Archive for August, 2009

Album of the Day: The Ventures (8/31/62)

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The Ventures perfected a formula in the years following their debut release (Walk Don’t Run) in 1960 and rarely deviated from it over the next 40 years: instrumental, upbeat pop-rock songs with at least a hint of their surfer-rock origins. They issued hundreds (literally) of different albums in markets worldwide, always adapting to shifts in personnel and audiences to remain relevant over the decades. Their August 31, 1962 album, Going To The Ventures’ Dance Party!, was the 9th studio album in less than two years, and it showcased the jangle-guitar oriented rock & roll of the time. Where every other surfer band was gone by the end of the 60s (or morphed into an MOR pop band a la the Beach Boys), the Ventures stayed on formula, eventually focusing on Japan and Europe when the American market finally dried up in the 80s. Their longevity is evidenced in the simplicity of the instrumentals – originals and daring covers – that touch nearly every style of rock and pop music and include jazz, blues and soul influences. Underneath every song they performed, live or studio, was the unmistakable, Ventures-only sound of Pacific coast beaches, even though they’re far from being a surf-only band. Going To The Ventures’ Dance Party! is long out-of-print, but used CD’s are available at Amazon and a Ventures’ Best Of compilation is on iTunes and Amazon. A Ventures playlist is planned for Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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This Week’s Birthdays

Happy Birthday this week to:
Aug 30
1935 "Papa" John Phillips Mamas & the Papas
1941 John McNally The Searchers
1943 Robert Crumb
1944 Chuck Colbert American Breed
Aug 31
1939 Jerry Allison Buddy Holly & The Crickets
1945 Van Morrison
1957 Gina Schock The Go-Go’s
1957 Glenn Tilbrook Squeeze
1970 Debbie Gibson
Sep 01
1927 Tommy Evans The Drifters
1941 Roy Head "Treat Her Right" (1965)
1944 Archie Bell Archie Bell & The Drells
1946 Gregg Errico Sly & The Family Stone
1947 Barry Gibb Bee Gees
1957 Gloria Estefan
Sep 02
1939 Bobby Purify (Robert Lee Dickey)
1940 Jimmy Clanton "Just A Dream" (1958)
1943 Rosalind Ashford Ashford And Simpson
1951 Mik Kaminski Electric Light Orchestra
Sep 03
1915 Memphis Slim (John Peter Chatman)
1942 Al Jardine Beach Boys
1945 George Biondo Steppenwolf
1945 Mike Harrison Spooky Tooth
1947 Eric Bell Thin Lizzy
1948 Don Brewer Grand Funk Railroad
1955 Steve Jones The Sex Pistols
1963 Jonathan Segel Camper Van Beethoven
Sep 04
1942 Merald "Bubba" Knight Gladys Knight & The Pips
1945 Gene Parsons The Byrds
1946 Gary Duncan Quicksilver Messenger Service
1946 Greg Elmore Quicksilver Messenger Service
1950 Ronald LaPread The Commodores
1951 Martin Chambers Pretenders
Sep 05
1939 John Stewart "Gold" (1979), "Daydream Believer"
1943 Joe "Speedo" Frasier The Impalas
1945 Al Stewart "Year of the Cat" (1976)
1946 Buddy Miles Band of Gypsies (Hendrix)
1946 Freddie Mercury Queen
1946 Loudon Wainwright III
1949 Clem Clemson Humble Pie
1969 Dweezil Zappa

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Vintage Video: New Riders (1972)

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The New Riders Of The Purple Sage performed “Hello Mary Lou” on the German public TV program, Beat-Club, which premiered in 1965 and went off the air in December 1972, six months after this video was taped. The song was co-written by country-pop-rocker Gene Pitney and became a hit for Ricky Nelson in 1961. The New Riders included “Hello Mary Lou” on their second album, Powerglide, in 1972 and it was a staple of their live shows and albums thereafter. (For New Riders CDs and track downloads, check Amazon, iTunes and the New Riders playlist in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault).

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Album of the Day: Marvin Gaye (8/28/73)

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Few R&B artists (and even fewer rock artists) have had the triple whammy of back-to-back-to-back masterpieces that Marvin Gaye produced with What’s Going On, Trouble Man and Let’s Get It On. All the more remarkable is that these three albums (the latter released on August 28, 1973) are in theme, tone and texture quite different. While 1971’s  What’s Going On (see blog post for May 21) was a groundbreaking, languid and flowing social commentary and 1972’s Trouble Man an uptempo “blaxploitation” soundtrack, Let’s Get It On was pure Marvin: sensual, erotic and soulful. The album exudes sexuality across all tracks. Whether overtly hedonistic (try “You Sure Love To Ball”) or through innuendo (“Distant Lover”), sexually-charged lyrics sway above slow ballads and funky rhythms. For that, Let’s Get It On is often cited as a forerunner of the lush, drawn-out “quiet storm” genre of R&B/soul music that appeared in the mid-70s. And the album was Marvin Gaye’s most commercially successful, reaching #1 and #2, respectively, on the Billboard soul and pop charts. Let’s Get It On is available on Amazon and iTunes, and Marvin Gaye is in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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Album of the Day: Alan Parsons Project (8/27/79)

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Alan Parsons gained early recognition as an in-house engineer with EMI Studios; his crowning achievements behind the mixing board were the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, two highly regarded rock concept albums. With his colleague, pianist and lyricist Eric Woolfson, Parsons struck out on his own in the mid-70s, forming The Alan Parsons Project as a vehicle to record, using a string of session musicians and singers, the concept albums the two dreamed up while engineering other artists’ projects at EMI. The result was a series of superbly crafted, progressive pop-rock thematic collections from 1975 to 1984. In the middle was Eve, recorded and mixed at Abbey Road and released on August 27, 1979. I Robot is generally considered the APP’s best album, but Eve is a close second. The album presents a sonic and lyric discussion of woman’s power over man, punctuated by two minor hits, “Damned If I Do” and the instrumental “Lucifer.”  Eve is available on Amazon and iTunes, and an APP playlist is planned for Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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Album of the Day: The Supremes (8/26/68)

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Diana Ross & The Supremes brought their live show (and newcomer Cindy Birdsong for her first on-stage appearance) to a U.K. supper club to record Live At London’s Talk Of The Town, which was released on August 26, 1968.  Unfortunately, Motown’s incomparable studio band, the Funk Brothers, was left behind in Detroit, so the girls relied on an orchestra to provide the backing music. The groove that underlies their classic 60s pop/R&B hits (and most every other Motown artist) is noticeably absent from the album, but “…Talk Of The Town” is nonetheless a great example of the breadth of music the Supremes could command in a live setting. The album mixes Broadway show tunes, pop standards and plenty of their hits from the Motown songwriting team of Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland. Live At London’s Talk Of The Town is available on Amazon but not iTunes, and the Supremes are in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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Album of the Day: Bruce Springsteen (8/25/75)

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Widespread critical acclaim, heavy radio airplay and a massive publicity campaign before and after its release on August 25, 1975 (with cover appearances on Time and Newsweek magazines in the same week) quickly made Bruce Springsteen’s do-or-die third album, Born To Run, the desired chart topper and commercial success. After the disappointments of his first two albums, Greetings From Asbury Park and The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle, Springsteen spent 14 months recording the album and Columbia Records anted up a reported $250,000 to promote it, and it paid off. Born To Run hit the Billboard Top 10 in its second week and reached #3, spending over 6 months on the charts, reaching gold status and #18 on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. It’s a giant album with giant sounds modeled after Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” from the 60s – layers of guitars, echoing vocals, ringing keyboards and plenty of rolling drums underneath. That technique catapults the title track into the stratosphere, but Born To Run also includes FM radio classic rockers “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and the more subdued “Jungleland.” Born To Run is available on Amazon and iTunes, and the Boss is in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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