the clip..



a live version of the album opener, "I Might Have Been Queen"..



And finally, here she is doing the extended version of "I Can't Stand The Rain"...



But wait! here's a bonus! Here's a smoky Tina singing "Let's Pretend We're Married" in Finland!



Baby since we've been together, lovin' you forever is alright with me, let me be the one you come running to, I'll never be untrue...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Twostepcub's music chart for December 7, 2007....

Good morning everyone, two trees are up so far (one fake, one real) and one's decorated, so breaktime for my tunes for the week. This week Maroon5 spends a second week on top, while Garth Brooks (pictured above) moves up within the top-10 for the first time in six years... Out of the biggest jumps (marked in red), Tony Moran, Duran Duran, and Alicia Keys make the most prominent, while Moran's former hit, as well as Avril Lavigne and Nickelback leave the chart (which leaves the chart almost Nickelback-less for the first time in God knows when if it weren't for Santana bringing Chad Kroeger along)...Link-O-Rama is always in full effect, so you can click on any highlighted link to go to that artist's website (right-click, any you can bring it up in a new window). Damn those lights!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Wake Up Call - Maroon5 (1)
2. Over You - Daughtry (5)
3. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (3)
4. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (2)
5. Shut Up And Drive - Rihanna (6)
6. More Than A Memory - Garth Brooks (8)
7. Into The Night - Santana f/Chad Kroeger (11)
8. Stay - Sugarland (13)
9. The Pretender - Foo Fighters (10)
10. So Small - Carrie Underwood (15)
11. Who Knew - Pink (9)
12. Love Today - Mika (4)
13. Everybody - Keith Urban (17)
14. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (14)
15. Firecracker - Josh Turner (16)
16. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (7)
17. In My Arms - Plumb (18)
18. Love Song - Sara Bareilles (23)
19. Amazing - Seal (30)
20. Pictures Of You - The Last Goodnight (20)
21. Watching Airplanes - Gary Allan (25)
22. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (12)
23. Apologize - Timbaland f/OneRepublic (34)
24. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney (24)
25. Your Love Is Mine - Corinne Bailey Rae (29)
26. The Way I Are - Timbaland f/Keri Hilson (22)
27. Fall - Clay Walker (19)
28. Heaven Heartache & The Power of Love - Trisha Yearwood (28)
29. As If - Sara Evans (33)
30. Nothin' Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes (36)
31. Disrespectful - Chaka Khan f/Mary J. Blige (27)
32. Stronger - Kanye West (32)
33. Calling You '07 - Blue October (38)
34. Fake It - Seether (46)
35. Stronger - Inez (35)
36. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (31)
37. Do It Well - Jennifer Lopez (51)
38. Do It - Nelly Furtado (39)
39. I'm Not Featuring You - Taylor Dayne (21)
40. The More I Drink - Blake Shelton (40)
41. International Harvester - Craig Morgan (56)
42. 1234 - Feist (42)
43. Winner At A Losing Game - Rascal Flatts (54)
44. Seven Days Of Lonely - I Nine (45)
45. Carry Me Away - Chris Lake f/Emma Hewitt (52)
46. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (26)
47. Breathe In Breathe Out - Mat Kearney (53)
48. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie (41)
49. The Great Escape - Boys Like Girls (49)
50. No One - Alicia Keys (74)
51. Empty Walls - Serj Tankian (64)
52. Her Eyes - Pat Monahan (44)
53. Sorry - Buckcherry (61)
54. Lost Highway - Bon Jovi (58)
55. I Want Your Soul - Armand Van Helden (59)
56. First Time - Lifehouse (48)
57. Keep Your Body Workin' - Tony Moran f/Martha Wash (93)
58. Falling Down - Duran Duran (82)
59. About You Now - Sugababes (60)
60. Two Times Blue - Debbie Harry vs. Soulseekerz (66)
61. White Lies - Paul Van Dyk f/Jessica Sutta (43)
62. Hold It, Don't Drop It - Jennifer Lopez (47)
63. You Don't Know What Love Is - The White Stripes (68)
64. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (57)
65. Again - Kim Leoni (65)
66. Big Casino - Jimmy Eat World (72)
67. Straight Lines - Silverchair (50)
68. Livin' Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (69)
69. How 'Bout Them Cowgirls - George Strait (70)
70. Somewhere Beyond - Michael Gray f/Steve Edwards (80)
71. Shadow Of The Day - Linkin Park (79)
72. D.A.N.C.E. - Justice (78)
73. Be With You - Taxi Doll (75)
74. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (71)
75. Nolita Fairytale - Vanessa Carlton (62)
76. Hollywood - Collective Soul (55)
77. 1973 - James Blunt (37)
78. 2 Hearts - Kylie Minogue (DEBUT)
79. Gimme More - Britney Spears (84)
80. I Don't Want To Be In Love - Good Charlotte (DEBUT)
81. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (63)
82. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (67)
83. With Every Heartbeat - Kleerup f/Robyn (73)
84. What Kinda Gone - Chris Cagle (92)
85. Our Song - Taylor Swift (89)
86. What Do Ya Think About That - Montgomery Gentry (90)
87. Ready, Set, Don't Go - Billy Ray Cyrus f/Miley Cyrus (97)
88. No, No, No - Ono (98)
89. Relax, Take It Easy - Mika (DEBUT)
90. The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson (100)
91. Online - Brad Paisley (83)
92. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (85)
93. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (87)
94. Tattoo - Jordin Sparks (DEBUT)
95. Love Like This - Natasha Bedingfield f/Sean Kingston (DEBUT)
96. I Need A Miracle 2007 - KLM Music f/Coco Star (DEBUT)
97. Letter To Me - Brad Paisley (DEBUT)
98. Stealing Cinderella - Chuck Wicks (99)
99. Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis (DEBUT)
100. Whatever It Takes - Lifehouse (DEBUT)

This week nine new songs enter the chart, with my personal favorite Kylie Minogue leading things off. After battling cancer and triumphantly reigniting her "Showgirl" concert tour, she comes back with the first single from her new album, X. Here's my pick for the week, "2 Hearts"...



Next, rock band Good Charlotte debut with a cool rocker called "I Don't Want To Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem)", apparently cribbing from the Killers and the like...



Mika is just leaving the top-10 with "Love Today", but his third single is already placing on my top100, "Relax, Take It Easy"...



Last year's "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks comes on for the first time here with "Tattoo"...



British siren Natasha Bedingfield, of "Unwritten" fame, is back with "Love Like This" featuring Sean Kingston...



KLM Music debuts with Coco Star with "I Need A Miracle"...



Brad Paisley is still hanging around with "Online", but can't wait to put his poignant "Letter To Me" on the chart...



And from England, "X-Factor" winner Leona Lewis comes on with "Bleeding Love"...



and finally Lifehouse took "First Time into the top-20, and follows it up with the song "Whatever It Takes"...



Wake up, sleepyhead!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Stand up in a clear blue morning, until you see what can be...


There are few male British singers that can rival the soulfulness of the American R&B experience. Steve Winwood was one of them. Nowadays, he's mostly known for dentist-office adult contemporary pop, but back in the day his voice was such an asset he was able to float between rock "supergroups" with the greatest of ease. In 1995 The Finer Things box came out to attempt to chronicle the evolution of Winwood from Brit-rock ringer to solo journeyman. That he has only had two minor albums released after this set came out still makes it relevant - does it deliver?

The collection starts out with a generous nine-song helping of his work with the Spencer Davis Group, which Steve, with his brother "Muff" (yes, Muff) backing the Welshman and experience his first success. All of the SDG's Winwood-affiliated singles are here, with the first set having the covers they honed their chops on. Beginning with a version of bluesman John Lee Hooker's "Dimples", the band followed the 60's pattern already tread by the Beatles and Stones of redoing blues and R&B numbers, though thankfully saved by the authentic sound of Winwood's voice. "Every Little Bit Hurts" and "Keep On Running" are the best highlights here, each fine examples of the extremes he can master, from tearjerker ballad to dance stomper. Sure, "I Can't Stand It" and "Strong Love" show more of the soul "student" than a master, but he doesn't sound at all false. They ventured more into BritInvasion territory with "Somebody Help Me", and steals a little of Otis Redding's smoothness for "When I Come Home". While Winwood toiled here, he stepped out for an appearance on what would be his first "supergroup", playing with Eric Clapton's Powerhouse band with Jack Bruce from Cream and Paul Jones from Manfred Mann, and going under the alias "Steve Anglo" to avoid attention. An early version of "Crossroads" is a find, though not eclipsing neither the Robert Johnson by any means nor the Clapton solo try. However, this nightshifting did some good apparently, and a revitalized Winwood reemerged a soulful songwriter in his own right, with the 60's party record "Gimme Some Lovin'"already sounding like a timeless classic out of the gate, followed by the psychedelically fantastic "I'm A Man". These two not only showed a progression in their sound, but broke the band wide open in America.

Just in time, of course, for him to leave the Group to form his second group, Traffic. Though Winwood was the biggest "name" at the time, the band also featured Dave Mason (of "We Just Disagree" fame and later a fleeting Fleetwood Mac-cer) and Jim Capaldi (who later hit the top-40 with "That's Love"). The Finer Things tries to cram a lot of Traffic in (no pun intended), with twenty-five tracks, a dozen from their original period and another baker's dozen from after Mason left. The first selection, from their initial three albums (Dear Mr. Fantasy, Traffic, and Last Exit), evolved from the hippie-rock drawing on both the American West Coast and the Asian Indian subcontinent. "Paper Sun", "Dealer", and "Coloured Rain" were paisley-tinged departures from the soul of the Spencer Davis Group. In fact, a full seven songs of the twelve on Traffic's debut LP are on this set, though ignoring anything Mason even co-wrote with the band. Snap! "Heaven In Your Mind" is early Chicago without the horns, and "Smiling Faces" would've made a killer late-60's radio hit. Finally, the title track, Dear Mr. Fantasy, showed a start of a metamorphosis into a true album-rock staple band. On the subsequent two albums, the band got looser, and more creative, to mixed results, mostly good, like the muddy "Pearly Queen" and the Zep-apolcalyptic "Forty Thousand Headmen", to the silly, the the goofy "Shanghai Noodle Factory". "No Time To Live", from Traffic, was more grounded in its atmosphere, while the band first reclaimed its "funk" back with songs like "Medicated Goo" a seemingly lighthearted ode to tripping (probably on the acid).

Traffic was certainly having success, with a top-10 US album and 3 UK top-10 singles under their belt, but the tension between reclusive Mason and Winwood caused the group to implode, sending Winwood back out in search of artistic collaboration again. That he found with his former "bandmate" in the Powerhouse, Eric Clapton, and ex-Cream-ster Ginger Baker along with bassist Rick Grech to form the first big-time "supergroup" project called Blind Faith. Crashing and burning with just one album, the one with the "naked girl" on the cover, the band explored expanding the psychedelic rock from Traffic into full-scale jams, almost like the proto-Phish. Of the six-song Blind Faith LP, only two cuts are on Finer Things, the guitar jam-out "Had To Cry Today" and LedZep meets progrock of "Sea Of Joy", while the album highlight "Can't Find My Way Home" is here in a competent "live" version, along with a sleeper blues nugget "Sleeping In The Ground" (which plays Winwood's regained soulful voice with Clapton's guitar nicely), and the sub-par rarity of their version of "Under My Thumb".

Now this time it would be Clapton dissolving the group instead of Winwood, which sent him to begin recording a record that evolved from a solo effort to a reformed Traffic project John Barleycorn Must Die. Without Dave Mason, Winwood now controlled the show, though still relying on Capaldi and Wood to provide the "name" and backup. Wood's flute is a welcome return on the English dark-tale "John Barleycorn", while "Stranger To Himself" clearly gleaned from Winwood's Blind Faith stint to a more muscle-rock sound. "Glad" is a funky little instrumental that Steve reprised on Christina Aguilera's "Make Me Wanna Pray", and "Freedom Rider" brought some sax and piano to a more accessible AOR sound for the group, while keeping the flute flourishes. Yay! Meanwhile, that album's other big highlight, "Empty Pages", is for me the first big hint on what Winwood's solo career will sound like (apart from what Phil Collins pilfered from it). The strutting beat, the prominent synths, the laid-back vocals, this is the Winwood to come. The apex of this tighter, jazzier yet prog Traffic is the title track from their next LP, "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys", which is as close to a Traffic definitive song as I believe there was. Nearly twelve minutes of a suite meandering between Frampton-like dreaminess and Bowie white-boy funk, while dramatizing the common hooligan in the 70s. The other track from that album on this collection, "Rainmaker", re-explored the Anglo-mythical world akin to "Barleycorn".

By now, we're starting disc three, with no solo Winwood in sight yet. In fact, his first low-key solo affair comes at the end of this section, with the denouement of the Traffic work. Their next album is represented again by its title track, the bongo-driven "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory", and a live version of the dreamlike "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" from their On The Road set that extends the even long album version. Winwood's yearning to explore different, experimental, jazzier notes is evident on his one-off collaboration with Remo Kabaka and Abdul Amao on the Aiye-Keta album that provides the track "Happy Vibes" track to this retrospective that's interesting but not essential. Joining Capaldi and Wood again for their swan-song (at the time) set When The Eagle Flies, the four songs on The Finer Things are all over the map, from the keyboard-driven AC pop of "Something New" and "Walking In The Wind" to the flashback wooziness of "Dream Gerrard". "When The Eagle Flies" itself is a snapshot of Traffic's former self. Winwood the rocker has just about completed the dip-the-toes to jump into solo pop purgatory. But first, to somehow prove again his "edginess", two tracks are here from when he was a member of Stomu Yamashta's "jazz-supergroup" Go outfit, with the live "Crossing The Line" a much better listen than the plodding "Winner/Loser" album cut. Finally disassembling Traffic again, Winwood wouldn't be in a "group" until the "reunion" Winwood/Capaldi effort Far From Home, which even though hitting in 1994, didn't place anything on this box-set.

Steve's first solo album, Steve Winwood, was a under-the-radar affair which sold moderately (hitting the top-40 album chart, while Traffic was a regular in the top-10), but not placing anything on the singles chart either here or in the UK. Not to fault the music, "Hold On" and "Time Is Running Out" are pleasant no-brainers for the Steely Dan-loving crowd (well, save the acerbic wit of the "Dan"). "Vacant Chair" is a great headphone production, though still a little low-energy to propel him back to his heights. That all will change shortly.

And now I'm at disc four. One disc for his truly "solo" success is sadly proven too short. One positive is that his breakthrough solo disc Arc Of A Diver is 5/7ths here, starting with the ageless positive-power adult-pop song that sprung a thousand others, "While You See A Chance". The early eighties were a time of steely-cold synthesizers and drum machine robotics, yet he was able to incorporate both and still sound earthy, and wound up placing him in the US top-10 singles for the first time since his Spencer Davis years fourteen years prior. All the other tracks here were AOR cornerstones of the time, from the shuffling title track to the exotic (yet almost Asian-like) "Spanish Dancer". "Night Train" took from the dying "disco" phenomenon to give it an 80's urban sheen. "Dust" is a pensive end to looking at this vanguard set for him. At this point he seemed to have reverse sophomore-jinx, with his third set Talking Back To The Night coming just as the "second British invasion" and new-wave was beginning to pick up full steam. Like his solo debut, not to fault the music, which didn't stray far from his schtick, to the point of having the original second single from here, "Valerie", make #9 on the pop singles chart five years later, while failed third single "Talking Back To The Night" also making the top-100. While it may be purist to have the originals here artistically, the 1987 "remixed" versions that were more successful are missed on The Finer Things, as is the TBTTN's first single "Still In The Game". In its place is the rarity "Your Silence Is Your Song" from the movie They Called It An Accident, which does sound like a Talking Back To The Night outtake.

At this juncture, it looked like Winwood would follow the "gracefully aging" rockers from the 70's that would now and then put out non-assuming music. Nope. At 38 (jeez, he was only 38?) he released the single that would put him on top for the first time, "Higher Love". Co-written with the guru of "nice" music, Wil Jennings, and getting a hand from Chaka Khan to validate his faded soul creds, Winwood blasted back on the scene with the amazing set Back In The Highlife. I guess it would be unfair to expect the entire album to be on The Finer Things, but the LP was such a standard of AOR at the time that the eight tracks all seemed essential, and while the half of the album that made the pop top-20 is here - "Higher Love", the harder "Freedom Overspill", the reflective "Back In The Highlife" backed this time by James Taylor, and the collection-named "The Finer Things", rock stations also played the heck out of the Joe Walsh collaboration "Split Decision" and the lesser "Take It As It Comes" (even charting on rock radio), and "Wake Me Up On Judgement Day" and "My Love Is Leavin'" were equally present on adult contemporary stations. But at least it had a better representation here that Winwood's #1 album followup Roll With It. Only the title track and second single (and Michelob shill) "Don't You Know What The Night Can Do?" appear, leaving behind the pop top-20 funk of "Holding On" or rock singles "Hearts On Fire" and "Put On Your Dancing Shoes". Diminishing returns proceed with the last album contributing to the compilation, Refugees Of The Heart, which places a solitary "One And Only Man" here (to it's credit, by this time the albums have become a little more pristine).

By front-loading his earlier work, The Finer Things is entertaining and informative to those seeking Winwood's pre-80's roots. However for a more complete picture of his success, at least a half-CD worth of material from his solo years would've made a hands-down essential, especially with his work being criminally underarchived (the only "hits" set, Chronicles, only has three of his top-40 singles out of ten tracks). I'm still waiting for the best-of he deserves, but until then, The Finer Things is a good springboard for those really interested in Winwood's evolution from soul-teen oddity to soccer-mom serenader.

Grade: B+
Best Cuts:
"Every Little Bit Hurts", "Gimme Some Lovin'", "I'm A Man", "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys", "While You See A Chance", "Arc Of A Diver", "Spanish Dancer", "Night Train", "Valerie", "Freedom Overspill"
Weakest Links: "Shanghai Noodle Factory", "Under My Thumb (live)", "Happy Vibes", "Winner/Loser"

with the Spencer Davis Group:
"I Can't Stand It" hit #47 on the UK singles chart.
"Every Little Bit Hurts" hit #41 in the UK.
"Strong Love" made #44 in the UK.
"Keep On Running" hit #76 on the US pop chart and #1 in the UK.
"Somebody Help Me" made #47 US pop and #1 in the UK.
"When I Come Home" hit #12 in the UK.
"Gimme Some Loving" hit #7 US pop and #2 in the UK.
"I'm A Man" made #10 US pop and #9 in the UK.

with Traffic:
"Paper Sun" hit #94 US pop and #5 in the UK.
"No Face, No Name, No Number" made #40 in the UK.
"Empty Pages" hit #74 US pop.

solo:
"While You See A Chance" hit #7 US pop, #2 rock, and #45 in the UK.
"Arc Of A Diver" hit #48 US pop and#11 rock.
"Night Train" made #52 on the dance club play chart.
"Valerie" (the original version) made #70 US pop, #13 rock, and #51 in the UK. (the '87 remix made #9)
"Higher Love" hit #1 US pop, #7 adult contemporary, #1 rock, #28 dance club (as the flip of Freedom Overspill), and #13 in the UK.
"Freedom Overspill" hit #20 US pop, #28 dance club play, #4 rock, and #69 in the UK.
"The Finer Things" made #8 US pop, #1 adult contemporary, and #5 rock.
"Back In The Highlife Again"made #13 pop, #1 adult contemporary, #19 rock, and #53 in the UK.
"Roll With It" hit #1 US pop for four weeks, #1 adult contemporary, #21 dance club play, #1 rock, #30 R&B, and #53 in the UK.
"Don't You Know What The Night Can Do?" hit #6 pop, #2 adult contemporary, and #1 rock.
"One and Only Man" made #17 US pop, #9 adult contemporary, and #1 rock.


Buy:
You can pick up The Finer Things at webstores like here and here.

And now for some clips. Now here's a weird one. A promo video for SDG's "Gimme Some Lovin'" done as stoically as can be in some department store...




Next up, the "Help"-ish video for "I'm A Man"...



here's a version of "When I Come Home" with the SDG



another #1 in the UK, here's "Somebody Help Me"...



and their first UK #1, "Keep On Running"...



Now for the Traffic. How about my favorite Traffic song, "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys"...




and from that same concert, "Dear Mr. Fantasy"...



Here's a version of "John Barleycorn" from the Winwood/Capaldi reunion concert...



and from the 1972 concert...



and going back to their start, Traffic's first single "Paper Sun"...



and as for Blind Faith, here a youtube that has a great version of "Can't Find My Way Home"...



Now from the early days of MTV, the video for "While You See A Chance"...



next, the discofied "Night Train"...



Here's a live version of his first us #1, "Higher Love"...



From that same concert, here's "Freedom Overspill"...



and the "not-so-live" video for "The Finer Things"...



and the title track from "Back In The High Life Again"...



and the "event" video (at the time) for "Roll With It"...



"Don't You Know What The Night Can Do?"...It's Michelob-alicious!



and Winwood's final top-40 hit (for now, at least)..., "One and Only Man"...



Rock on, Night Tracks!