Archive for August, 2009

Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 2

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by 30daysout

thebigball schlagers

I didn’t really think through how I was gonna do this series of blog posts: Warners released about 34 of these LP samplers between 1969 and 1980, sometimes springing three or four of ’em in one year.  I don’t have all of them, so maybe I will try and survey them year by year.  After the success of the first three samplers in 1969 (there was a single-disc collection we didn’t mention last time), Warners kept goin’ in the new decade with The Big Ball and Schlagers!

The label called these samplers “Loss Leaders” because while they obviously took some money and resources to produce and advertise, and they were selling them for a very cheap price (basically one buck an album) the company stood to lose money on the records.  But they were an awesome promotional tool: mixed in with songs that were already hits and soon-to-be hits were selections from artists on the label that were a little tough to market.  The samplers were a good way to put a taste of their tunes in listeners’ ears.  If not for the WB/Reprise samplers, I probably would not have heard people like Joni Mitchell, John Cale or the Youngbloods.  Samplers were certainly the first place I heard Little Feat, Black Sabbath and many others.

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Sampler Daze: Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 1

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by 30daysout

songbook recshow

For my money, these were the best major-label samplers of the 1960s and 1970s.  Warner Bros. and Reprise (the label founded by Frank Sinatra) was the place where you could find Frank, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Trini Lopez, Miriam Makeba and so on.  But sometime around 1967 the label started to get hip, when it produced the debut album of a San Fransisco band thought to be “unmarketable” – the Grateful Dead.  Warner/Reprise signed people like Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman, and experimented with rock acts like the Kinks, the Fugs and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.  Then it took a chance on a dude who was getting popular in England but hadn’t yet made a dent in the States: Jimi Hendrix.

So the freaks were lovin’ Warner/Reprise, and in 1969 the label decided to put out its first two-LP sampler, The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook, with 23 artists ranging from Hendrix and Zappa to Van Morrison and the Everly Brothers.  The liner notes explained, “We have put this double album together not only for our own enjoyment  … but hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”

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Your Big Sister’s (Record) Rack

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , on August 29, 2009 by 30daysout

tn2_almost_famous_4

In the movie Almost Famous, the main character William is a teenager who inherits his rebellious sister’s record collection around 1970.  You know what happens: he listens and the music he hears helps to shape his world, his future and his career.  What a sister – she was played by Zooey Deschanel, after all – she left her brother some really primo stuff.

But that’s the movies.  What did your big sister, or big brother, have in their bedrooms back when you were a kid?  (Uh, I mean music.)  Thank god I didn’t have big brother or sister (I was the oldest; I was that dude, man) but I suspect that elder sibling’s record collection wasn’t as quality as William’s sister’s stack.  She had the Who’s Tommy along with the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, some Stones, some Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love … and the Mothers of Invention!

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Ellie Greenwich, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by 30daysout

Ellie Greenwich, one of the greatest pop songwriters of the 1960s, has died at the age of 68.  She is responsible for co-writing (with her partner/husband Jeff Barry) songs like “Be My Baby” for the Ronettes, “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me” for the Crystals, and “Chapel of Love” for the Dixie Cups.  She was also one of the rock era’s first female producers, helping to shape Neil Diamond‘s first songs as a performer including “Cherry Cherry” and “Solitary Man.”  A true giant in the music field.

Los Angeles Times obituary on Ellie Greenwich

MP3: “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes

MP3: “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals

MP3: “Leader Of The Pack” by the Shangri-Las

MP3: “Do Wah Diddy” by Manfred Mann

Ellie Greenwich official website

YouTube: The Crystals, “Da Doo Ron Ron”


Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album

Posted in News with tags on August 26, 2009 by 30daysout

bobdylan

Christmas In The Heart, a holiday album from Bob Dylan, will be released October 13, according to Columbia Records.  This will be the 47th album from Bob Dylan, and songs will  include “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Must Be Santa.”

All of Bob Dylan’s U.S. royalties from sales of these christmas_coverrecordings will be donated to Feeding America, with a goal of more than four million meals to be provided to more than 1.4 million people in need in this country during this year’s holiday season. Bob Dylan is also donating all of his future U.S. royalties from this album to Feeding America in perpetuity.

Christmas In The Heart will be available for pre-order starting today on Amazon.com.

Bob Dylan official website

Rockin’ TV Stars: Just The Facts, Ma’am!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2009 by 30daysout

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A little over a week ago my partner on the blog posted an item about the great music he’s heard on a TV show.  That’s great, I told him, but he happens to be misguided – very little good music has ever come from television.  “Hawaii Five O” by the Ventures, the “Twilight Zone” theme and possibly Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” notwithstanding, TV theme songs just don’t cut it most of the time.

We can maybe argue over that one for hours in a bar somewhere.  But I am certain of one thing: no TV star has EVER produced good music.  I think there is something that happens to a person who gets to act on a regular television series, something down in the DNA that dies and they simply CANNOT produce a listenable piece of music.  Why on earth would they want to do that? you may ask.  These actors already have a day job, you say.  Well that apparently hasn’t stopped them.  So, here for your perusal, are a handful of truly atrocious musical selections by well-known TV personalities, selected and produced in that strange land we must call … The Twilight Zone.

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Cheryl Ladd

Cheryl Ladd – This young lady joined the cast of “Charlie’s Angels” in 1977 replacing Farrah Fawcett, after Farrah played on the show for all of one season.  Cheryl ably filled Farrah’s shoes (and bikini, thank you) until the show was cancelled in 1981.  “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” was Ms. Ladd’s big shot at the Top 40 in 1978, and needless to say, it didn’t even come close.  If it sounds familiar, however, that’s because it was recorded the next year by a real singer (Dionne Warwick) and naturally that version was huge.

MP3: “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Cheryl Ladd

Mr. T – Quick, a little trivia: What is Mr. T’s catchphrase, and where did it originate?  “I pity the fool!”  That part was easy, but it didn’t come from the actor’s role on the 1980s TV show “The A Team.”  It actually came from the movie Rocky III (1982), where Mr. T played Clubber Lang, the latest threat to champ Rocky Balboa.  In 1984, at the peak of his 15 minutes of fame, Mr. T cut a rap album and here we have the title, ah, tune.

MP3: “Mr. T’s Commandments” by Mr. T

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KISS: Coming To A Venue and Wal-Mart Near You

Posted in News with tags , , on August 25, 2009 by 30daysout

Kiss

Sonic Boom, the first new album from Kiss in 11 years, will go on sale October 6 exclusively at Wal-Mart.  The new album will be the centerpiece of a three-disc set that will feature a completely re-recorded greatest hits CD as well as a live DVD shot during the band’s recent world tour.  This set is much like the very successful triple-disc set from Journey last year that also was a Wal-Mart exclusive.  The Sonic Boom package will retail for $12 and you can pre-order on Walmart.com beginning in September.  In the UK and Europe, Roadrunner Records will release the three-disc package on October 5.

And of course, the Kiss Alive 35 (that’s 35 years in existence, boys and girls) tour kicks off Sept. 25 with a multi-show engagement at Cobo Hall in Detroit Rock City, and the tour will include dates in Austin, Dallas and Houston in December.  Kiss is, of course, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, along with replacement members Tommy Thayer on lead guitar and Eric Singer on drums.  Paul Stanley produced the new Sonic Boom album.

Kiss official website

Review: Woodstock 40 Years On – Back To Yasgur’s Farm

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2009 by 30daysout

Cover edit

We are going to move on from Woodstock, and this is the last stop.  I slapped this on the other day and it pretty much stopped me in my tracks.  More than a few times during the Woodstock 40th anniversary weekend I read where the music itself at the 1969 festival wasn’t that great.  Woodstock 40 Years On – Back To Yasgur’s Farm, a new six-CD set revisiting the music from the great festival, makes a strong case that the music in that moment of time was terrific.  Yeah, I know – this is a bit of overkill in this summer of Woodstock Exploitation and if you have any of the other retrospectives from Woodstock, maybe it is a bit redundant.

But look – and listen- a little closer, and you’ll find cleaner sound and some welcome stuff from the vaults that help disprove the myth of sloppy sets.  The Grateful Dead for years complained that their set was horrible, for example: the version here of “Dark Star” is sublime, and even after 19 minutes it still fades out before its ending.  Joan Baez turns in nice versions of a couple of Gram Parsons tunes, “Hickory Wind” and “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man”; Creedence Clearwater Revival kicks it with three of their best-known tunes and the mostly acoustic Disc 1 puts a spotlight on the tragically forgotten Bert Sommer, as well as the bottom-billed Sweetwater.

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Passing Of A Giant: Les Paul, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags on August 19, 2009 by 30daysout

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Walking along Broadway in New York City the other night, we came across a small shrine dedicated to Les Paul, the musical giant who died last Thursday at the age of 94.  DSCN0022-1Until recently, Paul played weekly shows with his trio at the Iridium Jazz Club.  Outside the club they had a poster, some flowers and a couple of blank boards that people could sign.  My son signed the poster, and drew his best electric guitar.

If you don’t know by now, Les Paul was an innovator who helped make rock and roll possible because he virtually invented the electric guitar.  He also invented multitrack recording, also vital to rock and roll (see Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band).  In 1948 his right arm was horribly crushed in an auto accident.  A surgeon considered amputation but Paul convinced him to reset the arm at a 90-degree angle, so Paul could hold a guitar.  You can read much more about Les Paul and his contributions to music here.  It was bittersweet to see, listed on the Iridium club’s marquee, to appear Monday night:  The Legendary Les Paul.

MP3:  “How High The Moon” by Les Paul & Mary Ford

MP3: “Guitar Boogie” by Les Paul & Chet Atkins

MP3: “Caravan” by Les Paul

MP3: “Someone Ease My Troublin’ Mind” by Sam Cooke w/Les Paul & Eric Clapton

Gibson guitars official website

YouTube: Les Paul trio at the Iridium Club, 2006


Review: “Hot August Night/NYC,” Neil Diamond (DVD)

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18, 2009 by 30daysout

Neil-Diamond-HONNYC

The first thing you realize when you watch Hot August Night/NYC is that 68-year old Neil Diamond has still got it. From the first song, “Holly Holy,” the Brooklyn native has the sold out Madison Square Garden crowd eating out of his hand. The women? After all these years, they still fall at his feet.

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