Archive for November, 2009
Only Pink Floyd could release a double-sided concept album filled with dark themes of personal despair, narcissism and condescension, and then sell millions of copies and find the album ranked as one of the best of all time. They did, and resoundingly. The Wall (November 30, 1979) is one of Floyd’s best and one of the hottest (for good reason) double albums of all time. It’s pure late-life Floyd: moody, rhythmic and spacey, but punctuated with top-classics like “Comfortably Numb,” “Run Like Hell”, “Hey You” and “Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2” (a #1 single). Bandleader Roger Waters penned all of the material (with occasional help from bandmate David Gilmour and others). That proved to be the beginning of the end for Pink Floyd. Their next album, aptly-named The Final Cut, was the last that Roger Waters composed in its entirety and his swan song with the band.
Happy Birthday this week to:
1933 ● John Mayall → Bluesbreakers
1940 ● Chuck Mangione → Jazz trumpeter
1940 ● Denny Doherty → The Mamas & The Papas
1941 ● Jody Miller → Queen Of The House
1944 ● Felix Cavaliere → The Rascals
1947 ● Ronnie Montrose → Edgar Winter Group, Montrose
1954 ● Barry Goudreau → Boston
1958 ● Michael Dempsey → The Cure
1965 ● Wallis Buchanan → Jamiroquai
1968 ● Jon Knight → New Kids On The Block
1968 ● Martin Carr → Boo Radleys
1915 ● Walter “Brownie” McGhee → Blues guitarist
1929 ● Dick Clark → TV Host, “American Bandstand”
1937 ● Frank Ifield → “I Remember You” (1962)
1937 ● Paul Stookey → Peter, Paul & Mary
1944 ● Leo Lyons → Ten Years After
1944 ● Rob Grill → The Grassroots
1945 ● Roger Glover → Deep Purple
1953 ● Johnny “Shuggie” Otis, Jr. → Wrote “Strawberry Letter 23” (1977)
1953 ● June Pointer → Pointer Sisters
1954 ● George McArdle → Little River Band
1955 ● Billy Idol (William Broad) →
1958 ● Des’ree (Desiree Annette Weeks) →
1934 ● Billy Paul (Paul Williams) → “Me & Mrs. Jones” (1972)
1936 ● Lou Rawls →
1938 ● Sandy Nelson → Drummer, “Teen Beat” (1959)
1944 ● Eric Bloom → Blue Öyster Cult
1944 ● John Densmore → The Doors
1945 ● Bette Midler →
1946 ● Raymond “Gilbert” O’Sullivan → “Alone Again Naturally” (1972)
1951 ● Jaco Pastorius → Weather Report
1941 ● Tom McGuinness → Manfred Mann
1942 ● Ted Bluechell → The Association
1952 ● Michael McDonald → Doobie Brothers, solo
1960 ● Rick Savage → Def Leppard
1968 ● Jimi Haha → Jimmie’s Chicken Shack
1968 ● Nate Mendel → Foo Fighters
1970 ● Treach (Anthony Criss) → Naughty By Nature
1940 ● Jim Freeman → Five Satins
1948 ● John “Ozzy” Osbourne → Black Sabbath, solo
1949 ● Mickey Thomas → Elvin Bishop Group, Jefferson Starship
1951 ● Nicky Stevens → Brotherhood of Man
1952 ● Duane Roland → Molly Hatchet
1940 ● Freddie “Boom-Boom” Cannon (Frederico Picariello) → “Tallahassee Lassie” (1959)
1942 ● Bob Mosley → Moby Grape, Frantics
1944 ● Chris Hillman → The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Souther Hillman Furay Band
1944 ● Dennis Wilson → Beach Boys
1948 ● Southside Johnny (John Lyon) → Asbury Jukes
1951 ● Gary Rossington → Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington-Collins Band
1959 ● Bob Griffin → BoDeans
1962 ● Vinnie Dombroski → Sponge
1899 ● Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck Ford Miller) → Blues singer/songwriter
1932 ● Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) →
1938 ● Jean W. “J.J.” Cale → “Cocaine” (1974)
1945 ● Eduardo Delgado Serrato → ? and The Mysterians
1946 ● Andy Kim (Andrew Youakim) → “Rock Me Gently” (1974)
1947 ● Jim Messina → Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Loggins & Messina
1965 ● John Rzeznick → Goo Goo Dolls
The Rolling Stones (playlist at DrRock.com) released Let It Bleed on November 28, 1969. It’s the second in the string of five great Stones albums that together represent the best of the band’s music and the peak of their influence on rock music and culture: Beggar’s Banquet (1968); Let It Bleed; Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (1970); Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile On Main St. (1972). It contains some of their best songs, including the smoothly rolling title track, the near-anthem “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the dark “Gimme Shelter” and the rocking “Midnight Rambler.” While the album charted at #1 in the U.K. and #3 in the U.S., it’s not surprising that only one single came off Let It Bleed (“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” peaked at #42 in the U.S., and then not until 1973). Considering the rough themes and edgy music (quite typical of the other Stones’ albums of the time), there just weren’t any upbeat, pop-rock tracks that could drive the broad radio airplay and 45 rpm sales that make hit singles.
Capitol Records released the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour in the U.S. as a full length LP on November 27, 1967, less than six months after their groundbreaking and immensely enjoyable Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album (a shorter 6 song version was released as an EP in the U.K. by Parlophone) was meant to be a soundtrack for a Paul McCartney-directed TV film of the same name, which turned out to be a total bust, was panned by the British press after it aired on Boxing Day 1967 and didn’t air in the U.S. until the mid-70s. But the album did very well in the U.S., becoming yet another #1 album for the Beatles and selling more copies in its first three weeks out than any other Capitol release to that time. Interestingly, the import version in the U.K. only made #31 on those charts.
Side B of Magical Mystery Tour featured five of the Beatles’ great singles from 1967, “Hello Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “Baby You’re A Rich Man” and “All You Need Is Love,” with the sixth, “I Am The Walrus” the last track on Side A. Also on the front side are McCartney’s sobering “Fool On The Hill” and George Harrison’s sweet “Blue Jay Way.”
Despite what its title may imply, Magical Mystery Tour was not a concept album in the vein of its predecessor Sgt. Pepper’s. But it’s a worthy follow-up with similar psychedelic-pop sounds and a wonderful source of the six single tracks and the other two. Magical Mystery Tour is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).
Badfinger was one of those woulda-coulda bands that had lots of promise but never was able to fully deliver on it. The British power pop group had three gifted songwriters (founder Pete Ham, bassist Tom Evans and guitarist Joey Molland), a potentially powerful record label (Apple Records) behind them, association with and support from label’s founders (the Beatles), a hit single (“Come And Get It,” January 1970) supplied by Paul McCartney, and three straight worldwide Top 10 albums in the early 70s. But by the time Badfinger’s fifth album (including one issued as the Iveys), Ass was released on November 26, 1973, the bottom was falling out. The band had allowed a series of management missteps, they’d gone through one producer after another (including Todd Rundgren) without developing a consistent, sustainable sound, serious friction within the group was developing from frustration with their predicament, and Apple was in financial trouble after the Beatles’ dissolution in 1970. (The pressure eventually proved too much for Ham, who committed suicide less than 18 months after Ass was released).
Ham and his cohorts self-produced Ass, which didn’t help their cause. Plus, it was the last record released by Apple and received little promotional support from the label. But it’s a good early 70s power pop album, slightly harder and faster than the trademark pop-rock harmonies of its predecessor, Straight Up (their best work). Ass is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).
Cat Stevens had several singles and three mediocre albums during his attempt to launch his career as a folk-rock singer/songwriter in the late 60s. While he garnered some attention in his native England, he found virtually no audience in the U.S. and, out of frustration, considered ending his efforts. But he had a backlog of decent material, and so decided to give it one more shot. His fourth album, Tea For Tillerman, rang the bell upon its release on November 23, 1970, reaching #8 in the U.S., #11 in Canada, #20 in the U.K. and, eventually #206 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 albums.
Tea For Tillerman’s push up the charts benefited from the big single “Wild World,” which was issued in advance of the album and created the buzz Stevens needed to break into the U.S. market. But the album carried its own weight beyond the single. Four songs in particular, “Father And Son,” “Longer Boats,” “Where Do The Children Play?” and “Hard Headed Woman” have become timeless favorites for Cat’s devotees and casual fans alike.
The Beatles released two albums on November 22: With The Beatles in 1963 and The Beatles (White Album) in 1968. In the short five years between the two, the Fab Four made a dramatic and incomparable transformation from an up-and-coming rock ‘n roll band playing mostly love songs to an enormously popular, innovative group recording songs based on a wide range of genres and subjects. Musically the two albums were as far apart as anything the Beatles ever recorded. With The Beatles was 14 crisp, mostly upbeat songs. The White Album was a double LP of 30 eclectic tracks with mixed content and styles, from light, folk-based tunes (“Martha My Dear” and “Blackbird”), to vaudevillian novelty songs (“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “…Bungalow Bill”), to out-and-out rockers (“Birthday,” “Back In The U.S.S.R.” and “…Me And My Monkey”) to the wild and edgy “Helter Skelter.”
The White Album was a watershed event for the band and was the beginning of their 18-month dissolution dance that ended in early 1970. It was the last full album on which the band recorded all of the material together. Under the strain of individual egos, divergent musical interests, outside influences, disputes over management and the financial problems at their new business, Apple Records, it’s a wonder that their final two albums, Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970) ever saw the light of day (tracks for 1969’s Yellow Submarine were recorded prior to the White Album).
The Beatles (White Album) ranks #10 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums and is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).