Living with…Mary J Blige…for a week

Mary J Blige from musicisentropy's photostream on flickr

Mary J Blige from musicisentropy's photostream on flickr

Initially Yours

Before I even started listening to Mary J Blige (or MJB as she seems to like being called) I had to ask the question – what’s with the initial J then?  And what’s with all these other initials in pop rock and soul?  What do they stand for – some are puzzles, some are obvious.  So a quick and geeky no81bob’s A to Z rush through some redundant and not-so-redundant initials in music.

A AC/DC:  first of all Australian rockers Angus and Malcolm Young.  AC/DC can obviously stand for electricity or being bisexual.  Its probably the former – they saw it written down somewhere and thought it looked good.

B BB King:  the Blues guitarist name is based on a simple abbreviation of Blues Boy.  Simples.

C Cee Lo Green: Born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway – I can’ t find the reason behind the name Cee Lo – suggestions welcome.

D D:Ream: the group with the annoyingly catchy song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, they became the theme for New Labour before disappearing.  We are just left with the keyboards player Brian Cox explaining clever scientific things on television to us now.

E Ben E King:   And the E  stands for Earl. Cool.

F Christiane F: one of David Bowie’s lesser known albums. The soundtrack to a film about the aforementioned Miss F – cheery number about drug addiction.  Long way on from the Laughing Gnome.

G Bee Gees:  contrary to the obvious explanation that Bee Gees stands for Brothers Gibbs it was actually the initials of their early producers and backers.  Oh well, I think I prefers the Brothers Gibbs theory.

H Local H:  Not even the American rock duo know why they called themselves Local H, so leave it to the imagination.

I INXS: again fairly obvious, just an abbreviation of in excess.  These Australians, eh?

J Mary J Blige:  After all the excitement, I can reveal the J stands for….

Jane.  That may explain why she left it as J – just sounds that little bit more R&B, hip n hop.

K KC and the Sunshine Band: KC was Harry Wayne Casey.  So that makes sense.

L LCD Soundsystem: I guess LCD stands for liquid crystal display…no more exciting than that.

M Boney M: Several theories on the origins of the name.  My favourite is  it could be from a classic song of the 50s Boney Moronie (‘like a stick of macaroni’) a song that is sitting in my garage courtesy of my dad’s record collection.  It holds pride of place next to Tallahassie Lassie (‘she had quite a chassis’).

N N.W.A.: Niggaz Wit Attitudes.  Nuf said.

O OMD:  Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, one of my favourite 80’s synth bands and one for a future week, definitely.

P PiL: After the Sex Pistols was Public Image Limited (PiL)

Q Q-Tips:  The Q-Tips left us with Paul Young.  Not sure that we understand what the Q is for, but their namesake is great for cleaning out ears.  Not unlike Paul Young’s Love of the Common People.

R REM: Most obviously the band’s name could stand for Rapid Eye Movement.  But I quite like Mr Stipe’s own definition of Remember Every Moment.  Whatever, it is this is one of the better band acronyms out there.

S S Club 7: Rather like their music, the S stood for nothing.  Just sounded nice.

T Booker T and the MGs:  And the T stands for….T.  Booker T was christened with a middle name as an initial.  Cool.

U U2: the Irish band chose the name because it doesn’t really mean anything – it’s ambiguous.

V VNV Nation: the synth group’s name stands for Victory, Not Vengeance.  They also have a group motto “One should strive to achieve, not sit in bitter regret.”  All sounds a bit corporate to me.

W W Rock: Wizard Rock or W Rock is rock music inspired by Harry Potter.  Yup it does exist – just google wizard rock and wonder about what the world has come to.

X X Ray Spex: If no one can remember the music of punk band X Ray Spex they all remember the lead singer’s name – the brilliant and recently departed Poly Styrene.

Y /\/\/\Y/\: M.I.A.’s 2010 album has this name.  Why?

Z Jay Z: in his typical modest way Jay Z’s name means Jehovah, the greatest.  Always a modest one our Shawn.

but of course only Prince created his own letter of the alphabet.


The Breakthrough – Mary J Blige (2005)

So after I discovered she was just plain old Mary Jane, how did my week with MJB go?

Well, to be honest, her blend of R&B of hip hop is not necessarily my first choice of music.  And sure enough it wasn’t love on first listen.  I almost heaved a sigh of relief when we hit her collaboration with U2 on their iconic One towards the tail end of the album.  I’ll have to say one of those improvements that happens with a cover and one for a future complilation.   So a few re-spins of that and I returned to the rest of the album.

And I did warm a little, particularly the more upbeat numbers rather than the schmoozy slow ‘uns.  So rather than the hits, it’s the robust Baggage and the gospelly I Found My Everything that did it more for me this week.  Uh huh.

But actually the one great moment is the bio song MJB Da MVP (more initials you’ll notice) that features some guesting from 50 Cent and drives a decent but chillaxed rhythm.  So in a week of music that didn’t really grab this was the one.

Thanks MJB, this was the one…