Wednesday, April 7, 2010

 

Album of the Day: CSN&Y (4/7/71) 39 Years!

Live albums generally sell well, but very few make it into the Top 10 on the Billboard album charts. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 4 Way Street, released on April 7, 1971, broke that rule and then some by topping out in the #1 album position shortly after its release. Following re-release as an expanded CD in 1992, 4 Way Street became a multi-platinum seller and one of the highest selling live albums of all time.

Assembled from tapes made at a half-dozen shows in Chicago, L.A. and New York in June and July 1970, the double disc contains a nearly even sampling of songs by the four stars on its four sides. Most of the songs were previously released, either on solo works or in various groupings. And the live versions of their most well-known (“Ohio,” “Southern Man,” “Teach Your Children,” “Long Time Gone” and “Love The One You're With”) are all quite good.

What isn’t evident in the music is the internal friction that was tearing the band apart just as the shows were being taped. Within weeks after the tour ended, the band split, and by the spring of 1971 all four had released highly-acclaimed solo albums (with Nash’s Songs For Beginners and Stills’ Stephen Stills 2 coming within weeks of each other right after 4 Way Street). CSN&Y re-formed in mid-1974 for a summer tour (without an album to support), issued the compilation So Far that fall, but didn’t return as a foursome until American Dream came out in November 1988 (though CSN sans Young had three albums between 1977 and 1983).

That 4 Way Street was a big hit isn’t surprising given that every album from CSN&Y (and those without Neil) between 1969 and 1982 reached into the Top 10. They were (and in many was still are) the premier American folk-rock band in the 70s and 80s, and for live versions of their hits and other good tunes, 4 Way Street is required listening. It’s number 14 on my Top 25 Live Albums list and available on Amazon and iTunes.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Neil Young (2/25/72) 38 Years!

Neil Young released his fourth solo album, Harvest, on February 25, 1972, a long 18 month gap following After The Gold Rush (for Dr. Rock’s Neil Young playlist, click here). The delay didn’t seem to matter to his fans, and likely stoked their collective interest. Harvest met with an enthusiastic reception; the LP quickly went to the top of the Billboard album charts and eventually became the highest selling album of 1972.

Along with the #1 hit “Heart of Gold” and the #31 single “Old Man,” Young delivered a masterful collection of second-tier slow, plodding and mid-tempo country-rock and folk tunes. Background vocals were provided by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Young’s former bandmates, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills. Two tracks (“A Man Needs A Maid” and “There’s A World”) feature the London Symphony Orchestra, a potentially disastrous mix that could have resulted in schmaltzy elevator music, but Neil pulled it off with his plaintive vocals topping just the right level of soaring orchestral background.

Harvest brought Young into the glare of rock stardom as a solo artist. While his later work includes many great albums, he never matched the widespread popularity of Harvest, his biggest seller. It’s available on CD, LP or mp3 at Amazon (click here). Downloads for iPods are on iTunes (click here).

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

 

This Week's Birthdays (January 3 - 9)

Happy Birthday this week to:

Jan 03
1926 ● George MartinBeatles (and others) producer
1941 ● Van Dyke Parks → Singer, sessionman, lyricist (co-wrote "Heroes And Villains")
1945 ● Philip Goodhand-Tait → UK singer/songwriter
1945 ● Stephen Arthur Stills → Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, solo
1946 ● John Paul JonesLed Zeppelin

Jan 04
1944 ● Volker Hemback → Tangerine Dream
1946 ● Arthur Conley"Sweet Soul Music" (1967)
1956 ● Bernard Sumner (Albrecht, Dicken) → Joy Division, New Order
1957 ● Patty Loveless (Patricia Lee Ramey) → "Chains" (1990)
1960 ● Michael StipeR.E.M.
1962 ● Martin Macaloon → Prefab Sprout
1962 ● Robin Guthrie → Cocteau Twins
1965 ● Beth Gibbons → Portishead
1965 ● David Glasper → Breathe
1966 ● Deana Carter → "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" (1995)
1967 ● Benjamine Darvill → Crash Test Dummies

Jan 05
1923 ● Sam Phillips → Founder of Sun Records
1940 ● George Malone → Monotones
1949 ● George Brown → Kool & The Gang
1950 ● Chris SteinBlondie
1951 ● Biff Byford → Saxon
1964 ● Grant Young → Soul Asylum
1966 ● Kate Schellenbach → Luscious Jackson
1969 ● Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner) → "The Beautiful People" (1996)

Jan 06
1924 ● Earl Scruggs → Foggy Mountain Boys, solo
1929 ● Wilbert Harrison → Canned Heat
1937 ● Doris Troy → "Just One Look" (1963)
1944 ● Van McCoy → "The Hustle" (1975)
1946 ● Roger Keith "Syd" BarrettPink Floyd, solo
1947 ● Sandy Denny → Fairport Convention, solo
1951 ● Kim Wilson → Fabulous Thunderbirds
1953 ● Malcolm YoungAC/DC
1959 ● Kathie Sledge → Sister Sledge
1959 ● Neil Simpson → Climax Blues Band
1964 ● Mark O'Toole → Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Jan 07
1936 ● Eldee Young → Ramsey Lewis Trio
1937 ● Paul Revere (Dick) → Paul Revere & The Raiders
1938 ● Rory Storm → The Hurricanes
1939 ● Lefty Baker (Eustace Britchforth) → Spanky & Our Gang
1941 ● Jim West → Innocents, Gee Whiz
1942 ● Danny Williams→ "White On White" (1964)
1943 ● Leona Williams → Helton Family Band (Loretta Lynn)
1944 ● Mike McGrear → Scaffold
1945 ● Dave Cousins → The Strawbs
1946 ● Andy Brown → The Fortunes
1946 ● Jann Wenner → Rolling Stone magazine founder, editor
1948 ● Kenny Loggins → Loggins & Messina, solo
1959 ● Kathy Valentine → The Go-Go's

Jan 08
1931 ● Bill Graham (Wolfgang Grajonca) → Rock promoter
1935 ● Elvis Presley
1937 ● Shirley Bassey → "Goldfinger" (1994)
1940 ● Jerome Anthony Gourdune → Little Anthony & The Imperials
1943 ● Lee Jackson → The Nice
1943 ● Marcus Hutson → The Whispers
1946 ● Robbie KriegerThe Doors, solo
1947 ● David Bowie (David Robert Jones)
1947 ● Terry SylvesterThe Hollies
1948 ● Paul King → Mungo Jerry, Skeleton Krew
1955 ● Mike Reno → Loverboy
1957 ● Dr. Rock → Chief Musicologist, DrRock.com
1959 ● Paul Hester → Crowded House
1964 ● Peter "Ped" Gill → Frankie Goes To Hollywood
1968 ● R. Kelly (Robert Sylvester Kelly) → "Bump N' Grind" (1994)
1969 ● Jeff Abercrombie → Fuel
1975 ● Sean Paul (Henriques) → "Hot Gal Today" (1999)

Jan 09
1915 ● Les Paul → Guitar virtuoso, desginer
1941 ● Joan Baez
1943 ● Dick Yount → Harper's Bizarre
1943 ● Kenneth Kelly → The Manhattans
1944 ● Jimmy Page → Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin
1944 ● Scott Engel → Walker Brothers
1948 ● Bill Cowsill → Cowsills
1948 ● Cassie LaRue GainesLynyrd Skynyrd
1948 ● Paul King → Mungo Jerry
1950 ● David Johansen → New York Dolls, solo
1950 ● Steve McRay → .38 Special
1951 ● Crystal Gayle (Brenda Gail Webb)
1963 ● Eric Erlandson → Hole
1967 ● Carl Bell → Fuel
1967 ● Dave Matthews → Dave Matthews Band
1967 ● Steve Harwell → Smash Mouth
1978 ● A.J. McLean → Backstreet Boys

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Monday, November 16, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Stephen Stills (11/16/70) 39 Years!

Stephen Stills had already attracted considerable attention to his songwriting and musicianship skills before his first solo album was released on November 16, 1972. As a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, Stills was a central figure in the highly-regarded and influential late 60s folk-rock and country-rock pioneers. He authored several of their important songs, including the hit “For What It’s Worth, “Blue Bird” and “Rock & Roll Woman.” Following the break-up of the band in 1968, Stills teamed up with Al Kooper (of Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Mike Bloomfield (Electric Flag and top session man) in a one-off project, Super Session (highly recommended album, buy here) in June 1968. Stills then joined with David Crosby (The Byrds) and Graham Nash (The Hollies) to form the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, whose 1969 debut LP (with the Stills-penned “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”) and its follow-up, 1970’s Déjà Vu (with Neil Young on the team) were instant and lasting classics.

Stephen Stills was Stills’ debut in the solo limelight. It’s a blend of different genres (all songs were his originals) with backing vocals by Crosby, Nash, Cass Elliott and others, plus guitar work from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix (to whom the album’s dedicated). Interestingly, it’s the only album in history on which Clapton and Hendrix appear simultaneously, although on different tracks. It also features the #14 pop-rock hit, “Love The One You’re With” and the #37 single “Sit Yourself Down.” Stephen Stills briefly hit the Billboard Top 5 in December 1970 and is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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