Showing posts with label #FiftyYearsOfMusic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #FiftyYearsOfMusic. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • August, 1972


I have to admit, I struggled with the playlist this week. When I looked at the albums released in August of 1972, I thought there might have been some great new summertime records just before I became a senior in high school. Instead, I had to carve out a playlist of mostly trusted Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Blues, a couple of live albums from The Band and The Kinks, a bit of Country Michael Nesmith, and several AM soul hits that did make me think of high school. I then added several Top 10 radio hits from August, 1972 just to round it out a bit. Don't worry I didn't add #3 Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) onto the list.

I think this week's a pick and choose playlist even for me. 

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • April, 1972

Now I’m just an old nothin’ with memories of fifty years
I started with The Blues Project
Spent some time with Blood Sweat & Tears
My life was filled with music
My heart was drenched in sound
And if you go see an old movie
You might hear me in the background
–Al Kooper, A Possible Projection of the Future

In my monthly routine of going through albums released in the current month from fifty years ago, Al Kooper's A Possible Projection of the Future / Childhood's End just jumped out at me. The album cover is a 28 year old Al in full makeup made to be 80 years old. I looked up Al Kooper in Wikipedia and he is indeed alive and kicking 50 years later at 78 and it states, "He is currently retired."

Now for fun, I did a Google image search and tried to find the oldest looking picture of Mr. Kooper and put him up against his 80 (or 78) year old makeup-self from 1972. Here's the side by side with a photo I found from an article review of him in 2015, at 72 years old.

I got to say Al, "You look great my man" as you still got your rock 'n' roll hair and shades, and are not nearly as wrinkled as you thought you'd be. I love your futuristic projection of yourself in a white (Pete Townsend) jumpsuit, being a ward of the state. Here's wishing you the best and being one of the best in your distinguished career as a musican's musician, not to mention a wonderful wry sense of humor.

Several of the songs this month from April, 1972 clearly have a 'time' theme not to mention the strong folk vibe that dominates this month. 

I remember going to the Santa Maria Library as maybe a freshman or sophomore and checked out this folk album from Woody Guthrie, the guy who wrote This Land, the song that we all sang together in grade school. I wanted to know a little bit more about him, brought the record home, played it in my bedroom as usual, and just got obsessed with the song, Hobo's Lullaby. I couldn't sing a lick, but with Woody it was easy to sing along with him and wondered to myself, could I ever write a song? I thought this was a great song that I ironically just discovered this month he didn't write, it was a Goebel Reeves song. 

Then in 1972,  Arlo releases the album titled, Hobo's Lullaby and figured he must have been impressed by dad too! I loved listening to it this past week and have always loved Arlo's cover and big hit of the classic Steve Goodman song, City of New Orleans

Songs are like a smell that triggers your memory, like corn dogs at the Santa Barbara County Fair. That would be happening soon that summer of '72, but first I had to wrap up my junior year in high school.

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

and now, A Possible Projection of a Present Blog Reader -
Did you notice, he didn't say a word about Crosby and Nash, or Stephen Stills?... And why was Chris Hillman wasting his time as a lowly underling to Stills in Manassas? I still miss the original Byrds so much.... Really Manassas with 21 songs with Stills just kind of meandering through a double-album no less... Didn't any of these guys realize that doing their own thing (after doing the initial solo albums) was such a watered-down experience for their fans?... The separate duo of Nash & Crosby, and a Manassas Stills had some good songs here, but not a whole album's worth like they did just a few years before... And releasing two separate albums in the same month?... was that a competition thing?... When does the ego come back to earth to realize that the greatest thing about themselves is the magical band they created together, not the individual... self... Remember Mick Jagger's solo career... for about 5 minutes... The band is the thing, man...

Monday, March 14, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • March, 1972

Fifty years ago this month, I turned seventeen. A year later, I would meet my second girl friend, and as it would turn out many years later, my second wife.

In the spring of 1973 I met a lovely girl who sat behind me in Miss Dunn's English class. She would in fact be that second girlfriend who introduced me to many things, one of which being the very talented and funny, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks band. Striking It Rich was Hicks' third album released in March, 1972 which I wouldn't hear until the summer of '73. When I listened to it this past week, the memory association of music in space and time really came rushing back.  I remember sitting in her family room listening to this album. It was early on in our relationship and I'll never forget the song, I Scare Myself,  which seemed spot on at the time. Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks is a great example of me being a young and stupid teenager getting exposed to different music that I normally would have never listened to. In this case, Hicks' use of country swing mixed with a bit of jazz along with a healthy dose of humor thrown in got me listening to a new band with this very intriguing girl.

Stevie Wonder's Music Of My Mind would do the same thing. This album comes just at the beginning of Stevie's magical run in the 1970's that would make him one of the biggest musical stars of all-time. The elements are all coming together within Music Of My Mind as Wonder starts to reshape R&B, pop, rock 'n' roll and jazz, and roll it all together into Stevie Wonder music. I will also say that Stevie Wonder more than other black artist, (even Smoky and Marvin) got white kids in the 70's buying more than black artist's singles, but now their albums too.

Bare Trees is one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac's albums and is actually the album that got me listening to the band as they began to move further from their Brit Blues roots to rock 'n' roll and then pop with the revamp of the group in 1975. This is the album that I fell in love with Christine McVie's songs as I think she's one of the most underrated composers and singers in rock 'n' roll history. This album also features Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch who really helped define the Fleetwood Mac sound. Many people only know Fleetwood Mac after Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band in 1975, and the older material is often forgotten and received very little air time after the mid-70's.

Two successful rock 'n' roll bands from the 60's that made the transition to stadium 'Rock' in the 1970's were Jethro Tull and Deep Purple. Both released albums in March, 1972 and I will have to say Deep Purple's Machine Head really holds up. 

As 'Metal' developed into a sub-genre in the 1970's, that loud arena sound became associated with lesser talented bands than their Tier 1 predecessors like Deep Purple. Led Zeppelin of course became the premier hard rock band of the 70's but Deep Purple were also a great rock band that didn't quite get its due. Machine Head is a great classic rock album says the guy who didn't listen to a lot of straight-up Marshall amplifier rock music back in the day.

Lastly, I'll mention Delaney & Bonnie's last album together, D&B Together who in real life were just months away from a divorce. As I have gone back and listened to their albums over the past couple of years it strikes me how much Eric Clapton had co-opted their sound in the early 70's and Delaney and Bonnie were pretty much forgotten after this album, while Clapton took that sound to the bank. 

Lay down Sally, enjoy my friends.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • July-August, 1971

Who's Next Out-take "Hug" Album Cover • Photography by Ethan Russell

I got a little backed up on posts last month and couldn't squeeze in Fifty Years of Music • July, 1971 so just decided to combine July with August here. 

Starting this month in the Fifty Years of Music series I will be including music, film, TV, and comedy events in the blog post and/or video clips from that month or year. So let's look back to the cultural events of the summer of 1971. Note- I will also start a References section with links at the end of the post. All italicized sections are from Wikipedia in this post.

April and June (video clips included in the playlist)
  • Film: Summer of '42 is released April 18th, but I saw it later in the summer. The movie had the tag line, "In everyone's life there's a summer of '42," so apparently I was the only guy on earth to be a teenager and not have a sexual experience with an older woman.

  • Birthday: Bill DeVoe celebrates his 16th birthday on Sunday, June 27th by having to attend both the morning and evening services at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Maria, CA. Bored to death during the evening service, Billy sneaks out of his pew, climbs the stairs up to the second floor office, then using a ladder stored in the corner climbs up into the faux steeple attic and pretends he's a prisoner in the Tower of London.

  • Film: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is released June 30th starring Gene Wilder. This film becomes an instant classic that no Hollywood producer would ever dare to remake, correct? It would be like doing a remake of the classic Wizard of Oz?
July 2
  • Film: Shaft is released starring Richard Roundtree. The "Theme from Shaft" by Issac Hayes wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and Grammy for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture. Now a remake of Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson, that's right on! 
    "You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother (Shut your mouth)"
July 3
  • Died: Jim Morrison, 27, American singer and leader of The Doors,
    was found dead in his bathtub in Paris, France. The cause of death remains uncertain, but an unintentional heroin overdose was the most popular theory.
July 6
  • Died: Louis Armstrong, 69, American jazz trumpeter and singer

  • Album: At Fillmore East is the first live album by American rock band the Allman Brothers Band, and their third release overall. Produced by Tom Dowd. I believe I first see this album in the hands of friend, Gary Hill.
The Two-Lane Blacktop cast with the souped-up '55 Chevy 150

July 7
  • Film: Two-Lane Blacktop is released starring James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates and Laurie Bird. Unbelievably, James says he has never seen the movie!  James' acting debut is a solid performance complete with him (I think) wearing the sweater that then girlfriend Joni Mitchell knitted for him on the movie set. Over the years, Two-Lane Blacktop has risen in stature among critics and is a must see that authentically captures the early 1970's much more than many big budget pictures of the day. Okay James, it's been 50 years and time to see what a wonderful film this is.
July 20
  • Birthday: Gary Hills celebrates his 21st birthday by buying his first six pack of beer (Molson) and a bottle of Annie Green Springs Country Cherry "pop wine" for his date. 
July 21
  • Album: Mirror by Emitt Rhodes is his third solo album and released by Dunhill Records that never promotes this underrated artist who wrote and played all the instruments on Mirror. Emmit Rhodes has been often called, "The One Man Beatles," and there is in fact a 2009 documentary with the same title. I've included the link here on IMBd but as yet can't find it on any of the streaming services. Anyway, The Beatles/Paul McCartney influence is evident throughout all of Emitt's music and I collected his four solo albums from 1970-73 from used records shop either in San Luis Obispo or San Diego CA.
July 23
  • Born: Alison Krauss, American country musician, in Decatur, Illinois
August 1
  • In New York City, 40,000 people attended the Concert for Bangladesh, a pair of fundraising concerts organized by former Beatle George Harrison and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar in order to raise money for UNICEF to provide humanitarian relief to refugees of Bangladesh. Other musical performers for the concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden were Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger.
  • The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, starring husband-and-wife singing duo Salvatore "Sonny" Bono and Cherilyn "Cher" Lapiere, premiered as a summer replacement series on the CBS network, to run for six consecutive summer nights. The variety show was popular enough that it would be added to the CBS regular schedule in December.

  • Album: Cheech And Chong is the [August] 1971 self-titled debut album of Cheech & Chong, produced by Lou Adler. It features "Dave", one of their most famous routines. The album peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200 the week of March 4, 1972. The album was nominated for Best Comedy Recording at the 14th Grammy Awards, but lost to Lily Tomlin's 'This Is a Recording.'

  • Album: Himself is the debut album by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, first released in the United Kingdom in August, 1971. That album did not include his smash hit, Alone Again (Naturally) that was packaged with the Himself album in February, 1972 in the United States. I purchased that album pictured here in early 1972. I thought it was kind of quirky but loved the hell out of this album because it was so different. Not only different, but directly influenced by Paul McCartney in its lyrical word play, character development and musical arrangement. Alone Again (Naturally) is one of those songs you either loved or hated. My wife still hates the song 50 years later as she heard me add it to the playlist, but I still love it. In 1972, it spent 6 weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 100 and was ranked the #2 song for that year.  
August 13
  • Died: King Curtis (stage name for Curtis Montgomery), 37, Grammy Award-winning American saxophonist and posthumous inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was stabbed to death while trying to walk up the steps of his Manhattan apartment.
August 14
  • Album: The powerhouse of the playlist this week is The Who's, Who's Next released on this date. It's one of the greatest rock 'n' roll albums of all-time and a greatest hits volume all by itself.

    I remember riding in cars in the 70's when you just had the standard AM/FM radio. The Who were one of those bands that could literally break through the crappy car speaker and you could isolate in your mind and ears following the wonderful drumming of Keith Moon or the powerful bass of John Entwistle.

    I think most everyone reading this post literally wore out their first vinyl of the album and later bought the CD in the early 80's as one of the first CD's they ever purchased.

  • Birthday: Paul Hobbs celebrates his 17th birthday playing guitars with his old pal Paul Tognazzini, and then later with dad George, watch on TV the San Francisco Giants beat the New York Mets 6-5 in 10 innings. Paul's mom Blanche makes him his favorite chocolate cake with chocolate frosting served with vanilla ice cream.
August 21
  • Birthday: Ken Forman celebrates his 18th birthday as his family chips in to buy him two tickets (one for Vicki Grocott) to see his favorite band,  The Who play their last U.S. date 8/19/71 of the summer on their Who's Next Tour in Chicago.

    However, Ken first gets an even bigger surprise in the mail that states he has to appear for jury duty in an upcoming murder trial that is expected to last a year. Ken appeals to the judge, prosecuting and defending attorneys all of whom unanimously release him from the trial when he explains he has tickets to see, "The f**king Who!" 

    Ken and Vicki go to the concert which kicks off with Summertime Blues, have a wonderful summer week in Chicago, and live happily ever after.

  1. July 1971 (Wikipedia)
  2. August 1971 (Wikipedia)
  3. 1971 in Music, July (Wikipedia)
  4. 1971 in Music, August (Wikipedia)
  5. 1971 in Film, July-September (Wikipedia)
  6. Cheech and Chong (Album)
    August, 1971 (Wikipedia)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • June, 1971

I remember that time you told me
You said, "Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
–Joni Mitchell, A Case of You
Joni Mitchell's Blue leads the pack as this album is on most everybody's all-time favorite list. I've said this before, but Joni Mitchell just blew the doors open for women musicians trying to get in the male-dominated music business. 

For both female and male teenagers like myself, the interpersonal songwriting and singing let young people know it was okay to open up, and let your innermost feelings be known to others. Songwriters across the globe took notice.

I grew up in a home environment where we did not share our emotions. Joni's music was like having a D.H. Lawerence novel playing on your portable stereo in your bedroom. Joni made it possible for bone-headed teenage boys like me growing up in the 70's to begin to look beyond a woman's looks and respect their gifted minds as artists. Blue is a masterpiece.

Just as we seem to end the one act play
We draw so much farther apart
Each new opening, a different time for closing
Will I sing my last symphony to an empty room?
Still my heart is an open secret
Someone tell me have I been gifted or robbed
–Stephen Stills, Open Secret

I believe I purchased Stephen Stills 2 as soon it came out. In 1971, I thought Stephen Stills was a pretty cool rock 'n' roll star and I was a huge fan.

Now in the past five years, I've read a number of rock biographies dealing with everything Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and have come to realize that these guys were such huge assholes to each other, and to a great number of people associated with their careers. All four have acknowledged as much in the past several decades and I for one, don't want to see any more two, three, or four band configuration reunion tours. 

However, I can easily manage to forget all the revelations regarding Stills and just appreciate his records that take me back to a good place and time. Listening to Stephen Stills 2 the past couple of weeks still makes me appreciate his talent and music. He was at the right place and time in Los Angeles in 1966. Even though he didn't always make the best decisions, he made some really good music in the late 60's and early 70's that still holds up today.

I don't know how you feel
If you really see
And for years I would pray
That you'd favor me
But for now, please allow
One formality
Down the road, 'cross the sea
Please remember me
–Todd Rundren, Remember Me

Here's one I didn't appreciate at the time, Todd Rundgren's Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren which is a wonderful album of mostly piano-based ballads, and thus the title. Todd was a fan of Laura Nyro who I also didn't appreciate back in the day, and now I have songs from both in my 100 songs Playlists. 

Nyro's influence over Rundgren is displayed throughout Runt as he started to compose more songs on the piano. Listening to this album fifty years later was such a treat! 

And speaking of better late than never, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame finally got around to honoring Todd Rundgren, Carol King, and Tina Turner as solo inductions into this year's 2021 Hall of Fame (but, don't even get me started on the Go-Go's and the Foo Fighters being inducted with this same group).

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one
–Harry Nilsson, One

Another great album from this time period is Harry Nilsson's Aerial Pandemonium Ballet. By 1971, Nilsson had become quite famous and took a couple of his older less known albums (Pandemonium Shadow Show and Aerial Ballet) back to the studio for a remix. As a young fan, it was perfect for someone like me to get familiar with his older songs and bring his new fans up to speed.

I can't help but comment in searching all the pictures for Joni and Harry for this post, the number of photos with a cigarette stuck in both of their months from such gifted voices. Of course in Harry's case, the bottle was the much bigger problem...

We all sung together, We all sung together
We all sung together, We all sung together
–Nils Lofgrin, We All Sung Together

Nils Lofgrin started hanging with Neil Young's garage band, Crazy Horse in the late 60's and subsequently played on Neil's classic album, After The Gold Rush in 1970. As a fifteen year old, I read every speck of that album cover to cover and saw Lofgren's name for the first time, "Who is this guy?"

Nils also seemed to be at the right place and time and by 1971 recorded his first album with his band Grin. The self-titled Grin was produced by Neil Young's favorite Producer, David Briggs.  Nils went on to be a steady member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band since 1984, and recently rejoined Crazy Horse after  Frank "Poncho" Sampedro retired from the band in 2014. 

As a new feature to the Fifty Years Of Music playlists starting this week, I've included a sprinkling of hit singles that were on the Billboard Hot 100 during the month of June, 1971. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • May, 1971

May, 1971 was a big month for me in the album purchasing department. My budget was tight, but somehow I scrapped up enough money to by:

  1. Ram, Paul McCartney
  2. Songs for Beginners, Graham Nash
  3. Every Picture Tells a Story, Rod Stewart
  4. 5th, Lee Michaels
Upon reflection, I'm sure I spread those purchases over the summer and think that three of my four selections hold up fifty years later. Last week, I featured Ram and Songs for Beginners having fond memories of playing those two records to death in my bedroom as a sophomore in high school.

Every Picture Tells a Story was a one-off for me as I really liked Stewart's old band Faces as most of that band plays on most tracks of the album. In my opinion, Every Picture Tells a Story was Steward's best rock 'n' roll album who later sank into doing smaltzville pop standards. I do remember trying to learn to play the mandolin on the family antique bowlback mandolin for a New York minute, so the album did have an effect on me. 

Lee Michael's 5th was a pure impulse buy as I really liked his big hit, Do You Know What I Mean? Unfortunately, that didn't translate to the rest of the album as I believe that went bye-bye from my vinyl collection in a garage sale.  

This month, I was excited to see CNN's special, What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye’s Anthem for the Ages. However, this documentary seemed like it was thrown together very quickly, like some TV executive said, "Holy s***, it's the 50th anniversary of What's Going On and we better put something together pronto!"

That doesn't mean there aren't some great moments, with one of my favorite parts being the Spike Lee interview. Spike recalls that he got Gaye’s What’s Going On as a sophomore in high school and would listen to it at the Coney Island High School Library. “They had turntables, so if you brought an album they had headphones, and you could put the album on and listen to it. So I would cut class and listen to this album,” Lee said. “This mojo right here is timeless. You listen to Marvin Gaye, this album right here, he’s singing to you.”

When Spike Lee said he was a sophomore in high school when What's Going On was released, it got me thinking about being the same age but how different our lives were. Spike's world growing up in urban Brooklyn was completely different compared to my west coast small town upbringing in Santa Maria, California.

As AM radio programming was playing in our respective communities, Marvin Gaye was singing to Spike, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were singing to me. 

Eventually, in my cognitive maturation and experience, I grew to appreciate a broader range of music compared to my sixteen year old self. Marvin Gaye started singing to me in the early 1980's, not to mention my newly found appreciation for the singing duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and their recordings together in the late 60's.

Speaking of my sixteen year old self, I for the life of me don't know how I missed John Entwistle's (bass player for The Who) first solo album, Smash your head against the wall. The Who were definitely on my radar in 1971, so why am I only listening to this album fifty years later?

This album is packed with great songs, and who knew Entwistle could write and better yet sing to go with his incredible bass playing? Smash your head against the wall is aptly named in the sense that Entwistle like George Harrison wasn't getting his songs on his famous band's records, and finally just made his own record. The irony here is that so many of the songs on this album would have been good Who songs spread out over several albums.  This album's dark tone and style fit perfectly as classic Who songs. What were Pete Townshend  and Roger Daltry thinking? Poor bass players (except Paul McCartney), they never get any respect.

The playlist this week features songs from nine albums, some deep cuts from other albums and a few hits heard on Top 40 AM radio back in the day.

Enjoy my friends 
as the great albums of 1971 just keep coming back round!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • Ram, Paul McCartney & Songs for Beginners, Graham Nash

Both Ram and Songs for Beginners hold a special place in my heart as I purchased both albums in 1971. It was also a time where Paul McCartney and Graham Nash were without a band.

Last year, friend Paul Hobbs and I took on a 'What If' scenario if both The Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had stayed together as bands in 1970. 

Our first go around was A 'What if' Album: Apple Scruffs • The Beatles 1970Paul McCartney's first solo album in 1970, McCartney included several songs in our Beatle fantasy album complete with fake album cover and press release. 

Ram came out in May, 1971 with McCartney being another year removed from the Fab Four. Then and now, I just think it was so upbeat! If you were a Paul snob before and/or after The Beatles broke up, so sorry, you missed out as one of the most talented people on earth was simply having a wonderful time. Being a solo act, he was now free to create whatever he wanted to on vinyl as a happily married man with wife Linda and their newly blended family together.

As a sixteen year old, I had started a quiet depression questioning my self-worth that I didn't share with anyone. Needless to say, millions of my peers were also going through the same slow drip of life in high school, living under the roof of their parents, wanting something more. Maybe this is where the term "sophomore slump" is derived, being stuck in a place in time before your break out year would be realized. 

Summer would be coming, and with my new driver's license my friends and I would soon be heading up the coast, to the beaches and back country roads with a little bit of independence to build on. 

1971 was a great year for rock 'n' roll and Paul McCartney's Ram came at a good time to lift my spirits and put a positive tone under my small town skies. 

Songs for Beginners was part of our second 'What If' album featuring Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's solo albums from 1970-71. Song For Beginners would be Graham's masterpiece and completed our, A 'What If' Album: All In • CSNY 1970. Our fantasy title, All In was our pipe dream of CSNY committing to each other to be that great band that some were calling, "The American Beatles" after their Déjà Vu album in 1970.

Graham Nash was simply a hitmaker tunesmith in all his bands. He wrote hits for The Hollies, CS&N, CSN&Y and Crosby & Nash. 

In Songs for Beginners, Graham's hadn't lost his midas touch for writing catching hooks in most of the eleven songs on the album. This was his spotlight moment coming after his break up with Joni Mitchell and his thoughts were poured into song. I also think of this as a positive album even though the subject matter is actually a little dark. What shines through is Graham's attitude on this album, his pushing forward on both the personal and social fronts. At sixteen, his song, Be Yourself really spoke to me. 

Paul McCartney and Graham Nash, both born in England in 1942 are still making music today as solo acts. God save the Brits and their invasion to our shores in the 1960's!

Enjoy these two albums my friends.
 ram on... we can change the world!

Ram Playlist

Songs for Beginners Playlist