Turn Turn Turn 45 by Judy Collins

January 31, 2011

Judy Collins has been a constant on the American music scene for almost 50 years. She began as one of the important figures in the early 1960’s folk revival. She gradually evolved into a traditiional pop artist as the years passed.

“Turn Turn Turn” was a folk tune written by Pete Seeger with words taken from the Bible. It has been covered by many artists over the years, the most famous being the one by The Byrds, which topped The United States singles charts for three weeks.

Her take on the song was very much in the folk tradition. Her pure voice was always at home with this type of material. It may not have charted but remains one of the better covers of this classic folk song.

Turn Turn Turn 45 by The Byrds

January 30, 2011

Only The Byrds could take an old folk song with lyrics taken from the bible and turn it into a hit song. Folksinger Pete Seeger had originally adapted the words from the book of Ecclesiastes.

“Turn Turn Turn” was released October 23, 1965 and topped The United States singles charts for three weeks. It was their biggest hit as Mr. Tambourine Man was number one for only 1 week.

As with many of their songs it was the 12 string guitar of Roger McGuinn in combination with the perfect harmonies that gave the song and the band its unique sound.

A great number one song from the Beatles era when not many American groups reached trhe top.

Do It Again 45 by The Beach Boys

January 30, 2011

The Beach Boys released “Do It Again” July 27, 1969 and it was a return to their former surfing style of song.

The single reached number 20 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Top 100 Pop Chart. Oddly it reached number 8 on CASHBOX and 7 on RECORD WORLD. There were no doubts in the U.K. and Australia as it reached number 1 in both countries.

The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love and was one of the last singles to be released on the Capital label. It would provide The Beach Boys with a nice send-off.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash 45 by The Rolling Stones

January 28, 2011

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is one of The Rolling Stones signature songs. It is the song that has been played the most times live. It is rock ‘n’ roll at its best.

Brian Jones and Keith Richards combine for one of the best guitar performances by a duo in rock history. The only recorded live performance to feature Jones and Richards togehter was on their ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS ALBUM.

Released during the late spring of 1968, it reached number 1 in The U.K. and number 3 in The United States.

Let’s Go To Heaven In My Car 45 by Brian Wilson

January 28, 2011

Brian Wilson was a member of the Beach Boys for a quarter of a century and was responsible for some of the signature songs of the 1960’s. Since the mid-1980’s he has carved out a critically acclaimed solo career.

The first release of his second career came during 1987 when he contributed the song, “Let’s Go To Heaven In My Car,” to the soundtrack of POLICE ACADEMY 4. It was released as a single.

The song did not make the BILLBOARD TOP 100 SINGLES CHART but did manage to reach number 40 on the ROCK CHARTS.

It was an odd beginning to a great solo career.

You Keep Me Hangin’ On 45 by Vanilla Fudge

January 28, 2011

The Vanilla Fudge were active 1966-1970 before disbanding in 1970. The group consisted of vocalist/organist Mark Stein, bassist Tim Bogert, guitarist Vince Martel, and drummer Carmine Appice. Down through the years the group reunited a number of times with other musicians filling various slots. Today the original four members have reformed and record and tour as Vanilla Fudge.

They had a unique sound. They would take well know songs and slow them way down and I mean way down while giving them a heavy rock treatment. Their sound was unique during the late 1960’s.

They were basically an album band as all five of their original studio albums cracked the American top forty with their self titled debut making it all the way to number six on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE CHARTS.

Their must successful single was released twice. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was issued in 1966 and reached number 67 on The National Singles Charts. When their first album became successful, it was reissued and reached number six.

It was the old Motown hit made famous by The Supremes. Their interpretation was about as far from Motown as you can get. It remains a fascinating piece of the late sixties music scene.

Bebe le Strange by Heart

January 28, 2011

After releasing two albums during 1978, Heart waited until February of 1980 to issue their fifth studio album. Bebe le Strange was their highest charting album to date, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Magazine album charts.

It was their first album without lead guitarist Jeff Fisher, and he was missed. Nancy Wilson and Howard Leese were a competent guitar duo as their electric work together is very good. What was missed, though, was Fisher’s acoustic playing which was always a highlight of Heart’s music.

The Wilson sisters moved front and center. They co-wrote all ten tracks. Songwriter Sue Ennis was back as the co-author of seven songs. She also contributed some guitar and piano work as well. These three women lyricists produced an album of more personal songs, continuing Heart’s transformation toward a female-dominated rock band.

Bebe le Strange may not have yielded any big and memorable hits but it was a very solid release. It was also their last true all-rock album as they soon began moving in a more polished pop/rock direction.

The title song was the first track and set the tone for what was to follow. It was a hard-rocking song with lyrics telling a story from a groupie’s perspective. It was followed by what may be the album’s strongest track, “Down On Me,” which is a nice and slow blues tune.

There are a number of other very good tracks. “Even It Up,” the only single from the album to crack the American Top 40, is a female rock song about a woman who wants more effort from her male partner. “Rockin’ Heaven Down” is a powerful rocker and a fun-filled romp. “Strange Night” has a jam feel which is different from most of Heart’s precisely constructed material. “Sweet Darlin’” is a nice ballad with another brilliant vocal by Ann Wilson.

Bebe le Strange remains a very good if not one of their best albums. It may not be one of their essential albums but it is still a good listen thirty years after its initial release.

Article first published as Music Review: Heart – Bebe le Strange on Blogcritics.

Roxanna by Wild Butter

January 27, 2011

I would have never heard of Wild Butter had I not been the program director of my college radio station back in the early 1970’s. We received hundreds of promo records each month and one of the 45’s was “Roxanna (Thank You For Getting Me High)” by Wild Butter. I immediately added it to the stations play list. I even tracked down the album and added it to my collection.

Wild Butter was from Akron Ohio. It consisted of drummer/lead singer Rick Green, guitarist Jon Senne, bassist Steve Price, and keyboardist Jerry Buckner. Oddly Garen and Bucknet obtained a recording contract with the United Artists label before they had a group and had to assemble one quickly.

They only released one self titled album. While it was labeled psychedelic music, it is really, smooth and sophisticated pop/rock.

“Roxanna” was catchy with excellent harmonies but did not reach the singles chart in The United States. Wild Butter quickly faded leaving behind an excellent early 1970’s album.

Tinker Taylor 45 by The Outsiders

January 27, 2011

The Outsiders had four chart singles including their biggest hit “Time Won’t Let Me.” All reached the BILLBOARD SINGLES CHART during 1966. By the end of the decade the group had split. Lead singer Sonny Geraci and guitarist Tom King went to court over control of the group’s name. King won and formed a new band.

They released the single, “Tinker, Taylor” during 1970. Jon Simonell was the new lead singer. The record did not garner any chart action. The band has continued to tour down through the years.

Sonny Garaci formed a new band called Climax and released the million selling, number three hit, “Precious and Few.” He also continues to tour.

Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 3 by Various Artists

January 27, 2011

Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 3 is the latest release in the Now series of compilation albums. The most popular in the series is Now That’s What I Call Music, which has reached 36 volumes and covers the popular hits of the day. Other types of music that have been covered are Club Hits, Christmas songs, Latino hits, Dance Classics, and a number of other specialty releases. The grand total in the entire series has now passed the 100 mark.

Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 3 follows the very successful first two releases in this series. The first release reached number 1 on The United States Country Charts and number 7 on the Pop Charts. Volume 2 reached 4 and 10 respectively. Together, the first two volumes have sold over 700,000 copies. Volume 3 debuted at number 3 on the Country Chart and number 22 in Pop.

The releases serve a number of purposes. The labels involved make some money from previously released material while drawing attention to the albums of the artists. The enclosed booklet contains pictures of the latest albums by each of the country stars involved.

What the country fan receives is some of the best and most popular music of the past year or so. There are 16 tracks and all were hits, including six that reached number 1. The songs that climbed to the top of the charts are “One Kind Of Love” by Lady Antebellum, “Why Don’t We Just Dance” by Josh Turner, “Highway 20 Ride” by the Zac Brown Band, “The Man I Want To Be” by Chris Young, “Rain Is A Good Thing,” by Luke Bryan, and “A Little More Country Than That” by Easton Corbin.

There are a number of tasty treats that did not reach the top of the charts. “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong” presents Martina McBride’s clear and powerful voice well. “American Saturday Night” by Brad Paisley, “Ain’t Back Yet” by Kenny Chesney, “Unstoppable” by Rascal Flatts, and “Til Summer Comes Around” by Keith Urban are all some of the best country music has to offer.

My only complaint is there should have been some information about the songs and artists.

The tracks that comprise Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 3 contain a nice flavor of country music’s best. It’s a smooth listen and a pleasant way to spend an hour.

Article first published as Music Review: Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 3 on Blogcritics.