Saturday, February 11, 2017

Queen Of Soul - Aretha Franklin - Retires

Aretha Franklin calls it quits, well kinda. The almost 75 year old (in March) Queen of Soul, will only perform select shows about once a month. Still in the works though, a new album to be released later this year. In a phone interview with Detroit TV station "WDIV Local 4" Aretha told the news  "I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it."

She also shared that Stevie Wonder will be producing her quite versatile new, not yet titled album:   "Of course, several of the songs are going to be produced by Stevie," she said. "There's only one Stevie, right?"

Singer Aretha Franklin: 'I am retiring this year' after release of new album

Currently touring on her 2014 release "ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS," that has quite a modern pop/R&B feel to it, the collaboration with Stevie Wonder hopefully lets her shine in a more "old school" way.

Celebrating a secular career that is over 56 years old, if you include her gospel album from 1956 a career that is in its 7th decade. Her early releases on Columbia got her mostly Top Thirty Hits in the R&B Charts, only after switching to Atlantic in 1967 began her star to illuminate many. By the end of that year with big hits like the Otis Redding penned "Respect," Don Covay's "Chain Of Fools" and the self-written "Baby I Love You" she was crowned the Queen of Soul.

In 1967 she had another Top Ten Hit with the Gerry Goffin and Carole King co-write "Natural Woman," a song Aretha sang in 2015 to Carol King as she was bestowed the Kennedy Center Honors, a prize Ms. Franklin herself received as well in 1994. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker and many others - including President Obama, who had to squish a tear - were so taken by her powerful version, that in a later portrait about Ms. Franklin, titled "Soul Survivor" he built his article around that performance. But watch for yourself.

And who could forget her performance as Mrs. Murphy in the 1980 "Blues Brothers" movie with her own composition "Think," a song she originally published in 1968 from her "ARETHA NOW" album. For the movie they recorded a longer version with a sax-riff by Blues Brothers band member, Lou Marini with backing vocals by Elwood & Jake, as well as Aretha's sisters.

Sources: Local 4 Detroit, The New Yorker, Aretha Franklin's webpage

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Moby - Rare 360° Live Video - Lost In The World

When Moby came out with his new album "These Systems Are Failing" in October and had the single "Are You Lost In The World Like Me" released with a brilliant video, I wrote about it, here in a MMM - Music Blog "Moby - Lost In The World."

I also mentioned, that on October 23rd, he will have his only live performance of the year at his own vegan charity event, Circle V at the Fonda Teatre in Los Angeles benefiting animal rights organisation "Mercy For Animals." From that show he now released a rare 360° live video of his current single. (move your mouse to change the viewing angle.)

Kinda ironic (if you stay on the concert goers in the video) on how they use their smart phones to "capture the action." Not sure, if they actually got the true message of the song in its video.

Sources: Video (YouTube), Image - Moby at Decibel Festival 5 in 2013 (

Blog originally released on Niume (12/03/16) - Moby - Rare 360° Live Video - Lost In The World

Thursday, November 17, 2016

SR: "Hallelujah" Pentatonix Delivers New Version of "Hallelujah"

A couple of days after the passing of Canadian master-poet singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, (see my  obituary), I stumbled upon Texas a cappella quintet Pentatonix'version of the Cohen penned and by now cult song "Hallelujah" from their second Christmas album, "A PENTATONIX CHRISTMAS" which was released on October 21st together with the video. As to the Billboard Chart of 11/26 the album is still in the Top Five of the 200 Best Selling Albums in the US,

It looks like the video was filmed on the Salt Flats of Utah, but that's just a wild guess and I couldn't find any references on the net. So with over 300 versions of the legendary classic, how does the quintet rate. Actually great - as they offer an a cappella (without instruments) version, it sounds new and not just as another remake. And I assume, that 50 Million people agree, who have watched Pentatonix version since it's release roughly 4 weeks ago. (If only one percent of these viewers discover the greatness of the late Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, the quintet's version did in my opinion well.) Unfortunately, the song didn't too well as a single and on the radio, it entered strong into the Top 100 (Billboard) on #32 (11/12), but has since then been falling. Maybe it will get a second wind with the passing of Cohen.

★★★★(★)/★★★★★ (4½/5)

I guess it proves the point how timeless that song is, the original version by Cohen was released 32 years ago, in 1984 on his album "VARIOUS POSITIONS" but hardly got recognized. Seven years later, former Velvet Underground man, John Cale, recorded a first version with added piano track. This one inspired a cut by Jeff Buckley on his debut and only full studio album "GRACE" in 1994. Buckley pretty much made the song his own, and until now with roughly 100 Million views, is the most viewed version on the streaming platform YouTube.

A year and a half ago, Newsweek in an article "60 Versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Ranked" actually tried to put many of the versions in order. Their Top-Five (5-1): k.d. lang from "HYMNS OF THE 40TH PARALLEL" 2004, Regina Spektor (concert for the Jewish Heritage Festival, 2005 YouTube - no recorded version), Rufus Wainwright (OST - SHREK: Music from the Original Motion Picture, 2001), Jeff Buckley ("GRACE" 1994): and John Cale ("I'M YOUR FAN" 1991) on top.

Below are Jeff Buckley's, k.d. lang's and John Cale's version of the song - you'll find the original in the obit I wrote On Niume.

Jeff Buckley

k.d. lang

John Cale

Sources: YouTube (Videos), (Pentatonix website), Newsweek, Billboard