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Friday, August 1, 2014

Battle of the Bands: Cristo Redentor

       If you're here for your first visit to Battle of the Bands then let me quickly explain the concept.  It's quite simple.   Two versions of one song are presented in this post.  You vote on your favorite version and tell us why you prefer that version.  Battle of the Bands originates from the bloggers at Far Away Series and Stephen T McCarthy (note that he has a brand new blog dedicated to the Battle of the Bands posts).  After you've voted on my contest, be sure to visit those blogs as well as the others listed at the end of this post.  

      Who isn't familiar with the iconic statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro?  If you watched any of the World Cup this summer you undoubtedly saw repeated images of the statue.  Today's Battle song for Tossing It Out was inspired by the statue and is appropriately called "Cristo Redentor". 

Donald Byrd "Cristo Redentor"  (1963)

         Written and arranged by jazz pianist Duke Pearson, "Cristo Redentor" first appeared on trumpeter Donald Byrd's A New Perspective in 1963.  He had a bit of hit with his rendition though I don't recall ever having heard it before compiling this BOTB post.   This version has Duke tickling the ivories and Donald blowing a horn like a cool cool breeze.  And there's a choir of angels in the background.  This is about as good as it can get.

Harvey Mandel "Cristo Redentor"  (1968)

           Then again maybe Harvey Mandel's mellow guitar sound will win you over. This version still has the angels, but with a harp and strings that are as sweet as ethereal syrups drizzled over a platter of pancakes from heaven.   This is the first version that I heard of this song back around 1971 or so.   A friend played me Mandel's album and I immediately went out and procured a copy of my own.

 Want More?

          If you're diggin' this song as much as I do you might want to check out the samba version by Vince Guaraldi, a very nice jazzy version by saxophonist David Sanborn, and the amazing tour-de-force by blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite.   Don't vote on any of these as much as you might be tempted to so we can keep the contest simple, but I just wanted to offer a few other versions cause I absolutely dig this song.

Now Vote Please

         In the comments tell us which version you prefer and why.  And then after you've voted here, visit the following blogs to vote on their Battles:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
'Stephen T. McCarthy' by clicking HERE.
 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
 ‘DISCCONNECTED’ by clicking HERE.
 CHRIS FRIES by clicking HERE.

Thanks for participating!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Prelude to a Postlude

       A few months back while exploring my vinyl collection I rediscovered an album by an obscure group named Thorinshield.  It's an album I used to enjoy listening to but then forgot until my rediscovery.  One song in particular has been haunting me.  I used it as part of my April A to Z series on my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.  I include it here:

          Coming Friday August 1st!!

         I think "Prelude to a Postlude" is a lovely song, but my song pick for the next Battle of the Bands post is one that I think is absolutely beautiful--or perhaps the word is heavenly.   The song fits in the category of jazz, but I don't necessarily think of it as a particularly jazzy tune.  Be here on Friday to take a listen and vote on your favorite of the two versions I have to offer in this next contest.

          What songs have you rediscovered years after first having heard them?   Do you enjoy melancholy songs?   I haven't offered many clues on my upcoming song picks, but would you want to venture a guess based on the information I've given?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The State of Edjucashun inn Amerika (w/ BOTB results)

Abandoned School
Abandoned School (Photo credit: Atelier Teee)

        Recently I was on the internet making some motel reservations and while doing so I read through the reviews on the travel sites I visited.  I was amused by some of the grammar and spelling errors in these reviews.  After reading some of the funnier ones to my daughter, she wondered why some of these people didn't bother to read back over what they'd written to correct errors.  My suggestion was that it probably didn't matter because this was probably the way they wrote and they wouldn't even notice the writing errors they had made.

        I suppose that some of the poor writing could be attributed to people having written their reviews on their phones or whatever devices people use in lieu of actual typing on a keyboard.  I think that a lot of people actually have truly bad grammar and spelling skills and these reviews reflect that level of poor education.  Whatever the case, I wonder about the education of today's young people.  Do we fault the schools?  The parents?  The culture?  The kids?   And now Common Core is being instituted in schools throughout the United States.   I wonder if they'll include "Text speak" as part of the language program.

        At least teach kids how to spell...

Battle of the Bands Results:  The Banjo Song

        Speaking of spelling, there was some annoyance about the spelling out of the word "banjo" in the song used in my most recent Battle, "The Banjo Song".  The spelling out of words in songs is quite common so I was surprised that some of the voters did not like this song gimmick.  It's mostly a novelty idea from the standpoint of songwriting.   Spelling words in songs does not particularly annoy me though I'm not overly fond of ditties such as the folk song "Bingo" or the "Lollipop Song" that I used to hear my sister sing.  "Lollipop" was a reworking of the George M Cohan song "Harrigan".

          The bottom line is that not many of the voters in this contest even liked "The Banjo Song".  Not only did they not like the song, many did not like the artists whose versions were presented.  Tough contest.  Neil Young won by default I would say.  A few--myself included--are Neil Young fans.  I'm an avid Neil Young fan.  But I also enjoyed the version by The Big 3.  As many of you know, I like a wide spectrum of music and often go against the grain of the more common tastes of the majority of the population.  What can I say? There's no accounting for taste sometimes.

          My vote went to Neil Young.  Of course.  And even if I had voted otherwise, Neil Young would have won handily.

         The final tally:

    Neil Young and Crazy Horse 15 votes

     Big 3       4 votes

     My next Battle of the Bands pairing will take a real turn.  It's an incredibly beautiful tune first done by a jazz artist.   Be here on August 1st to vote on the next Battle.

      Do you think modern media has had an adverse effect on language?   Are many kids today coming out of the educational system knowing less than kids in the past?   Should we be concerned about Common Core?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands: The Banjo Song (Oh! Susannah)

Battle of the Bands!!!!

       I may be on summer vacation but the Battle of the Bands goes on.   This is the blogging event first kicked off by our blogging friends at Far Away Series and Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends.  You'll want to visit their Battles after you finish with mine and check out the links listed at the bottom of this page.  You can even mount your own Battle--if you do then let us know in the comments so we can vote on yours.

         Here's how the Battle works:   Listen to the song clips in the blog post and then in the comment section vote on the one you like the best.   When you vote please tell us why you voted the way you did.  Long explanations are always welcomed.   After a week or so I'll tally the votes and announce them in an upcoming blog post.   Please do vote though so your favorite choice can be counted.

The Banjo Song

        In my previous Battle I presented versions of the song "Oh! Susannah" by Stephen Foster, one of America's greatest songwriters.   "Oh! Susannah" is one of the most recorded songs in the United States and one that most everybody has heard in one form or another.  Singer/songwriter Tim Rose wrote "The Banjo Song" based on the lyrics of Foster's song but there's little in common beyond that.  The Battle presented here pits two very different takes on "The Banjo Song" against each other.

The Big Three "The Banjo Song"  (1963)

          Get ready for some crazy connections with this song.   First of all if the female singer looks a bit familiar it's because it's "Mama" Cass Elliot before she was a "Mama" in the Mamas and the Papas.  "The Banjo Song" is actually Tim Rose's composition using the lyrics of Foster's original "Oh! Susannah", but the two songs are very dissimilar.   However there is a "shocking" similarity between Rose's song and a much bigger hit that came along later.   Listening to "The Banjo Song" you will undoubtedly think of the song "Venus" first recorded by Shocking Blue and later in 1986 by Bananarama.   Dutch songwriter Robbie van Leeuwen was inspired by "The Banjo Song" but Tim Rose never pursued a plagiarism suit.   Maybe it was different enough for Rose or perhaps he was flattered by the imitation.   Listen to "The Banjo Song"--isn't "Venus" essentially the same song with new lyrics and a more rocking instrumental arrangement?  No matter what, they're both pretty decent songs.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse   "Oh Susannah" (2012)

        On the liner notes of Neil Young's Americana album this song is listed as "Oh Susanna" but really it's Tim Rose's "The Banjo Song".    Maybe they figured "Oh Susannah" was more marketable, it being one of the all-time American hit songs.   Young & his band really rock this one out giving a passing salute to Stephen Foster's classic.  By the way, the depression era footage depicted in the video is pretty strange if you want to check it out.  

Time to Vote!

         You probably have a strong preference between these two.    Even if you don't like the song at all, there must be one version you'd rather listen to over the other.  Which one is it?   Tell us now and tell us why.   Whatever you do, please vote on one of them.

After You Vote Here Check Out These Battles

 Here are some other bloggers who may or may not be participating in the Battle of the Bands.  Please visit their sites to vote on their battles:

         Faraway Series
         Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends
         Your Daily Dose

        Do you think any of the songwriters mentioned in this post "stole" from the other or would you call it something else?   Do you think Tim Rose would have had a justifiable legal case concerning the song "Venus"?