Archive for May, 2010

This Week’s Birthdays (May 30 – June 5)

Happy Birthday this week to:

May 30
1909 ● Benny Goodman → Bandleader, clarinetist, The “King of Swing”
1944 ● Lenny DavidsonDave Clark Five
1955 ● Nicholas Bowen “Topper” HeadonThe Clash
1958 ● Marie Fredriksson → Roxette
1960 ● Stephen DuffyDuran Duran, Tin Tin, “Kiss Me” (1982)
1964 ● Tom Morello → Rage Against The Machine
1964 ● Wynonna Judd (Christina Ciminella) → The Judds, solo, “To Be Loved By You” (1996)
1971 ● Patrick Dalheimer → Live, The Gracious Few

May 31
1938 ● Johnny Paycheck (Donald Eugene Lytle) → “Take This Job And Shove It” (1977)
1938 ● Peter YarrowPeter, Paul & Mary
1944 ● Mick Ralphs → Mott The Hoople
1947 ● William “Junior” Campbell → The Gaylords, The Marmalade
1948 ● John Henry “Bonzo” BonhamLed Zeppelin
1962 ● Corey Hart → “Never Surrender” (1985)
1963 ● Wendy Smith → Prefab Sprout
1964 ● Darryl McDaniels → Run-D.M.C.
1965 ● Steve White → Style Council

Jun 01
1921 ● Nelson Riddle → Composer, arranger, producer (Sinatra)
1934 ● Pat Boone → Top 40 pop singer, TV host, author
1945 ● Linda Scott (Linda Joy Sampson) → “I’ve Told Every Little Star” (1961)
1947 ● Ron Wood → Faces, Rolling Stones
1950 ● Charlene Marilyn D’Angelo → “I’ve Never Been To Me” (1982)
1950 ● Graham Russell → Air Supply
1953 ● Ronnie Dunn → Brooks & Dunn
1960 ● Simon GallupThe Cure
1963 ● Alan WilderDepeche Mode, Recoil, producer
1963 ● Mike Joyce → The Smiths
1968 ● Jason Donovan → Teen idol, “Especially For You” (1968)
1974 ● Alanis Morissette → “Ironic” (1996)

Jun 02
1937 ● Jimmy Jones → “Handy Man” (1960)
1939 ● Charles Miller → War, “Spill The Wine” (1970)
1941 ● Charlie WattsRolling Stones
1941 ● William Guest → The Five Du-Tones, Gladys Knight And The Pips
1943 ● Jimmy Castor → The Teenagers, Jimmy Castor Bunch, solo
1944 ● Marvin Hamlisch → Composer, arranger, “The Entertainer” (1973)
1947 ● Steve Brookins → .38 Special
1950 ● Antone Lee “Cubby” Tavares → Tavares
1954 ● Michael Susanne Steele → The Bangles
1957 ● Simon PhillipsToto, Judas Priest, Big Country
1960 ● Tony Hadley → Spandau Ballet, solo
1962 ● Thor Eldon Jonsson → The Sugarcubes
1970 ● B Real (Louis Freese) → Cypress Hill

Jun 03
1939 ● Ian Hunter (Patterson) → Mott the Hoople, solo
1942 ● Curtis Mayfield → R&B/soul giant, The Impressions, solo
1943 ● Mike Dennis → The Dovells, “The Bristol Stomp” (1961)
1946 ● Michael Clarke (Michael Dick) → Byrds, Flying Burrito Bros., Firefall
1947 ● Dave Alexander → The Stooges
1947 ● Mickey Finn (Michael Hearne) → T. Rex
1950 ● Deniece Williams (Chandler) → “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” (1984)
1950 ● Suzi Quatro (Susan Kay Quatrocchio) → “Stumblin’ In” (1979)
1952 ● Billy PowellLynyrd Skynyrd
1954 ● Dan Hill → “Sometimes When We Touch” (1977)
1971 ● Ariel and Gabriel Hernandez → No Mercy, “Where Do You Go” (1996)

Jun 04
1937 ● Freddy Fender (Baldemar Garza Huerta) → “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” (1975)
1940 ● Cliff Bennett → The Rebel Rousers
1944 ● Michelle Phillips (Holly Michelle Gilliam) → Mamas & The Papas
1944 ● Roger Ball → Average White Band
1945 ● Anthony Braxton → Jazz reedman, bandleader, composer
1945 ● Gordon Waller → Peter & Gordon, “A World Without Love” (1969)
1961 ● Eldra DeBarge → DeBarge, “Rhythm Of The Night” (1984)
1974 ● Stefan Lessard → Dave Matthews Band

Jun 05
1926 ● Bill Hayes → Country-pop singer, “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett” (1955)
1941 ● Floyd Lawrence Butler → The Friends Of Distinction
1946 ● Freddie StoneSly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station
1947 ● Laurie Anderson → “O Superman” (1981)
1947 ● Tom Evans → Badfinger
1950 ● Ronnie Dyson → Lead singer in “Hair” (1968)
1954 ● Michael Henry “Nicko” McBrain → Iron Maiden
1954 ● Pete Erskine → Session drummer, Weather Report, Steely Dan
1956 ● Kenny G. (Kenneth Gorelick) → “Forever In Love” (1992)
1956 ● Richard Butler → Psychedelic Furs, Love Split Love
1964 ● Mags (Margaret Dunn) → Fuzzbox
1969 ● Brian McKnight → R&B/soul, “Love Is” (1993)
1970 ● Clause Noreen → Aqua, “Barbie Girl” (1996)
1971 ● Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg → Funky Bunch, Prince Pal Joe, actor
1974 ● Aaron “P-Nut” Wills → 311, solo, producer
1981 ● Sebastien Lefebvre → Simple Plan

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Album of the Day: Crosby, Stills & Nash (5/29/69)

An instant classic upon its release 40 years ago, super trio Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled debut LP featured their trademark close, rich harmonies and each member’s unique songwriting talents in nearly equal doses. Timely social and political statements mark each track, and the whole is one melodic celebration of late-60s folk-rock.

Crosby, Stills & Nash spawned two singles, the somewhat bubblegum-ish “Marrakesh Express” (backed with “Helplessly Hoping”) and the perennial “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes” (b/w “Long Time Gone,” David Crosby’s lament to the Robert Kennedy assassination a year earlier), but neither made it into the Top 20 (the album itself hit #6 in the U.S.). Add the sweet ballad of “Guinnevere,” the mystic “Wooden Ships” (co-written by Crosby, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane), Stills’ warbling electric guitar in “Pre-Road Downs” and the toe-tapper “You Don’t Have To Cry,” and it’s not surprising that Crosby, Stills & Nash is one of the top debut albums of all time (it’s #4 on my Top 25 Debut Album list) and a quintessential example of the flourishing light country-folk-rock of the time (along with the ByrdsSweetheart Of The Rodeo and The Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead, among others).

A recommended buy, the CD or mp3 downloads are on Amazon. The entire album or individual tracks can be downloaded from iTunes, and a CSN (& Young) playlist is in the Playlist Vault.

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Album of the Day: Frank Zappa (5/26/67)

The debut album by The Mothers Of Invention, Freak Out!, sold a disappointing 30,000 copies when first released in 1966. But it nonetheless garnered enthusiastic critical acclaim (including #243 on the Rolling Stone Top 500 list). Undeterred by an early failure, the band soldiered on, releasing Absolutely Free in May 26, 1967. Led by musical genius Frank Zappa and allowing no known genre of music to remain off the record, The Mothers provided a cacophony of sounds, both instrumental and vocal, with references to works from Stravinsky to the Kingsmen (“Louie Louie”).

Absolutely Free is a wacky, psychotic, outside-the-box menagerie of Zappa’s talent for the unexpected, which led to nearly fifty other albums (and 20 posthumous) before his death in 1993. It’s very much worth a listen, and can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads at Amazon (but not iTunes). Frank Zappa and The Mothers best tracks are in the Playlist Vault at DrRock.com.

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Album of the Day: Jimmy Buffett (5/24/94)

Jimmy Buffett’s May 24, 1994 release, Fruitcakes is a typical Buffett album with tropical sounds and topics, light lyrics and gentle rhythms – just the sort of beach pirate, laissez faire Caribbean wind-blown lifestyle his persona and business career have espoused over more than three decades. But Fruitcakes reached #5 on the Billboard album chart and eventually went platinum, a rare double for a Buffett album and evidence that it is one of the best five or six discs in his catalogue.

The sun, surf and sand elements of Fruitcakes are best heard (or dreamed of) from a beach chair with a rum cocktail in hand on a sunny afternoon outside a thatched hut facing an azure sea with palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. “Apocalypso,” “Lone Palm,” “Everybody’s Got A Cousin In Miami,” a mellow take on the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” and a steel-drum cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” all set that space and mood. The rest is a smooth but not serious concoction of quirky Buffett styles, including languid ballads (“Delaney Talks To Statues”), light country-rock (“Six Sting Music”), the ranting complaints about supersizing and politically correctness in the punchy title track, and the harder, bluesy horn-and-harp workout in “Vampires, Mummies And The Holy Ghost.”

Fruitcakes is a great starting point for a neo-Parrothead (as hard-core Buffett fans are known) and can be downloaded or purchased as a CD from Amazon and iTunes. Jimmy Buffett’s Top 25 tracks are in the Playlist Vault.

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This Week’s Birthdays (May 23 – 29)

Happy Birthday this week to:

May 23
1918 ● Robert “Bumps” Blackwell → Producer, Specialty Records executive
1921 ● Humphrey Lyttleton → Jazz bandleader, trumpeteer, radio host
1928 ● Rosemary Clooney → Adult pop singer, actress
1934 ● Robert Moog → Synthesizer developer and musician
1943 ● “General” Norman Johnson → The Showmen, Chairmen Of The Board
1946 ● Danny Klein → J. Geils Band
1947 ● Bill HuntElectric Light Orchestra
1953 ● Rick Fenn → 10cc
1955 ● Jim Mankey → Concrete Blonde
1957 ● Thereza Bazar → Guys N’ Dolls, Dollar, solo
1967 ● Frederick “Junior” Waite → Musical Youth, “Pass The Dutchie” (1982)
1967 ● Phil Selway → Radiohead
1973 ● Maxwell (Gerald Maxwell Rivera) → Neo-soul, “Fortunate” (1999)
1974 ● Jewel (Kilcher) → “You Were Meant For Me” (1996)

May 24
1941 ● Bob Dylan (Robert Allen Zimmerman) → “Like A Rolling Stone” (1965)
1942 ● Derek Quinn → Freddie & The Dreamers
1944 ● Patti LaBelle (Patricia Holt) → Soul diva, The Blue Belles, LaBelle, solo
1946 ● Steve Upton → Wishbone Ash
1947 ● Albert Bouchard Blue Öyster Cult
1955 ● Rosanne Cash → Daughter of Johnny, “Seven Year Ache” (1981)
1967 ● Heavy D (Dwight Myers) → Rapper, The Boyz, “Now That We Found Love” (1991)
1969 ● Rich Robinson → The Black Crowes
1988 ● Billy Gilman → Youngest country Top 20 singer, “One Voice” (2000)

May 25
1921 ● Hal David → Pop/MOR lyricist, co-wrote with Burt Bacharach
1936 ● Tom T. Hall → Country singer, wrote “Harper Valley P.T.A.” (1968)
1942 ● Brian “Blinky” Davison → The Nice, Refugee
1943 ● Jessi Colter (Miriam Johnson) → Wife of Waylon Jennings, “I’m Not Lisa” (1975)
1943 ● John Michael “Poli” Palmer → Family
1947 ● Mitch Margo → The Tokens, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1962)
1948 ● Klaus Meine → Scorpions
1950 ● Robby SteinhardtKansas, solo
1955 ● John Grimaldi → Argent
1958 ● John William “Paul” Weller → The Jam, The Style Council, solo
1975 ● Lauryn Hill → The Fugees, solo

May 26
1926 ● Miles Dewey Davis III → Jazz bandleader, trumpeteer, composer
1939 ● Jaki Liebezeit → Canadian singer/songwriter, “Wondering Where The Lions Are” (1979)
1940 ● Levon HelmThe Band, solo, producer
1942 ● Ray Ennis → Swinging Blue Jeans, “Hippy Hippy Shake” (1964)
1944 ● Terence “Verden” Allen → Mott The Hoople
1944 ● Vicki Lawrence (Vicki Ann Axelrod) → Actress, comedienne, singer, “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” (1973)
1945 ● Garry Peterson → The Guess Who
1949 ● Randall Hank Williams, Jr. → “Honky Tonkin'” (1982)
1949 ● Stephanie Lynn (“Stevie”) NicksFleetwood Mac, solo
1958 ● Wayne Hussey (Jerry Lovelock) → Dead Or Alive, The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission
1962 ● Colin Vearncombe → Black
1964 ● Leonard Albert “Lenny” Kravitz → “Are You Gonna Go My Way” (1993)

May 27
1932 ● Junior Parker (Hermon Parker, Jr.) → Memphis blues/soul vocalist
1935 ● Ramsey Lewis → Jazz/pop pianist
1943 ● Cilla Black (Priscilla White) → “You’re My World” (1964)
1945 ● Bruce Cockburn → Canadian singer/songwriter, “Wondering Where The Lions Are” (1979)
1947 ● Marty Kristian → The New Seekers
1948 ● Pete Sears → Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship
1957 ● Eddie Harsch → The Black Crowes
1957 ● Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Dallion) → Siouxsie & The Banshees
1958 ● Neil Finn → Crowded House, Split Enz, Finn Brothers
1966 ● Sean Kinney → Alice In Chains
1971 ● Lisa Nicole “Left Eye” Lopes → TLC
1975 ● Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin) → OutKast

May 28
1910 ● Aaron Thibeaux “T. Bone” Walker → Electric blues pioneer, “Stormy Monday” (1947)
1917 ● John Henry “Papa John” CreachJefferson Airplane/Starship, Hot Tuna, solo
1930 ● Prince Buster (Cecil Bustamonte Campbell) → Reggae/ska singer, producer
1943 ● Tony Mansfield → The Dakotas, Naked Eyes
1944 ● Billy Vera (William McCord, Jr.) → Billy Vera & Judy Clay, “Storybook Children” (1967)
1944 ● Gladys Knight → Soul diva, The Pips, solo
1945 ● John FogertyCreedence Clearwater Revival, solo
1948 ● Ray Laidlaw → Brethren, Lindisfarne
1949 ● Wendy O. Williams → Plasmatics
1955 ● Edwin “Eddie” JobsonJethro Tull, Roxy Music, U.K.
1955 ● John McGeoch → Siouxsie & The Banshees, solo
1959 ● Steve Strange → Visage
1961 ● Roland Gift → Fine Young Cannibals
1964 ● Wes Burt-Martin → Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians
1968 ● Kylie Minogue → “The Loco-Motion” (1988)
1970 ● Mark Richardson → Skunk Anansie
1981 ● Mark Feehily → Westlife
1985 ● Colbie Caillat → Pop singer/guitarist, “Bubbly” (2007)

May 29
1941 ● Roy Crewsdon → Freddie & The Dreamers
1945 ● Gary Brooker → Procol Harum, solo
1949 ● Francis Rossi → The Spectres, Status Quo
1950 ● Maureen “Rebbie” Jackson → The Jacksons, solo
1953 ● Danny Elfman → Composer, singer/songwriter, Oingo Boingo
1955 ● Mike ProcaroToto
1956 ● Larry Blackmon → Cameo
1959 ● Mel Gaynor → Simple Minds
1960 ● Jesse Johnson → The Time, “Jungle Love” (1984), solo
1961 ● Melissa Etheridge → Singer/songwriter, “Bring Me Some Water” (1989), gay activist
1967 ● Noel Gallagher → Oasis
1969 ● Chandler “Chad” Kinchla → Blues Traveler
1975 ● Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown → Spice Girls

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Album of the Day: The Monkees (5/22/67) 43 Years!

Derided as the “Pre-Fab Four,” The Monkees suffered endless attacks on their credibility and capabilities as musicians following the release of their first two albums in 1966 and early 1967. Critics pointed out that the band – Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones – was assembled just for a TV show and could barely play their assigned instruments. That all changed quite quickly when Colgems issued The Monkees’ Headquarters on May 22, 1967.

The band had demanded – and won – artistic control over their recordings, ousting creative supervisor Don Kirshner in the process. The four penned half the songs on the new album and performed nearly all of the instrumentation. Nesmith, Tork and Dolenz each contributed at least one notable track to the effort, and Jones joined the other three to write two songs credited to the band as a unit. Headquarters is an eclectic mix of Brill Building pop, Nesmith country-rockers, sappy Davy Jones ballads and a Dolenz original, “Randy Scouse Git,” that is as far from the happy-go-lucky sounds of “Last Train To Clarksville” as you’ll ever hear on a Monkees record. There isn’t a hit to be found on Headquarters, yet it’s the Monkees’ best all-around album.

Headquarters hit #1 on the Billboard 200 chart in late May 1967 and was replaced at the top spot by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when it came out on June 1. Headquarters then spent 11 weeks in the #2 position. The Monkees are in the Playlist Vault and Headquarters is available on Amazon and iTunes.

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Album of the Day: Marvin Gaye (5/20/71) 39 Years!

Marvin Gaye almost single-handedly revolutionized soul music when Motown released his self-produced What’s Goin’ On on March 20, 1971. The first overtly socially and politically charged soul album, it’s full of statements (hence no question mark in the title) about war, race, hate, inner cities, abandoned children. It rolled up all of the late-60s social issues into one neat package that Motown leader Berry Gordy would have rejected save for Marvin’s threat to walk if Gordy withheld the album.

But What’s Goin’ On is far more than a period piece. It was a radical departure from the upbeat, soul-pop of 60s Motown. It’s lush and languid and it flows without the sugar coating of Gaye’s earlier Motown classics. It allows long-time Motown session band the Funk Brothers to open up and deliver a jazzy river of drifting funk underneath Gaye’s experimental double vocals. It led the way to a new Motown sound from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and others. And it was the last Motown release before Gordy left Detroit for Los Angeles, leaving Hitsville, USA and all that great music behind.

The best soul album ever? Possibly. The best Motown album by a solo artist? Absolutely! What’s Goin’ On sat at the top of the U.S. R&B charts for 9 weeks and reached a remarkable but not surprising #6 on the pop album chart. It’s ranked #1 on my Top 25 R&B/Soul album list and Marvin Gaye’s best tracks are in the Playlist Vault at DrRock.com. What’s Goin’ On can be downloaded or purchased as a CD from Amazon and iTunes.

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