Little Saint Nick 45 by The Beach Boys

April 28, 2011

“Little Saint Nick” was issued as a stand alone single during December of 1963 and appearred on The Beach Boys Christmas album a year later.The song was a big Christmas hit and makes a return every year during the holiday season.

It was composed by Brian Wilson and Mike Love making it a rare original Christmas hit at the time.

The original release made it to number three on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Christmas Chart and number 69 0n the CASHBOX Pop Chart. The single has sold over a million copies and remains one of the iconic pop songs of the holiday season.

Hawaii Five-O 45 by The Ventures

April 27, 2011

The Ventures placed 14 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart on their way to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. “Hawaii Five-O” was their13th and second biggest.

Before the days of cable, people had to be content to watch the basic networks. There were alot less options and millions of people turned in to watch HAWAII FIVE-O each week. The first thing they heard was the theme song.

It was a different song than The Ventures usually produced. It had heavy drums and brass leading off the song. It was catchy, memorable, and was an instant radio favorite.

“Hawaii Five-O” was released March 8, 1969 and reached number four on The American singles charts.

(You’re The) Devil In Disguise 45 by Elvis Presley

April 27, 2011

During 1963 Elvis Presley was alive and well and cranking out light weight, but enjoyable movies. His tour of duty in the army was behind him and his voice has matured and was a little lower. It gave him a rich tone. Many people forget he had one of the best voices of his era.

“(You’re The) Devil In Disguise” was representative of his changing sound. He was moving away from his rock roots toward a more pop sound. This was an upbeat song that contained one of the smoothest vocals of his career.

Released during the summer of 1963, it rose to number three on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. He would only have one more top ten hit during the next six years until he began his comback during the fall of 1969.

The picture sleeve featured a happy Elvis, which in retrospect was nice to see.

Twinkle Toes 45 by Roy Orbison

April 27, 2011

Roy Orbison released some of the best singles of the 1960’s when he recorded for the Monument label, 1960-1964. He then signed a huge contract with the MGM label and his career was never the same.

“Twinkle Toes” was released April 30, 1966. I am, and always have been, a huge Orbison fan, but even as a teenager I new it was not very good. His voice was OK, but the song was not melodic and just failed to provide any enjoyment. It somehow made it to number 39 on The United States Singles Charts.

He would issue a few credible songs while with MGM, but it would be almost 20 years before he began his grand comeback which would end with his passing away 12/6/88.

Stick to the Monument label when exploring the music of Roy Orbison.

Mystic Eyes 45 by Them

April 26, 2011

The first record I ever bought by Them was their big hit “Here Comes The Night.” I liked that song enough to purchase “Mystic Eyes” without having heard it.

Them consisted of vocalist Van Morrison, guitarist Billy Harrison, bassist Alan Henderson, keyboardist Pete Bardens, pianist John McAuley, and drummer Patrick McAuley. They would have a number of personnal changes before disbanding during 1966.

Released October 30, 1965, “Mystic Eyes” was a raw fusion of blues and rock. Van Morrison’s vocal is mesmorizing as he gets the phrasing needed just right. It would reach number 33 on The American singles charts.

Van Morrison would go on to one of the better and creative solo careers in music history leaving behind this unique single.

Massachusetts 45 by The Bee Gees

April 25, 2011

The pre-disco, pre-superstar Bee Gees were known for tight harmonies and ballads. They released nine singles in The United States, 1967-1968, and eight made The American top 40.

“(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts” was a wonderful ballad that reached number 11 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Top 100 Pop Singles Chart. They had developed a unique sound and this 44 year old song is a good example of their style.

This part of their career is often overlooked in favor of their string of mid-1970’s hits but is well worth exploring and in many ways contains the best music of their career.

Forevermore by Whitesnake

April 25, 2011

David Coverdale and his latest band of merry hard rockers have just released their 11th studio album. Forevermore joins five live and ten compilation albums, plus assorted singles, videos, and E.P.’s, which have been issued during the band’s 34-year career.

After serving a three-year stint in Deep Purple (1973-1976), Coverdale put together Whitesnake, which sounded somewhat like the band he had just left. They had evolved into one of the better hard-rock bands by 1983. And by 1986 they had achieved mass appeal in the United States with such hit albums as Whitesnake and Slip Of The Tongue. Their success enabled them to produce several hit singles including the Number One “Here I Go Again” and the Number Two “Is This Love.”

The current group includes bassist Michael Devin, drummer Brian Tichy, and guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Coverdale, handling the vocals, has remained the constant throughout the band’s long career.

My only complaint down through the years has been that many of the band’s albums have sounded somewhat the same and have lacked distinct personalities. And yet this is a positive thing if you like their sound and approach, which has always been to produce some of the better and slicker, basic hard-rock albums during the last three plus decades.

Thinking back to their large catalogue, Forevermore certainly fits right in, as it contains well-played and well-produced hard rock. The album is probably one of the stronger overall efforts of their career.

There is a lot to like here. The lead track, “Steal Your Heart Away,” has a tough blues sound and quickly proves that Coverdale has lost none of his vocal prowess. “All Out Of Love” is a nice rocker with a heavier sound than usual. “I Need You (Shine A Light)” illustrates that, sometimes, simple rock is best. “Whipping Boy Blues” is bad-attitude rock that looks back to the band’s early days.

There are a couple of well-done ballads aswell, which provide a nice change of pace. “Easier Said Than Done” is the type of feel-good ballad that Whitesnake has been so good at producing in the past. “One Of These Days” uses acoustic guitars to provide the foundation for Coverdale’s vocals. The most interesting track, however, is the title song. It is melodic, heavy, and contains a number of sophisticated tempo changes.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this 2011 version of Whitesnake, but the album immediately proved to be business as usual, which put me in a comfort zone. Forevermore continues their legacy of producing very good, hard rock ‘n’ roll.

Article first published as Music Review: Whitesnake – Forevermore on Blogcritics.