February 23, 2014 - Vintage Classics Enhance Oscar Entries, Exciters Energize Eos Ad
The oldies are well represented in Oscar-nominated movies this year; Spike Jonze's Best Picture contender Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix, slips in a couple of '50s R&B tracks (Little Willie John's '56 hit "Need Your Love So Bad" and The Chantels' "Sure of Love," a '58 flip side), joining previously mentioned classics by Tom Jones (from American Hustle), Julie Andrews, Ray Charles and The Young Holt Trio (from Saving Mr. Banks), the incredible Wolf of Wall Street lineup (Ahmad Jamal, Joe Cuba, Eartha Kitt, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Castor and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley) and 20 Feet From Stardom songs by the the more-famous-than-before Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Raelets and The Ikettes...not that you'll necessarily hear any of them on Sunday's Academy Awards telecast!
A non-award-related surprise came to my ears the other night when Brenda Reid's group The Exciters blasted forth in a commercial for eos Lip Balm. The spot, featuring "Say it With Love," the first track on side two of the group's 1963 Tell Him album has, it turns out, been running for a few months. Glad I finally heard this great recording on TV...in stereo!
February 2, 2014 - Super Bowl Ads Reach Back for Songs by Dylan, Human Beinz and Giorgio
Super Bowl XLVIII and Seattle's first championship are in the record books...and dozens of new commercials of widely varying quality have been unleashed upon the world. Bob Dylan narrates and appears in a spot for Chrysler, while his 1966 hit "I Want You" and a great big hungry bear are featured in an ad for Chobani Yogurt, one of three Bowl spots with music from the '60s. H&M has fastened soccer superstar David Beckham to the the 'no, no, no' hit "Nobody But Me" by The Human Beinz to promote its clothing chain. Giorgio Moroder's 1969 recording of "Doo-Bee-Doo-Bee-Doo" provides Volkswagen with the strangest soundtrack among this year's batch of mind-controlling TV short films.
January 26, 2014 - Grammy Tributes to Everly and Cliburn, Paul and Ringo Hobnob with Willie, Kris, Merle, Stevie, Carole and Smokey
Prior to this year's Grammy Awards, the big draw was the reunion of Fab Two Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, but many other all-time greats appeared over the course of the show's 15 quarter-hours. Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard were joined by current country star and Voice game show personality Blake Shelton for a performance of Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" that had the whole crowd singing along. Other then-and-now teamings include Stevie Wonder with the night's big winners, Pharrell Williams and robotic dance masters Daft Punk, Carole King crooning cozily with Sara Bareilles and Smokey Robinson hanging with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, who launched into a couple of impromptu bars of The Miracles' "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," leaving Smokey nearly speechless.
Miranda Lambert and Green Day leader Billie Joe Armstrong duetted on The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved" in honor of the late Phil Everly. Classical pianist Van Cliburn, who died in February 2013, became an international star in 1958 and won a Grammy for Best Classical Performance, Instrumental at the award's inaugural presentation, for his recording of Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23." Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang performed an excerpt from the classic as a tribute to Cliburn. Getting back to the evening's recurring Beatles connection, the wives of the group's other half, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono, flanked Alicia Keys for the announcement of the final award, Album of the Year.
January 7, 2014 - Wolf of Wall Street Loaded With Oldies: Howlin' Wolf and Lots More
Leave it to Martin Scorsese to pack his movies with treasures that run the musical gamut. The Wolf of Wall Street makes clever use of instrumental hits "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" by "Cannonball" Adderley and "Hey, Leroy, Your Mama's Callin' You" by Jimmy Castor. Bo Diddley classics run throughout the film: "Road Runner," "Pretty Thing" and "Mona." Howlin' Wolf continues his infiltration of 21st century pop culture with "Spoonful" and "Smoke Stack Lightning." Other scenes in the film are underscored by Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," Eartha Kitt's "C'est Si Bon" and "Bang Bang" by The Joe Cuba Sextet in addition to modern remakes of "Sloop John B" (by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes), "Mrs. Robinson" (by The Lemonheads) and "Goldfinger" (performed onscreen by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings). While he was at it, Marty slipped in a few nice 'n' easy jazz delicacies by pianist Ahmad Jamal; he even found a way to sneak in a clip from a vintage Popeye cartoon (Popeye Meets Hercules from 1948). Allen Toussaint enhances the end credits with his version of Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."