It didn't take long for The Monkees to realize that they'd experienced a level of success far beyond their wildest dreams. Far from being mere actors on a television show portraying a band, they'd been thrust in front of capacity crowds in stadiums, arenas, and large auditoriums - a de facto band that, in reality, wasn't yet calling the shots on their own careers and music. That changed when Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork demanded creative freedom from impresario Don
Holiday Gift Guide Review: David Bowie, "Divine Symmetry: An Alternative Journey Through 'Hunky Dory'"
MAGNIFICENT OUTRAGE. The phrase is emblazoned on the slipcase of David Bowie's new box set Divine Symmetry (An Alternative Journey Through 'Hunky Dory'). It was derived from an ad - reprinted as the first image in the 100-page tome housing the set's four CDs and one Blu-ray Disc - which noted, "That's what they're saying about David Bowie." Happily, no one would accuse this latest Bowie archival dig of being an outrage, though magnificent comes closer. Much like its 2019 predecessor
I need a whole lot of sunshine to keep my sundial advancing... Who were The Beach Boys? Hawthorne, California's favorite sons might have been asking themselves that very question in 1972. Their creative leader was withdrawing further into himself and musical tastes were changing: where did that leave them? This period of adjustment was first chronicled on last year's superlative Feel Flows: The Sunflower and Surf's Up Sessions 1969-1971 box set. The story begun on that collection
2022 has been Joni Mitchell's year. Following a triumphant surprise appearance in July at the Newport Folk Festival, the singer-songwriter announced a return to the stage for a full-length Joni Jam in June 2023 at Washington's Gorge Amphitheatre; tickets were quickly snapped up by ardent fans who had waited roughly two decades to see Mitchell in concert once again. More recently, she attended her first-ever Broadway musical, Cameron Crowe and Tom Kitt's Almost Famous - and made her Broadway
I took a ride, I didn't know what I would find there... George Harrison's snarling takedown of the "Taxman" opened The Beatles' Revolver with a powerful sting. The so-called Quiet Beatle took on the first-person role with the relish of (and a musical nod to) a Batman villain. Though 1965's folk-rock-influenced Rubber Soul had seen the Fab Four's songwriting grow by leaps and bounds, Revolver matched the songwriting strides with revelatory studio processes including ADT (Artificial Double
We'll be havin' fun all summer long... For nearly sixty years, the sun-drenched harmonies of The Beach Boys have provided the soundtrack for summer - from those welcome first days and first rays through the season's bittersweet final moments as autumn's chill approaches. They're the rare band whose compilations, beginning with 1974's chart-topping Endless Summer, have become nearly as key to their legacy as the core studio albums. 2003's Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach
The Frank Zappa archive has opened wide in recent years; the past twelve months alone have seen such diverse releases as The Mothers 1971, the 50th anniversary edition of 200 Motels, and Zappa '88: The Last U.S. Show. The latest addition to the canon (or Official Release Series No. 122, for those keeping count) has recently arrived from Zappa Records and UMe. Zappa/Erie premieres three full shows from the Erie, Pennsylvania area (including Edinboro, some eighteen miles outside of Erie) plus a
The voice of Steve Ellis first burst out of radios on The Love Affair's 1967 recording of "Everlasting Love." A chart-topper in the U.K. and a hit throughout Europe, it failed to chart in the U.S. but set Ellis on a path of music-making that continues to this day. Edsel has taken a deep dive into his extensive career for an impressive new box set. Over 10 discs, Finchley Boy chronicles the Steve Ellis story both as a solo artist and with the groups Love Affair, Ellis, and Widowmaker. In
Welcome to this week's Release Round-Up, featuring a selection of the new titles out today including a very special pair from Second Disc Records and Real Gone Music! Melissa Manchester, Live '77 (Second Disc Records/Real Gone Music) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Real Gone Music) Second Disc Records and Real Gone Music proudly present the premiere release of Melissa Manchester's Live '77, recorded by Arista Records in October 1977 at Gainesville, Florida's Great Southern
Sorry, Frank! Though the title of Zappa and The Mothers' 1971 album was Just Another Band from L.A., listeners knew what the maverick bandleader was alluding to: his latest group was anything but. Vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (a.k.a. Flo and Eddie) and bassist Jim Pons - all freshly recruited from The Turtles - were now happy together with Zappa, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, keyboardists Bob Harris and Don Preston, and multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood in one of the most outrageous and
Everything about The Replacements' debut was fast and furious. Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, first released in 1981 on the Twin/Tone label, introduced eighteen rip-roaring nuggets primarily from the pen of Paul Westerberg. More than half were under two minutes long, and only two cracked the three-minute mark. While the lyrics were filled with aggression and the spirit of youthful rebellion, they weren't devoid of self-aware humor. And though the sound was primal, abrasive, and
Frank Zappa called 200 Motels "a surrealistic documentary." Leonard Maltin described it as a "visual, aural assault disguised as a movie; completely berserk, freeform film...some of it ingenious, some funny, but not enough to maintain [an] entire film." Roger Ebert compared the surreal musical to the work of experimental composer Harry Partch before observing that it "assaults the mind with everything on hand...a full wall of sight-and-sound input." Zappa never wrote and directed another
From the first seconds of the opening "Life Is a Carnival," it was clear that Cahoots was no ordinary album by The Band. The quintet's first three albums had established them as major proponents of the rootsy genre that would later be called "Americana." But now, the sound blasting from the speakers was one of sheer funk: simultaneously dark and joyful, aggressive yet inviting. In what might have been considered a heretical move by some, the group was bolstered by three saxophones, two
"Well, I've been down so goddamn long that it looks like up to me..." Jim Morrison knew of what he spoke. When The Doors entered Sunset Sound in November 1970 to record what would become their sixth studio album, L.A. Woman, the quartet was ready for a reboot. In September, Morrison had been convicted on profanity and indecent exposure charges related to a March 1969 concert in Miami. With an appeal in place, he was free on bail. But some radio stations had banned The Doors, and even concert
When Elvis Presley entered RCA's famed Nashville Studio B in June 1970, expectations were high. His last major recording sessions - not counting those for the Universal film Change of Habit - had taken place at Memphis' American Sound Studio with producer Chips Moman, resulting in the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis LP. Could he follow up that career triumph? Many would argue that he did. Rather than strictly repeat the formula, he and producer Felton Jarvis crafted the concept album Elvis
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Joni Mitchell, "Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971)"
Last evening in Washington, DC, Joni Mitchell joined the 44th class of Kennedy Center Honorees alongside Bette Midler, Berry Gordy, Lorne Michaels, and Justino Diaz. The singer-songwriter who has blurred the lines of folk, pop, rock, and jazz was celebrated by friends and admirers including Brandi Carlile, Herbie Hancock, Ellie Goulding, Norah Jones, Brittany Howard, Dan Levy, and Cameron Crowe. President Joe Biden, also in attendance, had earlier summed up the thoughts of many when he
By his own account, Billy Joel stumbled into the singing part of the singer-songwriter equation. He explained of his 1971 debut Cold Spring Harbor, "I wrote this album not as a singer-songwriter, but as a songwriter. I was thinking of other people doing the material on this album. But the advice I got from people in the music business was, 'Well, if you want people to hear your songs, make an album. And then you go out on the road and you do shows and you promote your album. I thought,
Everybody had a hard year/Everybody had a good time... The Beatles' twelfth and final studio LP may have been titled Let It Be, but that particular admonition has been all but ignored over the years. The album - recorded before, but released after, 1969's Abbey Road - was in some respects a step backward from the band's previous, experimental LPs as they sought a "back to basics" sound that didn't involve overdubs and studio wizardry. Ultimately, though, that approach was rejected. The
1978's Time Passages concluded British singer-songwriter Al Stewart's trilogy of albums with producer-engineer Alan Parsons which began with 1975's Modern Times and continued with the following year's Year of the Cat. During this purple patch, Stewart earned his first hit singles in the United States, transitioning from folk troubadour at home to bona fide pop star abroad. And while Year of the Cat, the album, charted higher than Time Passages, the latter's title track was a bigger hit in the
A book about a film about an album? The new coffee table book from Callaway Arts and Entertainment and Apple Corps, The Beatles: Get Back, is essentially that: a hardcover, 240-page tome based on the film footage shot in the buildup to The Beatles' final album, 1970's Let It Be. Get Back was, of course, the name of the first version of Let It Be. It's also the name of director Peter Jackson's upcoming three-part, six-hour documentary (the first part of which premieres November 25 on the
Señor, señor/Can you tell me where we're headin'? Only Bob Dylan knew where he was headin'. In the fall of 1980, when Springtime in New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 (1980-1985) opens, Dylan was two-thirds into his so-called "Christian trilogy" comprising Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980), and Shot of Love (1981). He had wrapped up a fiery tour on May 21, 1980 in which he only performed his gospel material. Audiences and critics alike were divided on Dylan's immersion into
Like a Companion for Your Lonely Soul Those placing the needle on The Beach Boys' Sunflower upon its release in 1970 might have been taken aback by the sheer drive of its opening track. The lusty "Slip on Through" - co-written, produced, and primarily sung by Dennis Wilson - rocked harder than just about anything else in the band's discography to that point. The song announced that Sunflower was not just The Beach Boys' first album on a new label but the beginning of a new chapter
Joni Mitchell fiercely announced her independence with "I Had a King," the haunting soliloquy which opens her 1968 debut album, Song to a Seagull. "I can't go back there anymore," she proclaimed. "You know my keys won't fit the door/You know my thoughts don't fit the man. They never can...they never can..." The song is bold, wise, and flecked with a graceful equanimity as the singer declares her freedom both from a husband who "lives in another time" and the societal constraints of the day.
Bohemian Rhapsodies: A Closer Look at Vinyl Me Please's Reissues of Queen's "A Night at the Opera" and Al Green's "Call Me"
In April, record club Vinyl Me Please announced that it would be restoring some previously out-of-print titles to the catalogue to celebrate 100 releases in the club's Essentials series. (See the list of all ten titles here.) We've given a spin to the re-presses of Queen's A Night at the Opera and Al Green's Call Me. For Queen, too much was never enough. That attitude is perhaps best embodied by the band's fourth album, 1975's A Night at the Opera. While the title was derived from the Marx
Surely one of the most unlikely hits of 1976-77 was Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat." An atmospheric tale of romance in a faraway place with Casablanca name-checks of Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre, the song propelled the British singer-songwriter to the top of the pops: No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and even higher, No. 4, in Cash Box) and No. 8 AC as well as No. 31 in the U.K., his only chart appearance there. Following its expanded reissue late last year of Stewart's 24 Carrots, Cherry