I love Queens. And the one above? She's Miami's Queen of Soul, and like many a Queen, she's best experienced live. Yes, it's Miss Betty Wright, and her electrifying "Live" LP may have been recorded over thirty years ago, but make no mistake, it sounds as urgent and fresh as anything recorded today.
It almost seems like her entire career - which began when she sang in her family's gospel group at age thirteen and continued on with hit records and a Grammy Award - was just a preamble for this one knock-'em-dead performance.
You can hear how heavily she's influenced the likes of Joss Stone and Beyonce, for example, but Betty outshines them all. Why? Just give a listen to the epic track "Clean Up Woman Medley," which rockets from blues to soul to jazz to R&B. The execution is stunning, and more important, the soul is real.
Are you familiar with Danny Bonaduce? You know, before the transsexual hookers, spectacular drug abuse and radio disc jockey gigs. Way back when he was a smirky, "naughty boy" child actor on "The Partridge Family."
It's a typical story. Child actor makes good - records giggly LP that has him straining to hit the high notes, yet somehow making songs like "Feelin' Groovy" sound credible - then flames out big-time once his show ends and he hits puberty.
But wouldn't you know, there was a nice surprise in Bonaduce's case. He eventually kicked drugs, cleaned up, and in addition to his work on radio, he pops up frequently as an amusing, foul-mouthed guest on countless TV talk shows. It almost makes you hold out hope for Lindsay Lohan. Okay, so maybe that's a stretch...but it could happen. Right?
And now let's move on to our present-day Greta Garbo. Like Garbo, when Doris Day called it quits, she really meant it. It's rare to see her photographed today, and when you do, it feels invasive, as if she's some J.D. Salinger-type who really and truly wants everyone to
"The Love Album" was her last original LP, and it's an excellent swan song since she's in terrific voice. Obviously, she wanted to go out on top, and she succeeds.
She's been written off many times as a sugary novelty, but listen closely to the LP - my favorite track is "Sleepy Lagoon" - to the effortless vocal control, the lyrical phrasing, the clear-eyed belief in every single solitary word coming out of her corker. When she sings, "While the music plays, I'm in ecstasy," she really and truly means it.
Remember the 90's? All those trippy "Buddha Lounge" CDs that made you go "Woooooooow. Huh? Wha?" after your seventh bong hit? Oh, and remember how every Euro-DJ within spitting distance was working on the "Saint Germaine Des Pres Cafe" series? Every now and again I'll give a listen to an old "Saint Germaine" CD; some of them hold up well, some of them - ouch - not so much.
But guess what? They've been sneaking back into production. I know, right? In 2010, they released the 2-CD "Blue Edition," and it's actually a terrif mix of artists and tones, with everyone from "The Cinematic Orchestra," jazz performer Chris Bowden and soul singer Dee Edwards lending their tracks to the "Saint Germain" DJ's (and, yes, they're still equipped with a limitless array of electro tweaks and twurks). Will I be rolling my eyes when I listen to this in ten or fifteen years? Maybe, but for now, it's a kick.
Oh, no! She's at it again! The Secret Song File can't seem to keep her clothes on in front of her therapist. She says it's "curative" - gurl, who you kidding? - but we know what she's really after. Those cool retro phones on her therapist's desk!
Speaking of being at it again, this young, bluesy soul artist is, um, what you need (*cough*). No, really. Especially now that he's put together all of his hypnotic tapes into one spanking new CD, and - poof! - just like that, a modern classic (when my Cuban Luvuh first heard it, he said, "Is this fucking music?"). If you like sexy, moody, soulful slow grooves, then this wunderkind artist - he's only 22! - should keep you nice and warm over the holidays.
I've never liked eggnog and I'm not afraid to admit it.
Don't be shy. Say something strange and freaky in the comments!