Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Album of the Day: Van Halen (4/14/82) 28 Years!

Van Halen’s fifth record, Diver Down, surfaced on April 14, 1982. It’s a mixture of decent original material and vastly more memorable covers of 60s classics. The band recorded the album in about 12 days to catch the wave of popularity from the shooting star single, the cover of Roy Orbison’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” which they’d released earlier in the year.

Without the exuberant remakes of the Kink’s “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” and the Martha & The Vandellas’ “Dancing In The Street,” the originals might have been lost. They’re good but memorable only to hard core Van fans. Those three cover-singles outperformed the three original singles (“Secrets,” Little Guitars” and “The Full Bag”) by a wide margin and floated Diver Down into the #3 spot (it spent a total of 65 weeks on the charts) and eventually over 4 million in unit sales.

Perhaps the oddest cover of all is Van Halen’s rendition of Dale Evan’s (wife of Roy Rogers) “Happy Trails,” the song she wrote for her husband’s TV show (on which she was a nearly equal star). Van Halen’s in the Playlist Vault and Diver Down can be downloaded from Amazon and iTunes.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


Album of the Day: Black Sabbath (2/13/70) 40 Years!

“Play me loud!” should have been painted across the cover of Black Sabbath, the eponymous first album by the band that achieved near-universal credit for introducing “heavy metal” music to the world. It was released in the U.K. on February 13, 1970 - a Friday, no less! - and three months later in the U.S. (Check out the Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne playlist in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault).

The monotonous rhythm of Ozzy and his bandmates’ macabre sound was best heard on a Victrola when played louder than anything our parents would approve of – louder than even the poppy, hand-holding Beatles’ songs from just a short six years earlier. Murky, dripping with occult imagery and morbid lyrics, Black Sabbath came with three individual tracks and two lengthy multi-song pieces oozing dark satanic themes and droning rhythms. “Kids, where are you?” was the question. “We’re in there, Mommy” the response.

Dankly dungeonous, Black Sabbath had an auspicious debut for over a year on the US charts, peaking at #23 and selling a deadly million copies. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album #241 on its list of the Top 500 albums of all-time.

Black Sabbath is available on CD, LP or mp3 at Amazon. Unfortunately for metal-Podders, it's not on iTunes. (Incidentally, Black Sabbath is one of only a handful of rock and pop albums where the band name, the album name and the title track are all the same. Can you name any others?)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Album of the Day: Aerosmith (1/13/73) 37 Years!

America’s favorite bar band-turned-rock superstars, Aerosmith (click here for my Top 25 Aerosmith playlist) burst from their Boston-centric fan base on January 13, 1973 with their self-titled debut album. They’d been touring the Northeast for nearly three years after frontman Steve Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry met in an ice cream parlor in central New Hampshire in the summer of 1970. Through constant road work, Aerosmith steadily honed the swaggering bluesy hard rock that made them the hottest hard rock band in America in the late 70s.

The debut LP Aerosmith attracted generous, but not universal attention. It peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200 album chart with two memorable rock gems (“Mama Kin” and “Walkin’ The Dog”) plus “Dream On”, a classic rock track and an early entry in the 70s/80s “power ballad” genre. As a single, “Dream On” peaked at #59 in 1973 and rose to #6 in 1976 when re-released after the band reached superstardom with the LPs Toys In The Attic (1975) and its follow-up, Rocks (1976).

Aerosmith is not available on iTunes but can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).

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