Elton John “Wraps Her Up” with George Michael

eltonjohn-wrapherup

Happy New Years everyone! We finally made it to 2017! 2016 seemed like a long year as we had a series of unfortunate events: Trump being elected as President, the end of SMAP, Brexit, and many celebrities passing on. One of these beloved stars that we lost in 2016 was George Michael.

Many remember Micheal for his catchy tunes during his days in Wham! or his ironic, musical statements during the late 80s and early 90s as a solo artist. But today, I want to talk about the amazing work he did behind the scenes, being a backup singer for many of our favorite artists during the 80s and beyond.

One amazing piece that featured George Michael was Elton John’s 1985 song “Wrap Her Up”. This song was sort of popular in the US. But, more so over in the UK, reaching #20 on the UK Charts. It has since fallen out of obscurity over the years. I actually found out about this song two days before Michael’s death when I  was recovering from eye surgery. I couldn’t do anything but listen to Sirius XM 80’s on 8 and their weekly Top 40 Countdown, which featured “Wrap Her Up”.

According to Wikipedia and Sirius XM 80s on 8’s Top 40 Countdown that aired last week, George Michael was quoted in a magazine that the song made him sound like he “had my [his] willy in a garotte”.[1] Now I don’t know if Michael was really impressed with the vocals he provided for the song or not. But, in my opinion, they aren’t THAT bad. The call and response between Michael and Elton John are really well executed as the two singers’ diverse approaches really compliments the song.

Now I know this is a pop-rock song. However, I swear the bass is playing a funk-like rhythm. I also swear that you could hear the same bass melody in a Go West song. Anyways, the song is pretty basic if you take away the bass and the vocals. The only other instrumentation is the strong horns section, which has a really great solo section before the lackluster guitar break.

“Wrap Her Up” isn’t a memorable song like “Last Christmas” or any other songs in Elton John’s or George Michael’s discographies. However, it does have some good points and it’s worth a listen.

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Surviving With Adventure in Modern Living

Combonation

WordPress had reminded me that it has been 22 days since I last posted  Sorry for the long hiatus. I been super busy with work observations, ups and downs, and etc. I also have been catching up on sorting the massive stockpile of music that I inherited from other blogs and auction sites. I still got a lot to get through but I don’t mind taking a break to blog about a song I recently found buried deep in this pile.

Usually every morning, I play iTunes on shuffle mode while I get ready for work. And on a normal weekday morning, I discovered Combonation. Yes, it’s not spelled wrong (although that is what Google and every other site thinks as they try to search for Randy Crawford’s “Combination” album instead). Not much is know about this 80’s band, except that it had around five members; drummer Billy Thomas, percussionist Randy Foote, vocalist and keyboardist Mark Hart, bass guitarist Randy Moors. and guitarist Steve Dudas, The band released their only album, a self-titled record, in 1984. It was produced by Ted Templeman who oversaw Van Halen’s releases.

The members went off to do their own stuff after the album’s release. Mark Hart went on to release two albums in the new millennium while performing in bands like Supertramp and Crowded House. Steve Dudas played guitar alongside Ringo Starr on tours and albums. It is unknown what Thomas, Foote, and Moors did after Combonation as there isn’t a lot of information on the internet about them.

“Adventure in Modern Living” is the second track off the album. It’s upbeat while a bit strange. You can tell that this was influenced by art rock artists like Kate Bush by the various techniques used in the song. You can hear that the bass is really prominent throughout, even more important than the guitar, when it switches back and forth from supporting the lead singer to having it’s own solo moments like during the bridge. Another art rock-like theme going on throughout the song is the use of a mandolin sound on the keyboard. It reminds me of how Kate Bush used the same instrument in the song “Babooshka”.

The lyrics may be a bit strange to some. The opening lines goes something like this: “A bird calls, a bear stalls, and gorillas grumbles. A city wakes, a mountain shakes, and an island crumbles.” However, I feel like it was the style of time; to display the simplicity of life through the music and lyrics.

If you enjoy any of the art rock acts of the 1980s, I am sure that you would like “Adventure in Modern Living”. I looooooooooove the art-rock aspect of the tune. I also like the vocal slides that the singer uses during the pre-chorus of “We are the audience”. It’s so awesome.

Reporting Live: Chelsy promoting their single “SistAr” at Tower Records Nagoya Parco (June 6, 2015)

chelsy

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, ☆ai love music☆ now has over 2,000 views for this year! I want to thank all those who have read and supported the blog! I really appreciate and love you guys! 😀 😀 ❤ ❤

Today’s Reporting Live is brought to you by the Japanese pop-rock band Chelsy. The group was founded in 2011 after vocalist and guitarist MIO, drummer AMI, and bassist SHIZUKA passed an audition hosted by Sony Music and Honey Bee Records. This audition was also supervised by YUI’s producer. The band started to perform all over Japan the following year, first under the name MIO band and then Chelsy. However, the band hit a snag when MIO announced retirement by the summer of 2012.

To fill in MIO’s position, the company hired keyboardist ARISA. However, she only stayed in the group for ten months as she left show business on May 2013. By that time, MIO had returned to the band as the lead vocalist and guitarist.

From their beginnings to early 2013, the band mostly performed at various types of events. They even hosted a free live concert to capture more fans. By the spring of 2013, Chelsy finally got to release their first CD, a single named “I’LL BE ON MY WAY”, that was only sold at Shibuya’s Tower Records for a limited time. It was later in the year that they released their major debut single, “I will/Animation”, under the label Being. “I will” was used as an insert song for the anime series AO–HARU–RIDE.

Chelsy arrived to Nagoya to promote their third single, “SistAr”, at Tower Records Nagoya Parco. After checking out the store’s site and the band’s Youtube channel, I decided to check them out after my part-time job on Saturdays. I thought, Hey, why not check them out? They seem cool! while watching the “SistAr” music video.

I got to the event space right as MIO started to strum the first notes for their opening song. I can’t find the setlist for that day anywhere online. However, they played a few songs and did a couple talks within a thirty minute period. The atmosphere at the live was pretty much chilled as MIO played and sang, SHIZUKA supported MIO with the bass, and AMI just drummed soothing beats with a cajón. The weather was also perfect that day, making the whole event splendid.

After the band performed their last song, MIO announced that they would be starting the meet and sign event soon for anyone who bought a CD. I quickly bought a CD and jumped into the queuing line.  It took only ten minutes to line everyone up and prepare for the event.

The meet and sign event was pretty relaxed. As I approached the table, I first talked to MIO, then AMI, and finally SHIZUKA. I just chatted with the girls about how I enjoyed their live, where I am from, and thanking them for coming to Nagoya. It ended with them singing the CD and shaking my hand. It sounded short but actually, I was able to talked to each girl for a minute or so. I just forgot all the little details of the conversations.

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If you are into girl artists or bands like YUI, LoVendoЯ, or Scandal and/or you like pop-rock music, Chelsy is a band you must check out. Their song “SistAr” showcases MIO’s versatile vocals, SHIZUKA’s neat bass skills, and AMI’s on-point drumming. It is a song that is quiet mellow but upbeat at the same time, which will bring a jovial feeling to the listener’s state of mind.

Also, check out their super-cute announcement for Akihabara Expo 2015:

Make sure to check them out at Akihabara Expo 2015 this December in the Los Angeles area! 😀

You Are Invited To Come Inside the House of the band Tulip

tulip-welcometomyhouse

(Written between June 7th and 21st)

Today, we are going to travel back to the 1970s where peace flourished in most parts of the world, scandals happened, and musical tastes became more diverse. Rock music evolved and changed as new sub-genres were founded such as hard rock, progressive rock, and glam rock. Hip-hop became a new trend primarily in the Black American community thanks to many artists like Grandmaster Funk. Disco, a new type of dance music, flourished in the night clubs, made new terms like “boogey down” popular, and set fashion trends with the afro, bell-bottom pants, and platform shoes.

Even though the 70s pioneered many new musical trends, it still kept a few memories of the 60s alive. Some of these memories were prog(ressive) rock, pop rock, and art rock. By the start of a new decade, bands like ELO, Yes, Genesis, and others experimented with new forms of rock with success. Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” album with art rock, Yes’ “Roundabout” with prog rock, and ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” with pop rock all had influenced the music world by unique instrumentation and brand new musical concepts. Soon after, the whole world caught on to this diverse rock sound craze and tried to emulate it for their own musical scenes.

Tulip was a Japanese band who wanted to try these new rock sounds out. Based in southern Japan (Kyushu), Yoshida Akira, Soda Shinji, and Suehiro Nobuyuki came together in 1971 while studying at Seinan Gakuin University. The band played at various lives around campus, trying to emulate the Beatles’ sound with their first song “Hashiradokei ga 10jihan”.[1] The band decided to head to Tokyo and try getting a record deal soon after. However, Soda Shinji and Suehiro Nobuyuki decided they didn’t want to leave Fukuoka and quit. That led the band to recruit Zaitsu Kazuo for vocals, keyboard and guitar, Himeno Tatsuya for vocals, guitar, and keyboard,  Abe Toshiyuki for guitar, and Ueda Masatoshi for drums.

Tulip signed a deal with an indies label when they got to Tokyo and released two singles, “Hashiradokei ga 10jihan” and “Watashi no Chiisa na Jinsei”. On September 20, 1972, they made their major debut with the single “Mahou no Kiiroi Kutsu” on the label Shinko Music. For the next seventeen years, the band would have numerous hit songs like “Kokoro no Tabi”, “Saboten no Hana”, and “Niji to Sneaker to Koro”. The band also had many lineup changes as most of the members, except for Zaitsu, left the band during the 80s and were replaced by new members Miyagi Shinichiro, Ito Kaoru, Tanno Yoshiaki, and Takahashi Hiro.

The band sadly broke up in 1989 after they released the album “Well”. Most of the band members went onto do other activities with the lead singer Zaitsu Kazuo continuing on his mediocre solo career. Some of the band’s members got back together in 1997 to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. However, the band stayed together for a ten year period, releasing more material during their revival. The band recently reunited in 2012 to celebrate forty years by holding a concert.

Five years after Tulip made their major debut, the band decided to release their first English song, “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”. As a well-crafted “progressive meets pop and art rock” song, “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”  reminds you a lot of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”. Both songs feature various musical influences by the Beatles, a lively, bouncy piano sound akin to something found in Paul McCartney’s song “Come and Get It“, and adopting everyday objects as musical instruments. But, what makes ELO and Tulip different from each other is how each band composed their own sound. When writing  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”., Zaitsu Kazuo probably wanted to feature more of a musical style that was found in the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” within the song. “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE” focused more on the soft electric guitar, piano, and drum sound with a lot of John Lennon-inspired backing vocals. Meanwhile, ELO had always wanted to be a rock band that “pick[ed] up where The Beatles left off”[5] by featuring more styles from the “White Album” and even later evolving from the Beatles sound to their own sound. ELO’s music was often a mixture of rock music, orchestras, and electrical sound properties.

Although, the same-titled album can be classified as pop rock, I feel like the song itself can be considered as a mixture of progressive, pop, and art rock. If you listen to it, the song does have a certain pop-like quality, especially by the upbeat attitude often associated with songs composed in cut time. Now,  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE” has the basic rock instrumentation with no orchestral instruments present. The song instead features new innovations in the 70s’ Japanese rock scene with unusual percussion and using the backing vocals to paint a bigger picture within the song; a common theme in art rock. As for the progressive rock sound, the song accents a folk music-like structure, which was very popular in Japan during the album’s release, and changing time signatures from cut time to a slower meter by the end.

If you like The Beatles or ELO, then you should most definitely check out  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”. Named as the Japanese Paul McCartney, Zaitsu Kazuo brings the vocal and musical composition of The Beatles while using the up-beat tempos and piano of ELO in this song.[6] 

This post is dedicated to my dear mom who is a huge Beatles and rock fan. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have the entire The Beatles discography mesmerized by heart or known English rock music really well. Most importantly, this post wouldn’t be written.  I contacted my mom, who always gave me a very detailed explanation, whenever I was uncertain about something written in this post.

Rock on, mom! ❤

Listen to the full album here:


References

[1]  “チューリップ (バンド).” チューリップ (バンド) – Wikipedia. 17 Sept. 2004. Web. 21 June 2015. <https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%81%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AA%E3%83%83%E3%83%97_(%E3%83%90%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89)&gt;

[2]  Alan, McGee. “ELO: The Band the Beatles Could Have Been.” The Guardian. 16 Oct. 2008. Web. 21 June 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2008/oct/16/elo-better-than-beatles&gt;

[3]  “ゆうちょ LETTER for LINKS(レター・フォー・リンクス).” ミュージシャン 財津和夫さん. Tokyo FM, 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 June 2015 .<http://www.tfm.co.jp/links/index.php?itemid=77894&gt;