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Yakety Yak

Don't talk back.

Updated: 2012-04-15T21:21:42.107-07:00


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Good God, y'all


At a time like this, it's hard for a boomer like myself not to hear it in his head: a sudden blast of horns, and a strong, black man's voice. War -- hunh -- yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'. Back when it was Vietnam that was being marched about, this was quite a statement to be coming out of the soul music scene. Motown Records had decided that it needed to become more "relevant"



My wife got a compilation CD for Christmas entitled "A Year in Your Life 1963, Vol. 1." It's an obvious cheapie (the price tag was still on it), with only 10 songs, and in those days the hits were only about three minutes long. But it's the thought that counts, right? A week or so after Christmas, we put it on the machine. I was pretty skeptical. This kind of disc is prone to bad remakes,

A great groove


At this very moment, I am hearing, for the first time in my life, "Tramp," not by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, but rather the original version by Lowell Fulsom, who wrote the song and recorded it first. We lost Lowell four years ago last Thursday, but he's very much alive in these headphones. Go, Lowell! No wonder the hip-hop DJs sample this one so heavily.

Long time gone


It's been entirely too long since I last posted here. Back when I started this and another weblog, I was still marvelling at how easy it was to start a blog, or any number of them. It took a while for me to figure out how hard it is to do a good job with more than one, or even with one, for that matter. My partner Fred also appears to have hit some bumpy spots in the road, which have taken him

Chief gorglist


When I was a college DJ, and even as a high school kid who couldn't wait to become one, the radio personality I worshipped most was Jonathan Schwartz over on WNEW-FM in New York. This was when album rock was in its heyday on the FM dial, and DJs on that station enjoyed considerable freedom. Schwartz could get away with mixing Chopin preludes in with Crosby, Stills & Nash and Arthur Lee's Love.



We never thought of ourselves as "underprivileged" children, as they used to be called in those days. But by my current standard of living, we didn't have much. And so when our dads' veterans post used to hold a Christmas party for us little boomers, there were always gifts donated by local businesses. The party was held every year about this time in the hall in the back of the post building.

The Funk Brothers


I finally got out to see "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" yesterday, and my overwhelming reaction is one of gratitude to the filmmakers. This feature-length documentary on the careers of the "Funk Brothers" -- the stellar house band for Motown Records during its heyday in the 1960s -- is not just a valuable contribution to rock and soul history, but also a very thoughtful and loving tribute.

Now the jingle hop has begun


The Thanksgiving weekend agenda at our house includes breaking out the Christmas music once again. The box gets bigger every few years, what with an average of two additions per annum. For the last couple of years, we didn't even get around to playing everything in the box. Lately the acquisitions have included some oddballs. James Brown and Boxcar Willie -- well, they ain't Bing Crosby, if

Take a bow, Stevie


Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was going to miss it. The new documentary about the Motown sidemen was in town, but it was scheduled to run for only a week at the local art house. And it was the busiest week of the year for me, so I couldn't make it. Now word is out that it's moving over to a bigger place downtown, so some friends and we are talking about catching it over the weekend.

On a mission


For those who love the music from, say, 1955 to 1980, these are hard times. FM radio, which once seemed so promising, has now distilled thousands of songs into play lists that make the old Top Forty format look expansive. Yes, "The Letter" was a great record. No, we don't need to hear it every two hours. Yes, "Oh, Pretty Woman" was super. But "Working for the Man" is just as good. And why