Friday, May 30, 2008

And finally

Its here. The Sex & The City movie is out and playing at Silverbird Galleria from today. I am ecstatic and plan to see it tonight...Now all i need to do is drag my honey along (its harder than it sounds)....

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Motown Series - 2

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tracks of my Tears
One of my favourite songs which I featured on my Monumental Soundbyte series.

This song was released in 1965 when Motown was still known as Tamla Records. This song is extra special to me because it rings true for my personality. The song is about a man hiding his sadness and heartbreak about a relationship gone bad behind smiles. The words are so eloquently delivered by the green-eyed hotness that is Smokey Robinson. This man sings like it aint no big thing.

This song topped a number of charts including Billboard’s R&B singles chart (#2) and Billboard Hot 100 (#16). It is also #50 on The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
This song has also been covered by a number of artists including Linda Ronstadt, Aretha Franklin, Gavin DeGraw, Michael McDonald and Boyz II Men.
One reason that I love the Motown era so much has a lot to do with the words of the songs. Some of them are downright cheesy and this one is one of the cheesiest ever but I just love it….The words are below. My favorite of the cheesy lines i have highlighted in red:

People say I'm the life of the party
Because I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I'm blue
So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears..
I need you, need you
Since you left me if you see me with another girl
Seeming like I'm having fun
Although she may be cute
She's just a substitute
Because you're the permanent one..
So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears..
I need you, need you
Outside I'm masquerading
Inside my hope is fading
Just a clown oh yeah
Since you put me down
My smile is my make up
I wear since my break up with you..
So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

A Loss to the Nigerian Entertainment Industry

Sonny Okosuns lost his battle with colon cancer on Sunday morning.

Rest In Peace

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Last night just went to prove why Manchester United is indeed the greatest....

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Motown Series - 1

And to kick this series off, I have chosen a song that is a revelation to me. I have chosen Marvin Gaye’s “I heard it through the grapevine”. It’s a revelation to me because in the course of doing research on the song, I discovered that it was actually originally released by Gladys Knight and the Pips. Imagine that!

The song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong who I mentioned in the previous post about the label and the tune created by The Funk Brothers. The Gladys Knight version was released in 1967 and hit number 2 on the US charts. Marvin Gaye’s version was released just a year later and became even more successful than the original. But then again, this is Marvin Gaye we are talking about. The man could sing about butter and it would become a hit.
This song became Marvin’s first number one hit and Motown’s most successful record of the 60’s. Its also number 80 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Another fascinating thing about this song, is that after it was written by the duo, the vocals were recorded by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. During one of the quality control meetings that I mentioned in the previous post, it failed to make the cut. The song was then re-recorded by the Isley Brothers and their version failed to make the cut as well.
Norman and Barrett were so sure that they had a hit on their hands, they recorded it a third time with a few changes. The song was slowed down a bit and the background vocals recorded by The Andantes (who I have never heard of but I will be looking up) and The Funk Brothers reworking the instrumental track.
Marvin Gaye recorded this song in 2 months. A fascinating fact about this song – Norman Whitfied arranged the vocals for this track and ensured that Marvin’s lead vocal was arranged above his actual register (music people will understand this). Imagine you sing in a particular range that you are comfortable with. Then imagine being made to sing it lower or higher than you are used to. That’s what that means. Anyway, what this achieved was that Marvin Gaye had to struggle vocally to hit the high notes. The result was a rawer, raspier Marvin Gaye which complemented the very very soft vocals of The Andantes. I swear, a lot of these young cats need to go back in time and be schooled by the masters.
In another twist on this song, Marvin recorded his version before The Pips. Whitfield recorded a fourth version using a gospel style just in case. While it became a hit, he had fallen in love with the Marvin Gaye version and won Berry Gordy’s approval to release the Gaye version.
A huge reason I love the Motown era is the fact that each song is about something. So this song is about a guy who hears through the grapevine (from other people) that his girl is going to leave him for her ex. Heartless I tell you.
This song has been covered by a lot of artists from Michael McDonald to Roger Troutman of Zapp & Roger fame.
I cant find this song on esnips as I would have loved to have it playing on my blog….Hopefully, I will have better success with the other songs….

Friday, May 16, 2008

About the record label

I am so so excited about this series. I know literally every song from every act that was and is still on this label. I will profile songs from the 1960's till now. The songs that i feature will be some of the ones that have touched me in one way or the other. Some i love, some not so much, some are funny, cheesy...its a broad range of emotions evoked by these songs. I will give my thoughts and commentary on the songs and provide some information on the artists/acts. I will also try to make connections to people that have covered or sampled these songs and i ask that readers jog my memory, make corrections, share memories tied to the songs..anything.

Before i launch into the songs, i think some information on the label itself and how it evolved is the right place to start.....So here goes...

Berry Gordy Jr founded Tamla Records with an $800 loan from his family in 1958 in Detroit, Michigan. The name of the company was changed to Motwon Record Corporation in 1960 after Gordy discovered that the name Tamla was originally in use.

It was the first record label owned by an African American to primarily feature African-American artists who achieved crossover success. In the 1960s Motown and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as "The Motown Sound", a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.

Gordy's first signed act was The Matadors, a group he had written and produced songs for, who changed their name to The Miracles when Tamla signed them. Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson became the vice president of the company (and later named his daughter "Tamla" and his son "Berry" out of gratitude to Gordy and the label). Many of Gordy's family members, including his father Berry, Sr., brothers Robert and George, and sister Esther, had instrumental roles in the company. By the middle of the decade, Gwen and Anna Gordy (his sisters) had joined the label in administrative positions as well.

Among Tamla's early artists were Mable John, Barrett Strong and (on the Motown label) Mary Wells. In 1960, Gordy launched Motown Records as a sister label. Because of the "Motown" name's association with "Motor City" Detroit, the blanket record company under which both Motown Records and Tamla Records operated was incorporated as "Motown Record Corporation". By the mid-1960s, the label, with the help of songwriters and producers such as Robinson, William "Mickey" Stevenson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Norman Whitfield, was a major force in the music industry.

In the 1960s (from 1961 to 1971), Motown had 110 Top 10 hits, and artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops and The Jackson 5 were all signed to Motown labels. The company operated several labels in addition to the Tamla and Motown imprints. A third label, which Gordy named after himself, featured The Temptations and Martha and The Vandellas. A fourth, V.I.P., released recordings by The Velevettes and The Spinners, and a fifth, Soul, featured Jr.Walker & the All Stars and Gladys Knoght & The Pips (who were the first act to have been successful before joining Motown).

Motown's music was crafted with the same ear towards pop appeal. The company specialized in a type of soul music it referred to with the trademark "The Motown Sound". The Motown Sound was typified by a number of characteristics: the use of tambourines to accent the back beat, prominent and often melodic electric bass guitar lines, distinctive melodic and chord structures, and a call and response singing style that originated in gospel music. In addition, pop production techniques such as the use of orchestral string sections, charted horn sections, and carefully arranged background vocals were also used. Complex arrangements and elaborate, melismatic vocal riffs were avoided; Motown producers believed steadfastly in the "KISS principle" ("keep it simple, stupid")

Berry Gordy used weekly quality control meetings, held every Friday morning, and veto power to ensure that only the very best material and performances the company came up with would be released. The test was that every new release needed to "fit" into a sequence of the top 5 selling pop singles of the week. As a result, several tracks which later became critical and commercial favorites were initially rejected by Gordy. In several cases, producers would re-work and re-re-work tracks in hopes of eventually getting them approved at a later Friday morning meeting.

Many of Motown's best-known songs, such as all of the early hits for The Supremes, were written by the songwriting trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland (brothers Brian & Eddie Holland and colleague Lamont Dozier). Other important producers and songwriters at Motown's Hitsville USA recording studio and headquarters included Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Frank Wilson, Motown artists Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, and Gordy himself. Many artists and producers of Motown Records collaborated to produce numerous hit songs, although the process has been described as factory-like. The Hitsville studios remained open and active 22 hours a day, and artists would often be on tour for weeks, come back to Detroit to record as many songs as possible, and then promptly set back out on tour again.

The style created by the Motown musicians was a major influence on several non-Motown artists of the mid-1960s, such as Dusty Springfield.

In addition to the songwriting prowess of the writers and producers, one of the major factors in the widespread appeal of Motown's music was Gordy's practice of using a highly select and tight-knit group of studio musicians, collectively known as "The Funk Brothers", to record the instrumental or "band" tracks of the Motown songs. Much of the Motown Sound came from the use of overdubbed and duplicated instrumentation. Motown songs regularly featured two drummers instead of one (either overdubbed or in unison), as well as three or four guitar lines.

Artist development was a major part of the Motor Town's operations. The acts on the Motown label were fastidiously groomed, dressed and choreographed for live performances. Motown artists were advised that their breakthrough into the white popular music market made them ambassadors for other African American artists seeking broad market acceptance, and that they should think, act, walk and talk like royalty, so as to alter the less-than-dignified image commonly held by white Americans in that era of black musicians. Given that many of the talented young artists had been raised in housing projects and were short on social and dress skills, this Motown department was not only necessary, it created an elegant style of presentation long associated with the label. The artist development department specialized primarily in working with younger, less experienced acts; experienced performers such as Junior M Walker and Marvin Gaye were exempted from artist development classes.

Many of the young artists participated in an annual package tour called the "Motortown Revue", which was popular first on the "chitlin circuit", and later around the world. The tours gave the younger singers a chance to hone their performance and social skills and also to learn from more experienced artists.

Despite losing Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, and a number of its other hitmakers by 1975, Motown still had a number of successful artists during the late 1970s and 1980s, including Lionel Richie and The Commodores, Rick James, Teena Marie and DeBarge. By the mid-1980s, Motown was losing money, and Berry Gordy sold his ownership in Motown to (MCA) and Boston Ventures in June 1988 for $61 million.

During the 1990s, Motown was home to successful recording artists such as Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill, although the company itself remained in a state of turmoil. By 1998, Motown had added artists like 702, Brian McKnight, India Arie and Erykah Badu to its roster.

Motown's current roster includes India Arie, Erykah Badu, Mya, Kem, Yummy Bingham, Lindsay Lohan, Damian and Stephen Marley, Trick Trick and Nick Cannon.

A huge blockbuster film about motown is due out in the Summer of 2009, directed by F.Gary Gray and starring Beyonce, Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey, Denzel Washington with Forest Whitaker as Barry White and Jamie Foxx as Edwin Starr.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I tried. I said i wouldnt do anything music related on my blog but the pull is just too much. So i am introducing the Motown Series. This is my favorite musical era ever. I adore the music and the back stories to the songs and artists from this period.
I know i am going to have a blast with this.....

Friday, May 9, 2008

So so disappointed

"CSI" co-star Gary Dourdan has been charged with felony possession of heroin, cocaine and ecstasy stemming from his arrest last month, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Dourdan is scheduled to appear in court on May 28.

The 41-year-old actor was arrested after police found him asleep in his car in Palm Springs on April 28. He was allegedly parked on the wrong side of the street with the car's interior light on.
Prosecutors said Dourdan is scheduled to appear in court in Indio, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, on May 28. The criminal complaint was dated Tuesday.

A call to Dourdan's attorneys wasn't immediately returned early Thursday.
Dourdan has played crime scene investigator Warrick Brown on CBS' "CSI" since 2000.
Several celebrities were in Palm Springs for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in nearby Indio.
I am so so disappointed. People that know me and those who followed my blog know that this man is MY DREAM MAN. I have no words.....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A little extra

An 18 year-old girl tells her Mom that she has missed her period for two months. Very worried, the mother goes to the drugstore andbuys a pregnancy kit.The test result shows that the girl is pregnant. Shouting, cursing, crying, the mother says, "Who was the pig that did this to you? I want to know!"

The girl picks up the phone and makes a call. Half an hour later a Ferrari stops in front of their house; a mature and distinguished man with gray hair and impeccably dressed in a very expensive suit steps out of the Ferrari and enters the house.He sits in the living room with the father, the mother and the girl and tells them: "Good morning, your daughter has informed me of the problem. However, I can't marry her because of my personal family situation but I'll take charge. I will pay all costs and provide for your daughter forthe rest of her life. Additionally, If a girl is born I will bequeath her 2 retail stores, a townhouse, a beach front villa and a $1,000,000 bank account. If a boy is born, my legacy will be a couple of factories and a $2,000,000 bank account. If it is twins, a factory and $2,000,000 each. However, if there is a miscarriage, what do you suggest I do?"

At this point, the father, who had remained silent, places a hand firmly on the man's shoulder and tells him,"You'll sleep with her again!"