Late September saw the release of A New Career In A New Town, the third sumptuous box set charting the extraordinary work of David Bowie. Picking up where the previous compendiums, 2015’s Five Years and 2016’s Who Can I Be Now?, left off, it chronicles the great man’s musical output from Low to Scary Monsters, containing both of those albums, the ones in-between, and sundry other gems to entice Bowie “completists” the world over.

Tucked away at the tail-end (Track 19) of the final disc is arguably his most unlikely hit single, and a far cry from the remarkable creative envelope-pushing of what went before: the oh so festive Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy, performed in tandem with Bing Crosby and first aired on the veteran crooner’s 1977 Christmas television special. Certain pockets of the media rather crassly labelled Bowie the grim reaper of pop that year, after both this and an earlier small screen collaboration with old mate Marc Bolan on his teatime show Marc were broadcast after the hosts’ deaths.

Sombre coincidences aside, the pan-generational pairing is an important chapter in the Bowie story, and thus warrants more serious examination than most novelty yuletide distractions. Here at My Day Rocks, we are putting our full weight behind a campaign for Peace On Earth/Little Drummer to belatedly achieve the landmark it fell short of 35 years ago. Let’s make it this year’s Christmas Number One.

But first, a little background…

Bowie was subsisting in a blizzard of cocaine when he made America his home in the mid-1970s. He was still fashioning extraordinary albums (Young Americans, Station To Station) and impressing as a screen actor (The Man Who Fell To Earth), but his health and general mental well-being were not at their best. A change of geographical locale was called for, the shorthand for which has become known down the years as the creation of his “Berlin trilogy” of Low, Heroes and Lodger.

In actual fact, the lion’s share of Low was written and recorded in France in late 1976, shortly after Bowie had upped sticks from the US for an environment to help him better address post-addiction depression and the final collapse of his marriage to Angie Barnett. By the time of its release in January the following year, he was close to setting up a full-time base at Hansa Studios in (then) West Germany, just 500 yards from the Berlin Wall, where Heroes would be made in its entirety.

As if to draw a line under the American excess of the previous few years, Bowie kept public appearances to a minimum; he gave no interviews around the release of Low and never bothered with videos (promotional films, in old money) to plug the album’s singles. While working on Heroes, he also collaborated on his old friend Iggy Pop’s album Lust For Life and took a relatively background role as keyboard player on the Detroit rocker’s live tour.

Such reluctance to bask in the limelight makes the hook-up with Bing Crosby even more intriguing. With the recording of Heroes completed, but a full month before its release, Bowie returned to the UK in September of 1977 – not to big up his new music, but to join a Hollywood veteran on a festively-adorned set at Elstree Studios.

Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas was fairly typical of seasonal TV fare in the ‘70s; the main man and members of his family resplendent in cardigans around a fireplace, corny sketches with multiple roles for guest stars Ron Moody and Twiggy as various characters from Dickens, and carols by the sled-load. Midway through this predictable cosiness came the curveball – Crosby hears a knock on the door of his “house”, and there on the step is a bona fide, drug-friendly, sexually androgynous rock god. Viewers might have been expecting Bob Hope or perhaps Fred Astaire, but they got the Thin White Duke.

A little laboured banter ensues, before one of showbiz’s more curious Venn diagram starts singing. Bing kicks it off with Little Drummer Boy, a 1941 composition by American music teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis, before his house guest swoops in with the counter melody of Peace On Earth, penned specifically for the show by writers Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan.

Years later, Fraser revealed that the new song came about after Bowie baulked at the idea of singing Little Drummer Boy, which he had hated since childhood. Crosby purportedly went along with the idea of combining the two after being assured by his children and grandchildren that this skinny Englishman with the funny-looking eyes was the real deal and should be listened to.

Crosby died on October 14, five weeks after filming and the special ultimately aired in late November in the US and on Christmas Eve in the UK, but it would be another five years before the collaboration was made commercially available. RCA released it as a single in the run-up to Christmas 1982, against Bowie’s wishes and causing further friction between artist and the label he was soon to leave.

It climbed to Number Three in the UK charts, shifting a quarter of a million copies in its first month, and remains one of the singer’s best-selling singles. To this day it divides fans; some see it as a stain on Bowie’s otherwise pristine catalogue, others embrace it for what it is – a harmless detour by a constantly surprising artist for whom the word “maverick” could have been coined.

This is where My Dad Rocks comes in. None of us are about to claim Bowie’s festive bauble is as essential or as groundbreaking as, say, Space Oddity or Suffragette City or Heroes or Ashes To Ashes, but it’s an undeniable part of his musical journey, and the context of the times is more than enough to justify its existence.

Christmas Number Ones (or the singles chart in general, for that matter) may not possess the cachet of old, but why don’t we try and restore some dignity to what was once a very big thing indeed? Yes, the track will be available on sundry seasonal compilations, as it is every year, but that’s not the point. It’s not about actually buying the song, it’s about using the power of downloads to vote for a piece of music enough times to put it at the top of the tree.

Back in 1982 it fell short of the top spot, the public at large favouring Save Your Love by Renee & Renato. At the very least, that’s a wrong in need of righting.

Written by Terry Staunton



Some things stay with you forever. In 1972, my dad would sit proudly behind the wheel of a Ford Anglia estate, with a licence plate that read FEG982D. I remember that number, although I don’t know why. The car itself was sky blue, the colour Coventry City Football Club wore, but I only knew that because of the sticker album I had called Soccer Stars In Action. We lived in Norfolk, a region untroubled by top-flight football, and from our humble home in a tiny village called Swanton Morley we would drive across the county most Saturdays to visit relatives in Thetford.

The Anglia dashboard didn’t run to a music player, so on every excursion, back and forth, either myself or my sister would be on the back seat, cradling a cumbersome cassette player on our laps. It was on these journeys that I became acquainted with songs sung by Glen Campbell. Honey Come Back, Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife, Galveston, Gentle On My Mind, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, and a tune which drilled itself into my head like a pencil that knew it was better than any device designed to sharpen it, Wichita Lineman.

“And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time…”

Glen Campbell is dead, and it’s right that we should mourn him, but please don’t feign surprise. We knew it was coming, and so did he. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago, forced to give up his first love of performing to an audience, he nonetheless completed an album earlier this year called Adios, liberally peppered with last chance saloon humour. He traded lines with Willie Nelson on Funny How Time Slips Away, and revisited Fred Neil’s Everybody’s Talkin’, saving his best voice for “only the echoes of my mind.”

Such a sweet voice, but that wasn’t the only arrow in his quiver. Yes, those golden tonsils got him live gigs as a surrogate Beach Boy, but only after Brian Wilson had enlisted him for studio work as a guitarist, a component of the famed Wrecking Crew that also helped Phil Spector make his internal sonic blueprint an aural reality.

But let’s get back to the voice, and how it served as the most perfect conduit for one of popular music’s true geniuses. Jimmy Webb wrote an American road map for Brits, through the songs he fashioned for Glen Campbell – Galveston, Phoenix and Wichita became both real and magical places for boys like me who’d never been closer to America than watching Rita Moreno swish a skirt in West Side Story.

With all that as our primer, we would dig deeper. Then we would hear Glen singing Jimmy’s words on Where’s The Playground, Susie?, and discover that love songs didn’t necessarily have to be about dance/chance/romance or moon/swoon/June. There was this thing called metaphor, and it cracked open the walnut of pop with a cast-iron tuning fork. The game had changed; the stakes were raised. It might not have been Glen’s fork, but he was gripping the handle and knew what to do with it.

There was a bit of a lull in the early ‘70s, no more than a year or three (standard in terms of the 21st century music industry), but he roared back with two songs in particular, though neither from the mighty pen of Jimmy Webb.

You can hunt high and low for a solid couplet, but you won’t find many better than this, kicking off the uplifting preamble Larry Weiss wrote to lead listeners into the anthemic chorus of Rhinestone Cowboy: “There’s been a load of compromisin’ on the road to my horizon.”

Glen followed that awesome hit with Southern Nights, a golden-haired Arkansas boy alerting the wider world to the brilliance of Allen Toussaint. In a similar fashion, it was the Campbell cover of If You Could Read My Mind that introduced me to the persuasively eloquent low-key catalogue of Gordon Lightfoot, and his rendition of Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye kick-started my lifelong love of street corner doo-wop.

Almost all the songs mentioned above featured on 20 Golden Greats, a Number One album of 1976, its impressive chart performance achieved through a brilliant TV ad campaign and a truly striking cover image – heart-shaped vinyl. It was brought to market by EMI the same week the label released Anarchy In The UK by The Sex Pistols. I bought both, but 41 years later you can probably guess which I’ve played the most.

Some things stay with you forever. Written by Terry Staunton

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Having suffered a terrible car crash back in 1974 whilst on the brink of hitting the big time in the world of soul music, it's been a long time since Les Kirsh has done what he does best: sing.


Recently, his son came across a collection of his old recordings and realised that there was some strong material there. Consequently, he got Les back to his former career and now, along with the help of London producer, Andy Whitmore, 3 of Les' old tracks have been remastered, modernised and updated, offering a contemporary sound that doesn't forget about his soul heritage.


After forming a band at Art College in his early days before the crash, Les instantly became the singer (due to him not playing an instrument at the time) and the group found success supporting major artists such as The Moody Blues, Amen Corner and Jimmy Ruffin.


Afterwards, Les developed a strong musical relationship with Harry Vander and George Young of the Easy Beats, taking tracks he had written to them and the pair managed to find Les a deal with Phillips Records who helped him release ‘When Will The Rains Come?’ to good reviews. However, it was the height of the punk era and finding a place for good soul and pop songs was a difficult task.


Although soul may have seen its day, Les is bringing about a soul revolution with his newly reworked tracks that are a must listen for anyone wanting to reminisce on their love of soul.


You can listen to 'Tell Me To My Face' here:





https://www.facebook.com/LesKirshMusic/

https://twitter.com/LesKirshMusic



It's not often that you hear about an Egyptian artist emerging on to the pop scene, but Music Theory is doing just that with his latest love fuelled single, 'Down The Aisle'.


Empowering a classic pop sound that draws on the music of some of the best artists in the business, Music Theory writes his best work when sticking to the genre. Despite this, he often looks to diverge slightly into the worlds of rock, dance and R&B, elements of which can be seen in 'Down The Aisle', especially with the fantastic guitar solo towards the end of the track.





Although Music Theory no longer sings on his records, he is the visionary in creating the music, describing the sounds he wants to his musicians for them to replicate. Within this, Music Theory tackles topics as diverse as love, hope, despair, loneliness and inner conflicts.


If you're a frequenter of the charts and love anything pop, then Music's Theory's 'Down The Aisle' is certainly one you should check out. Down The Aisle’ was mixed by Bob Horn (Usher/Akon) and was mastered by Tom Coyne (Adele/Taylor Swift).To gain a further insight into the world of Music Theory, you can check out his blog where he documents and shares his journey as a musician:


http://mtmusictheory.blogspot.co.uk/


Find out more on Music Theory here:

https://soundcloud.com/musictheory2016

https://www.facebook.com/musictheory2016/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNHe1k5TPYkM8EHLiaDkL_w

http://www.musictheory.zone



We've all heard stories of hard done by musicians going from rags to riches, but you're never quite sure of the authenticity - yet, the tale of Norwich based singer-songwriter J.J Leone is the real deal.


These days, J.J makes his living as a recording artist, writing all of his own material, producing it himself and playing all the instruments, but it hasn't always been this easy for him. At one point, J.J found himself homeless, busking on the streets of Northampton just to survive, but as he felt the situation was his own doing, he was determined to come out the other side on his own.


Leone's will power and strength of mind has now seen him return to the top of his game and there's no doubt that his music is all the stronger for it.


Since first getting involved in music, J.J has been inspired by artists from every corner of the sonic universe, from Jimi Hendrix to Limp Bizkit, all the way to Marvin Gaye (which he talks about in his video below). Despite this wide range of influences, J.J has settled on a smooth R&B infused brand of soul-pop, led by his delicate guitar skills and soulful vocal abilities.





Now, J.J is back with his latest single 'With You' which perfectly encapsulates this style which he has mastered and seemingly patented for himself. Nonetheless, fans of Ed Sheeran and Jamie Woon will find some of what they like within J.J's music.


You can check out 'With You' here on Soundcloud:





Find out more on J.J Leone here:


https://soundcloud.com/j-j-leone

www.facebook.com/iamjjleone

www.twitter.com/iamjjleone

www.instagram.com/iamjjleone

www.youtube.com/c/jjleone

www.jjleone.com



Brazilian instrumental guitar band, The Outside Illusion, are breaking down the walls of music with no lyric with their new album, 'Silent Communication'.


Wanting to take guitar music to the next level, away from the current preconceptions of the genre, lead guitarist Denis Salgado believes that the absence of lyrics can help listeners engage more with the music, allowing them to create their own images in their head, rather than being told what to expect.


The band can be compared to the likes of Joe Satriani, especially with Salgado's guitar work, but they also employ an experimental electronic element that sets their rock stylings apart from the crowd.


Watch the video for 'Silent Communication' here:





Links:


www.facebook.com/theoutsideillusion

www.youtube.com/theoutsideillusion

www.instagram.com/denis_outside_illusion

www.theoutsideillusion.com


Following the success of his previously singles, J Keys returns with the highly anticipated ‘Red Carpet (The Remix)’, escaping his usual style. With party vibes and an urban edge, J Keys is set to release his unique Ibiza anthem today!

J Keys is no stranger to the industry, having worked alongside artists such as K Koke and Little Mix vocalist Megan Cotton. The artist has also explored the world of acting, appearing on shows such as The Bill and Eastenders and a number of short films.

After dropping his debut album ‘When Idols Become Rivals’ a few years ago, J Keys has had a dedicated fan base, eagerly waiting for his next release. ‘Red Carpet (The Remix)’ is sure to shock his followers with the feel good party track, perfect for blasting out on those summer nights.

Watch the music video for ‘Red Carpet (The Remix)’ here:



Originally intended to open on April 3rd, the new and revolutionary talent platform, Salute, has had to push back the date for contestants to enter on accounts of the project waiting on some very exciting news.


After announcing the competition and its ethos at new London venue, Omeara, in late March, Salute were building up to the launch date, when potential ‘Music Makers’ could begin to upload their music to the platform. After this stage, all music would be evaluated and vetted, with the goal of narrowing down all applicants to a top 100.


However, this initial phase of the competition has had to be postponed as the team behind Salute are waiting to hear on some potentially game-changing additions to the project that could take it to a whole new level.


Speculation suggests that the news could relate to confirmation on an innovative partnership with one of world’s biggest and pioneering organisations, but those following the progression of this exciting new talent platform will have to wait and see.


The new date for access to all entrants will be 27th April.


What is Salute?


Salute Music Makers is a pioneering enterprise redefining the face of the music industry. The idea behind the project is to create an accessible and fair opportunity for a diverse range of music makers to showcase their talents, tapping into the DIY generation of music. Initially, hopeful applicants will upload their music to an app where it will be vetted by industry professionals, before narrowing it down to a top 100. After this stage, a public vote will pick out a top 6 who will fight it out for a £50,000 prize on the Salute live TV shows. Aiming to empower original, grass-roots music makers and distance themselves from the conventional talent shows such as The X-Factor and The Voice, Salute is leading the search for talent in a new direction.


Find out more on Salute here:

http://www.salutemusic.uk/

American recording artist, Dean Friedman, best known to UK & Ireland audiences for his classic hits, ‘Lucky Stars’, ‘Lydia’, ‘McDonald’s Girl’, ‘Ariel’, and ‘Woman of Mine’, embarks on a 40+ city concert tour, running 20th April thru 20th August, 2017, and featuring appearances at the Brighton Fringe Festival (6th May), Great York Fringe Festival (22nd July), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (10 thru 21 Aug – not 14,15) and including a 2-night run at The Pheasantry [Pizza Express], London (26, 27 May).

Friedman’s tour coincides with the release of a brand new fan-funded album – his first new album release in seven years. Says Friedman of the, as yet, untitled album, “I’ve always tried to paint pictures in my songs, with words and music. Recording in a studio, turning the songs into an album, allows me to add color and shade and texture to those sonic portraits and aural landscapes.” The new album, currently in production, has a projected release date of 15th July, 2017.

Tickets to all of Friedman’s tour dates, as well as his CD and book catalog, can be purchased direct via www.DeanFriedman.com.

Friedman’s recent tours continue to garner rave reviews: “Every song in this show is a classic.” (London Theatre Guide), “Songsmith Extraordinaire” – (Music Week), “Stunning Musicianship” (HotPress) , “Dean Friedman is entirely unique and utterly brilliant!” – (ThreeWeeks)… are just a few of the superlatives used to describe his unique and original talent.

In addition to his familiar radio hits, album releases and touring, Friedman composes and produces music soundtracks for TV and film, including the music to the hit Central TV series BOON and NBC’s Eerie Indiana. He’s also published a respected tome on the art and craft of songwriting titled, ‘The Songwriter’s Handbook’ (The Artists League), based on the ‘Songwriting Workshops’ and ‘Songwriting Masterclasses’ he’s conducted at universities and music conservatories around the world, including L.I.P.A. (The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts).

This year marks Friedman’s 14th appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where in addition to his regular concert runs, he’s written and produced several hit children’s musicals, including ‘Smelly Feet’ – a children’s musical that really stinks! This summer, Friedman will premier a new kids musical titled, ‘The Legend of Finn McCool’ – a silly tall tale of giant proportions. The show is based on a beloved Irish folk-tale about Ireland’s mightiest giant, Finn McCool, and tells the story of how the Giant’s Causeway came to be built.

Friedman has faced his share of controversy in recent years: The Merseyside band, Half Man Half Biscuit released a best-selling EP containing a track entitled, ‘The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman’, which went to #1 on the UK Indie chart; a claim which Friedman vehemently denies, ‘I’ve never even met Nigel Blackwell’s mum!’. Friedman extracts his revenge on his recent CD, ‘Submarine Races’, in the song, 'A Baker's Tale', the hitherto untold story of Nigel Blackwell's dubious origins.

Though Friedman's single, ‘McDonald's Girl’, was officially banned by the BBC for mentioning the name of the well known fast food restaurant in its chorus, the irrepressible pop song has been covered by a number of contemporary bands including top-selling, Canadian group, Barenaked Ladies (WEA), and The Blenders (Universal), whose version soared to #1 on the national airplay charts in Norway. With the advent of YouTube, video versions have gone viral and finally, thirty five years after the song was banned by the BBC, the McDonald’s corporation officially licensed the song for a national TV/Radio campaign, confirming the song as a pure pop phenomenon.

One of Friedman's recent tours was almost cancelled when it was announced that his tour sponsor www.goldenseeds.co.uk would distribute packets of cannabis seeds to the first ten people that purchased CD's at each of Friedman's gigs. The controversy was only resolved after Friedman promised not to distribute the seeds within 50 yards of the venue premises. (click to see Songwriter's Cannabis Controversy).

Friedman will be performing solo, on guitar and keyboards, featuring songs from throughout his 40 year recording career, including familiar radio hits, ‘Lucky Stars’, ‘Lydia’, ‘McDonald’s Girl’, ‘Ariel’ and ‘Woman of Mine’, as well as selections from his newest album. Discover what legions of devoted fans have known for years - the sophisticated, funny and profound work of a master songsmith.

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