D’angelos beautiful tribute to one of the late legends best songs ever “Sometimes It Snows In April” is achingly touching. One piano, one voice, and a Prince cover band, Princess featuring Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum performing the Wendy Melovin off Wendy & Lisa backing vocals part of the song…while being bathing in purple light…
Thank you Prince, D’angelo, Princess and Jimmy Fallon for sharing and spreading the beautiful words. Live 4 Love – Wish you heaven!
One of my favourite bands from the early 90’s are Maggie’s Dream. They released one album, the self titled “Maggie’s Dream” back in 1990. The album was, and still is, a great hybrid of groovy retro rock, funk and soul. The band disbanded after a few years. They did just this one album – and it’s without doubt a great lost and largely overseen classic rock album!
The bands retro-rock songs reminded me of Lenny Kravitz – and was released just a year after Kravitz released his classic debut “Let Love Rule” back in 1989. Being a dude who reads every word in an album cover – I became amazingly curious when I discovered the Maggie’s Dreams guys thanked my hero Lenny Kravitz in their liner notes. This has been a mystery for me ever since the albums release, back in 1990 until now. That’s 24 years ago! And now it seems like the answers finally here!
I’ve been searching to solve the link between the band and the retrorock/-soul star, and I found out a while back that Mr Kravitz had actually been working with the band according to a Wikipedia post about Maggie’s Dream.
I then happened to stumble upon Maggie’s Dream on YouTube and to my surprise I found several tracks from an unreleased album, rare video clips, interviews and music videos. On closer inspection, it seemed like this was posted by the band member Lonnie D. Hillyer.
A few mails back and forth proved I was right, it WAS Lonnie from Maggie’s Dream, and we agreed to do this Q&A / Interview
The Read and Hear Q&A about Maggie’s Dream, Lenny Kravitz, the band members now and then and Lonnie D. Hillyers favourite records!
I’ve been loving the Maggie’s Dream album ever since the release in 1990, and remember I was so surprised to read that you (the band) thanked Lenny Kravitz in the liner notes and has since 1990 been wondering what was the link between Maggie’s Dream and Lenny Kravitz? A few months back I read that he was once part of Maggie’s Dream.
Q: So here it goes; Would you like to share with me and the blog readers the true story about the Maggie’s/Kravitz link?
A: Danny Palomo and Raf Hernandez were friends Lenny years before Maggie’s Dream, then he sang on the demos of “Love and Tears”, “It’s A Sin” and one other track that did not make the album after we signed with Capitol Records. He sang on those demos before the band was signed and was already working on his debut album”.
Q: If Lenny was part of Maggie’s, was he somehow involved on Maggie’s self titled debut – probably uncredited? I could swear i hear his recognizable voice on at least a couple of the songs (backing vocals), especially on “Human”
A: Lenny Kravitz did not sing on the Maggie’s Dream album.”
Q: Do you still have contact with any of the Maggie’s Dream members? If you have contact with them, what are they doing these days?
A: The drummer (Tony James) and I speak occasionally and I saw Rob a few months ago in Buenos Aires Argentina (played a few t.v. promos with him). Haven’t spoken with Danny Palomo or Raf Hernandez in years”
Q: Have you and the guys ever considered to assemble the band back together again?
A: As far as putting the band back together, haven’t heard anything about that and I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Q: What was the musical inspiration behind the classic Maggie’s Dream debut album? I sense a little retro-rock – and some Kravitz inspiration or is this only coincidental?
A: Lenny and we grew up on much of the same music and we’re all about the same age, so, many of the collective musical influences are similar with the exception of jazz; that is a heavy influence because of my father who played trumpet with Charles Mingus and he was a great jazz musician who played with some other heavy cats. There was a very talented singer Lenny worked named Tony Lemans with whose demo triggered that vibe but for many of us, it was a natural direction, musically.Tony was signed to Prince’s label Paisley Park Records. He subsequently was killed in a motorcycle accident.
Q: Robi Draco Rosa, former lead vocals in Maggie’s Dream has made several albums – and had major success as a writer and producer for i.e Ricky Martins “Living La Vida Loca” and solo. Tony James has worked with names like Cyndi Lauper, Charles&Eddie (what became of them?) Hugh Harris (great debut album) and Jeffrey Gaines. Then it comes to Raf I haven’t found any history besides his Maggies Dream years. What is your story after Maggies Dream disbanded?
A: Raf and Danny were in a band with Dan Reed named “Adrenaline Sky”; Raf also played briefly with Peter Lord Moreland (who was in the Family Stand) for a little while and after that he was writing and playing with this singer who was in the broadway show “Rent”, I think his name was Adam Pascal. Danny dropped out of the music scene all together and became a chef”
Q: Who have you worked with during the years? What has been the highlight of your career so far and who is the most inspiring to work with?
A: I’ve recorded with Billy Joel (River Of Dreams), Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, toured Love Spit Love (feat. Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs) and a few other artists. Also, auditioned for the Stones in ’93-94; also, played on a few Jeff Gaines albums as well as Charles & Eddie; I toured parts of Latin America a few times with Rob Rosa as a solo artist; there are some videos of various performances with Rob on YouTube, most notably an MTV International live performance which was probably Rob’s coolest band and the drummer in that video (Frank Ferrer) has been playing with Guns & Roses for the past 6 years or so. You can hear some of the artists with who I have played on my YouTube channel. As far as the most inspiring artist I’ve ever played with, well, that’s a tough question, I just like to play music… it’s all inspiring.”
Q: I love to get a sneak peek into the record collection of the ones when I do my Q&As – so now it’s your turn: What recordings are you’re all time favourite albums? Mention as many albums as you like!
A: Here are few of my favorite albums, not in any particular order:
1. Sly & The Family Stone Greatest Hits 2. “Fresh” by Sly and The Family Stone 3. “Gratitude” by Earth Wind & Fire 4. “Grace” by Jeff Buckley 5. “Thrust” and “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock 6. Any Parliament Funkadelic album before 1990 7. “Songs In The Key Of Life” and “Innervisions” by Stevie Wonder 8. Any Jimi Hendrix album before his died. 9. “Solo Monk” by Thelonious Monk 10. “Superunknown” by Soundgarden 11. “Sea Of Cowards” and “Horehound” by Dead Weather 12. “Discipline” by King Crimson 13. Any James Brown before 1975 14. “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye 15. Any Charlie Parker recording 16. Any John Coltrane recording 17. Graham Central Station 18.Betty Davis 19. “Heavy Weather” by Weather Report 20. Any African-American blues before 1960 21. Most bebop and hard bop 22. Bootsy Collins in the late 1970s
Q: What does the FUTURE for Lonnie D. Hillyer look like? Any cool protects going on?
A: I’ve been in Buenos Aires, Argentina working with the drummer / singer Andrea Alvarez for her new album. You can go to www.andreaalvarez.com for her info.”
Q: If there´s something you could say to my blog readers what would it be? Here´s your chance to say whatever you like!
A: All I can say is stay true to yourself and the music and keep on playing.
If you wanna get to know Lonnie D. Hillyer even closer, watch this great 30 minute interview with Lonnie D. Hillyer from september 2013 by Fernando Martín Alvarez
…And while you’re at it; Feel free to check out this short documentary of Maggie’s Dream, by Mark Pellington
Mr Gangnam Style is back;
The brand new PSY video to his latest single “Gentleman” is here.
Once again he´s made up some new dance moves.
This time the “horse-dance” is gone, and in comes a more feminine dance. The air-humps is still here, and PSY´s still very Benny Hill inspired when it comes to women!
Same procedure as last time – and a rip off of his massive hit “Gangnam Style”?
See in the video here!
Do you think PSY still have it?
Will this be a new number one? Or is he just another one-hit wonder?
The song is a sing-a-long dubstep flirt – with the chorus that goes “B….es Love Cake”.
With Miley Cyrus appearing in both song and video including the controversial lyrics; because we all know the magic trick of having an explicit word (or two) in the lyrics, instant hit! Add pumping beats with dubstep screams and squelches and a video with a good old cake fight and the is track doomed to become a real floor filler!
It´s a brave thing to do your own version of one of last years greatest and biggest selling female artist and her greatest most well known ballad.
You have to make it work – and give it your own special touch – and still keeping it close to the original.
Kofi Stacks featuring Adele “Someone Like You”
A remake or a remix of the song has to be done with respect. And respect is what Kofi Stacks shows when they do their remix of the Adele classic “Someone Like You” from her already legendary bestseller album “21”. The song was also my first meeting with english rapper Kofi Stacks and his band The Mandem.
Kofi Stacks & the Mandem is an unsigned hip hop group – and using Adeles smash as a kickstart for their career is a great and smart career move – give people something they recognize. They use what sounds like a sample from the original song and speed it up slightly. Slow naked piano intro and Adeles vocals, hip hop beats, and then add Mr Kofi Stacks great vocals. He raps in UK-english, he has a strong, raw rap-flow, he is almost spitting out the lyrics. The lyrics of the song are now seen from the mans perspective.
Kofi Stacks has a cool look – the bearded hippy look and Bill Cosby´ish clothes – the rest of his band looks like a gang of mods or a brit-pop group. A fresh and unusual look for a rap group. Without doubt very English.
If you noticed the video. Was she, Adele, the worlds biggest female star – really working with them, a unsigned band? I had to find out about this…
When Kofi Stacks sent me his answers on the Q&A and started his answers like this; “Here are your answers bro”, I knew this was gonna be good!
Q: One of your best songs – and my absolute favorite of yours – is your Adele cover. I´ve seen the video to this! Did you remake the song with Adele – or are you just mixing clips of her video with your video? If first alternative; How was it to work with Adele?
A: Yeah it was crazy that song. It was one of my favourite of her album and I couldn’t stop singing along with it as its so relatable, then it hit me. I need to spin this. I need to deliver this from a males perspective. Within 30 minutes I had the track laid down. Her people heard what we did and liked it but at that stage her schedule was ridiculous with promotion as you can imagine and there was no way of connecting with her so we went ahead and shot a video around her. I work with a talented video production team who do all my stuff, www.futureproduction.co.uk check ’em out.
Q: I think you are one of the most exiting english rappers right now, is there any plans of a full album soon?
A: Thank you firstly for the compliment, it’s appreciated. Yeah I’m currently working on my EP, still untitled, but really sounding good, I think the fans and critics will enjoy something refreshingly different from what’s out there.
Q: Another one; the club-remix of “Hot Chic” is fantastic and made me think of the Basement Jaxx remix of Missy Elliots “4 My People” – were your inspired by this when you remixed your track?
A: Umm, not really no. That was done so long ago, wow. To be honest that was more of an experimental track, not at all the direction I wanted to go in back then, or even now. It was just about having some fun creatively in the studio, but if people like it then that can’t be too bad I guess.
Q: I think I see a lot of similarities with your sound and way of rapping with early Public Enemy and the harder side of 2Pac – almost militant. Who are you most influenced by?
A: Thanks. I mean those are some legendary names you’ve mentioned there. I grew up listening to them and a bunch of other great lyricist like Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Nas, Dre, you name them I probably was in to them in some way. But my sound has changed so much from my earlier career, and is more steeped with reggae and ska influences, especially sonically. Lyrically and flow wise I’m still near enough the same just more mature and putting songs together instead of just freestyles. I feel that with the reggae/ ska movement, those artists had something to say, something relevant and tangible to the public. You look at Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Decker, Madness, The Specials. I mean I could go on but hopefully you understand what I mean. So as you mention Tupac, I’m glad as he had a message also in his music that he was trying to convey which made him one of the best rappers.
Q: If you should describe your way of rapping to new listeners – how would you describe yourselves?
A: Ummm, journey. I think my style takes you on a cool journey of who I am. My stories, my trial and tribulations, what makes me, me. I mean the flow itself is not convoluted, just right so lyrically you hear what i have to say and can really connect with it. You can kick back at home and listen to my music, be pumping it in your car or whatever. Ive got my band now, The Mandem, so I’m not just a solo act anymore. My live shows seem to go down well as the audience really do vibe with me. I mean it’s not a doom and gloom sound, there are some real catchy uptempo tracks on my upcoming EP, but the message I’m portraying still gets heard while you’re able to jam to it and shake a leg, LOL. I’m trying to reintroduce that live sound of old in to modern day hip hop but with my own twist.
Q: You sample and remake soft-rock songs and artist like Billy Joel “Uptown Girl” and “Work Hard For The Money” could you name your guilty pleasure if you have any!
A: Again, those tracks were experimental and fun to jump on. My guilty pleasure.. Probably listening to Magic FM late night, LOL, the songs they play are the classics and so timeless, and it’s not the sort of radio station you’d expect me to really be listening to on a daily. Adele’s made it on there with three songs I think. I’ve always said if I get to hear myself on magic, I know I’ve won.
Lovely to have this chat with you Koffi! Thank you for your answers bro´!
It´s amazing to think about that Kofi Stacks & The Mandem still hasn´t released a official album, but they are these days working on their first EP. But did you know they has released over 22 different songs through services like webservices Soundcloud and Reverbnation to download for free? Hey! Heres an idea! Compile your own unique Kofi Stacks & The Mandem album / or playlist, by downloading your favourite songs from their Soundcloud and Reverbnation page!
One last thing; Did you know Kofi Stacks & The Mandem is one of the bands in this years MTV Brand New Unsigned 2012 competition?
If you like what you hear; you know who to vote for!
There really is something about Franky Manzos debut single “MJs Coursing”
Is it the intro to her single – a little AOR inspired – until her voice and the beats kick in?
Is it the dry simple piano line? The slightly auto-tuned vocals?
The cool 70s inspired “Oh, beep-beep, Oh beep-beep” bridge in the middle of the song?
The percussion, and the hand claps, and the dry synthetic sax stabs?
The mix of 70s-80s and 90s disco-club squeezed into 3 minutes?
Even if Frances Manzo (her real name) is still young she has had a long career. She has not only been a dancer behind some of the worlds biggest stars, but she has also been doing choreography, commercials, movies, music videos – the most famous being a dancer in Britney Spears “Womanizer” video, been an on stage performer, dance teacher, and being in television productions. Franky is also a music co-writer- and co-producer of Maudlyn Strangers self titled upcoming debut album!
She looks like a rock chick, but also has this late 80s-90s style. And since she is a fan of – and has worked with great rock musicians – there’s no doubt she has her own style!
The MJ in the song “MJs Coursing” is, as you have probably guessed already, the late great Michael Jackson.
Franky Manzo, or if you prefer her real name Frances Manzo, said on her Reverbnation page “This song encompasses everything I wanted in my first song because of my love for Michael Jackson and the era of disco I heard as a child from my mom.”
After reading this quote I had to hear more about the story behind “MJ´s Coursing” and sent Frances Manzo a few questions to her Facebook profile – and she shortly after, she sent me her answers! – here it goes;
5 QUESTIONS: a Q&A with Franky Manzo
You say on your reverbnation profile that “This song encompasses everything I wanted in my first song because of my love for Michael Jackson and the era of disco I heard as a child from my mom.”
Q: Are you inspired by any special MJ songs on the song? Or any special discotunes your mothers liked? A: Difficult question! It’s hard to choose which MJ songs inspired me, but I can try narrow it down to “They Don’t Care About Us”, “Rock With You”, “Billie Jean”, and “Remember the Time”. As far as disco songs, my mom definitely had “Heart of Glass”, “Harlem Shuffle”, and “Bad Girls” on her favorite cassette tape…which she played all the time! I credit my mom with my rhythmic ability because when I was about 2, she and I used to dance to those songs every morning. So I think those songs will always stick with me, and you can hear their influence in my single.
Q: Is there any plans for a full album – how do think it will sound?
A: Absolutely! I think much of the album will be disco inspired, but I don’t necessarily want to limit myself to just one genre. I am truly inspired by what Blondie did…she was a total punk rocker turned disco diva, and back again! I expect that the album will throw a curveball in there somewhere!
Q: I feel the video to “MJs Coursing” is a bit inspired by Kylie Minogue and especially her “Confide In Me” vid? Am I right?
A: Yes, I love Kylie! I got to meet her about 10 years ago at a show, and she’s an absolute delight! I actually hadn’t seen the “Confide in Me”* video, but I can see the similarity!! The original concept that I had for my video was quite grandiose, but alas, being on an indie artist budget isn’t exactly conducive to being grandiose. So, we came up with an alternative, the video that’s out now, and it came out great!!! I’m so happy with it. (*Note: I see i refered to the wrong Kylie song and video here – my fault…but it seems like Franky Manzo understood what I meant)
Q: I see you have been dancing onstage behind several big names, like Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child and Miley Cyrus to mention a few. Are you supposed to be working with any big named and well-known producers or writers on your album?
A: I had the opportunity to work with big name producers when I was in Darling Stilettos, and I’ve found that the most important thing is that I trust who I’m working with, especially because I’m barely getting my feet wet as a solo artist. My producer, Michael Binikos, is someone that I trust. He’s worked with Leann Rimes, Brie Larson, and the like. I’m very lucky to have him working on my album.
As far as writers go, I’m not opposed to letting someone write for me in the future, but right now, I have so much I want to convey as an artist. I think that it’s important for me to write my own material. I really want to show the world what I’m capable of…and it’s only the beginning for me.
Q: What other artist are you inspired by?
A: Blondie, Kylie Minogue, and Michael Jackson are some of my favorites. Aside from those artists, I’m totally inspired by Robert Plant! I LOVE Led Zeppelin. I really appreciate his lyrics. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is another artist I love. Her songs are so catchy and they just make you feel good. Gwen Stefani is one of my absolute favorites. I used to wear dickies and cropped wife beaters just like her…still do! Scott Weiland…I know it’s a bit of a stray, but I can’t help but love the grunge era. He’s a dynamic performer with amazing songwriting skills.
It may be hard to tell that I’m inspired by these artists based on my single, but I love writing for other bands…and that’s where you can see a lot of these influences. I co-wrote and co-produced many of the songs on Maudlin Strangers’ upcoming debut album. “Suffer, Kate” and “Long Way Down” were definitely Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots inspired!
Franky Manzo ends my Q&A like this Haha, I tend to be wordy sometimes. I really appreciate this!!! Thank you so much!!!”
If someone is going be thankful here it´s gotta be me – for giving me so good answers on my questions. Wordy is no problem as long as the answers good or what?
I must say I love to see her cool genre mix. With Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue on one side, and her love for Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland on the other. A good lover of music – sees no bonderies and limits, only opportunities! Thank you again Franky Manzo for your great answers!
The single “MJs Coursing” is one piece of perfect radio friendly pop!
I would love to see some great remixes of the track; How about a great classic Masters At Work remix, like they did in the last part of the 90s with loads of live-instruments, like a fat bass line – some guitar and lots of great percussion? Kenny Dope and Little Louie Vega – open your ears!
But as the song “MJs Coursing” is now – it´s a nice piece of great radio disco-pop – And it gets better and better with each listening!
Look forward to follow the adventurous future of Franky Manzo!