Sunday, 19 September 2021

Ten Great Songs Featuring David Paich

DarioZg / Shutterstock.com


David Paich is a keyboardist and founder member of the American rock band Toto. He sang their most popular song “Africa”. Toto is a band of session musicians, thus David has a prolific session career playing on numerous albums. In this article, I am featuring ten songs David has played keyboards on including one song by his band Toto. David is joined by most of his original Toto bandmates on some of the non-Toto tracks on this list. I had previously featured two songs David Paich played on in my article “Ten Great Piano Rock Songs by Ten Different Singers”. 


These Days - Jackson Browne (1973)

This song begins with just Jackson and his acoustic guitar with some slide guitar parts. It continues that way until just before the chorus when David Paich’s piano comes in at just under a minute. David’s piano is a welcome addition that makes the song whole. He gives good accompaniment including being a good match for David Lindley’s slide guitar. 


Put Out the Light - Joe Cocker (1974)

This is a soulful rocker featuring David Paich’s piano, wacky guitars, horns and powerful backing vocals. Joe Cocker sings with such passion. While the piano isn’t the loudest instrument, it has a great presence including some glissandos. The saxophone is there throughout a lot of the song including some solos. 


Doctor Wu - Steely Dan (1975)

This is a piano driven soft rock song with a jazz influence as Steely Dan are a jazz rock band. David stated that he played on this song, so I’m assuming that the piano part is his. David is joined by his future Toto bandmate Jeff Porcaro who also plays on the next two songs. There is a saxophone through sections of the song including a solo. The guitar part is subtle. The piano playing is cool and melodic. The sax and piano goes in a more jazz direction towards the end of the song.


Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs (1976)

This is a popular song by Boz Scaggs which is co-written with David Paich. Elton John is an influence of David Paich which comes through in this song as it sounds like an Elton John song including its piano. The song features the bass and drums in the first twenty seconds until all the instruments come in. There are horns which are most prominent during the chorus. David is playing all the keyboards on this song which include piano and synths. He is joined by another future Toto bandmate, bassist David Hungate. Boz sings powerfully with his high voice. There are prominent synth parts in the last minute of the song which David doubles with his piano. Having both piano and synths gives a foreshadow of Toto’s sound. 


Manuela Run - Toto (1978)

I’m now including a song by David Paich’s band Toto. This is a song from their 1978 debut album (which also features their hit song “Hold the Line”) which he wrote, played on and sang lead vocals. It opens with David’s piano riff which is played throughout the song. David sings “round” in an interesting way. Bobby Kimball sings good backing vocals. It also features good synthesizer playing by Steve Porcaro and a guitar solo by Steve Lukather. It has a unique end with a few piano notes followed by a closing door. This song is both pop rock and progressive rock.  


The Retreat - Elton John (1980)

This is a great Elton John ballad about the American Civil War. The guitar is played by fellow Toto member Steve Lukather. It has Elton’s piano and singing for up until the end of the first verse. The full band comes in from the first chorus featuring prominent organ by David Paich and interesting guitar parts by Steve Lukather. The organ continues throughout the song and adds to it. There is a synthesizer by James Newton Howard which comes in during the last minute of the song. The synthesizer goes back and forth with the organ and then with the guitar. 


Allies - Heart (1983)

This song features David Paich on piano and synth. It was written by Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain and this song is somewhat reminiscent of the Journey hit “Don’t Stop Believin’” with its combination of piano and intense guitars. It opens with the piano and is soon joined by Ann Wilson’s voice. The strong guitars come in as brief interjections in the first verse before fully coming in during the chorus. Ann sings powerfully on this song, especially in the harder rocking parts. The verses are piano driven. There is a section with David’s piano playing with his synth which reminds me of Toto. This is an intense ballad featuring powerful rock piano. 


New York Minute - Don Henley (1989)

This is an epic six and a half minute song which has a jazz influence. It opens with an orchestra that’s arranged by David Paich with flourishes of his piano. Following that there are keyboard notes which are soon joined by Pino Palladino’s bass and David’s piano. Jeff Porcaro’s drums and Pino’s bass have some jazz vibes. David’s piano too does this in the verses. Close to the two minute mark, Danny Kortchmar’s guitar brings rock to the song which goes away in the second verse and comes back for the chorus. African-American Christian vocal group Take 6 provide backing vocals during the chorus. At around the three minute and forty five second mark, the trumpet appears and has some notes throughout the remainder of the song. 


There Is No Greater Love - Wayne Watson (1992)

As a Christian, I was pleased to find out that David Paich played on a Christian song. The opening orchestra notes are similar to the previous song. This song has the simple arrangement of piano and orchestra. Piano and orchestra without any guitar, bass and drums is not my favourite arrangement as that runs the risk of it being a boring ballad for me. Thankfully, that is not the case here. David plays his piano powerfully. 


Please Forgive Me - Bryan Adams (1993)

David Paich’s acoustic piano comes for a short moment at the start of the song. What appears to be an electric piano replaces it until the chorus where the acoustic piano comes back. The acoustic piano is powerful when it returns. The chorus rocks with strong guitars and some hard hitting piano. This is a powerful rock ballad.  


David has played on a variety of different rock styles featured here being pop rock, soft rock, hard rock, progressive rock, jazz rock and rock & roll. There is also a Christian song featured. These songs cover a twenty year period from 1973 to 1993. I’m a fan of piano in rock music and piano is featured in all of these songs. David played piano on all the songs except one which is played by Elton John. This is fitting as Elton is a hero of David’s. These songs showcase David Paich’s great piano & keyboard playing as well as his skills as a songwriter, singer, arranger and producer. 

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Positive Sri Lankan Happenings in 2021

Sri Lanka is unfortunately in a sad state right now with its biggest problem being the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also the X-Press Pearl ship tragedy which is causing a serious marine environmental disaster as well as the floods and landslides. As a comfort to these difficult times, I decided to provide a list of positive incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka during the first half of this year. As I heard many of these stories from the companies responsible, I would like to say that I have no affiliation with any of these companies. I’m not trying to downplay or deny the problems facing Sri Lanka. I’m showcasing a side of Sri Lanka which gets less attention. I feature stories relating to exports, agriculture, sustainable business, the environment and more.


Tea Export Increases

The first three months of this year saw an increase of tea exports compared with the first three months of last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In January to March 2020, Sri Lanka exported 59.58 million kilograms of tea. This figure rose to 69.89 million kilograms of tea in January to March 2021 reporting a 17.3% increase. Similarly, Sri Lanka’s tea production in those periods increased by 34.2% from 53.68 million kilograms in January to March 2020 to 74.03 million kilograms in January to March 2021.


Spotify Sri Lanka

On the 24th of February, Spotify launched in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a popular global streaming service allowing people to listen to music. Spotify’s launch in Sri Lanka is part of its expansion into over 80 new markets globally. Spotify’s free service has restrictions, most notably its advertisements. Spotify Premium is the paid version of the service that is ad-free and allows downloading songs for offline listening. Spotify Sri Lanka has different premium plans for student, individual, duo and family. Listeners in Sri Lanka can listen to both international and Sri Lankan music on Spotify. An international album I recommend is the 1989 album “Sleeping With The Past” by my favourite singer Elton John. It features the hit songs “Healing Hands”, “Sacrifice”’ and “Club At The End Of The Street” which are well known in Sri Lanka (links lead to those songs on Spotify).


Sustainable Business

In early April, it was reported that Cargills initiated the first car park made of non-recyclable plastic in Sri Lanka. They partnered with AGC Innovate to launch the initiative “Paving with Plastic” where they made the decision to pave their Food City car parks using Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete (PMAC), a green form of concrete using plastic. Plastic after use causes environmental problems due to staying in the environment without decomposing. The first car park constructed this way is the car park of their new Food City outlet in Walgama, a suburb of Matara. This car park has an area of 2100 square metres constructed using 800 kilograms of plastic waste which is the equivalent of 200,000 plastic bags.

   

Similarly, later that month Cargills teamed up with Unilever to reduce plastic waste for a recycling initiative. This initiative is a sustainable plastic waste management system that is operating at nine Cargills Food City Colombo outlets in addition to one KFC restaurant. There are bins at these locations where customers can dispose of hard plastics (cubs, tubs, bottles) or flexible plastics (wrappers, shopping bags). This plastic waste will be taken to a collection hub where it will be further segregated. The recyclable plastic waste will be sent to recycling centres and the non-recyclable plastic waste will go to waste-to-energy recovery centres for incineration. Cargills hope to eventually extend the project to cover all of their Food City outlets.


Unilever, the partner on Cargills’ plastic waste management system, revealed on this year’s World Environment Day (5th of June) that they’ve reduced their per tonne water consumption over the last decade by 73% through the 100% Re-Aqua initiative. The 100% Re-Aqua initiative part of their Ceytea Factory deals with reusing water. Unilever has decreased their yearly water consumption by 135,400 cubic metres (approximately 135 million litres). This is equivalent to the amount of water used by 1,100 Sri Lankan households annually.


Exports Training  

On the 3rd of May, the Colombo School of Business Management (CSBM) signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Institute of Exports (NIOE), the educational division of the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCESL). Under this new agreement, CBSM will teach programs previously developed and taught by the NIOE. The first program to be taught under this partnership will be a Diploma in International Trade Management. It was developed with the assistance of experienced specialists of the international trading industry and will be taught by industry professionals. Many field visits are included to give students a holistic understanding of the industry. The NCESL when talking about this initiative pointed out that export managers currently are primarily self-made with only some recognition unlike managers in other professions.


Discovery of an Undisturbed Coral Reef

The Sri Lanka Navy revealed that they discovered an undisturbed coral reef on the 7th of May. This reef is located in Sri Lanka’s Eastern coastline, being placed 1.5 to 4.5 metres below the sea surface. The reef spreads over 500 by 500 metres, giving an area of 25 hectares which is a quarter of a square kilometre. The Navy chose not to reveal the specific location of the reef as they are concerned that several visits to the reef may threaten its safety. This is important to Sri Lanka’s ocean, especially after the X-Press Pearl environmental disaster.


Rubber

On the 16th of May, Dr. L.M.K. Tillekeratne, former head of the Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka (RRISL) wrote an article “Improved rubber prices should see increase in production” in the Sunday Times where he pointed out that rubber production in Sri Lanka has unfortunately been declining. He mentioned that one of the main reasons for this decline is the low rubber prices in the world market which in recent years was usually below the production cost. There is a need to increase production of raw rubber and use them to make value-added products such as examination gloves that are in big demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dr. Tillekeratne mentioned that there is currently a massive demand for rubber showing a significant increase in rubber prices that will last for more months if not years. Rubber farmers have the opportunity to apply agricultural methods recommended by the RRISL mentioned in the article to take advantage of the higher prices. Doing this will likely lead to improved annual rubber yields in kilograms per hectare. This month, a Sri Lankan rubber and tea plantation company Kelani Valley Plantations PLC (KVPL) received a Sustainability Framework Certificate. The natural rubber sector has issues of deforestation and this certification signifies KNPL is involved in sustainable rubber production.


Reforestation 

The John Keells Foundation, the charitable division of the John Keells Group announced early this month their three year collaboration with non-governmental organisation (NGO) Ruk Rakagano (The Tree Society of Sri Lanka) in reforesting 20 hectares of forest land. The reforestation is for the Suduwalipotha Forest in the Kalawana Range. This project will plant at least 13,000 trees in its first year which will be maintained for the remainder of the three years. Native vegetation will be planted in this land with the intention to transform it into a similar environment to that of the Sinharaja Forest which it is located next to.


MSMEs

This month it was reported that the Sri Lankan organisation Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Industries (COSMI) signed an agreement with the European Association for Trade - Crafts - Industries (EIVHGI) in Vienna, Austria. This agreement is to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in South Asia and to promote business partnerships between the two regions. Sri Lankan MSMEs have the opportunities to benefit from it. Sri Lankan MSMEs can make progress in post-COVID industry development through it as it includes knowledge transfer of trade, craft and industry from Europe.


These are a selection of positive stories from Sri Lanka so far this year. Similar to how those responsible for these stories used their knowledge and skills, I hope others will use their skills to work on the immediate problems facing Sri Lanka as well as long term issues that stem from Sri Lanka’s status as a developing country. Let’s work towards a better Sri Lanka.


Sunday, 6 June 2021

New Udurawana Jokes


There is a set of popular Sri Lankan jokes known as Udurawana Jokes, which are about a Sri Lankan

who doesn’t know English well. I had made reference to Udurawana Jokes previously on this blog

where I said they could be presented in comic book form in my article “The Potential of Sri Lankan

English Comics”. I decided to write my own set of Udurawana Jokes to add to the existing ones. As

Udurawana was a real person, I thought I’d mention that I intend no disrespect to him. I’m using the

name Udurawana due to the iconic nature of these jokes in Sri Lankan society.


Threw in the Towel

Udurawana was talking with his office colleagues about someone who left their workplace.

Colleague: “He really threw in the towel.”

Udurawana: “No wonder he’s gone! He must have thrown in his towel at work leading to him getting

fired.”


Web Designer 

Udurawana was drawing spider webs on paper. His friend asked him “Why are you drawing spider

webs?” Udurawana replied “I’m studying to be a web designer.” 


All Greek to Me

Udurawana’s friend Rukshan was reading a document which he was finding hard and said “It’s all

Greek to me.” Udurawana responded with “No Rukshan. This is English.”  


Farther

Udurawana was in conversation with an acquaintance Nilakshi who asked him “How farther away are

you?”

Udurawana: “My father lives 15 minutes walking distance from my house.”


Maldives

Udurawana was reading that the capital of Sri Lanka’s neighbour the Maldives is Malé so he thought

“Why do the Maldives have all the males in their capital and all the females elsewhere?”


Chairman

Udurawana met a company chairman. He remarked “So you’re responsible for buying and dealing with

your company’s chairs.” 


Candy 

Udurawana was travelling overseas and he saw Candy in a shop. He got excited and bought four

packs as he believed it was the food of his hometown Kandy, Sri Lanka that he was missing.


Sighted 

Udurawana was at a dinner when an acquaintance said “I sighted you at the University.”

Udurawana: “You couldn’t have cited me in your University assignment. I haven’t written any articles.”


Book

Udurawana was calling a restaurant that he was considering going out for dinner that day and was

asking questions about the food.

Restaurant Staff: “Shall I book you in?”

Udurawana: “I don’t want to buy a book. I want to find a place to eat out for dinner.” 


Let’s Eat and Meet

Udurawana was chatting online with his friend Rukshan who proposed “Let’s eat and meet.”

Udurawana responded with “What type of meat?”


Tweet

Udurawana’s friend said “I’ve been tweeting my excitement about this new film.” Udurawana not

knowing that a tweet relates to social media site Twitter said “Stop acting like a fool making bird

noises. That’s the wrong way to express excitement.”


Cruise

Udurawana’s friend was talking about a cruise ship that arrived in Sri Lanka. Udurawana responded

“What’s special about that? We get ships with crews all the time.”


Dust

Udurawana was involved in setting up a big event. He was dusting a food dish with pepper. Following

that, he was asked to dust the room. Udurawana got dust and sprinkled dust all over the place making

it more messy than it already was.


Bigger Fish to Fry

Udurawana was visiting his parents in the afternoon and offered to take them out to dinner that night.

Udurawana’s mother said “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” Udurawana then went to the supermarket,

bought some big fish and came back to his parents home to fry this fish as a meal for dinner. 


Cut the Mustard

Udurawana was attending cooking school and was instructed to make a fish curry. Udurawana’s

instructor tasted Udurawana’s curry and wasn’t pleased with it saying “This doesn’t cut

the mustard.” Udurawana responded “But sir. There is no mustard.”


Udurawana’s Definitions 

Manslaughter: Man’s laughter 

Facebook: A book with people’s faces.

Postmaster: Company boss in the future.

Copywriter: A person who copyrights things.

Blackmail: Mail used for illegal purposes. 

Brainwash: An operation where a surgeon washes your brain.


Wears Many Hats

Udurawana was at a party and his friend Rukshan was introducing him to someone.

Rukshan: “This is Thilan. He is a very talented person who wears many hats.”

Udurawana: “Hi Thilan! How many hats do you own?” 


So that was my collection of Udurawana Jokes. I hope to write more Udurawana Jokes on this blog. If you enjoyed this, you might be interested in my previous blog post “Humorous and Interesting AI Talk on Sri Lanka”.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Elton John & Billy Joel's Rocking Rivers of Gospel

In the 1990s, there were two similar songs dealing with rivers in the gospel rock style. One song was from America and the other was from England. They were by popular piano playing singers Billy Joel & Elton John. They both came out in significant periods of their careers as in Billy’s case “The River Of Dreams” was the title track of his last studio album of popular music and in Elton’s case his song “If The River Can Bend” came out shortly after his releasing the most popular worldwide single “Candle In The Wind 1997” for Princess Diana. That single was paired as a double A-side with “Something About The Way You Look Tonight”. If The River Can Bend comes from the album “The Big Picture” that features “Something About The Way You Look Tonight”. I recently featured Billy’s song in my article “Ten Great Non-Relationship Rock Songs by Ten Different Singers”. I’m embedding the official YouTube audio of the songs below and will discuss and compare them. 


Billy Joel - The River Of Dreams (1993)


Elton John - If The River Can Bend (1997)


The River Of Dreams opens with percussion, but soon a common opening forms with “If The River Can Bend” once the keyboards come in. Both songs’ opening features them singing sounds alongside keyboards and percussion with Billy going “ooohhoo ahahhhaa ...” and Elton going “oh oh …”. They both bring in their piano following this. Just after the middle section of each song, there is a rocking piano solo. Both feature a gospel choir. The protagonists of both songs have things they don’t know, such as where their destination is going.


I’ll now go into some of the differences. The River Of Dreams was a hit song, whereas “If The River Can Bend”, released as a single, was not a hit song. It did reach a modest Number 32 in Elton’s native UK. Elton’s song seems to relate to a relationship or friendship unlike Billy’s song. Billy sings about “searching for something” and Elton sings about finding someone waiting “if the river can bend”. The River Of Dreams obviously deals with dreams unlike “If The River Can Bend”. If The River Can Bend has an orchestra. While the guitar parts are similar on both songs, they are more prominent in Elton’s song, especially towards the end. A well-known difference is the songwriting of each singer as Billy writes both the music and lyrics while Elton writes the music with lyrics by a lyricist who for this song is his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. 


As I Christian, I find the gospel music and themes in these songs interesting. Unlike Elton John, Billy Joel makes some clear Christian references in his song. As Bob Seger is one of the topics I write about on this blog, I like the fact that Billy sometimes plays part of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” in the middle of “The River Of Dreams” in his concerts. Infact, my previous blog post was about “Old Time Rock & Roll”. I was pleased to find out that Elton & Billy sang “Old Time Rock & Roll” together in their show on the 13th of October 2002 in Uniondale, New York. Similarly, it’s interesting to note that for Elton John & Billy Joel’s 1998 European tour, each singer performed their river song in their solo setlist. It was unfortunately only a few shows with Billy Joel in Europe due to Billy’s illness.


This is a similarity between Elton John and Billy Joel which I don’t believe has been mentioned before. Feel free to give your thoughts on these songs. I’d be interested in hearing people’s thoughts on the song meanings of these two river songs. I hope to write about other similar songs in the future.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Bob Seger's Old Time Rock & Roll Live

In 2004, American rock singer Bob Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One of the two songs he performed with the Silver Bullet Band at his induction ceremony was his iconic hit “Old Time Rock & Roll”. The song comes from his 1978 album “Stranger in Town” and I wrote an article about the making of it for its 40th anniversary three years ago. I recently discovered an official video of him performing that song that was uploaded by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year to YouTube on Bob Seger 75th birthday. I’m pleased that they uploaded this video as I had been wanting to see this performance for years. In this post, I’m embedding the video below with my thoughts on it afterward.


This version has similarities to the live version on his 1981 live album “Nine Tonight” which includes the rockier guitar solos by Drew Abbott, Alto Reed’s saxophone solos and Craig Frost’s piano. I’m pleased that this version has the original piano intro which is played by Craig Frost unlike the “Nine Tonight” version that uses a long guitar intro. A new component in this version is the more intense guitars which probably comes from Mark Chatfield who plays guitar alongside original Silver Bullet Band guitarist Drew Abbott. I’m glad that Drew reunited with the Silver Bullet Band for Bob Seger’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. 


You can see Bob’s enthusiasm and happiness in his performance. It’s evident when he calls and points to Drew Abbott before Drew’s first solo. This solo is Drew’s own creation taking inspiration from the song’s original solo by Forrest McDonald. About a minute later Alto performs his solo which is a more soulful variant of his original solo that’s been heard numerous times the world over. It’s special to see Alto as he sadly passed away in December 2020. 


I like how this version is longer than the original as there is an extended section near the end of the song. This section includes another guitar solo by Drew that takes elements from the guitar notes towards the end of the studio version. Alto also plays his saxophone solo a second time. It’s great to see Craig play prominent rock & roll piano notes in the middle of Alto’s solo. Old Time Rock & Roll is a globally popular classic rock song which is a celebration of the power of music, specifically rock & roll music. While Bob is singing about 50s rock & roll, to me this song is a celebration of his and other great rock & roll from his generation.


Friday, 9 April 2021

Cerno's Colombo

There is a popular Sri Lankan blogger who blogs under his online name Cerno. Five years ago, he made his Flickr photos in the public domain. I found great photos of Colombo, Sri Lanka in his Flickr so I decided to write a blog post using some of his Colombo photos with commentary by me.


We’ll begin with two photos of Independence Square. I like the angle he took in the second photo

which is capturing the Independence Memorial Hall in a great way. 



This is a nice shot of Colombo at night featuring interesting light effects.


This is what Cerno calls an “Unglamorous Colombo panorama”. He had taken this photo from Durdans Hospital in 2007. While this isn’t the poshest aspect of Colombo, I wouldn’t call it unglamorous. I think it’s a nice depiction of the Colombo suburbs. The abundance of buildings in Colombo are often criticised, but for me that’s part of Colombo’s charm. This picture has a lot of trees alongside buildings which I think is an aspect of the Colombo look and feel.


Here’s an old photo of Colombo probably taken in the mid or late 1980s. Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court complex can be seen in the picture. Colombo looks so different to how it is now.


Here’s a photo of Colombo taken much more recently in December 2012. This provides a strong

contrast to the previous picture taken in the 1980s. While both photos were taken from different places,

they both point towards Colombo Fort with the Bank of Ceylon building being the most common link

between the two. I personally prefer contemporary Colombo. This is the first in a set of photos Cerno

seems to have taken from a building.


Here’s a panorama taken from the same position, thus we get a much wider view including a better

look at the sea. Just like in the previous photo, we see alongside buildings many trees and the Beira

Lake.


There are quite a few colourful buildings in this photo. 


I’ll end this with a lovely shot of contemporary Colombo featuring modern buildings. We also see some

green with the trees, the Beira Lake and a bit of grass. One thing I’ve noticed in these four photos is

that there is hardly any traffic on the Colombo roads which seems strange to me as this is daytime

when the traffic is very intense. The peaceful Colombo roads are good to see.


These photos showcase attributes of Colombo which includes its history, modernity, uniqueness and

colour. If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in my previous blog post “Captivating Colombo

featuring photos I took of Colombo. I also started off that post with Independence Square.