Category Archives: Music

Beastie Boys

Rock and Roll SatBeastie Boys founder Adam Yauch lost his long battle with salivary gland cancer on Friday. In the world of the Beastie Boys he is commonly known as MCA, a true talent in the hip-hop genre. In a business where hip-hop acts sky rocket like roman candles and fizz out at the height of glory, the Beastie Boys have endured since 1979.

They initially came together as a hardcore punk band in the vein of The Dead Kennedys and Reagan Youth playing hip-hop venues all over the five boroughs of New York.

Beastie BoysThey were barely more than teenagers tearing up the Big Apple music scene. It was not until their shift to more of a hip-hop sound in 1983 that the boys from Brooklyn begin to see moderate success when their 12-inch single “Cooky Puss” (satirical references to the ice cream treat) became a hit in New York underground dance clubs and night clubs.

Beastie BoysIf Cooky Puss was the launching pad, their next release License to Ill was the rocket. They decided to hire a DJ for their live shows, and ended up getting an NYU student named Rick Rubin. Soon thereafter, Rubin began producing records, formed Def Jam Recordings and approached the band about producing them for his new label.

The band recorded Licensed to Ill in 1986 and released the album at the end of the year. The album was well-received, and was favorably reviewed byRolling Stone magazine with the now-famous headline, “Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece.” Licensed to Ill became the best selling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to go No.1 on the Billboard album chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached No.2 on the Urban album charts. It was Def Jam’s fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies. The first single from the album, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)“, reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Pauls BoutiqueAfter the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beasties parted ways with Rick Rubin and ended their relationship with Def Jam  to sign with Capitol Records. Their first release on the Capital label is the 1989 release, Paul’s Boutique. The album was a fan favorite and despite going double-platinum ten years later Boutique was considered by Capital Records  a commercial failure. Rolling Stone ranked it No.156 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 1994 the hit single Sabotage from Ill Communication had multiple nominations at the MTV music awards including video of the year, and award ultimately lost to Aerosmith‘s “Cryin’.”

All in all, Beastie Boys have released eight studio albums including 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.  The group had sold 22 million albums in the United States and 40 million albums worldwide, making them, according to Billboard, “the biggest-selling rap group” since 1991.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012, “just the third rap group to enter the Hall, after Run-D.M.C. (2009) and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007).”

Adam YauchOn May 4, 2012 founder Adam Yauch succumbed to a rare for of cancer at the age of 47. The illness delayed release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and the subsequent tour.

Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam said that Yauch was “a crazy talent whose contributions with his band were inspirational and consistently ground breaking”.

 

 

 

Spirit in the Sky

Spirit in the SkySpirit in the Sky” is a song written and originally recorded by Norman Greenbaum and released in 1969. The single sold two million copies in 1969 and 1970 and reached number three in the U.S. Billboard chart.

On this date in 1970 it hit No. 1 on the UK chart. It also hit No. 1 on the Australian and Canadian charts. Rolling Stone ranked “Spirit in the Sky” #333 on their list – 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was featured Greenbaum’s 1969 album.

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In a 12/06/2011 interview with classic-rock music journalist Ray Shasho of The Examiner, Greenbaum stated that western movies were the real inspiration for “Spirit In The Sky”:

Norman Greenbaum: If you ask me what I based “Spirit In The Sky” on… What did we grow up watching? …Westerns! These mean and nasty varmints get shot and they wanted to die with their boots on. So to me that was spiritual, they wanted to die with their boots on.

Ray Shasho: So that was the trigger that got you to write the song?

Norman Greenbaum: Yes. The song itself was simple, when you’re writing a song you keep it simple of course. It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky. Funny enough… I wanted to die with my boots on.

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Norman Greenbaum

Marshall Tucker Band

Marshall Tucker Band

Rock and Roll SatThe Marshall Tucker Band developed its Southern rock roots in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Blending rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, country, and gospel, the Southern rock genre in the early 70s was a daily staple around the Mills household.

MTB enjoyed moderate success early in their career but in the face of personal tragedy the band slipped into obscurity and in 1983 went their separate ways.

Five years later MTB reunited and have performed in various lineups every since.

The original 1972 founding lineup included:

 Toy Caldwell – guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter (1947–1993)

 Doug Gray – keyboard player and vocalist

Jerry Eubanks – Flutist

George McCorkle – rhythm guitarist (1946–2007)

Paul Riddle –  drummer

Tommy Caldwell – bassiest (1949–1980)

Marshall Tucker Band signed with Capricorn Records and in 1973 released their first LP, The Marshall Tucker Band.

The “Marshall Tucker” in the band’s name refers a Spartanburg-area piano tuner. One evening while the band was practicing in an old warehouse and discussing possible band names, someone noticed that the warehouse’s door key had the name “Marshall Tucker” inscribed on it. That’s all it took. They didn’t know at the time it referred to a real person.  It later came to light that Marshall Tucker, the blind piano tuner, was the previous warehouse tenant.

Marshal Tucker BandTheir 1973 self-titled album, The Marshall Tucker Band, included one of my favorites, Can’t You See.

Between 1973 and 1978 MTB would release seven albums on the Capricorn label which contained enduring songs such as, Take The Highway, Fire on the Mountain, and Heard it in a Love Song.

The best charting album was 1975’s Searchin’ for a Rainbow which managed to climb to #15.

On April 28, 1980, Tommy Caldwell died from injuries sustained in a car crash on April 22. It was a devastating loss for the band, the people of South Carolina, and the Southern rock genre. The Charlie Daniels Band‘s 1980 album Full Moon is dedicated to Caldwell.

In 1979 MTB moved over to Warner Brothers and released Running Like the Wind. Over the next four years the band released five more albums under the WB banner. The 1983 album Greetings from South Carolina could only manage a 202 spot on the album charts and within weeks of its release the band hung up their guitar picks and went their separate ways.

In 1988, Gray and Eubanks reorganized MTB to record the album Still Holdin’ On, their one and only release on the Mercury label. Although Gray and Eubanks added new members Rusty Milner, Stuart Swanlund, and Tim Lawter, Still Holdin’ On was primarily recorded with studio musicians. The newer members had a much greater role, however, on the band’s 1990 album, Southern Spirit, released on the Sisaspa label. The album marked a return to the band’s country and blues roots.

Founding member Toy Caldwell died in his South Carolina home on February 25, 1993. The cause of death was listed as respiratory failure.

The band continues to tour and make music for fans around the country.

This post is dedicated to the memories of brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell.

The band at Tom Bass Park Amphitheater in Houston - May 15, 2011. Photo by Barry Sigman (barrysigman@msn.com)

Note: In an odd coincidence, one year later on April 28, 1981, Steve Currie, bass player for the British rock band T-Rex, also died in a car crash.

Paul Is Dead???

Paul is dead

Abbey RoadRemember that one?

This is like the Mother-of-all-urban-legends.

The legend suggested that McCartney died in a traffic accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike double. (It was quite provident that the double was a bass player.)

Late in 1969, college students were claiming that evidence of McCartney’s death was found in Beatles song lyrics and artwork.

On September 17, 1969, the Drake University student newspaper published an article titled “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?” The article described a rumour circulating on campus that Paul was dead.   The rumour included numerous clues from recent Beatles albums, including the “turn me on, dead man” message heard when “Revolution 9” from the White Album is played backwards. (How much pot do you have to smoke before you start playing records backwards looking for hidden messages?)

The So-Called clues:

Visual Clues

Audible Clues

The couple of clues that I particularly like are:

Suggestion that the words spoken by McCartney’s band-mate John Lennon in the final section of the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” are “I buried Paul”. McCartney later revealed the words were actually “cranberry sauce.”

Oh, and the famous Abbey Road cover (shown above):

Symbolising a funeral procession, with “John, dressed in pure white, symbolises the preacher or heavenly body. Ringo, dressed in full black, symbolises the mourner. George, in scruffy denim jeans and shirt, symbolises the gravedigger and Paul, barefoot and out of step with other members of the band, symbolises the corpse.”

Maybe  McCartney really is dead and the hoax/jokes has been on all of us.

I’m not laughing.

Paul is Dead  Paul is Dead

Paul is Dead

Levon Helm

Rock and Roll SatLevon Helm lost his battle with cancer on Thursday past. He was a unique player on the rock, country, and folk landscape.  Helm achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band. His soulful voice was cultivated in the cotton fields of Arkansas, a stones throw from the Mississippi River.

Helm played with many of the rock and roll, and country greats throughout the years but he is most noted for his vocals on many of the Band’s recordings, such as “The Weight“, “Up on Cripple Creek“, “Ophelia” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“.

Levon HelmIn the late 90s, Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer causing severe hoarseness and was advised to undergo a laryngectomy. Instead, Helm opted for a tedious regimen of radiation treatments at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The tumor was successfully removed but Helm’s vocal cords were damaged. His powerful tenor voice was replaced by a quiet rasp.

Helm’s 2007 comeback album Dirt Farmer earned the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in February 2008, and in November of that year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #91 in the list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2010, Electric Dirt, his 2009 follow-up to Dirt Farmer, won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, an inaugural category in 2010. In 2011, his live album Ramble at the Ryman was nominated for the Grammy in the same category and won.

Besides being a notable singer and drummer, Helm found his way to Hollywood and was cast in many standout feature films.

Levon Helm Movies

1. Coal Miner’s Daughter – Ted Webb, Loretta Lynn’s father

2. The Right Stuff – Jack Ridley, Chuck Yeagar’s friend and Flight engineer.

3. The Fire Down Below – Reverend Bob Goodall (w/Steven Seagal)

4. In the Electric Mist – General John Bell Hood (in dream sequence)

Helm’s narration and performance in The Right Stuff.

On April 17, 2012, his wife and daughter announced on Helm’s website that he was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer” and thanked fans while requesting prayers. Two days later, Helm died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Dick Clark

Dick ClarkRock and Roll icon, 82-year-old Dick Clark, long-time host of American Bandstand host and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” died Wednesday morning.

According to family sources, Clark suffered a massive heart attack after entering St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica Tuesday night for an outpatient procedure.

Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.

Clark suffered a stroke in 2004, which forced him to significantly curtail his hosting of “New Years’ Rockin’ Eve,” a show he created in 1972.

This is my salute to Dick Clark on my Rock and Roll Saturday, Dec 31, 2011.  New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Dick Clark.

 

Deep Purple

Rock and Roll SatOne of the British bands to hit the scene in the late 60s was Deep Purple. For some reason they always seemed to be a tier below their British contemporaries.

First off I want to wish Ritchie Blackmore, one of the earliest members of Deep Purple, a very Happy Birthday. He turns 67 today.

Richie’s guitar mastery is second to few and in the days since Purple, he has stayed very active in the business.

The early lineups of Deep Purple:

Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar

Ian Paice – Drums

Jon Lord – Hammond B-3 Organ

Rod Evans (1968-69), Ian Gillian (1969 – 1973) – Vocals

Nick Simper (1968-69), Roger Glover (1969-1973) – Bass

Deep PurpleDeep Purple enjoyed immediate success when their cover of Joe South‘s, Hush reached #4 on the Billboard Top 100 in the US and #2 on the Canadian charts.

In October of ’68, Deep Purple opened for Cream on their Goodbye tour.

In 1971 the band released their most commercially successful album, Machine Head. The album included the song Smoke on the Water, which included the lyrics, “Frank Zappa and the Mothers, were at the best place around. But some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground.

These words are in reference to their recording plans for Machine Head. The band was originally booked to record at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. The Casino always closed in the winter months for refurbishment and Purple arrived on December 3, 1971.

Smoke on the WaterThe final Casino concert of the season was the following night when Frank Zappa took the stage. Sometime during the concert a member of the audience fired a flare into the building’s roof. Although there were no fatalities, the resultant fire ruined Deep Purple’s plans. The band retreated to a nearby theatre called the Pavilion, where they recorded a riff by Ritchie Blackmore provisionally named “Title No. 1.” It became one of the most recognizable riffs in rock.

Bass player Roger Glover named it “Smoke on the Water”, in reference to the band’s experience watching the burning down of Montreux Casino. A photograph of the burning Montreux Casino would ultimately be included in the gatefold of Machine Head’s album cover.

Machine Head would be the groups only #1 album. (#1 in UK – #7 US)

In December of 72, DP released Made in Japan, a double album live set.

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Deep Purple was at the height of its powers. That double album was the epitome of what we stood for in those days. It wasn’t meant to be released outside of Japan. The Japanese said, ‘Will you please make a live album?’ We said, ‘We don’t make live albums; we don’t believe in them.’ We finally said okay, but said we wanted the rights to the tapes because we didn’t want the album to be released outside of Japan. That album only cost about $3,000 to make. It sounded pretty good, so we said to Warner Bros., ‘Do you want this?’ They said, ‘No, live albums don’t happen.’ They wound up putting it out anyway and it went platinum in about two weeks.

Jon Lord interview at www.thehighwaystar.com[/box]

Despite getting to platinum in two weeks, Made in Japan topped out at #6 in the US and #16 in the UK.

This period also marked the beginning of the band’s decline. Roger Glover took an exit shortly after Made in Japan and was replaced by Glenn Hughes. Vocalist Ian Gillian was replace by David Coverdale about this same time.

Blackmore abandoned the band in mid 1975 to be replaced by Tommy Bolin.

Within a few months Deep Purple imploded on the wieght of Bolin’s drug use and Coverdale’s resignation. The breakup was publicized in July of 76. Guitarist Tommy Bolin died of a drug overdose the following December.

In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place with the “classic” early 1970s line-up of Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover and Paice. The reformed band signed a worldwide deal with PolyGram, with Mercury Records releasing their albums in the US, and Polydor Records in the UK and other countries. The album Perfect Strangers was recorded in Vermont and released in October 1984. A solid release, it sold extremely well (reaching #5 in the UK and #17 on the Billboard 200 in the US.)

The guys clicked along with miner skirmishes flaring up between Blackmore and Gillian over the years. Then in November of ’93, Blackmore walked off, guitar in hand, never to return.

Joe Satriani was drafted to complete tour dates in December and stayed on for a European Summer tour in 1994. He was asked to join permanently, but Satriani’s other contract commitments prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Blackmore’s permanent successor.

Morse’s arrival revitalised the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled Purpendicular was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles, though it never made chart success on Billboard 200 in the US.

Don Airey joined the group in 2001 to prepare for Jon Lord’s looming retierment from Deep Purple. Through the years there have been many shifts in the lineup but the 2012 Deep Purple looks like this.

Deep Purple

Queen

QueenThe rock group Queen had their debut performance at the Marquee Theater in London on this date in 1973.

Although the guys got together in late 1971, it would be well over a year of reheasing and refining the Queen sound before they were ready to debut.

A week after their debut performance,  eponymous debut album Queen launched with moderate success in the UK. Their second effort, Queen II, didn’t do much better. It was not until their 3rd studio album, Sheer Heart Attack, did Queen gain international acceptance.

Lead singer Freddie Mercury died of Aids on November 24, 1991.

From Queen’s debut album – Keep Yourself Alive

Rolling Stones – 1962

Rock and Roll SatIn the timeline of rock the chance meeting fifty years ago today between childhood friends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and guitarist Brian Jones at an Alexis Korner concert in London, set the stage for the longest continuous rock act in history — The Rolling Stones.

Stones 1962Brian Jones was the initial leader but by 1969, with Jones’ personal life unraveling under the weight of legal and drug problems, Richards and Jagger took over primary control of the band.

The original 1962 lineup included:

Brian Jones – Guitar

Mick Jagger – Vocals

Keith Richards – Guitar

Ian Stewart – Keyboard

Dick Taylor – Bass

Tony Chapman – Drums

Brian Jones left the Stones in 1969. Publicly it appeared to be his decision but legal problems and drug issues surrounding the co-founder had become very divisive and on June 8th of ’69, Jagger, Richards, and Watts, met with Jones to let him know the band would be moving on without him. Jones was replaced by 20-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor (formerly of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers).

Charlie Watts took over drums in January of ’63. Bill Wyman replaced Taylor at Bass in December of ’62 but retired in January of ’93.

Mick Taylor left the band voluntarily in 1964. He was replaced by former Birds / Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Ian Stewart played piano off and on, and acted as road manager from the beginning until August of 1985. “Stu” had a heart attack that December and died in the waiting room.

Chuck Leavell, long time Allman Brothers’ piano player, stepped in as the unoffical Stones keyboardist in the wake of Stewart’s death.

After Wyman retired, Darryl Jones, a noted sessions musician from Chicago was invited to play bass, a position he enjoys today.

Considering the recent tift between Jagger and Richards another tour is questionable. With Jagger and Richards both enjoying a young 68-years-old, if they have one more tour in them they’d better get going. There’s just something about the prospects of 70-year-old rockers playing Carnegie Hall that doesn’t seem quite right.

Rolling Stone magazine is saying a Stones Tour for 2013 is being tentatively planned but everything hinges on Richards’ health.

I wonder what this Tour would be named???

    • The “Sympathy for the Doctor” Tour
    • The “Gimmie Seltzer” Tour
    • The “BooHoo Lounge” Tour
    • The “Bridges to Bathtime” Tour
    • The “Exile on Pain Street” Tour
    • The “Geriatric” Tour

Dark Side of the Moon

Rock and Roll SatOn this day in 1973, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon climbed into the album charts and setup camp. There it stayed year after year finally sliding off in 1988, a total of 741 weeks. On that basis alone it is the most successful rock and roll album of all time.

DSOTM was Pink Floyd’s 8th studio release and featured some of the most sophisticated recording engineering of the time.

Engineer Alan Parsons was directly responsible for some of the most notable sonic aspects of the album. Clare Torry provided the trademark non-lyrical vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky.”

DOSTMThe artwork was created by their associate, George Hardie. Hipgnosis offered the band a choice of seven designs, but all four members agreed that the prism was by far the best. The design represents three elements; the band’s stage lighting, the album lyrics, and Richard Wright’s request for a “simple and bold” design. The spectrum of light continues through to the gatefold—an idea that Waters came up with. The DSOTM rainbow prism may be the most recognizable rock brand in the history of modern music.

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“I could never aspire to Syd’s crazed insights and perceptions. In fact for a long time I wouldn’t have dreamt of claiming any insights whatsoever. I’ll always credit Syd with the connection he made between his personal unconscious and the collective group unconscious. It’s taken me 15 years to get anywhere near there. Even though he was clearly out of control when making his two solo albums, some of the work is staggeringly evocative. It’s the humanity of it all that’s so impressive. It’s about deeply felt values and beliefs. Maybe that’s what ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ was aspiring to. A similar feeling.” — Roger Waters on Syd Barrett [/box]

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“Usually, in the studio, on this sort of thing … you just go out and have a play over it, and see what comes, and it’s usually — mostly — the first take that’s the best one, and you find yourself repeating yourself thereafter.” — David Gilmour on his guitar solo in “Time[/box]

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“We share the same sense of humor, to some extent. We lust after money, to some extent. And we’ve all got a lot of interest in what we’re doing together.” — Nick Mason on the band.[/box]

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“We have a very recognizable sound. I mean, anyone who listens to our records will know it’s the Floyd. Where as, anyone who listens to many other bands will know they’re playing blues, or they’re playing this or that.” — Rick Wright on the Pink Floyd sound. [/box]

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“Well, they did say, ‘Be more emotional.’ So I started getting this pattern of notes, and they said, ‘Well, that seems the right direction to go.’ And I told them to put the tape on. I knew from past experience… well, I used to be called ‘First-take Torry’ because, very often, the first take I did was the best. And at the end of the first take, Dave Gilmour said, ‘Do another one – but even more emotional.’ So I did another one. And then he said, ‘I think we could do a better one.’ I started, and half way through, I realised that I was beginning to be repetitive; derivative. It didn’t have that off-the-top-of-the-head, instantaneous something. It was beginning to sound contrived. I said, ‘I think you’ve got enough.’ I thought it sounded like caterwauling.” — Clare Torry on her vocals for “The Great Gig in the Sky”. [/box]

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“There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.”[/box]