Friday, April 9, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Bob Dylan (4/9/69) 41 Years!

Nashville Skyline wasn’t Bob Dylan’s best album by any stretch, but it did top out at #3 in the U.S. and a surprising #1 on the U.K. charts (find Bob in The Playlist Vault, here). Recorded in Nashville (where else?) with a cadre of local session musicians and released on April 9, 1969, the album includes a duet (a remake of “Girl From The North Country”) with Johnny Cash and reflects the emergence of the country-rock sub-genre and the early shift of pure country music toward the pop mainstream.

Nashville Skyline spun three singles onto the pop charts, with “Lay Lady Lay” the only one to see significant chart action. The other two (“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” and “I Threw It All Away”) were pretty decent slower country tunes, but Dylan wasn’t a country artist and Nashville Skyline was far from a rock album, so one shouldn’t be surprised that the singles didn’t hit. But that’s the whole point. The album was smack in the middle of the early development of country-rock, and Dylan was on the forefront along with the Byrds, Gram Parsons and Neil Young.

And Bob Dylan’s best? My money’s on Blonde On Blonde, with Highway 61 Revisited at #2 and Blood On The Tracks #3. Your bias can be registered on DrRock.com. Nashville Skyline can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon or iPod files on iTunes.

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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, January 7, 2010

 

Vintage Video: The Byrds (1965)

Bob Dylan (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist) wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1964, recorded it in January 1965, and released it on Bringing It All Back Home in March 1965. The Byrds (click here) released their version as a single on April 12, 1965. It quickly shot to #1 on both the U.S. and U.K. singles charts and eventually settled at #79 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs of all-time. Click here for a Vintage Video of the Byrd’s lip-synching and fake-playing their way through “Mr. Tambourine Man” on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Jethro Tull (10/14/74)

416C4XVJ70L._SL160_War Child, Jethro Tull’s seventh studio album, was released on October 14, 1974 (a Tull playlist and albums are on DrRock.com). Originally conceived as a two-disk soundtrack epic (similar in length and/or style to the two previous Tull albums, 1972’s Thick As A Brick and 1973’s A Passion Play), War Child became a single disk when the movie project was abandoned for lack of financial resources. That in itself was probably a good move, but it also spared us from a double album with material of questionable strength without a movie behind it. As it turned out, three tracks on War Child weren’t written for the movie soundtrack anyway, but were leftovers from the 1972-73 recording sessions for Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play. Killing the movie project brought “Only Solitaire,” “Bungle In The Jungle” and “Skating Away On Thin Ice” to vinyl, with the latter two becoming minor chart hits. Overall, War Child spent a short time in the Billboard Top 20, reaching #2 for several weeks.

For more about the aborted movie, click here to visit Tull’s website and read band leader Ian Anderson’s recollections. To download War Child from iTunes, click here. For a CD from Amazon, click here.

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