Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Great American Songbook (Series) - Dean Martin

Finally, for the Great American Songbook Series:  Dean Martin

Dino Paul Crocetti (1917 – 1995) - nicknamed the "King of Cool". He was one of the members of the "Rat Pack" and a major star on concert stage, recordings, movies and television.
As a singer Martin could not read music (like Frank Sinatra!), but recorded about 100 albums with 600 songs. 

His "Everybody Loves Somebody", beated The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" at of the No. 1 spot in the US (1964).

I hope you all liked this little excursion in musical history. That's it for The Great Amercian Songbook for now.

The Great American Songbook (Series) - Today

In the recent years there were a couple of artists that were inspired by The Great Amercian Songbook:

Robbie Williams

Mr. Williams was famous for his part in Take That and the following solo career. In 2001 he released a very different record. With "Swing When You're Winning" he paid tribute to the Great American Songbook.

The album was recorded at the Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and was released under the Capitol label. The album was certified as 7 times Platinum in the UK. Sadly there was no follow up. It's a beautiful record - if you like it, watch out for the Live At The Albert Hall DVD, too.

Harry Connick Jr.

Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. has sold more than 25 million records. This year he released a great live performance (In Concert On Broadway):

Michael Bublé

Michael Steven Bublé is a Canadian singer. If you don't know him, listen here:

Tom Gaebel

Tom Gaebel is a surprisingly good German singer and leader of a big band. In addition to singing and arranging music, Gaebel writes lyrics in English.


Jay Clifford - Crowd Funding for his new album

Jay Clifford, also known from his band Jump Little Children started a crowd funding campaign for his new album. Within about 24h he reached 90% of his goal.
What's different to other crowd funding events? It's also for a good cause!

Jay: "(...) a portion of the proceeds will go to a charity close to my heart, The Children’s Center in my hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The good people at this unique special needs school made a real difference in the life of my nephew Errol Milner Clifford. You can read more about his story at"

If you want to take part, it's on

I also recommend to listen to his first solo album Driving Blind at myspace.

The Great American Songbook (Series) - Frank Sinatra

One of Frank Sinatra's (Francis Albert Sinatra, 1915 – 1998) first musical performances was in 1935: he had a job as singing waiter in New Jersey (he was paid $15 a week).

He became a successful in the early 1940s. Sinatra had several albums with Capitol Records (In the Wee Small Hours in 1955, Songs for Swingin' Lovers in 1956, Come Fly with Me in 1957) until he found his own record label, Reprise Records (September Of My Years in 1965). He also was a founding member of the Rat Pack.

Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. In 1973 he already had a comeback and recorded several albums, including the hit "(Theme From) New York, New York" and Trilogy: Past Present Future in 1980.

In February 1995 Sinatra sang before a live audience for the very last time. His last song was "The Best is Yet to Come".


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Great American Songbook (Series) - Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire (born Frederick Austerlitz; May 10, 1899 – June 22, 1987) was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and following film career spanned a total of 76 years,  and made 31 musical films in this time.

Fred Astaire

Astaire arrived New York City at age 24 in 1892. When his father suddenly lost his job, the family launch the show business career of their children. As a result of their father's salesmanship, Fred and his sister got a major contract very fast.

Fred Astaire first met George Gershwin in 1916. Fred had already been hunting for new music and dance ideas - their meeting deeply affected the careers of both men.

During the 1920s, Fred and his sister Adele appeared on Broadway and on the London stage in shows such as George and Ira Gershwin's Lady Be Good (1924) and Funny Face (1927), and The Band Wagon (1931), having popular acclaim in theaters on both sides of the Atlantic.

Astaire received a percentage of the films' profits, which was extremely rare at that time. So he had complete autonomy over how the dances, allowing him to revolutionize dance on film.
He played alongside Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn (1942) and later Blue Skies (1946), but in spite of the enormous financial success of both, was reportedly dissatisfied with roles where he lost the girl to Crosby.

Astaire, ever insecure and believing his career was beginning to falter surprised his audiences by announcing his retirement during the production of Blue Skies, nominating Puttin' on the Ritz as his farewell dance.

During 1952 Astaire recorded The Astaire Story, a four-volume album with a quintet (led by Oscar Peterson). The album gave a musical overview of his whole career. The Astaire Story later won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, a special Grammy award to honor recordings that have qualitative or historical significance.

Astaire continued to act into the 1970s.

Extremely modest about his singing abilities (he often claimed that he couldn't sing), Astaire introduced some of the most celebrated songs from the Great American Songbook, in particular Night and Day, Isn't This a Lovely Day?, Cheek to Cheek, Top Hat, White Tie and Tails, Let's Face the Music and Dance, The Way You Look Tonight, They Can't Take That Away From Me, One for My Baby.

Listen to one of the best collections of Mr. Fred Astaire here:


The Great American Songbook (Series)

Time for a change - let's do some musical history: In the 1920 to the 1960 many songs with enduring popularity were written by US songwriters and performed by several singers. The songs had their roots in theatre and Hollywood musicals. Years later this was defined as The Great American Songbook. The Songbook era ended about the time rock & roll arose. I wonder if there'll be sometimes also another - i.e. better - definition about the songs that are called PowerPop today.

There is a long list of writers and lyricists - following you'll find some of the most important artists and their songs:

Harold Arlen Over the Rainbow, Stormy Weather, I've Got the World on a String, Let's Fall in Love, That Old Black Magic, One for My Baby

Irving Berlin How Deep Is the Ocean, White Christmas, Cheek to Cheek, Puttin' on the Ritz, Let's Face the Music and Dance, There's No Business Like Show Business

Irving Berlin

Nacio Herb Brown Singin' in the Rain, Temptation

Hoagy Carmichael Stardust, Georgia on My Mind, Lazy River, The Nearness of You

Walter Donaldson My Baby Just Cares For Me, You're Driving Me Crazy

Vernon Duke April In Paris, Autumn In New York, I Can't Get Started

Duke Ellington In a Sentimental Mood, Sophisticated Lady, I'm Beginning to See the Light

Duke Ellington

Ray Henderson Bye Bye Blackbird, I'm Sitting On Top Of The World, The Best Things In Life Are Free

Herman Hupfeld As Time Goes By

Bart Howard Fly Me To the Moon

George and Ira Gershwin Summertime, I Got Rhythm, They Can't Take That Away from Me

George and Ira Gershwin

Isham Jones It Had to Be You

Jerome Kern The Way You Look Tonight, Ol' Man River

Frank Loesser Baby, It's Cold Outside, Luck Be A Lady

Johnny Mercer Moon River, Day In, Day Out

Cole Porter Night and Day, I've Got You Under My Skin, Let's Fall in Love, All of You, I Get a Kick Out of You

Cole Porter

Rodgers and Hart Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Have You Met Miss Jones?, My Funny Valentine, The Lady Is a Tramp

Jule Styne Time After Time, Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Jimmy Van Heusen Come Fly with Me, Love Is The Tender Trap, Ain't That a Kick in the Head

Since the 1930s, many singers have explicitly recorded or performed large parts of the Great American Songbook, as

Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Shirley Bassey, Tony Bennett, Nat "King" Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Dean Martin, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra

Musical Legacy

Since the 1980s, a few singers from different genres were quite successful in treating the Songbook, as Robbie Williams (Swing When You're Winning), Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Bublé or Tom Gaebel (a German singer which is surprisingly very good!).

For some of these performers will I'll write separate postings in a little series in the next days.
I hope you like it - let me know what you think about it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bleu - Birthday Song for Mara

Some months ago there was a crowd funding campaign by the website from Bleu.
I decided to give some money for this great project - with the benefit of getting a birthday song for my then new born daughter.
By the time of her birth there was a song and video surrounding us in these exciting days: A song by Eduard Khil.
You don't know him? He is now 75. And has become a star - 30 years after his actual performance. The Russian sang a song without words (because of the soviet censorship).
Until today the video has been watched for more than 8 million times. There exist several remixes, an iPhone-App and much more.

Here is the original song:

So... and here is the b-day song from Bleu for Mara:

Mara and her parents liked it a lot (she likes to dance to it :-)

I created a little collection of songs around this tune (it's a kind of mix tape or personal best of):

Mara LP:
01 Ya Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar
02 No Such Thing as Love
03 Singin' In Tongues
04 We'll Do It All Again
05 How Blue
06 Watchin' You Sleep
07 I'll Know It When I See It
08 I Won't Go to Hollywood
09 Nothin' Will Ever Change
10 B.O.S.T.O.N.
11 Save Me
12 Dead In The Mornin'
13 Boy Meets Girl
14 Somebody Else
15 Sukaz Are Born Every Minute
16 Could Be Worse
17 Kiss Me
18 When The Shit Hits The Fan
19 Hummingbird
20 You Know, I Know, You Know
21 Everything Is Fine
22 Happy Birthday Mara


Ocean Grove - New EP

The new EP of Ocean Grove can now be preordered on their website. It will be available on June 21st. And if you preorder (it includes CD and digital download), you'll get an unique personalized photo of the band taken anywhere across America. I like this.

If you still have not done this, I recommend to order also their first EP ("Little Record").

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aimee Mann

My first contact with the music of Aimee Mann was the movie Magnolia in 1999. It was an outstanding film - with outstanding music. The score was created by Jon Brion, the songs were mostly from Aimee Mann. The soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and 3 Grammys. I was completely flashed by these tunes.

While Jon Brion released his superb first (and I still hope not his last) record "Meaningless" about one year later and sadly stopped making records, Aimee Mann continued her successful solo career.

The following records sustained at this high standard: Bachelor No. 2 (Deathly, Red Vines, Save Me) in 2000, Lost in Space (This Is How It Goes, Humpty Dumpty, Lost In Space - the record has a wonderful 2CD special edition) in 2002, The Forgotten Arm (Going Through The Motions, That's how i knew this story would break my heart) in 2005 and @#%;*! Smilers (Freeway, 31 Today) in 2008.

There's one thing I still regret: in 2005 (maybe a year before or later) she was on tour here in Germany and there was a gig in Berlin - by that time I lived there. And ... I ... did not go to the concert. I still could kick myself for that.

PS: In 2011 Mann played a cleaning woman slightly based on herself (the music industry now being unprofitable) on the show Portlandia. It's hilarious (with a serious element of truth):

Main Discography:
1993 – Whatever
1995 – I'm with Stupid
1999 – Magnolia OST
2000 – Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo
2002 – Lost in Space
2004 – Live at St. Ann's Warehouse
2005 – The Forgotten Arm
2006 – One More Drifter in the Snow (Christmas album)
2008 – @#%;*! Smilers

Songs for a lonely island:  Save Me, That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart, Deathly, Pavlov's Bell, Wise Up, Today's The Day


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ivy - Distant Lights

Here is Distant Lights - the new song from Ivy. Well, that tune was worth the wait (for six long years):

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Records Are On Their Way (Ivy, Hotel Lights, Ben Folds Five, Bleu ...)

The next few weeks will have a bunch of exciting record releases:

The Nines - Polarities (unreleased songs and demos - out now!) - Homepage

Gomez - Whatever's On Your Mind
(out now!) - Homepage

Ivy - Distant Lights
(Single, out now!) - Listen To Distant Lights Here
Ivy - All Hours (September 20) - Homepage

Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full Of Holes (August 2) - Listen To The New Single Here

Hotel Lights - Girl Graffiti (August 16) - Homepage - Download The New Single Here

Ben Folds Five - Box Set
(probably 3 CDs: Best Of, Live and Rare - Ben even talked about a fourth Ben Folds Five record that was never finished! - November)

Bleu - Besides (B-Sides, on vinyl and digital - tba) - Homepage

Mike Viola - Electro De Perfecto
(summer) - Homepage

The Shins - New Album
(tba) - Homepage

Brandon Schott - ‎13 Songs (a collaboration with Billy Hawn)
(summer) - Homepage

David Mead - Dudes (tba) - David's Blog

So, lots of new stuff! Being exited :-)