McRae Baker Faithful

I love creating mp3 cds of mixed styles, generations & voices. On this one there is Carmen McRea, Anita Baker & Marianne Faithful. Can you imagine them doing an album together? Neither can I. I picked up a couple of 2nd Carmen’s lps decades ago & enjoyed them enough to transfer them to cd, then to mp3. I like her take on Alfie. The songs are jazz/pop standards & her style bridges jazz & pop nicely without becoming lounge. Not a mellow voice but pleasant enough. She’s in the Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson mold. Here I have: Sings The Great American Songwriters, Alfie, Portrait of Carmen.


I enjoy Anita Baker. She has a warm, sensual voice than could wring emotion out the phonebook (do they still publish phonebooks?). A female Barry White. She sings about love, unrequited, betrayed, lost, fulfilled & unexpected. The songs tend to merge into one another though – unless one is a real fan it is hard to tell them apart or even to tell which lp any one song is from. Comfortable, non-demanding easy-listening adult music. Psalms to codependency. Here I have Compositions, Rhythm of Love, My Everything. Copied from a friend’s collection.

Finally, as a real contrast to the other two, is Marianne Faithful’s Strange Weather. This is a stunning lp filled with songs like Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Her voice is astounding, her world-weary lived-in interpretation of these songs is dour but not defeated. I love this lp & the emotional depth & history she brings without making the work maudlin or depressing. As she sings ‘As Tears Go By’ you sense that she doesn’t regret crying but that she’s not crying anymore. She’s a survivor. A must have.  


Jim had to piss. Badly. He cursed the extra large coffee in his hand. If he didn’t have this so called important meeting at work, he would have stuck to the usual medium but felt he needed that extra zip of caffeine to get through it. Now here he was in transit and needing to take a pee so bad he was tempted to find a corner on the subway car to do it. He’d had to take this leak for the last two stops. He had another dozen or so to go and knew he couldn’t hold it. 

So against his better instinct he stepped off at the Bloor/Yonge station. He knew there were public washrooms there. The thought of going in there filled him with dread. Thousands of men a day went into this bathroom and the place had to be a cess pool of filth, stink & germs. 

The washroom was tidier than he expect though, but busy. Men of various heights at all the urinals. It looked like the last toilet stall was unoccupied. Even if all the urinals had been free he would have headed for a stall. Privacy was the key in public places.

He could smell shit. The smell got stronger as he neared the stall. Just what he needed. Some people couldn’t flush. Was that why this one was unoccupied. He nudged it open with his elbow. His hands touched nothing. His foot slid a bit on the damp floor and he nudged the door with more force that he intended. Something stopped it from inside.


There was someone in there. The door bumped whomever it was on the head. The whomever slumped forward off the toilet pushing the door shut again. One arm slid into the next booth. The head protruded from under the door. It lay at a weird angle to the rest of the body.

Jim dropped his coffee and stepped back.

“There’s a body there.” He said to the man he bumped into.

The next stall emptied. Jim stepped in over the arm. Body or not he had to take a piss. Damned if he was going to wet his pants and then have to talk to the police.

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Van McCoy Voyage

This mp3 cd collection is filed under Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony. Sweet Rhythm contains the hit The Hustle – which is a disco icon of the  Philadelphia sound. Strings galore, flute & still a template for dance music that emulates old skool. To be honest I hated it then but now it is sweet nostalgia & more than bmp under a diva’s voice.  Van McCoy died young in 1979 of a heart attack. Sweet Rhythm is easy & sexy.

Peter Brown’s A Fantasy Love Affair is more brilliantly produced dance music. In 1977 his 12″ version of “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me” reached the million dollar mark making it the first gold 12” single in history. This one brings back memories of my arrival in Toronto in 1979 & my discovery of discos in the gay ghetto. This is hip thrusting music, catchy & fun. Sexual & sexy.

These two were performers I had heard of before I downloaded their lps (with bonus tracks). The rest of there were unknown to be, even though I did know the songs. All were ‘discovered’ by tracks posted in my Tumblr feed. My music collection needed more r’n’b from the 70’s/80’s to round it out. 

I have the hits collection by The Main Ingredient: Everybody Plays the Fool that includes Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely. I loved both these songs but didn’t know who originated them. A sold soul band with strong vocals – reminiscent of groups like the The Four Tops – this is great music. Similar but more on the disco side is B.T. Express: Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied) B. T. stand for Brooklyn Transit. Great club music with a strong sexy edge.

I don’t know what the T stands for in T-Connection. This a band out Nassau, the Bahamas. I have the  Expanded Edition of their self titled album that includes the dance floor monster ‘At Midnight.’ The song brings back memories of getting home after Midnight and reeking go cigarette smoke & sweat. A good memory. Similar to them is Con Funk Shun’s Funk Essentials. As you might guess this a dance funk band – one that I’d never heard of before but am happy to hear now.

The holds true for Blue Magic. I have the remastered release of their first, 1974 lp. More in The Spinners mode of funk.  The longest lasting of many of these groups is Earth Wind & Fire here I have their 1980 Faces. I have several of their other lps scattered through my vast collection. Best known for their ballads this is another smooth, funky with a dash of jazzy band that produced dozens of constant lps.

Finally a San Jose, garage soul band Syndicate of Sound: Little Girl. This a bit of an anomaly here as fun, disco isn’t noted for garage bands the way rock’b’roll is – oddly street-corner doo-wop was never considered as garage band – maybe too much emphasis on vocal harmony 🙂 Anyway this a fun lp, energy with interesting r’n’b under pinning.

Had Enough

Except for the bartender the tavern was deserted. Doug ordered a bottle beer. Took a table that wasn’t too dark. He sat and watched the beads of condensation form and trickle down the side of the bottle. They pooled around the bottom. The pool heavier on one side than the other. The table wasn’t level. He wondered if there would be enough bottle sweat for it to form a stream away from the bottle.

As his eyes adjusted he could see the stains of other bottles left to stand on the table. The lights from the bar reflected and distorted on the wet surface of the bottle.

“You gonna drink that or what?”

“Huh?” Doug looked up.

“You been staring down that bottle for the last ten minutes. Won’t jump up to you mouth, you know, you gotta lite it for the full effect.”

Doug looked up to the voice. It was a young man. Late 20’s, he guessed. Shaved head big smile loose t-shirt and baggy shorts.

“Or would you rather be left alone.”

“I’m just having a beer and a think. Not looking to buy anything else.”

“Do I look like a hustler to you?”

Doug shrugged. He didn’t know what a hustler would look like but figured no one talked to strangers in places like this just to make conversation.

“Besides you look to be doing more thinkin’ than drinkin’.”

“Yeah. Well a think is all I wanted. Here …” Doug slid the beer towards the bald man. “I’ve had enough to think for one day.”

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Diggin’ Led Zeppelin

I picked up ‘Diggin’ My Potatoes’ a stand-alone compilation of Leadbelly tracks – original vintage recordings that have been sonically cleaned up. There were several such compilations of various blues artists released on the Blue Label. HMV had them on sale for $4.99 each. Excellent liner notes alone made it worth the price. The songs are classics – Rock Island Line, CC Rider – that have been recorded by so many rock, blues country groups it is good, & important, to hear these originals. Some of which are funnier & more sexual than expected.

One band that was influenced by Leadbelly is Led Zeppelin. I still remember hearing the first riffs of that first track when their first lp was released. I love it, I loved it all – though I did find the drum solo (on II) aimless & too long, but the guitar work was wicked. I have as stand-alones: I, II, III, IV, Houses of the Holy as mp3: Physical Graffiti, Live at the BBC.Each has tracks I love & some tracks I merely tolerate 🙂 I love the sonics on Houses Of The Holy – the songs are moodier it is my favourite of all the lps. The BBC sessions are amazing & shows Zeppelin’s prog rock side more clearly than any of the lps do.

On the mp3 collection that includes Physical Graffiti is: Donnie Elbert’s The Best Of: slightly obscure 60’s soul singer with a great voice. Best of The Big Bopper: a less obscure r’n’b rock singer with a string of well-know hits (Chantilly Lace). He has a great sexy voice that makes innocent into suggestive. Five Stair Steps: The First Family of Soul – best remembered for OOH Child they are the prototype for The Jacksons.

It made sense to me to add The Spiral Staircase’s More Than Yesterday here. Best remembered for that title song they produced fine blue-eyed soul. Unlike the rest is Zal Yanovsky’s Alive & Well In Argentina – a founding member of the Lovin’ Spoonful he left because of their commercial direction. He managed this one solo release which is fun but more for fans of the obscure like myself 🙂 Finally something a little more modern Van Morrison’s Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue. More about this when I get to M.



“Goddammit! We’re going to Hell in a handkerchief.” My gran stopped to take a breath.

“What?” I didn’t want to stop shovelling but I’d never her swear or ever heard that ‘handkerchief’ phrase.

“I said we’re all going to Hell in a handkerchief. The way folks complain, I mean, a little snow is no big thing but it’s top news story at six.”

I kept shovelling. The snow had been falling for two days when my Dad texted me to go over to shovel her out. After the two days of flurries I expected her to be snowbound. But she had already cleared a narrow path from her front door to the sidewalk. I was making the path wider.

“How are things in school?”

She was always on to me about school. I never knew what she wanted to know. If was going bad she tell me to be grateful there’s still schools to go to but if I was doing okay she’d just laugh and tell me enjoy it while it lasted.

“Fine Gran. No complaints from my students.”

The snow kept falling.

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Richard III – Stratford Festival


Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 


All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

#Kazaky Crew

I couldn’t resist Ukrainian-based synthpop dance boyband Kazaky. I have mp3 collection that includes their: I Like It (Part 1); I Like It (Part 2); The Hills Chronicles. Their videos are campy, homoerotically charged works of transgressive art. They have more style than Lady Gaga ever dreamed of & dance moves to shame Beyonce. The songs are mostly high-energy, good for writing to, sonically dense. Lyrics are erotic, political without trying to – lets face it any Ukrainian band that embraces sexuality, of any kind, is making a political statement. I’m not sure why they are labelled a ‘boyband’? Is Tool a ‘boyband’? Anyway check out the videos & then download the music.

Also here – in my dedication to moving time eras & music styles of boybands are: The Chi-Lites: Original Brunswick Hit Recordings. Best remembered for Ooh Girl this is a soulful r’n’b music. Romantic sweet & great for making out. With a more disco beat is The Hues Corporation: Rockin’ Soul. You might remember them from Rock the Boat – pleasant predictable songs about dancing, music & love;. A step up the disco ladder is The Wonderland Band’s Wonder Woman – disco takes of themes music – mainly instrumental & slightly obscure. I take a break from disco with Megon McDonough: Music Inspired by the 4 Agreements. I read the book, I got the music 🙂 sensitive piano music & songs like ‘Your Word Is Your Wand’ that affirm the agreements. Also by way of departure is Kesha’s Rainbow. Modern music by an almost superstar exploring beyond dance music with some gospel, rock, ballad & even a touch of country. All done well. On a more old school soulful side are The Allergies: Push On. When I first heard them I though this was an early 70’s soul band but they are 2018 re-creators of that time era. Superb & well worth tracking down. Finally is Deepest Blue’s Late September – a return to old-school disco. Smooth, beautifully engineered, emotive songs about the power of music, lost loves & love.

God’s Plan

Mary talks cancer like a researcher. She knows more about cellular biology and mitosis than my own doctor does. I know that because I asked him on my last visit if he could help me understand. The blank look on his face told me all I needed to know – that I didn’t need to know any more than I did. 

Mary’s conversations dwelled almost entirely on cancer. The various friends, family members she knew. or had heard of, who had been stricken, could be stricken or had died recently. Everyone she knew what dying of something; that’s why I went to my doctor to make sure I was well, not undiagnosed. 

Mary would show me photos on her smart phone. Amazingly high-def looks inside cell clusters, diseased livers, lung tissue that had been over taken by the endless grasp of the killer. She would explain each one to me in a school-teacherly way, as if I needed to taught this lesson, as if I could find out form her how to avoid this.

Mary was sure there was no way to avoid it, but she wanted to be prepared. Cancer agents were in everything. The food we ate, the air we breathed, the shoes we wore. I didn’t know how to tell her that I didn’t really give a shit about all this. ‘If cancer is everywhere it must be part of God’s plan.’ I told her once. She did not find that funny.

Mary had no plan of escape. She had armed herself with all this knowledge. How to keep her own cells healthy with carrot juice, kiwi oil. she sanitized her hands after every touch of anything. Clean clean clean. That was part of her solution. Keep very clean. ‘So clean you don’t build up resistance to anything.’ I once observed. She didn’t find that funny.

Mary was sure my attitude would kill me sooner than hers would kill her. She was healthy. Always on guard against the constant onslaught of danger.

Mary couldn’t see me anymore. She would phone, she would send me the latest info, and internet sites to check out, on what I needed to know to be as safe as she was. But she couldn’t see anyone, didn’t t want to spend time in close proximity to people, to the things people touched, people were disease factories. 

Mary only felt safe from cancer in her home where she could control everything. She got rid of as much plastic as possible, filtered her water. Her cancer free haven. She had the statics to show she was doing the right things. She would out live the cockroach with all her precautions. She had reduced her risks to under 1%, she had added years to her life with all this careful protection. 

I asked her ‘Who wants to live that long if that’s how one has to live to stay alive?’ She didn’t find that funny.. Humour causes cancer.

every Tuesday 2019


15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

Thursday 7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA


23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

Joe Joe Jo Joe Joe Joe

This next cd on the shelf is an mp3 collection filed under ‘j’ for Joe because these are all ‘Joe’s.’

Here is Joe Simon’s My adorable one (Vee Jay); Happy Birthday, Baby; Get Down. The first is a compilation of singles when he was recording with Vee Jay. Soulful & sweet & traditional r’n’b. The next two are later in his career and have a great strut disco sound that I love. You know that Blaxploitation movie sound that Isaac Hayes perfected. The songs are more sexual with great make out groove sultriness. His voice is pure sex too. 

Joe Tex: The Very Best Of – an amazing combo of gospel, country & soul. Another of those rich commanding voices that gave even indifferent material greater depth of feeling. Music I never heard on my local top 40 radio & now love.

Joe South: Introspect. Another southern soul singer with an amazing voice & also an amazing writer, best known for Game People Play, Never Promised You A Rose Garden – he straddled country & pop. Romantic social commentary.

Big Joe Turner: The Blues Collection – early rock’n’roll – Shake, Rattle, and Roll – soulful rock-a-billy by a performer who influenced nearly everyone starting with Elvis. Good fun stuff that’s great for doing housework 🙂

Jo Stafford – You Belong To Me. Stretching the Jo a little with this fine set of songs by one of the foremost female vocalists of the 50’s/60’s. Jo has a pure voice that is more jazz than pop. She was never in the youth market – this is adult music. Here is a set of a great show/movie songs done well.

Finally Country Joe McDonald: The Vanguard Years. Yes this the Country Joe of Country Joe & the Fish. He did have a solo career before, during & after the Fish. More hippy, folk blues than psychedelic experimental mind you. Just as political, romantic & never escape that faint counter-culture of marijuana. At least then grass was counter-culture.

Dead Details

‘This is Ross Hadley.’ The old gent ran his finger along the newspaper clipping. The photo showed several students surrounding a fellow who had broken his leg in a ski accident. The newspaper was over 50 years old and the old gent was pulled into his past before our very eyes. ‘He was Rob’s best friend. That’s Rob there with the broken leg.’

Rob was on the outer edge of the group. Face `turned toward the camera while most of the other faces where turned in his direction. I knew which one Rob was, as this was Rob’s funeral. 

I had selected the group of photos to put out. All of them were from a time when many of us wouldn’t have known Rob. But for this man, only this one was of a time when he knew Rob.

‘Ross and Rob were best of friends. Couldn’t pry them apart. Great chums they where. Ross we called Suit because he would show up in a different suit nearly everyday.’

Turns out they had gone to a proper dress school. Business suits were required.

‘We found out later that Ross’s Dad ran some sort of garment shop – made linens for all the hospitals in the city at that time and supplied uniforms too. So of course he could get decent clothes easily. Suit. Haven’t seen a picture of Suit for years. Not this one ever. You got any others.’

I didn’t. I had wanted a selection for the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. To bring a memory of a Rob we didn’t know, rather than current ones, they would be reminders of the Rob we would never see again.

‘He wasn’t much a student. I can recall one of his teachers saying ‘It would be nice if Rob would leave his dream world and join us in class.’ ’

I guess teachers don’t change much because I can recall a teacher saying almost the same thing to me years later in another part of the world. Big world, but the details remain the same. Boys would be boys wherever they were in time or place.

‘He was always laughing though. People liked him. You know? Now Ross here married Grace O’Connor. Her Dad owned several bakeries. Wonder what became of them? Haven’t heard of Ross for many years. I read the obits everyday though, so, just like reading about Rob here, I may see what’s become of Ross too.’

every Tuesday 2019


Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: 

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Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

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