Archive for The Pretenders

Sampler Daze: Warner Bros. holiday samplers

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2010 by 30daysout

Guess this could be a holiday companion piece to our series on the WB-Reprise Loss Leader samplers that came out in the 1970s – these are two radio promo albums released by Warner Bros. in 1987 and 1988 to help radio stations and listeners celebrate the holiday season with the Warners’ stable of artists.

Yulesville came out in 1987, all decked out in red (or green) vinyl to look like a Christmas ornament and the track list was a mix of spoken-word promos and a handful of music tracks.  Artists like Brian Wilson, George Harrison, Madonna and others cut the PSAs (public service announcements) while the Ramones, the Pretenders and the like have holiday-themed tracks.

The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” was exclusive to this LP at the time, while the Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” appeared on the 1983 album Learning To Crawl and Prince’s “Another Lonely Christmas” was originally the B-side to the 1984 single “I Would Die 4 U.”  There are a few other music tracks, including “Yulesville” by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes (from 1959!), Erasure doing a short little holiday ditty and a couple of godawful tracks from long-forgotten bands like 54.40 and the so-called New Monkees (featuring no one named Jones, Dolenz, Tork or Nesmith).

The next year, in 1988, Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops and unleashed a double holiday promo album, Winter Warnerland.  This one had more PSAs from their artists, more tracks from label losers (another one from 54.40!) but also had some cool stuff from the likes of R.E.M.,  Los Lobos and Daniel Lanois, as well as some contributions from Warner Nashville label mates Mark O’Connor and Randy Travis.

Lonesome George Harrison turns up again, this time doing a promo bit as Nelson Wilbury, his alter-ego from the Traveling Wilburys.  Pee Wee Herman livens up the proceedings with his weirdness, and former Chicago lead singer Peter Cetera turns in a country-rock version of “Silent Night” that works for some strange reason.

One of my favorite tracks on this one is “Santa Claus Is Getting Down,” a blues tune from guitarist Jesse Ed Davis.  Davis was an A-list session guitarist of the era who played with people like John Lennon, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Taj Mahal and many others.  Davis popped up at the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus event in 1968 and was a featured player at the Concert for Bangla Desh in 1971.  Davis is probably best known for contributing the guitar solo on Jackson Browne’s hit single “Doctor My Eyes.”  During most of the 1970s and 1980s Davis was troubled by his drug abuse, and finally in 1988 he died in California of a suspected heroin overdose.

To be honest, I’m not sure what kind of circulation these albums had at the time.  Aside from promotional distribution to radio stations and news media types, it seems that Winter Warnerland had some kind of commercial availability as a CD in 1988 or so.  Both albums turn up frequently on eBay and other internet selling services, so maybe they’re more easily obtained today than they were when they were released – only now they’re more expensive.

MP3: “Merry Christmas Message” by Brian Wilson (from Yulesville)

MP3: “2,000 Miles” by the Pretenders (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Holiday Greeting” by the Bee Gees (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Happy Holidays Message” by Joey Ramone (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight)” by the Ramones (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Another Lonely Christmas” by Prince (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Christmas Medley” by Pee Wee Herman (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Deck The Halls” by R.E.M. (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Rudolph The Manic Reindeer” by Los Lobos (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Holiday ID” by Nelson Wilbury (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Santa Claus Is Getting Down” by Jesse Ed Davis (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Silent Night” by Peter Cetera (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Holiday Greeting” by Pee Wee Wilbury (from Winter Warnerland)

Review: “Break Up The Concrete,” Pretenders

Posted in Review with tags , , on October 16, 2008 by 30daysout

This new version of the Pretenders is down to one original member: lead singer Chrissie Hynde.  Break Up The Concrete is the first Pretenders album in six years and Hynde surrounds herself with some accomplished help (Son Volt’s Eric Heywood and legendary drummer Jim Keltner) to make a garage rock album.  Which means the tunes are not too polished and they rock, for the most part.   Hynde has apparently moved back to her native Ohio after living in the United Kingdom for more than three decades and on this album she returns to her musical roots with songs that zing with the beat of classic rock, blues and country.  The rockabilly gallop of “Boots Of Spanish Plastic” and the title track’s Bo Diddley thump frame this album and in between we touch on blues boogie (“Rosalee”), folk rock (“The Nothing Maker”), soul (“Don’t Lose Faith In Me”) and country heartbreak (“One Thing Never Changed”).  Hynde’s voice sounds the same as it did in 1978, and her romanticism and heartbreak also sound unchanged.  “You Didn’t Have To” and “The Last Ride” wouldn’t be out of place on the group’s 1984 classic Learning To Crawl.  It’s been a good year for the classic rockers (at least those not named Mellencamp) and this is a good step for Chrissie Hynde.  Turn up the volume and Break Up The Concrete.

MP3: “Break Up The Concrete”

MP3: “You Didn’t Have To”

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