Roundabout 45 by Yes

April 25, 2011

Yes is now recognized as one of the legendary progressive rock bands in music history. They have sold tens of millions of albums. They are primarily remembered for their albums, but every once in awhile would release a memorable single.

“Roundabout” was released February 12, 1972 and would become one of only two of their single releases in The United States to enter the top twenty. It would reach number 13 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

It was a shortened version of the album track. It was progressive rock with tight harmonies. It is the bass of Chris Squire that made the song memerable.

It is one of those songs that has held up well down through the years. It remains a classic of its type.

Not Fade Away 45 by The Rolling Stones

April 25, 2011

“Not Fade Away” is a forgotten single in The vast Rolling Stones catalogue. It was historic in a sense, as it was their first single to chart in The United States. Released May 2, 1964, it reached number 48 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

The instrumentals were straight rock ‘n’ roll, but the vocal had a rhythm & blues flavor.

This is the early Stones at their best. It was during the time when Brian Jones was the leader of the group and they consistently covered other artist’s songs rather than writing their own.

“Not Fade Away” was the Buddy Holly song first recorded by The Crickets during 1957. It was originally the B-side of the “O Boy” single, which reached number 10 on the American singles chart.

One of the early Rollong Stones songs worth seeking out.

Ram-Bunk-Shush 45 by The Ventures

April 23, 2011

The Ventures now reside in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. They were formed in Pacific Northwest during the late 1950’s. Bassist Nokie Edwards, lead guitarist Bob Bogle, rhythm guitarist Don Wilson, and drummer Howie Johnson would release dozens and dozens of albums during the course of their career.

“Ram-Bunk-Shush” was isseued January 23, 1961 and became their third chart single reaching number 29 on the American singles charts. It may have been an odd name but the music was melodic, creative, and stayed with you. It was perfect radio fare during the sixties surf era.

The Ventures would sell tens of millions of albums during the 1960’s and place 14 singles on the American charts.

Wilson and Edwards are the two surviving members and still tour with added musicians under The Ventures name.

One Broken Heart For Sale 45 by Elvis Presley

April 23, 2011

“One Broken Heart For Sale” was another song from an Elvis Presley movie. This time the movie was IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR. Released February 16, 1963, it reached number 11 on The American singles charts.

It is a mid-tempo pop song that is OK. That means it was not among his best but it was not offensive either. It was far better than most of the other mterial contained on the album.

The flip side, “They Remind Me To Much Of You” would reach number 53.

It is a single that receives little or no airplay today. The picture sleeve is worth far more than the record.

Shakin’ All Over 45 by The Guess Who

April 22, 2011

The Guess Who are best remembered for a series of well crafted pop/rock hits, issued 1969-1974. Songs such as “These Eyes,” “Laughin,” “No Time,” “Share The Land,” and “American Woman” made them stars in their own country of Canada and The United States.

Four years before they began their impressive run of hit songs, they had a one early hit with “Shakin’ All Over.” This was the original Chad Allan version of the band. “Shakin’ All Over” would reach number 22 on The Amrican singles charts.

It was a rocker with a heavy beat. Allan’s gritty vocal floats above the guitar foundation. It remains a lost hit in their large catalogue of songs, but well worth seekig out.

Factory Man by Eric Hanke

April 21, 2011

Life is big and tall in Texas. Eric Hanke currently fits the bill on one of those attributes, and is trying to make the other true as well. Hanke stands above the crowd as far as musicians are concerned as he may well be the tallest artist performing today. He might go unnoticed on an NBA basketball team but on stage he is a formidable figure. He has started his own label, Ten Foot Texan Records.

He is still young and finding himself as an artist, while developing into a singer/songwriter of note. There is hope that his career will move in a big direction. Born in Michigan, he began performing in Germany, and now calls Austin, Texas his home. His 2006 debut album, Autumn Blues, was well received for its country and folk tunes.

Hanke has now returned with his second full-length release, Factory Man. The album was produced by his friend and bandmate Merel Bregante, former drummer with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. Some other contributors include singer Sarah Pierce, who is Bregante’s wife, guitarist Kenny Grimes, mandolin player Doug Hudson, keyboardist Riley Osborn, and steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar. Hanke handles lead vocals and accompanies himself on the acoustic guitar.

Hanke is one of those artists who moves across several styles and merges them together upon occasion. While he is mainly a country/folk artist, he ventures in a folk-rock direction every once in awhile. His songs are personal and introspective, and could be considered Americana.

He is a precise lyricist, one who is able to paint pictures with words. The title song moves in a country direction with some nice mandolin work in support. It is a biting song about his grandfather who labored all of his life in a factory until the work was outsourced to foreign countries. And so it is a worker’s song about unemployment and economic hardship.

“Burn It Down,” one of two collaborative songwriting efforts with Hanke sharing credit here with Sarah Pierce, is an unforgiving and angry song about a small Texas town. ”Hope Your Dreams Come True,” co-written with George Ensle, is probably the album’s best track as it deals with the hope a father passes down to his son. Hanke even includes a picture of his father as a little leaguer next to the enclosed lyrics.

He reaches back to his formative years for “Mr. Slim’s Blues.” The song is a remembrance of simpler days, in which Hanke recalls an 85 year old neighbor of his who used to tell stories and play Muddy Waters tunes while taking a little nip now and then.

Eric Hanke is one of those young artists who is always on the road playing his music. Factory Man is a fine introduction to that music.

Article first published as Music Review: Eric Hanke – Factory Man on Blogcritics.

Going For The One by Yes

April 21, 2011

The punk music movement was in full flower when Yes released their first studio album in three years on July 22, 1977. The sound of Yes represented much of what punk music was against, but it didn’t matter, as fans of the band made Going For The One a huge commercial success. The album topped the album charts in their home country and reach number eight in the United States.

Rick Wakeman returned to the band after being absent for their previous release, Relayer. This would mean that Patrick Moraz’ tenure would only include one studio album. While Wakeman will be forever associated with the band and has been instrumental to their sound and success, I personally found Moraz’ playing interesting as he fit in well. After his departure from Yes, he went on to be a member of the Moody Blues for 13 years.

This album may not have been as ambitious as many of their prior releases, but it was just as good in its own way. Four of the five tracks ranged in length from just under four minutes to just shy of eight. There was only one extended track, but it was one of the best of the band’s career.

The title song was the lead track on the original vinyl release, and it’s about as controlled as Yes gets. Steve Howe’s slide guitar near the end is eye-opening and worth the price of admission for this rocker. Some nice, tight harmonies are also featured.

“Turn Of The Century” is typical Yes. A haunting and majestic ballad, it is one of their more melodic creations, lulling you as it draws you into the music. “Parallels” represents Yes in the studio at their best, and it’s notable for its multiple layering of vocals and instrumentation. The highlight is Rick Wakeman playing a church organ, which helps the song soar. Incidentally, it is the only Chris Squire composition for which he takes a solo writing credit.

“Wonderous Stories” is a Jon Anderson composition and is another melodic, mystical ballad. It is one of those occasions where Anderson keeps a lot of his excessive impulses under control and produces a nice, tight song.

The final track is the 15-and-a-half-minute “Awaken,” which remains one of the best creations of their long career. Wakeman is back at the organ and brings along a church choir for good measure. The rhythms are complex and the overall playing is some of the band’s most technically adept ever.

Going For The One is many times an under-appreciated masterpiece in the large Yes catalogue. It contains some of the most accessible music of their career, though, and is an essential listen for understanding their music.

Article first published as Music Review: Yes – Going For The One on Blogcritics.