This is default featured slide 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara -

This is default featured slide 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara -

This is default featured slide 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara -

This is default featured slide 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara -

This is default featured slide 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara -

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Archie Bell & The Drells--Tighten Up (1968)

     Archie Bell was from a family of high achievers. His brother Jerry was a karate champion and lead singer of the the Dazz Band. Another brother, Ricky played in the NFL with Tampa Bay and San Diego.
     In 1967, the T.S.U. Tornadoes had developed a cool instrumental riff, but nothing else beyond that. Skipper Lee Frazer, a Houston disc jockey who worked with T.S.U. and the Drells suggested they get together and build a song around that riff. Thus was born, "Tighten Up".
     Shortly after it was recorded in 1967, Bell was drafted into the army. While he was serving, the song became a huge hit in Houston and was picked up by Atlantic Records and released in early 1968, and it soon reached #1 in March of that year. Interestingly enough, Archie was in a hospital bed while that was happening, as he had been shot in the leg during his tour of Vietnam. Upon recovering, he was allowed to tour some and was discharged in April of 1969.
     Archie and the Drells continued to perform until 1980, when Bell left to pursue a solo career...

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Beau Brummels--Laugh, Laugh (1965)

     The Beau Brummels was a group out of San Francisco who had a couple of hits in 1965. The group should have done better, but a combination of internal strife, the attempt on the part of their management to position them as a Beatles-like group, and some plain back luck (like poor distribution on some singles) kept undermining their potential. As it was the group stayed together until 68, broke up, reformed for a couple of years in the mid-70's then finally called it a day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fontella Bass--Rescue Me (1965)

    Every once in awhile I have nothing to say about a song, but it sounds great and want to share it with you. Fontella Bass is from St. Louis which gives her an advantage in my book (being a St. Louis boy myself), and in the mid-60's this song was all over the airwaves. Bass had a couple of hits in 1965, but soon faded from view and retired in the early 70's to raise her family. She has made a few appearances on PBS specials and the like....have a great Sunday...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Toni Basil--Mickey (1982)

     By 1980, Antonia Basilotta, better known as Toni Basil, had enjoyed a successful career as a   choreographer and actress. Her work could be seen on film (The T.A.MI. show, 1964), on television (Shindig 1966) and then later doing work on tours for David Bowie and Bette Midler among others.  Much of work was on B-films in the late 60's and 70's, but can be seen in the movies, "Easy Rider", and "Five Easy Pieces"
     She recorded her first single in 1966, "Breakaway", but had not recorded since then. She heard a song called, "Kitty" which was performed by the UK group Racey in 1979. It had been written by the songwriting duo of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, but Basil took the changed the direction of the song by renaming it "Mickey", after former Monkees drummer Mickey Dolenz who she had taking a liking to after working with the group on their movie "Head" in 1968.
     The song went to #1 in the US in 1982 on the strength of the video which she choreographed and danced in herself. She had a couple of minor chart hits after that, but he career in videos, concert tours, and television continued to rise as she continues to be very much in demand today. However, for many of us, we'll still remember her in the cheerleader's outfit.....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Len Barry--- 1-2-3 (1965)

    Len Barry wanted to be a baseball player after his graduation from high school. Instead, he went into the service for a stint, and found himself singing a little with the Army bands. The response he received encouraged him to do more of it, and then upon discharge chose to pursue music.
     He returned to his home in Philadelphia and became the lead singer of the Dovells. For a three years stretch, they reached the top 40 five times, including top 5 hits, "Bristol Stomp" (it was not his voice on the record, but Barry joined shortly afterward and has been identified with the song) and "You Can't Sit Down". He left in 1965 and after a name change (he had been known by his given name of Len Borisoff) to Len Barry went out on his own as a solo artist. "1-2-3" turned out to be a #2 hit for him, but after a couple more top forty songs in 1966 went into the production side of things, along with crafting his stage show.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Bangels--Manic Monday (1986)

     The Bangels started out as a power pop band that had a fixation on British rock from the 60's. Their first album, "All Over the Place" is still (in my opinion) by far the best album they have ever done. It was that recording that caught the ear of Prince who had a song that was originally intended for the group "Apollonia 6" and their debut album. At the last minute, he pulled the song and had done nothing with it since.    
     The girls were flattered, but did not record the song with the idea of it being a hit single. Hearing the finished product convinced them otherwise and it became a #2 hit. It opened the door for several years of great success on the charts, including two #1's. But internal pressures, much of which was caused by the media's insistence on placing singer Susanna Hofts as the "lead singer", split the band apart by 1990. The group has harkened back to their original sound on the latest album, "Sweetheart of the Sun" (2011), which has reminded us how good of a band they were, and how successful they could have (and should have) been.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bananarama--Venus (1986)

     Whenever I want to listen to catchy, fun, 80's style dance music, this song, along with ,"I Heard a Rumor" are two that make the top of the list. Childhood friends  Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin along with Siobhan Fahey, who they met in art school, already had a number of successful hits in the UK. 1983's, "Cruel Summer" broke through to the top ten in America, but they had encountered a bit of a slump and had hooked up with the production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman which breathed new life into their career.
     The song "Venus" was done by the Dutch group, Shocking Blue in 1969, and reached #1 in early 1970. The girls had used the song as a part of their act for several years, but their producers never thought it would work as a dance song. Stock and company resisted doing it as well, not convinced of it's commercial viability. The group persisted and it was included on their, "True Confessions" album. It became their only #1 and has held up well through the years as a great example of 80's dance/pop.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Anita Baker--Giving you the Best I Got (1988)

     In the late 80's, Anita Baker and Luther Vandross ruled what was known as "Quiet Storm". It was basically R&B's version of soft rock, and had been around since the mid-70's and both singers re-energized the genre. Baker's voice wrapped around you like a warm blanket on a cold day and after breaking through in 1987 was on a roll. 'Giving You the Best I Got" was her most successful song on the Billboard top 100. It's a damp cool day here in Nashville....and after being outside in the rain, could use warm and cozy.....hope you enjoy it too....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Joan Baez--Diamonds and Rust (1975)

     Joan Baez is a treasure in the music world that should never be forgotten. Her beauty and distinctive vocal talents was accompanied with a passion for social justice that has never wavered in the over 50 years since her first album in 1960. However, it seems as if she had been overshadowed musically (at least in the decades since the 60's) by Bob Dylan, and then by other artists such as Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins.  

     In fact, it was Baez who, in covering one of Dylan/s songs brought him to prominence (they were a romantic couple for the better part of 3 years). As Dylan went way beyond traditional songs, his popularity began to soar. Joan continued to do well throughout the 60's and of course had her biggest commercial success on the charts with a cover of The Band's, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". The first time I heard Baez was in the mid-70's with this song. Her folk music might have been influential politically in the 60's, but this was one of her finest moments as a songwriter as she sings about her relationship with Dylan in the 60's. It's a clear look at a relationship in loving, but unsentimental terms.    

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bad Company---Can't Get Enough (1974)

     You don't hear the word, "supergroup" thrown about much anymore, but at one time it was thought to be a hope that if you bring guys from successful groups and put them together that it will automatically produce great music (or even less likely good chemistry...i.e. see Blind Faith). Most put together like that don't last for long for lack of a spark. Which just goes to show that what makes up a  good group is more than just good musicians. There are a few exceptions to the rule, and Bad Company is one of those.

     Lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke had just left the band Free, and along with Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell recorded their debut album in 1974. Rodgers gritty vocals and Ralphs blues based licks solidified their sound quickly and it rapidly moved up the charts. "Can't Get Enough" was the groups most popular single, but the album itself, along with it's follow up, "Straight Shooter" could be seen as classic albums of the 70's 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Babys--Isn't It Time (1977)

     There are certain groups in rock history that are known by their songs, but are not terribly identifiable. The Babys came along at a time when the ground of popular music was undergoing seismic shifts due to the growing popularity of disco and the influence of punk. The group's lineup at it's height, vocalist/bassist John Waite, drummer Tony Brock, keyboardist/guitarist Michael Corby, and guitarist Wally Stocker, all went on (except for Corby) to successful careers elsewhere.

     Listening now, the music had a quality that allowed for it to be very catchy in any era, which I am sure is why their two big hits (and Waite's "Missing You') are still played a great deal on oldies radio....and has aged very well. Even if no one is sure the name of the band...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Patti Austin w/James Ingram--Baby Come to Me (1982)

     In the modern history of music, there can be many variables that can make a song a hit. The news of the day can effect it, as can the mood of the population. At times, cross pollination (i.e television, You Tube...etc.) will push a song up the charts. The story of this song was an example of this.

     Patti Austin already had a solid career singing backup on other people's music, and doing jingles. Although only 22 at the time of this recording, she had a lot of experience, with her first time on stage at the Apollo theater at the age of 4. Of course, she had always been around music with Dinah Washington and Quincy Jones being her godparents. It was Jones who signed her to his Quest records in the early 80's.

      "Baby, Come to Me" was released in late 1981, and struggled to reach #73 in late 1982. Later that year, ABC chose the song to be the love theme for the character Luke Spencer on the soap opera "General Hospital". It reignited the song and until it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the R&B charts. By the way, it's not hard to hear Michael McDonald on background vocals as well. Austin continued success on the charts for much of the 80's. She continues to record and tour, but with her focus on Jazz and Adult Contemporary. She won a Grammy in 2008 for best Jazz Vocal.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Petula Clark--Downtown (1964)

     Petula Clark had grown up in front of the British public. By the age of 12 she was being cast in films and not many years later was recording as well, being called, "The British Shirley Temple". As she grew into an adult her success began to shift to the UK charts and then to France and Germany where she sang in those languages to the delight of her listening public. She loved France to the point that she moved to Paris, married and in quick succession had two children by 1964. 
     Her record company brought her some material by way of composer Tony Hatch. She was not impressed with any of the material he brought, but while tinkering around on her piano he started playing the chords to a song he had just begun writing based on a first time trip he had taken to New York City. Clark heard it and told him that if he could write lyrics for the song that was as good as the melody that she would record it. The song became her signature, and her first hit in the United States. It also became a launching point for the career of Hatch as he composed a string of 15 straight top 40 hits for the US market as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Atlantic Starr--Always (1987)

    Atlantic Starr began in 1976 as a 7 piece, later to expand to as many as 10 and began having some successes on the R&B charts in 78. By 1985 the group had been paired down to five; David, Wayne, and Jonathan Lewis, Joseph Philips, and Barbara Weathers, and began to find crossover action. "Secret Lovers" off of the album, "As The Band Turns" reached to #3 on the Top 100, and set them up for their biggest hit two years later.
     "Always" was off of the album, "All in the Name of Love" and reached #1 on the top 100 and the R&B charts. Weathers left the group after this hit to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Porscha Martin and then Rachel Oliver who was singing lead on their last top 10 hit, "Masterpiece" in 1992. They continue to tour today.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rick Astley--Together Forever (1987)

     So much of the time, when attempting to define popular music within culture, we do it many times through the prism of the popular. But to get a much more focused view we look at those who give us a brief snapshot of the times These artists may not have a lot of popularity over the long haul, but their performances give us a much sharper look into that exact moments in time. There are many who fit into this category.
     Rick Astley perfectly defined mid/late 80's dance music. The former drummer/singer with the group FBI, he was plucked out of obscurity at the age of 20 in 1986, and under the leadership of the, Stock, Aitken, Waterman production team soon had a major hit with, "Never Gonna Give You Up".  His husky voice and good looks, worked well over the radio and on MTV. "Together Forever" continued the streak, and was found on the charts right up to his retirement in 1993 to focus more on his family and raising his daughter. He returned in 2002 to recording and touring.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Asia--The Heat of the Moment (1982)

     I've always been a bit conflicted about Asia. They were born out of the general meltdown of the progressive rock movement and the lineup certainly had the rep; John Wetton, Geoff Downs, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer had all been with groups who were at the top of their game less than 10 years before.

     Many of us who grew up listening to King Crimson, Yes, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer though them to be "selling out". Being quite a bit older now, and having dealt with the music business to some degree, it seems more obvious now that as much as one might enjoy 'serious' music, singles put food on the table. For a time in the early 80's they did just that, scaling down the ambitions without losing the vibe (or the pomposity) of the music.

     Although the hits stopped coming by the mid-80's, they continue to record and tour. The lineup has shuffled consistently with the original lineup being the one touring now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

April Wine--Just Between You and Me (1981)

     Listening to this song, I'm wondering where the genesis of the"power ballad" developed? From about this period until the early 90's, many a hard rock band grasped at the golden ring (i.e. hit single) for a nice payday while attempting to keeping their fans by rocking out on albums. Hair metal band made this into a bit of an art form in the late 80's. Of course, there was a danger in doing this as many a group found themselves typecast and would eventually lose fan base attempting that trick.

       April Wine was smart (or lucky) in the fact that their base had long been established in Canada, with some varied success in the US since 1971. "Just Between You and Me" is a great song by the way (I do have a thing for power ballads despite of what you read above) and was their biggest single in the states. The US popularity was short lived, but they still continue to record and tour. April Wine along with Rush are Canada's most popular hard rock export.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adam Ant--Goody Two Shoes (1982)

     Stuart Leslie Goddard had changed his name to Adam Ant in 1977 and put together his own band called Adam and the Ants to explore his fascination with the punk rock movement that was in full swing in the UK at the time. Their debut release, "Dirk Wears White Socks" was a bit of a mix (and a sloppy one at that) of several different styles as they attempted to find a voice. That was pushed along by the meeting of Malcolm McLaren, who at the time was the manager of the Sex Pistols, who was asked to manage Ant's band. This he did, and introduced them to the Burundi sound, which the group perfected, then McLaren stole the band (and renamed them Bow Wow Wow) to back his new find, Annabella Lwin. 

     This began a race between Ant and McLaren to see who could get an album out first. Adam was able to gather a band together who quickly picked up on the new sound, recorded "Kings of the Wild Frontier", and got it released before Bow Wow Wow could. This propelled The Ants to the forefront of what was considered the "new wave" (in US) or "new romantic" (in the UK) movements.
Ant broke up the band in 1981 and went solo. This is where we pick up on him in the states, as "Goody Two Shoes" reached the top 20 in late 1982. Unfortunately, the album, "Friend or Foe" was the last great album Ant would release for years and although he was found on the charts several times over the next 20 years (including a top 20 song with, "Room at the Top" in 1990), he never truly picked up momentum.  If you like this song, I would suggest you pick up "Kings of the Wild Frontier" which has a sound which was truly one of a kind.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bonnie Raitt--Runaway (1977)

     Bonnie Raitt was one of those folks who never had breakthrough success until much later in her career. She had developed her bluesy chops into a viable commercial sound, but it took 20 years for that to happen. Back in the 70's however, she was a very respected artist who was a staple on FM rock stations.

     The daughter of Broadway actor John Raitt and his first wife, pianist Marjorie Haydock and raised Quaker, Bonnie had no intention at all to perform, much less to play the blues. It wasn't until she was in college at Harvard's Radcliffe College that her ideas began to change. She had met blues promoter Dick Waterman doing a radio interview while in school, and soon afterward moved to Philadelphia to immerse herself in the blues scene there. Through Waterman she soon found herself jamming with the likes of Howlin' Wolf and Mississippi Fred McDowell.  

     Her career began with a blues/rock hybrid, with the emphasis on the blues. Her early work reflected the development to more of a mainstream sound, which produced several fine albums throughout the period and easily found a home with the newer FM rock format. "Runaway" which is a cover of the Del Shannon hit of the early 60's was her only single of the 1970's era, reaching #44 in 1977.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Joni Mitchell--Both Sides Now (1969)

     Joni Mitchell had made the rounds as an artist. From her roots in Western Canada, to the streets and clubs of Toronto, Detroit,  New York City, and finally to California, her popularity among other musicians was growing. While in New York, her songwriting had come to the attention of Tom Rush and Buffy Saint-Marie and Judy Collins who made, "Both Sides Now" a hit.

     David Crosby was visiting when after hearing her in a club in Florida, convinced her to travel to Los Angeles with him, where she was introduced to many of Crosby's friends. David produced her first album, "Song to a Seagull" in 1968. She continued to tour regularly and a year later recorded, "Clouds" which included several of her covered hits, with newer ones as well. Although the album would do well on the charts, it wouldn't be until 1973 where she would have a top 20 hit, but by then had established herself as one of the top singer/songwriters of her generation.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Art Garfunkel--All I Know (1973)

     Am not sure why, but have always been more of a fan of Simon & Garfunkel then of the two of them solo. It's not that they have not had moments. Paul Simon's first album post-S&G is very enjoyable and some of his 80's output (especially Graceland) is splendid. Art Garfunkel's fans are extremely loyal, but I've just never been a fan of his solo material....except for the album, "Angel Claire". One could say this release was very close vocally to "Bridge Over Troubled Water", which is maybe why I like it so much. No one could ever deny that Garfunkel had a gorgeous voice, but without the earthiness of Simon it soon  could wear one down ( least it did me). This song was his first single and it is amazing....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chuck Mangione--Feels So Good (1978)

     The 70's brought a hybrid of Jazz-pop that was more pop than jazz. There were several purveyors of this, with Maynard Ferguson and Chuck Mangione being the most popular.  

     Chuck Mangione had been making recordings since 1960. First with his brother Gap, then with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, The National Gallery, then with his own quartet in the 1970's. They began to break through to a larger audience with a Grammy in 1977 for best instrumental, and his, "Chase the Clouds Away" being used in the 1976 Olympics.

     "Feels So Good" in it's original album form is over ten minutes long, but was edited to a more single-like 3:28. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Davie Allan & The Arrows--Blue's Theme (1967)

     One of the sub-genres of teen movies in the 60's was the biker movie. Low budget,  unintentionally funny (especially now), and a way for actors and actresses get their foot in the door. "The Wild Angels"  was a great example of this. Made in 1966, it starred Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern, and Diane Ladd and was made by B-movie king, Roger Corman. It was a terrible movie, but entertaining nonetheless (the trailer for it is a hoot), and was the 12th grossing picture in 66.

     Not only did it launch many acting careers, it put an indie band on the map. Davie Allan had been a session musician in California and was tapped to perform the soundtrack to "The Wild Angels". He came up with an album of songs with a guitar so distorted that it had a buzzing sound which made it totally distinctive. Two of the songs reached the Billboard charts, with one, "Blue's Theme" reaching #32. It started a trend not only in biker movies, but in using Allan for the soundtracks as his guitar sound became linked to the genre. Allan with his Angels (who's lineup has constantly changed over the years) still tour and are still very popular at biker gatherings. A guitarist who has never received the respect he deserved....

     For a little extra, not only do we have the featured song, but below is the trailer for "The Wild Angels"....enjoy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Maxine Nightingale--Right Back Where We Started From (1975)

     Maxine Nightingale had a good run on London's West End for several years. "Hair", "Jesus Christ Superstar", and "Godspell" among others. She had cut a few singles in the early 70's that went nowhere on the charts...and from that point made it clear she wasn't interested in recording solo again.

     It was in 1975 that Maxine went to the studio to lay backing vocals on a record for Al Matthews. The producer for the sessions, Pierre Tubbs was enamored by her voice and sought a friend, J. Vincent Edwards, to write a song for her. Edwards, who had worked with Nightingale before during the production of "Hair" convinced her to give the song a shot. It took quite a bit of convincing to bring her back, and in fact at first was insisting on being paid the normal studio rate (45.00 at the time) rather than getting a royalty. Thankfully, she was talked out of that because upon it's release, "Right Back Where We Started From" shot up the UK charts to #8, and #2 on later release in the US.

     Maxine had another top 10 hit in 1979 with, "Lead Me On", but has since spent more time with jazz oriented materials, and in the last several years, on the oldies circuit.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Music Review: The Beach Boys--The Smile Sessions (2011)

My brief review of this historic release can be found here:

Alive n' Kickin'--Tighter, Tighter (1970)

    There are some stories that inspire me more than others, and the story of Alive n' Kickin' is one of those. The band formed in 1968 and was soon signed to Roulette Records which was known mostly for Tommy James. James had written a song for them, "Crystal Blue Persuasion", but liked it so well that he kept it for himself and instead wrote, "Tighter, Tighter". It was released in the spring of 1970 and reached #7 on the charts. A second song, "Just Let It Come" was on the top 100, then the group faded from view and finally disbanded in 1971. 

     A few years later, with the band members out of the music business, they realized that doing what they loved no matter if they were "popular" again was preferable to working outside of the craft. So in 1976, they reunited as a wedding and party band. They have been going strong ever since garnering a reputation of being one of the best bands in the northeast. For me, anyone who can enjoy what they do...on their inspiring.