Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Soft Machine - "Composition based on 3 tunes"

Recorded 1971 from the TV program Beat Club, featuring Mike Ratledge (keyboards), Hugh Hopper (bass), Robert Wyatt (drums) and Elton Dean (saxophones).

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Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown 1933-2006

This morning brings the sad news that the man known variously as the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and the Hardest Working Man In Show Business has clocked out and left the building for the final time. James Brown passed away in an Atlanta hospital early on Monday after checking in Sunday with what was diagnosed as severe pneumonia. He was 73.

Brown's influence on contemporary music, from soul and rhythm & blues to jazz, funk and hip-hop, was vast. (I had actually planned to feature Brown in a post next week, so this tribute is a mix of some previously gathered material and some stuff found on short notice after hearing the news.) The earlier clips of Brown's songs like "I Feel Good" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" are still fun to see even today, but absent the context of everything else that was going on in that era, it may be difficult to fully appreciate how radical his sound and stage presentation really were. Brown's stripped-down approach to music made the whole band into a rhythm instrument, and his over-the-top vocal style and lightning stage moves set the bar for R&B performance styles to reach a new level of intensity.

Brown did many things over 50-plus years in the music business, trying everything from jazz to Broadway standards, but he always came back to the funk. He also provided memorable moments in several movies, one of the earliest being a cameo in the mid-1960s teen comedy "Ski Party" in which his appearance (doing "I Feel Good" in front of a ski-lodge fireplace) is basically dropped in out of nowhere, unconnected to anything else in the film - "Hey, look everybody - It's James Brown! How about a song, James?" - so that it could be cut from the prints that would air in certain parts of the Southern USA.

Ironically, years later, Brown's cameo in one of the "Rocky" films presented him as something of an icon of America, albeit a rather gaudy one. After another classic cameo in which he played a preacher in The Blues Brothers, Brown endured later-life troubles involving drugs, domestic violence, the law, and jail, eventually becoming an object of pop-culture parody and even derision.

Some of the clips floating around on the 'net of a drug-addled Brown being interviewed on TV and making no sense are, for fans of his music, painful to watch. But even the most diehard Brown devotee has to appreciate the genius of Eddie Murphy's "Celebrity Hot Tub Party," a Saturday Night Live sketch that demonstrates considerable knowledge of and appreciation for Brown's music.

And give Brown his props: despite his personal flaws and tribulations, he kept performing and recording pretty much up until the end, leaving a vast amount of material to appreciate and a legacy that seems certain to remain influential for years to come. So, let a man come in and do the popcorn, and remember James Brown.

"I Feel Good"

"Please, Please, Please"

"Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"

"Sex Machine"

"Georgia On My Mind"

James Brown and Afrika Bambaata - "Unity"

"Living In America"

James Brown and The Blues Brothers - "The Old Landmark"

"It's A Man's Man's Man's World 2004"

Eddie Murphy in "James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party"


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A Christmas Video Extravaganza

Nat "King" Cole - "The Christmas Song"

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Elvis Presley - "Blue Christmas"

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Buy Elvis Presley books

Bing Crosby - "White Christmas"

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Spike Jones - "All I Want For Christmas
(Is My Two Front Teeth)"

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John Coltrane - "My Favorite Things"

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sun Ra - Brother From
Another Planet, Parts 1-4

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Welcome to Heliocentric Worlds

Welcome to Heliocentric Worlds.

This site is a spin-off of St. Louis Jazz Notes, which I started in April, 2005 as a news site about jazz music in St. Louis, MO. When YouTube, Google Video and other online video sharing services really started to take off, I began finding pertinent video content online for StLJN and incorporating it into the site. While looking for those videos, I've run across a lot of great jazz stuff, much more than I can use, as well as a lot of other music video clips that are interesting and/or fun but don't necessarily fit StLJN's format.

So, I've started this site to share those music videos. Look for a new post each day of a music video from genres including jazz, blues, soul, funk, experimental, progressive rock, classic rock, and more.