Bird & Animal Names In Rock 'n' Roll History - Part 24
Robyn, Golden Palominos, Seal
Author: Robert Benson
Robert writes about rock & pop music, and vinyl record collecting.
More in our series about "bird" and "animal" group names in rock 'n' roll history.
In 1991, Swedish pop singer Meja was visiting a school as part of a music workshop when she was overwhelmed by a young singer named Robin Miriam Carlsson. Meja contacted the young singer's management and then met with them and Carlsson's parents to discuss the young singer's future. Right after she finished her middle school education, Robyn (which was now her "stage" name) signed on with Ricochet Records Sweden (a subsidiary of BMG Music) and collaborated with producers Max Martin and Denniz Pop; who provided the young songstress music in which Robyn would help formulate her gritty, yet popular voice and style.
Already a hit in her native land, Robyn hit the worldwide stage with her dance-pop singles "Show Me Love" (#7 in May of 1997) and "Do You Know (What It Takes)," which also hit number seven (in November) on the Billboard Top 40 charts.
As the young singer's popularity grew, especially in the US, she was hired to be the supporting act for the 1997 Backstreet Boys tour. But the singer was diagnosed with exhaustion and had to return to Sweden to recover and rest.
Robyn,s recording career rebounded with her 1999 album "My Truth." With her single called "Electric," she peaked at the number two position in Sweden and the song received heavy air play all across Europe. But there were internal management problems (the record company RCA, wanted to re-record parts of the release so it would be more US-radio friendly) and Robyn did not want to at change her sound, therefore the album was not released in the states.
After Robyn's song "Say You'll Walk The Distance" was included in the soundtrack for the film On The Line, Robyn switched record labels (from RCA to Jive Records) and released the album "Don't Stop The Music" in Sweden in 2002. Popular singles from the album included the title track and "Keep This Fire Burning."
Tired of the restraints that her labels put upon her musical aspirations and sound, Robyn left Jive Records in 2005 to start her own record label called Konichiwa Records. She released her new single called "Be Mine!" in March of 2005, and followed that with a new studio album, which garnered rave reviews for the Swedish soulstress. She also earned three Swedish Grammy Awards in 2006, for Best Album, Best Writer as well as Best Pop Female. Three more critically acclaimed singles were released including "Who's That Girl,""Handle Me" and "Crash and Burn Girl."
In March of 2007, her new album "Konichiwa Bitches" hit the charts. New songs such as "With Every Heartbeat" and "Cobra Style," were released digitally with the cut "With Every Heartbeat" peaking at number one on the UK singles charts in August of 2007.
Konichiwa Records signed an international licensing agreement with Universal Music Group and helped launch and distribute Robyn's music globally (releases in the UK are issued under the Island Records label). An EP, "The Rakamonie" was released in January 2008 under Cherrytree Records, a subsidiary of Interscope, and the US edition of Robyn was released in April 2008. "With Every Heartbeat," "Handle Me" and "Cobrastyle" were top ten club hits, and the former received airplay at US pop and dance radio stations. Robyn was also visible in the US in 2007 when Britney Spears released the single "Piece of Me," which contains Robyn's backing vocals. She was also featured on the Fyre Department remix of "Sexual Eruption" by rapper Snoop Dogg.
Robyn stated to Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper site that she wants to start recording a new album in the beginning of 2009. Her global popularity continues to grow and we will be hearing more from this talented songstress for years to come.
The revolving door project of famed drummer, programmer, band leader and Cleveland native, Anton Fier, is a band called the Golden Palominos. After playing with the group The Feelies and later the punk-jazz outfit called the Lounge Lizards (we will cover them in an upcoming article) as well as the legendary new wave band "Pere Ubu," Fier relocated to New York City and founded the first Golden Palominos line up in 1981.
Their self-titled debut album is a record that exemplifies the group's downtown New York origins and spotlights the avant-funk sounds of the cut "Material." The music is eclectic, experimental (including hip-hop turntables, which was a new sound, especially in 1983) and even included clarinets that were played underwater and was augmented by multi-instrumentalist John Zorn. The sound is definitely an acquired taste and certainly can be considered underground music.
After abandoning the experimental sounds of the first album and most of its players, the group did a left turn, so to speak, and released the folk-pop oriented album called "Visions Of Excess" in 1985. The group's nucleus of Fier (drums), Bill Laswell (bass), Jody Harris (guitar) and Bernie Worrell (keyboards), played superbly among a stable of guest vocalists including Jack Bruce, and newcomers Syd Straw and Michael Stipe. One song, "The Animal Speaks", featured a pronounced, punk-like electric guitar part and vocals by The Sex Pistols' John Lydon. Adding guest musicians such as Richard Thompson, Henry Kaiser and Mike Hampton, it is an irresistible and extraordinary release of pop melodies and rock.
Another all-star line up was formed for the group's next release in 1986's "Blast Of Silence." The band brings in more guest musicians including T-Bone Burnett, Matthew Sweet, Nicky Skopelitis and Peter Bleguad (among others), and adeptly blends country, folk and blues, all the while maintaining a tight cohesiveness.
The moody 1989 album called "A Dead Horse" lacks the energy of previous releases and did not fair as well as other albums. But the Palomino's score again with another all-star line up (including an appearance by Rolling Stones member Mick Taylor, Stipe, Thompson and Sugar/Husker Du guitarist Bob Mould) with the 1991 album entitled "Drunk With Passion." The album "This Is How It Feels" was released in 1993 and the group adds vocalists Lori Carlson and three songs sung by Lydia Kavanaugh. A concept album, inspired by the Graham Greene novel "The End of The Road," the record spotlighted the talents of Carson (who co-wrote all the songs on which she sings) and guest musicians Bootsy Collins, Nicky Skopelitis and Bernie Worrell.
In 1994, using much of the same aforementioned players, the Golden Palominos released the shimmering, experimental pop sounds of the album "Pure." For the1996 album entitled "Dead Inside" (which would prove to be the group's last album), the band was "stripped down" to essentially a trio of Fier, ex-Psychedelic Furs guitarist Knox Chandler and poet/vocalist Nicole Blackman and focused on Blackman’s dark, death obsessed lyrics.
In the late 90's, other members of the band formed a new band called Lapdog and released a studio album entitled "Near Tonight" in 2001. Lapdog released another album in 2002 called "Mayfly," but since then have kept a fairly low profile, occasionally getting together to play.
Singer/songwriter Seal released a critically acclaimed self-titled debut in 1991 and mixing elements of soul, folk, pop and rock, charted with the song "Crazy," which peaked at number seven on the Billboard Top 40 charts. (The video for the song showed off Seal's distinctive facial scars which are the result of a skin ailment) But, it was his next release, again a self-titled album (1994) where Seal really came into his own with a Top 40 hit called "Prayer For The Dying." The release got a second chance when a song from the LP, "Kiss From A Rose" (1995) was included on the Batman Forever soundtrack. The song propelled Seal to superstardom as the song became the number one pop single in America, spending a total of twelve weeks at the top of the adult contemporary charts and an amazing forty-five week run. Additionally, Seal was awarded a Grammy award for Best Song, Best Record and Male Pop Vocal of the Year.
In 1996, Seal contributed a cover of Steve Miller's 1977 top ten hit "Fly Like An Eagle" for the movie soundtrack Space Jam. Seals' third LP (1998) contained the singles "Human Beings," "Latest Craze" and the song "Lost My Faith." But the next album called "Togetherland" failed, either because Seal cancelled the project or the record was turned down by his recording company (Warner Brothers). Even so, one single was released from the album. "This Could Be Heaven" was released in the US and featured on The Family Man soundtrack.
Seal then released another self-titled LP in 2003 which provided the hit singles "Waiting For You," "Get It Together" and "Love's Divine." He added a greatest hits album in 2004, "Seal: Best 1991-2004," which included a cover of Echo & the Bunnymen's song "Lips Like Sugar" and a cover of the Burt Bacharach/ Hal David classic "Walk On By." In June of 2005, Seal recorded a special concert, "One Night to Remember" which was released in 2006 as a CD/DVD combo. The DVD included the live performances and backstage footage. It was recorded in a historic steel mill, the Altes Kesselhaus ('old boiler house'), in Düsseldorf, Germany and includes his version of Brahms' Lullaby, which Seal sang in German and then English. Seal was also accompanied by his band, a full orchestra and choir of 52 musicians.
His next release, "System," was in November 2007 and Seal described the album as a return to his dance roots and his best album since his debut. However, it is his lowest selling LP to date in the US, but was mildly successful in Europe.
Seal released an album of covers of eleven soul classics in the 2008 LP, appropriately called "Soul." The album was produced by David Foster, and co-produced, engineered and mixed by Jochem van der Saag. The album peaked at #1 on French Album Charts for 13 consecutive weeks and included covers of such classic as "Stand By Me," "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and "A Change Is Gonna Come;" which was the lead single. Seal continues to tour and delight audiences with his vocal talent and love for his music.
Robyn's parents are actors, and she herself was involved in acting at the age of 9, having an extra role in Kronbruden at the Swedish theatre Dramaten. She was discovered by the Swedish pop singer Meja while singing about her parents' divorce.
After the release of her second album in 1999, My Truth, Robyn became a UNICEF ambassador and visited, among other countries, Kenya and Tanzania. During her two years of dedicating herself to this work, she intended to draw attention to UNICEF and their worldwide work for children in need of aid.
Robyn completed a short U.S. tour to promote Robyn, and was the supporting act for Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour at select European dates in 2008. In January 2009, Robyn won a Swedish Grammis Award for Best Live Act 2008; in her acceptance speech, she said that Madonna was to thank for the prize.
1997 Robyn Is Here
1999 My Truth
2002 Don't Stop the Music
Golden Palominos Tidbits:
In 1997, The Palominos released another EP, named "Dead Outside," composed of five remixes of tracks from "Dead Inside." However, this EP was released as free MP3s on the Internet and also through a fan-created band website (since decommissioned).
"Dead Outside" consisted of these five remixes, which were available for download for one month only, as per Fier's instructions: 'Victim: The Last Thing' by Sean Beavan (whose credits include 8MM/Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson) with John Van Eaton (a frequent Blackman collaborator who has worked with NIN for 10 years) 'Ride: Pragmatic Spasmatic' by Raymond Watts (of KMFDM/Pig) "Belfast: Empty As Wire" by Scanner (another Blackman collaborator)
"Ride" by Mark Walk (of Ruby) "Victim: Interference" by John Van Eaton.
Both Syd Straw and Lori Carson have gone on to moderately successful and critically acclaimed solo careers, with Carson a frequent contributor to television shows and movies.
Much of the Golden Palominos' work has become increasingly hard to find, just a few best-of compilations are available: two A History collections on Celluloid both released in 1992; a German collection released in 1997; and 2002's collection "Run Pony Run." However, none include any material from "Drunk With Passion" onward.
1983 The Golden Palominos
1985 Visions of Excess
1986 Blast Of Silence
1989 A Dead Horse
1991 Drunk With Passion
1993 This Is How It Feels
1996 Dead Inside
Seal proposed to German supermodel Heidi Klum on December 24, 2004 at 7,000 ft, in an igloo on a glacier in Whistler, British Columbia. On January 22, 2012, Seal and Klum announced that they were separating after nearly 7 years of marriage
On Thursday April 16, 2009, Seal confirmed to the press and his audience at Radio City Music Hall that Klum was pregnant with their fourth child, a girl.
On June 11, 2009, Seal, on tour with his new album "Soul," revealed, "It is nice to be in newspapers and magazines for something other than my marriage." He said his marriage may take away the attention, but doesn't detract from what he loves doing: making music.
1994 Seal II
1998 Human Being
2003 Seal IV
2011 Soul 2