Showing posts with label The Band. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Band. Show all posts

Monday, August 31, 2020

50 Years of Music • August, 1970

This week's playlist is dominated by three albums.

The first is Eric Clapton's solo debut, Eric Clapton listened by me many times in 1970 and over the years thanks to pal Ron Zieman's initial purchase of the album.

This week's listen to that album reminded me of a blog I wrote last year as I've grown to appreciate Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (1967-1972) who contributed greatly to Eric Clapton.

In my July 1969, 50 Years of Music blog, I wrote- "The great musicians who passed through this band in the late 60's and early 70's is truly astonishing and a huge influence on why Eric Clapton quit Blind Faith to move towards Bonnie & Delaney's sound, not to mention co-opt much of their band when he formed Derek and the Dominoes in 1970." 

Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett, 1970
In my opinion, Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett simply have not been given the recognition they deserve for developing Clapton's sound in the early 70's. Delaney arranged and produced and Bonnie co-wrote many of the songs on Eric Clapton. You will also hear their influence that Leon Russell brought to Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen in this week's playlist, and bump that back to Russell's time spent as a band member in Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1969 as the genesis of Cocker's sound. It is that similar large band and vocals ensemble that Clapton would carry to Derek and the Dominoes and George Harrison leading to All Things Must Pass as Delaney Bramlett also introduced Harrison to slide guitar.

Eric Clapton was Eric's first solo album but was very much a collaborative project with the Bramlett's. As time marches on, I believe most people have never heard of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, or simply, "Bonnie and Delaney" as we used to call them back in the day. Bonnie and Delaney got me thinking about 'influence' this past week and that most influential people are in fact forgotten, but their influence lives on in others work.

The second album is Spirit in the Dark by Aretha Franklin, an album I had never listened to until last week.

In fifty years, I can look back to my youth without musical judgement in the sense of my small town cultural exposure at fifteen versus my cumulative cultural experiences now into my sixty-fifth year. Stevie Wonder's August, 1970 Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours was a monster hit on pop AM radio that opened that R&B door a little wider for me, but there was not much 'Retha on my local radio dial back then to turn my head in her direction.
(Hey Nineteen that's 'Retha Franklin, she don't remember the Queen of Soul –Steely Dan)

What I can appreciate all these years later in Aretha's Spirit in the Dark is her complete mastery as a writer, singer and kick ass piano player. This was her seventeenth studio album and she also knew a thing or two about attracting a crowd of very talented people around her. The record includes three of the top producers in recording history with Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler. The supporting band members include, Duane Allman and the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.

The third album is Stage Fright by The Band and in this listen, I have a greater appreciation in how they used three different singers that could lead a song or provide backup vocals for each other. I've always loved Rick Danko's voice as I use the The Last Waltz video clip of the title song Stage Fright to feature the band. In my blog last week, The Band was on several reader's top five bands of all-time list.

For me, Stage Fright just keeps getting better as it stands the test of time as any of their albums. In fact as I was listening to this album this week it made me think about the many artists and bands in the mid-1970's through 80's that lost their rock 'n' roll way. Radio creatures like country pop or that stupid soft jazz tenor saxophone phase finally gave way in the 90's to older and newer bands reclaiming a more authentic 'Americana sound' like well, The Band.

Thanks to Paul and Duskin Hobbs
for this book recommendation
In 2020 everybody loves The Band and if you feel the same way, I highly recommend reading, This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band. I'm only a quarter way in and I'm completely hooked with Levon Helm's folksy writing style and the stories he tells that are just so spellbinding. I keep saying to myself as I'm reading, "This book would be a fantastic movie!"

By the way, If you have never seen the 1980 movie, Coal Miner's Daughter it is a good one to catch. In fact, the first half of that movie where Levon Helm plays Loretta Lynn's father is outstanding! He is right there with Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones and if you read Levon's book above, you'll see from his childhood how he poured that right into his performance in that movie.

I hope you will also enjoy this eclectic mix from The Moody Blues, Canned Heat, The Beach Boys, The CarpentersLittle Richard, Roberta Flack, The Mothers of Invention, and Judy Collins.  This weeks 50 song playlist ends with a few select video clips from the now famous Isle of Wight Festival, in August of 1970.

The Isle of Wight Festival is a British music festival which takes place annually in Newport on the Isle of Wight, England. It was originally a counterculture event held from 1968 to 1970.

This event was held between 26 and 30 August 1970 at Afton Down. Attendance has been estimated by the Guinness Book of Records to have been 600,000 or even 700,000, due to an announcement by British Rail at that time concerning the amount of sold ferry tickets, although promoter Ray Foulk has said he believes it to have been only half of that. It was widely reported on, due to its line-up and extremely high attendance. Acts included Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicago, The Doors, Lighthouse, The Who (whose set produced a live album), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Joan Baez, Free, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, John Sebastian, Terry Reid, Taste, and Shawn Phillips
Wikipedia


Monday, October 21, 2019

September & October 1969, 50 Years of Music

In the past several weeks I have highlighted The Beatles' Abbey Road and Laura Nyro's New York Tendaberry, both released in September of 1969. This week, I focus on other albums released in September and October of that year with an ear to AM Radio. Being fourteen and a white kid from a small farming town, my main exposure to music of the day came from AM stations.

Even though I never purchased a 45 single or album from Motown (until Stevie Wonder in the 70's), I constantly was exposed to pop, soul and R&B by black artists on AM Radio. I didn't realize it at the time, but those tunes sunk in deep in my soul, and as I got older, I began to appreciate them more and more, and don't you know they stand the test of time.

Three of my all-time Motown favorites are featured here with releases by the singing duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Tammy died in 1970 at the age of  twenty-four from brain cancer. For me, this was Motown's best singing duo that was cut way too short and as the saying goes, "the good die young." Also got to give a shout out to The Temptations and The Supremes who made an album together in 1969. The Supremes are a very special group in the history of american music as their world wide fame reached across the races and opened up the door for many black artists to perform center stage in any city.

So here's my own TOP 40 (actually now 44) from that period that include some BIG hits and some songs you may have never heard before. Enjoy my friends.


Monday, February 09, 2015

T Bone Burnett's Americana: Part II

Last Monday, I wrote about T Bone Burnett's influence on the music industry and his ability to bring together very talented and divergent musicians in various projects. Today, I would like to continue in that same vein as I've had the pleasure to experience two wonderful documentaries presented by Showtime in 2014. First, Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis which I wrote about last week and featured Marcus Mumford and now, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued (next airing, Feb. 14th, 2pm).

Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes (Deluxe Edition)
Buy @ Amazon
This new project is Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes produced by T Bone Burnett. It uncovers new lyrics that were written in 1967 by Bob Dylan that were never released and not part of the original, The Basement Tapes (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete). These sessions were home-recorded reel to reel tapes made with members of The Band at their "Big Pink" house basement in Woodstock, New York, 1967. 

Mr. Burnett's vision with The New Basement tapes was to capture the open spirit and collaboration of the original recordings with a new group of musicians including: Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford. Watching the documentary of the creative process of Burnett with this group of people was very inspiring to me. I think this would be a great activity for any organization to view; how a group of people can come together and create something completely new from a set of existing materials, in this case, Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics and drawings.

The song, Lost on the River was recorded in several different versions with different members of the band taking lead- adding new lyrics, orchestrating the arrangement and lead vocals. One arrangement, just blew me away as Rhiannon Giddens goes through her journey with her mates on this song. I hope you appreciate her work here, because if you have not heard of Rhiannon Giddens, you will after this, and know that a star is born in our Americana consciousness.