Posts Tagged ‘Andy Bell’

Great Music Defies Age Barriers

Sometimes when driving in to work, I listen to CDs and sometimes I just flip through the programmed channels on the radio.

Today, I heard the two latest hits from Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and that was just in a 15-minute drive.  That prompted me to write today’s blog.

Taylor- Justin

On today’s drive, I didn’t know that legendary music icon David Bowie had died peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer just two days after his 69th birthday.

I learned that when I logged on to my computer at work.  And, I thought back to last week when I heard “Let’s Dance” on my drive to work after a local station abandoned the Christmas music format.

I was a fan of Bowie’s 1980s music and “Modern Love” was one of my favorites.

In his passing, I was reminded of the strong conviction of his standing up for his beliefs and questioning the system when it wasn’t welcoming to all.  Here’s a short read on Bowie questioning a MTV VJ about why the network didn’t feature black artists.  Michael Jackson would one of the first that benefited from the inclusion.

David Bowie

R.I.P. David Bowie!

David Bowie  Again

Originally, I was talking about hearing Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods”, the amazing sixth single from “1989” and “Love Yourself”, my favorite song from Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” album.  (I also heard Taylor’s “Wildest Dreams” and Justin’s “Sorry”.)

At 51, I’m not ashamed to say that I love Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, who are 26 and almost 22 years old, respectively.

In the early 1980s, I’m sure there were 51-year-olds, that screamed for Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie in their youth, loving the same music as me.

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I idolized Madonna, Erasure (Andy Bell and Vince Clarke), Boy George and Culture Club, Duran Duran, Pete Burns of Dead or Alive, and the Pet Shop Boys.  They were either the same age as me or maybe a few years older.

The point is, while I was in heaven with the fantastic dance music coming out of the 1980s, people decades older than me were enjoying the same sounds and probably weren’t ashamed to admit it.

That’s why many of those artists are still making some of the best music of their careers. Top 40 radio just doesn’t know it!

So, if you’re checking this blog out and you’re about Taylor and Justin’s age, take a moment to enjoy my generation’s superstars.  You’ll likely enjoy it and know that age doesn’t matter.

Enjoy life and music, regardless of your age or the age of the singers you’re listening to!

Anthony

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Years & Years’ “Communion” Is Definitely King!

I’ve become much more selective when buying new music.  Back in the 1990s when I was disc jockey, I’d buy new CDs just for a song and hope to find other gems.

Thus far in 2015, I’ve only bought eight new albums.  Of those, four are from American artists and four are European — Zedd (Germany), Giorgio Moroder (Italy), and from the United Kingdom, Clean Bandit and Years & Years.

It really doesn’t surprise me that I still love European music since it dominated what I listened to in the 1980s, outside of Madonna and Janet Jackson, during the second “British Invasion”.

My latest find that I highly recommend is “Communion” by the English trio, Years & Years.

Communion

Years & Years is lead singer and keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player Emre Turkmen.

I’m not sure where I heard “King”, the song that made me aware of Years & Years.

While it did get some Top 40 radio airplay in the United States and a decent amount of dance club play, the song topped the charts earlier this year in the U.K., Bulgaria, Croatia, and Scotland.

After getting “Communion” and listening to it on repeat, I’m amazed at the booming voice that comes from Olly and his waifish-body (and I mean that in a good way because I would love to be that thin again).  Youth!

Years & Years

It’s such a bluesy sound that, at times, reminds me of amazing English singers Alison Moyet, Gabrielle, and Helen Terry.

Yes, here’s a slight detour in talking about the amazing debut from Years & Years.

If you’re reading my blog from the United States you might be on Google typing in each of those female vocalists I just mentioned.

In America, Alison had one Top 40 hit, “Invisible” (#31, 1985), even though she had nine hits in the U.K. (six reaching the Top Ten).  Gabrielle had 16 Top 40 U.K. hits (ten reached the Top Ten), but only “Dreams” was a hit in the U.S. (#26, 1993, on the Hot 100, but #1 on the Dance chart).  And, Helen Terry, scored just one modest hit in the U.K., but she’s famously known as the back-up singer on many of Culture Club’s biggest hits.

“Shine”

As much as I love “King” and so glad that it grabbed me and turned me on to Years & Years, my favorite song from “Communion” is “Shine”.  It’s the latest release from the album and has already topped the charts in Scotland and reached #2 in the U.K.

Here are my other four favorite songs from the album that I recommend that you download now and put it on heavy rotation on your summer playlist.

And, a final note as you watch the videos, when you get to “Real”, it’s not only Olly’s voice that is mesmerizing.  The captivating Ben Whishaw (from the incredible, touching, and sadly underappreciated movie, “Lilting”) really gets into the groove and is so alluring!

More Years & Years

It just so happens that I arrive in San Francisco in late September, the same night that Olly, Emre, and Mikey will be playing live at The Fillmore and I plan on being there!

“Desire”

“Real”

“Eyes Shut”

“Worship”

I’ve highlighted my favorites from the album that are mainly upbeat, but “Without” is a killer ballad.

While I’ve talked about Olly’s vocals throughout the blog, the sound of the trio is incredible.

“Communion” is very 2015, but it also takes me back to the very experimental and fun sounds of the early-1980s.  You can’t listen to “Ties” without thinking of Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat.

When talking about Bronksi Beat, Alison Moyet, Gabrielle, Ben Whishaw and “Lilting”, I wish Years & Years great success because I don’t want to listen to “Communion” and think that they are “underappreciated” here in America, but loved throughout the world.

With Years & Years, I’ve found my fix to hold me over until Erasure (Andy Bell & Vince Clarke) release the follow-up to my favorite album of 2014, “The Violet Flame”.

Communion

GRADE:

A

“Communion” get an “A” and I can’t wait to get to San Francisco on September 28th to see the guys perform live.

Anthony

If you’re still reading, you know I love Years & Years and their debut album.  However, I’m featuring an amazing track from Alison, Gabrielle, and Bronski Beat.

Also, a poignant scene from “Lilting”.  Discover now what you likely missed then!

Gabrielle — “Dreams”

Alison Moyet — “Whispering Your Name”

Bronski Beat — “Tell Me Why”

“Lilting”

My Fall Just Got More Exciting With Erasure

I’ve seen some fun and amazing concerts this year (Cher, Shania Twain, and Olivia Newton-John), but I’m really psyched to see my favorite band of all-time this fall for the first time — a week before my monumental 50th birthday!

It’s not ABBA, Culture Club, The Human League, Duran Duran, The Carpenters, New Kids on the Block, Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive, or Depeche Mode, although I do want to see Pet Shop Boys and Culture Club in 2015 and I’d love to see The Human League again.

Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, better known as Erasure, will be hitting the road this fall to support their 16th studio album, “The Violet Flame”, that comes out this September.  The first single arrives in July.

The Violet Flame Erasure

I have pretty decent seats to see them in Chicago in early October.  Unfortunately, since I was buying my tickets from an airport rushing between flights, I didn’t score “pit” tickets and I wasn’t fast enough to get VIP tickets!  Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see the show.

Until now, it’s never worked out for me to see them live in concert.

However, I did have the pleasure to say “hello” to Andy and Vince from across the “Fox News Chicago” newsroom where I was working as a news writer back in 2002.  They dropped in to make an appearance on our morning show when Erasure was playing in Chicago.

April 2013 001

Andy and Vince were kind of enough to sign my VHS copy of  “Wild!  Live”, their 1989 concert at the London Arena.

If you’ve only listened to mainstream Top 40 radio since the 1980s, you’re probably not too familiar with Erasure.  Sadly, radio missed the boat on the group.

They’ve hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 three times.  “Chains of Love” peaked at #12 in 1988.

That was followed by “A Little Respect”, which made it to #14 that same year, and “Always” reached the Top 20 in 1994.

However, my love for Erasure goes back a few years before they had their first hit on American radio.  In 1985, they released their first record, “Who Needs Love Like That”/”Heavenly Action”, which was a Top Ten U.S. dance club hit.

erasure

I had just turned 21 and I no longer had to sneak into the my local gay bar, Rumors, in Paducah, Kentucky.  When I started spinning record there in 1986, I couldn’t get enough of  “Oh L’amour”, the third single from their debut album, “Wonderland”.

That song reached #3 on the U.S. Dance charts and #2 on the charts in South Africa and #3 in Singapore.

“Oh L’amour” is still my favorite Erasure song to this day.

erasure2

Luckily, for Americans Erasure fans, the duo made it big in the clubs scoring 22 Top 40 dance hits with 16 hitting the Top Ten, and two topping the charts: “Victim of Love” (1987) and “Breathe” (2005).

In their native U.K., they’ve had 32 Top 40 hits with 15 reaching the Top Ten.  Interestingly enough, their biggest hit in England was “Sometimes” in 1987.  It’s another one of my all-time favorites, but it missed the top.  It stalled out at #2.

While I’ve always been “out”, being born and raised in small town Kentucky, I admired Andy Bell from the beginning for being himself — out, proud and fabulous.  He didn’t change himself or conform his look or stage presence to be “safe” for American audiences.

Now, I did wear some interesting clothes in my 20s that provoked second looks and “under the breath” comments, but compared to Andy’s style, it was very subtle!

If you have any doubt about Andy’s eye-catching style, check out this performance, “Star”, from “Wild!  Live”!

And, if I didn’t totally love Andy and Vince before 1992, I was in gay heaven that year when they released “Abba-esque”, a four-song EP of ABBA tunes.  It hit the top of the charts in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Before Erasure broke onto the music scene, ABBA was my favorite band.  I loved the Swedish band so much that, in 2000, I named my golden retriever after them!  🙂  Shortly after she went to “puppy heaven” in early 2012, I got a tattoo of Miss ABBA!

Anthony ABBA Tattoo

“The Violet Flame Tour”, which kicks off in September in Miami, Florida, then heads across the U.S. (and Toronto, Ontario) through early November before heading to Europe and then back to New York City for two shows to ring in the New Year!

erasure 4

This is Erasure’s first tour since 2011’s international “The Tomorrow’s World Tour”.

While Andy may not wear as many sequins and the costumes may not be as revealing as back in 1989, from this video from Offenbach, Germany, in November 2011, Andy and Vince’s performances are still energizing and incredible.

erasure3

I’m already looking forward to July to hear the first single from “The Violet Flame” and for the album’s release in September.

But, most of all, I’m counting down the days until October 4th, when I get to see Erasure at the Chicago Theatre for the first time.

Andy and Vince, I’ll be screaming and singing along from the Main Floor B section.  I’ll pretend that you’re singing to me when I hear the first notes of “Oh L’amour”!

♫♪ Oh l’amour/Broke my heart and now I’m aching for you/Mon amour/What’s a boy in love supposed to do?

♫♪

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s going to be a snowy one in Iowa and Illinois, but it’ll make it more romantic! 🙂

champagne

I hope you and yours have a great weekend.  If there’s no “yours”, you still have every reason to enjoy the day and make the most of it.

I had many single years and I still treated myself to champagne and chocolates whenever I wanted them!  Indulge.  Life is too short.

Here are my random thoughts this Friday.  As always, thank you for checking them out.  If you agree with me, let me know.  If you disagree, let me know nicely. 🙂

BEST WISHES TO MICHAEL SAM

Michael Sam, the Associated Press defensive football player of the year in the Southeast Conference, came out last Sunday telling the public something that his teammates have known since last fall.

Sam told ESPN, “I came to tell the world I’m an openly proud gay man.”

Michael Sam

Sam is expected to be drafted into the National Football League and that would make him the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL.

Michael, I wish you the very best in football and in life and I’m not alone.

Bette Midler

And, here is an incredible commentary from Dale Hansen, a sportscaster with WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, Texas.  This is so true!

However, we still have a long way to go.  This is a series of tweets from Kent State University wrestler Sam Wheeler.  He’s been suspended indefinitely until the athletic department decides on how to handle the situation.

Sam Wheeler Kent State Wrestler

ZOMBIES SLAY OLYMPIANS

While the ratings for the 2014 Winter Olympics for NBC are off slightly from four years ago, people were watching this past weekend.

However, last Sunday night, in the key television viewing demographics, 18-49-year-olds, the season four mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” killed the rush for the gold, silver, and bronze.

The Walking Dead

In that demo group, “The Walking Dead” scored a rating of 8.2 beating the 6.9 for NBC’s Sochi Winter Olympics.  Overall, 15.8 million people tuned in for “The Walking Dead”.

RACIST SOCHI TWEET?

Former Russian gold medalist figure skater Irina Rodnina, who lit the Olympic torch for the opening ceremonies of the Sochi games, is now at the center of a controversy that screams of racism.

Rodnina

Rodnina, who is now a member of Parliament in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, tweeted this doctored picture of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from last September.

Racist Sochi Tweet

Pro-Kremlin television personality Vladimir Soloviev says this is not a big scandal and that Rodnina is free to post whatever she wants.  He went on to say the Tweet was not racist and that the reaction is too sensitive, “I advise everyone who attacked her that the next time they go out for a coffee, they should not call it a black coffee but an African-American coffee.”

I think this is racist whether it’s posted by a Russian politician or someone in the United States who feels as Rodnina does!

Your thoughts?

THIS “ARROW” HITS THE BULLS EYE

“Arrow” actor Stephen Amell wishes the athletes that have been training all their lives the very best in Sochi, Russia, but he holds nothing back on this thoughts about the country’s anti-gay laws.

Stephen Amell

On Facebook, Amell posted, “For everyone asking, we’re taking a mini hiatus so people can grit their teeth and suffer through an Olympic games marred by homophobia and mediocre public interest.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHTS

Weather ChannelSnow

Davenport Cold

That was in Davenport, Iowa, the other morning.  Luckily, it was actually only -23°!

SO LONG, MULDER & SCULLY

We just finished watching all 202 episodes of “The X-Files” and the two movies.  While enjoyable, I still feel that the series finale was rushed and not very rewarding for such a stellar nine-year series that changed television.

the_x_files_i_want_to_believe-wallpaper

After watching “The X-Files:  I Want T0 Believe” again, the 2008 big screen movie is incredible and greatly under appreciated.  While it did have the feel of a more adult (language, violence, and gore) expanded television monster-of-the-week episode, it is very powerful.

Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, Krycek, The Smoking Man, the Lone Gunman, aliens, and Chris Carter, thank you for the memories.

HELLO FISHER FAMILY OF FREAKS

Before we move on to “Fringe” to wrap up the last two seasons, we’re going back to “Six Feet Under”.  We’re now on season three (of five).

six feet under

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dysfunctional family like the Fishers and their crazy friends and loved ones.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love Michael C. Hall.  And, to see him as a very tormented David Fisher, who’s also gay, is very interesting.

PICK HIT

Singer Hailey Rowe is back with a very inspiring song and video.

Hailey Rowe

While she isn’t a household name, she scored my favorite song and video of 2013 with “My Boyfriend Is Gay”.

Her latest release is “Don’t Need Your Approval”.

“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS”

“Captain Phillips” is nominated for six Oscars this year, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi.  It also gained attention when Tom Hanks was snubbed for a Best Actor nomination.

Captain Phillips

The $55 million movie earned $215.3 million at the box office.  It’s based on real life events when Somali hijackers took over the “MV Maersic Alabama” in April 2009 and kidnapped the cargo ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, for ransom.

It’s a well crafted movie by director Paul Greengrass (“United 93”) and Oscar winner Hanks does a great job playing Phillips as a strong leader in the face of terror and possible death.  Even Adbi and the other three first-time Somali actors hold their own in the movie.

If you didn’t follow the story when it was news almost five years ago, you’ll enjoy the movie more.  As I was watching it, I kept wondering if Hollywood would change something in the outcome for dramatization since it’s “based on a true story”.

After seeing the movie, was Hanks snubbed?  I don’t think so based on the two Oscar-nominated performances I’ve seen so far (Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” and Christian Bale in “American Hustle”).  Will Abdi win the Supporting Actor award?  No.

If you like an action packed thriller, you’ll definitely like “Captain Phillips”.  If you want to see Greengrass at his best, watch “United 93”.

GRADE:  B

“RUNNER RUNNER”

This thriller starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck is entertaining enough with a few twists.

Runner Runner

Timberlake plays Richie Furst, who used to work on Wall Street and is now getting his Master’s Degree.  Since he isn’t eligible to get help with his tuition, he recruits college students to gamble online and he get a kick back.  When he’s reported, the school’s dean tells him he must quit or he won’t get his degree.

He takes a chance gambling on the site knowing the odds and loses all his money.  He then flies to Costa Rica to try to get his money back from Ivan Block (Affleck), who is the online gaming king.

It’s a cat and mouse game, but you don’t know who’s playing who.

GRADE:  C

NEW TWITTER FOLLOWER

I’m still relatively new to Twitter and I find it interesting.  I only have 142 followers, but one of my new followers is someone I’ve been a fan of for almost 30 years — Andy Bell of Erasure.

Andy Bell

Since the follow, we’ve corresponded a couple of times.  If you’re an Erasure fan, check out this encouraging and fun tweet from Andy.

Andy 2

“Make It Wonderful” is the second single from last fall’s “Snow Globe” album and the remixes will be available February 24th.  Here is the amazing “Morlando Club Mix”.

Some of the “many” things that Andy may have been talking about is the anticipated new album and tour this fall!

“BABYCAKES” & “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”

If you read my “Random Friday Thoughts” each week, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill walking and reading.  I’ve lost 8.8 pounds since the beginning of the year, but it’s getting harder now.

I’m also reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of The City” series.  I just finished the fourth and fifth books in the nine-book series.

“Babycakes”, the fourth book, takes place around 1983, seven years after the first book.

babycakes

The AIDS pandemic claims the life of a recurring character and a main character is dealing with the loss of his best friend and lover.  He takes a trip to England and runs into a major character that was absent in the third book.

One character becomes a television reporter after breaking the story of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.  Another story line involved a favorite couple trying to have a baby with sterility and infidelity playing a major role.  As the book ended, one life started and another ended.

This was my least favorite of the four books, so far, and part of it might have been the fact that it was new to me since it wasn’t made into a miniseries like the first three books.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The series found its mojo with the fifth book, “Significant Others”.

Two different retreats, one for a women’s festival (lesbians) and one for older men (rich Republicans), take place on Russian River north of San Francisco in 1985.  We meet three new characters that play a big role in some of the lives of the original “Tales of The City” group.

One character faces the unknown when he takes the HIV test and what he’ll tell his wife and another is still dealing with the loss of his friend/lover from AIDS in the third fourth.  He meets a new friend that could be something long-term, but they live on opposite coasts!

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sixth book!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Kentucky-born singer John Conlee had a long, successful string of 27 hits on the Billboard Country charts from 1978-1987.  Of those 27 hits, 22 reached the Top Ten, and 7 topped the charts.

My two favorites are “Backside of Thirty”, his third hit and second number one from 1979, and his first country hit, “Rose Colored Glasses” that peaked at #5 in 1978.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

Have a great weekend.  I think we’re having heart-shaped pizza and a heart-shaped strawberry ice cream cake this weekend with Gretel and my sister, Tammy.

Anthony