The 59 2018 #347: 181213
Mark Ronson – Uptown Special (2015)
Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, has now turned 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. Today we’ve reached year 57 – 2015.
Dedicated to the late Amy Winehouse and released in January 2015, Uptown Special was the fourth and final studio album from record producer and DJ, Mark Ronson.
It became Ronson’s first number one on the UK Albums Chart (with his previous two albums charting at number two), and reached number two on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart and number five on the US Billboard 200.
The lead single – “Uptown Funk” – had its beginning out of a jam in Bruno’s studio in LA with Mars drumming, Jeff Bhasker on synths and Ronson on bass. After they got the basic groove, Philip Lawrence joined and they wrote the lyrics to the first verse. They finished the song in Toronto, six months later. It rose to No.1 on the UK Singles Chart, marking Ronson’s first number one song as an artist and producer; as well as peaking at No.1 on the Irish Singles Chart and the Billboard 100.
The ’59 2018 #141: 180521
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing (1981)
This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. Currently we’re at year 23 – 1981.
Nightclubbing was the fifth studio album by Jamaican singer Grace Jones, released on 11 May 1981 by Island Records. Recorded at Compass Point Studios with producers Alex Sadkin and Island Records’ president Chris Blackwell, as well as a team of session musicians rooted by rhythm section Sly & Robbie, the album marked her second foray into a new wave style that blends a variety of genres, including reggae, art pop, dub, synth-pop and funk. The album is a mixture of cover versions from artists including Bill Withers, Iggy Pop and Astor Piazzolla, and original songs, three of which were co-written by Jones.
It album received positive reviews upon its release and continues to be praised by critics, with reviewers commending the singer’s unique sound and organic fusion of genres. The album entered in the top 10 in five countries, and became Jones’ highest-ranking record on the US Billboard mainstream albums and R&B charts.
Six singles were released from the album, including the hits “Pull Up to the Bumper” and “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)”.
The ’59 2018 #109: 180419
The Rolling Stones – Black and Blue (1976)
This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. Today we’ve reached year 18 – 1976.
Black and Blue was the 13th UK and 15th American studio album from the Rolling Stones, released in 1976.
It was the band’s first studio album with Ronnie Wood as the replacement for Mick Taylor. Wood had played twelve-string acoustic guitar on the track “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” from the It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll album and appears on half of the Black and Blue album tracks (mostly backing vocals) with Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel playing guitar on the remaining titles. Keith Richards would later comment “Rehearsing guitar players, that’s what that one was about”.
Though recorded at a transitional moment for the band, the release has received mixed to positive retrospective reviews from publications such as AllMusic, with critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine stating that the album’s “being longer on grooves and jams than songs” ended up being “what’s good about it”.
However, it still produced crackers like ‘Fool to cry’
The Epic 2017 Project #242: 170830
Queen – Hot Space (1981)
Hot Space – Queen’s tenth studio album – was released on 21 May 1982 by EMI Records in the UK and by Elektra Records in the United States. Marking a notable shift in direction from their earlier work, they employed many elements of disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music for this one. This made the album less popular with fans who preferred the traditional rock style they had come to associate with the band. Queen’s decision to record a dance-oriented album germinated with the massive success of their 1980 hit “Another One Bites the Dust”.
“Under Pressure”, Queen’s collaboration with David Bowie, was released in 1981 and became the band’s second No.1 hit in the UK. Though included on Hot Space, the song was a separate project and was recorded ahead of the album, before the controversy over Queen’s new disco-influenced rock sound. The album’s second single, “Body Language”, peaked at No.11 on the US charts.
In July 2004, Q magazine listed Hot Space as one of the top fifteen albums where great rock acts lost the plot. Most of the album was recorded in Munich during the most turbulent period in the band’s history, and Roger Taylor and Brian May despised the new sound, with both being very critical of the influence Freddie Mercury’s manager Paul Prenter had on the singer.
Having said all that, I still really like the album – and for all the right reasons. Here’s ‘Back Chat’
The Epic 2017 Project #238: 170826
Quantic Soul Orchestra – Stampede (2003)
Always nice to feature some local flavour on JemTunes. So here’s a bit of Quantic from Brighton.
The Quantic Soul Orchestra is a live band project of musician and DJ, Will Holland. Holland has recorded under several names, but the most notable is Quantic. The Should Orchestra was his first collaborative project, and ‘Stampede, the first studio album, released on Tru Thoughts in 2003.
The band’s line-up changes from album to album, with sometime members including Holland’s sister, saxophonist Lucy Holland, his Limp Twins collaborator Russ Porter and former Hardkandy member Simon Little. Will Holland plays guitar and bass, and performs some of the percussion.
Their music focuses on reviving a dusty funk and jazz sound. They are signed to the Tru Thoughts label and have released four albums to date as well as a collaborative album with renowned funk and soul artist Spanky Wilson.
Holland is now based in Columbia.
The Epic 2017 Project #187: 170701
NERD – Fly or Die (2004)
Fly or Die went on sale on March 23, 2004. The lead single “She Wants to Move” went into the Top 5 in U.K, top 10 in New Zealand, top 20 in Norway, Italy, Ireland and Denmark and top 40 in Australia and the Netherlands. Fly or Die sold 412,000 copies in the United States, but shipped at least 500,000 units making it qualify for RIAA’s Gold Certification.
The Epic 2017 Project #132: 170512
Grace Jones – Living my life (1982)
Living My Life is the sixth studio album by Grace Jones, released in 1982. It was the last of three albums she recorded at the Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas.
Jones had already recorded two reggae-oriented albums with the Compass Point Allstars at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, with the most recent, Nightclubbing, becoming her most successful record to date. She went back into the studio in 1982 to record an album which would be her final offering in the unofficial Compass Point trilogy. This time around, Jones recorded only one cover, “The Apple Stretching”, which was originally written by Melvin Van Peebles and used in the Broadway show Waltz of the Stork. “Nipple to the Bottle” was co-written with Sly Dunbar, while, apart from “My Jamaican Guy”, the other tracks were collaborations with Barry Reynolds.
The title track “Living My Life”, despite receiving a limited single release, was ultimately left off the album. Further outtakes included the track “Man Around the House” (written by Jones and Barry Reynolds), and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. Both tracks were released on the 1998 compilation Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions.