(Not So) Famous Firsts – A Kathryn Bigelow Double Feature

In the last decade, Kathryn Bigelow has become the most famous female American director. She has become the new chronicler of recent American history. Much like Oliver Stone’s films, her version of events seems to be what people remember more than they remember the actual events.

What’s strange is that, for such an important filmmaker, people don’t think about any of the films Bigelow made before 2008. I read a list not too long ago that was meant to inspire young people who hadn’t found their calling in life yet. The list used Kathryn Bigelow as an example of someone who didn’t quit, and “only reached international success when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.”

You know who would be surprised by that statement? Kathryn Bigelow. That statement magically wipes away her television career, her blockbuster success with Point Break (Yes, she directed the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze surfer heist film), her artistic and personal partnership with James Cameron, and the fact she was making feminist police thrillers at a time when such a thing was barely conceivable.

Maybe the reason Bigelow’s early filmography is so ignored is because it’s unlike anything she’s doing now. Bigelow’s early films were her attempt at creating genre blockbusters. She wanted attention as quickly as possible, so she prepackaged familiar plots and tried her best to inject something new in them. In Strange Days, it was the VR technology. In Blue Steel, it was the fact the protagonist was a woman. In Point Break it was…never mind.

But what about her first films. Do they offer a glimpse at the themes and techniques she’d explore later in her career?

The Loveless

Bigelow’s first feature film was 1982’s The Loveless. Like many other debuts, The Loveless is a tribute to the genre films that the filmmakers grew up loving. They wanted to share their passion with an audience.

The Loveless is an attempt for directors to share their child obsessions – cars, rock, rebelliousness – with the Reagan babies.

The most famous aspect of The Loveless is the fact that it’s what made Willem Dafoe’s career. Dafoe has become among the finest character actors of his generation. In this film, Dafoe’s quirkiness isn’t readily on display. He ‘s less a Willem Dafoe character than he is Martin Sheen from Badlands. Dafoe plays Vance, the stereotypical tough guy biker. Vance is an evil character who people attribute a rebelliousness to. Dafoe doesn’t really stand for anything. He’s in town to cause mischief. It’s an unsatisfying character. Dafoe does capture the dangerous rebelliousness that the biker films of the era captured.

Dafoe is stopping in town with his friends on his way to a car race. At first, we’re introduced to him as he helps a woman change her tire. But then he demands money for his services. It’s an effective introduction to the character, but then we don’t learn much more about him. He’s in town to talk, and that’s about it.

The Loveless isn’t about action. It’s about conversation. There are many scenes of the bikers hanging out in the bar, flirting and and trying to go home with the women of the town. Many of the scenes are underscored with classic ’50s rock tunes. This is probably the only technique from The Loveless Bigelow still uses. The Hurt Locker contained numerous pop culture references, such as characters anachronistically playing Gears of War, to set the mood and help the audience understand that characters’ mindsets. The Loveless does the same thing as a sort of take that to the conservative culture of the ’80s. Didn’t Reagan and his acolytes know that rock music was seen as vulgar when it was unleashed on the public and was cited as an inspiration by people like Vance?

The Loveless is a very male film. It has an obsession with cars, bikes, rock music, and ’50s greaser toughness. All of the bikers are obsessed with getting to the race at Daytona. We never find out exactly what the race is or why the characters are so obsessed with it. It exists so that the bikers can travel and hang out. We’re meant to fall in love with these characters only because they exist.

Probably the most shocking element, considering Bigelow’s involvement, is how the female characters are treated. They are each wholly defined by their sexuality. The bikers look at them as conquests and not as people. The women view themselves in the same way. One of Dafoe’s beaus talks about she’s been called a slut, but “I think of it more as a skill. Maybe a talent.” There are even prolonged stripteases in the film, with emphasis placed on the ’50s lingerie. The scene works because it feels rebellious against the conservative ’50s culture. But it’s still weird that Bigelow wouldn’t explore sexuality in the film more or treat female characters as being accessories to the men.

In the end, The Loveless feels like a ’90s indie film that came out way too early to make an impact. It’s not really a biker film. It’s not really a drama. It’s almost a parody of teenage films, but there’s no punchline. It’s a genre tribute that was meant to be more of a calling to showcase Bigelow’s technical skill.

Of course, the reason The Loveless doesn’t showcase Bigelow’s interests may be because this really isn’t Bigelow’s true solo debut. The Loveless was co-directed by Monty Montgomery, who became famous in his own right as a producer and as the guy who played The Cowboy in Mulholland Dr. If we want to get a real sense of Bigelow’s work, we’ll have to look at the first film she directed by herself.

Near Dark

Near Dark was released the same year as the similarly themed The Lost Boys, but only received a fraction of the attention. Perhaps a Corey or two could have gotten the film extra publicity.

The film covers a lot of the same themes that The Loveless did. At its core, Near Dark is a tribute to the genre films of the 1950s, including the western, horror, and biker films. Remakes of genre schlock were very popular in the Reagan era, and filmmakers like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg took the opportunity to explore darker aspects of humanity and how turning into a monster would affect a person’s psyche.

The biggest fault with Near Dark is that they never do any deeper examination of vampire lore. But it does treat vampires as serious and tries to examine how their actions would affect the real world. Near Dark basically a teenage love story of farm boy Caleb (Adrian Pasdar, of TV’s woefully underrated Profit) who meets Mae (Jenny Wright) and is immediately smitten. She’s a vampire and turns Caleb so that he may join her coven, consisting of Civil War veteran Jesse (Lance Henrikson), his girlfriend Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein), the sadistic Severin (Bill Paxton), and the eternal child Homer (Joshua John Miller).

That cast alone shows how James Cameron steered her career when she was first starting as a solo director. Bigelow also took Cameron’s obsession with bikers and the suburban idea of an underworld from the first Terminator film. The fact that Jesse and his clan are vampires is almost irrelevant. In fact, the word “vampire” is never mentioned. Jesse may as well be a Fagin type figure looking to corrupt the youth he comes across to keep his modest criminal enterprise going.

One of the central themes in the film is that Caleb is too scared to feed, so Mae has to do it for him. It’s noteworthy that Bigelow would make the more dominant character a woman and the tough farm boy the “damsel in distress.” It’s the first overtly feminist theme that Bigelow tackled. Yes, in the end the man is the key to the woman’s redemption, but Mae is never treated like a villain or even like she’s not the one in control over Caleb. While Caleb is too scared for violence, Mae has no problems helping him fake murders to stay on Jesse’s good side. It’s a twisted version of morality but it underscores the fact that Mae is clearly in charge in every situation.

Near Dark, despite its use of vampires as common criminals, does offer glimpses of something darker. Homer was a really interesting character, if only because he did the whole “I’m a being with adult desires trapped in a child’s body” thing seven years before Interview with a Vampire. We also never learn much about Severin and why he decided to take the sadistic route while Caleb has been so eager to avoid it. These are interesting characters who hint at something about the world in Near Dark that we never get to see. In some ways, this is a strength. Bigelow knows how to tease the audience into wanting more. I may have been let down that we didn’t explore certain characters more, but I never felt like I was being ripped off.

Near Dark also feels like a documentary at times, or at least an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Caleb’s disappearance matters to his family and the activities are noticed by law enforcement. Most horror films like this keep realities separate. The monsters stay in one world while the rest of the people live out their lives none the wiser. One scene features a hotel shootout, something very common to films about people on the lam. That element was the one that Bigelow carried over throughout the rest of her career. Her more recent films feel like documentaries. They’re effective because they seem like they were shot using hidden cameras that were capturing secret, important moments. Near Dark feels the same way. The vampires’ actions carry weight. They’re committing crimes with real victims and leave a massive amount of wreckage behind. The bar scene exemplifies this the most. Severin brutally kills a man, which leads to Jesse teasing the bartender and Caleb being shot. But the vampires don’t just leave the scene. They burn the bar down with the bodies still inside. And we still see the vampires talking about that moment and how Caleb endangered everyone by letting someone go, leading the authorities to the clan. Most films gloss over the aftermath of a disaster, but Bigelow showed in Near Dark that she was already obsessed with it.

Near Dark is a fun B-movie that only hints about where Bigelow would go in her career. She was never really interested in horror and her next films were more traditional crime thrillers. Even Strange Days, despite it’s science fiction underpinnings, is a film noir at heart. It’s almost strange to think about Bigelow’s first films and how much she’s grown as a filmmaker. She’s moved on from vampires and is stuck in our reality, which is far scarier than anything Jesse could ever dream.

Influences: Family Pet

Los Angeles punk band Family Pet have officially released their debut single, also called “Family Pet.” Described as delivering “garage-punk riffs with flippant aggression, their snotty, subversive lyrics smoothed like strawberry icing over the beating heart of rock & roll,” the band’s upcoming album due in October, Petty, is produced by Colleen Green.

Family Pet features sisters Kate and Maggie Dwyer and comes from the ashes of Kate’s previous bands Sadwich and Feeling Feelings. Dwyer expressed that the two previous bands lacked the aggression she needed to express, and this new opportunity presented the opportunity to let it all rip.

Popdose asked Kate and Maggie Dwyer for a list of the songs that influence them, and a bit of explanation as well:

Kate Dwyer

Pissed Jeans – “False Jesii 2”

Where do I begin? When we were recording our new record I often thought, “What would Pissed Jeans do?”

I love them so much. The energy and lyrics are incredible. I listened to Honeys non-stop when we were recording and prayed I’d sponge some of what they got into Petty. This song isn’t from Honeys though, it’s from King of Jeans.

ABBA – “S.O.S.”

I love how pure this song is lyrically. It’s also my karaoke “go-to” because I sing it like an angel. The build up from the verse to the lyrics is enviable. I always listen to pop music to help me pull inspiration. The lyrics don’t always have to be so complex… sometimes it can just be as simple as an emotional S.O.S.

Liars – “Mess on a Mission”

I love this song. It’s just a great song. Have you seen the video for this song? It’s also great. I appreciate listening to this song and hearing how they had a minimal amount of music being played and created the vocal melody. It’s something I often do when I am writing songs. I just hit a single note over and over again and freestyle melodies. I feel like this song is a good reminder that you don’t need to get too crazy with solos, beats, instrumentals to make a solid song. Granted, I do think the music here is super solid.

No Doubt – “Excuse Me Mr.”

This song and Animaniacs “I’m Cute” were my anthems when I was younger. You could catch me lip synching this one and feeling like a mini Gwen. I wanted to be her so badly. I don’t have any people I’d want to be now, but when I think about when I was 11-13 I would have killed to be her. No Doubt is the best.

Billy Joel – “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”

I was recently listening to this on repeat for a couple of weeks. I have a habit of listening to the same song over and over again. I’m not dissecting it, I just like repetition or something. I love this song because it has so much attitude and the transitions are incredible. When I hear the lyric, “Workin’ too hard can give you a heart attack, ack, ack, ack, ack, ack.” I lose it. EVERY TIME.

Glass Candy – “Candy Castle”

I have seen Glass Candy perform at LEAST 10 times. I love Glass Candy so much. I am wearing a Glass Candy shirt as I write this.

Maggie Dwyer

The Slits – “Ping Pong Affair”

The Slits are the best. All female punk band from the U.K. that played along side sex pistols. They were emotional and complex and still produced all different kinds of music. My dream is to be like them.

Count Fine – “The World” (Not available on Spotify)

Got that classic rock attitude and vocals. The singer’s delivery and the snarl of the guitar are sassy and charming. Also, a great love song about declaring love to the world. What’s not to like?

Sin 34 – “Left Waiting”

A female led punk band with perfect grit and hostility. The guitar and lyrical delivery make me feel angry all over. I love getting that same energy on stage with bands. When recording “Precious Girls,” I got to feel this same grit yet still a sense of weird ease? I’m not sure how our song does this also, maybe it’s the harmonies, but “Precious Girls” is one my favorite on our new album.

Beck – “Timebomb”

I played this all the time as a kid and it was such an anthem. The heavy synth and bass hit you hard. Makes you want to wear big boots and stomp around with sunglasses and lipstick. Made me into a bitch.. and I love it.

Nervous Talk – “No Invitations”

Good contemporary rock song. Good balance and evenness of all instruments. Sometimes I get stressed thinking songs aren’t moving enough or hitting enough levels. “No Invitations” reminds me that simple can be good and not every song needs to be complex to be a freakin’ BANGER.

Slug Guts – “Glory Holes”

An emotional song with lots of groans and yelling. We don’t do much slow stuff like this, but Family Pet is also emotional and rugged. Kate’s lyrics are real and have meaning. It feels good to play music that you know has definition behind it. In that way, it makes it nice to be in a band with my sister, getting to know the meaning behind the lyrics.

Kate and Maggie

Happy Birthday “Girls FM”

Maggie: I wish it could play in the background of my life all the time.
Kate: Same.

Family Pet’s album Petty will be out October 20.

Concert Wrapup: Garbage and Blondie, “The Rage And Rapture Tour 2017”

July 28 brought a remarkable gathering of musical talent onstage at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey: three generations of rock in one place, two of which rightfully deserve the classification of “iconic,” and one that may get there someday soon. The Rage and Rapture Tour features alt-rock’s Garbage and the legendary Blondie out on the road for 2017.

Starting out the evening was the Los Angeles-based duo Deap Vally.  The group, consisting of Lindsey Troy (guitar, vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums and vocals), came out in spangled, sequined spandex and stomped through a spirited glam rock anthems like “Smile More.” Troy commented positively about the tour leg winding through New Jersey, saying the scenery was much different than that which she and Edwards usually experience: “There so much green!”

The second act on the bill was Garbage, and from the first stains of the brand new track “No Horses,” it was certain that Shirley Manson, lead vocals; Steve Marker, guitar, keyboards; Duke Erikson, guitar, keyboards; and Butch Vig on drums were not there to passively fill time. Their set was generously filled with songs that span the band’s full catalog, from the most recent album Strange Little Birds (2016) to a barn burning rendition of “Only Happy When It Rains.” Manson, in entertaining fashion, noted prior to the song “Our Love Is Doomed” that she wasn’t all that equipped to do the shiny, big pop song thing. “You see, I come from Scotland. We don’t do that in Scotland. In America, people ‘pass away.’ In Scotland…they die.”

Manson was not at all comical when it came to recent news of President Donald Trump’s decision to not let transgender people serve in the military. Garbage is beloved in the LGBTQ community and Manson’s anger, in particular, let the audience know it. “After these people have served and died to protect your freedoms, you would do this? How f***ing dare you.”

It was a moment of sincere rage, as befitting a concert run subtitled “The Rage and Rapture Tour,” but that’s not to say Manson was that heavy throughout the whole performance. She was near giddy when she spoke of being on the road with Debbie Harry, someone she considers a role model. She further included in that small category Patti Smith and Chrissy Hynde from The Pretenders. Manson then revealed that aspects of the Garbage song “Special” were direct tributes to Hynde’s band, and was gratified that when the band faxed (“Faxed! Remember when we thought the fax machine was such amazing technology!”) a permission request to Hynde to interpolate lines from “Talk of the Town” and was greeted with an effusive affirmative.

Manson will always get the lion’s share of the attention, but Garbage is much more than her. Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker commanded attention with the electric “Vow” and the elegant “The World Is Not Enough” and reaffirmed why this group — in this configuration — has thrived when so many of their contemporaries have movedon to other ventures.

And then it was time for the Queen Bee herself to take the stage. With a crowd-pleasing mix of hits and a few tracks from Blondie’s brand new record Pollinator (2017) such as the Johnny Marr-penned “My Monster,” Debbie Harry and company dispelled naysayers. She strolled onto the stage with sunglasses, spangled insect-antennae tiara, and a cape which read on the back, “Stop F***ing The Planet,” and immediately kicked in the one-two puch of “One Way Or Another” and “Hanging On The Telephone.” Later in the set, Harry would remove the cape to reveal an outfit resembling a bee’s thorax, in part to coincide with the new album’s art by designer Shephard Fairey, but also to make a statement. (Harry stated that because of chemical use and climate change, the world’s bee populations are being decimated, and while that sounds trivial at the outset, it must be said that without pollinators, it’s harder and more expensive to grow food. Does she have your attention now?)

Fans got the songs they hoped for, and then some. It sometimes can be forgotten what hitmakers the band was through the years, but everyone knew from the opening microseconds of “Call Me” and “Heart of Glass” what was coming. Eat To The Beat’s standout “Atomic” got a muscular workout, and the encore presented “The Tide Is High” and “Dreaming.”

Aside from Harry, this version of Blondie was up to the challenge, starting with the ubiquitous Chris Stein on guitar. Leigh Foxx on bass held the rhythm in check, and Matt Katz-Bohen on keyboards made a few trips away from his rig to work the keytar, rock’s third-most disrespected instrument. Tommy Kessler provided breathtaking guitar leads and a theatrical solo, culminating with a behind-the-head shred-fest.

But credit must go where it is due. Offering a spirited middle-finger to all of his 61 years, Clem Burke tore through not one, but two drum solos, and proved decisively why programmed beats cannot hope to replace what a tremendous drummer can do to an audience. There is no comparison.

The individual original members of Blondie have partied in the past, and no, they’re not in their teens anymore. It would be disingenuous to not take note of this. But again and again, even when there was the occasional nod to what can no longer be duplicated as it was in 1981, the band pushed through with constant energy and desire to entertain, which is exactly what they did. There’s a special thrill to seeing anyone, but particularly artists who get lumped into the “legacy” crowd, vault past expectations of easing it down and chilling it out, and instead grabbing “carpe diem” by the throat to give it a shake. Much as is identified in the mid-set showpiece “Rapture,” Blondie still has the capacity to bring the punk rock.

Photos courtesy of Holly Fennick

ALBUM REVIEW: SOMERDALE, “Maggie Says It Again”

This glorious album from New Jersey’s Somerdale was originally released as Shake It, Maggie, but once it found its way into the hands and ears of Marty Scott, the driving force behind Jem Records, he knew he had to have it and re-release it.  With the band going back into the studio and adding newly-recorded tracks, it’s being re-released on Jem as Maggie Says It Again, a gathering of now 15 songs – stunning exercises of precision pop perfection.

“Take It From The Top” opens the collection with a classic pop-ness – acapella harmonies lead into a classic ’60’s track, with a lot of familiar and well-loved elements; if you cross The Who and The Beatles, you’ve got it here.  “Waiting For You” has a more early ’70’s vibe – crisp and rockin’ guitars; think Badfinger or Cheap Trick – great vocals and a very Big Star bridge (love the device of using minor chords); “Don’t You Know” is the pure power-pop standout, using all the best elements of mid-’70’s power-pop:  catchy, structured with magnificent harmonies (for a moment, I was thinking of Queen!) and keyboards, with an on-the-one guitar solo and  “Excuse Me” immediately made me think of Icewater’s “All I See Is You” – the piano; the melody; the tempo – that exquisite pop-love song idea brought to light (and the other highlight of this album, to me).  “Feel The Magic” is the stomper; a perfect melding of bubblegum and glam rock; “Coolest Kid In The Room” is the raucous “new wave”-ish pop number with its pounding Vox-sounding organ and “Merry Christmas Time” is probably the best rock-oriented Christmas song since Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” (!).

You want good pop – that’s one thing.  You want great pop?  Get this album.  It’s an instant classic/winner.  There are no so-so moments; it’s all meat and potatoes – no filler.  Something about New Jersey still manages to produce top notch pop-oriented bands with both the talent and skill to write and deliver amazing songs that you immediately take in.  And Somerdale definitely is in that upper echelon.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Maggie Says It Again will be released on Friday, August 11th, 2017

http://www.somerdalemusic.com/

Exclusive Premiere: The Cowards Choir Reacts to Trump on “I Took a Drive”

The shock felt by many by the election of Donald Trump is reflected in a new song by the Cowards Choir. Popdose is proud to premiere the video for the haunting “I Took a Drive.” It’s the second installment of a new live series, following “The Singing Tree,” which debuted at Atwood Magazine back in May.

In the song, Andy Zipf finds himself on the road, and winds at in a rest stop where “a radio echoes some sad toupeed tycoon / His words reveal / He has never known unconquered love, purchased to prove.” The failure of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos is reflected in the next verse: “His name is power / A neon sign on the boardwalk about to lose its flickering light / Attracting moths just hovering until his glory fades.” It ends with Zipf and backup vocalists Maureen Andary and Sara Curtin singing, “Oh darling, I know you are afraid.” Zipf is also joined on the song by Logan Lamons (drums), Alissa Moore (violin), Ryan Walker (piano) and Dayana Yochim (cello).

The audio was recorded live, with no overdubs, at the same time as the video, although a few extra takes were made for different camera angles. As Zipf tells us, “We made the video in an old school in Arlington, VA. I enjoy using the space for this series not only for the gorgeous reverb, but also because there are certain choices I have to make regarding the arrangement so it will work within the room. I like the limitations. There are no pretensions. My hope is that it feels more present to the listener and viewer.”

“I Took a Drive” and “The Singing Tree” are part of a larger collaborative piece that has yet to be announced. Zipf debuted the Cowards Choir name for his 2016 album Name the Fear. You can learn more about them at their website.

EXCLUSIVE POPDOSE SINGLE PREMIERE: THE DREAM REBEL, “Hurt Me Bad”

Popdose brings to you the debut of The Dream Rebel’s new track, “Hurt Me Bad”.

The Dream Rebel is a native New Orleans indie/alternative vocalist and multi-instrumentalist influenced by Bowie, Bolan, Lennon, and Queen. Recorded at the world famous Fairfax/Sound City Studios in a modern, yet vintage fashion, The Dream Rebel’s debut E.P.,  Queen of the Cliff (due out in the autumn) is laced with catchy melodies reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s British Invasion. From the wailing rebellious power anthem “Hurt Me Bad” to the heart-wrenching, yet uplifting ballad “Stay Still”, Queen of the Cliff stirs a rush of love and loss through all walks of life and inspires hopes and dreams to live on.

See what you think!

https://www.facebook.com/thedreamrebel/

 

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Twenty Two

Radio City with Jon Grayson and Rob Ross:  Twenty Two!  Double on the snake eyes…

Right out of the chute, Jon and Rob tackle the ineptitude of record companies not releasing albums for all the wrong reasons, politics in music and the deplorable antics of certain aging rock musicians; the incredible mis-steps by Cinemax with their cancellation of “Quarry” and some of the very good (and overlooked) shows currently on as part of the summer season; how media personalities live up to and surprise you when you meet them in a positive way; Emily Barker’s stunning new album, Sweet Kind Of Blue; Midnight North’s Under The Lights; the insane episode of “Morning Joe” vs. President Trump; D.W. Dunphy’s great interview with producer/drummer/legend Butch Vig; the non-interesting baseball All-Star Game and of course, the highly popular “In Our Heads” segment.

Make yourself comfortable, sit back and enjoy another thought provoking and entertaining conversation…

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Twenty Two


The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.

Soul Serenade: “I Can’t Get Next To You” – Which Version Gets Next To You?

Back in April, I presented you with a poll that asked you to chose your favorite version of “Respect,” the Aretha Franklin cover, or the Otis Redding original. Aretha won that particular vote pretty handily. I thought I’d try the same thing with another song this week, asking you to choose your favorite version of “I Can’t Get Next to You” — the rhythmic, driving take by the Temptations, or the intense, slow-burning version by Al Green.

Let’s talk about the song itself first. “I Can’t Get Next to You” was written by Motown stalwarts Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. The first version of the song was recorded by the Temptations. Dennis Edwards had replaced David Ruffin by that time, but the rest of the classic Tempts lineup was intact, with Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and Otis Franklin. Whitfield produced the record, and the always-able Funk Brothers provided the backing track.

The Temptations - I Can't Get Next to You

The Temptations took “I Can’t Get Next to You” to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October 1969, and it stayed there for two weeks until it was replaced by the Elvis Presley classic “Suspicious Minds.” The record also topped the R&B chart. Pieces of the Temptations recording were used on other records. The Jackson Five appropriated the bridge for their 1970 hit “ABC,” and the applause that opens “I Can’t Get Next to You” was borrowed by the Temptations themselves for their 1970 smash “Psychedelic Shack.”

There have been a number of covers of “I Can’t Get Next to You” including takes by the Osmonds, Savoy Brown, Annie Lennox, and Toto. But at least in my mind, there is little doubt that the finest of these covers was the one released by Al Green in 1970. The song provided the title of the album Al Green Gets Next to You, and the single reached #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #11 on the R&B chart.

Al Green - I Can't Get Next to You

This is not a matter of which take on the song is better. They are as vastly different as the Aretha and Otis versions of “Respect.” Green replaced the muscular, up-tempo group effort of the Temptations with a dramatically slowed down, solitary, deeply felt, down-on-his-knees-begging-for-love, Hi Rhythm Section version. So it’s simply a matter of which one you prefer or maybe even which one you prefer at one particular moment.

This is that moment. Listen to the two versions below and be reminded of the greatness of each one. Then vote in the poll and make your feelings known. The comments section is open to you if you would like to comment beyond your vote.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE SINGLE PREMIERE: AUDREY X, “Black Skies”

Popdose is presenting and premiering for you something a little different and very new:  Stockholm, Sweden native Audrey X’s new single “Black Skies.” The anthemic track offers up Audrey’s powerful vocals combined with shimmering production to create a song full of passion. “Black Skies” is the first of a set of standalone singles she plans to release throughout 2017. Fueled by her need to generate memorable and hopefully inspirational songs, Audrey X delivers a potent single that illustrates her vocal prowess.

After singing in her church choir at a young age, Audrey X realized her potential and sought out professional assistance to advance her abilities as a singer. Subsequently, Audrey was coached once a week by vocal coach Christoffer Lauridsen, and shortly after began recording her first single, “Volcano.” Following the success of “Volcano,” she released the tracks “Never Gonna Leave,” and “Club of Jaded Hearts.” As a result, she was interviewed by radio stations across the U.S. and the U.K., and received airplay in countries across the globe. In addition, the track was played in every Lindex retail store throughout Europe.

Audrey X’s music is characterized as edgy, melodic and unapologetic with subtle elements of r&b. As she has grown, her sound has become increasingly more mature, and has achieved a specific aesthetic of empowerment and strength that is justified through her character.

Give a listen and see what you think

http://www.audreyx.com/