2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life


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Can’t believe that hip-hop has had a bigger influence than the Beatles

vibe_headphones_speakers_1600_wht_5392But that’s what scientists are saying.

Using techniques normally used in evolutionary biology scientists at Imperial College and Cambridge University analysed 17,000 songs from the US Billboard charts between 1960 and 2010.

They gave each song a unique signature based on harmony and timbre and with that were able to trace the rise and fall of different types of music.

They found among other things that tunes using dominant 7th chords became rarer over time. This chord is common in blues and jazz music and reflects their decline. They also looked at “thrashing guitars” associated with rock music.

The scientists found three big changes over the 50 years they examined.

In 1964 the Beatles invasion of America; in 1983 with synth music; and in 1991 with hip-hop.

There is still a lot of diversity in music despite the decline in the 1980s when synthesiser groups like Duran Duran dominated the charts. The scientists consider that revolution the most boring  and it took the hip-hop revolution to change that.

Personally I don’t buy this and would question hip-hop’s influence. But then I’m old-fashioned. I go the the R&B section of a record store still expecting to find John Lee Hooker or Howling Wolf not the pretentious urban music that goes by that label today.

 


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Arthur Alexander – a big influence but little known

SCAN0103 Arthur Alexander, a country and soul singer/songwriter,  was born in Sheffield, Alabama and recorded his first single, “Sally Sue Brown“, under the name of June Alexander (short for Junior), which was released in 1960 on Jud Phillips’ Judd Records. (Phillips is the brother of music pioneer Sam Phillips). It wasn’t a hit.

Alexander then recorded “You Better Move On in 1961 at a former tobacco warehouse-turned-recording studio in Muscle Shoals and it became a soul/R&B chart hit.

It’s perhaps Alexander’s best-known song, covered by the Rolling Stones and the Hollies among others. It also kick-started the studio as the hit factory for soul music combining black singers ad white country musicians.

On the UK release the flip side was “A shot of rhythm and blues” which was covered in the UK by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates who reached no 48 in the charts with it (More on him here). It was also covered by Gerry and the Pacemakers ( a pretty good version) and played live by the Beatles on the BBC.

His next song “Where Have you been (all my life)” wasn’t a hit for him but was covered in the UK by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders on their album. The song and its flip-side “Soldier of Love” were sung by the Beatles in their stage act and also on the BBC.

Anna (Go to Him), a U.S. R&B Top Ten Hit, was covered by the Beatles on their first album  “Please Please Me” with John Lennon taking the lead vocal part.

SCAN0101SCAN0104Although he made more records he never quite achieved the fame he probably deserved and gave up performing for a while driving a bus for a living.

Alexander died of a heart attack on 9 June 1993 aged just 53 just a few days after  and appearing in Nashville to promote his comeback album “Lonely just like me”.

He will be remembered as a singer/songwriter whose material was covered by such noteworthy artists as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Esther Phillips, Joe Tex, Marshall Crenshaw, Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, Ry Cooder, Ike and Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Beatles.

His songs were also part of the staple diets of aspiring R ‘n’ B and rock groups in the 1960s.  “Where have you been” for example is a song we’ve both performed with different groups and together and its still popular today

I’ve put lots of links to Youtube on here so you can listen to and compare the different versions.


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Please, Please Me – 50 years ago!

Mike the Psych's Blog

P1000827Hard to believe it’s 50 years today since the release of the Beatles first LP “Please, Please Me”.

It was released on Parlophone, 14 tracks of great music all recorded in one day and produced by George Martin.

It’s hard to understand the impact it had on everyone if you weren’t there. The raw fresh sound which heralded the swinging sixties for many people. As Tony Barrow wrote on the back of the LP cover “Their music is wild, pungent, hard-hitting, uninhibited …. and personal”

I wasn’t that keen on their first single “Love Me Do” but the second one, and the title of this LP, “Please Please Me” was for me and many other group members a turning point.

The album starts with an upbeat “I saw her standing there” and finishes with a cover of “Twist & Shout”, always a crowd pleaser for any guitar…

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