Soul legend Bobby Womack has died at the age of 70. The singer passed away on Friday (27Jun14).
A former member of family gospel groups the Womack Brothers and the Valentinos, he went solo in 1965 and released his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968.
His hits included Across 110th Street, That's The Way I Feel About 'Cha, Woman's Gotta Have It and If You Think You're Lonely Now.
Womack's successes were tinged with personal tragedy and controversy - he struggled with the deaths of his brother Harry and sons Vincent and Truth. Vincent committed suicide and four-month-old Truth died in 1978 after falling into a coma at the Womack family home in Woodland Hills, California.
In one of his final interviews, the soul star told WENN he never truly got over the tragedy and still blamed himself for leaving the baby unattended on a bed.
He said, "The baby had fallen down between the bed and the wall and he suffocated and that was the biggest hurt ever in my life."
The tragedy turned Womack onto hard drugs, which eventually robbed him of his creative edge, and he spent decades trying to get his passion for songwriting back.
He explained, "That death led to 'There's gotta be a better way... and from there, away I went. Every time I heard somebody had died - instead of going to the funeral, I'd go and get high.
"Eventually I reached out to God and said, 'Look, I'm in trouble. I don't even know who I am'. I wanted to get the true feeling back... My passion for music never died; I was just trying to figure out how you get it back."
He spent much of the 1980s battling his drug demons, eventually checking into rehab.
Womack also split fans of his music when he married late mentor Sam Cooke's wife Barbara three months after his death in 1964.
He suffered a series of health setbacks, including diabetes, pneumonia and colon cancer, and last year (13) he revealed he had been diagnosed with memory-robbing Alzheimer's disease.
The music veteran enjoyed a career revival thanks to British rocker Damon Albarn, who invited the soul man to join the Gorillaz on 2010 track Stylo. Womack also toured extensively with the group.
Albarn then produced his acclaimed 2012 comeback album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, Womack's first release in more than a decade.
The star was in the process of recording the follow-up, tentatively titled The Best Is Yet to Come, at the time of his death.
He recently told WENN that his new music included collaborations with Snoop Dogg and duets with Stevie Wonder and Rod Stewart. He had also reworked a cover of Billy Preston's With You I'm Born Again.
Bobby Womack was inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks has revisited her past for a new album of rarities, which will be produced by rocker Dave Stewart. The singer took to YouTube.com to watch clips from past concerts and uncover lost treasures that were never formally released.
The result is the album 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault, which consists of new versions of obscure tracks she found online.
She explains, "We went onto YouTube and we found all the songs that, somehow, were taken from my house or picked up or loaned out or whatever, and we went to Nashville (and recorded them). They're, like, all starting from like 1969. I call them my 24 karat gold songs."
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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"I said, 'I trust that you will film me and make me look good. And if at least not good, interesting. I’ll accept interesting. But if I look like an old hag, I’m not going to be happy'." Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks urged collaborator and pal Dave Stewart to make her look good in her new In Your Dreams documentary.
Soul legend Bobby Womack is set to collaborate with fellow musicians Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder on his next album. The new record, which has not yet been named, will be the star's 28th studio album.
From the '90s to the present, the neo-soul movement has been the springboard for everyone from Maxwell, Macy Gray, and Erykah Badu to John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Raheem DeVaughn. The roll call of key influences should be familiar by now, mostly containing ubiquitous, iconic figures like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green, but there's one man who's equally seminal to neo-soul despite never achieving anything near the star status of the aforementioned artists: Donny Hathaway. Fortunately, the first-ever domestic box set of Hathaway's work, Never My Love: The Anthology, has now appeared via the always-worthy Rhino Records, and not only does it underscore the weighty debt owed to the late Hathaway by subsequent generations of soulsters, it expands his regrettably slim discography with two discs' worth of previously unheard music.
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Hathaway released only four studio albums during his too-short life: three on his own and one in a duo with Roberta Flack. For whatever reason, Hathaway/Flack duets like "The Closer I Get" and "Where is the Love" became huge hits while Hathaway's solo work mostly achieved only middling commercial success. The four-disc box includes one CD compiled from Hathaway's albums, one containing collaborations with Flack, another featuring demos of never-before-heard songs, and one full of previously unreleased live recordings from 1971. The breadth and depth encompassed by this set is almost shocking, and the anthology is an overdue monument to the mighty artistry of this mercurial genius.
The demos disc is the most revelatory, as its contents highlight not only Hathaway's vision but also his eclecticism. "A Lot of Soul," for instance, is a country stroll (don't let the title fool you), while the "ZYXYGY Concerto" is a full-on neo-classical piece, with Hathaway's piano leading the way for a full orchestra. The live disc was recorded at New York's tiny-but-influential Greenwich Village club The Bitter End (other tracks from Hathaway's three-night '71 run at the venue have been previously unearthed). Listening to Hathaway and his band -- which includes killer players like guitarist Cornell Dupree, bassist Willie Weeks, and Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White -- lock in on a slow-burning soul stirrer like Al Kooper's "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" or a free-for-all funkfest like "Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)" can be downright epiphany-inducing.
The mentally unstable Hathaway left us at the age of 33; seemingly off his meds for too long, he began acting irrationally at a 1979 session, and later that day he leaped out a window to his death, ending his story far too soon. But with the arrival of Never My Love, hopefully those who have never had the same opportunity to embrace him that his many musical disciples have maximized can begin to play catch-up.
Organisers of Britain's Hard Rock Calling festival have confirmed the concert will not take place next year (14). No reason was given for the cancellation, but organisers explained they would be "hosting new world-class music events, both in London and around the globe".
The Hard Rock Calling festival was held in Hyde Park in London from 2006 to 2012 and in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this year (13).
Musical acts including The Who, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, The Police, The Killers, Rod Stewart and Bon Jovi have headlined the gigs.
Ivan Keeman/Getty Images
For the last couple of years, Fleetwood Mac have been the latest vintage soft rock band to become fashionable among the sort of college students who still frequent used record shops. But it seems like only the Mac's 1975-'87 period, when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were fronting the band and they were scoring massive hits, has penetrated the consciousness of today's bearded youth, with their earlier incarnations largely unknown. Let's rectify that with a countdown of the essential pre-Buckingham Nicks Fleetwood Mac albums.
The Best of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (Blue Horizon Records 2002)
This 20-track CD supplants the 1969 singles compilation The Pious Bird of Good Omen by adding two hard-to-find but essential singles recorded in 1970 just as Fleetwood Mac's blues-rock-oriented first lineup was crumbling, "Man of the World" and "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)." The latter was original frontman Peter Green's musical farewell note, a nightmarish drug-induced vision written and recorded shortly before he left the band to join a religious cult and largely give up music. The set also includes all of the Green-era band's other classic singles, the achingly beautiful instrumental "Albatross," the nine-minute epic "Oh Well (Parts 1 and 2)" and "Black Magic Woman." Yes, Santana had the hit, but it was originally a Fleetwood Mac song.
Kiln House (Reprise Records 1970)
Quite likely the most underrated album in the Fleetwood Mac canon, 1970's Kiln House intriguingly catches the group in a period of transition. With Green's sudden departure, his fellow singing guitarists Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan pick up the slack, but Spencer's unabashed love of '50s R&B and rockabilly and Kirwan's taste for Nick Drake-like folk-rock melancholy mesh somewhat awkwardly. Hard to tell what might have come next, since shortly after this album's release, Spencer suddenly quit the band mid-tour, running off with a notorious cult known as the Children of God. What was it about life in Fleetwood Mac that caused its frontmen to seek oddball religious solace?
Future Games (Reprise Records 1971)
With bassist John McVie's wife Christine added on keyboards and California-bred singer and guitarist Bob Welch newly installed as Kirwan's songwriting foil, this is the album that ditches Fleetwood Mac's blues-rock roots. A spacy, mellow record that sounds heavily influenced by the Laurel Canyon folk-rockers of the era, Future Games has long been the stoner's Mac album of choice. Welch's sprawling title track and Christine McVie's "Show Me A Smile" are particularly beloved by fans, but overall, it was Fleetwood Mac's first start-to-finish solid album.
Bare Trees (Reprise Records 1972)
From the chilly, fog-bedecked cover photo to its oddball closer (an old British woman reading her own poem "Thoughts on a Grey Day"), this is easily Fleetwood Mac's darkest record. It's also the one album on which Danny Kirwan dominates the songwriting, which may have something to do with its bleak mood; the guitarist had struggled with depression for most of his life, and his self-medicating alcoholism led both to his firing from Fleetwood Mac after this album's release and a descent into mental illness and periodic homelessness that followed. That said, this album remains best known for Welch's "Sentimental Lady," a genuinely brilliant pop song that the guitarist would later take to the top 40 as his first solo single in 1977. This version is better, though.
Mystery To Me (Reprise Records 1973)
After a misbegotten return to a blues-rock vibe with Penguin earlier in 1973, Fleetwood Mac righted themselves with Mystery To Me barely six months later. Their last album before the band moved from the U.K. to southern California, Mystery To Me feels like a dry run for the pure-pop sound the new lineup would perfect on 1975's Fleetwood Mac. Just with a less disciplined, looser sound that showcases the slide guitar of Kirwan's replacement Bob Weston, who was fired shortly after this album was completed for having an affair with Mick Fleetwood's wife. Barely a year later, after the halfhearted follow-up Heroes Are Hard To Find, Welch was also gone, replaced by an all-but-unknown singer-and-guitarist duo who called themselves Buckingham Nicks. But that's where we came in.
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Old pals Rod Stewart and Sir Elton John are quietly plotting a joint tour after hitting the road separately with Stevie Nicks and Billy Joel in recent years. The two friends performed together after Stewart presented Elton with his Brit Icon Award at a ceremony in London earlier this week (02Sep13) and that appears to have sparked fresh talk about hitting the road together.
Stewart says, "We did do a duet on one of my Great American Songbook albums, but really I'd love to - before we're both in wheelchairs - go out and do a tour together."
In the meantime, Stewart is preparing for a U.S. tour later this year (13) with Traffic and Humble Pie star Steve Winwood, and he recently hinted at plans to hit the road on a joint reunion tour with his old bands the Faces and Jeff Beck Group.
Music's been such a huge part of President Obama's reelection bid. He went on tour with opening act Bruce Springsteen, serenaded one lucky audience at a campaign stop with an impromptu rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," earned endorsements from Bob Dylan, Dave Grohl, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and even got a lyrical assist from Jay-Z who altered his famous "99 Problems" to "I've got 99 problems but a Mitt ain't one." So it should be no surprise that Obama's victory celebration last night at Chicago's McCormick Place would feature some killer tunes.
But who knew it would become an 18,000-person dance party? Mark Ronson, half a world away in a hotel room in Dubai, even tweeted, "Seriously, who is dj'ing OBAMA HQ? incredible. Teena Marie, MAZE etc....every global news station is blastin Frankie Crocker classics," referring to the legendary New York disc jockey and Studio 54 demigod who died in 2000. Well, Crocker wasn't pulling any kind of Lazarus act last night. For maximum hip factor, the Obama campaign brought in Austin-based mixmaster Mel Cavaricci, better known in the dance music scene as DJ Mel. And he put together one helluva victory playlist. Still basking in the glow of Election Day? Recapture the moment with these 22 songs that DJ Mel played Tuesday night, a playlist that he put together with a little input from the Obama campaign itself.
President Obama's Official 2012 Victory Celebration Playlist
Al Green—“Let’s Stay Together” (Not the Obama cover, I'm afraid)
Bill Withers— “Lovely Day”
Marvin Gaye— “Got to Give It Up”
Michael Jackson—“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”
McFadden & Whitehead—“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”
The Heavy—"How You Like Me Now"
Doris Troy—"Just One Look"
Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions—"Keep on Pushing"
The Supremes—"Come See About Me" and "You Can't Hurry Love"
Contours—"Do You Love Me"
Ray Charles—"What'd I Say, Part 1"
Shalamar—"The Second Time Around"
The Four Seasons—"December 1963 (Oh What a Night)"
KC and the Sunshine Band—“Boogie Shoes”
Jean Knight—“Mr. Big Stuff”
Maze—“Before I Let Go”
Teena Marie—“Black Cool” (Marie, who died in 2010, actually wrote "Black Cool" about Obama before her death.)
The Beatles—“Twist and Shout” (played right after it was announced Obama had won the election, because nothing conveys joy like John Lennon's throat-shredding vocals on the 1963 cover)
Stevie Wonder—“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Obama's entrance music before his victory speech)
Bruce Springsteen—“We Take Care of Our Own” (which the especially witty Brian Williams noted at 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning has been widely misinterpreted, much like Springsteen's "Born in the USA" before it, as a pat-yourself-on-the-back anthem rather than a critique of laissez-faire domestic policy)
Democrats really do know how to party, don't they?
[Photo Credit: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images]
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