Robert Neil Speaks with… Chuck Smith (a.k.a. Stray Deuce), musician/singer/songwriter. “I really enjoy finding artists whose names you might not know, but who have made important contributions to popular music. Chuck Smith, who goes by the stage name Stray Deuce, is one of those artists. He’s been in the music industry for decades and has played with some of the best musicians in the business. At a young age he was signed to Columbia Records and later earned a contract from Motown Records. “One of Motown’s biggest artists, Diana Ross, recorded a song Smith had co-written with Donald Dunn as the title track to her 1977 album ‘Baby It’s Me.’ Smith played guitar on the track, which also featured some legendary players, including David Foster, Ray Parker, Jr., Jeff Porcaro and Lee Ritenour. “In this interview, we talk about Smith’s career and influences.” - Robert Neil Robert Neil recommends the following Stray Deuce songs: “Billie Sings” “Bluebell Marie” “Him” “The Real Skunk Funk”
Oct 10, 2022
Robert Neil Speaks with… In the third of a three-part series about legendary singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, Robert Neil speaks with music journalist and historian Nicholas Jennings about his book ‘Lightfoot,’ the authorized biography of the legendary Canadian icon. In this final installment, Jennings tells Robert Neil about the serious health incident that threatened his life and put him in a coma for six weeks in 2002. A video presentation of this episode is available on Robert Neil’s YouTube Channel, https://youtu.be/KneC4Mc3YVU [like ♫ subscribe ♫ share] Robert Neil is a journalist and songwriter based on the West Coast of the United States. His current album of original songs is entitled ’20-22’ by The Robert Neil Network, and the collection has been described as ‘jazz-infused pop, rock and drama!’ Songs from the album include “Golden Beach” (feat. Scott McDavid), “You Can’t Touch Me Now” (feat. Abby London) and “…still it goes on…” (feat. Ron Hemby).
Sep 7, 2022
The topic, again, is Gordon Lightfoot as Robert Neil Speaks with music journalist and historian Nicholas Jennings about his book ‘Lightfoot,’ the authorized biography of the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter. This episode is part two of a three-part series and focuses on Lightfoot’s character, and how the Canadian legend’s principles have sometimes kept him from achieving a higher degree of fame, yet, at the same time, have endeared him to his legions of fans. The conversation includes stories involving Robbie Robertson and The Last Waltz, Bob Dylan, David Foster and Whitney Houston as well as the woman who inspired the very personal song “Sundown.” A video presentation of this episode is available on Robert Neil’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuArgJm-6kaTVnILSic5lbQ). Robert Neil is a journalist and songwriter based on the West Coast of the United States. His current album is entitled ’20-22,’ by The Robert Neil Network, and the album includes the summer love song “Golden Beach” feat. Scott McDavid. Folk music, pop, country
Jul 22, 2022
The topic is Gordon Lightfoot as Robert Neil Speaks with music journalist and historian Nicholas Jennings about his book ‘Lightfoot,’ the authorized biography of the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter. In the first of this three-part interview, Jennings talks about Lightfoot’s early career and his incredibly strong connection to Canada, where he is revered. Lightfoot’s friendships with Bob Dylan and Ronnie Hawkins are also mentioned. A video presentation of this episode is available on Robert Neil’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuArgJm-6kaTVnILSic5lbQ). Folk music, pop, country
Jun 29, 2022
Big Bands were on their way out when jazz musician Ron Aprea was ready to make his mark on the music scene. However, that didn’t deter the young saxophone player from embarking on a career in that genre. Without a doubt the New York native had talent. His sax playing and instincts were top rate, and eventually his ability to arrange and write charts would grab the attention of his peers. So, with all that talent and a deep love for big band music, Aprea doggedly became a successful part of the final era of the great big bands. Fittingly, his new autobiography is entitled ‘The Era I Almost Missed,’ and, to borrow a phrase from Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places he went!”…and the people he met. He has played major roles in performances with music legends such as Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, Woody Herman, Tito Puente and even rocker John Lennon at the height of his post-Beatle popularity. In an interview with journalist and songwriter Robert Neil, Aprea talks about his career and how jazz seemed destined to be a part of his life. The book is available at his website, www.ronaprea.com
Oct 22, 2021
Album Review, Interview and Profile: A Look at British Superstar Cliff Richard and His New Album ‘Rise Up’ with an Interview with Two of the Album’s Producers
British superstar Cliff Richard has released his first album of new material in 14 years, and the man who launched his career in the late 1950s as England’s answer to Elvis Presley, still sounds fresh and energetic. The album features songs written by some of Richard’s long-time associates, including Terry Britten (“Devil Woman,” “What’s Love Got to Do with It”), Christopher Neville Eaton ("Lost in a Lonely World,” “Saviour’s Day”) and Chris Neil (“All I Need Is A Miracle”). Additionally, long-time friend Olivia Newton-John sings a duet with Richard, who, at 78-years-old, has apparently found the vocal Fountain of Youth. The album also features four of Richard’s past hits that have been given new arrangements with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Producers Juliette Pochin and James Morgan were charged with classically enhancing songs such as “Devil Woman” and “Miss You Nights,” and the husband and wife team speak to journalist Robert Neil about the process (as well as the nervousness of presenting the songs to Richard). This episode also offers a brief profile of Richard for the American audience, where he was never able to achieve the same level of stardom as he did in the UK, where he is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Notable Quotes about Sir Cliff Richard, who was knighted in 1995: Bob Geldof “It’s never been said, but without Cliff and (his backing group) The Shadows, there’s no English pop business. As George Harrison said: ‘No Shadows, no Beatles.’” John Lennon “The first English record that was anywhere near anywhere was “Move It” by Cliff Richard. Before, there’d been nothing.” Sting “Cliff Richard is, in my opinion, one of Britain’s finest singers technically and emotionally. I’ve been a fan since “Living Doll.” Long may he sing.” Queen’s Freddie Mercury “A tremendous influence on my early days as a performer.”
Jan 11, 2019
One of the true joys of Christmas is music, which brings out the emotions of the season; however, many radio stations and streaming services only play a small selection of songs. As a result, many wonderful tunes go unheard. This episode of Documenting Popular Music takes a look at 10 songs that are either unknown or underplayed in the United States at this time of year. The selections include songs from well-known American artists such as Bob Dylan, Kenny Loggins, John Denver, Herb Alpert and Simon & Garfunkel as well as legendary performers from other countries – Gordon Lightfoot (Canada), Cliff Richard (England), Dreams Come True (Japan) and Tatsuro Yamashita (Japan). Music journalist Robert Neil narrates the presentation with background information about the songs.
Dec 22, 2018
Album Review and Interview: A Jazz/Superhero Mashup from One of the Music Industry’s Most In-Demand Musicians
If you’ve ever thought your favorite superhero theme songs would sound great as original jazz tunes, then pianist extraordinaire Randy Waldman has the new album you’ll need to add to your collection. Waldman is one of the music industry’s most successful and popular session players, and he’s been featured on songs and album from numerous top-selling artists such as Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow and many, many others. Waldman has taken his love for jazz and combined it with his love for comic book heroes, and the result is the new album ‘Superheroes,’ which features jazz arrangements of 11 classic superhero theme songs. In an interview with journalist Robert Neil, Waldman says the idea for the album came from a conversation he had with Adman West (Batman) a number of years ago. The collection of songs, which Waldman worked on as an arranger for several years, includes the themes from Superman, Batman, The Incredible Hulk and the Six Million Dollar Man. Waldman also reveals his playful nature with a fast-pace, fun rendition of Super Chicken. Waldman is joined on the album by Carlitos del Puerto on bass and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, who make up the stellar rhythm section. Additionally, an “A” list of jazz musicians making guest appearances on the album includes George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Steve Gadd and the vocal group Take 6. The fun, drama and sentimentality of the songs on the album – along with the top-notch musicians – not only make this one of the most satisfying jazz albums of the year, but also a new prize for superhero fans to add to their collections. You can learn more about Randy Waldman (including the long list of artists with whom he’s worked) by visiting his website www.JazzPilot.com.
Oct 26, 2018
The songwriter who could easily be considered America’s unofficial poet laureate has a new album in which he revisits past composition with new recordings and new interpretations. Paul Simon has been writing the soundtrack to multiple generations’ lives since the 1960s, when he and childhood friend Art Garfunkel took folk-rock music to new heights of popularity. Simon’s subsequent solo career allowed him to continue growing as a writer, musician and performer who produced some of the most critically acclaimed albums and songs from the 1970s and 1980s. For his new album, entitled In the Blue Light, Simon has chosen 10 songs from his past that he felt needed to be update with new arrangements, harmonic structures, lyrics and various other alterations. The songs featured on the album are not from his large collection of Top 40 hits, but are instead album tracks that have filled out his unique ability to cleverly tell stories that have made him one of the most important songwriters of the past 50 years. In a special approach to reviewing In the Blue Light, journalist Robert Neil looks at a handful of the new recordings and compares them to the original versions of the songs. Ultimately, Neil concludes that “fans who appreciate Simon’s inherent ability to write songs with rhythms, phrasings and melodies that can’t be found elsewhere, will find that In the Blue Light fits nicely alongside his best albums.”
Sep 14, 2018
(This version of the episode is presented in its entirety and runs about 37 minutes; however, for listeners who prefer shorter episodes, the program is also available in Part I and Part II editions, which each run about 20 minutes. Please check the menu for all episodes of ‘Documenting Popular Music,’ or visit http://documentingpopularmusic.libsyn.com or iTunes.) In the 1970s, the most popular song of the decade was Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” which spend 10 weeks at the top of Billboard’s singles chart in 1977. While the overwhelming success of the song overshadows other aspects of Boone’s career, the eternally optimistic singer has had a varied and successful career in multiple musical genres. In a new interview with journalist Robert Neil, Boone talks about the unusual circumstances that created the opportunity to record “You Light Up My Life,” and the odd path that followed. In her typically good-natured way, Boone jokes about how ‘green’ she was at that time and how her desire to sing in a variety of styles ultimately left her with a ‘branding’ problem. She also talks about members of her famous family, and the conversation goes well beyond her legendary father Pat Boone. Debby is also related to two other iconic and hugely important musical performers: country singer Red Foley and singer/actress Rosemary Clooney. Foley, considered one of the most important figures in the history of country music, was Boone’s maternal grandfather, and Clooney, who recorded some of the most popular pop songs of the early 1950s, was Boone’s mother-in-law. In a free-flowing, casual interview, Boone talks about her famous relations, and Neil also speaks with John Rumble, senior historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, who offers some insights into Foley’s career.
Aug 31, 2018