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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dickie Goodman--Mr. Jaws (1975)

     The novelty record is all but gone from today's landscape. In fact, except for the work of "Weird" Al Yankovic it has all but faded from view. Back in the 50's especially there was no end to songs that could be put into this category. One particular type became known as the "cut in" record. This was the kind of disc where an "interview" would take place and the questions asked would be "answered" by snippets of popular records of the day. The first one was done in 1956 by Dickie Goodman and his partner, Bill Buchanan  called "The Flying Saucer" (Pt. 1). It was a hit, but also caused a great deal of consternation with publishing houses, ASCAP and BMI. The story about how all of that went down in the courts is recalled in a great internet article found here: 
     The two men broke up within a few years, and Goodman eventually found himself as president of  20 Century Fox's record division. But from that first disc, Goodman never stopped recording "cut in" records. His biggest hit, (and one of the last to make the charts) was a parody of the Jaws movie which had come out earlier that year.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ian Gomm--Hold On (1979)

     Ian Gomm had only one hit in the US, but left a lasting mark in the UK throughout the 70s. He had started in pop bands as early as 1962, and even spent some time living in Australia honing his craft. In 1971, he was brought in as rhythm guitarist of the pup rock band, Brinsley Schwartz just as they were recording their third album, "Silver Pistol". Up until their break up in 1975, they were supported by the critics, but never could break through to a wide audience in the UK or here in the states.
     After the demise of the band, Nick Lowe, and Ian Gomm both sought solo careers. In fact, Gomm co-wrote Lowe's biggest hit in the states, "Cruel to be Kind". The rhythm guitarist moved to Wales at first and built a studio where he not only produced his own album, but recorded several others including Alexis Korner and The Stranglers.
     Gomm's first album, released in 1978 was called "Summer Holiday". Stiff Records signed him and released the album as, "Gomm With The Wind". The single, "Hold On" reached number 18 on the US charts. He has spent much of the rest of his career writing and producing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bobby Goldsboro--Honey (1968)

     There is nothing personal against Bobby Goldsboro. I've always kinda liked, "Watching Scotty Grow", and "Summer (The First Time") was downright provocative to a 12 year old boys ears. He could also make a cool cricket sound (am not kidding...every time I saw him on TV the host would beg he do it), but his only number 1 was, "Honey" which is a calling card is another kind entirely.
     The best way to describe this is an aural version of a Lifetime Network movie, complete with angelic chorus in the last verse. I realize it was 1968, but the view of his "Honey" lyrically was right out of the 1950's. It was a huge hit for the singer who had a top ten single in 1964 ("See The Funny Little Clown"), but had been languishing in the mid to low rungs of the top 100 with singles since then.
     The song was written by Bobby Russell, who wrote other lite rock hits such as, "Little Green Apples" and "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" for his then wife, Vicki Lawrence. Over the last few years it has found itself on several "worst songs" list. Am not sure about that, but when you are embarrassed to play the song in front of your wife while reviewing the song, that has to say something.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Golden Earring--Radar Love (1973)/Twilight Zone (1982)

     Any artist that can stay in the game for over 50 years has my respect, and the group Golden Earring has done just that. Although the majority of their success has been initially in their homeland (the Netherlands), they have maintained a level of popularity that most other bands couldn't touch. They began as a pop band in 1961, and with their first top ten single in 1965, began a career which has brought 51 top forty singles in their homeland along with 32 albums, first in pop, then into a more mainstream rock sound. 
     Of those albums, eight of them has charted here in the states, two of them in the top 40 on the strength of two classic rock tunes. The first, "Radar Love" propelled the album, "Moontan" to #12 on the charts and almost a decade later, "Twilight Zone" did the same for the album "Cut". The best reason I can think of them not compounding successes here had to do with lack of great follow up songs. The last chart action they had here was in 1986 with the top forty single, "Quiet Eyes" in 1986

Monday, June 24, 2013

Andrew Gold--Lonely Boy (1977)/Thank You For Being a Friend (1978)

     It's not often that we have a blog that deals with two songs, but thought it was a great example of how two songs take wildly diverting paths to success. "Lonely Boy" was the highest charting song of Gold's career, but one could argue that "Thank You For Being a Friend" is by far the most popular....
     Andrew came from very successful parents. His Mother, Marni Nixon, was a singer who provided the voices for many actresses in the movies, most notably Natalie Wood in "West Side Story" and Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady". His Dad was Ernest Gold who won an Oscar for composing the music to the movie, "Exodus". Not surprisingly, the eldest child Andrew, began writing songs by the time he was a teenager.
     Throughout the 70's Gold became one of the most in demand musicians/songwriters/producers in pop music. He was a major cog in the success of Linda Ronstadt beginning with her breakthrough album, "Heart Like a Wheel" and the rest of her albums that decade as an musician and arranger. His credits reads like a who's who of mid to late 70's pop; 10cc, Art Garfunkel, Eric Carmen, Carly Simon, John Lennon, Maria Muldaur, Karla Bonoff, Stephen Bishop, and many others.
     He began his career as a solo artist in 1975 and recorded four albums in the 70s. His first major hit was, "Lonely Boy", which although containing some autobiographical material, is not about him at all, a fact that had haunted him a bit over the years, and something that he admits wasn't a great idea, but was convenient at the time. It went to number 7 on the Hot 100. But it was his next single, that he probably best remembered for.
     "Thank You For Being A Friend", Gold's ode to friendship was released in 1978 and although not doing as well as "Lonely Boy", charted quite respectively at number 25, and although it was his last top 40 hit, he continued write, record, and work with other musicians. It was 1984, that a new sitcom on NBC called "The Golden Girls" was developed by writer Susan Harris. "Thank You For Being A Friend" was chosen as the theme, and although not sung by Gold on the show, (it was sung by Cynthia Fee), it brought him back into the spotlight once again. Due to the show being a hit for six seasons (it was on a total of seven), it is probably much better known song, even if many don't recognize it's author.
     Gold continued working continually until his death in 2011 at the age of 59.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Go-Go's--We Got the Beat (1982)

     The history of girl groups on the pop/rock charts is woefully low compared to solo artists. There was a burst of activity in the early 60's, as groups like The Shrielles, The Ronettes, The Cookies under the producing hand of Phil Spector were all over the charts. Motown also had early success with groups like Martha & the Vandellas and of course, The Supremes. As the the rock and roll era morphed into the modern rock era, most groups involving all women were left behind. The early 70's brought the group Fanny and guitarist Suzy Quatro began to push the doors open, with The Runaways upping the ante in the latter part of the decade. (You are welcome to add the Wilson sisters and Heart into this discussion, but because the group has always had men in it, am not including them in this discussion). The Go-Go's seemed to split the difference between the 70's rock sound, with a 60's girl group sensibility.
     They were formed in Los Angeles in 1978 and consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar), Margot Olavarria (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). They began life as a west coast punk band, in fact for a brief time Carlisle was a member of the seminal LA punk band, The Germs, but she contracted a case of mono and left the band before playing a gig. Charlotte Caffey was added late in 78, and Gina Schock replaced Bello in 1979. Those changes also brought a change from straight up punk to a more power pop sound. In 1980 Olavarria left the band and replaced by Kathy Valentine.
     They signed with I.R.S. Records in 1981, and their first album Beauty and the Beat, became a huge (and totally unexpected) hit. The first single, "Our Lips Our Sealed" went to number 20, but it was this song, written by Caffey, and recorded by the band originally in 1980 and released by Stiff Records in the UK that took off into the top 5. The album was hailed as a great new wave album that in reflection had much more to do with 70's style power pop, than any new wave artists. The next few years saw more hits, but the effects of tensions within the group, not to mention their ability to party just as hard as their male counterparts caused the output to suffer. All of the women have gone on to alternate between touring as a group, and solo projects, with Carlisle having the most success on the charts. If you are interested in knowing more about the history of girl groups, a great resource can be found here:  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Godspell--Day by Day (1972)

    The musical Godspell is based on a series of parables (or stories) in the book of Matthew and Luke from the New Testament in the Bible. It began as a Master's thesis from student John-Michael Tebelak who was a student at Carnegie Mellon University in 1970. After being presented by the members of the student body, it was done in Greenwich Village for a ten day run at La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in February 1971.
     Charles Haid, who was the associate director, and who would become very popular as an actor and director later, brought the play to the attention of producer Edgar Lansbury and  Joseph Beruh with the idea of making an off-Broadway production out of it. Stephen Schwartz was brought in to reconfigure the score. He took one original song ("By My Side" by Jay Hamburger and Peggy Gordon), took some lyrics out of the Episcopal Hymnal for some songs, the wrote the rest.
     The song, "Day by Day", took it's refrain from a prayer which is credited to Saint Richard of Chichester. and was released as a single in the early summer of 1972. It reached number thirteen in July of that year. The lead singer on the recorded version is Robin Lamont. It became a successful play in several different runs including Broadway in 1976, and a film version in 1973.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Gary Glitter--Rock and Roll (Pt. 1 & 2)--1972

     In the U.S., Gary Glitter is known for one top ten hit in 1972, which has become one of the best known sports arena anthems in history. In Britain he had a major string of top five hits, including three number one's going up til 1975. Even after that, he would be in and out of the charts all the way to the mid-90s. He is probably known more so for a string of convictions beginning in the 80's which ranged from a series of DUI's and public intoxication, to the last 20 years fighting child abuse and child porn convictions in the UK and Vietnam.
     Back in 1972, the former Paul Francis Gadd had certainly paid his dues musically. As early as 1960 as Paul Raven, he released several singles that went nowhere. He ended up in 1964 playing warm up to the "Ready Steady Go" show on the BBC (the UK's answer to American Bandstand), and in 1965 joined the house band for the Mike Leander Show. After a change in name to Paul Monday, he formed the group Boston International who were together close to five years.
     The song, "Rock and Roll" (Pts. 1 & 2) were recorded for a solo album that now christened, Gary Glitter was doing in 1971. It was a part of a fifteen minute jam which was whittled down to to a little under six minutes to fit on both sides of the single. Although it was Part 1 (which actually has words to it) which became a hit around the world, it was the instrumental Part 2 which became a hit here in the US. (reaching #7). Because of the success of the flip side, many times it's referred to as Part 1.
     It became part of the sports lexicon in 1974 at Kalamazoo,  Michigan of all places. It seems that the public relations guy, named Kevin O'Brian would play the song whenever the home hockey team, the Wings, would score. When O'Brian left for a bigger position for the Colorado Rockies hockey team in 1976, he took the usage of the song with him. After the demise of the team in 1982, the two other major league teams in Denver, the Broncos and the Nuggets, took the song up. Before the decade was up, you could hear it in just about every major league stadium.
     For your listening pleasure, I'm going to put up both sides, since the

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nick Gilder--Hot Child in the City (1978)

     Nick Gilder was born in London, but raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. His professional career began as the lead singer in the 70's Canadian glam band Sweeney Todd. They had quite a bit of success in the mid 70's and won a Juno award (the Canadian version of the Grammy) in 1977. By that time, Gilder had chose to attempt a solo career and focus his attentions on America.
     He was signed by Chrysails Records and his first album, "You Know Who You Are" went nowhere. But his follow-up, "City Nights" did much better on the strength of the single, "Hot Child in the City" went all the way to number one in the summer of 1978. Although it looked like a promising career on the charts was in the offing, the next two singles struggled just outside the top 40 and never came close to another hit.
     Gilder continues to record and tour with a reformed Sweeney Todd  as he moved back to British Columbia in the 1990's. He also became an accomplished songwriter, most notably for Scandal with Patty Smyth and their top 10 hit, "The Warrior", Pat Benatar, and Joe Cocker.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Don Gibson--Oh, Lonesome Me (1958)

     Don Gibson was born in Shelby, North Carolina in a poor family, and had dropped out of school by the second grade. He began playing the guitar as a young teenager and progressed to the point that with a few other local musicians formed the group, Sons of the Soil who recorded a side or two in 1948, but broke up the next year. In 1950 he formed a new group called, King Cotton Kinfolk who spent the early 50's signed to RCA then Columbia developing his sound and his songwriting abilities.
     In 1955, he had written a song called, "Sweet Dreams" which caught the attention of a friend who worked for Acuff-Rose Publishing. He was offered a contract, but Gibson only signed with the provision that he would be given a chance to record. The song was recorded by Faron Young who took it to number 3 on the country charts, and several years later would become a signature song for Patsy Cline.
     This hit opened up the chance again to record with RCA. His recording was another self penned song, "Oh Lonesome Me" which not only became a number one hit on the country charts, but reached number seven on the top 100 as well. This began a long career for Gibson which duel country/pop hits into the early 60's and a force on the country charts through the late 70s. Besides the two hits mentioned he also wrote, "I Can't Stop Loving You" which became a massive hit for Ray Charles in the early 60s. He passed away in 2003 of natural causes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Debbie Gibson--Lost In Your Eyes (1989)

     As I listened to this song again for the first time in a couple of decades, the first question that leaped in my mind was, "Why wasn't this woman more popular?", especially in wake of the massive success of Taylor Swift. For many of Ms. Swift's fans who were much to young to remember Debbie Gibson, she is the youngest to ever write, record, AND produce a  number 1 single on the Hot 100. One of the reasons is the country music crowd is much more flexible when it comes to the age of their stars. The country charts are littered with teen girls who had success, some of them long term, (Tanya Tucker was barely in her teens when her first single, 'Delta Dawn" was released in 1972) Teen pop idols has notoriously short shelf lives, and this was how Gibson was marketed and was never able to get out of the mold created for her.
     The good news was that although her music star had faded by 1991 here in the states, she has continued to record and perform dance, then adult contemporary albums that remain popular around the world, especially in Europe and Japan. More importantly, in 1992 she made her debut on Broadway and the bulk of her success in the United States stems from her time as a singer/actress. Many may not remember as much today, but it was her eight top 20 hits (including two number 1's) from 1987 to 1989 that laid the foundation for the successes of many teen singers (several like Ms. Swift, who has taken greater control over their art at a much younger age) over the last two decades.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Barry Gibb--Shadow Dancing (1978)

     It seemed for a time in the late 70s that the Gibb brothers could do no wrong. The Bee Gees were flying high on the disco wave that was fueled to stratospheric heights by the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever". The three brothers were prolific songwriters and each contributed not only to their own performing careers, but wrote songs for many others during that period that were near the top of the charts as well. So when youngest brother Andy began performing, it wasn't surprising that his star began to take off as well.
      Not that he didn't have the goods. His voice either on his own or with any combination of his brothers fit in perfectly. I am not a huge fan of Andy's music, but found many times that his voice was a bit mellower than his older siblings, and therefore was very appealing. His first three songs that hit the charts in the US went to number one. The next three after that were top 10. My favorite of all of those songs was "Shadow Dancing" which was a true collaboration between all four brothers.
     The downturn of his success had to do with the same market forces that moved The Bee Gees off the charts. His intake of cocaine and alcohol which was masking depression was greatly effecting his work. Finally in the mid 80s after a stint at the Betty Ford clinic, he was beginning to make strides for a comeback. Unfortunately, he passed away from natural causes brought on by the drug abuse in 1988 at the age of 30.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stan Getz w/Astrud Gilberto--The Girl from Ipanema (1964)

     The story for this song begins in a seaside suburb of Rio de Janerio in 1962. Musicians Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes were writing about a girl they would see just about every day. The girl, later identified as 17 year old Helo Pinhero, would walk into the Veloso cafe-bar to buy cigarettes for her mother to the admiration of many of the men in the cafe, incluing Jobim and Moraes. The next year Jobim began a collaboration with tenor sax player Stan Getz, guitarist Joao Gilberto and Gilberto's wife Astrud.
     Actually Astrud wasn't suppose to be a part of the proceedings at all, but while working on "The Girl from Ipanema" it was decided to record the vocals in English rather than Portuguese. Astrud was the only singer in their circle who could speak the language, so although she had never sung publicity or had any sort of vocal training, it was her voice that was put on the record.
     The song not only became a hit for the trio, but it launched the career of the young Astrud and the song has become a true classic of mid-60s pop. Although amazingly reclusive (she hasn't done an interview in over 25 years), she had continued to record and tour up until 2002. You can read more on her webpage;


Friday, June 14, 2013

Gerry and the Pacemakers--How Do You Do It? (1964)

     George Martin felt he had a hit on his hand, but no one seemed to want it. It was offered to pop singer Adam Faith and he turned it down. The young producer felt sure the new group from Liverpool, The Beatles, could have a hit with it, but they didn't like the song either. (Martin told Lennon/McCartney they could shelve it if they could write something better...they came up with 'Please Please Me') Manager Brian Epstein however had another group he had just signed who would be interested in recording the Mitch Murray song.
      Gerry and the Pacemakers had to this point, the same kind of trajectory The Beatles had in Liverpool. Gerry Marsden formed the group along with his brother Fred, Les Chadwick, and Authur McMahon (who was replaced by Les Maguire in 1961) and at first was known as, 'Gerry and the Mars Bars' until the Mars company complained and the name was changed to 'Pacemakers'.
     The group was the second to take Epstein as their manager, and he soon got them a contract with Columbia records. They took, "How Do You Do It?" and made it their first number in in the UK in March of 1963 and was knocked out of the spot later by the Beatles' first UK chart topper, "From Me To You". In fact, the Pacemakers hit the top their next two singles which firmly secured them as the fab four's top competition. They had three more top 10 singles in their homeland, but would never have another number one.
     In the states, they had released all of their hits as well, but it wasn't until The Beatles knocked down the walls in early 64 that any success was made there. The Pacemakers' first hit in the US was, "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" in May of 64 and "How Do You Do It" was released in July of that year, reaching number 9. They were to reach the top 40 four more time, including another top 10, "Ferry Cross the Mersey" in 1965. But not too long after that, they began to fade, and by the end of the year they had disbanded. The group (minus Fred who passed in 2006) has continued to tour.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Georgia Satellites--Keep Your Hands To Yourself (1986)

     Rock music is almost always an amalgamation of the influences that come before it. There are those times that something fresh and truly innovative comes along, but for the most part music points as much to it's past as is does to it's future. The key is to put them together in combinations that sound fresh and exciting. There are times however, that a group or a song come along at a time that is totally out of time with the other music that goes on around it, and because of this is never quite as appreciated as it should be. This brings us to the Georgia Satellites.  
     The group was centered on singer Dan Baird, and guitarist Rick Richards, who formed Keith and the Satellites back in 1980 out of Atlanta. The band lasted for a few years when Barid and Richards formed The Georgia Satellites who went into the studio in early 1984 to record a demo. For various reasons the guys in the band decided it wasn't really going anywhere and by mid 84' had broken up.
     Their former manager however, continued to promote the demo in his homeland of Britain. A small label in Yorkshire liked what they heard and released the demo as an EP called, "Keep the Faith". The media response in the UK inspired the group to reform and record an album. That album, "Georgia Satellites" became a huge hit in the US led by the number 2 single, "Keep Your Hands To Yourself"
      If you were a music fan in the mid-80's, you can remember how different this sounded on the radio. Wedged in between the early days of hair metal, 80's dance, and the last vestiges of new wave, it was truly an anomaly. For those who were a bit older, it was easy to identify the Stones-like guitar riffs and the witty lyrics of Baird which showed he had been listening to a bit of Chuck Berry in his day. In the 70's this band would have had a lot greater success, but in the mid/late 80's, they were seen as a novelty and although the next album, "Open All Night", was almost as good as the debut, it didn't fair nearly as well and by the early 90's, the group was soldering on without Baird who had left for a solo career. For at least a short time in 1986 however, The Satellites reminded us about

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Barbara George--I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)--1961

     New Orleans has always been a hotbed of music and in the early 60's, many record companies sent their scouts to that great city to find new talent. One who decided there needed to be a local company that catered to the needs of the black musician was Harold Battiste. More can be read about him and the AFO (All For One) record label here: and
     One of his breakthrough artists was Barbara George. Born in Smithridge she was discovered singing in her church choir by singer Jesse Hill, who recommended her to Battiste. She recorded the first single on the AFO label, and it hit big reaching number one on the r&b charts and number 3 on the Hot 100. I Know (You Don't Love Me No More) was written by George herself.
     She had a couple more songs which reached the charts on AFO in 1962, but nothing that reached the success of her hit. Along with others, George was poached by Sue Records (which AFO had a distribution agreement) and shortly afterward AFO folded and Battiste headed to Los California. She never approached the success with Sue that she had with AFO and by the mid-60's was out of music.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Gentrys--Keep On Dancing (1965)

     The Gentrys were another one of the many bands who got their start out of high school. Most of the members (with the exception of Larry Butler on keyboards) all come out of Treadwell High School in Memphis. The first lineup consisted of Bruce Bowles and Jimmy Hart on vocals, Bobby Fisher on sax and keyboards, Jimmy Johnson on trumpet, Pat Neal on bass, Larry Raspberry on guitar and lead vocals (he was the lead on 'Keep On Dancing'), Larry Wall on drums, and Butler.
     The boys founded the group in May of 1963 and was soon playing for school parties and local dances. More people began to take notice as the group took third place in the Mid-South Fair Talent Competition in September of 64 and by the end of the year had received a recording contract. The first single did well in the Memphis/Mid-South area, but it was the next song, "Keep On Dancing" which broke through in a big way, reaching number 4 in the fall of 1965.
     The song itself is unusual in the fact the first verse recording is actually repeated on the record. If you listen there is a fake fade, then a drum fill then the exact verse is played again. This was to fill it out to a normal length for radio airplay. The band reached the top 100 again a few more times, but never with the success of this song.
     The group disbanded by the end of 1966, but in 1969 Jimmy Hart reformed the group with himself as lead singer. This version of the group lasted until 1971 and included, Steve Spear (Bass), Davey Beaver (Keyboards), Jimmy Tarbutton (guitar), and Mike Gardner (drums). This version of the band never had a hit, but did reach the top 100 on a couple of occasions, mostly notably with a version of Neil Young's, "Cinnamon Girl' which charted before Young's. There was actually another incarnation of the group with Hart as lead singer in 1972, before the name was hung up for good.
     This however wasn't the end of our story with Jimmy Hart. You see, another alum of Treadwell High School was a wrestler named Jerry "The King" Lawler. Hart was asked to sing back up for Lawler on a song, and although nothing came of it, Hart became hooked on wrestling. He soon became a manager for some well known names in the sport during the early 80's, but it was when he was hired by Vince McMahon and the WWF that his star began to really rise. He became known as, "The Mouth of the South" for carrying a megaphone with him to shout instructions to his men. He never totally gave up music however, as he wrote many of the theme songs for wrestlers throughout his career. In the 80's and early 90's, if there was a music association with the WWF, generally he was behind it. Although he has worked for other wrestling groups, he returned to the WWE in 2011.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Genesis--Land of Confusion (1986)

     When we left things yesterday, Peter Gabriel left to pursue a solo career. The band tried out around 400 singers to replace him before settling on Phil Collins. Over 30 years later, it's easy to think that the band's move to more pop oriented material was a sharp line between the two singers. This was far from the truth as several of the albums post-Gabriel were progressive in nature as well. "A Trick of the Tail" (1976),  "Wind & Wuthering" (1976), and "Seconds Out" (1977--a live album). Of course, you can hear a gradual shift towards more pop sounds, but they would never totally leave their artsy roots. Looking back all of these years later, they were actually ahead of the curve. While the late 70's became a wasteland for many of the progressive rock heroes earlier in the decade, Genesis saw the writing on the wall and began a change to a sound that took the best parts of their prog roots and wedded them to a more pop structure.
     Am not sure if his leaving hastened this change over, or vice versa, but by the album, "..And Then There Were Three" (1978), Steve Hackett had left as well leaving it down to a trio of Banks, Rutherford, and Collins. The 80's was when this lineup struck gold time and time again. Beginning with, "Follow You, Follow Me" (1978), they racked up seventeen top 40 hits through 1992, with the apex of this popularity coming between 1986 and 1988, which included, "Land of Confusion"
     Although a big fan of 70's progressive rock, I always felt an detachment to Gabriel era Genesis. I've always found the latter era group to be more tuneful. To be fair, Peter Gabriel has also done better creatively in his solo career after leaving the group which helped launch his career. Despite what prog rock sympathizers might tell you otherwise, the 80's version could rock as well, and this song is a good example of it. Things began to slow down in the mid-90's, especially after Collins left in 93',   and although there had been a couple of reunions since, 1997's, "Calling All Stations" wrapped it up for the group as a recording entity. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Genesis--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)

     The story of Genesis is truly one of two different bands, which made if difficult to choose which one of those incarnations to write about. So to be fair, I am writing about the Peter Gabriel era group today, and the Phil Collins era group tomorrow.
     The story begins in 1967 with schoolmates Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks. The other members drawn from bands which came from other schools included Mike Rutherford, Anthony Phillips, and Chris Stewart. Their original intention was to become a songwriting cooperative, however in 1968,  songwriter Jonathan King, who was an alum of the same school as Gabriel and Banks, heard the band at a gig at the school and was impressed enough by what he heard to help get them signed to a recording contract. The resulting album, "From Genesis to Revelation" in 1969 didn't sell well (didn't sound much like what we know as Genesis either), but King continued to encourage the band to go off on their own rather than write for others.
     During the recording of that first album, drummer Stewart was replaced by John Silver. Silver was replaced before the recording of the second album by John Mayhew. The subsequent album, "Trespass" still showed a band in development, but on hearing it again now, showed the template for what was to become the classic 70's era Genesis sound.
     After that release Phillips chose to leave the band due to ill health. Mayhew was also released and replaced with Phil Collins. The guitarist spot was filled first by Mick Barnard then Steve Hackett in the fall of 1970. Thus began a streak of top albums by the five men. "Nursery Cryme" (1971), "Foxtrot" (1972), "Selling England by the Pound" (1973), and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (1974).
     "Lamb" in particular was a massive two album set describing the spiritual story of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City. The stage production in concert was as sprawling as the album, but it was a huge success for the band critically and in terms of sales. However, Gabriel was showing continues dissatisfaction with the band. He was not only feeling pigeonholed musically, but also felt the band members showed disinterest and callousness towards the difficult birth of his daughter and the need to be home with her and his wife. This led to him announcing that he was to leave after the "Broadway" tour. The band members were aware of this prior to the tour.
     Despite this, the tour was a massive success, and Gabriel and the band he helped create went their separate ways. This could spell disaster for many groups, but this was one instance where leaving not only was very successful for the man leaving for the solo career, but shot Genesis off into a totally different direction which no one could have predicted.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gene and Debbe--Playboy (1968)

     The duo of Gene Thomas (born Thomasson) and Debbe Neville had a trio of songs on the top 100 in 1967 and 68, with "Playboy" being by far the most successful. Thomas had been recording since the early 60's with some minor success, but was mostly into songwriting when meeting Neville. Their style was county/pop romantic songs in a Everly Brothers type harmonic style. They never had a song reach near the heights of this song (#17), and by the end of 1969 had gone their separate ways with Gene continuing his career as a songwriter, and Debbe attempting (unsuccessfully) a solo career.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

J. Geils Band--Centerfold (1981)

     For those who just kept up with the top 40, the number one success of, "Centerfold" must have come as a bit of a shock, but in actually it was just a culmination of years of work
     The group had it's beginnings at Worcester, Massachusetts as an acoustic blues band in 1967. John Geils (guitar, vocals), Danny Klein aka Dr. Funk (Bass), and Richard Salwitz aka Magic Dick (harmonica) made up the band under the name "Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels". It wasn't long however before they went electric and added drummer Stephen Jo Bladd, organist Seth Justman, and Peter Wolf who took over vocals which Geils devoted himself more to guitar, and the name changed to the J. Geils Blues Band then finally to J. Geils Band.
     By 1970, they were signed to a contract and began a trek of over a decade where they churned out party blues/rock. During that decade they never had a top ten album with the exception of, "Bloodshot" in 1973, but always had strong sales overall, and a rabid following, especially in the northeast and mid-west. For many who were more into FM radio at the time, you might be surprised to know that the band also had six top forty songs before, "Centerfold", the best known being, "Musta Got Lost" in 1974, which reached number 12.
     The song itself was written by Seth Justman and it and it's follow-up, "Freeze Frame" became top 5 hits here in the states. By 1983 however, Wolf left the band and Justman took over lead singing duties for one more album, and called it quits by 1985. They have since reunited from time to time most recently at the "Boston Strong" benefit concerts on May 30th for those injured in the Boston Marathon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

David Geddes--Run Joey Run (1975)

     It might have just been because I grew up in the 70's, but it seems that for all of the good music that was around, there was also a high amount of musical debris floating on the landscape. This song was one of them. In pop music, there has always been a fascination with death and dying. Sometimes it would be wrapped in romance ("Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers--1964) or just a graphic description of the event (D.O.A. by Bloodrock--1971). Others were just sappy (I direct you to "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro--1968 or to "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks in 1975...both are audio versions of a Lifetime movie).
     However, it's hard to place "Run Joey Run", but  David Geddes at least did well with the material given him. He had sung with a band in the early 70's, and also cut a few sides as a solo artist. After a sufficient amount of time, he decided to enter law school at Wayne State University in Detroit. While in school he received a call from producer Paul Vance asking him to come to New York City to record a song. It seems as if Vance heard him in a previous recording and thought the voice would work well for a song he had written.. So Geddes flew into the city and recorded, "Run Joey Run".
     The song reached number 4 on the charts, and it's follow up, "The Last Game of the Season (Blind Man in the Bleachers)" also entered the top forty. I can remember when hearing the song at the age of 14, it was difficult to figure out why Julie's (Joey's girlfriend) dad was so pissed off with Joey. As it turns out, Julie was preggy with Joey's kid. However, because of censorship issues, you just couldn't SAY that over the radio airwaves so it was framed in every way possible to let you in on the secret. Part of my confusion was the line, "Daddy please don't, it wasn't his fault...", she's pregnant...he's the dad (supposedly) who's fault WAS it?  So we have a song dealing with teenage pregnancy, violence, and child abuse (Julie's dad had been hitting her) all wrapped in 60's TV detective music. A true Shakespearean tragedy.....kinda.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gloria Gaynor--Never Can Say Goodbye (1974)

     In music, there are examples of an artist who become so associated with one song that it literally overshadows everything else they do. Thus is the case with Gloria Gaynor. As we'll see with this song, she was a successful recording artist long before that song identified her forever with a specific time and place.
     The album of the same name was one of the first major disco recordings with it's title track being part of a 19 minute suite designed specifically for the dance floor.  In fact, at the beginning of 1975, Billboard began it's dance music top 40 and, "Never Can Say Goodbye" became the first number 1 on that list. The song itself was written by Clifton Davis and first recorded by The Jackson 5 in 1971.
   Gaynor broke out on the top 40 charts at number 9 and began a lifelong relationship with dance music. She only had one more hit on the pop charts (of course, 'I Will Survive', which was her only number one), but has had five number one's on the dance charts, with the latest being in 2002. As opposed to many disco artists of the day, she embraced her role as disco diva, and never stopped touring and recording. You can find out more about her here:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Crystal Gayle--Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (1977)

     Crystal Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb in November of 1951 in Paintsville, Kentucky, although was moved to Indiana when she was four, and it was here she was raised. She was the youngest of eight siblings. with Loretta Lynn being the second of that group (Lynn was 19 when Brenda was born). By the time Brenda was in high school, her older sister was starting to spend major time on the US country charts. This inspired the younger sister to take up the guitar and sing backup in her brother's folk band. During the summers Loretta would invite her to join her on tour for a couple of weeks.
     By the time graduation, she had devoted herself to music full time, and was soon signed by Decca Records. There was a bit of a question however about her name. Decca already had a popular artist by the name of Brenda Lee, the company didn't want confusion about the name, so they asked her if she would change her name. While on tour, Loretta was riding through a town and saw the name of the hamburger chain, Krystal's. She phoned Brenda and suggested she changed the spelling and call herself Crystal. So Brenda changed her first name, changed the spelling of her middle name to become her surname, and Crystal Gayle was born.
     Her first single came out in 1970, which reached the top 40 in country, but subsequent singles didn't do quite as well. Gayle felt frustrated feeling that the record company was marketing her more as Loretta Lynn's sister, and she wanted her own sound and style in 1973 she was let out of her contract. At this point she was signed by United Artists and was teamed up with producer Allan Reynolds. They began to work on changing her phrasing and vocal flair, while also pushing the music to a more crossover sound.
     There was almost an immediate change in her fortunes as the song, "Wrong Road Again" reached to number 6 on the country charts in late 1974. The next year brought the first of a string of top five hits, but Reynolds and Gayle both thought she could cross over to a wider audience. They turned to Richard Leigh who had already written to hits for her and found, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". It became a number four hit for her and her third number one on the country top 40. It also began a string of pop hits which lasted to the end of the decade. Her country success went strong into the late 80's, and today Crystal continues to tour and record.