Some fun for your Friday: isolated vocal tracks

microphone-in-studioYou know these songs, but I bet you’ve never listened to them like this before. The Huffington Post has compiled some isolated vocal tracks of such artists as Adele, Queen and Michael Jackson where the instrumentation is stripped away and all that’s left are the vocals, pure and simple. It’s great fun, and while not all on the list are gems (One Direction? really?) some of these will knock your socks off.

You can find the whole list here, but I’ve posted a few of my faves below:

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I’ll tell you the Undisputed Truth: it’s one-hit wonder Wednesday

Undisputed-truth-motownIt’s one of those songs you’ve heard before, but probably never knew who sang it, right? This cut from 1971 was by a group with one of the best monikers of the era, The Undisputed Truth. Originally released by The Temptations in an 11-minute version, it’s a great example of the “psychedelic soul” period of Motown, which was also exemplified tracks like The Temptations’  Ball of Confusion and Psychedelic Shack. Released on The Undisputed Truth’s debut album, the song went to number 3 on the pop charts.

The group was put together by producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield, who was also one of the driving forces behind The Temptations, (actually one of my favourite vocal groups of all time). Whitfield, along with his songwriting partner Barrett Strong have a list of songwrting credits any writer worth his salt would kill to be associated with, including Ain’t Too Proud To Beg or Ain’t Too Proud To BegI Heard It Through The Grapevine or I Heard It Through The Grapevine or I Heard It Through The Grapevine , and War or War, and my personal fave, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone. That latter tune was made famous of course by The Tempations but it was not the original version. The song was actually released one year earlier before by…wait for it…The Undisputed Truth.  It was very common for Motown artists to cover each other’s work, and some versions scored better with the music-buying public than others.

The Undisputed Truth didn’t last long on the charts. They scored a few more minor hits on the r&b charts but the success of “Smiling” was not to be repeated.

Marvin Gaye biopic: Lenny Kravitz is out; Jesse L. Martin is in

marvinSexual Healing, the long-planned biopic on R&B legend Marvin Gaye to be directed by Julien Temple (Absolute Beginners, Glastonbury, numerous music videos) is going through a major casting change. According to Rolling Stone, Rocker Lenny Kravitz had been attached to the project  in the lead role but he has dropped out. Replacing him is Jesse L. Martin, known to tv fans as detective Ed Green on Law & Order and to broadway fans as Tom Collins in Rent. The film is supposed to start shooting in Europe later this month. 

The movie is supposedly focused on the singer’s self-imposed exile in Europe in the 1980s following years of battling drugs, domestic issues and label headaches. It was there that he met  music promoter Freddy Couseart (to be played in the film by Brendan Gleeson) who helped Gaye record what would become his biggest selling album (pictured).

Marvin Gaye died one day short of his 45th birthday on April 1, 1984. He was shot by his father following an argument. 

The “Starting to Feel Like Summer” Shuffle Report

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The Shuffle Report: 10 songs I listened to, in order, on my iPod in shuffle mode at a given point in time. No editing, no skipping. It is what it is.

Finally. It’s finally starting to feel like summer. I don’t even mind the walk to and from the subway now. The actual ride itself…well, that’s another matter altogether. In rotation today:

1. That Was Me—Paul McCartney (Memory Almost Full) [Sir Paul continues to tour this summer, putting on three hour-plus shows. Amazing.]

2. Heavy—The Black Crowes (By Your Side) [A great album from start to finish from a soon-to-be on hiatus rock n roll band.]

3. Time Bomb—Dave Matthews Band (Big Whiskey and The GrooGrux King) [Catch them on the road this year if you can. They’re taking 2011 off.]

4. Phone Call—Joe Satriani (Flying In A Blue Dream) [A bouncy number from a the guitar master.]

5. Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)—Simple Minds (The Best of) [Great cut from 1982.]

6. Song About The Moon—Paul Simon (Hearts and Bones) [Like Paul Simon? Don’t have this album? Get it. One of his best.]

7. Lookout—Cheap Trick (At Budokan) [One of the best live albums. Really captures the band at their peak.]

8. Nina’s Dance—Tony Scott (Talkin’ Verve) [Ok, Cheap Trick into this acid jazz groove from 1967 can be a little jarring, but hey, that’s shuffle mode for ya. Sorry couldn’t find a link for this one.]

9. Stool Pigeon—Kid Creole & The Coconuts (Wise Guy) [Saw Kid Creole twice in the ’80s, as a headliner then as an opener for James Brown. They put on a helluva show.]

10. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)—Marvin Gaye (15 Greatest Hits) [There will never be another like Mrvin Gaye. Superb.]

The “took the time to walk with my son to school”shuffle report

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My yongest son is growing up, and while he can go to school on his own now, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to walk with him before I headed to the subway. Quality time in spades. 🙂

After we parted ways (I even got a hug), I flipped on the ipod for the far less enjoyable trip downtown. But it’s great to be able to tune all the noise out sometimes. Here’s what I listened to on this fine Friday morning:

1. Patio Lanterns–Kim Mitchell (Greatest Hits) [It’s always summer whenever I hear this song.]
2. Bionic Man–Fabulous Poodles (Think Pink) [Great late ’70s new wave.]
3. What’s Going On–Marvin Gaye (Command Performances) [One of the greatest soul/pop songs ever.]
4. Wondering Where The Lions Are–Bruce Cockburn (Waiting For A Miracle) [Folkie meets reggae for a Canadian classic.]
5. Oh Candy–Cheap Trick (Cheap Trick) [Great cut from their classsic debut LP.]
6. Just The Two Of Us–Bill Withers w/Grover Washington, Jr. (Best of Bill Withers) [Great collaboration that has become a lite-radio staple.]
7. Dance Little Sister–Terence Trent D’Arby (Introducing the Hardline…) [Comparing your album to Sgt. Pepper is a sure-fire career killer. He should know. Still a fun song, though.]
8. Say It Ain’t So Joe–Murray Head (Say It Ain’t So) [A really great acoustic tune from the man who would later release “One Night in Bangkok”.]
9. This Masquerade–George Benson (Breezin’) [A great cover of the Leon Russell classic from the album that took the career of this jazz guitarist to a whole new level.]
10. Atlantic City–Bruce Springsteen (Nebraska) [Outstanding. I mean, what else is there to say?]