.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, November 02, 2013


Special trick or treat edition

The sadly misnamed Affordable Care Act pot is really boiling now.  Not only is the website a mess, but, as predicted here way back when, people are beginning to find that their insurance plans are not being grandfathered, so, in contrast to what the Prez and the Dems have been saying, you may well lose the insurance plan you have and like.  When the young "invincibles" can finally navigate the website and find out what it will cost to be insured, they will quickly calculate that they are better off going bare and paying the tax.   At that point the whole scheme falls apart.  And that's when the jig is up for Obama, the liberals and their progressive base.

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I see socialized health care on the run almost everywhere.  It will probably not be possible to rebuild European private health care systems in the short run, but it may not be too late to save ours.

Most people think the Wall Street Journal is a paper devoted to business, but regular readers know it is that plus so much more.  There are regular features on sports, the arts, residential and commercial real estate, health, etc;  everything you might see in a daily newspaper except the box scores, the racing results and your horoscope.

Recently, I have run across some interesting interviews with some of our favorite musical artists about their songs.  Here are excerpts from Marc Myers' April 26 story about The Four Tops breakthrough hit, Reach Out I'll Be There, written by Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier.  Dozier, surviving Tops vocalist Duke Fakir, and producer arranger Paul Riser were interviewed.

Dozier:  In the early summer of 1966, I walked into our small work space at Motown and heard Brian at the piano.  He liked composing in a ballad tempo - to feel and shape the melody.  When I asked what he was playing, he said he wasn't sure and didn't know where it should go next.  I suggested he pick up the tempo, and we played around with the song's introduction for about a half hour.  By then I had an idea...I wanted to create a mind trip - a journey of emotions with sustained tension, like a bolero.  To get this across, I alternated the keys, from a minor (key) Russian feel in the verse to a major (key) gospel feel in the chorus.  From the start, we knew "Reach Out" was for Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops...During their time away (on tour), we had to create...new material they could record for an album.  As soon as we had the song's melody down, I wrote lyrics for the chorus - "I'll be there, to always see you through."  I also wrote the story in the verses.  Eddie took my draft and turned it into a more polished story as I focused on production with Brian.  I wanted the song to explore the kinds of things women were going through and for Levi to come off as understanding and supportive.  I also wanted the lyrics to be phrased in a special way - as though they were being thrown down..  

Back in '66, we were listening a lot to Bob Dylan.  He was the poet then, and we were inspired by his talk-singing style on "Like a Rolling Stone."  We loved the complexity of his lyrics and how he spoke the lines and sang them in places.  We wanted Levi to shout-sing "Reach Out's" lyrics as a shout-out to Dylan.

Fakir: We first heard the song in the studio - just before we recorded it...Levi was Jackie Wilson's cousin and very talented with his voice.  He was a baritone with a tenor range and wasn't afraid to attempt any note.  For "Reach Out," Lamont purposefully put Levi at the top of his range, to make sure he'd have that cry and hunger and wailing in his voice...The hardest part was Levi working on the shout-singing.  The song was so different - he thought the Dylan approach Lamont wanted was a studio experiment, not the real thing.

Dozier: After the Tops finished the vocal tracks, Paul Riser came in and we worked on overdubbing "the sweetness" - strings, chorus, and other instruments that enhanced the song's personality.

Riser: Lamont and I decided to add a piccolo and flute to the intro.  The piccolo's piercing sound was essential.  It's like a siren and gets your attention right away.  It's also the sound of a heart crying...The hoof-beat drum pattern that follows  was made using timpani mallets on the plastic head of a tambourine without its little metal cymbals.  That sounded like a heartbeat speeding up and raised anticipation...Then the female backing voices were added echoing Levi's lines.  I also added strings to the song's chorus using classical chord inversions - to widen the sound.

Dozier: When we had everything on tape, we overdubbed a few last minute touches - like handclapping and a tambourine which emphasized a gospel feel.  All of us sang that shouted "Yah" just before Levi came in...to give the song a little shove forward.

Fakir: Two or three weeks later, Berry Gordy called in the Tops.  He said he was going to release our biggest hit.  We said, "Great, when are we going to record it?"  He said, "You already did."  We said, "Which one?"  He said, "Let me play you a little bit."  When we heard the opening  to "Reach Out," we begged him not to release it, to let us go down to the studio and record something else.  To us, the song felt a little odd.  Berry took it off and said, "I"m going to release it - and you're going to be surprised."

I first heard the song in September in my car.  By then it...was already heading up the charts.  I drove to the office and asked to see Berry who was in a meeting.  I walked in anyway...  I said, "Berry, please don't ever ask us again what we think of our records."

Me:  So think about this story the next time you hear Reach Out.  Better yet,, you can see Fakir and the current Tops on their tour.  They are scheduled to reach Westbury, Long Island (with the Temptations) this winter.

I intend to excerpt another interview on next week's post, and I think it will be of at least equal interest.  In the meantime, if you've never seen Counting Crows in concert, go to countingcrows.com, scroll to the bottom of the screen, and click on the streaming (you tube) webcast of last spring's 2 hour show in Sydney, Australia.  You will see the whole show including encores.  Not as good as being there, but close enough.

Jazz season really heats up in NYC as we head toward the holidays.  Here are redwavemusings' recommendations for November for the metro area. 
For those who love cabaret (and who doesn't), it won't get better than the husband-wife team of John Pizzarelli and singer Jessica Molaskey, who take up a residence of several weeks at the Cafe Carlyle starting last night.  Also, this weekend, the Gary Bartz Quintet features Vincent Herring on sax at Smoke where reservations are a must.  Also Arturo Sandoval should be selling out the Blue Note tonight.  Smalls has Ken Peplowski heading a quartet featuring Ehud Asherie on piano.  We saw them together at Kitano recently and it was pretty memorable.  Ted Nash has a big band at Dizzy's that will include Anat Cohen and Dan Willis.  Joe Farnsworth is not my favorite drummer, but when his quartet includes Harold Mabern (piano) and Eric Alexander (sax), that's worth a try even at a club I don't know way uptown (An Beal Bicht Cafe) Wednesday night.   The blog is not responsible for any muggings that might take place. 
Thursday night, Steve Kuhn leads a trio into Jazz Standard for the weekend.  On November 8-9, Vince Giordano backs the Ladies (who) Sing the Blues at the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  The competition comes from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark November 4-10.  Among the performers will be Sergio Mendes, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, the Anat Cohen Quartet and Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  On Wednesday evening the 13th, there will be the Cedar Walton Memorial at St. Peters, the Jazz Church.  November 14, George Cables' trio (including drummer Victor Lewis) begins a weekend at Dizzy's.  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band makes its way from the French Quarter to the Apollo Theater in Harlem for a gig on the 16th.  On the 19th, two week long gigs that I would love to see open up, Renee Rosnes Quartet at the Village Vanguard and Jane Monheit at the Blue Note.  The clubs are close enough, you might be able to do them both in one night.  Note, the Vanguard has moved its starting time up to 8:30.    On the 25th, the place to be if you can squeeze in will be Small's to see The Dave Kikoski Quartet with Seamus Blake (sax).    Steve Tyrell takes over the Cafe Carlyle that night.  Thanksgiving night, Wycliffe Gordon and Friends open up their weekend at Dizzy's.  And finally, on the weekend of the 29th, Smoke will be honoring the music of J.J. Johnson, as the Steve Davis Sextet will include Eddie Henderson and the aforementioned Alexander and Mabern.  With so much talent in such a small venue, let's hope they save some room for customers.
On 10/23 we bought 200 more shares of News Corp (NWSA) at 16.92.  On 10/25, we bought 50 shares of Lindsey (LNN) at 73.65, a zero buy.  Then on 10/28, we bought another 20 shares of the TIPS ETF for the IRA (TIP) at 113.35.  Back from New Orleans, we bought 100 shares of Newmont Gold on the 31st (NEM) at 27.43 and sold 200 shares of USA Trucking (USAK) at 13.50.  We paid 6.26 for those shares on 5/21/12.  USAK continues to resist being taken over, adopting the "just say no" defense while its stock rises steadily.   

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?