News for January 2011
Along with Glen Campbell and Art Garfunkel, Richard Harris was one of a handful of great interpreters of the songs of Jim Webb. When he wasn’t acting in films like “A Man Called Horse,” “Camelot” and, of course playing the part of Dumbledore in the first few “Harry Potter” films, he recorded records. While most of his records were dreadful, his first album of Jim Webb songs called “A Tramp Shining” was a winner including this song and the hit “MacArthur Park.”
Edited: January 31st, 2011
Song Of The Day – “Rosanna” by Toto
OK, this is a total guilty pleasure on my part. Toto were much reviled by rock fans and critics alike during the late 70s and early ’80s…me included…except for this song. It was written for then girlfriend of Steve Lukather, Rosanna Arquette, and is from their 1982 mega-selling album “IV.” Toto were actually comprised of some of the hottest and greatest session musicians of their day, the aforementioned Steve Lukather on guitar, Jeff Porcaro on drums, Steve Porcaro on keyboards, David Paich on keyboards, Bobby Kimball on vocals and David Hungate on bass. After recording this album, the core of the group went to work on sessions for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Edited: January 29th, 2011
Well, their name may ensure they never get much radio airplay, but with tracks like this one, rules will have to be bended. If they’d do it for Cee Lo, they may just have to do it for them. This one comes from their forthcoming second album called “Reptilians” due out on 3/8/11. They record for the Polyvinyl record company which is one of my favorite independent labels, home to groups like Of Montreal, Deerhoof, Mates Of State, Owen, Japandroids, Casiokids and Shugo Tokumaru.
Edited: January 29th, 2011
Last year, New Jersey based MCR released their glam-infested album “Danger Days: True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys” with this as its lead track. Part “Rocky Horror Picture Show” outtake…part Gary Glitter-esque “Rock And Roll”…part “Bang A Gong” T. Rex - I found it utterly annoying as it incessantly permeated the boundaries of my 16 year old daughter’s bedroom. But lo and behold, the little bugger’s got a way of getting under your skin and within days I found myself humming it. Then I listened to the entire record and, to my surprise, realized that MCR are the closest thing we’ve got to Freddy Mercury and Queen today. Flawed…absolutely…worth checking out…absolutely!
Edited: January 28th, 2011
Recorded in February of 1924, here is the recording debut of trumpet great Bix Beiderbecke. This is the A and B side of their first recording on the Gennett record label. Both songs were originally part of the repertoire of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Bix studied music in Lake Forest, Illinois, not far from where I live, picking up gigs in Chicago. Close your eyes while listening to these tracks and you will be transported to a different era of flappers, illegal alcohol and a general high time had by all.
Edited: January 27th, 2011
This one comes from one of EC’s most underrated records, “When I Was Cruel,” released in 2002. Backed by The Imposters who are the Attractions (Steve Nieve – piano, Pete Thomas – drums) with Davey Faragher taking the bass duties. While the video for this song was not meant to be matched to the song, looking at Marilyn Monroe pictures for four minutes doesn’t hurt either.
Edited: January 26th, 2011
Back in 1978, Ornette Coleman formed his first double trio, “Prime Time,” and began releasing records on his own Texas-based record label called Artist House Records. “Body Meta” was recorded in 1976 and featured Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, Charles Ellerbee and Bern Nix on guitars, and Ronald Shannon Jackson and his son Denardo Coleman on drums. The short-lived label also released terrific and challenging records by James “Blood” Ulmer and Waymon Reed. While by no means top 40 music, the record was one of Coleman’s easier to listen to records providing a good entry point for those into discovering more about him and his Harmolodic sound.
Edited: January 25th, 2011
Before David Clayton Thomas and hits like “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die,” BS&T was the brainchild of Al Kooper. After leaving Blues Project, he hatched the idea of melding rock and soul with jazz horns giving a new musical direction to a whole host of groups like Chicago, Chase and Ides Of March. Kooper was around long enough to release one classic album, “Child Is Father To The Man,” before moving on to his Super Sessions projects.
Edited: January 24th, 2011
Edited: January 24th, 2011
Performed by Phil Harris as Baloo and written by Terry Gilkyson – Or is that “The BEAR Necessities” Go Bears!
Song Of The Day – “Bennie And The Jets” by Elton John from the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
J – E – T – S JETS! JETS! JETS! GO JETS!
Edited: January 23rd, 2011
When it comes to a vibe, this song’s got it all in spades. From 1974′s “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” comes this romantic number released shortly after Wonder’s near-death car accident, making this album an all-the-more-important part of his canon. At the time of its release, it was seen as somewhat of a disappointment following nearly-perfect records like “Innervisions” and “Talking Book.” The record that followed it was 1976′s “Songs In The Key Of Life” which was also critically acclaimed, leading most people to gloss over this record. Upon closer inspection though, “Fulfillingness’” has much to offer with classics like “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” “It Ain’t No Use,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “Please Don’t Go.” Bottom line: the run of records Stevie Wonder released from 1971′s “Music Of My Mind” through 1976′s “Songs In The Key Of Life” should be an essential part of any music collection and not to be missed!
Edited: January 22nd, 2011
From their 1994 magnum opus, “Pure Guava,” comes Ween’s first pseudo MTV hit. I say pseudo because it was the first tune they made a video for…even though it got very little airplay. However, the song did make the top ten in Australia…go figure. I discovered them watching “Beavis & Butthead” back in 1994…they said “Ween suck”…I disagreed! In fact, I think they are one of the greatest stoner bands of all time. Ween hail from New Hope, PA and have been together since 1984. They spent their early days playing any venue they could including dorm rooms and bookstores at Rutgers University. Dean Ween (aka “The Deaner” or Mickey Melchiondo) is a shredding guitarist and also a complete angler. Geen Ween (aka Aaron Freeman) is the vocalist and possesses one of the most unusual voices I’ve ever heard. The helium sounding voice in this song is not processed…he really sings like this, although he does not use this voice on every song. As a result, absolutely nothing sounds like their first five or six albums which are all worth seeking out.
Edited: January 21st, 2011
Back in 1959, America was having a love affair with the Wild West with shows like “Gunsmoke” and “The Riflemen” lighting up millions of TV screens. Marty Robbins was a singer/songwriter who had dabbled in Rockabilly, Pop and Country recordings. It was against this backdrop that Robbins released the album “Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs” featuring this self-penned classic featuring the great guitar work of Grady Martin and background vocals by The Glaser Brothers. It was easily twice as long as any other record to hit the radio airwaves, yet it managed to top both the Pop and Country charts. Later on, it was widely covered by groups like X, Meat Puppets and the Grateful Dead who made it a staple of their concert sets from the early 1970s on. Robbins, a race car enthusiast, went on to place 47 records in the Top Ten of the Country charts and to record several more albums of Gunfighter Ballads before his death in 1982 at the age of 57.
Edited: January 20th, 2011
Rock impresario, Don Kirshner died yesterday at the age of 76. As a Brill Building song publisher he helped the careers of Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka and many others. He went on to literally create The Monkees and The Archies before launching his own “Rock Concert” TV show in 1973 that gave a national viewing audience to some of the greatest acts of all time. From “Pleasant Valley Sunday” to your living room, here are the Ramones from his show in 1977 including the all-important Don Kirshner intro!
Edited: January 19th, 2011
The great debate between Wilco fans is are they better when going all wiggy experimenting on albums like “A Ghost Is Born” and “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” or is the more concise Wilco of “Summerteeth” and “Sky Blue Sky” your cup of tea. I like them both…but the nod goes to the proggy Wilco. With the addition of ace guitarist, Nels Cline, they were bound to get more experimental and for a couple of records they were the most exciting band in America…before they pulled in the reigns a bit for their last two releases. That said, they still are one of the best bands out there today…and this song is my absolute favorite track in their canon.
Edited: January 18th, 2011
By the time Armstrong committed this song to wax in 1946, he was already a veteran of the music industry for twenty years and you can hear it in his mellowed, more measured tone. That’s not to say that his performance lacked the trademark humor and playfulness we’ve all come to love and expect from him, but his singing and playing displayed a newfound maturity in this song. Here we have Louis with His Dixieland Seven featuring Kid Ory on trombone, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Charlie Beal on piano, Bud Scott on guitar, Red Callender on bass and Minor Hall on drums.
Edited: January 17th, 2011
J – E – T – S! JETS! JETS! JETS! GO JETS! GO JETS!
Edited: January 15th, 2011
Hailing from “Da Bronx” New York, The Blues Magoos were a garage rock band supreme formed in 1964 featuring Ralph Scala on vocals, Peppy Thielhelm on guitar, Ronnie Gilbert on bass, Mike Esposito on guitar and Geoff Daking on drums. Although they were marketed as a Psychedelic Band evidenced from album titles like “Psychedelic Lollipop” and “Electric Comic Book,” they really were a gritty, rough ‘n’ tumble garage band. They recorded many-a credible organ-infested version of rock and soul classics like J.D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road” and James Browns “I’ll Go Crazy,” plus many original tunes. But by 1969, the original Magoos lineup went their separate ways.
Edited: January 15th, 2011
The Groovies were a San Francisco band out of time. They formed in 1965 and began releasing records in the late 1960s only to find their Power-Pop leanings grossly out of step with everything else. That’s not to say that they didn’t make great music…they just didn’t connect with a public that was hell-bent on a buffet of mind-blowing psychedelics. By the time they released this tune in 1972, they seemingly ran out of gas and lead singer Roy Loney left the band to be run by guitarist Cyril Jordan. Nothing was heard from them until 1976 when the newly reconstituted band went to England to find that their music was now in the Punk and New Wave vogue. Enter Dave Edmunds who produced their classic “Shake Some Action” album. The band finally found some fame, but it was short-lived and by 1979 it was all over.
Edited: January 14th, 2011
Glen Campbell cut his teeth as an in-demand Los Angeles session guitarist playing on countless hits by The Monkees, The Mamas & The Papas, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. He became a touring member of the Beach Boys in 1965 when Brian Wilson could not go on the road anymore, leaving in 1967 to continue his own solo career and to launch a variety show on TV. Of course, we all know the myriad of hits he’s scored on his own…”Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Gentle On My Mind,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Rhinestone Cowboy”…to name but a few. This 1968 album cut was written by country artist Billy Ed Wheeler, and while not a chart hit, is considered one of Campbell’s classics.
Edited: January 13th, 2011
- Back in 1972, Marlo Thomas and friends including Alan Alda, Mel Brooks, Harry Belafonte, Dick Cavett, Rosey Grier, Diana Ross and many others joined forces for this wonderful children’s TV special that focused on the issue of gender stereotypes. While I was a little too old to be part of its target market when it initially came out, I got to experience the magic of “Free To Be” when my brother played piano for a high school production of it in the mid-1970s…and then again when I had my own children. Most of the music and skits have stood the test of time and have not dated too badly, especially this title song by The New Seekers. This is a special “Song Of The Day” tribute to my brother on his birthday. Happy Birthday Verm!
Edited: January 12th, 2011
The Stone Roses hailed from England with a lineup of Ian Brown, John Squire, Reni (aka Alan Wren) and Mani (aka Gary Mounfield). Their hit-filled highly influential 1989 debut album “The Stone Roses” was the cornerstone album of a drug-fueled Manchester Rock scene including the bands Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Ride and The Charlatans U.K.. After releasing one album, the band got tied up in legal troubles with their record label (Silvertone) and it took them over five years to release their second album. By that point, the bloom was off “the stone rose” and the record didn’t perform well signaling the end of the group.
Edited: January 11th, 2011
From the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, The Chips truly were one hit wonders releasing this record in 1956 and not releasing another record until 1980. The group consisted of Charles Johnson, Sammy Strain, Shedwick Lincoln, Nathaniel Epps and Paul Fulton. After they broke up, Strain went on to the greatest fame as a member of Little Anthony & The Imperials and The O’Jays. This novelty blast was a regional hit along the East Coast until 1979 when Jake and Elwood Blues (aka The Blues Brothers) covered it and brought it to the upper regions of the charts where it should have been in the first place.
Edited: January 10th, 2011
Originally it was to be titled “East Side Story” and center around the romance of a Catholic girl and a Jewish boy until it was reconfigured into the story we’ve all come to know and love. The high point of Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway career as far as I’m concerned…and he was working on the score to this show and the score to “Candide” at the same time!
Edited: January 9th, 2011
Edited: January 8th, 2011
Edited: January 8th, 2011
This song was widely available on the “Now” bootleg at least a year before it’s official release on the 1994 album “The Gold Experience.” This was the beginning of a very long period in the wilderness for Prince when he changed his name and sported the word “Slave” on his cheek in an effort to get out of his Warner Bros. contract. Warner Bros. did not want him to release more than a record every couple of years, while Prince was readying records at a breakneck pace and wanted them out in the marketplace in a more timely fashion. He eventually got what he wanted…and then began to release many albums, some of which were amazing (“Emancipation”) and some that were pretty lame (“Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic”). “The Gold Experience” was his last official release while still signed to Warner Bros., and he left the label on a high note. Having seen Prince in concert numerous times over the years, I can easily make the claim that he is one of the most kinetic dynamos on stage effortlessly trading off instruments and leaving all others in the dust. Prince is back to touring again this year…and if you’ve never seen him…”NOW” is the time!
Edited: January 8th, 2011
This one comes from one of the most emotionally devastating records ever recorded, the 1978 divorce album “Here, My Dear.” During the 1970s, Gaye laid his soul bare for all to partake in on behalf of the world with his 1971 masterpiece “What’s Going On.” In 1974, he took us to the erotic zone with one of the most sexual albums ever released, “Let’s Get It On.” But nothing would prepare fans for the four sides of “Here, My Dear.” Stemming from the painful proceedings that led to his divorce from Motown head Berry Gordy’s daughter Anna, Gaye was court-ordered to part with royalties from his next album release as a form of alimony. Rather than record a chart-topping collection of fun-filled soulful hits, he delivered a musically intricate, play-by-play of his marriage, infidelities and all, with nothing left to the imagination. Anna Gaye considered suing Gaye for invasion of privacy upon its release. In retrospect, the record stands as one of Gaye’s very best. From pain comes great art once again!
Edited: January 7th, 2011
I can’t say enough good things about the album “How I Got Over” where this song lives. It is so deep with track after great track…and it keeps getting better with more plays. The Roots crew from Philadelphia prove their meddle every night as the house band on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” Together, they have both lent each other hip cache and credibility by their association. And if that’s not enough, The Roots also released an exceptional album last year with John Legend of old soul nuggets called “Wake Up!” It’s time for America to wake up to one of the best and most versatile bands out there today.
Edited: January 6th, 2011
A piece of my youth fell by the wayside yesterday when I heard the news that Gerry Rafferty had died. I’m not exactly sure why. I would occasionally spin this song in my jukebox…but it wasn’t since 1978 and the album “City To City” that I really gave him much thought. Such is the power of music to act as a marker for the times of your life. He’ll be remembered for a handful of songs…this one…it’s follow up “Right Down The Line,” “Days Gone Down” from 1979 and the 1972 Stealers Wheel classic “Stuck In The Middle With You” which was forever darkened and tarnished by its use soundtracking one of the most harrowing scenes in all of cinema in Quentin Tarentino’s film “Reservoir Dogs.”
Edited: January 5th, 2011
Get your day started out on a mellow note with this gorgeous tune from “In The Court Of The Crimson King.” Nobody sounded like King Crimson back in 1969 when this album came out. The staying power of Crimson has been proven again today with Kanye West sampling “21st Century Schizoid Man” for his hit “Power.” This early incarnation of King Crimson featured Robert Fripp on guitar, Greg Lake on bass, Ian McDonald on reeds and keyboards, Michael Giles on drums and Pete Sinfield as the lyricist.
Edited: January 4th, 2011
If you grew up on the East Coast like me listening to New York rock station WNEW FM, you might remember this song as the song DJ Vin Scelsa used to end his overnight radio show every night. Waits’ voice became far more gruff by 1976 and the album “Small Change” where this song hails from, yet his music was still piano-based. All that would fall by the wayside by the early 1980s and the release of his album “Swordfishtrombones” where he adopted his junkyard approach to instrumentation. This song is for those of us who are dragging themselves back to work after a hopefully relaxing winter break.
Edited: January 3rd, 2011
At the dawn of The British Invasion, The Animals were every bit as good as The Rolling Stones with hits like “House Of The Rising Sun,” “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and this classic. At this point, The Animals consisted of Eric Burden, Dave Rowberry, John Steele, Hilton Valentine and Chas Chandler. Burdon, of course went on to solo fame, hits with the group War and several reunions with his Animals band mates. Further listening…check out this clip of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band tearin’ it up in 1978 on this song.
Edited: January 2nd, 2011
Before Teletubbies…there were The Banana Splits. Like The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Scooby Doo, The Banana Splits were the brainchild of animation king Joseph Barbera, one half of the Hanna-Barbera team. No John, Paul, George and Ringo here…they were Drooper, Fleegle, Snorky and Bingo. It’s now after 3am on New Year’s Eve/Day…I’m gonna make like a banana…and split. Happy New Year to all!
Edited: January 1st, 2011