December 31, 2012
Four Jacks And A Jill were from South Africa and consisted of vocalist Glenys Lynne, bassist Clive Harding, guitarist Til Hanneman, guitarist Bruce Bark, and drummer Tony Huges.
They were very popular and successful in their home country but only had one big hit in the United States. “Master Jack” was released during early 1968 and peaked at number 18 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It did much better on the CASHBOARD Singles Chart reaching number five.
“Master Jack” was a gentle fusion of pop asnd folk. Four Jacks And A Jill are still active in their home country.
December 30, 2012
Many people believe the rock and roll era officially began when “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley And The Comets topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during 1955. That was not the first rock and roll song however, nor was it the first hit by Bill Haley.
Bill Haley formed the Comets during 1952 and they remained his backing band until his death in 1981.
Big Joe Turner released “Shake, Rattle And Roll” during the summer of 1954. It topped the Rhythm & Blues Charts for four weeks and crossed over to the Pop Chart where it peaked at number 22. It remained in the Top 40 for 27 weeks.
Bill Haley added guitars, a thumping bass line, and a saxophone and released his own version several weeks after Turner. His single reached number seven on the BILLBOARD Pop Chart. Some people consider it the first rock song to become a big hit.
December 29, 2012
The Intruders were a soul/r&b vocal group formed during the early 1960s. They consisted of Sam Brown, Robert Edwards, Philip Terry, Eugene Daughtry, and Robert Ferguson.
They has a number of singles reach the BILLBOARD Pop and R&B Charts but their biggest hit by far was the smooth soul single “Cowboys To Girls.” Released during the sping of 1968, it reched number six on the Pop Chart and number one on the Rhythm & Blues Chart plus sold over one million copies.
It was one of the first singles produced by he legendary team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. It helped them to find funding to start their Philadelphia International label.
A version of The Intruders is still touring today.
December 29, 2012
“Frre Bird” by Lynyrd Skynrd has ben a radio staple for almost 40 years. Not bad for a single that reached number 19 on the BILBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during late 1974. A live version of the song reached number 38 during 1978.
It as part ballad and part up-tempo guitar solo by lead guitarist Gary Rossington.
Among its honors have been: 1) Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s list of one of The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll. 2) Number three on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. 3) Number 193 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 4) Number 26 on VH1’s list of Greatest Hard Rock Songs.
And my respone to that list —- Can’t argue!
December 27, 2012
Roland Ken Lavoie, better known by his profesional name Lobo, has just entered the sixth decade of his career. His most successful decade was the 1970s when he placed 16 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAINE Pop Singles Chart.
His signature his was “Me And You And A Dog Named Boo.” It was a gentle folk/pop song that was radio friendly. It first reached the BILLBOARD Pop Singles Chart May 3, 1971, and eventually peaked at number five.
He never had a number one pop hit but “Me And You And A Dog Named Boo” topped the BILLBOARD Easy Lisening Chart as did three other of his singles.
December 26, 2012
Tery Knight recorded with his band, The Pack, 1965-1967. They had a number of local hits in the state of Michigan. The closest they came to a national hit was “I (Who Have Nothing),” which reached number 46 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during late 1966.
They were basically a raw garage band that while energetic, was not smooth enough for wide commercial success.
Guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer were members of his band for a spell. They would form the neclues for Grand Funk Railroad who would sell tens-of-millions of albums during 1970s. Knight would be their manager for a while until he was fired by his former band mates.
December 25, 2012
Steve Miller has had two distinct periods in his career. His early career, 1968-1970, produced five albums of excellent blues and psychedelic rock that formed one of the better bodies of work of the era. Beginning in 1973 he went in a pop rock direction that elevated him to huge mainstream commercial success. He released two albums in between those two periods, Rock Love (1971) and Recall The Beginning…A Journey From Eden (1972) that found his music on hold. He was not quite ready to leave his past behind but unwilling to embrace his pop future.
Recall The Beginning…A Journey From Eden is many times a forgotten album in the Steve Miller catalogue. It was one of his least successful and paled next to The Joker album, which would be released the next year. Still, there was some good music to be found on the release. While the first side of the original vinyl release was not cohesive and only average at best, the last four tracks on the B-side was one of the better stretches of music of his career. “Love’s Riddle,” “Fandango,” “Nothing Lasts,” and “Journey from Eden” make the album still worth seeking out as the music just floats by.
“Love’s Riddles” is a love song of loss while “Fandango” is a light bluesy romp. “Nothing Lasts” contains poignant and sad melodies and lyrics. The album ends with the near seven-minute “Journey from Eden.” The use of strings helped to accentuate his guitar playing. In fact, all four tracks are driven by his superior guitar virtuosity that became less apparent as his career progressed and the focus centered more on his lyrics and melodies.
The other tracks were less successful. “Enter Maurice” is a goofy track, the type that would be done a lot better in the future. “High on You Mama” tries to go in a funky direction but gets bogged down. “Heal Your Heart,” with additional guitar work by Jesse Ed Davis, and “The Sun is Going Down” are mellow and mundane jam songs. None of the tracks are bad but none rise above the norm.
Recall The Beginning…A Journey From Eden is a laid-back affair that is worth a listen due to the last four songs. It may not have the instant gratification of his pop oriented releases, or the excitement and energy of his early albums, but was a fitting conclusion to the first part of his career.
Article first published as Music Review: The Steve Miller Band – Recall The Beginning…A Journey From Eden on Blogcritics.
December 25, 2012
Paul Kelly has been a star in his home country of Australia for over three decades. He first came to the public’s attention as a member of the Dots, 1978-82, and then as a part of the Coloured Girls (who changed their name to the Messengers), 1985-1991. It has been his work as a solo artist that elevated him to the upper echelon of Australian musicians.
The music buying public’s awareness of his music has been growing in the United States. During 2010 he released an eight-disc box set, which presented live versions of 105 of his songs and followed that in 2011 with the career-spanning 40 song compilation Songs From The South (Volumes 1 & 2). Late last year he issued the book How To Make Gravy: A To Z, A Mongrel Memoir, in which he used his music as a jumping off place for his personal recollections. He has now returned with his first studio album since 2007’s Stolen Apples.
Spring and Fall is that rare combination of ambitious and simple. The music is stripped down to basics, but the album is a song cycle that presents a love story from different points of view. The songs are linked to one another as each one has a connecter to the one that follows. It is music that is not meant to be listened to as a track here and a track there, but needs to be appreciated as a whole.
Vocalist and acoustic guitar player Kelly is supported by producer and stand-up bassist/dobroist/violinist J. Walker and guitarist (and nephew) Dan Kelly. He also adds in a judicious use of percussion, piano, and drums in places to accentuate the music and mood.
Dave Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine called Kelly “one of the finest songwriters I have ever heard.” He lives up to that praise with his passionate and emotional lyrics set to simple melodies. “New Found Year” and “When a Woman Loves a Man” begin the story with the initial attraction and passion of a new relationship. By the time he reaches “None of Your Business Now” and “Little Aches and Pains,” he has progressed from happiness to contentment, and then to loss followed by regret. It is an interesting and poignant ride in the fertile mind of Paul Kelly as he spins his tales.
Spring And Fall is a creative return for Paul Kelly. It is a late addition to my best 10 albums of the year sweepstakes and is worth a listen for old and new fans alike.
Article first published as Music Review: Paul Kelly – Spring and Fall on Blogcritics.
December 24, 2012
Nelson Riddle, 1921-1985, had several phases to his career. Today he is best remembered for his musical relationship with Linda Ronstandt and the three popular big band albums she released during the early 1980s. He served as a producer and arranger for a number of artists, most notably Frank Sinatra. He also had a successful recording career as well, selling tens of millions of records.
He had the number one single in the United States during 1986. Riddle scored the film “Lisbon” starring Ray Miland and Maureen O’Hara and used the song “Lisbon Antigua” in the film. Released as a single it topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Best Sellers In Store Chart for four weeks beginning 2/25/56 and the Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart for one week. It peaked at number two on the Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart and Top 100 Chart.
The flip side of the single was “Robin Hood,” which was an entirely different story altogether.
December 23, 2012
The Royal Guardsmen, for better of worse, will always be associated with their series of Snoopy songs based on the comic character.
They were a band from Ocala, Florida and consisted of vocalist/guitarist Barry Winslow, vocalist Chris Nunley, lead guitarist Tom Richards, bassist Bill Balough, and organist Billy Taylor. They hit it big in late 1966 with their number two hit “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” and followed that with “The Return Of The Red Baron.”
The Christmas season of 1967 found them issuing a Christmas song, which they naturally titled “Snoopy’s Christmas.” It did not reach the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart but reached number one on the BILLBOARD Christmas Chart. It also reached number 15 in 1968 and number 11 in 1969.
It may not have been “White Christmas” but it was an appealing piece of pop fluff.