Falling Off The Sky by the db’s

April 27, 2012

The dB’s were first formed during the late 1970s by friends, singer/songwriter/guitarists Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, bassist Gene Holder, and drummer Will Rigby. Their early 1980s albums, Stands For Decibels, and Repercussions, received a great deal of critical, if not commercial success. The albums were instrumental in helping to modernize the power pop idiom of music. By the late 1980s, all the original members had gone their separate ways and the dB’s were no more.

The lights went back on for the band when the four original members began performing together in 2005. Their series of reunion concerts went so well that the band decided to record a new album of original material. There obviously was no hurry, as Holsapple and Stamey took some time off to record a duo album during 2009. The new album is now complete and has a street date of June 12 under the title Falling Off The Sky. It is the first dB’s studio album in 25 years and the first to feature all the founding members in 30 years.

The band has not changed its sound very much. The lyrics may not have the anger as did their early material, but the jangling guitars and sense of purpose are still in place. It all adds up to an updating and not a reinventing of their sound. If you are familiar with the band’s past work, the music will be instantly recognizable. If you have not explored their music, this will be a pleasant pop surprise.

From beginning to end the tracks flow into one another. The opening track, “That Time Is Gone,” immediately establishes that they can still produce hard-edged pop as the twin guitars of Stamey and Holsapple unite and soar. There is also the romantic “Before We Were Born,” the tuneful “World To Cry,” and the clanging music of the fatalistic “Send Me Something Real.”

The album’s surprising treat is the debut of drummer Will Rigby’s first composition to grace one of their albums. “Write Back” is a radio friendly tune, which is also sung by Rigby, and is a hit single in waiting.

At heart, Falling Off The Sky, is an album where four old friends just get together and create the kind of music that makes them happy. The dB’s may not have issued an album that will change the course of modern music, but they have produced some music that is enjoyable and highly listenable and sometimes that is enough.

Article first published as Music Review: The dB’s – Falling Off The Sky on Blogcritics.

Ghost Of Browder Holler by Chelle Rose

April 27, 2012

My father’s ancestors came from the Smoky Mountain region of North Carolina and Tennessee. I remember visiting my grandparents and the lifestyle and music was and remains very distinct to the area. Bluegrass music, tough ballads of loss, and stories of hardship dominate the stories and tales.

All of which brings is to Chelle Rose. While she is now living in Nashville, her music remains firmly rooted in her Appalachian roots. She has now released her second album, Ghost Of Browder Holler, which reconnects her to the people and heritage of her youth. Produced by Texas songsmith Ray Wylie Hubbard, the songs echo the beauty and harshness of life in this mountain area of the eastern United States.

She has gathered about her a number of musicians that fit in well with her style of music. Drummer Rick Richards, bassist George Reiff, electric guitarist Billy Cassis, mandolin player Brad Rice, keyboardist Ian McLagan, and acoustic guitarist/harmonica player Ray Wylie Hubbard all seem to be in touch with the music of the area. Rose accompanies herself on the acoustic guitar and her gravelly voice is synonymous with the region.

The opening track, “Browder Holler Boy,” establishes her tough tone and style. I don’t know whether to envy or feel sorry for the boy in question. “Caney Fork Tennessee” presents a lifestyle complete with chicken and dumplings and midnight like molasses. Just as you are getting comfortable she comes close to hitting you with a visceral rock song that ramps up the energy. This three-song stretch sets the tone for what will follow.

“Russ Morgan (Preacher Man)” is a caricature of the preachers that continually rise and fall in the area. “Leona Barnett” is the story of a woman who goes to work in the mines after he husband is killed in an accident. The palate is then cleared again by “Alimony,” which may have raw lyrics but is another guitar based energetic track.

Ghost Of Browder Holler finds Chelle Rose delving into her heritage. It may be raw, stark, and depressing in places but it is a personal and interesting look into not only her stories and memories but the ghosts of the area as well.

Article first published as Music Review: Chelle Rose – Ghost Of Browder Holler on Blogcritics.

Tutti Frutti 45 by Little Richard

April 27, 2012

During the 1950s, parents were a little afraid of the developing rock ‘n’ roll scene. Little Richard did nothing to still those concerns.

His wild style made him one of the original wild men of rock ‘n’ roll. What was lost in his pumping piano and frenetic vocals was a sense of rhythm and structure.

“Tutti Frutti” was his first chart hit reaching number 17 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It just roars out of the speakers and leaves you breathless. Released during late 1955, it was one of the songs that provided a foundation for the early rock ‘n’ roll sound.


Brighton Hill 45 by Jackie DeShannon

April 26, 2012

Jackie DeShannon scored two top ten hits during the 1960s, “What The World Needs Now is Love” (#7) and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” (#4). She would continue to releases singles for the next several decades but only one would reach the top 40.

“Brighton Hill” was the type of smooth pop she would continue to issue the rest of her career. It first reached the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, March 7, 1970, but would stall at number 82.

DeShannon would go on to gain fame as a songwriter. While she never had a number one song herself, her Bette Davis Eyes, as recorded by Kim Carnes, became one of the biggest single hits of all time by remaining on top of the charts for nine weeks. That probably equaled a whole lot of royalty checks.

Because Of You by Tony Bennett

April 26, 2012

Antonio Benedetto, born 1926, was fresh off serving in World War II as an army rifleman when he embarked upon a singing career. By 1950 he was signed to the Columbia label, for whom he would eventually sell tens of millions of records.

“Because Of You” was written during 1940 but gained attention by its inclusion in the 1951 film, I WAS AN AMERICAN SPY. It would become one of the biggest hits of Bennett’s sixty plus year career.

Released during mid-1951, it became his first number one hit and topped all three BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts. It would rank as the second biggest hit of the year.

Best Sellers In Stores Chart – Sept. 8, 1951 – 8 weeks at #1.
Most Play By Disc Jockeys Chart – Sept. 22, 1951 – 8 weeks at #1.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – Sept. 29. 1051 – 10 weeks #1.

At the age of 85, Tony Bennett still performs over 100 concerts a year.

Reach Out I’ll Be There by The Four Tops

April 26, 2012

Levi Stubbs, Renaldo Benson, Lawrence Payton, and Abdul “Duke: Fakir performed and recorded together as the Four Tops with any changes in personnel for close to 50 years.

The Motown label liked to control the material their artists released and had a formula they used many times in the srudio. “Reach Out I’ll Be There” was one of the few songs that managed to escape that formula.

The legendary songwriting team of Holland-Donzier-Holland enlisted the Four Tops to record one of their best creations. The song just assaults the senses and uses a counter-melody to push the song along and the rhythm section sounds like a symphony. Through it all Levi Stubbs lead vocal floats above the harmonies.

Released during the summer of 1966, it spend two weeks as the number one song on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

It remains one of the best single releases in American music history.

Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag 45 by James Brown

April 25, 2012

James Brown was an American music legend whose recordings and live performances were some of the best in music history. He began as a rhythm & blues singer and moved on to help establish funk as a viable music form.

His singles regularly charted on the rhythm & blues charts for nearly 50 years with 17 reaching number one and six more coming close by stalling at number two. However, he also had 99 singles chart on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

“Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” remains one of his signature songs. Released during the summer of 1965, it reached number eight on the BILLBOARD Pop Charts.

It was very different from what was being played on the radio during The Beatles/Beach Boys era. It was an education to the American music buying public. Essential to the history of 1960s music.