Archive for August, 2009
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.
|Happy Birthday this week to:|
|1935||"Papa" John Phillips||Mamas & the Papas|
|1941||John McNally||The Searchers|
|1944||Chuck Colbert||American Breed|
|1939||Jerry Allison||Buddy Holly & The Crickets|
|1957||Gina Schock||The Go-Go’s|
|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|
|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|
|1915||Memphis Slim (John Peter Chatman)|
|1942||Al Jardine||Beach Boys|
|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|
|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|
|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||Loudon Wainwright III|
|1949||Clem Clemson||Humble Pie|
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.