Friends 45 by The Beach Boys

December 31, 2010

“Friends” was released near the end of The Beach Boys time with The Capital Label. Their popularity had begun to wane which was a shame as they produced some excellent music during the time period.

Released May 20, 1968, it would only reach number 47 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Chart during its seven week run. It was more successful in the U.K. climbing to number 25.

It is a subtle and laid back song with gentle harmonies. It can almost be considered a waltz in structure. It was also written by the rare combination of Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, and Carl Wison.

It is representative of an era of their career that is often overlooked.

No Other Road by Lucy Billings

December 31, 2010

And now from the land of roadrunners, jumping cactus, the steady drone of cicadas, and mirages that look like water in the desert sun, we have Lucy Billings. She grew up in the hot Arizona heat, but as a youngster she spent time in Wyoming riding horses and learning to play the guitar.

She released her debut album, Open Air, in 2006, but country music remained her secondary occupation until she was fired from her job during 2009.

She had written a number of new songs and approached Mary Chapin Carpenter’s producer and instrumentalist John Jennings about producing her new release. He agreed and during the summer she traveled to his studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, to record her new album. The result, No Other Road, will be released during early 2011.

She provides the vocals, acoustic guitar, and wrote all the tracks. John Jennings provides some electric guitar, piano, bass, and percussion. They are joined by pianist John Carroll, pedal steel guitarist Lloyd Maines, drummer Robbie MacGruder, mandolin player Brent Truitt, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, and background singers Terry Allard, Deb Thacker, and Mira Wooten.

She is a country artist pure and simple. Her vocals are clear and can soar when necessary and create an intimate feel when required. Her songs are well constructed and retain a melodic nature. The lyrics tend to be personal as she draws upon various experiences from her personal life journey. They run the gamut from gentle ballads to upbeat offerings.

“Daddy’s Last Drive” is a wonderful tribute to her father. He died while driving his car, but there was no accident as it came to a gentle stop in a meadow. On the other hand, “Let’s Not and Say We Did” is a tribute to the child rearing expertise of her mother. “Rear View Mirror” is a look back and adjusting to the loss of job and love. The album’s title comes from a line in “Blue Highway,” as she sings about remaining true to herself and her own standards.

Lucy Billings has created a charming album of personal reflections concerning her life’s twists and turns. Hopefully, No Other Road, will garner enough attention and sales so that she can leave her day job behind.

Article first published as Music Review: Lucy Billings – No Other Road on Blogcritics.

The Other Side Of The Mirror by Stevie Nicks

December 31, 2010

The 1980s were coming to an end when Stevie Nicks released her fourth solo studio album May 11, 1989. It would reach number ten on the Billboard Magazine album charts and achieve platinum status for sales in The United States.

The Other Side Of The Mirror invites her listeners down the rabbit hole with her again to explore her magic world. While it is a place that had been visited a number of times, it is still interesting when she is at her creative best. There are highs and lows but when she is good, she is very good. On the real positive side, her voice is in much better condition than on her previous solo release.

“Rooms On Fire” was the lead song and big hit. It reached number 16 on The American Pop Singles Chart and rose to the number one position on the Mainstream Rock Chart. It was a pop/rock track similar to the Fleetwood Mac sound of the day. It is immediately familiar in a good way.

“Alice” sets the tone and theme of the album. It is a personal journey that is both dream and reality. Sometimes her lyrics can be obscure and difficult to understand, but here she treads the line between reality and myth well. The Kenny G solo is an added bonus.

There are a number of strong or at least interesting tracks. “Doing The Best I Can” is solid musically, but the lyrics deal with her substance abuse which gives the song a dramatic quality. “Whole Lotta Trouble” was one of three tracks she co-wrote with Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers fame, and is solid rock ‘n’ roll. “Ooh My Love” is one of those Stevie Nicks songs that is haunting and casts a spell. “Two Kinds Of Love” contains a nice duet with Bruce Hornsby plus some nice late 80’s era keyboards.

The album does contain what can be considered filler. “Cry Wolf” is a song written by Jude Johnstone and does not really fit her style. “I Still Miss Someone” is a Johnny Cash composition, and while it was not terrible, the space could have been put to better use.

The Other Side Of The Mirror does not have the consistent highs of her first two solo releases, but is still worth a visit now and then. The lyrics are a bit eccentric in places but all in all it is a presentable album.

Article first published as Music Review: Stevie Nicks – The Other Side Of The Mirror on Blogcritics.

Slip On Through 45 by The Beach Boys

December 29, 2010

“Slip On Through” was one of those Beach Boys songs that was released as a single and just disappeared.

It was written by Dennis Wilson who also supplied the lead vocal. Sometimes I think The Beach Boys should have regrouped and made Dennis Wilson the lead vocalist.

“Slip On Through” would not chart in The United States or The U.K.

Written by: Dennis Wilson
Album: Sunflower
Time: 2:17
Produced by: The Beach Boys
Dennis Wilson: Lead Vocals
Carl Wilson: Guitar
Al Jardine: Guitar

Add Some Music To Your Day 45 by The Beach Boys

December 29, 2010

“Add Some Music To Your Day” can be considered the first release of the second half of The Beach Boys career. They had left the Capital Label where they had had so many memorable hits and were now on their own Brother Label.

The music would be more complicated and intricate and not as commercially successful. Brian Wilson would not always be available for production and recording sessions which would mean the duties would now be shared.

This first first single probably deserved better as it featured combined harmonies and a shared lead vocal. They would remain a top concert draw for the next three decades.

Written by: Brian Wilson/Joe Knott/Mike Love
Album: Sunflower
Time: 3:34
Produced by: The Beach Boys

Al Jardine – guitars, vocals
Bruce Johnston – bass guitar, vocals
Mike Love – vocals
Brian Wilson – Roxichord, vocals
Carl Wilson – guitars, vocals
Dennis Wilson – drums, vocals

Surfer Girl 45 by The Beach Boys

December 28, 2010

“Surfer Girl” remains one of the great ballads from the 1960’s. Millions of Beach Boy fans were either the surfer girl or were looking for one. It would become a top ten hit in The United States and remain an eternal song of the era.

“Surfer Girl” by The Beach Boys
Flipside: “Little Deuce Coupe”
Capital Label: 1963
Billboard Pop Chart: 7
Billboard R&B Chart: 18

Writer: Brian Wilson
Mike Love – backing vocals
David Marks – guitar
Brian Wilson – bass guitar, piano, lead vocals
Carl Wilson – lead guitar, vocals

Dennis Wilson – drums, vocals

Four by The Beach Boys (EP)

December 28, 2010

The only EP issued in The Unitd States while they were signed to The Capital Label.

Four By The Beach Boys (EP)
Songs: Wendy, Little Honda, Son’t back Down, Hushabye
Capital Label: 1964
Billboard Pop Chart: 44
Writers: Brian Wilson, Mike Love
Hushabye by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman

Cotton Fields 45 by The Beach Boys

December 28, 2010

One of the under appreciated Beach Boys singles in The United States. It would bcome a world wide hit everywhere else.

Cotton Fields by The Beach Boys
Flip Side: Nearest Fawaway Place
Capital Label: 1970
Billboard Pop Chart: 103
U.K. Pop Chart: 5
Australian Pop Chart: 1
South African Pop Chart: 1
Sweden Pop Chart: 1
Norway pop Chart: 1
Denmark Pop Chart: 2
Japan Pop Chart: 5
Writer: Hudie Ledbetter

Album: 20/20
Time: 2 minutes 21 seconds (album version), 3 minutes 05 seconds (single version)
Produced and Arranged by: Brian Wilson (album version)
Produced by: The Beach Boys
Arranged by: Al Jardine (single version)
Al Jardine: Lead Vocals

Surfin’ USA 45 by The Beach Boys

December 27, 2010

“Surfin’ USA” was based on the Chuck Berry song, “Sweet Little Sixten.” It would be years, but he would finally become listed as the co-composer.

It was the first of the big Beach Boy hits and while primitive by what would quickly follow, it was highly technological for its day. It still makes you smile almost 50 years later.

“Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys
Flipside: “Shut Down”
Capital Label: 1963
Billboard Pop Chart: 3
Writers: Brian Wilson, Chuck Berry

Mike Love – lead vocals
David Marks – guitar
Brian Wilson – bass guitar, piano, vocals
Carl Wilson – lead guitar, vocals
Dennis Wilson – drums, vocals

Ten Little Indians 45 by The Beach Boys

December 27, 2010

Brian Wilson did not want to release “Ten Little Indians” as a single but was overruled by his father and label. It would be the last time it happened as he would quickly take full control of The Beach Boys career.

“Ten Little Indians” by The Beach Boys

Flipside: “Country Fair”

Capital Label: 1962

Billboard Pop Chart: 49

Writers: Brian Wilson, Gary Usher

Mike Love – lead vocals

David Marks – guitar

Brian Wilson – bass guitar, piano, vocals

Carl Wilson – lead guitar, vocals

Dennis Wilson – drums, vocals