Archive for January, 2010

Album of the Day: ZZ Top (1/18/94) 16 Years!

No other rock band can match ZZ Top’s record for longevity and consistency (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist). They’ve been playing and recording for over four decades with the same line-up: Billy Gibbons (vocal and guitar), Frank Beard (percussion) and Dusty Hill (bass and keyboards). Since forming in Houston in 1970, the band has kept their sound firmly rooted in pounding, Texas-baked blues-rock with occasional updates to match the changing decades and musical tastes. Theirs is a remarkable test of time and critical and commercial success.

After seven straight-ahead blues-rock albums between 1970 and 1981, ZZ Top layered in New Wave synthesized backing sounds and a bit of MTV glamour to their trademark. There followed three Top 10, multi-platinum albums – Eliminator (1983), Afterburner (1985) and Recycler (1990) – that brought the band a level of success unmatched by even their best 70s discs. For their eleventh studio album, Antenna (released on January 18, 1994), the boys returned to the hard edge of Tres Hombres (1973 and Fandango! (1975) but maintained just enough synth-pop to keep the music relevant. Antenna is not their best, but it’s quite good and worth a long listen for its two Top 10 singles, “Pin Cushion” and the slow-burning “Breakaway,” the searing guitar on “Lizard Life” and the growling pump of “Fuzzbox Voodoo.”

ZZ Top has scheduled a concert tour of South America in mid-2010 and is expected to release a 15th studio album later in the year. Those events will kick-off the fifth consecutive decade for the “little ol’ band from Texas”. Antenna is available for download on iTunes (click here) and can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).

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This Week’s Birthdays (January 17 – 23)

Happy Birthday this week to:

Jan 17
1943 ● Chris Montez (Montanez) → “Let’s Dance” (1962)
1944 ● Francoise Hardy → French pop singer
1945 ● William “Poogie” Hart → Delfonics, The Three Tenors of Soul
1948 ● Michael Kevin “Mick” Taylor → Bluesbreakers, Rolling Stones
1955 ● Steve Earle → “Guitar Town” (1986)
1956 ● Paul Young → “Everytime You Go Away” (1985)
1957 ● John Crawford → Berlin, “Take My Breath Away” (1986)
1959 ● Susanna Hoffs → Bangles
1971 ● Kid Rock (Robert James Ritchie)

Jan 18
1941 ● David RuffinTemptations
1941 ● Bobby Goldsboro → “Honey” (1968)
1943 ● Dave Greenslade → Thunderbird, Colosseum, Greenslade
1944 ● “Legs” Larry Smith → Bonzo Dog Do-Dah Band
1953 ● Brett Hudson → Hudson Brothers
1957 ● Tom Bailey → Thompson Twins
1970 ● DJ Quik (David Martin Blake) → DJ, producer
1971 ● Jonathan Davis → Korn
1983 ● Samantha Mumba → Irish singer/songwriter

Jan 19
1939 ● Phil EverlyEverly Brothers
1941 ● Joe ButlerThe Lovin’ Spoonful
1942 ● Michael Crawford (Dumble-Smith) → “I Dreamed A Dream” (1987)
1943 ● Janis Lynn Joplin
1944 ● Michelle Ann Marie “Shelley” Fabares → “Johnny Angel” (1962)
1945 ● Rod EvansDeep Purple
1946 ● Dolly Parton
1949 ● Robert Palmer → “Addicted to Love” (1986)
1951 ● Dewey Bunnell → America
1954 ● Francis Buchholz → Scorpions
1957 ● Mickey Virtue → UB40
1963 ● Caron Wheeler → Soul II Soul
1969 ● Trey Lorenz (Lloyd Smith) → “I’ll Be There” (1992)
1971 ● John Wozniak → Marcy Playground

Jan 20
1889 ● Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter) → “Goodnight Irene” (1934)
1924 ● Otis Dewey “Slim” Whitman, Jr. → “Rose Marie” (1955)
1933 ● Ron Townson → Fifth Dimension
1942 ● William Powell → O’Jays
1945 ● Eric Stewart → Mindbenders, 10cc
1946 ● Malcolm McLaren → Manager, Sex Pistols and New York Dolls
1947 ● George GranthamPoco
1948 ● Melvin Pritchard → Barclay James Harvest
1952 ● Paul Stanley (Stanley Harvey Eisen) → Kiss
1952 ● Ian Hill → Judas Priest
1954 ● Michael Anthony (Sobolewski)Van Halen
1979 ● Rob Bourdon → Linkin Park

Jan 21
1924 ● Alfred Hawthorne “Benny” Hill → English singer/comedian
1938 ● Wolfman Jack (Robert Weston Smith) → Rock ‘n Roll DJ
1941 ● Richie Havens → “Here Comes The Sun” (1971)
1941 ● Placido Domingo → Opera performer
1942 ● Edwin Starr → War
1942 ● Scott “Mac” Davis → “Forever Lovers” (1976)
1945 ● Chris Britton → The Troggs
1947 ● Pye Hastings → Caravan
1948 ● Peter Kircher → Status Quo
1950 ● Billy Ocean (Leslie Sebastian Charles) → “Caribbean Queen” (1984)
1956 ● Rob Brill → Berlin, “Take My Breath Away” (1986)
1965 ● Jam Master Jay (Jason William Mizell) → Run-DMC
1966 ● Wendy James → Transvision Vamp
1976 ● Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton → Spice Girls
1979 ● Nokio (Tamir Ruffin) → Dru Hill

Jan 22
1931 ● Sam Cooke → “You Send Me” (1957)
1940 ● Addie “Mickie” Harris → Shirelles
1949 ● Nigel Pegrum → Small Faces, Uriah Heep, Steeleye Span
1949 ● Steve Perry (Stephen Ray Pereira)Journey, solo
1952 ● Teddy Gentry → Alabama
1960 ● Michael Hutchence → INXS
1965 ● Andrew Roachford → Roachford
1965 ● Steve Adler → Guns N’ Roses
1965 ● “D.J. Jazzy Jeff” Townes → D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
1981 ● Willa Ford (Amanda Lee Williford) → “I Wanna Be Bad” (2001)

Jan 23
1944 ● Jerry Lawson → Persuasions
1948 ● Anita Pointer → Pointer Sisters
1950 ● Pat SimmonsDoobie Brothers
1950 ● Bill Cunningham → Box Tops
1950 ● Danny FedericiE Street Band
1953 ● Robin ZanderCheap Trick
1955 ● Reggie Calloway → Midnight Star, Calloway
1955 ● Earl Falconer → UB40

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Album of the Day: Paul Simon (1/14/72) 38 Years!

So far, this second full week of January has been a week of debut albums. My past two posts have featured Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut and Aerosmith’s 1973 first LP. Today, January 14, Paul Simon’s eponymous first album is in the spotlight (and you can click here for Dr. Rock’s Rhymin’ Simon playlist).

Hot off his decade-long, multi-platinum gig with partner Art Garfunkel in the acclaimed 60s folk-pop duet Simon & Garfunkel (playlist here), Simon cooled off for two years to work on his debut album as a solo artist. When released 38 years ago today, Paul Simon became the first of three straight Top Ten, million-selling studio LPs for Simon (not including the 1974’s Live Rhymin’).

Paul Simon expands from the straightforward folk-pop music of his Simon & Garfunkel years and includes reggae influences (“Mother And Child Reunion,” a Top Ten hit), African rhythms and texture (“Duncan”), and Latin tinges (“Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard”). This subtle exploration of different musical genres continued with the R&B and gospel influences on 1974’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and the jazzy sounds of 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years, which hit #2 and #1 on the U.S. pop charts (Paul Simon made it to #4 in 1973). After a relatively quiet 10 year stretch, Simon returned in 1986 with Graceland, an album deftly mixing American folk-pop with South African mbaqanga music. Those four albums, plus the heavy Latin sounds of 1990’s The Rhythm Of The Saints are Paul Simon’s best five and an incomparable collection of world-pop from one of the best all-around folk-pop songwriters of all-time.

Paul Simon is available for download on iTunes (click here) and can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).

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Album of the Day: Aerosmith (1/13/73) 37 Years!

America’s favorite bar band-turned-rock superstars, Aerosmith (click here for my Top 25 Aerosmith playlist) burst from their Boston-centric fan base on January 13, 1973 with their self-titled debut album. They’d been touring the Northeast for nearly three years after frontman Steve Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry met in an ice cream parlor in central New Hampshire in the summer of 1970. Through constant road work, Aerosmith steadily honed the swaggering bluesy hard rock that made them the hottest hard rock band in America in the late 70s.

The debut LP Aerosmith attracted generous, but not universal attention. It peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200 album chart with two memorable rock gems (“Mama Kin” and “Walkin’ The Dog”) plus “Dream On”, a classic rock track and an early entry in the 70s/80s “power ballad” genre. As a single, “Dream On” peaked at #59 in 1973 and rose to #6 in 1976 when re-released after the band reached superstardom with the LPs Toys In The Attic (1975) and its follow-up, Rocks (1976).

Aerosmith is not available on iTunes but can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).

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Album of the Day: Led Zeppelin (1/12/69) 41 Years!

The original (and many believe still the best) heavy metal band, Led Zeppelin (click here for my LZ playlist) was formed in mid-1968 by ex-Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page, who recruited John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant to his band when his dream of a supergroup featuring himself, Jeff Beck, Keith Moon and John Entwistle failed to materialize. By summer’s end they’d played several dates in Scandinavia as The New Yardbirds, then changed the band’s name and secured a recording contract and fat advance from Atlantic Records.

Led Zeppelin’s debut album was recorded in a total of 36 hours in several sessions during October 1968 and released on January 12, 1969. It’s a great blend of different styles and moods, with most of the songs coming from the band’s set lists from the just-completed Scandinavian tour. Notable tracks are two decent Willie Dixon blues covers (“You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”), a longer, tougher blues-rock original by Jimmy Page (Dazed And Confused”), the frantic, punk-precursor “Communication Breakdown,” a sweetly folksy acoustic instrumental “Black Mountain Side” and the rolling “How Many More Times.” The lone single, “Good Times Bad Times” reached #80 on the U.S. Billboard charts in the U.S. and is #19 on my 25 Best of Led Zeppelin playlist.

Led Zeppelin is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD and mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).

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This Week’s Birthdays (January 10 – 16)

Happy Birthday this week to:

Jan 10
1912 ● Woodrow Wilson “Buddy” Johnson → R&B pianist/songwriter/bandleader
1917 ● Jerry Wexler → Atlantic Records executive/producer
1927 ● Johnny Ray → “Cry” (1951)
1935 ● Ronnie “Mr. Dynamo” Hawkins → The Hawks, “Forty Days” (1959)
1939 ● Scott McKenzie (Philip Blondheim) → “San Francisco” (1967)
1943 ● Jim Croce → “Time in a Bottle” (1973)
1945 ● Rod Stewart → Jeff Beck Group, Small Faces, solo
1946 ● Aynsley Dunbar → John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Jefferson Starship
1946 ● Bob Lang → The Mindbenders
1946 ● Neal Smith → Alice Cooper band
1948 ● Cyril Neville → Neville Brothers
1948 ● Donald FagenSteely Dan
1953 ● Pat Benatar (Patricia Andrzejewski) → “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (1979)
1955 ● Michael Schenker → Scorpions, UFO
1956 ● Shawn Colvin → “New Folk” singer/songwriter
1959 ● Curt Kirkwood → Meat Puppets
1964 ● Brad Roberts → Crash Test Dummies
1965 ● Nathan Moore → Brother Beyond
1973 ● Aerle Taree → Arrested Development
1979 ● Chris Smith → Kriss Kross

Jan 11
1895 ● Laurens Hammond → Hammond organ inventor
1924 ● Slim Harpo (James Moore) → “Rainin’ In My Heart” (1961)
1942 ● Clarence ClemonsE Street Band, solo “You’re A Friend Of Mine” (1985)
1943 ● Tony KayeYes
1946 ● Naomi Judd → Country singer
1949 ● Frederick “Denny” Greene → Sha Na Na
1958 ● Vicki Peterson → Bangles
1968 ● Tom Dumont → No Doubt
1971 ● Mary J Blige
1971 ● Tom Rowlands → Chemical Brothers

Jan 12
1904 ● Mississippi Fred McDowell → Blues performer
1930 ● Glenn Yarbrough → Limeliters, solo
1936 ● Charlie Gracie (Charles Graci) → “Butterfly” (1957)
1939 ● William Lee Golden → Oak Ridge Boys
1941 ● Long John Baldry → UK blues singer
1945 ● Maggie Bell → Stone The Crows, solo
1946 ● Cynthia RobinsonSly & The Family Stone
1951 ● Chris Bell → Big Star
1954 ● Felipe Rose → Village People
1959 ● Per Gessle → Roxette
1960 ● Charlie Gillingham → Counting Crows
1965 ● Mark Moore → Starlight Express
1966 ● Rob Zombie (Robert Cummings) → White Zombie
1968 ● Raekwon (Corey Woods) → Wu-Tang Clan
1974 ● Melanie Chisholm → Spice Girls “Sporty Spice”

Jan 13
1930 ● Bobby Lester → Moonglows
1948 ● John Lees → Barclay James Harvest
1954 ● Trevor RabinYes, solo, sessions
1955 ● Fred White → Earth, Wind & Fire
1961 ● Graham “Suggs” McPherson → Madness
1970 ● Zach de la Rocha → Rage Against The Machine

Jan 14
1936 ● Clarence Carter → “Slip Away” (1968)
1938 ● Alain Toussaint → New Orleans R&B songwriter/performer/producer
1938 ● John Allan “Jack” Jones → “Wives And Lovers” (1963)
1948 ● Joseph Henry “T Bone” Burnett → Producer, session guitarist, solo artist
1948 ● Tim Harris → Foundations
1959 ● Chas Smash (Cathal Smyth aka Carl Smyth) → Madness
1959 ● Geoff Tate → Queensryche
1961 ● Mike Tramp → White Lion
1962 ● Patricia Morrison → Sisters of Mercy
1965 ● Slick Rick (Richard Walters) → Rapper
1967 ● Steve Bowman → Counting Crows
1968 ● LL Cool J (James Todd Smith) → Hip-hop artist
1969 ● Dave GrohlNirvana, Foo Fighters
1981 ● Pitbull (Armando Christian Perez) → Southern rap (crunk) artist
1982 ● Caleb Followill → Kings Of Leon

Jan 15
1909 ● Gene Krupa → Jazz drummer
1930 ● Earl Hooker → Blues singer/guitarist
1941 ● Captain Beefheart (Don van Vliet)
1942 ● Edward Bivins → The Manhattans
1945 ● Joan Johnson → Dixie Cups
1947 ● Pete Waterman → Record producer
1948 ● Ronnie Van ZantLynyrd Skynyrd
1951 ● Martha Davis → The Motels
1952 ● Melvyn GaleElectric Light Orchestra
1953 ● Boris Blank → Yello
1959 ● Pete Trenavas → Marillion
1967 ● Lisa Velez → Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

Jan 16
1937 ● Bob Bogle → The Ventures
1939 ● Ray Phillips → Nashville Teens
1942 ● Barbara Lynn (Ozen) → “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” (1962)
1942 ● William Francis → Dr. Hook & The Medecine Show
1944 ● Jim Stafford → “Spiders & Snakes” (1974)
1944 ● Ronnie Milsap → “Any Day Now” (1982)
1948 ● John Carpenter → Film producer/director, composer
1950 ● Damo Suzuki → Can, solo
1959 ● Sade (Helen Folasade Adu) → “Smooth Operator” (1984)
1962 ● Paul Webb → Talk Talk
1966 ● Maxine Jones → En Vogue

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Vintage Video: The Byrds (1965)

Bob Dylan (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist) wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1964, recorded it in January 1965, and released it on Bringing It All Back Home in March 1965. The Byrds (click here) released their version as a single on April 12, 1965. It quickly shot to #1 on both the U.S. and U.K. singles charts and eventually settled at #79 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs of all-time. Click here for a Vintage Video of the Byrd’s lip-synching and fake-playing their way through “Mr. Tambourine Man” on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.

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