Mark Twain born this day (30th November)i 1835

Often lauded as the “greatest American humorist of his age,” and the father of American literature, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was born on this day November 30, in 1835.

Most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel.” Mark Twain was born during a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well, he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

At first He apprenticed with a printer. Where He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion’s newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. He then turned to journalism and while a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humour, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech which helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain’s works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has repeatedly been restricted in American high schools,  for its frequent use of words now considered racist which were in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set.

Although He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker, with his wit and satire earning him praise from presidents, artists, industrialists, European royalty, critics and peers alike, he lacked financial acumen, and although he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures,and was often forced to declare bankruptcy.

Twain’s first important work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. Next, he was commissioned to write letters about his travel experiences, chronicling his experiences with his burlesque humour. The first journey he took was to ride the steamer Ajax in its maiden voyage to Hawaii. These humorous letters proved the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. This trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or  The New Pilgrims’ Progress. This is a record of a pleasure trip, written as If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition having the gravity, profundity, and impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind.

In 1872, Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as a semi-sequel to Innocents. This was a semi-autobiographical account of Twain’s journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East.

Twain’s next work. Entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, it focused more on the events of the day in American society, and  was his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is Twain’s only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner.

Twain’s next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi, was a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875, which featured Twain’s disillusionment with Romanticism. It eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi.
 
Twain’s next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal.  Modelled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain’s boyhood friend Tom Blankenship.

His next book, The Prince and the Pauper, was not as well received. It Tells the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, who switch places. Pauper was Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit.

Twain’s next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy’s belief in the right thing to do, even though most believed that it was wrong.
 
Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, this recounts Twain’s memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. Twain’s last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-chronological order. Some archivists and compilers have rearranged the biography into more conventional forms, thereby eliminating some of Twain’s humour and the flow of the book.
 
The continuing popularity of Mark Twain’s novels has helped him become one of very few authors publishing new best-selling volumes in all 3 of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries

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Teargarden by Kaleidyscope – Smashing Pumpkins

Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is the eighth album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. It contains 44 individual songs, which are being released one track at a time through free MP3 downloads over the course of several years. As of May 2011, ten songs have been made available for free download and two physical, limited-edition EPs, each containing four of the songs, have been released.

All the songs which have so far been released can be downloaded from
the Smashing Pumpkin’s Official site

OX4- The Best of Ride

I used to be a big fan of Oxford band Ride and I would like to get the soon to be released 3CD boxed set “OX4: The Best of Ride”, which contains the best tracks from Ride’s brief but bright reign.

Ride are Probably best remembered as the progenitors of shoegazing, which dominated the early 90s indie scene, and specialised in skyscraping walls of Sound and noisy uplifting rock. They broke out of the boundaries of British rock music, by drawing on the extremities of bands such as the Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the resulting songs all had an explosive rush that fizzed with enthusiasm.

The three discs comprise of: OX4, the greatest hits disc, Firing Blanks, which is a disc of unreleased material and The live disc, which was recorded at the 1992 Reading Festival and serves as a good document of Ride as a live band.

The album features tracks From their first two EPs, Ride and Play such as the starry-eyed clatter of “Chelsea Girl“, and the  harmonic jangle of “Like a Daydream”, to tracks from the Debut Album “Nowhere” like ‘Taste’, ‘Seagull’ ‘Dreams Burn Down’ & ‘Vapour Trail. By way of ‘Unfamilliar ‘From Time to Time’ ‘Twisterella’, ‘Leave Them All Behind’.

The album also contains awesome  tracks like ‘Drive Blind ”Eight Miles High’, ‘European Son’,’The Model’, ‘Sight Of You’, and ‘That Man’ and charts their growth from Shoegazers into champions of retrodelica, with Carnival of Light-era tracks such as “I Don’t Know Where It Comes From”. By summoning classic tunes out of the ether, Ride sounded like true pioneers.

Memories: Ten Years of Gorillaz 2001-2011

Gorillaz greatest hits album “Memories: Ten Years of Gorillaz 2001-2011” was released on Monday 28th November

First created in 1998 by musicians Damon Albarn & Jamie Hewlett while they were living in Westbourne Grove, Gorillaz is an English musical project which consists of the music itself and an extensive fictional universe depicting a “virtual band” of cartoon characters. This band has four animated members: 2D (lead vocalist, keyboard, and melodica), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar and drum machine), Noodle (guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). The idea to create the band came about when the two were watching MTV, “if you watch MTV for too long, it’s a bit like hell – there’s nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that,” Hewlett said.

Their fictional universe is explored through the band’s website and music videos, as well as a number of other media, such as short cartoons. The music is a collaboration between various musicians, Albarn being the only permanent musical contributor. Their style is a composition of multiple musical genres, with a large number of influences including: alternative rock, dub, hip hop, electronic, and pop music.
 
The band’s 2001 debut album Gorillaz sold over seven million copies and earned them an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band.It was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2001, but the nomination was later withdrawn at the band’s request. Their second studio album, Demon Days, released in 2005, went five times platinum in the UK, double platinum in the United States, earned five Grammy Award nominations for 2006 and won one of them in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category.

Gorillaz have also released two B-sides compilations and a remix album. The combined sales of the Gorillaz and Demon Days albums had exceeded 15 million by 2007. The band’s third studio album, Plastic Beach, was released in March 2010. Their latest album, The Fall, was released in December 2010 as a free download for sub-division members, then in April 2011 as a physical release.

The Lost Sirens by New Order

Ever since I heard Power Corruption and Lies I have been a big fan of New Order and I would like to get this 8 Track mini album which is being released on December 12 2011

It Follows on from the release of TOTAL: From Joy Division To New Order which was released in early 2011 and the surprise success of Lost Siren track “Hellbent”, and features Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Philip Cunningham.

It Features a truly eclectic mix of electronica and guitars in the way only New Order know how, and contains eight tracks which were recorded during the sessions for Waiting For The Sirens Call and are all previously unreleased. “Hellbent” features on The Lost Sirens in it’s original non-radio edit form (as per TOTAL) and “I Told You So” is a previously unreleased mix. Here is the track listing for the album.

* I’ll Stay with You
* Sugarcane
* Recoil
* Californian Grass
* Hellbent
* Shake it up
* I’ve got a Feeling
* I Told you So

Happy Birthday Berry Gordy

American record producer, and founder of the Tamla Motown record label Berry Gordy, Jr. was born on this date November 28 in 1929 in Detroit, Michigan.the seventh of eight children born to the middle class family of Berry Gordy II (a.k.a. Berry Gordy, Sr.) and Bertha Fuller Gordy (1887–1981), who had relocated to Detroit from Milledgeville, Georgia in 1922. having been lured by the many job opportunities offered by the booming automotive businesses and his older siblings were all prominent black citizens of Detroit. Berry, however, dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to become a professional boxer in hopes of becoming rich quick, a career he followed until 1950 when he was drafted by the United States Army for the Korean War.
Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson
After his return from Korea in 1953, he married Thelma Coleman. He developed his interest in music by writing songs and opening the 3-D Record Mart, a record store featuring jazz music. The store was unsuccessful and Gordy sought work at the Lincoln-Mercury plant, but his family connections put him in touch with Al Green (not the singer), owner of the Flame Show Bar talent club, where he met singer Jackie Wilson.
 All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James
In 1957, Wilson recorded Reet Petite, a song Gordy had co-written with his sister Gwen and writer-producer Billy Davis. It became a modest hit but had more success internationally, especially in the UK where it reached the Top 10 and even later topped the chart on re-issue in 1986. Wilson recorded four more songs co-written by Gordy over the next two years, including “Lonely Teardrops”, which topped the R & B charts and got to number 7 in the pop chart. Berry and Gwen Gordy also wrote “All I Could Do Was Cry” for Etta James at Chess Records.

Gordy reinvested his songwriting success into producing. In 1957, he discovered The Miracles (originally known as The Matadors) and began building a portfolio of successful artists. In 1959, at Miracles leader Smokey Robinson’s encouragement, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to create an R&B label, Tamla Records. On January 21, 1959, “Come To Me” by Marv Johnson was issued as Tamla 101. United Artists Records picked up “Come To Me” for national distribution, as well as Johnson’s more successful follow-up records (such as “You Got What It Takes,” co-produced and co-written by Gordy). Berry’s next release was the only 45 ever issued on his Rayber label, and it featured Wade Jones with an unnamed female back-up group. The record did not sell well and is now one of the rarest issues from the Motown stable.

Berry’s third release was “Bad Girl” by The Miracles, and was the first-ever release for the Motown record label, it became a solid hit. Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” initially appearing on Tamla and then charted on Gordy’s sister’s label, Anna Records, in February 1960. The Miracles’ hit “Shop Around” peaked at Number 1 on the national R&B charts in late 1960 and at #2 on the Billboard pop charts on January 16, 1961 (#1 Pop, Cash Box), which established Motown as an independent company worthy of notice. Later in 1961, The Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” made it to the top of both charts.
 
In 1960, Gordy signed an unknown named Mary Wells who became the fledgling label’s first star, with Smokey Robinson penning her hits”You Beat Me to the Punch,” “Two Lovers” and “My Guy”. The Tamla and Motown labels were then merged into a new company Motown Record Corporation, which was incorporated on April 14, 1960.
 
In 1959 Berry produced a record on the Penny Label (part of early Tamla Records) showcasing a white doo-wop group known as ‘Bryan Brent and The Cutouts’. Berry had hoped that ‘Vacation Time’, written by himself and Billy Davis would be the hit side. But, ‘For Eternity’, written by the Cutouts, became the summer hit and enjoyed an unprecedented Number one spot in the greater Detroit area for 8 weeks. Bryan Brent and The Cutouts performed on Soupy Sales late night TV show and on Mickey Schorr’s ‘Detroit Bandstand’ TV show, as well as many radio station sponsored Dance Parties, Like Tommy Clay’s Sock Hop at the Light Guard Armory on 8 Mile Rd. Not restricted to white venues, the group also performed for Martha Jean ‘The Queen’ from WJLB at many of her popular weekend dances. While Bryan Brent and The Cutouts never enjoyed the security of a contract, they did enjoy the summer of 1959. In spite of missing notations in the history books, ‘For Eternity’ is recognized as a Doo Wop Classic in the US and in Europe.
 
Berry produced a record for white artist Tom Clay some time in 1959. The record was released on a tiny Detroit label called Chant. It is not currently known if Berry owned Chant records, but the 45 is recognized by many collectors to be one of the rarest of all Gordy singles. Tom Clay became a DJ in LA, and recorded again for Gordy on his MoWest label in the 1970s. Kiki Dee became the first white female British singer to be signed to the Motown label. Gordy also employed many white workers and managers at the company’s headquarters, named Hitsville U.S.A., on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard. He largely promoted African-American artists but carefully controlled their public image, dress, manners and choreography for across-the-board appeal.
 
Gordy’s gift for identifying and bringing together musical talent, along with the careful management of his artists’ public image, made Motown initially a major national and then international success. Over the next decade, he signed such artists as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, The Contours, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Commodores, The Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5.

In 1972, Gordy attended FIDM in Los Angeles, where he produced the commercially successful Billie Holiday biography Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross (who was nominated for an Academy Award) and Richard Pryor, and introducing Billy Dee Williams. Initially the studio, over Gordy’s objections, rejected Williams after several screen tests. However, Gordy, known for his tenacity, eventually prevailed and the film established Williams as a star. (Williams would also go on to portray Gordy in the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.) Berry Gordy soon after produced and directed Mahogany, also starring Diana Ross. In 1985, he produced the cult martial arts film The Last Dragon, which starred martial artist Taimak and one of Prince’s proteges, Vanity.
 
Although Motown continued to produce major hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s by artists like the Jacksons, Rick James, Lionel Richie and long-term signings, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, the record company was no longer the major force it had been previously. Gordy sold his interests in Motown Records to MCA and Boston Ventures on June 28, 1988 for $61 million. He also later sold most of his interests in the Jobete publishing concern to EMI Publishing.
 
Gordy published an autobiography, To Be Loved, in 1994, and On March 20, 2009, Gordy was in Hollywood to pay tribute to his first group and first million-selling act, The Miracles, when the members received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Speaking in tribute to the group, Gordy said “Without The Miracles, Motown would not be the Motown it is today.”

Jimi Hendrix born November 27 1942

Considered to be the greatest guitarist in popular music, The late great James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) was born on this date November 27, at Seattle’s King County Hospital, in 1942

Purple Haze

He is Widely hailed by music fans and critics alike as the greatest electric guitarist of all time, and remains the most influential rock guitarist and songwriter in recording history. He was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King and Elmore James, rhythm, blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield and Steve Cropper, and the jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.

Voodoo Chile

Hendrix was mostly self-taught on the guitar. He was ambidextrous but chose to play the guitar upside-down and re-strung for playing left-handed, which suggests that he was more comfortable left-handed. As a guitarist, he built upon the innovations of blues stylists such as B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker, and Muddy Waters, as well as those of rhythm and blues and soul music guitarists such as Curtis Mayfield. Hendrix’s music was also influenced by jazz; he often cited Rahsaan Roland Kirk as his favourite musician. In addition, Hendrix extended the tradition of rock guitar; although previous guitarists, such as The Kinks’ Dave Davies, Jeff Beck, and The Who’s Pete Townshend, had employed techniques such as feedback, distortion and other effects as sonic tools,Hendrix was able to exploit them to a previously undreamed-of extent, and made them an integral part of his own private, unique genre, which he called “Red”.

All Along the Watch tower

The Hendrix sound combined high volume and high power, feedback manipulation, and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects, especially the UniVibe-Octavia combination, which can be heard to full effect on the Band of Gypsys’ live version of “Machine Gun”. He was also known for his trick playing, which included playing with only his right (fretting) hand, using his teeth or playing behind his back, although he soon grew tired of audience demands to perform these tricks.

Crosstown Traffic

As a record producer, Hendrix was an innovator in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. Hendrix was notably one of the first to experiment with stereo effects during the recording process. Hendrix was also an accomplished songwriter whose compositions have been performed by countless artists. At Woodstock, Larry Lee was a member of Hendrix’ Band of Gypsys, and also played a Gibson Les Paul Studio model and sung with Hendrix as well.

Freedom

During his lifetime Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and in 2003 Rolling Stone Magazine named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time.