Wed, 23 November 2016
Me and Thomas are back on the scene, bringing you a fresh episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast.
This episode finds us knee-deep in 1983, a year chock full of R&B goodness. The 5 songs we cover in this show are:
Save The Overtime (For Me) by Gladys Knight & The Pips
In between, we cover...
Gladys Knight & The Pips' fall from their mid '70s heyday, including a separation that briefly saw them recording as two separate entities.
The smooth production of the SOLAR Records camp; members of whom contributed to Gladys & The Pips' #1 success. The album Visions, which "Overtime" appeared on, also marked one of the first records to feature a Jam & Lewis credit.
Did you know that Gladys Knight & The Pips were the first act to record "Wind Beneath My Wings"?
"Juicy Fruit"'s risque (if you read between the double entendres) lyrics and how the Mtume camp manages to corral The System, Bernie Worrell, Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Madonna and The Notorious B.I.G.
Mtume singer Tawatha's occasional side hustle as a background diva for The Dave Matthews Band.
Donna Summer's extreme versatility, which one does not always consider when discussing The Queen of Disco. Let it be known, though, that Donna was capable of singing new wave, Springsteen songs, standards and even adapting opera.
The Aretha & Luther Vandross disaster of '83; the diva fight to end all diva fights.
Rick James adapting to minimalist synth-funk with "Cold Blooded".
For the second time, we point you guys to the amazingness of the Rick/Smokey Robinson duet "Ebony Eyes"...and we again contemplate how much cocaine was involved in the recording of this song.
There's so much more...but you have to listen. Check us out in the player below, or you can download this to your computer to listen at your leisure. Our friends at LibSyn also have the show available for streaming, or you can subscribe to us on iTunes. So many choices!
Mon, 7 November 2016
From Metallica to Miles, we are covering all of the musical bases on Blerd Radio, the podcast that (usually) discusses the history and legacy of classic albums.
The panel acknowledges that Bitches Brew is not your typical album (no matter what genre you classify it is) and that it was groundbreaking for its time. The dense layers of sound provided by Miles, producer Teo Macero, and a sea of musicians at peak capabilities set the stage for what would later become known as jazz fusion. Miles may have sat out a solid chunk of the '70s, but the musicians who played on Brew went on to define the sound of rock and pop-influenced jazz for the next decade (via Weather Report, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, etc.)
This conversation discusses the album's unique recording and its iconic legacy, as well as the irascible main artist himself (who we posit is one of, if not the most important musician of the 20th century). We also attempt to define the sound of "rock and roll" in the months and years leading up to Bitches Brew's release, scratch our heads at the fact that several songs from the album were edited down for single release, and shout out the recent Miles biopic starring Don Cheadle as well as Dogfish Head's beer tribute to this classic album.
Mon, 31 October 2016
Turn the volume up to 11 and check out the latest episode of the Blerd Radio podcast. In this installment, Dr. Z, Michael Parr and Big Money are discussing Metallica's magnum opus, their self-titled 1991 album.
That album (otherwise known as The Black Album-not to be confused with Prince's Black Album...or Jay Z's Black Album..or The Beatles' White Album...or Jamal Lyon's Black & White Album) is a behemoth of the modern era. Over 17 million copies sold, winner of multiple American Music Awards and Grammys, and still in the top 100 25 years after its release. Metal "purists" these days may scoff at the album's quality, but the proof is in Metallica's continued success.
The album contributed to the vanquishing of the "hair metal" era, outlasted the grunge era, and inspired just about every hard rock subgenre to follow. The podcast discusses the influence of notorious taskmaster producer Bob Rock, the power dynamic of lead singer/guitarist James Hatfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and the slight refinement of the sound Metallica put together over their four previous albums. Also discussed: everything the quartet has released in Metallica's wake, a few interesting observations regarding fellow thrash metal legends Megadeth (I'm gonna assume you all are aware of Dave Mustaine's connection to Metallica) and whether the black album truly is the crown jewel in Metallica's catalog.
Mon, 17 October 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for another episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast, in which Thomas Inskeep and Mike Joseph listen to and discuss the songs that hit #1 on Billboard Magazine's Hot Black/R&B/Soul Singles chart during the '80s, five at a time.
Uh...make that six at a time. We've deviated from the 5 songs format quite a bit over the last several episodes (which you can listen to if you click this link), and in this particular installment, we do six songs to get all of our Thriller conversation out of the way. Why? Because three of the first six songs to top the R&B charts in 1983 came from Michael Jackson's behemoth LP. The six tracks we discuss, in order, are...
"The Girl Is Mine" by MJ & Paul McCartney
We get the three Michael songs out of the way consecutively, so I guess you could say this is the first episode in which we don't totally go in sequential order. And now for some show notes...
-Clearly, 1983 belonged to Michael Jackson. For goodness' sakes, the man got a BEATLE to top the R&B chart. Stevie couldn't even do that!
-Someone might actually have a soft spot for will.i.am's McCartney-less 2008 remix of "The Girl Is Mine".
-The yacht rock conversation rears its head again; not only due to McCartney's involvement, but because the members of Toto are all over "The Girl Is Mine" and the rest of Thriller, for that matter. Our friends over at the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast recently dedicated an entire episode to "yacht soul", and they also discuss Toto's connection to the Quincy Jones/Jackson family.
-If we're talking about Michael Jackson and Toto, a conversation about the Grammy Awards can't be far behind. Thomas sidebars into a discussion about the NARAS voting policy, which used to allow for singles and albums to be nominated in the same category (and doesn't anymore).
-We take a few minutes to pay tribute to the great Rod Temperton, who contributed mightily to Thriller and who sadly passed away about a week before this episode was recorded.
-Memories of Motown 25 and Michael
-Shout out to Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar.
-"Beat It" might have been the hardest rocking track to chart #1 R&B, a tribute to Michael Jackson's momentum at that time. MJ was such a hot commodity at that point that Eddie Van Halen (who infamously played the guitar solo on "Beat It") found himself with an R&B chart single barely a year after playing on Michael's session.
-We could do an entire podcast listing songs that have sampled The Gap Band's "Outstanding", and this segment cements the Wilson Brothers as the entity we've discussed the most in the first several episodes of this series.
-We could also do an entire podcast listing songs that have sampled George Clinton's "Atomic Dog", which was not only the P-Funk mastermind's sole solo #1 hit, but also his only R&B Top Ten as a solo artist.
-Going long on Clinton, the late '70s reign of Parliament/Funkadelic and all of Clinton's satellite projects are discussed. As is the fact that the first charted recording of a former Miss America (and future multi-media megastar) named Vanessa Williams came as the result of a Clinton session.
-"Candy Girl" introduces Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike and Ralph to the world and also becomes the first R&B chart-topper to feature a rap segment.
-If it wasn't for New Edition, there wouldn't be a New Kids On The Block. As much as NKOTB gets derided, they do have an R&B chart presence as well, although some of us would rather forget this golden moment with rappers Nice and Smooth.
-Thomas saw New Edition live a few years ago, and he has a story to tell about it.
(We also acknowledge that a) there are some audio fidelity issues with this podcast that will be fixed next time around and b) this episode runs slightly longer than usual. We appreciate you listening!)
Oh right! The opening and closing tracks in this episode are, respectively: "I.O.U." by Freeez, and "Block Party" by Stacy Lattisaw with Johnny Gill.
Tue, 11 October 2016
Get your big suit on and join me, Dr. Z and Michael Parr for the latest episode of the Blerd Radio podcast. In this installment, the three of us are talking about 1983's Speaking In Tongues, the most commercially successful studio album by new wave legends Talking Heads. A million-seller, Tongues was an MTV favorite that spawned the quartet's only top ten pop single, "Burning Down The House". It also spawned a host of warmly remembered songs that have become classics in the ensuing decades; the funky "Girlfriend Is Better", the shuffling groove of "Slippery People", and the tender "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)".
This podcast acknowledges the relatively commercial bent of Speaking In Tongues (relative to Talking Heads' earlier work) and explores how the album's sound combined with the band's visual presentation to ensure success. We also talk about the Talking Heads-related side project Tom Tom Club (featuring band members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth), and how that album's unexpected success paved the way for Tongues. We shout out P-Funk keyboard legend, the recently deceased Bernie Worrell (who played a huge role in Tongues), and explore the album's foray into funk, further assisted by LaBelle's Nona Hendryx and The Brothers Johnson's Alex Weir. Props are given to the Staple Singers (who covered "Slippery People), Dave Matthews Band (who have covered "Burning Down The House" live on several occasions), and a ton of artists who have covered "This Must Be The Place", a song that deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame of love songs.
If you'd like to enjoy this and other podcasts in the Blerd Radio family, you can listen in the player below. You may also stream the podcast on Liberated Syndication, or download the audio directly to your device. Of course, we'd love it if you checked us out on iTunes and subscribed! No matter how you decide to listen, we hope you keep coming back for more!!
Thu, 29 September 2016
Greetings listeners! Me and Thomas Inskeep are back with the 10th episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast. Before we get started with this new episode, what say you backtrack and listen to the series' other episodes, which you can find here and here.
While most of our episodes focus on songs that hit #1 on Billboard Magazine's Hot R&B Singles chart in the '80s, this is one of those "very special" episodes focusing on the #2 singles of 1982. We've got nine tasty treats for you this episode, so we run just a tad longer than usual. But I can virtually guarantee that you'll enjoy every second!
Here are the nine songs covered in this latest episode:
"Truly" by Lionel Richie
"Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club
"You Dropped A Bomb On Me" by The Gap Band
"Mirror, Mirror" by Diana Ross
"Do I Do" by Stevie Wonder
"The Other Woman" by Ray Parker Jr.
"Mama Used To Say" by Junior
"Circles" by Atlantic Starr
and "777-9311" by
Along the way, we discuss:
-How schmaltzy is too schmaltzy, even for Lionel Richie? And why might Laura Branigan have harbored a grudge against Lionel?
-Did Tom Tom Club's success take their original band, Talking Heads, to the proverbial "next level" commercially?
-"Mirror Mirror"'s co-writer, Michael Sembello, who not only fit perfectly in with the "bear" archetype, but was no stranger to camp himself.
This single cover. Discuss.
-Is it me, or does "The Other Woman" give you the "Jessie's Girl" feels? (not discussed in the podcast: do you think Michael Jackson and John Landis saw this video before they made "Thriller" or nah?)
-Ray's smoldering sex appeal and general caddishness.
-British soul arrives in the '80s courtesy of Junior, although it really didn't. Billy Ocean hit the Top 5 with this classic first. Oops.
-Atlantic Starr's revolving door of female vocalists.
-Why "777-9311" might be the best punk/funk single ever recorded, and Morris Day's legacy as a "pussy hound"
and so much more.
You can give a listen to this episode via streaming on LibSyn. You can also listen in the player below, download the episode directly to your device, or subscribe to the Blerd Radio family on iTunes.
Please leave comments, tweet at us, and ask questions! If you have a question about '80s R&B, hit us up and we may read your question on the air! Enjoy!
Mon, 26 September 2016
It’s time to get sexy with a brand new episode of the Blerd Radio podcast!
This episode takes you back to 1996. The “neo-soul” genre was just getting a foothold in the marketplace, and an Afro-ed, mysterious singer/songwriter named Maxwell showed up on the scene. His sound was both familiar and exotic, old and new. He seemingly emerged from nowhere, but he was talented enough to attract collaborators like Motown composer and producer Leon Ware and Sade’s Stuart Matthewman on his acclaimed debut, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite.
Me (Mike Joseph), Michael Parr and Dr. Z revisit Urban Hang Suite on its 20th anniversary. We discuss the album’s place in the neo-soul canon and the misguided comparisons to D’Angelo. We explore the air of mystery that’s surrounded Maxwell since day one, the subtle UK influence on his work, and his surprising connections to R. Kelly and Santana’s “Smooth”. We also discuss Urban Hang Suite’s narrative arc, Maxwell’s killer live performances, two remixes that extended the album’s life, and touch on the catalog of albums he’s released since, up to and including the recent release blackSUMMERsnight. We also share the news that Urban Hang Suite will be receiving its first release on vinyl later this year.
Mon, 19 September 2016
Last week, Sony/Legacy announced a deluxe reissue of George Michael's second solo album, 1990's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Coincidentally, when that announcement was made, the Blerd Radio team was putting the finishing touches on a podcast episode devoted to that particular album.
While not as commercially successful-or anywhere near as pop friendly-as its predecessor, Listen Without Prejudice has become a classic. It boasted the #1 smash "Praying For Time" and the Top 10 smash "Freedom", a song that has become iconic thanks to its stylish video and universal message. With these songs, George shrugged off his pretty boy pop star image, and aimed to be taken seriously as a songwriter and vocalist. By refusing to appear in his own videos or do interviews, George incurred the wrath of his record label and set the stage for a years-long court battle that remains a tentpole event in the fight for artists' rights.
We also discuss Listen Without Prejudice's debt to '60s pop and '70s soul, George's coming out and how it may have affected the promotion and lyrical content of the album, the Cover To Cover tour George embarked on in early 1991, and much more.
Mon, 29 August 2016
We're ringing out 1982 in the latest episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast. Me and Thomas Inskeep decided to deviate slightly from our 5-songs-at-a-time format last episode so as not to end on a bad Richard "Dimples" Fields-related note. In the interest of...symmetry (I guess?) we decided to complete the year we started in Episode 8, and deliver the last 7 number 1 R&B tracks of the year.
Before we jump ahead, have you listened to our previous episodes? No? Well, check out every JCC podcast thus far and catch up!
The songs we discuss in this episode are:
"Let It Whip" by The Dazz Band
"Early In The Morning" by The Gap Band
"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" by Jennifer Holliday
"Dance Floor" by Zapp
"Jump To It" by Aretha Franklin
"Love Come Down" by Evelyn King
"Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye
And now for some show notes...
-The Dazz Band, like so many funk bands from the '70s and '80s, hail from Ohio. We stop to marvel at how that state spawned so many great soul and funk acts, and give props to two of our favorite (but not funky) Ohio natives, Annie and Matt.
-Is it us? Or do the intros to "Let It Whip" and "Beat It" sound somewhat similar?
-The second chart-topper by The Gap Band causes us to once again wax rhapsodic on the genius of Charlie Wilson, and we also give props to "Heaven's Girl", which unites Uncle Charlie with his direct descendants R. Kelly and Aaron Hall. There's also a little Ron Isley in there.
-"Early In The Morning"'s excellent B-side, "I'm In Love", which many folks recall from a Mary J. Blige cover version.
-The saga of Dreamgirls, and how the musical was a phenomenon not unlike Hamilton is today. We also give props to the other women in the cast with Jennifer Holliday, including Sheryl Lee "Moesha's Mom" Ralph and Loretta Devine, who appears to have acted in everything except a show in the Law & Order family.
This stunning performance from the 1982 Tony Awards.
-How "Jump To It" revived Aretha Franklin's career, thanks to the production touch of Luther Vandross. Given their egos, it's not much of a surprise that Aretha and Luther didn't always see eye to eye.
-"Champagne", and how it was a much better nickname for Evelyn King than her original pet name, "Bubbles".
-Genius author/biographer (and co-writer of "Sexual Healing") David Ritz, who both of us had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year.
-Marvin's genius string of '70s and '80s albums, and how they've been given proper justice with remastering and repackaging. We give special shouts to his underrated classics I Want You and Here, My Dear.
...and a lot more. Given the quantity of songs we discuss, this episode runs slightly longer than usual, but we hope you stick with us to the end!
-Of course, we should also give props to our opening and closing songs-Stacy Lattisaw's "Attack Of The Name Game" and Ashford & Simpson's "Street Corner"-songs that didn’t hit the top of the charts, but are definitely near the top of our hearts.
Thu, 18 August 2016
Ladies and gentlemen-the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast is back! Join me and Thomas Inskeep as we discuss all the songs that hit #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart in the 1980s; 5 at a time. Well...make that 6 at a time.
In our last episode, we closed out 1981 with Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove” (before taking a break to talk about some of the #2 hits of 1980 and 1981). Episode 8 brings forth a new year, and new songs. However, one of those songs is patently awful, and would’ve ended the episode if we kept our 5 songs at a time theme. So, Thomas proposed that we add an extra jam to the show, and I happily complied.
Here are the six songs we discuss in this episode:
“Turn Your Love Around” by George Benson
“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Call Me” by Skyy
“That Girl” by Stevie Wonder
“If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another” by Richard “Dimples” Fields
“It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” by Deniece Williams
Drilling down a bit, here are some of the sub-topics we talk about during the show.
-Of course, we should also give props to our opening and closing songs-Shalamar’s “A Night To Remember” and Junior’s “Mama Used To Say”-songs that didn’t hit the top of the charts, but are definitely near the top of our hearts.