Welcome back — man, this week has flown by. But I’ve got some more music for you, which has been the soundtrack of my week as I continue to recover, while working on getting some projects done (Far West is nearing completion of layout, and I’ve got some Dr. Who manuscripts headed to Cubicle 7).
I will be glad when my final surgery occurs at the end of the month. I should be completely recovered by mid-May, and things will finally get back to normal. The next month, June, features my birthday…and, as is the case every four years, the best birthday present ever: The World Cup. As a footy fanatic, there is nothing better than those few weeks of summer every four years. The entire world’s (and a growing segment of the United States’) attention is focused on the Beautiful Game — a palpable sense of shared experience on a global scale.
And, sure enough, every year there are “World Cup Songs” — and here is the first to release, from a collection put together by Pepsi called “Beats of the Beautiful Game.” The first track, which I’m sure will be used in commercials this summer, is a cover of the David Bowie classic, “Heroes”, by Janelle Monae (whom some of you may remember was featured on Friday Music back when she debuted with “Tightrope”). An artist I like covering another artist I like? Yes, please. Janelle Monae – “Heroes.”
On a far less celebratory note, this week saw the passing of a music legend. Frankie Knuckles was one of the inventors of House Music — the dance music that transformed disco into the various electronic genres that proliferated in the late 80s and into the 90s (and whose evolution continues to this day). He was only 59, and diabetes appears to have been the cause of his far-too-early death. This is one of his most famous tracks — the first example of Chicago House (the original name of House). The original was a demo recorded in 1984 by Jamie Principle, which only existed on acetate and was regularly spun by Chicago DJs — and then Frankie Knuckles produced this version in 1987, which became a global hit and launched a genre. Frankie Knuckles – “Your Love.”
Sticking with Frankie Knuckles for a moment, to demonstrate the breadth of his talent, here is a remix he produced — which definitely fits into my philosophy that a remix should totally transform a song. Here, Knuckles takes the well-known Michael Jackson classic “Rock With You”, and starts it off as a jazz piece before transforming it over the course of the track into pure House. So good. Michael Jackson – “Rock With You (Frankie Knuckles Remix).”
Over the years I’ve been doing this, I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t featured Steely Dan a bit more. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, from the time that I discovered them via raiding a friend’s older brother’s record collection in the very early 80s. Anybody who listened to “classic rock” stations over the years will of course be familiar with their big hits (“Reelin’ in the Years”, “Do It Again”, many more), but I want to share with you one of my favorites, a lesser-known album track from 1974’s Pretzel Logic, which rarely gets airplay (lost in the fact that the album featured their best-performing pop single of all time, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”) I love everything about this: the hook, the arrangement, and the lyrics. Steely Dan – “Any Major Dude Will Tell You.”
Watched the Veronica Mars movie earlier in the week and loved it — and was pleased to note that it featured two of my favorite songs on the soundtrack. A 70s classic by Lou Rawls (“You’ll Never Find”) accompanies some tense action late in the film, and earlier on, during a romantically-tense car drive between Veronica and Logan, they layered in this — my favorite piece by Sufjan Stevens, which was great to hear again. Sufjan Stevens – “Chicago.”
Finally, a track that I discovered yesterday, when it was shared by by friend Rachel on Facebook. I’ve featured London Grammar, the UK-based trip-hop trio, on one of the few Friday Music entries I did last year, with their single “Wasting My Young Years.” I am in love with vocalist Hannah Reid’s sound, which is that resonant English alto that is possessed by Adele as well as Florence of Florence & The Machine. I’m a sucker for it. This track was the next single from their debut album last year, If You Wait: London Grammar – “Strong.”
And there you have it. Wow — three weeks in a row. You guys are going to get spoiled! Anyway — Enjoy, and see you back here again.