Friday, 26 October 2018
Maybe Tomorrow/Brand New Heartache/I Wonder If I Care As Much/Hey Doll Baby
The Everly Brothers were not only among the most important and best early rock & roll stars, but also among the most influential rockers of any era. They set unmatched standards for close, two-part harmonies and infused early rock & roll with some of the best elements of country and pop music. Their legacy was and is felt enormously in all rock acts that employ harmonies as prime features, from the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel to legions of country-rockers as well as roots rockers like Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe (who once recorded an EP of Everlys songs together).
Don (born February 1, 1937) and Phil (born January 19, 1939) were professionals way before their teens, schooled by their accomplished guitarist father Ike, and singing with their family on radio broadcasts in Iowa. In the mid-'50s, they made a brief stab at conventional Nashville country with Columbia. When their single flopped, they were cast adrift for quite a while until they latched onto Cadence. Don invested their first single for the label, "Bye Bye Love," with a Bo Diddley beat that helped lift the song to number two in 1957.
"Bye Bye Love" began a phenomenal three-year string of classic hit singles for Cadence, including "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," "Bird Dog," "('Til) I Kissed You," and "When Will I Be Loved." The Everlys sang of young love with a heart-rending yearning and compelling melodies. The harmonies owed audible debts to Appalachian country music, but were imbued with a keen modern pop sensibility that made them more accessible without sacrificing any power or beauty. They were not as raw as the wild rockabilly men from Sun Records, but they could rock hard when they wanted. Even their midtempo numbers and ballads were executed with a force missing in the straight country and pop tunes of the era. The duo enjoyed a top-notch support team of producer Archie Bleyer, great Nashville session players like Chet Atkins, and the brilliant songwriting team of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. Don, and occasionally Phil, wrote excellent songs of their own as well.
Don and Phil's personal lives came under a lot of stress in the early '60s: they enlisted into the Marine Corps Reserves (together), and studied acting for six months but never made a motion picture. More seriously, Don developed an addiction to speed and almost died of an overdose in late 1962. By that time, their career as chart titans in the U.S. had ended; "That's Old Fashioned" (1962) was their last Top Ten hit. Their albums became careless, erratic affairs, which was all the more frustrating because many of their flop singles of the time were fine, even near-classic efforts that demonstrated they could still deliver the goods.
Friday, 19 October 2018
Whole Lotta Shaking Going On/Great Balls Of Fire/High Heel Sneakers/High School Confidential
Jerry Lee Lewis (born September 29, 1935) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as "rock & roll's first great wild man."
A pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly music, Lewis made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis. "Crazy Arms" sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was his 1957 hit "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. He followed this with "Great Balls of Fire", "Breathless" and "High School Confidential". However, Lewis's rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin.
Lewis's successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" and Mack Vickery's "Rockin' My Life Away". In the 21st century Lewis continues to tour around the world and still releases new albums. His album Last Man Standing is his best selling to date, with over a million copies sold worldwide. This was followed by Mean Old Man, which has received some of the best sales of Lewis's career.
Runaround Sue/Dream Lover/The Majestic/ Kansas City
Bridging the era between late-'50s rock and the British Invasion, Dion DiMucci (born July 18, 1939) was one of the top white rock singers of his time, blending the best elements of doo wop, teen idol, and R&B styles. Some revisionists have tried to cast him as a sort of early blue-eyed soul figure, although he was probably more aligned with pop/rock, at first as the lead singer of the Belmonts, and then as a solo star. Drug problems slowed him down in the mid-'60s, yet he made some surprisingly interesting progressions into blues-rock and folk-rock as the decade wore on, culminating in a successful comeback in the late '60s, although he was unable to sustain its commercial and artistic momentum for long.
When Dion began recording in the late '50s, it was as the lead singer of a group of friends who sang on Bronx street corners. Billing themselves Dion & the Belmonts (Dion had released a previous single with the Timberlanes), their first few records were prime Italian-American doo wop; "I Wonder Why" was their biggest hit in this style. Dion's biggest single with the Belmonts was "A Teenager in Love," which pointed the way for the slightly self-pitying, pained odes to adolescence and early adulthood that would characterize much of his solo work.
In 1963, Dion moved from Laurie to the larger Columbia label, an association that started promisingly with a couple of big hits right off the bat, "Ruby Baby" and "Donna the Prima Donna." By the mid-'60s, his heroin habit (which he'd developed as a teenager) was getting the best of him, and he did little recording and performing for about five years. When he did make it into the studio, he was moving in some surprisingly bluesy directions; although much of it was overlooked or unissued at the time, it can be heard on the Bronx Blues reissue CD.
Dion continued to be active as the 21st century opened, releasing Déjà Nu in 2000, Under the Influence in 2005, and Bronx in Blue in 2006. His first major-label album since 1989's Yo Frankie, Son of Skip James was released by Verve in 2007, while 2008's Heroes: Giants of Early Guitar Rock saw him tackling 15 songs from the classic rock & roll era. Influenced by a conversation with rock critic Dave Marsh about his long and still relevant career, and a dare from his wife Susan to prove it, Dion cut Tank Full of Blues, producing and playing the guitars himself on the recording and writing or co-writing all but one track on the set. Issued on Blue Horizon, it is the final recording in the trilogy that began with Bronx in Blue.
Dion signed to Instant Records in 2015 and immediately set to recording a new studio album. Entitled New York Is My Home, its first single and title track -- a duet with Paul Simon -- was pre-released in November digitally and as a striking video. The album was issued in the winter of 2016.
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Rockin' Robin/What Kind of Love/Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It/When I'm Not There
The Hollies, five-piece rock group from Manchester, England, that enjoyed many hits in the 1960s both before and after losing singer-guitarist Graham Nash to a more-celebrated partnership with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young. The principal members were Allan Clarke (b. April 5, 1942, Salford, Lancashire, England), Graham Nash (b. February 2, 1942, Blackpool, Lancashire), Tony Hicks (b. December 16, 1943, Nelson, Lancashire), Eric Haydock (b. February 3, 1943, Burnley, Lancashire), Bernie Calvert (b. September 16, 1943, Burnley), and Terry Sylvester (b. January 8, 1947, Liverpool, Merseyside).
Like most of their contemporaries in the British beat boom, the Hollies found their earliest influences in American rhythm-and-blues artists. Their first hits in the United Kingdom, in 1963–64, were with cover versions of the Coasters’ “(Ain’t That) Just Like Me” and “Searchin’,” Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs’ “Stay,” and Doris Troy’s “Just One Look.” Under the influence of Bob Dylan, however, their approach broadened, including diluted elements of folk music, to the particular benefit of Clarke.
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
Rollin' and Tumblin'/Bad Luck and Trouble/Broke Down Engine/Black Cat Bone
Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas, on February 23, 1944. Winter and younger brother Edgar (born 1946) were nurtured at an early age by their parents in musical pursuits. Johnny and his brother, both of whom were born with albinism, began performing at an early age. When he was ten years old, the brothers appeared on a local children's show with Johnny playing ukulele.
Winter caught his biggest break in December 1968, when Mike Bloomfield, whom he met and jammed with in Chicago, invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at the Fillmore East in New York City. As it happened, representatives of Columbia Records (which had released the Top Ten Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills Super Session album) were at the concert. Winter played and sang B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault" to loud applause and, within a few days, was signed to what was reportedly the largest advance in the history of the recording industry at that time—$600,000.
Winter's first Columbia album, Johnny Winter, was recorded and released in 1969. It featured the same backing musicians with whom he had recorded The Progressive Blues Experiment, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John Turner, plus Edgar Winter on keyboards and saxophone, and (for his "Mean Mistreater") Willie Dixon on upright bass and Big Walter Horton on harmonica. The album featured a few selections that became Winter signature songs, including his composition "Dallas" (an acoustic blues, on which Winter played a steel-bodied, resonator guitar), John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson's "Good Morning Little School Girl", and B.B. King's "Be Careful with a Fool".
The album's success coincided with Imperial Records picking up The Progressive Blues Experiment for wider release. The same year, the Winter trio toured and performed at several rock festivals, including Woodstock. With brother Edgar added as a full member of the group, Winter also recorded his second album, Second Winter, in Nashville in 1969. The two-record album, which only had three recorded sides (the fourth was blank), introduced a couple more staples of Winter's concerts, including Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited". Also at this time Johnny entered into an intimate, albeit short-lived affair with Janis Joplin, which culminated in a concert at New York's Madison Square Garden, where Johnny joined her on stage to sing and perform.
In 1970, when his brother Edgar released a solo album Entrance and formed Edgar Winter's White Trash, an R&B/jazz-rock group, the original trio disbanded. Johnny Winter then formed a new band with the remnants of the McCoys—guitarist Rick Derringer, bassist Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Randy Z (who was Derringer's brother, their family name being Zehringer). Originally to be called "Johnny Winter and the McCoys", the name was shortened to "Johnny Winter And", which was also the name of their first album. The album included Derringer's "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" and signaled a more rock-oriented direction for Winter. When Johnny Winter And began to tour, Randy Z was replaced with drummer Bobby Caldwell. Their mixture of the new rock songs with Winter's blues songs was captured on the live album Live Johnny Winter And. It included a new performance of "It's My Own Fault", the song which brought Winter to the attention of Columbia Records.
Winter was professionally active until the time of his death near Zurich, Switzerland, on July 16, 2014. He was found dead in his hotel room two days after his last performance, at the Cahors Blues Festival in France on July 14, at the age of 70. The cause of Winter's death was not officially released. According to his guitarist friend and record producer Paul Nelson, Winter died of emphysema combined with pneumonia.
Tuesday, 2 October 2018
Lets Work Together/Same All Over/Change My Ways/Rich Woman
Canned Heat is an American rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1965. The group has been noted for its interpretations of blues material and for its efforts to promote interest in this type of music and its original artists. It was launched by two blues enthusiasts, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson's 1928 "Canned Heat Blues", a song about an alcoholic who had desperately turned to drinking Sterno, generically called "canned heat" (from the original 1914 product name Sterno Canned Heat), After appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals at the end of the 1960s, the band acquired worldwide fame with a lineup consisting of Hite (vocals), Wilson (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Henry Vestine and later Harvey Mandel (lead guitar), Larry Taylor (bass), and Adolfo de la Parra (drums).