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Friday, November 21, 2014

BOTB Results: Watertown

      I'll be keeping today's post brief as I am still dealing with my mother's illness.   As indicated on my previous post, I'll be blogging sporadically until further notice.

  Battle of the Bands results:

       In my latest round of Battle of the Bands I offered Frank Sinatra's version of "What's Now Is Now" against the version of the same song as done by the group Cake.   The song comes from Sinatra's little known album Watertown.

       As I had indicated in my posts in regard to the BOTB, I have a longstanding appreciation of Sinatra as an artist and Watertown is among my all time favorite albums.  I think Sinatra does a tremendous job with my song choice.  For these reasons you might expect my preferred version to be the one by Sinatra.  However upon hearing Cake's version I was impacted by how much they demonstrated the rock nature of this song.   They pull it off with a convincing sincerity.   I especially like the guitar work in their presentation.   Simple, steady, and altogether pleasing to my ears.

        I was surprised to find that I was not alone in my preference for the Cake version.  Sinatra still squeaked by with a win.,

Final tally:

Cake      14

Sinatra   15

Thanks to all for your votes.  Next Battle of the Bands post will appear December 1st.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blogging Break Due to Family Emergency

        I will be away from my blogs  for an indefinite period of time due to a family emergency.  More details to come later.  Your prayers and positive thoughts would be appreciated especially for my mother and all of our family.

        My Battle of the Bands results post will hopefully appear this Friday November 21st as planned.

         If you've not yet done so I hope you will consider visiting the Battle of the Bands post and vote on the song version you like best.   I'd love to get at least another 10 or preferably more votes added into what is there already--it would certainly pick me up in a down time.

        Posting on Tossing It Out as well as my other blogs might temporarily stop, although there is always that possibility that if I find time I could post sporadically.   I will have my Battle of the Bands posts scheduled for December however and any other already scheduled posts will appear.    

        There's a good chance that I will have some idle time during which I hope to continue to visit your blogs and leave comments.  However, if I'm a bit scarce I hope you will understand.

        Thanks for understanding.  I hope to be back on regular schedule within a couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands: What's Now Is Now

          What's now is Battle of the Bands, the blogging event helmed by our friends at Far Away Series and  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th and since the 15th comes on a Saturday this November I am posting special on this day.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action  So now is the time to start:

Frank Sinatra "What's Now Is Now" (1970)

         With a singing/acting/entertainment career that lasted for 60 years, Frank Sinatra is not an artist who can be discredited for his accomplishments.  Whether you like him or not, the fact remains that a lot of people did like him and he stayed on or near the top of the heap throughout his lengthy career.  Those who do like Sinatra undoubtedly have their favorite phases of his career and can cite albums that stand out among the others.

         I'm particularly fond of the work he did during the 50's with Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Billy May.   Those were the albums from my parents' collection that I listened to back in junior high thus honing my appreciation for Sinatra's song stylizing.

          My all time favorite Sinatra album is one of his least known.  Watertown (1970) is a concept album with songs composed by the team of Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons and Jake Holmes, who was also the writer of the Led Zeppelin classic "Dazed and Confused".   The song cycle tells the story of a small town husband and father whose wife leaves the family.  The songs describe the heartbreak, sense of loss, memories, and hopefulness the man goes through as he deals with the loss of his wife.  For me these are some of Sinatra's best performances and taken as a whole the album is a powerful piece of work.   The album was critically acclaimed but essentially tanked with the public.

           On my memoir blog Wrote By Rote I have more to say about this album and the memories that I connect with it.  I hope you'll click on that link to read my story about Watertown, but first here's one of my favorite songs from the album:

Cake "What's Now Is Now"  (2011)

        My first encounter with the band Cake was in the latter 1990's when I overheard my daughter playing her copy of their second album Fashion Nugget (1996).   I began listening closely to the album and eventually borrowed it to listen more.  The band has a unique sound that uses a trumpet to great advantage.  The band displays an eclecticism that appeals to my musical tastes, performing catchy tunes with intelligent delivery.

        I was previously unaware of the album Showroom of Compassion on which their cover of the Sinatra tune appears.   In fact, I was surprised to see that any of the tunes from Watertown had been covered by any other artists since the album seemed to be in the dustbin of musical history.  Now that I know that more than one of the cuts from Watertown have been covered, I will undoubtedly be using some of them in later Battles.  After all, it's one of my favorite albums and I want those who don't know about it to be persuaded to listen to more of it.   You can find Sinatra's complete version of Watertown on YouTube.

       But I digress--first let's listen to Cake's version of "What's Now Is Now":

  Now What?  Let's Vote!

         These are two great versions of one great song--at least I think so and I hope you've enjoyed hearing them both.   But surely you prefer one over the other.   I'll tell you my preference on my post of Friday November 21st.  I'll also be announcing the winning version on that day.   Please vote for your favorite in the comment section and let us know why you prefer that one.   After you vote here, make sure to visit the links listed below for other possible Battles.


 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands




           Are you familiar with Sinatra's Watertown album?    Do you like Cake (I mean the group not the food)?   What about cake (the food)?    Can you think of a relatively obscure song that you like that you were surprised to hear covered by another artist?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Does the Market Readily Accept Genre Change?

1st edition
1st edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Recently there have been some author bloggers who have wondered how their image and book sales might be impacted if they changed genres.  For example I recall one author who had been writing romance who was considering writing something in a fantasy genre.  Some of those who responded to her post indicated that they had done so with no appreciable impact while others said they had toyed with the idea of a genre switch but were concerned about how well it would be accepted by their usual audience.   How devastating can change be from an economic perspective?

         J.K. Rowling jumped from the most successful kid lit series of all time to risk a foray into adult literature and she didn't do too badly with that change.  It remains to be seen if she will hold her adult audience.  The creator of the James Bond adult series didn't do too badly when he switched to children's literature when he published Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.   Many authors have made the leap from one genre to something completely different with no adverse effect on their careers.   Good writing is not dependent on the genre being written.

         There are undoubtedly many examples that you can come up with of writers who went off of their normal path to publish something that was rejected by the general public.  One that I ran across was McKenzie Devlin who jumped from romance to zombies with an outcome of what she calls "experimental failure".  As Devlin states on her blog, "...the moral of the story isn’t to stop experimenting, just be ultra careful with switching genres if you have established readers that love you."        
          Genre hopping has been fairly common in the music industry.   Some of you might recall when Bob Dylan switched from his acoustic folk style to having an electrified rock band backing him up.   Many fans were outraged, but in the end as we know Dylan's career became even bigger.  Likewise I can think of a number of artists who pulled the old switcheroo on the public with great success.   For example the Bee Gees went from vocal harmony pop to disco, Fleetwood Mac turned their backs on their blues roots to record mainstream pop rock, and Kenny Rogers moved on from the psychedelic rock that brought him to the public eye to record country music.   In all of these cases the genre change made these acts more successful than they had previously been.

         Changing horses sometimes hasn't gone over so well with an artist's fans.   In my upcoming Battle of the Bands post (coming tomorrow Saturday November 15th), one of the featured artists, a singer with a long respected career, recorded an album in 1969 that was somewhat different than all of his previously recordings.  Everything from the album packaging to the way the tracks were recorded was a change for this artist.

         Though in actuality the artist's sound was not really all that different than his usual work, it was apparently enough to turn off the usual buyers of his product.  Or was it merely the perception of change?  It could even have been a matter of the timing of the release since this artist was probably losing his fan base due to age or even the events of that year.   Most likely there was a combination of factors that caused the album to either get lost in all of the other releases at the time or to be avoided by a public who weren't ready for a new approach from this artist.

          Please visit my post tomorrow for the Battle of the Bands post that will look at a good song by a good artist from an album most people don't even know exists.   You can listen and give us your opinions.

           Do you avoid an author's newer works if they are a drastic change from previous ones?    Can you think of an author or other artist who changed genres with negative consequences?    Any guesses about the song I'll be using in the Battle of the Bands post or the artist and album?