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.

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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.


Girl In Love 45 by The Outsiders

January 26, 2011

The Outsiders only had four chart hits during their career and all came during 1966 and all made the top forty.

“Girl In Love” was the follow-up to their biggest hit, the top five “Time Won’t Let Let Me.” Released May 14, 1966, it reached number 21 during its nine weeks on the charts.

It was a ballad with nice harmonies and while it did not change the face of music, it was representative sixties pop.


Dream Weaver 45 by Gary Wright

January 26, 2011

Back in 1976 Gary Wright had two huge hits that both reached number 2 on The United States single charts. They would be the only top ten chart singles of his career.

“Dream Weaver” was released January 3, 1965 and remained on the charts for 20 weeks, while spending three weeks in the number two slot. I remember the song receiving heavy air play at the time.

It had a heavy bass sound as its foundation and typical 1970’s keyboards. Wright was the former keyboardist of the rock group, Spooky Tooth.

Weaver is still active in the music industry. He has toured as a part of Ringo Starr’s All Star Band and released a new album last year. “Dream Weaver” is still a part of his live act.


Monkey See, Monkey Do/You Can’t Sit Down 45 by The Ascots

January 26, 2011

The Ascots can best be described as a late sixties garage band from Barrington, Rhode Island. They released several 45’s before disappearing into the musical mists of time.

“Monkey See, Monkey Do/You Can’t Sit Down” is representative of their sound. A soul cover and a Beatles cover on the same record.

I reviewed one of their singles about a year ago and mentioned I became aware of the group because of some girls I met at summer camp. If they were interested, I was interested. I grew up in Rhode Island and so bought several of their 45’s. The girls are long gone but the records remain.


Dog & Butterfly by Heart

January 25, 2011

Heart had completed their contractual obligations to their first label, Mushroom Records, and was now free to continue their recording career unhindered. The result was Dog & Butterfly, which was released October 7, 1978.

Heart was still a band comprised of the Wilson sisters, guitarist/keyboardist Howard Leese, lead guitarist Roger Fisher, bassist Steve Fossen, and drummer Mike DeRosier. The biggest addition to the group was Seattle songwriter Sue Ennis who co-wrote all of the album’s eight tracks. She has now written over 65 songs for the band.

Heart went in two directions with the album, which was clearer on the original vinyl release. The first four songs, which comprised the A-side, went in a rock direction. When you flipped the record over, the B side featured ballads and an acoustic sound. The album title was taken from the rocking “Dog” side and the ballad-oriented “Butterfly” side.

The album’s most famous song was “Straight On,” which was a top 20 hit on the American singles charts. It has a unique beat and Ann Wilson delivers a memorable vocal performance. The lead track, “Cook With Fire,” is a slow-building song that has Zeppelin-like guitars. “High Time” features more nice guitar work by Roger Fisher and Nancy Wilson, further cementing their reputation as one of the 1970’s finest guitar duos.

The ballads are the superior songs and form a nice, tight unit. The title song sets the tone with a nice acoustic guitar opening. “Lighter Touch” is a typical late 1970’s power ballad with piano, strings, and a guitar providing the foundation. The album closer is one of the strongest songs of the band’s career and does not receive enough notice today: “Mistral Wind” is swirling, melodic, and the lyrics tell a visual story. It is a haunting song about a ship sailing toward an unknown destination.

Dog & Butterfly further solidified Heart’s status as one of the more popular rock bands in the United States, with the album receiving a double platinum award for sales. The only downside of its release was that it would be Roger Fisher’s last with the band, and thus his guitar work would be missed. The album remains one of Heart’s better releases.

Article first published as Music Review: Heart – Dog & Butterfly on Blogcritics.