Archive for Fleetwood Mac

Video Du Jour (Part Deux): Fleetwood Mac

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on April 9, 2013 by 30daysout

Fleetwood Mac has gone back on the road, partly to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their blockbuster album Rumours. On one of the first dates of the tour in Philadelphia April 6, the band introduced a new song called “Sad Angel” that may appear on a new EP that Lindsey Buckingham said is coming out  “in a few days.”

Thanks to tyrant2525 for loan of the video.

Fleetwood Mac official web site

Rock & Roll Drama Queens

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by 30daysout

Annie Lebovitz’s (in)famous photo of Fleetwood Mac, back in the day.

This week the music world will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the landmark album Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac. The occasion is marked by the release Tuesday of a super deluxe, three-disc set of the 1977 album that went on to sell more than 40 million copies worldwide.

We’ve all heard the album many times, almost as many times  as we have also heard the soap opera that went on as the album was being recorded. Producer Ken Caillat told us a little about the intrigue, but apparently that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Apparently the best rock and roll is created when there’s tension, pressure and drama. Abbey Road, some of the Beatles’ greatest music, came together when the four members of the band could supposedly barely stand to be in the same room with each other. Elvis Presley’s finest hour came during his late 1960s “comeback,” dramatically righting a career that had become a series of horrible movies and bland soundtracks.

Rockers have had their share of hard times and downright tragedy, just like all of our other beloved entertainers. So let’s slap on a vintage vinyl copy of Rumours, and while it’s popping and ticking away, come with us down memory lane:

David Bowie is gay – Forty one years ago this month, David Bowie shocked no one when he announced to Melody Maker: “I’m gay and I always have been.” Well, probably the shocking part was that he had already been married to a woman.

Nevertheless, the announcement gave Bowie’s career new life. His album at the time, Hunky Dory, became a hit, and “Changes” would appear on the U.S. Billboard charts while “Starman” went to the top 10 in England. Later in 1972, Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, also a hit and a critics’ favorite to this day. He’d close out the year with the single “John, I’m Only Dancing,” with homosexual overtones that would prevent its release in the United States.

Four years later, Bowie would confess to Playboy that he is really bisexual. At that point, very few people cared about his sexual orientation any more.

YouTube: David Bowie with “Oh You Pretty Things”

Eric Clapton is a heroin addict – Perhaps insecure about his abilities as a guitar player (despite the graffiti “Clapton Is God”) Eric Clapton became a serious drug addict in the late 1960s. Heroin was his drug of choice, and in his autobiography Clapton says when he wrote “Layla” to woo Patti Boyd from her then-husband George Harrison he was spending about $16,000 a week on the stuff.

Patti, in her own autobiography, remembers that when she finally hooked up with Clapton he kicked heroin by becoming an alcoholic. “He began in the morning and drank all day until four o’clock when Roger Forrester, his minder and later his manager, made him stop,” she writes. Clapton also dabbled in cocaine and hallucinogens along the way.

Clapton eventually cleaned himself up, long after he’d left Patti Boyd/Harrison/Clapton. He had some real tragedy in his life in 1991 when his four-year-old son (with another wife) fell out of an open window and was killed. Clapton channeled his grief into the hit song “Tears In Heaven,” which earned three Grammy Awards.

YouTube: Eric Clapton with “Cocaine”

Jerry Lee Lewis marries his cousin – In 1957, piano-pounding wild man Jerry Lee Lewis had already been married twice. He married his second wife before the divorce from his first was final, so it shouldn’t have been a shock if he married his third wife before the second divorce was also final.

Nobody noticed – because the Killer married Myra Brown, his third cousin! Who was only 13 years old! Both husband and wife downplayed it, saying it was pretty common in the part of the country they were from. Well, hardly anyone else saw it their way; it became a huge scandal in the U.S. and Europe and pretty much shut down Jerry Lee’s career.

Lewis would manage a bit of a comeback in the late 1960s-early 1970s as a country music performer. He and Myra would divorce in 1970. Lewis, still alive today at age 77, will always be remembered for his wild, unrepentant attitude and his “cradle robbing.”

For the record, when asked about his fellow Memphis musician’s troubles back then, Elvis Presley reportedly said if the two were truly in love, then getting married was all right with him. Of course, Elvis would later fall in love with a 14-year-old girl … but that’s another story.

YouTube: Jerry Lee Lewis with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”

Jim Morrison’s penis – Perhaps the greatest rock and roll drama queen was Jim Morrison, front man of The Doors. He was no stranger to run-ins with the law, but his most (in)famous arrest came in 1969, in Miami.

Visibly intoxicated during the concert, Morrison asked the crowd “You didn’t come here for music, did you?” He continued to rant and finally asked, “You want to see my cock?”  Ray Manzarek recalls that Morrison did some little peek-a-boo striptease thing with a bandana or something, and supposedly Mr. Mojo’s Risin’ was indeed seen.

At any rate, he was not charged until three weeks later, only after the incident became a huge media scandal. Morrison was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior (a felony with a maximum three-year sentence), indecent exposure, public drunkenness and such. After a lengthy and much publicized trial in 1970, Morrison was found guilty and sentenced to six months of hard labor on one charge, and 60 days of hard labor on another charge.

But he never went to prison – the sentence was still on appeal when Morrison died in Paris in 1971.

YouTube: Jim Morrison’s arrest coverage from 1969

30 Days Out Interview: Ken Caillat (Producer of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’)

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by 30daysout
Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac, around the time of ‘Rumours’

by Denny Angelle

Fleetwood Mac was one of the most successful and unique rock bands of the 1970s. After toiling for nearly a decade as a journeyman British blues-rock band, the Mac exploded into mainstream consciousness when they added American pop rockers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the lineup.

The peak came in 1977 when Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours, which yielded four Top 10 singles, sold more than 40 million copies and won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The band took almost a year to cut Rumours and while doing so lived a rock and roll soap opera marked by divorce, infidelity and constant drug use, all of which threatened to tear the band apart.

Ken Caillat

Ken Caillat

Buckingham and Nicks were no longer a couple, and they wrote thinly disguised songs about their failed relationship. Christine and John McVie were in the throes of their own divorce, as was drummer Mick Fleetwood. And all the while, the drugs and booze flowed freely.

Ken Caillat, as one of the producers of Rumours, had a ringside seat to the drama. He’s written a book, Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album, that pulls back the curtain on the making of this masterpiece rock album. We caught up with him after he visited Austin to talk about his book at the Texas Book Festival.

30 Days Out: How did you come to write the book?

Caillat: It was a time and an event that means a lot to many people. It was extraordinary to be a part of this album. I’m one of the only people who can write about how this great album was made. It’s kind of my responsibility to tell the story, I wish somebody had done that with the Beatles. While we were making Rumours I wanted to try and jot it all down, and I have extensive records and track sheets of everything we did. Not only was I a producer, I was also a kind of documentarian, I knew the facts of everything we did and when we did it.

Caillat: Actually when I began writing the book I had the intention of going to the band and getting their perspective. So I started trying to set up the interviews with the band, telling them I wanted to make sure it’s 100 percent correct and accurate. And after a while I got this phone call … They declined! They said they don’t help people, that’s not what they do.

30 Days Out: What does that mean?

Caillat: You got me!

30 Days Out: We really like the way you did it, sticking only to your point of view. You really didn’t need the band, right?

Caillat: Well, I am sure there was something they could have enlightened me on … the type of guitar strings they used, or some trick they did that I didn’t know about. I made a rule I wasn’t going to speculate on what they did when they went home. What I knew, what I saw, that’s what I wrote about. It would have been cool to have some of the intrigue that went on, that I only heard about. For example with Christine (McVie) … John (McVie) kept sniffing around the hotel, she didn’t want anything to do with him. Christine had to hide in Stevie’s room.

Making-Rumours-Cover30 Days Out: We get the impression from the book that Christine was sort of your favorite person in the band.

Caillat: Um, you know, sort of, but not necessarily. She was constant, she could be (unreasonable) at times, but most of the time you could just talk to her. Mick and the others, it wasn’t so easy.  Sometimes you didn’t know what was going on and where you stood with them. If they were too high, you couldn’t talk to them.

30 Days Out: Were the members of Fleetwood Mac upset when they learned you were going to write this book?

Caillat: I don’t know … the funny thing is, I have done two DVDs about Rumours for two different companies at two different times. I interviewed the band for each one, and there was no problem. This time, though, after about two months of not getting any answers, I get a phone call saying the band has decided not to participate in my book. I think it was because Lindsey Buckingham may want to write his own book at some point. So he doesn’t want the band helping.

30 Days Out: You had a few problems with Lindsey down the road. How was he to work with?

Caillat: He was just a real nervous, intense guy. I used to say he’d walk in and suck the fun out of the room. There was an engineer who worked on the album after MirageTango In The Night – the engineer read my book and called me up. He said ‘it’s so true. Whenever everyone walked out of the room and I was alone with Lindsey, it was very uncomfortable.’ You know he’s judging you, he’s thinking about something.  He’s thinking that you are thinking something about him. At that point, while we were doing Rumours, he was a nervous nellie. He’s just like that: he’d come in in the morning, always rubbing his hands together. He kept a big tape box full of pot, and he was always rolling a joint. Nonstop, rolling a joint. One time I got into an argument with Lindsey in Reno at a casino … he starting yelling at this dealer. I said you don’t treat people like that, you are just a fucking asshole.

30 Days Out: But musically, he’s a genius …

Caillat: Absolutely, he’s a genius.

30 Days Out: When we look back at 1977 and Rumours, there really was nothing like that album or anything that even sounded like it at the time. When you were making that album, did you have a sense you were doing something really special?


The Mac won an armload of Grammy Awards for Rumours.

Caillat: Never got that idea. We were all so tired, we were exhausted. If you go to my website and listen to some of these songs in their original form, you’d probably say this is not very good. How those songs grew over 12 months to become these amazing things, it’s truly astonishing. We didn’t know!

Caillat: A friend of mine got to listen to Rumours when it was almost done. He said “I don’t hear a hit.” And we were totally devastated. It’s astonishing to me, that album had 10 radio hits out of the 11 songs. But at the time it came out we were so tired, working 15-18 hours a day on it for the good part of an entire year. I remember at one point driving into the studio in Hollywood, and I saw Christmas decorations on Hollywood Boulevard. And I said ‘Oh, is it Christmas again already?’

30 Days Out: There must have been incredible pressure from the record company to follow up their “white album” (Fleetwood Mac from 1975) with another hit.

Caillat: Just the opposite, no pressure. The record company was sitting back smoking big cigars, they weren’t in our face. I guarantee it would not be like that if we did the same record today. With a record already sliding down the charts, they’d come in and say who the hell are these new guys? We’re going to use our ‘genius’ which they don’t have to try and make it more commercial. They would ask, why don’t you make it more like Adele?

Caillat: My daughter (singer Colbie Caillat) is going through that now. On her second album the label had a whole team, they came in … and said you should try everything, do some hip hop, do some rap stuff. I said, ‘would you like it if we dyed her hair red and got her a boob job? Would you like that too?’

30 Days Out: With that kind of atmosphere, could you make another Rumours today?


Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks

Caillat: Sure! The thing that was amazing was that budgets were big then, and costs were relatively small. We were able to spend 12 months in the studio perfecting every little bit. Analog tape was our tool at the time, it rolled on a heavy reel, and you built a song from top to bottom. When it came time to rewind the tape it may take 2-3 minutes to rewind. While you’re doing it the artist sitting in the studio at the microphone, and you end up talking, you talk about what you did, you played this, I thought you were going to go here … you get this kind of conversation which doesn’t happen in today’s digital world. Now you instantaneously you go back to the top. I have to tell my engineer don’t press play every time, so we can have that time to communicate with each other.

30 Days Out: Rumours is about to come out in a 35th anniversary edition. Are you involved with that reissue?

Caillat: No. Why not? I don’t know, it always astounds me. I’m sure it’s the money. I would have done it for nothing! There was some of that in the first two years, but as time has passed I have really nothing to do with it anymore.

30 Days Out: Going beyond the scope of the book a bit, how did you get to Tusk (1979)? It was so different than Rumours.

Caillat: Yeah, well that’s Lindsey Buckingham. I had full intentions of improving our work on Rumours and making Tusk be Rumours II . Do better on everything. But the second or third day Lindsey came in, he had a bunch of home recordings all full of distortion and grunge. Punk was getting big then, and he was into all of that. He had this big hairdo during and after Rumours …, but now he had freaked out in the shower and cut all his hair off with scissors. It was really weird looking. He said OK, we’re going to do everything different. He made me take all the edge off the guitars, saying that’s how we are going to make this record. It wasn’t what I wanted. Tusk became something totally different, kind of experimental. I said to Lindsey, so you want a darker album? There was a lot of decadence at the time … a lot of drugs, excessive living. It was tough to work with Lindsey at that point. He was just a pain in the ass.


Ken Caillat, checking microphones in the studio back in the 1970s.

30 Days Out: Do you think you’ll write another book, maybe about Tusk and beyond?

Caillat: You’re the fourth guy to ask me that just today! I have all the information … I went through the tape vaults, all the scans of all the track sheets, instrumentation, date they were recorded. I’ve got all that … I was ready to go, ready to write a Tusk book. In fact, I got about a quarter of the way through. But I stopped because I’m not sure there’s a market for it. This book has only had modest success … for us to get another book out it’s gonna take somebody to come in and say we can do better with a second book. Rumours is a pleasant story, it has a happy ending. I don’t think books about Tusk and Mirage are gonna have happy endings.

30 Days Out: Tell us a little about working with John McVie.

Caillat: It’s weird, John was kind of like Jekyll and Hyde, he was the greatest guy in the world. So soft spoken, then all of a sudden he’d turn on you. Mostly he’d do that when he was drinking, he was a closet drinker. Ninety percent of the time he was just great. Great bass player. He was always complaining I never had the bass loud enough. He made me very conscious of the bass, so I’d leave it up in the mix. One time Gary Katz, Steely Dan’s producer, came in and said you have the best bass sound – how do you do it? I told him, bitching! Have your bass player complain to you all the time!

Buckingham Nicks

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, in the days before Fleetwood Mac.

30 Days Out: What about Stevie Nicks?

Caillat: Back then she was just the cutest little hippie chick. Adorable! She was funny, she had a cute giggle. She loved music, she only knew about three chords on the piano but she could make about 30 songs out of them. Her quirky side was she was always thinking about herself. I learned not to ask how she was doing that day. You’d spend 10 minutes just listening to her talk about herself.

Caillat: I always thought it was amazing, Lindsey and Stevie could never pass a mirror without looking at themselves. That’s just the kind of people they are. They are the kind of people who see a stage and want to be up there. They want the limelight. It’s kind of a double-edged sword … I’ve seen this sweet picture of Lindsey, taken right before Rumours, he’s sitting on the floor in an airport playing guitar. That guy’s gone. As they grew, as the Tusk album got really difficult for me, everybody became an asshole, really decadent, rather full of themselves. Not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s natural. But it wasn’t pleasant.

30 Days Out: How did it end with you and Fleetwood Mac?

Caillat: I had done Mirage (1982) and the live album, and they were gonna do Tango In The Night (1987). It was taking about a year to do and I just said, you know I’m gonna bow out this time. It ended great. I’m still friends with them, I think.

30 Days Out: So what’s next for you?

Caillat: I am starting a new label, Sleeping Giant records. Gonna be working with new artists, our main thrust will be artist development. And I’m going to continue working with my daughter Colbie. I can take no credit for her, she was born with this perfect voice and she loves to sing. She’s the nicest person in the world, she’d rather roll on the floor with the dogs and do just about anything else.  And right now I’m working on on Spanish, Japanese and Portugese translations of Making Rumours. The audio book comes out in April, paperback comes out in April too. And I’m going to keep producing, all the time. Making the best music I can.

Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album web site (links to purchase)

YouTube: Fleetwood Mac playing “Go Your Own Way” in 1977

Ken Caillat Productions official web site

100 Years Out: Robert Johnson

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by 30daysout

In the dim early part of the last century, a bluesman named Robert Johnson claimed he sold his soul to the devil, as if to explain his otherworldly skills in writing, singing and playing the blues. If that really happened, right now Robert Johnson is burning in hell while we’re still talking and writing about him, and listening to his music. It means that Robert Johnson beat the devil.

Sunday will mark the 100th birthday of this mysterious figure. In this age of instant tweets and non-stop media, it’s almost impossible to know as little about an entertainer as we do about Robert Johnson. We do know that between 1932 until his death in 1938, Johnson was constantly on the move, playing juke joints and roadhouses across the South. He occasionally played gigs in places like Chicago and St. Louis, and the 42 songs we know him by today were cut during two epic sessions in San Antonio and Dallas.

The two things that have survived over the years are of course the legend of Robert Johnson and the devil, and the music. Robert Johnson’s music is terrifying in its stark realism, and the dark heart of his greatest songs form the foundation of rock and roll. No need to run down the list of artists influenced by Robert Johnson – you can hear it below.

MP3: “Me and the Devil Blues” by Robert Johnson

MP3: “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day” by Robert Johnson

MP3: “Come On In My Kitchen” by Robert Johnson

MP3: “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)” by Robert Johnson

MP3: “Last Fair Gone Down” by Eric Clapton

MP3: “Ramblin’ On My Mind” (live) by Lucinda Williams

MP3: “They’re Red Hot” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

MP3: “Hellhound On My Trail” by Fleetwood Mac

MP3: “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Led Zeppelin

MP3: “Crossroads” by Cyndi Lauper w/Johnny Lang

MP3: “(I Believe I’ll) Dust My Broom” by Todd Rundgren

MP3: “Love In Vain” by the Rolling Stones

MP3: “Sweet Home Chicago” by the Steve Miller Band

MP3: “Stop Breaking Down” by the White Stripes

MP3: “Crossroads” by Cream

On The Trail of the Hellhound – 30 Days Out post from 2008

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Buckingham-Nicks

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2011 by 30daysout

Continuing our series of duets albums, ending next weekend: today we spin one of the most famous rock duet albums, Buckingham Nicks, the 1973 effort with superstars-to-be Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

Buckingham and Nicks were bandmates in the band Fritz, which formed in 1968 and got to be pretty popular around the San Francisco Bay Area.  By the time the band broke up in 1972 Buckingham and Nicks were romantically involved, and they moved to Los Angeles to make it big in the music bidness.

Suits from Polydor heard the duo performing and they cobbled together Buckingham Nicks with a handful of studio tracks and cleaned up some demos to round it out.  The LP kicks off with Nicks’ “Crying In the Night,” anchored by Lindsey’s acoustic strumming and vocal harmonies.  “Without A Leg To Stand On,” a Buckingham composition, is a soft rocker with more chiming acoustic guitar; you can hear a strong Cat Stevens influence at work here, down to the idiosyncratic rhythmic stutter that Stevens used so well.

“Lola (My Love)” is a country-flavored stomp with some cool fingerpicking from Buckingham but it suppresses Nicks’ background vocals – it’s probably the weakest song on the album and winds up sounding like a Stephen Stills throwaway.  Better are the Nicks songs “Races Are Run” and “Long Distance Winner,” which showcase her awesome voice.  On “Winner,” as on the instrumental “Stephanie,” Buckingham unveils his intricate guitar picking style that would later highlight the music-box-like “Never Going Back Again.”

A few of the songs here, like the loping “Don’t Let Me Down Again” and Nicks’ gorgeous “Crystal,” would show up in the Fleetwood Mac repertoire.  “Don’t Let Me Down Again” would be played in concert by the Mac, and it turned up on the Live LP from 1980.  “Crystal,” which was written by Stevie but sung by Lindsey, would be re-recorded by Fleetwood Mac for the 1975 eponymous breakthrough.  The song would of course be a highlight in concert and wouldn’t be recorded with Nicks herself on lead vocals until 1998, when she cut a version for the movie Practical Magic.

When the album was released in September of ’73 it turned out to be a commercial failure, probably lost in the forest of countless West Coast folk-pop troubadours popular at the time.  The duo moved to Colorado and Buckingham played guitar in the Everly Brothers touring band, which also included Warren Zevon on piano.

Keith Olsen, who produced Buckingham Nicks, played some of it for drummer Mick Fleetwood, who was seeking a replacement for Bob Welch at the time.  Impressed with Lindsey’s guitar skills, Fleetwood made an offer to Buckingham only, but Lindsey insisted that he and Stevie were a package deal.  So Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974 and in this case it would be totally appropriate to say “and the rest is history.”

One note about this album: it’s never been officially released on CD, although a number of labels have expressed interest at one point or another.  It’s hard to find a decent copy burned off the original vinyl, but this came from the great, now defunct, blog The Research Garage by way of the equally great, but still alive, music blog Ngootb Redux.

MP3: “Crystal”

MP3: “Long Distance Winner”

MP3: “Without A Leg To Stand On”

MP3: “Stephanie”

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 10 – B-sides!

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on September 6, 2010 by 30daysout

We wrap up our Labor Day singles sock hop rock-a-thon with a few B-sides, some very famous, some legendary and some totally unknown.

In 1970 Led Zeppelin cut its classic Led Zeppelin III, and the first single off that album was “Immigrant Song.”  The flip side was “Hey, Hey What Can I Do.”  The song was the only non-album track Zeppelin would offer up during its career, and for the longest time the only way you could hear it was on a scratchy single (or through the benevolence of a local radio DJ), but it’s since appeared on some Led Zeppelin box sets and as a bonus track on the Coda CD.

MP3: “Hey, Hey What Can I Do” by Led Zeppelin

Elvis had a pink cadillac, John Prine called an album Pink Cadillac, and Bruce Springsteen cut “Pink Cadillac” during his sessions for Born In The U.S.A. in 1984.  Appearing on the flip of “Dancing In The Dark,” Springsteen’s Cadillac got a lot of mileage during his 1984-85 world tour and received radio play worldwide.  The song has since appeared on a few of the Boss’s compilations and Tracks sets.

MP3: “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Townes Van Zandt is perhaps the godfather of Texas singer/songwriters.  Before his death in 1997 he wrote and recorded a number of classics, and he has influenced the current generation of Lone Star pickers, like Steve Earle and Robert Earl Keen.  “Dirty Old Town” is the Ewan MacColl song most famously covered by The Pogues, and Townes cut it in 1996 at one of his last recording sessions.  “Dirty Old Town” is the B-side of “Riding The Range,” released on single by a German company in 1999.

MP3: “Dirty Old Town” by Townes Van Zandt

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Marketing 101: KISS and Wal-Mart

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by 30daysout

A package of KISS M&Ms at Wal-Mart

On Sunday, we drove our daughter back to college after a weekend home.  She goes to the University of Texas-San Antonio in the city’s northwest side, apparently also a newly developed area for upper-income people.  Anyway, we were in a Wal-Mart (yeah) and I saw this guy plunk down three – count ’em – three copies of the new KISS album Sonic Boom.

We found the Wal-Mart’s “KISS Korner,” where you can fondle the new triple-disc CD/DVD package (12 bucks),  a KISS fleece throw (10 bucks), a bag of KISS M&Ms (6 dollars) and KISS Mr. Potato Heads (10 bucks).   Somewhere back in electronics they had Sonic Boom crankin’, or maybe it was the live DVD.  Surely somewhere else in the store there was KISS makeup for the kiddies on Halloween and some action figures.  So it should come as no surprise that Sonic Boom may well be at No. 1 or close to it on the Billboard Top 100 album charts this week.

Now the idea of rock acts signing up to be “exclusive” with Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, may be repulsive to you.  It certainly was, earlier this year, for fans of Bruce Springsteen, who apologized after marketing his latest Greatest Hits only at the Mart.  But it’s a natural for KISS and the band’s bassist/marketing genius Gene Simmons.  He’s laughing all the way to the bank; in his case, multiple banks to hold all of his money.

You gotta hand it to him – and to bands like Foreigner, Journey, AC/DC and the Eagles – who all inked Wal-Mart exclusives and cashed in.  They are managing to do what our beloved mom-and-pop record stores can’t do, and that’s move physical CDs in the age of downloading.  Yeah, it’s too bad that independent record stores are dying.  But it’s way too late to resuscitate the corpse.  Wal-Mart didn’t kill the corner record store – we did.

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Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by 30daysout


When The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook appeared in early 1969, the liner notes said, by way of explanation, the sampler’s goal was “hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”  People like Jethro Tull, the Pentangle, Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, even Tiny Tim.  Warner Bros. Records, founded in 1958, was just beginning to hoist its freak flag, and in just a few years the label’s roster would be the cream of the crop.

And so the ride began: with L.A. street freak Wild Man Fischer’s “Songs For Sale” introducing “My Sunday Feeling” by Jethro Tull.  Eleven years later, the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series ended on the sampler Troublemakers with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols snarling, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Well, no.  The 34 Loss Leaders samplers that appeared between 1969 and 1980 formed my musical tastes and exposed me to artists I would never have dreamed of seeking out, to people who may have been just a little too adventurous even for early-Seventies radio.  I remember calling up my local AM pop station and smugly asking the DJ to play some Zappa and the Mothers, or that flip side by the Beach Boys, only to get the response, “What?”  The Loss Leaders made me cooler than the disc jockey!

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 9

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by 30daysout

RecordsLikeThis works

If you’ve been with us this long, you already know the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series wasn’t about hit records – although the 1970s entries managed to have one or two hit singles on each sampler.  But with the coming of 1975’s I Didn’t Know They Still Made Records Like This, the label rolled out its big guns.  Of the 26 songs included on this two-LP set, six were bonafide Top 20 hits and a few others were FM radio staples.

And another thing about this one – it was aimed squarely at MOR audiences.  Singer/songwriters abound: James Taylor does his No. 5 “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” which was actually an old Motown song; Arlo Guthrie does the No. 18 hit “City Of New Orleans,” which was actually written by Steve Goodman; Gordon Lightfoot offers the No. 26 “Rainy Day People,” which was actually written by Gordon Lightfoot.  Add to that Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” (No. 11), Seals & Croft’s “I’ll Play For You” (No. 18) and the No. 1 smash “Then Came You,” by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners.  “I Can See Clearly Now,” a hit for reggae artist Johnny Nash, pops up here in a version by country singer Rex Allen Jr., the first appearance, I believe, on the Loss Leaders by an artist out of the Nashville stable.

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Sampler Daze: Let’s Hear It For The Women!

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2009 by 30daysout
Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt

It occurred to me, while compiling this exhaustive survey of the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series, that we might be giving short shrift to the label’s female artists.  Probably not, but this is a good excuse to listen to some more tracks from this great promotional series.

I know we’ve mentioned Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur – but we should start with them anyway because they’re the two ladies that the Loss Leaders went to the most often.  Part of our Loss Leaders All-Star team, Muldaur appeared nine times in the series and Raitt eight.  Another Reprise artist (with six appearances in the series) is Joni Mitchell, the Canadian darling of the hippie set and writer of the song “Woodstock,” most famously covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Emmylou Harris, with five appearances in the Loss Leaders series, is another perennial.  Harris was actually discovered by then-Flying Burrito Brother (and ex-Byrd) Chris Hillman, who was so taken with her voice that he considered asking Harris to join the Burritos.  But he recommended her instead to fellow Burrito Gram Parsons, who was seeking a backing vocalist for his first solo album.  Working with Parsons, Emmylou learned a lot about country music and its deep tradition and history.  When Parsons suddenly died in 1973, Emmylou was left without a mentor (and possibly a lover – nobody knows for sure).  She began recording for Reprise in 1975 and went on to become a top country-rock performer.  Here she is represented by “Ooh Las Vegas,” written by Gram Parsons.

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