Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I Can't Stand the Rain" by Ann Peebles

One of the great things about writing a blog like this one is not only all the stuff you learn, but how constant that influx of new knowledge can be; for instance, not only did I recently learn that two of my favourite songs weren't originally performed by the people I'd thought they were - but rather by Ann Peebles - it was about the tenth such revelation on that day alone.

So while her name had been unfamiliar to me up until that point, well, it got familiar but quick; a brief Google through the Interwebs and voila! I've got someone new to add to my ever-lengthening list of divas who in my opinion are long overdue for rediscovery - along with Evelyn 'Champagne' King, Millie Jackson, Adeva...

So while my favourite Ann Peebles track is - and is likely to remain - 1971's Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love* her original versions of I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down (a huge hit for Paul Young from his 1986 album The Secret of Association) and this little ditty, I Can't Stand the Rain (more familiar to me as the sixth single from Tina Turner's tour-de-force 1984 album Private Dancer) remain near and dear to me for the forceful R&B renderings she made that helped to set the standard for their performance.

I Can't Stand the Rain, of course, was originally the title track from Peebles' 1974 album; in addition to Turner's version a decade after its initial release, in the late 1970s the Anglo-Caribbean combo Eruption gave it the disco treatment; it's also been covered by Lowell George on his 1979 album Thanks, I'll Eat it Here, Bad Manners on their 1993 album Fat Sound, and Seal on his 2008 album Soul to name just four. Terry Manning did a live version for the 2006 CD re-release of his 1970 album Home Sweet Home; the song also formed the basis for Missy Elliott's The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly), from 1997's Supa Dupa Fly.

It gives me great pleasure to post it here on the occasion of Ann Peebles' birthday, with just a minor warning... The video starts out a bit slow, with a discussion as to the genesis of the song, but quickly segueways into a fairly recent performance of it by the lady herself.

*Which fairly cries out to be remixed, if not remade outright.
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Happy Birthday Kate Pierson


How much do I love The B-52s?  Well, our crack team of researchers* here at the Pop Culture Institute has been working feverishly to come up with a number which is suitably large enough to express it.  Alas, math is not the strong suit of anyone who lives and/or works here, and they got stuck somewhere north of 900...

My point is it's a lot, and as awesome as Cindy Wilson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, and the late Ricky Wilson are - and they sure are! - well, in my opinion Kate Pierson is just that much awesomer!

Still performing and recording with The B-52s an amazing 35 years after they formed, in her off-time Pierson serves as a hotelier at Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel in the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock in Upstate New York, which she runs with her business and life partner Monica Coleman.

*To be honest, they really are more like a team of researchers on crack... 

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Pop History Moment: The Opening of Expo 67


On this day in 1967, Expo 67 was declared officially open in Montreal; the lavish opening ceremony - featuring Canadian Governor-General Roland Michener - was broadcast around the world, although attendance in person was by invitation only. Situated on a series of manmade islands in the Saint Lawrence River (and an artificially enlarged Île Sainte-Hélène) the fair was the brainchild of Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau.

The fair itself was the centrepiece of the celebration of Canada's centennial year. It opened to the public the next day, setting attendance records; 50 million in total visited the park, with 559,000 on a single day. One of the fair's few remaining landmarks is Habitat 67, a housing development built by Moshe Safdie.

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"For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton

Birthday wishes go out today to Sheena Easton, the sultry Scottish songstress who recorded For Your Eyes Only as the theme to the 12th James Bond film - a film which was entitled, appropriately enough, For Your Eyes Only.  The song was released as a single in June 1981 alongside the movie and would eventually crack the Top Ten in the US and the Top Five in the UK*.

Easton's (actually Bill Conti's and Mike Leeson's) was not the only song of that name in the running, though; Blondie also wrote a song called For Your Eyes Only in hopes of scoring what at that time was a guaranteed hit single and a bit of pop culture immortality besides.  They ended up having to settle for including it on their 1982 album The Hunter**, while Easton's version scored a nomination for Best Original Song at the 54th Annual Academy Awards.

To date Sheena Easton has had 3 of her 16 albums in the Top 40 for a total of 8 Top 40 singles, although her last album, Fabulous (2000), failed to chart.  She has kept herself busy in recent years with stage and television appearances, such as in Young Blades, in which she played Queen Anne.

*It was also the second of three Bond themes to have been sung by Scots - the first being the theme to The Man with the Golden Gun, sung by Lulu in 1974, and the third being the theme to The World is Not Enough, which was performed by Shirley Manson and the band Garbage in 1999.
**The single did not chart, although Island of Lost Souls and War Child did.  It would, however, be their last album of new material until 1999's No Exit.

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Pop History Moment: Betty Boothroyd Elected Commons Speaker

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn this day in 1992 Betty Boothroyd, a Labour MP for West Bromwich (northwest of Birmingham) and formerly with the Tiller Girls dancing troupe, became the first woman elected Speaker of the British House of Commons at the Mother of All Parliaments in Westminster, succeeding Bernard Weatherill.

She was not, however, the first woman to serve in that role; from 1970 to 1973 Betty Harvie Anderson served as deputy speaker under Selwyn Lloyd and occasionally presided over the House in his absence.

Boothroyd served as Speaker of the House until 2000, at which time she was succeeded by Michael Martin.
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Beethoven's "Für Elise" by Ivo Pogorelić

In order tuh, yuh know, class the joint up a bit, I thought I sh'd make with some plinky-plunky music pronto. This is by Ivo Pogorelić, whose supple style gives Für Elise a kind of tender carnality it doesn't usually get in performance. Or y'know...  Whatever.
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POPnews - April 27th

[To my mind, Ludwig van Beethoven never had a greater booster than Schroeder, of Peanuts fame; the most famous version of the composer's Für Elise is arguably the one that appears in A Charlie Brown Christmas (as well as on its soundtrack) was actually played by the nimble jazz keyboardist Vince Guaraldi.]

1296 - At the Battle of Dunbar 40,000 Scots led by their King John Balliol were defeated by England's Edward I and John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey, with just 12,000 troops; it was the first major battle of the First War of Scottish Independence.

1521 - At the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines, explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by natives led by chief Lapu-Lapu; at the time Magellan was about halfway through his seagoing circumnavigation of the world.

1565 - Cebu was established, making it the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

1578 - During the French Wars of Religion the so-called Duel of the Mignons claimed the lives of two favourites of France's King Henri III and two favourites of his heir and chief rival Henri I, Duke of Guise; while engaged in a re-enactment of the battles of the Horatii and the Curiatii Jacques de Caylus, Louis de Maugiron and Jean d'Arcès (representing the party of the King) fought with Charles de Balzac, Ribérac, and Georges de Schomberg (representing the party of the Guises). Maugiron and Schomberg were killed almost immediately, Ribérac died of wounds the following noon, d'Arcès was wounded in the head and convalesced in a hospital for six weeks, while Caylus sustained as many 19 wounds and passed away after 33 hours of agony. Only Balzac got off with a mere scratch on his arm.

1749 - The first performance of George Frideric Handel's Fireworks Music - commissioned by George II - was given in London's Green Park.

1777 - In the midst of the American Revolution, at the Battle of Ridgefield, a British invasion force commanded by then Royal Governor of the Province of New York, Major General William Tryon (with the assistance of Brigadier General William Erskine and Brigadier General James Agnew) engaged and defeated Continental Army regulars and militia irregulars under Major General David Wooster and Brigadiers-General Gold S. Silliman and Benedict Arnold at Ridgefield, Connecticut.

1805 - During the First Barbary War US Marines under General William Eaton and their allies the Berbers marched 500 miles across the Libyan Desert and attacked the city of Darnah; the ensuing Battle of Darnah is commemorated in the line 'shores of Tripoli' which occurs in the Marines' Hymn.

1810 - Ludwig van Beethoven composed his famous piano piece, Für Elise.

1840 - The foundation stone for London's new Palace of Westminster was laid by Sarah, the wife of the building's principal architect Sir Charles Barry; much of the old palace (except for Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower, the crypt of St Stephen's Chapel and the cloisters) was destroyed by a catastrophic fire in October 1834.

1865 - While under the command of Captain J.C. Mason the steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, sank on the Mississippi River after one of its four boilers exploded; most of the 1,800 casualties were Union survivors returning home from Confederate prisoner-of-war camps at Andersonville and Cahawba. It remains the worst maritime disaster in American history, but its impact at the time was moderated by the recent assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Photobucket1904 - The Australian Labor Party became the first such party to form a national government anywhere in the world, under Chris Watson (shown, at right) who became the third Prime Minister of Australia; lasting just under four months, Watson's government was itself short-lived - it didn't for instance, have the chance to introduce a budget - but has exerted a strong influence over successive Labor governments nonetheless.

1909 - The Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II, was overthrown; he was succeeded by his brother, Mehmed V.

1941 - Nazi troops entered and occupied Athens.

1961 - Sierra Leone was granted its independence from the United Kingdom, with Milton Margai serving as the first Prime Minister; representing his cousin Elizabeth II at the ceremony was HRH the Duke of Kent, who was the first to unfurl and raise the country's new flag.

1982 - Former police officer Woo Bum-kon ended his own life following a drunken eight-hour shooting spree in South Korea's Gyeongsangnam-do province during which he killed 57 people.

1984 - The Libyan Embassy Siege in London ended; it had been sparked by the shooting of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher eleven days earlier.

1992 - The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - comprising Serbia and Montenegro - was proclaimed.

1994 - The first truly democratic general election in the history of South Africa - namely one in which the country's black majority could also vote - was held; the African National Congress, headed by Nelson Mandela, just missed the two-thirds vote required to form a clear majority, and so opted to form the so-called Government of National Unity with the Inkatha Freedom Party and the National Party - which had, under the leadership of Frederik Willem de Klerk, done away with apartheid. The anniversary of the day is now a public holiday in South Africa, known as Freedom Day.

2006 - Construction began on the Freedom Tower portion of the new World Trade Center in New York City, a mere four and a half years after its predecessors were destroyed.
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