Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Glorious Buckinghams

Well well well.. I wouldn't have thought the Buckinghams belong to the sunshine pop genre. Although this is of course only what Wikipedia states on the matter. I first started listening to the Buckinghams due to recommendations. Their music can be described as classic late 60s American pop music and it does sound a lot like sunshine pop. There are definitely baroque pop elements, such as a strong presence of horns.

Musically, the Buckinghams could be placed somewhere between the Four Seasons and the Beatles, with some sunny gentleness added to the mix. The whole concept of one man singing lead and the rest of the guys doing multipart harmonies resembles the Four Seasons concept quite a bit. Carl Giammarese does a great job with the lead vocals. He may not perform with a distinctive falsetto like Frankie Valli but there is a lot of gentleness and bubblegum sound in Giammarese's voice. He also gives nicely rocking performances when needed.

The Buckinghams wanted to identify with the success of British Invasion groups. Therefore they chose a British-sounding name, dressed up in suits and even recorded music from the Beatles (I Call Your Name). They had several hits in the States and their version of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy was the most successful version of the song.

It is cool that the the Buckinghams are still performing and sounding really good. Giammarese and bassist Nick Fortuna were even recently featured on the big Happy Together tours. I can't get enough of their music!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kiki Dee's Soul

Recently, I have been listening to quite a lot of music that could be described as blue-eyed soul, or white soul. Why white soul, you ask. It might have originated from my fascination towards 60s and 70s bubblegum music which sometimes has a very close connection to soul and/or funk.

It seems that ever since there was gospel, jazz and rock'n roll, white people have adopted the same styles and even identified very strongly with some genres – all of which were originally based on African rhythms. Even today, certain singers reach popularity very much due to sounding black despite being white. And even if all soul singers don't sound black, soul music has come to stay.

In any way, the concept of me listening to white soul is not entirely new. I came across an English singer called Kiki Dee through Scott Walker and Dusty Springfield, both of whose music I recently had become very fond of. Kiki once performed on Scott Walker's TV show, and Kiki Dee also sang background vocals for Springfield who was a soul music singer. Even Scott Walker sometimes flirted with soul.

I practically only needed one song to get impressed enough to purchase a compilation called I'm Kiki Dee: The Fontana Years 1963-1968. What a fantastic voice Kiki has! Even forgetting the voice, it is extremely easy to like her music. Almost everywhere you hear big arrangements with strings and/or horns. There are even some jazz elements present. It is all very, very carefully arranged and professional. However, you could say that a few songs in the beginning of the compilation represent a slightly more primitive sound (and I like those songs too) but the rest perfect in all possible ways.

Kiki's voice is bright, yet suitable for any big heartbroken ballad. Dusty Springfield is a fairly good comparison even though the overall impression you get from Kiki's voice is surely different, gives different vibes. There is an element of delicate sensitivity in Kiki's voice but also many other different nuances. Many of the songs are ballads. Kiki performs sad ballads (Excuse Me, Patterns), happy ballads (Sunshine, We've Got Everything Going for Us), songs that are playful (Doctor in Clover) or bitter (Running out of Fools), and groovy dance numbers (Take a Look at Me, He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'). She also gives a great version of Can't Take My Eyes off You.

Despite having performed very similar and equally good music, Kiki Dee is not as well-known as Dusty Springfield. Kiki didn't have any big chart hits in the UK in the 60s. However, she was apparently the first white artist to be signed by Motown. She has had a long career and I really only have scratched the surface. At least check out the 60s material!

Not many songs on YouTube, try Spotify instead. Here is one, though.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's Here!!!

If you haven't noticed, Elephants into Swans by The Sun Sawed in 1/2 has now been mixed, mastered, released and is available on iTunes and Bandcamp. Go get it now!

I got the album immediately when I found out about the release. However, I decided to wait for the perfect moment to listen. So, I just listened to the whole thing and it was fantastic. My first reaction was something like this: very balanced sound, catchy songs, countless fascinating details... The music gave a peaceful feeling even though there were some quite intense emotions. And as always, the lead vocals were also really cool.

Also check out the SS1/2 Facebook page to discover some cool stuff.

P.S. There have been some major developments in my life lately, so the blog has been quiet for some time. Now with a lot of time in my hands I hope to become a more active music blogger.