Archive for July, 2009

Album of the Day: Psychedelic Furs (7/30/91)

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The Psychedelic Furs formed in London in the late 1970s and were far more influenced by the British punk scene than by the psychedelic rock of a decade earlier that their name implies.  And they weren’t hard-core punkers in the slashing, all-out style of the Sex Pistols or The Clash. The Furs delivered a mix of punk’s raw simplicity with modern pop sounds, placing them closer to The Cure and reminiscent of Bowie and Roxy Music. An instant hit in the U.K. with five straight Top 30 albums, it took several tries and two memorable singles, “Pretty In Pink” and “Love My Way” to break the group in America in the early 80s. The Furs broke up in 1992 and reformed in 2000. The final album from their first incarnation, World Outside (released July 30, 1991), is as good as any Furs work and spun off the college radio and Billboard Modern Rock charts Top 20 hits “Until She Comes” and “Don’t Be A Girl.” World Outside is available for purchase as a CD or individual mp3 files on Amazon and as iPod files on iTunes. A Psychedelic Furs playlist is planned for Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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Vintage Video: The Grass Roots (1969)

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Click here for a double-shot video of The Grass Roots performing two of their late-60s hits, “Bella Linda” and “Midnight Confessions,” on what appears to be Playboy After Dark (is that pipe-smoking stud-type Hugh Hefner on the right in the audience shots?). There were several incarnations of The Grass Roots between 1966 and 1975, each barely related to its predecessor but able to chart multiple AM pop hits. Somewhat like the Monkees, they were a manufactured band, in this case led by songwriter P.F. Sloan (he wrote “Eve Of Destruction” and others) and career-producer Steve Barri (he produced “Midnight Confessions”, and countless other 60s/70s/80s hits and bands). Enjoy!

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Album of the Day: The Temptations (7/27/72)

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The Temptations were given up for dead when Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams left the band in late 1971 (Kendricks went for a solo career and Williams began a long alcohol-fueled slide into dementia that led to his suicide in August 1973). Faced with the loss of two key members, the remaining Temptations, Otis Williams, Dennis Edwards and Melvin Franklin hired Damon Harris and Richard Street to revive the R&B quintet. Their first release under the new line-up, All Directions, came out on Motown on July 27, 1972. The album immediately silenced the doomsayers and placed the Temptations squarely back on the top of the R&B/soul heap. All Directions is a solid work by a band that seemed always to be recovering from a revolving door of key members. The prime cut, #1 Billboard hit and Grammy winner “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” pushed the album to #2 in the U.S., despite the fact that it clocked in at nearly twelve minutes and was unsuitable for radio airplay (at least at full length). All Directions is available for purchase as a CD or individual mp3 files on Amazon, but not on iTunes. The Temptations are featured in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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Vintage Video: The Band (1970)

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“The Weight” is the signature song by The Band, one of the best known songs from the late 60s and one of the top folk-rock tunes of all time. It was released as a single off their debut album, Music From Big Pink, in June 1968. In November two years later, The Band performed “The Weight” live at the Syria Mosque, a popular concert venue in Pittsburgh, PA. Click here for a vintage video of “The Weight,” which includes lengthy shots of drummer Levon Helm, lead guitarist Robbie Robertson and bassist Rick Danko, but unfortunately lacks any views of organist Garth Hudson and only shows pianist Richard Manuel from behind at the end.

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This Week’s Birthdays

Happy Birthday this week to:  
     
July 26    
1941 Bobby Hebb "Sunny"
1943 Mick Jagger  
1949 Roger Taylor Queen
1960 Gary Cherone Van Halen
     
July 27    
1933 Nick Reynolds Kingston Trio
1942 Kim Fowley Producer, writer, Runaways
1944 Bobby Gentry "Ode to Billy Joe"
1963 Karl Mueller Soul Asylum
     
July 28    
1938 George Cummings Dr. Hook
1943 Michael Bloomfield  
1945 Rick Wright Pink Floyd
1948 Steve Morse Deep Purple
1949 Simon Kirke Free, Bad Company
1949 Steve Peregrine Took T. Rex
     
July 29    
1946 Neal Doughty REO Speedwagon
1953 Patty Scialfa E Street Band
1953 Geddy Lee (Gary Lee Weinrib) Rush
1959 John Sykes Whitesnake
     
July 30    
1946 Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond Jethro Tull
1947 Marc Bolan T. Rex
1949 B.B. Dickerson War
1949 Andy Scott Sweet
1957 Rat Scabies (Chris Millar) The Damned
1958 Kate Bush  
     
July 31    
1941 Paul Anka  
1946 Bob Welch Fleetwood Mac, solo
1946 Gary Lewis Playboys
1947 Karl Green Herman’s Hermits
1953 Hugh McDowell Electric Light Orchestra
1959 Bill Berry R.E.M.
     
August 01    
1931 Ramblin’ Jack Elliott  
1942 Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead
1943 Denis Payton Dave Clark Five
1946 Boz Burrell King Crimson, Bad Company
1947 Rick Anderson The Tubes
1947 Rick Coonce The Grassroots
1951 Tim Bachman Bachman-Turner Overdrive
1953 Robert Cray  

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Album of the Day: AC/DC (7/25/80)

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In February 1980, AC/DC frontman and lead singer Bon Scott died suddenly (but not unexpectedly given his penchant for mixing booze and drugs in all-night parties). For most bands, the loss of a lead singer of Scott’s caliber would necessitate a major shift in direction to avoid a slow burn to irrelevance. But brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and the rest of the band quickly replaced Scott with Brian Johnson, who filled the shoes perfectly with a dead-on mimic of Scott’s scream and growl vocals. By July 25, 1980, AC/DC was back with their best album, Back In Black, and almost no one missed ol’ Bon when Brian was at the mic. With its predecessor, 1979’s Highway to Hell and follower, 1981’s For Those About To Rock We Salute You, Back In Black provided the world with a one-two-three punch of raucous, blaring rock that made AC/DC the biggest hard rock band in the early 1980’s.  With nearly 50 million in unit sales, Back In Black is the #1 selling album by a group and the second highest selling album of all time behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It is available as a CD or individual mp3 files on Amazon, but not yet on iTunes. AC/DC is featured in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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Album of the Day: Stevie Wonder (7/22/74)

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Fulfillingness’ First Finale was the fourth of five albums in Stevie Wonder’s remarkable run of R&B-soul classics from the early 70s. Released by Motown on July 22, 1974, Fulfillingness’ gathered three Grammy awards (including Album of the Year) and spawned two Top 5 singles, the funky “Boogie On Reggae Woman” (#3) and the militant, anti-Watergate “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” (#1, with backing vocals from Motown label-mates the Jackson 5). Remarkable as well is the fact that Stevie played all of the instruments on the album save for several appearances on specific songs by session musicians and cameos by Motown house bassist James Jamerson and Flying Burrito Brother steel guitarist “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow. Fulfillingness’ First Finale is available for purchase as a CD or individual mp3 files on Amazon, and as iPod tracks on iTunes. A Stevie Wonder playlist is in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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