Saturday, February 6, 2016

POSTED: Monday, January 11, 2016, 10:43 AM
British singer David Bowie performs at the Palais Omnisport of Paris Bercy, on February 21, 1996. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

David Bowie, the British rock star who reshaped pop music with his changing, gender bending persona, created such a vast body of work in a career that it’s difficult to narrow his best and most noteworthy albums down to five (or even ten).

And though they’re not making the list, it needs to be noted that the last two albums Bowie released in his lifetime, The Next Day, which came out in 2012, and Blackstar which was released just last Friday, on the singer’s 69th birthday, was working on an exceedingly high, restlessly creative level.

POSTED: Sunday, January 10, 2016, 12:19 PM
Otis Clay. (Associated Press)

Otis Clay, the Mississippi born Chicago soul man best known for his 1972 hit "Trying To Live My Life Without You," died of a heart attack Friday at his home in Chicago. He was 73.

Clay was born in Waxhaw, Mississippi and moved to Chicago with his family as a teenager. He sang with spiritual groups like the Golden Jubilaires and Charles Bridges Famous Blue Jay Singers. In 1965, the gruff vocalist began to make his way singing secular music with his first single "Flame In My Heart."

He recorded "Trying To Live My Life Without You," his signature song written by Eugene Williams, for Memphis producer Willie Mitchell's Hi Records label in 1972. The songs was covered by British pub-rockers Brinsley Schwarz and in a hit version by Bob Seger in 1981.

POSTED: Friday, January 8, 2016, 10:28 AM
Singer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and The Arcs. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for iHeart Radio)

It seems like everybody's watching Making A Murderer, the Netflix documentary series about Steven Avery, the Wisconsin man whose 2007 homicide conviction is put under intense scrutiny by filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos.

And by everybody, I mean not only me - I'm only three hours in, so no spoilers please - but The Arcs, the rock band led by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who apparently binged on the streaming show last week before recording "Lake Superior," a Murder inspired psych-blues goove.

"It’s like Billy Childish says, 'We live in troubled times'," the band wrote in introducing the track. "Last week, we got a sneak peek at what goes on behind the curtains of our criminal justice system. A few sleepless nights later we gathered in the studio and wrote this song.

POSTED: Sunday, December 20, 2015, 2:03 PM
Tina Fey, Bruce Springsteen, Maya Rudolph, Paul McCartney and Steve Van Zandt on 'Saturday Night Live'. (from YouTube)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band were musical guests on the 2015 Saturday Night Live finale hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and after performing two songs from the new The Ties That Bind: The River Collection box set, the show finished up with an all-hands-on-deck "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

The sleighbells ringing crew included not only Fey, Poehler, special guest Maya Rudulph (who starred in a highly amusing 'Bronx Beat' skit with Poehler and Fey, who played Poehler's cousin "Karen from Philly") and the entire SNL cast, but also a Beatle: Paul McCartney hopped up on stage unannounced and found his place onstage alongside Steve Van Zandt, and he answered in the affirmative when Springsteen asked if he'd been good this year. 

Watch the end credits clip below, and go to Rolling Stone to catch  "Meet Me In The City" and "The Ties That Bind." Springsteen plays the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 12.

POSTED: Friday, December 18, 2015, 8:41 PM
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. (Jacob Blickenstaff)

The Christmas album of 2015 that’ll be a real keeper for seasons to come is undoubtedly Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’  It’s a Holiday Soul Party, which has retro soul fun with the double entendre “Big Bulbs” and a worthy James Brown riff in “Ain’t No Chimneys In The Ghetto,” as well as a Jewish holiday standard to be in “8 Days Of Hannukah.”

There are some other worthies out there, too, like Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Big Band Holidays, and the dBs & Friends expanded jangle-pop compilation Christmas Time Again!  And the Amazon-only comp Indie For The Holidays which is free to all Prime subscribers, makes up for too much singer-songwriter low key festiveness, with compelling Christmas tinsel from Bhi Bhiman, Yacht and Sondra Lerche, among others.

Those are alll represented in my annual Christmas music round-up, which is in your Sunday Inquirer Live Life Love  Arts & Entertainment section and right here. The annotated playlist of 2015 Xmas tunes runs from Phoenix with Bill Murray to Fetty Wap to a New Year's song from Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard.

POSTED: Monday, December 14, 2015, 10:52 AM
Adele, from the "Hello" video.

Adele is coming! Adele is coming!

The world dominating English singer, whose third album 25 has been setting sales records since its release last month, announced a North American concert tour on Monday which is scheduled to come to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia on September 9 and 10.

The tour begins on July 5 in St. Paul, Minnesota and includes six nights at Madison Square Garden in New York. Tickets go on sale Thursday morning at 10 a.m. via

POSTED: Saturday, December 12, 2015, 1:06 PM
Kendrick Lamar.

My Top Ten albums of 2015 list is online here at and in this week's Sunday Inquirer.

For audio-visual accompaniment, there's  one clip below for every album on the list, starting with Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, my album of the year choice which also includes "How Much A Dollar Cost," the song that President Obama this week said was his favorite of 2015. 

Scroll down for a couple of special treats: The animated clip for Sleater-Kinney's "A New Wave" places the Pacific Northwest punk trio in the cartoon world of the Fox sitcom Bob's Burgers. And the NPR Jazz Night in America video for Kamasi Washington's The Epic, stretches for a maximalist 2 hours of mind and spirit expanding improvisation.

1. Kendrick Lamar, 'To Pimp A Butterfly'

2. Alabama Shakes, 'Sound & Color'

3. Sufjan Stevens, 'Carrie & Lowell'

4. Courtney Barnett, 'Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit'

5. Hop Along, 'Painted Shut'

6. Jason Isbell, 'Something More Than Free'

7. Grimes, 'Art Angels'

8. Titus Andronicus, 'The Most Lamentable Tragedy'

9. Sleater-Kinney, 'No Cities To Love'

10. Kamasi Washington, 'The Epic'

POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2015, 6:56 PM
Major Lazer's "Lean On," the most streamed song on Spotify of all time.

It's that year end list making time again, and there's a whole slew of them covering the best of movies and music in your Sunday Inquirer A & E Live Life Love section.

The Spotify playlist below corresponds with a Songs of 2015 story that annotates my list, from Shamir Bailey's "On The Regular" to Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," with Major Lazer, My Morning Jacket, Chris Stapleton, The Wkend, Lana Del Rey, Erykah Badu, Jason Isbell, Drake and Fetty Wap, among others, in between. 

The list that'sin the Sunday editon and online is limited to 25 songs, but because you're such good and loyal readers and avid listeners, I've rewarded you with five extra on the 30 song playlist embedded below, which I would be pleased if you would enjoy.

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