Boris Kosović, Multi-Talented Rocker In A Band That Shunned The Spotlight, Dies
Boris Kosović founder, lead singer and guitarist of Gruhak, in an undated photo
(We wrote a story about the amazing Croatian band Gruhak, in 2016 that can be read here.)
Boris Kosović the energetic vocalist-guitarist and sole remaining original member of the band Gruhak died on Thursday, September 20 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. He had been battling cancer for a year and a half. Kosović was 40-years-old.
How do you take heavy metal music and turn them into lullabies?
Until the other day I wouldn’t have known.
Still, I’m quite aware, popular music can be given any type of rendition.
Once about 20 years ago at the venerable Strand bookstore, I heard classical music being played over their sound system. I wasn’t paying close attention to the song. But I started listening closer. It sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t distinguish exactly what was being played. After about two minutes it hit me – it was Metallica and the song Harvester of Sorrow! That was the first time I heard Apocalyptica, a classical group comprised of cellists and they had recorded entire albums covering Metallica.
So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the bright idea of making lullabies out of heavy metal songs. Hence, I recently discovered Iron Maiden tunes done as lullabies. The question you might ask is, why?
Does it matter?
If you like Iron Maiden, this should put a smile on your face, The first song I heard was The Trooper.
Hearing Classic Rock’s Greatest Voices Like You’ve Never Heard Them Before
Rare Audio From 10 Great Rock Bands With The Vocals Isolated
Unlike the garbage pop music that is popular today, the vocalists of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s did not have an array of modern gadgets to fix their voices. Either you could sing or you couldn’t. In the pre-digital era there was no autotune and multi-track studio trickery was limited to looping and a few other production tricks.
So it should come as no surprise that their were once were musical giants that walked the earth. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Heart, Queen, Boston and dozens of others where the vocalists could not only cut it live, but could go into a recording studio and leave pure magic on tape and vinyl.
Without having access to the master recording tapes, some enterprising music fans have made a hobby of isolating each individual part of a band’s recording to see how the song breaks down. The most interesting of these efforts are the vocal isolations.
If you ever had any doubt as to how much talent each of these musicians had, then prepare to be blown away by these performances.
First up, if Heart’s Ann Wilson doesn’t have the best pure voice in rock n’ roll then I don’t know who does. 40 plus years later Ann Wilson hasn’t lost much of her range. The singing on Barracuda is a careful balance between pyrotechnic raw emotion and incredible vocal control.
There are a handful of people who still dismiss Led Zeppelin and the vocal prowess of a young Robert Plant. For those who think that Robert Plant and Zeppelin were nothing special check out the unadulterated vocals with absolutely no effects from Ramble On off of Led Zeppelin II.
Probably the song with THE single greatest acrobatic vocal performance EVER in rock ‘n’ roll. Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan hits unimaginable heights on Child In Time from 1970. Continue reading →
Mary Carlisle, Movie Star Of The 1930s Is 104 Years Young
(Update August 2, 2018 – Sadly, Mary Carlisle died on August 1, 2018, three weeks after this story was written.)
Mary Carlisle MGM publicity photo by George Hurrell
While she is not a household name, Mary Carlisle appeared in many films in the 1930s, including co-starring with Bing Crosby in three of his films.
With 65 films to her credit from 1923 -1943, Mary Carlisle is among the last survivors of Hollywood’s golden age of film.
Born in Boston on February 3, 1914, Carlisle started appearing regularly in movies at age 16 in 1930, mostly as an uncredited extra. Of the thousands of actresses vying for stardom in the 1930s, Carlisle’s talent and looks helped her rise in the ranks quickly.
Between 1922 -1934 the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS) had a publicity campaign, where they annually named the young movie actresses they believed were on the cusp of motion picture stardom. Carlisle received a big boost in her career by being chosen a WAMPAS baby star for 1932. Among the 14 other actresses chosen that year by WAMPAS were Ginger Rogers, Gloria Stuart and Eleanor Holm.
Carlisle got a big build up from MGM and made dozens of films throughout the 1930s, not surprisingly cast as a stereotypical “nice girl” pretty blond. Continue reading →
The Sights & Sounds Of Yankee Stadium 1931 – Yankees vs. Red Sox
What follows is a rare and amazing 14 minutes of film.
Yankee Stadium on opening day April 14, 1931. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Happenings before and during the game.
What makes it so unusual is that the film crew was experimenting with syncing the sound to the action. So there are microphones recording what was being said or the resonant sounds of baseball. The players don’t quite know what to say when asked to speak. The natural sounds of the ballpark are just so different from today.
Batting practice with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mayor Jimmy Walker throws out the first ball. An IRT train passes and stops beyond the left field bleachers. Everyone in the stands is well dressed as you’d expect. Large signs remind everyone that “Betting is prohibited.”
The lack of technology is pure pleasure. The advertising is on billboards same as now, but no ads or deafening music being blasted from speakers. Your visual senses are not assaulted by a jumbotron. Fans look at the field, no distractions.
No P.A. system. A guy with a megaphone comes out and announces each team’s battery – a term rarely used today – for pitcher and catcher.
Then there is not only a patriotic marching band entertaining fans, but all the players from both teams march along with the band.
The game itself is great to see, but the things you notice while the game is going on seem so foreign to a modern viewing audience. Continue reading →
If They Had, It Probably Wouldn’t Have Sounded As Good As Randy Jackson Of Zebra’s Acoustic Solo Version
Led Zeppelin never got to perform Carouselambra live. It’s a ten minute thirty four second synthesizer driven opus.
This version of Carouselambra performed by Zebra’s Randy Jackson is absolutely spectacular.
Carouselambra is one of the radio’s least played Led Zeppelin songs. Maybe it is because of the length of the song or maybe it is the mix which is not up to the usual Led Zeppelin standards. Whatever the reason, besides its enigmatic and haunting lyrics, Carouselambra has some very strong points.
Randy Jackson (lead singer and guitarist of Zebra) not only does the song justice, but turns in an amazing solo performance. Remember, this song was originally recorded with swirling keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. (At end of our story is the original Zeppelin recording.)
The Story of Carouselambra
After the sudden death of Robert Plant’s five-year-old son Karac from a virus in 1977, touring came to an immediate halt and the band went on hiatus. Robert Plant distanced himself from his band mates.
After a long period of self-introspection, Plant decided he was ready to make music again. In December 1978, Led Zeppelin convened to make their final studio album, In Through The Out Door. Three weeks of recording time in Stockholm’s Polar Studios, owned by members of ABBA, were mainly consumed by bassist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant. The pair, who had never been the closest of friends, spent a lot of time together and ended up writing almost all of the music and lyrics for the album.
John Paul Jones told Zeppelin biographer Barney Hoskyns, “The band was splitting between people who could turn up at recording sessions on time and people who couldn’t,” Continue reading →
Clara Bow The “It” Girl Made Only One Film In Color, and This One Minute Fragment Is All That That Survives
(And What Exactly is “It”)
Most movie fans never saw Clara Bow’s beautiful red hair except when illustrated on magazine covers. All but one of her films was made in black and white. Her red hair and Brooklyn childhood earned her, her original nickname “The Brooklyn Bonfire.”
So seeing the primitive color film clip below is a pleasant treat for classic movie fans.
With the exception of one film, Red Hair” which is now considered lost, this one minute fragment is all that survives of Clara Bow filmed in color.
If the last minute of Red Hair could be found we would see Clara Bow in as little clothing as the censors would allow.
So what exactly is “It”? Writer Elinor Glin wrote a magazine article called “It.” and a movie soon followed in 1927 starring Clara Bow. The sobriquet The “It Girl” was immediately and permanently attached to Clara Bow.
“Either you have “It” or you don’t have” It.” “It” is sex appeal definitely, but much more than that.
In a 1927 interview, writer Glyn said you must have ALL of the following qualities: Continue reading →
Sweet – The 1970s Band That Should Have Been As Big As Anyone. They Released Their Final Hit In January 1978 – Love Is Like Oxygen
A Story of Sweet Success And Missed Opportunities
Sweet in their glam band outfits circa 1973. From l-r Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott and drummer Mick Tucker holding guitar.
If you were to name a rock band that should have had long-lasting, international success and made a major musical impact but didn’t, one of the top contenders would have to be Sweet.
In the pantheon of great rock bands, Sweet has been forgotten.
There are many reasons for this amnesiac neglect. Possibly the reasons add up like this: a series of bad breaks; not being taken seriously by a dismissive, indifferent critical press; an insufficient amount of American touring and radio exposure; and unsure musical direction. But certainly not because of a lack of producing great rock music.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sweet’s final hit Love Is Like Oxygen which was released in January 1978. We’ll discuss the song at the end of this article, but here is an abbreviated version from the TV program Top of The Pops.
A very similar band from the same time, Queen, became, a juggernaut, filling arenas and stadiums, having tens of millions of album sales and critical acclaim – all things Sweet seemed destined to achieve, but didn’t.
And if you don’t think Queen was heavily influenced by Sweet, then maybe you should have a listen.
Despite over 35 million album sales and moderate touring success around Europe, Sweet never lived up to their potential. With the exception of a handful of songs, Sweet was rarely played on American radio, hampering whatever breakthrough success they deserved.
Today, younger listeners unfamiliar with Sweet during their heyday, will rarely be able to name the band when they hear them. They recognize the songs, but often mistake the band’s music for that of E.L.O., the Bee Gees, Queen or some other band.
In the 1970s, Sweet, an English glam pop band, morphed into a serious hard rock band with a long list of hits in the United States and England. Originally they recorded songs written by others, primarily their managers and main songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.
But Sweet was more than just a Three Dog Night, Grass Roots or Monkees sort of band. Those bands could barely get by playing an instrument live and never or rarely wrote any of their own songs.
Sweet’s bass player Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker, guitarist Andy Scott and lead vocalist Brian Connolly were all accomplished musicians who could write and play their own music and do it damn well.
What made Sweet stand out was their vocal harmonies.
Frequently featured on the weekly British music show Top of the Pops, Sweet would, as the custom was at the time, go on stage and lip synch what they had done on record. Their disdain for lip synching was apparent and they would often make a mockery of their own performances.
Their early “hits,” all written by Chapman and Chinn, were simple but immensely catchy ditties, in the genre known as “bubblegum rock.” Innocent lyrics with just a bit of double entendre intended for a teen audience.
Blockbuster, Wig Wam Bam, Funny Funny, and the American crossover hit Little Willy were just a few of their early chart successes. These were followed by more hits Hell Raiser, No You Don’t, AC-DC, Turn It Down and Sweet’s most famous song The Ballroom Blitz. Continue reading →
Some Highlights Of The Late, Great, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, Guitarist Of Motörhead
The “classic” Motorhead line-up on stage circa 1980 (l-r) Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke & Lemmy Kilmister photo: Simon Fowler
When “Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), guitarist with Motörhead from 1976-1982 died from pneumonia last week at the age of 67, it closed the book on what many consider Motörhead’s greatest line-up.
In the space of a little over two years, Eddie Clarke, singer-bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, all died.
The trio put out albums that are considered the high points of Motörhead’s career: Motörhead (1977), Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979), Ace of Spades (1980), No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (Live 1981) and Iron Fist (1982).
After being forced out or leaving Motörhead in 1982 (stories conflict on the departure), “Fast” Eddie formed Fastway with bassist Pete Way of UFO. Continue reading →
Here’s how the CBS Evening News covered the death of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. This three minute clip reflects the simplicity of Harry Truman.
Throughout his life Harry Truman spoke his mind and was honest and ethical, highly unusual traits for a politician.
How much of a straight shooter was Harry Truman? The following story clearly illustrates it.
President Nixon tours Truman Library with President Truman March 21 1969 photo: Harry S. Truman Library
When he retired from public life in 1953, President Truman and his wife Bess moved into his mother-in-law’s house in Independence, MO. They had almost no money.
Truman had been offered many jobs, but turned them all down. Truman had not exploited his fame or former power of the high office he had held for monetary gain.
“I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency,” Truman would later write of his refusal to influence-peddle to get by.
No president received a pension until 1958 when Congress established a law giving former presidents a pension of $25,000 per year.
Truman would frequently recite this prayer…and mean it:
“Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of Heaven, Earth and the Universe: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellowmen—help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings—even as Thou understandest mine! Amen.”