Sunday, March 7, 2010

 

Album of the Day: David Bowie (3/7/75) 35 Years!

David Bowie’s 24-odd mainline albums evidence his unusual skill at adapting himself, his wardrobe and his music to changing times and genres. That’s why he frequently called “The Chameleon.” Bowie’s 9th studio album, Young Americans came out on March 7, 1975 and heralded a self-termed “plastic soul” phase in which he briefly embraced the sounds of 60s and 70s American R&B music.

The blue-eyed soul of Young Americans followed Bowie’s late-60s start as a pop and music hall performer, the hard rock of The Man Who Sold The World (1970) and the glam-rock of Ziggy Stardust in the early 70s. But plastic soul was short-lived. Within a year, Station to Station moved him to an avant-pop mode, and 1977’s Low transitioned further into an electronic, synth-pop sound.

Young Americans had a #1 single in “Fame” (co-written by John Lennon, who also provided backing vocals) and a lesser hit with the title track. The album itself made it into the Top 10 in both the U.S. and U.K. It’s available on Amazon and iTunes. Check the Playlist Vault for my interpretation of Bowie's 25 best songs.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

 

Album of the Day: The Four Tops (11/13/65) 44 Years!

FourTopsSecondAlbumFour Tops’ Second Album was released on November 13, 1965 and immediately catapulted the quartet to the top of the pop and R&B charts. The album also moved The Four Tops (mid-50s high school classmates lead singer and baritone Levi Stubbs, bass Renaldo “Obie” Benson, and tenors Abdul “Duke” Fakir and Lawrence Payton) to the top of the heap at Motown Records, where they’d started two years earlier as back-up singers for The Supremes and others. But Second Album meant second singing no more. With three terrific jazz-soul-pop hits, the gritty “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” the upbeat “It’s The Same Old Song” and the soulful “Something About You,” the album launched The Four Tops on a four-plus decade run of great singles, albums and concerts, all without a personnel change until Payton’s death in 1997. While their top-selling singles and albums were mostly clustered in the eight years from November 1965, for good reason the group has proved uniquely durable and long-lived in the history of rock, pop and soul music.

Despite its three chart hits, Four Tops’ Second Album stalled at #19 on the Billboard pop chart but did make it to #9 on the “Black Albums” chart. It’s available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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