Archive for March, 2010

Album of the Day: Genesis (3/31/80) 30 Years!

A good number of people – critics and die-hard Genesis fans especially – accused the progressive rock band of selling-out when they released their tenth studio album, the pop-oriented Duke, on March 31, 1980. Truth is, the seeds of change on Duke were sewn years before. Anyone who failed to hear the drift toward pop-rock wasn’t paying attention to all the signals, foul-crying critics and fans especially. Check out and comment on my Genesis playlist here).

Peter Gabriel’s departure from Genesis in mid-1975 ended the growing clash over musical direction for the band and, more importantly, brought drummer Phil Collins into the lead singer role. Where Gabriel was into high brow, theatrical live shows and heavy-handed concept albums, the remaining three (Collins, bassist Mike Rutherford, guitarist Steve Hackett and keyboardist Tony Banks) knew a good pop-rock melody and could pen them easier than Gabriel could design the costumes and deep lyrics for his stage persona. The last Gabriel-era LP, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, gained radio airplay in the U.S. to chip away at their cult status (they were always big in the U.K.). Each successive album grew bolder with pop rhythms, riffs and harmonies, with “Robbery, Assault And Battery” (1976), “Your Own Special Way” (1976) and “Follow You Follow Me” (1978) setting up the two hits from Duke, “Misunderstanding” and “Turn It On Again.”

Duke is usually viewed as the mid-point between the “new” and the “old” Genesis. While I disagree that the distinction is that clear, the fact remains that it became their first #1 record in the U.K. (and #11 in the U.S.). It was followed by four more terrific Genesis albums in the 80s paralleling Collins’ solo career. CD issues and mp3 downloads are available on Amazon (click here). iTunes downloads are available here.

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This Week’s Birthdays (March 28 – April 3)

Happy Birthday this week to:

Mar 28
1945 ● Charles “Chuck” PortzThe Turtles, “Happy Together” (1967)
1948 ● John EvansJethro Tull
1948 ● Milan Williams → Commodores, “Three Times A Lady” (1978)
1955 ● Reba McEntire → Country singer, TV actress
1967 ● James Atkin → EMF, “Unbelievable” (1990)
1986 ● Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta) → Electronic dance-pop, “Just Dance” (2008)

Mar 29
1930 ● Donny Conn (Donald Claps) → Playmates, “Beep Beep” (1958)
1943 ● Chad Allan (Allan Kowbel) → Guess Who
1943 ● Vangelis (Evangelos O. Papathanassiou) → Composer, “Chariots Of Fire” (1982)
1947 ● Bobby Kimball (Robert Toteaux) → Toto
1959 ● Perry Farrell (Bernstein) → Jane’s Addiction
1967 ● John Popper → Blues Traveler

Mar 30
1941 ● Graeme EdgeMoody Blues
1943 ● John “Jay” Traynor → Jay & The Americans
1943 ● Kenny Forssi → Love
1945 ● Eric Clapton (Eric Patrick Clapp) → Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, solo
1948 ● Jim “Dandy” Mangrum → Black Oak Arkansas
1950 ● Dave Ball → Procol Harum
1962 ● MC Hammer (Stanley Kirk Burrell) → Rap star, “U Can’t Touch This” (1990)
1964 ● Tracy Chapman → Singer/songwriter, “Fast Car” (1988)
1968 ● Celine Dion → Pop singer, “Because You Loved Me” (1995)
1979 ● Norah Jones (Geethali N. J. Shankar) → Acoustic pop, “Come Away With Me” (2002)

Mar 31
1934 ● Shirley Jones → Partridge Family
1935 ● Herb Alpert → Tijauna Brass, A&M Records executive
1944 ● Michael Geoffrey “Mick” Ralphs → Mott The Hoople, Bad Company, solo
1944 ● Rod Allen (Rodney Bainbridge) → The Fortunes, “You’ve Got Your Troubles” (1965)
1946 ● G. Allan NicholThe Turtles, “Happy Together” (1967)
1947 ● Al Goodman → The Moments, Ray, Goodman & Brown
1947 ● Jon Poulos → The Buckinghams, “Kind Of A Drag” (1967)
1948 ● Thijs Van Leer → Focus
1953 ● Sean HopperHuey Lewis & The News
1954 ● Tony BrockThe Babys, “Everytime I Think Of You” (1978)
1955 ● Angus YoungAC/DC
1958 ● Pat McGlynn → Bay City Rollers
1959 ● Robert Holmes → Til Tuesday, “Voices Carry” (1985)

Apr 01
1934 ● Jim Ed Brown → The Browns, “The Three Bells” (1959), solo
1939 ● Rudolph Isley → Isley Brothers
1942 ● Alan Blakely → The Tremeloes, “Silence Is Golden” (1967)
1942 ● Phil Margo → The Tokens, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1962)
1945 ● John BarbataThe Turtles, Jefferson Airplane
1946 ● Ronald Frederick “Ronnie” Lane → Faces/Small Faces, solo
1948 ● Jimmy Cliff (James Chambers) → Reggae superstar, “The Harder They Come” (1972)
1954 ● Jeff PorcaroToto
1961 ● Mark White → ABC, The Spin Doctors
1961 ● Susan Boyle → “I Dreamed A Dream” (2009)
1986 ● Hillary Scott → Lady Antebellum, “I Run To You” (2009)

Apr 02
1939 ● Marvin Gaye (Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.) → R&B/soul pioneer
1942 ● Leon Russell (Claude Russell Bridges) → Songwriter, sessions, solo, “Tight Rope” (1972)
1942 ● Phil “Parrot” Castrodale → The Reflections, “(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet” (1964)
1943 ● Glen Dale (Richard Garforth) → The Fortunes, “You’ve Got Your Troubles” (1965)
1943 ● Larry Coryell → Jazz-rock pioneer, The Eleventh House, solo
1946 ● Kurt Winter → The Guess Who
1947 ● Emmylou Harris → Songwriter, country star, collaborator, solo, “Sweet Dreams” (1976)
1952 ● Dave Bronze → Procol Harum
1952 ● Leon WilkersonLynyrd Skynyrd
1953 ● David RobinsonLynyrd Skynyrd
1961 ● Keren Jane Woodward → Bananarama
1967 ● Greg Camp → Smash Mouth

Apr 03
1922 ● Doris Day (Doris Von Kappelhoff) → Actress, singer, “Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be)” (1956)
1928 ● Don Gibson → Country-pop, songwriter, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1957)
1936 ● Jimmy McGriff → Soul-jazz organist, “The Worm” (1969)
1938 ● Jeff Barry → Brill Building songwriter, producer, wrote “Leader Of The Pack”
1941 ● Jan Berry (William J.) → Jan & Dean, “Surf City” (1963)
1942 ● Billy Joe Royal → Country-rock, “Down In The Boondocks” (1965)
1942 ● Wayne Newton → Pop-rock solo act, “Danke Schoen” (1963), Vegas showman
1943 ● Joe Vann (Joseph Canzano) → The Duprees, “You Belong To Me” (1962)
1943 ● Richard ManuelThe Band
1944 ● Barry Pritchard (Fortunes) → The Fortunes, “You’ve Got Your Troubles” (1965)
1944 ● Tony Orlando (Michael Anthony Orlando Casavitis) → AM pop star, leader of Dawn, “Knock Three Times” (1971)
1946 ● Dee MurrayElton John band
1949 ● Richard Thompson → Fairport Convention, solo, duo with wife Linda
1951 ● Mel Schacher → ? And The Mysterians, Grand Funk Railroad
1955 ● Mick Mars (Bob Alan Deal) → Motley Crüe
1956 ● Judie Tzuke (Judith Myers) → UK pop, “Stay With Me Till Dawn” (1979)
1961 ● Eddie Murphy → Actor/singer
1968 ● Sebastian Bach (Bierk) → Skid Row
1985 ● Leona Lewis → Contemporary R&B, “Bleeding Love” (2007)

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Album of the Day: Elvis Presley (3/23/56) 54 Years!

Elvis Presley was the first rock ’n’ roll album to reach #1 on the Billboard pop album chart (spending 10 weeks there), the first million-selling rock ‘n’ roll album, and the first million-selling pop album for RCA Records. While Elvis Presley (playlist here) had seen some action on the country and western singles charts in 1955, when his debut album was released on March 23, 1956, the ground shook, The King was born, rock ‘n’ roll found its legs and the world of pop music was never the same again.

Elvis Presley wasn’t really a cohesive album in that sense of the term that came along in the 60s, and certainly not in a time when teens mainly bought 45s. It’s disjointed, with 12 tracks on the original vinyl (mono) disc recorded at three different times. Seven came from two sessions in January at RCA studios in Nashville and New York. The remaining five were leftovers culled from Presley’s catalogue of singles acquired from his previous employer, Sun Records (RCA bought his contract from Sun in November 1955 for $35,000). But who cared? Inconsistency aside, the landmark record had great rockabilly (Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”), country-pop (“Trying To Get To You”), shufflin’ R&B (Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman”) and languid cover of the classic ballad “Blue Moon” (which doo-wop group The Marcels would speed up with startling effect in 1961).

Most CD reissues of include the classic hit “Heartbreak Hotel,” which rose the charts along with the LP but was not on the original vinyl pressing. Together, though, they make one helluva starting point for a playlist of the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll (soft sell, click here). Elvis Presley is #55 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 top albums of all-time. CD reissues and mp3 downloads are available on Amazon, but and iTunes downloads are available here.

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Album of the Day: The Beatles (3/22/63) 47 Years!

The Beatles (playlist here) recorded the bulk of their debut album, Please Please Me at EMI Studios in London in one, 9-hour marathon in February 1963. The album was rush-released in the U.K. on March 22, 1963 to leverage the success of two singles, “Love Me Do” and the title track, both of which came out in late 1962. Beatlemania was bubbling in Britain, but it would be nearly a year before the Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, bringing the brouhaha to the U.S.

Please Please Me contains 14 excellent samples of the Beatles’ early work. You’ve heard them all many times over, but they’re just a fresh today as they were 47 years ago when four brash young guys banged them out for a few pounds pay (but millions more to come in royalties). And it wasn’t that much trouble for them to get it down in 9 hours, as most of the songs were staples of their live shows honed in the clubs of Hamburg and Liverpool. Eight Lennon/McCartney originals mix with six covers, including Motown (“Boys,” featuring Ringo on vocals, and “Baby It’s You,” another Shirelles hit), a Gerry Goffin/Carole King mid-tempo rocker (“Chains,” sung by George Harrison) and “Twist And Shout,” a hit for the Isley Brothers in 1962. Of the originals, there’s a balance of rock ‘n’ roll (“I Saw Her Standing There” and the title track) with sweet ballads (“There’s A Place” and “P.S. I Love You”) and the eternal “Do You Want To Know A Secret.”

Unless they purchased import copies, American listeners would have to endure a 10 month wait for the Beatles’ first U.S. releases, Introducing…The Beatles on Vee-Jay Records and Meet The Beatles on Capitol (both released in mid-January 1964). Even the Canadians got in ahead of their southern neighbors, as Capitol released a Canada-only version of With The Beatles (the second U.K. release) in November 1963. Please Please Me is available as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon, but as with all Beatles music, not on iTunes.

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This Week’s Birthdays (March 21 – 27)

Happy Birthday this week to:

Mar 21
1902 ● Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. → Delta blues slide guitarist
1943 ● Victor Anthony “Vivian” Stanshall → Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
1945 ● Rosemary Stone Sly & The Family Stone
1946 ● Ray Dorset → Mungo Jerry, “In The Summertime” (1970)
1949 ● Eddie Money (Edward Joseph Mahoney) → “Two Tickets To Paradise” (1977)
1950 ● Roger HodgsonSupertramp
1951 ● Conrad Lozano → Los Lobos
1951 ● Russell Thompkins, Jr. → Stylistics
1967 ● Jonas “Joker” Berggren → Ace Of Base
1967 ● Sean Dickson → Soup Dragons
1968 ● Andrew Copeland → Sister Hazel

Mar 22
1941 ● Jeremy Clyde → Chad & Jeremy
1943 ● George Benson → Jazz/R&B guitarist, “Breezin'” (1976)
1943 ● Keith Relf → Yardbirds
1947 ● Harry Vanda → Easybeats, Flash And The Pan
1947 ● Patrick Olive → Hot Chocolate, “You Sexy Thing” (1975)
1948 ● Randy Jo Hobbs → The McCoys, “Hang On Sloopy” (1965)
1957 ● Stephanie Mills → Disco diva, “Never Knew Love Like This Before” (1980)

Mar 23
1949 ● Ric Ocasek (Richard Otcasek) → The Cars, solo
1950 ● Phil Lanzon → Uriah Heep
1953 ● Chaka Khan (Yvette Marie Stevens) → Rufus, solo, “I Feel For You” (1984)
1966 ● Marti Pellow (Mark McLachlan) → Wet Wet Wet, “Love Is All Around” (1994)
1968 ● Damon Albarn → Blur

Mar 24
1937 ● Billy Stewart → R&B/jazz singer, “Summertime” (1966)
1947 ● Mike Kellie → Spooky Tooth
1948 ● Lee Oskar → War, solo
1951 ● Dougie ThomsonSupertramp
1960 ● Nena (Gabriele Susanne Kerner) → “99 Luftballons” (1984)
1970 ● Pasemaster Mase (Vincent Mason, Jr.) → De La Soul
1970 ● Sharon Corr → The Corrs

Mar 25
1934 ● Johnny Burnette → “You’re Sixteen” (1960)
1938 ● Hoyt Axton → Country songwriter, actor, “Boney Fingers” (1974)
1942 ● Aretha Franklin → R&B super-diva, “Respect” (1967)
1947 ● Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight) → “Candle In The Wind 1997” (1997)
1948 ● Michael Stanley (Gee) → Michael Stanley Band, “Lover” (1980)
1949 ● Nick Lowe → Brinsley Schwarz, solo, producer
1960 ● Steve Norman → Spandau Ballet, “True” (1983)
1975 ● Melanie Blatt → All Saints

Mar 26
1917 ● Rufus Thomas → R&B/soul, “Do The Funky Chicken” (1970)
1936 ● Fred Parris → The Five Satins, “In The Still Of The Night” (1956)
1944 ● Diana Ross (Diane Earle) → The Supremes, solo
1948 ● Richard TandyElectric Light Orchestra
1948 ● Steven Tyler (Steven Victor Tallarico) → Aerosmith
1949 ● Fran SheehanBoston
1950 ● Teddy Pendergrass → Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, solo
1953 ● Billy Lyall → Bay City Rollers, Pilot, Alan Parsons Project
1968 ● James Iha → Smashing Pumpkins
1968 ● Kenny Chesney → Country star, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” (1999)
1975 ● Juvenile (Terius Grey) → Gangsta rapper, “Slow Motion” (2003)
1981 ● Jay Sean (Kamaljit Singh Jhooti) → Urban R&B, “Down” (2009)

Mar 27
1950 ● Tony BanksGenesis
1954 ● Walt StockerThe Babys, Air Supply
1959 ● Andrew FarrisINXS
1962 ● Derrick McKenzie → Jamiroquai
1965 ● Johnny April → Staind
1970 ● Brendan Hill → Blues Traveler
1970 ● Mariah Carey → Pop diva, “Fantasy” (1995)
1975 ● Fergie (Stacy Ferguson) → Wild Orchid, Black Eyed Peas, solo

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Album of the Day: Wild Cherry (3/20/76) 34 Years!

Funky one-hit wonder band Wild Cherry endured the bar and lounge circuit among the gritty steel mills along the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and southeastern Ohio for several years before their 5:01 minutes of global fame came in 1976. Allegedly pestered one night by a group of non-whites to “play something funky,” leader and guitarist Rob Parissi and his mates did just that, responding with the now-classic “Play That Funky Music (White Boy).” The single opened their eponymous debut album, released on March 20, 1976.

Unfortunately for Rob and his lounge pals, that was it. The single and album were an out-of-nowhere, huge and enduring hit. “Play That Funky Music” topped both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts, and the album and single were platinum sellers. Wild Cherry tried but never came close to matching the success of their one-hitter. But they’re still enjoying the income from royalties, including when you download the (pretty good funk/rock – for $6.99) album or mp3s on Amazon (click here) or iTunes (click here).

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This Week’s Birthdays: March 14 – 20

Happy Birthday this week to:

Mar 14
1931 ● Phil Phillips (John Phillip Baptiste) → R&B singer, “Sea Of Love” (1959)
1933 ● Quincy Jones → Bandleader, producer, songwriter
1943 ● Jim PonsTurtles, Mothers Of Invention
1945 ● Walter ParazaiderChicago
1969 ● Michael Bland → Session drummer, Prince, Soul Asylum
1970 ● Kristian Bush → Sugarland
1983 ● Jordan Taylor Hanson → Hanson

Mar 15
1912 ● Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins → Blues guitarist, “Mojo Hand” (1960)
1932 ● Arif Mardin → Atlantic Records producer
1940 ● Phil LeshGrateful Dead
1941 ● Mike LoveBeach Boys
1942 ● Jerry Jeff Walker (Ronald Clyde Crosby) → C&W singer, “Mr. Bojangles” (1968)
1944 ● David Costell → Gary Lewis & The Playboys
1944 ● Sly Stone (Sylvester Stewart) → Sly & The Family Stone
1946 ● Howard Scott → War
1947 ● Ry Cooder → Country-folk-blues-rock guitarist, Rising Sons, sessions, solo
1953 ● Preston Hubbard→ Roomful Of Blues, Fabulous Thunderbirds
1955 ● Etterlene “Bunny” DeBarge → DeBarge
1955 ● Dee Snider → Twisted Sister, solo
1962 ● Steve Coy → Dead Or Alive
1962 ● Terence Trent D’Arby (Howard) → “Wishing Well” (1988)
1963 ● Brett Michaels → Poison
1964 ● Rockwell (Kenneth Gordy) → “Somebody’s Watching Me” (1984)
1968 ● Mark McGrath → Sugar Ray
1972 ● Mark Hoppus → Blink-182
1975 ● will.i.am (William James Adams, Jr.) → Black Eyed Peas
1977 ● DJ Joseph Hahn → Linkin Park

Mar 16
1948 ● Michael Bruce → Alice Cooper band, solo
1954 ● Nancy WilsonHeart
1959 ● Flavor Flav (William Jonathan Drayton, Jr.) → Public Enemy
1963 ● Stuart Kerr → Texas

Mar 17
1919 ● Nat “King” Cole (Nathaniel Coles) → “Unforgettable” (1954)
1937 ● Adam Wade → R&B/pop vocalist, “Take Good Care Of Her” (1961)
1939 ● Clarence Collins → Little Anthony & The Imperials
1940 ● Vito Picone→ The Elegants, “Little Star” (1958)
1941 ● Paul Lorin KantnerJefferson Airplane/Starship, KBC Band, solo
1944 ● John B. SebastianLovin’ Spoonful
1946 ● Harold Brown → War
1948 ● Fran Byrne → Ace
1951 ● Scott Gorham → Thin Lizzy
1959 ● Mike Lindup → Level 42
1967 ● Billy Corgan → Smashing Pumpkins
1972 ● Melissa Auf der Maur → Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, solo

Mar 18
1938 ● Charley Pride → Country star, “I’d Rather Love You” (1971)
1941 ● Wilson Pickett → “In The Midnight Hour” (1968)
1947 ● Brian James “B.J.” Wilson → The Paramounts, Procul Harum
1950 ● John HartmanDoobie Brothers
1959 ● Irene Cara (Irene T. Escalera) → “Flashdance…What A Feelin'” (1983)
1963 ● Jeff LeBar → Cinderella
1963 ● Vanessa Williams → R&B/pop vocalist, “Save The Best For Last” (1991)
1966 ● Jerry Cantrell → Alice In Chains
1967 ● Robert Harrison → Cotton Mather
1970 ● Queen Latifah (Dana Elaine Owens) → Rapper, “U.N.I.T.Y.” (1993)
1974 ● Stuart Zender → Jamiroquai
1977 ● Devin Lima → LFO

Mar 19
1942 ● Robin Luke → Early rock ‘n roller, “Susie Darlin'” (1958)
1946 ● Paul AtkinsonThe Zombies
1946 ● Ruth Pointer → Pointer Sisters
1951 ● Derek Longmuir → Bay City Rollers
1953 ● Ricky WilsonThe B-52’s

Mar 20
1937 ● Jerry Reed (Jerry Reed Hubbard) → Actor, country singer/guitarist, solo, sessions
1950 ● Carl Palmer → Atomic Rooster, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Asia
1951 ● Jimmie Vaughan → Fabulous Thunderbirds, solo (Stevie Ray‘s brother)
1961 ● Slim Jim Phantom (James McDowell) → Stray Cats
1976 ● Chester Bennington → Linkin Park

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