Friday, January 25, 2008

Procession Of The Levites

I get goosebumps every time I hear Richard Smallwood’s “Procession Of The Levites”. Very rarely do you hear such a beautifully complicated orchestration in today’s Christian music. In addition, those are black faces in the orchestra. It seems like kids today focus on hip hop and not on classical or jazz music.

Anyway, I wanted to post a streaming mp3 version of this, but since Amazon hasn’t shipped my CD yet, the YouTube video will have to suffice. By the way, skip the first 30 seconds of the video (it’s just filler).

Amy's In Rehab (again)

Here's hoping that she gets the help she needs. While she's in, here's a little "Love Is a Losing Game" for you...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Best Music You've Never Heard: Boyz II Men

The other day, I was surfing radio stations when I came across what I thought was The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination”. However, as I listened more, I realized that it wasn’t the Temps at all. Though the lyrics were the same, the instrumentation was updated and the harmonies were more crisp and clever. At first, I thought a new group had come on the scene. Then I got to the break (you know – “every night on my knees I pray…”), when the group broke into a doo-wop, multi-part harmonized riff. At that point, I knew that it wasn’t a new group – it was Boyz II Men.

Though they aren’t close to being boys anymore, the still-named Boyz II Men put out a new album last year. The album, a collection of Motown covers, includes the before-mentioned “Just My Imagination”, “Got To Be There” (both included after the jump), “I Was Made To Love Her”, “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”, and even a cover of their own “End Of The Road”.

This album got me thinking about some of Boyz II Men’s past hits. Everyone knows “Motownphilly”, “End of The Road”, “Water Runs Dry”, “On Bended Knee”, etc. Unfortunately, casual fans are missing a treasure trove of good songs. Here are a few that I believe are their best material.

“Please Don’t Go” (my favorite BIIM song) and “Lonely Heart” are the first two tracks off the Cooleyhighharmony album. The songs (both written by Nathan Morris, who I consider the best songwriter of the group) chronicle the break up of a relationship. “Under Pressure” (again written by Nathan Morris and also included on Cooleyhigh…) is more up-tempo. I don’t know how to describe it, besides saying that it’s a really fun song.

"Please Don't Go" - Boyz II Men [Download] [Amazon]

"Lonely Heart" - Boyz II Men [
Download] [Amazon]

BIIM released a two additional albums (the much-blogged about Christmas Interpretations and the mega-hit II) before releasing 1997’s Evolution. Evolution wasn’t as strong as their previous three albums; however, there were a few gems, like the Babyface-penned “Girl In the Life Magazine”. Yeah, it’s somewhat stalkerish… but still, it sounds good.

"Girl In The Life Magazine" - Boyz II Men [
Download] [Amazon]

BIIM’s next couple of albums were hit-and-miss. “Oh Well”, off Full Circle, is a solid track. It stands out because it reminds me of their Cooleyhigh… stuff.

"Oh Well" - Boyz II Men [
Download] [Amazon]

The group meandered through additional releases until the just-released Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA. It’s not great, but it’s good enough (and sometimes good enough is good enough). My favorite tracks are the ones I mentioned earlier - “Just My Imagination” and “Got To Be There”

"Just My Imagination" - Boyz II Men [
Download] [Amazon]

"Got To Be There" - Boyz II Men [
Download] [Amazon]

Enjoy. Hopefully you’ll support their stuff and buy their albums.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Grace and Mercy

This week I’ve been participating during a church-wide fast. Participating members forgo evening meals and entertainment to spend unrushed time with God. So far, it’s been a good week. I’ve been reminded of many truths about God. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget the things that are really important – namely, that my relationship with God should be the most important thing in my life and that this relationship should shape everything I do.

I know, easier said that done (especially when things are going well). Still, I’m trying. It helps when I think about all the things that He does for me. Christians throw around the terms “grace” and “mercy” a lot, but I don’t think we (believers) really get those meanings. As my pastor likes to say, grace encompasses the undeserved blessing from God. In turn, mercy is the punishment that God withholds.

Amazing concepts, especially once you realize that God’s grace, mercy, and gift of abundant life on earth and everlasting life in heaven is absolutely free. Here are a few songs that echo those sentiments (after the jump).

"For Every Mountain" - Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (written by Kurt Carr) [Download] [Amazon]
I like Kurt Carr’s version of this better song, however I don’t have it on CD, and BTC’s version is pretty similar.

"Total Praise" – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (written by Richard Smallwood) [Download] [Amazon]
By the way, Richard Smallwood & Vision’s recording of this song is great. And speaking of Richard Carpenter, I’ve got a few songs (which I’ll share next week) that’ll blow your socks off.

"Lookin’ Out For Me" – Kirk Franklin [Download] [Amazon]
Who says's gospel music can't be funky?

Friday, January 04, 2008

More Obama

Here's Obama's "Selma" speech... one of the best I've heard.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


From MSN News:

Sen. Barack Obama, campaigning to be the first black president in American history, won the Iowa caucuses Thursday night, pushing Sen. Hillary Clinton back to third place in the opening test of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama, 46, and a first-term senator from Illinois, scored his victory on a message of change in Washington. Nearly complete returns showed him gaining 37 percent support from Democratic caucus-goers.

"They said this day would never come," Obama told cheering supporters of his bid to be the first black president. "They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together. But on this January night at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do."

Obama's unofficial campain theme song is Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". Given his historic win, I'd suggest that Obama select one of the following as his new campain song: Razhel's "All I Know" or Puffy's "Victory". I think the sprirt of the songs speaks to how Obama must feel right now.

Music after the jump...

Rahzel - "All I Know" [Download] [Amazon]

Puffy - "Victory" [Download] [Amazon]

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Going The Distance

This weekend, I played in our His and Hers Fantasy Football League Championship. My "regular season's" record coming into the game: 6-6. My opponents: 11-1. This is probably my last year playing in the league (too much drama to deal with on a regular basis), so I wish I could say that I went out on top. Unfortunately, I lost by 10 points. Still, I'm not that upset. Number one, it's fantasy football, not real life. And two, at least I made it respectable. At least I went the distance.

Which brings me to this clip from Rocky. The song is "Going The Distance" from the superb Rocky OST by Bill Conti. Other standouts from the score include "Philadelphia Morning", "Reflections", "First Date" (re-imagined as "Adrian" in Rocky III), "Butkus", and "Rocky's Reward". And by the way, "Conquest" from Rocky II (Conti), "Mickey" from Rocky III (Vince DiCola), and "War" from Rocky IV (also, Dicola) are pretty good, too.