30 September 2010

Cab Calloway and The Nicholas Brothers: "Jumpin' Jive" (from "Stormy Weather")

My fellow member Joe over at Golden Age of Hollywood posted this clip there recently and I can't get it off my mind. I'd seen it once long ago and then more recently at a friend's house in the film Stormy Weather (1943).

Cab Calloway, his band and the Nicholas Brothers dance team put on an incomparable performance. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a good deed and check it out. Music and dance in film doesn't get any better than this.

And that goes for Stormy Weather in general. As Wikipedia put it, the film is "a time capsule showcasing some of the top African-American performers of the time, [a time] when black actors and singers rarely appeared in lead roles in mainstream Hollywood productions, particularly of the musical genre."

I can't put it better than that.

25 September 2010

Tennessee Williams' "A Street Car Named Desire" (the 1951 film)

They won't let me show you a scene from this Hollywood masterpiece, though a great many are posted on YouTube, some listed at the end of the re-release trailer above. But A Streetcar Named Desire is playing in a few minutes on TCM and I couldn't think of a better topic to cover here.

This is the film that made Marlon Brando a star. This is the film where Vivien Leigh somehow embraces her own mental instability and channels it into her Oscar-winning performance. This film is one of the very best adaptations of a Tennessee Williams play brought to the screen.

So by all means, check it out on TCM tonight or see it at your first opportunity. Or if you're like me, see it again, just because you've got the chance. Elia Kazan's 1951 film is timeless; it just doesn't wear out.

Gotta go, it's almost showtime.

19 September 2010

Solomon Burke Covering Van Morrison's "Fast Train"

When I wrote recently about the HBO series The Wire, after seeing season one on DVD, I had no idea my enthusiasm for the show was going to turn into addiction. I just finished watching season three and I'm thoroughly hooked. But rather than throw superlatives at you about just how good, just how innovative this series is, here's the tune the show's creative team uses as the soundtrack -- a very rare thing for this show, soundtrack music being very sparse -- of the season three closing montage.

I heard this Solomon Burke track for the first time yesterday. I hope you dig it as much as I do. Now I've got to finish watching some additional material that comes with the final disc for season three. Then I can get it back in the mail to Netflix and feed this monkey on my back; the first disc for season four should be here by Wednesday.

11 September 2010

Noel Murphy: "Paddy and the Barrel/The Bricklayer's Lament"

Paddy and the Barrel/The Bricklayer's Lament performed by Noel Murphy

I racked my brain last week trying to think of a good song to post for Labor Day last Monday, but no inspiration came. Until yesterday that is. A friend turned me on to this fine little tune performed by Irish folk musician Noel Murphy. Though I'm almost a week late, I can't imagine a finer song to play (and sing along) while tossing back a few beers with your friends in a pub. So for all you working men and women out there, a belated Happy Labor Day.

05 September 2010

Belgrade Blues: Ana Popovic Performing "Navaho Moon"

Young women who are on the path to becoming true blues masters are out there, but they are few and far between. Even rarer is a woman blues guitar player from eastern Europe who plays a masterful electric blues slide guitar (think Bonnie Raitt). I've been hoping to feature a young woman blues player for a while and found one on my cable radio yesterday. Ana Popovic, hailing from what was once Yugoslavia (Belgrade, Serbia now), performed a slow burn slide blues solo that made me sit up and listen. It was a track from her 2007 album Still Making History entitled How'd You Learn to Shake it Like That?

I learned from Wikipedia that she had relocated to the Netherlands and on France's Daily Motion i found another gem of a cut: Ana performing Navaho Moon. This cut reminded me immediately of Stevie Ray Vaughan's cover of Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing. But Ana builds on the foundation Stevie Ray and Jimi laid.

Sippie Wallace, Bonnie Raitt and Lou Ann Barton, you've got some younger company.