Monday, March 22, 2010


Album of the Day: The Beatles (3/22/63) 47 Years!

The Beatles (playlist here) recorded the bulk of their debut album, Please Please Me at EMI Studios in London in one, 9-hour marathon in February 1963. The album was rush-released in the U.K. on March 22, 1963 to leverage the success of two singles, “Love Me Do” and the title track, both of which came out in late 1962. Beatlemania was bubbling in Britain, but it would be nearly a year before the Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, bringing the brouhaha to the U.S.

Please Please Me contains 14 excellent samples of the Beatles’ early work. You’ve heard them all many times over, but they’re just a fresh today as they were 47 years ago when four brash young guys banged them out for a few pounds pay (but millions more to come in royalties). And it wasn’t that much trouble for them to get it down in 9 hours, as most of the songs were staples of their live shows honed in the clubs of Hamburg and Liverpool. Eight Lennon/McCartney originals mix with six covers, including Motown (“Boys,” featuring Ringo on vocals, and “Baby It’s You,” another Shirelles hit), a Gerry Goffin/Carole King mid-tempo rocker (“Chains,” sung by George Harrison) and “Twist And Shout,” a hit for the Isley Brothers in 1962. Of the originals, there’s a balance of rock ‘n’ roll (“I Saw Her Standing There” and the title track) with sweet ballads (“There’s A Place” and “P.S. I Love You”) and the eternal “Do You Want To Know A Secret.”

Unless they purchased import copies, American listeners would have to endure a 10 month wait for the Beatles’ first U.S. releases, Introducing…The Beatles on Vee-Jay Records and Meet The Beatles on Capitol (both released in mid-January 1964). Even the Canadians got in ahead of their southern neighbors, as Capitol released a Canada-only version of With The Beatles (the second U.K. release) in November 1963. Please Please Me is available as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon, but as with all Beatles music, not on iTunes.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Vintage Video: The Beatles on Ed Sullivan (2/9/64)

Sunday night, February 9, 1964 on The Ed Sullivan Show, television introduced the Beatles to 73 million Americans, or nearly 40% of the total population of the country at the time (by comparison, this past Sunday’s broadcast of the Super Bowl, the highest rated showing of that annual extravaganza, was viewed by an estimated 106 million Americans, or about 30% of the population).

The February 9 airing of Ed Sullivan’s weekly variety program (his “really big shoo”) was the first of three consecutive Sunday evenings on which the Fab Four appeared on the show. That night they performed five songs in two sets, opening with “All My Loving”, followed by “Till There Was You” and “She Loves You.” In the show’s second hour they came back with “I Saw Her Standing There” and ended with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

Click here for an interesting side-by-side video of two versions of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” – one taped earlier in the day for inclusion on the February 23 show, and the other filmed live on February 9. For my Beatles playlists, 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,
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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Friday, December 11, 2009


Album of the Day: Paul McCartney (12/11/76) 33 Years!

Paul McCartney (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist) and his post-Beatles band Wings toured the world in 1976. Their epic triple-disc live album, Wings Over America, was released on December 11, 1976 at the end of the tour and quickly became the last of five straight U.S. #1 albums and a favorite of McCartney’s fans (if not critics). The album capitalizes on several of Paul’s biggest hits from the early 70s, including “Live And Let Die,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “My Love,” plus old Beatles’ tunes and a rare live version of Wings guitarist Denny Laine singing “Go Now!,” his big mid-60s hit from his stint with the early Moody Blues.

The triple album was recorded at the Forum in Inglewood outside Los Angeles on June 23, 1976. Rather than include the songs in the order in which they were played during the show, McCartney chose a novel arrangement and batched them on the LP’s six sides by style and the instrument he played. Thus, Side 1 features upbeat rockers with Paul on bass, followed by mellower, mostly piano love songs on Side 2, acoustic-guitar based folk songs on Side 3, and more piano songs on Side 4. Paul returns to the bass on Side 5 and focuses on tracks from Wing’s March 1976 studio release, Wings At The Speed Of Sound. Side 6 completes the package with another round of upbeat rockers with Paul on the bass.

Wings Over America is one of the highest selling live albums of all time. It’s available as a CD from Amazon (click here) and as download tracks on iTunes (click here).

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Friday, November 27, 2009


Album of the Day: The Beatles (11/27/67) 42 Years!

Capitol Records released the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour in the U.S. as a full length LP on November 27, 1967, less than six months after their groundbreaking and immensely enjoyable Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album (a shorter 6 song version was released as an EP in the U.K. by Parlophone) was meant to be a soundtrack for a Paul McCartney-directed TV film of the same name, which turned out to be a total bust, was panned by the British press after it aired on Boxing Day 1967 and didn’t air in the U.S. until the mid-70s. But the album did very well in the U.S., becoming yet another #1 album for the Beatles and selling more copies in its first three weeks out than any other Capitol release to that time. Interestingly, the import version in the U.K. only made #31 on those charts.

Side B of Magical Mystery Tour featured five of the Beatles’ great singles from 1967, “Hello Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “Baby You’re A Rich Man” and “All You Need Is Love,” with the sixth, “I Am The Walrus” the last track on Side A. Also on the front side are McCartney’s sobering “Fool On The Hill” and George Harrison’s sweet “Blue Jay Way.”

Despite what its title may imply, Magical Mystery Tour was not a concept album in the vein of its predecessor Sgt. Pepper’s. But it’s a worthy follow-up with similar psychedelic-pop sounds and a wonderful source of the six single tracks and the other two. Magical Mystery Tour is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Album of the Day: Badfinger (11/26/73) 36 Years!

Badfinger was one of those woulda-coulda bands that had lots of promise but never was able to fully deliver on it. The British power pop group had three gifted songwriters (founder Pete Ham, bassist Tom Evans and guitarist Joey Molland), a potentially powerful record label (Apple Records) behind them, association with and support from label’s founders (the Beatles), a hit single (“Come And Get It,” January 1970) supplied by Paul McCartney, and three straight worldwide Top 10 albums in the early 70s. But by the time Badfinger’s fifth album (including one issued as the Iveys), Ass was released on November 26, 1973, the bottom was falling out. The band had allowed a series of management missteps, they’d gone through one producer after another (including Todd Rundgren) without developing a consistent, sustainable sound, serious friction within the group was developing from frustration with their predicament, and Apple was in financial trouble after the Beatles’ dissolution in 1970. (The pressure eventually proved too much for Ham, who committed suicide less than 18 months after Ass was released).

Ham and his cohorts self-produced Ass, which didn’t help their cause. Plus, it was the last record released by Apple and received little promotional support from the label. But it’s a good early 70s power pop album, slightly harder and faster than the trademark pop-rock harmonies of its predecessor, Straight Up (their best work). Ass is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


Album of the Day: The Beatles (11/22/68) 41 Years!

The Beatles released two albums on November 22: With The Beatles in 1963 and The Beatles (White Album) in 1968. In the short five years between the two, the Fab Four made a dramatic and incomparable transformation from an up-and-coming rock ‘n roll band playing mostly love songs to an enormously popular, innovative group recording songs based on a wide range of genres and subjects. Musically the two albums were as far apart as anything the Beatles ever recorded. With The Beatles was 14 crisp, mostly upbeat songs. The White Album was a double LP of 30 eclectic tracks with mixed content and styles, from light, folk-based tunes (“Martha My Dear” and “Blackbird”), to vaudevillian novelty songs (“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “…Bungalow Bill”), to out-and-out rockers (“Birthday,” “Back In The U.S.S.R.” and “…Me And My Monkey”) to the wild and edgy “Helter Skelter.”

The White Album was a watershed event for the band and was the beginning of their 18-month dissolution dance that ended in early 1970. It was the last full album on which the band recorded all of the material together. Under the strain of individual egos, divergent musical interests, outside influences, disputes over management and the financial problems at their new business, Apple Records, it’s a wonder that their final two albums, Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970) ever saw the light of day (tracks for 1969’s Yellow Submarine were recorded prior to the White Album).

The Beatles (White Album) ranks #10 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums and is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Friday, November 13, 2009


Album of the Day: Beach Boys (10/21/63)

BeachBoysLittleDeuceCoverThe Beach Boys (and Capitol Records) issued three separate albums in a seven month period in 1963, Surfin’ U.S.A. in March, Surfer Girl in September and Little Deuce Coupe on October 21. That’s a lot of surf oriented vinyl on the market in such a short period, all the more so considering the band’s debut album, Surfin’ Safari came out in October 1962 (making it four albums in 12 months!). But the rebirth of rock ‘n roll and Beatlemania were in full swing in the summer of ’63. America’s youth craved anything with a beat and harmonies with young studs to sing them. Capitalizing on the Beach Boys’ growing popularity was a smart decision with generally positive results; Little Deuce Coupe spent 49 weeks on the Billboard pop music chart, peaking at #4. Interestingly, the three best songs on the album, the title track, “409” and “Shut Down” all appeared on the previous albums, but the public didn’t seem to mind.

To view and download my Beach Boys playlist from the Playlist Vault at, click here.

Little Deuce Coupe is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Album of the Day: Moody Blues (11/10/67) 42 Years!

61+2YOYj2CL._SL160_Days Of Future Past was one of rock’s earliest concept albums, in many ways the Moody Blues’ answer to the BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Released on November 10, 1967, Days Of Future Past chronicles a day in the life of a common Englishman, dawn to dusk in a masterpiece of heavily orchestrated, flowing British psychedelic rock. It was the second studio album by the band, but bears little resemblance to the R&B tinged blues-rock sound of their first album (1965’s Go Now in the U.S. and a slightly different but simultaneous U.K. release, The Magnificent Moodies). Frustrated with the inability to score a follow-up hit to the massively popular (#10 U.S., #1 U.K.) 1964 single “Go Now!”, Denny Laine and Clint Warwick left for greener pastures (Denny to McCartney & Wings and Warwick to carpentry). Remaining members Graeme Edge, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas recruited John Lodge and Justin Hayward to the band in late 1966, which led to a redirection of sound and style that was introduced on Days Of Future Past. The success of the album (#3 U.S., #27 U.K.) spurred the Moodies forward, and it became the first of nine straight Top 30 albums that stretched into the 1980s. Edge, Hayward and Lodge continue to practice the sound and style begun in 1967 with frequent concerts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Days Of Future Past features the hits “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights In White Satin.” It’s #20 on my Top 25 for 1967 and is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Saturday, October 24, 2009


Album of the Day: Cheap Trick (10/24/08)

51eCrYWkBrL._SL160_Cheap Trick hired former Beatles producer George Martin to oversee their fifth studio LP, All Shook Up, which was released on October 24, 1980 (to view my Cheap Trick playlist, click here). Despite Martin’s extraordinary work with the Fab Four – he produced all but one of their original albums, arranged and conducted the classical music instrumentation in many of their more complicated songs, and played piano on several – he and the band were unable to turn the trick. All Shook Up was widely labeled a disappointment, especially after the huge success of 1979’s Dream Police. All Shook Up couldn’t crack the Top 20 in the U.S., peaking at #24, and only had one single, “Stop This Game,” which reached to #48. All Shook Up wasn’t a bad album at all, it just wasn’t up to the level of raw, crunching power pop of Cheap Trick’s first four albums and the celebrated At Budokan live set.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009


This Week's Birthdays

Happy Birthday this week to:
Oct 18
1926 ● Chuck Berry
1938 ● Ronnie Bright → The Coasters
1943 ● Russ Gigure → The Association
1947 ● Laura Nyro
1961 ● Wynton Marsalis

Oct 19
1934 ● David Guard → Kingston Trio
1944 ● Peter Tosh (Winston Hubert McIntosh) → "(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back" (1978)
1945 ● Jeannie C. Riley → "Harper Valley PTA" (1968)
1946 ● Keith Reid → Procol Harum
1950 ● Patrick SimmonsDoobie Brothers

Oct 20
1945 ● Ric Lee → Ten Years After
1950 ● Tom Petty
1951 ● Al GreenwoodForeigner
1964 ● Jim "Soni" Sonefeld → Hootie and The Blowfish

Oct 21
1917 ● John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie
1940 ● Manfred Mann (Manfred Lubovitz) → Earth Band, solo
1941 ● Steve CropperBooker T & the MGs
1942 ● Elvin Bishop → Paul Butterfield Blues Band, solo
1947 ● John "Rabbit" Bundrick → Free, solo, The Who
1952 ● Brent MydlandGrateful Dead

Oct 22
1942 ● Annette Funicello
1942 ● Bobby Fuller → Bobby Fuller Four
1945 ● Leslie WestMountain, West Bruce & Laing
1946 ● Eddie BrigatiThe Rascals

Oct 23
1939 ● Charlie Foxx → "Mockingbird" (1963)
1940 ● Fred Marsden → Gerry & The Pacemakers
1943 ● Greg Ridley → Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth
1956 ● Dwight Yoakham
1959 ● Weird Al Yankovic

Oct 24
1930 ● The Big Bopper (J. R. Richardson)
1936 ● Bill WymanRolling Stones
1944 ● Ted Templeman → Producer
1950 ● Dale "Buffin" Griffin → Mott The Hoople

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Friday, October 16, 2009


Vintage Video: The Tremeloes (1967)

Tremeloes1964The Tremeloes (click here for today’s Vintage Video) had what it took to give The Beatles a run for their money in the mid-60s. Catchy tunes, good looks, respectably long hair, a supportive record label (Decca) and a growing legion of fans. But the recipe didn’t bake cake, and the Fab Four pasted the Tremeloes in the race to British Invasion superstardom. That left Brian Poole (lead singer and guitarist) and his bandmates to swallow their pride, which wasn’t hard to do with more than a dozen British #1’s and two Top 20 US hits. The Tremeloes broke up in 1970, just a few short years after they recorded this version of their hit cover of Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby” in 1967 for the BBC.

Dr. Rock’s take on the best 50 tracks from the British Invasion includes another Tremeloes hit song, “Silence Is Golden”, also from 1967.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009


Album of the Day: Yes (10/15/69)

316ZDSWKM0L._SL160_The eponymous debut album by British prog-rockers Yes is considered to be the first progressive rock album. And Yes the band (for my Yes playlist, click here) is considered to be the most venerable and commercially successful prog-rock band. Their debut album was released on October 15, 1969 in the waning days of psychedelic rock, and just ahead of the big splintering of rock music into a multitude of sounds and genres that made the 70s the best decade for rock music. With their next three albums, Yes became a major and defining force on the progressive side of rock music. But the debut LP didn’t fare well, even though it’s a decent collection of early Yes songs. The biggest reason: Yes was released within a few weeks of several notable late-1969 rock albums by the heavy hitters of the time, including Tommy by The Who, Led Zeppelin II, and the Stones’ Let It Bleed. By 1973, that would all change.

By the way, Yes includes two very ambitious and interesting covers of songs by the Beatles (“Every Little Thing”) and the Byrds (“I See You”). To download Yes from iTunes, click here. For a CD from Amazon, click here.

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