Following a well-received Go-Go's reunion in 1990, Belinda Carlisle returned to the studio to record her fourth studio album, Live Your Life Be Free. Likely the jaunt with her old bandmates inspired her, as the 1991 LP returned the singer to the sixties-inspired, girl-group milieu. Although Live Your Life failed to chart in the U.S., it hit the top ten in the U.K. and yielded four charting singles including the brisk and lusty "Do You Feel Like I Feel" which remains Carlisle's final U.S. hit
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,
The Magic Islands: Aloha Got Soul, Vinyl Me, Please Celebrate Exotica Pioneer Arthur Lyman's "Island Vibes"
Even today, the name of Arthur Lyman is synonymous with exotica. The late vibraphonist and marimba player (1932-2002), born in Oahu, recorded dozens of albums bringing his tropical style to everything from Broadway to folk, jazz, and pop hits. Now, Hawaii's own Aloha Got Soul label has reissued Lyman's final studio album, 1980's Island Vibes, including in a limited, foil-stamped and numbered edition from the Vinyl Me, Please record club pressed on translucent purple with pink vinyl. Arthur
Feel the Earth Move: Craft Recordings Reissues Carole King and James Taylor's "Live at the Troubadour"
Blossom, smile some sunshine down my way/Lately, I've been lonesome/Blossom, it's been much too long a day/Seems my dreams have frozen/Melt my cares away... - James Taylor, "Blossom" With the Summer of Love over, social and political tensions at a boil, and the specter of the Vietnam War still hovering, the tail end of the 1960s was filled with upheaval. Carole King recognized the national trauma and responded in the only way she knew how: by turning inward and sharing her emotions in
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
A Million Stars: Vinyl Me, Please Teams with Aloha Got Soul for Hawaiian Classics from Mackey Feary Band, Eddie Suzuki and New Hawaii
"Grin, even when you're at your lowest, grin," implores Mackey Feary on the opening track of his 1978 solo album Mackey Feary Band. "You're Young" is all sun and breeze, making it near-impossible to suppress the requested grin. It's languid yet funky, with shimmering guitars, wending saxophone, and sweet female background voices adding to the luster. As a founding member of Kalapana, Feary had been at the vanguard of Hawaiian pop in the 1970s; alongside such artists as Cecilio and Kapono and
In December, The Go-Go's will launch a mini-tour of California and Nevada hot on the heels of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Demon Music Group has recently been revisiting the catalogue of the band's breakout star Belinda Carlisle on vinyl. Following such releases as 2017's Heaven on Earth (reissued for its 30th anniversary), 2019's Runaway Horses (also a 30th anniversary), and Belinda earlier this year (marking its 35th), the label has delivered a Deluxe 25th Anniversary 3LP Box
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.
Let's hear it for Deniece Williams. Since making her first big splash 45 years ago with debut album This is Niecy, the daughter of Gary, Indiana has scored 27 Billboard R&B hits and 14 Pop successes including two crossover Number Ones, won four Grammy Awards (and amassed another nine nominations), and recorded over fifteen albums blurring the lines between soul, pop, and gospel. Between 1976 and 1988, Williams made Columbia Records her home, both with Maurice White's ARC imprint and with
Oh What a Night for Love: Mint Audio Continues Peter Skellern Anthology Series with "The Complete Island and Mercury Recordings"
When Mint Audio Records left Peter Skellern on The Complete Decca Recordings, the British singer-songwriter-pianist had completed his 1972-1975 tenure at Decca Records after three studio albums and one odds-and-ends collection. Now, Mint has continued the Skellern story with the release of a new 3-CD set, The Complete Island and Mercury Recordings, covering 1975-1982 via six full albums and a handful of bonus tracks. This beautiful anthology chronicles his path from singer-songwriter to
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
When Fleetwood Mac's Live reached store shelves in time for Christmas 1980, the deluxe 2-LP set was following another mammoth affair: Tusk, released just fourteen months earlier. While Tusk was a success by any measure - it reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and yielded two U.S. top ten singles - it fell off the album chart within nine months as opposed to its predecessor, Rumours, which spent a record-breaking nine consecutive weeks at No. 1 in 1977-1978 on its way to becoming one of the
Oh! You Pretty Things: David Bowie's 1971 song became an anthem for the glam era: "Don't you know you're driving your mothers and fathers insane? Let me make it plain, you gotta make way for the homo superior..." Bowie's alien persona - androgynous, dangerous, sexy, and flamboyant - connected with youth and caused a stir among their parents. The song's title has now been adopted by a new 3-CD box set from Cherry Red's Grapefruit imprint. Alas, "Oh! You Pretty Things" doesn't appear anywhere
Ace Records' two most recent entries in its Songwriter Series of collections both spotlight artists who bucked tradition to forge their own paths at the end of the 1960s and the dawn of the 1970s: Leon Russell and Kris Kristofferson. As we wrote upon his passing in 2016 at the age of 74, Leon Russell was an extraordinary talent unlike any other: A true renaissance man and an extraordinary talent as composer, musician, arranger, producer, and artist, The Master of Space and Time led many
When Harpers Bizarre made their debut on Warner Bros. Records in spring 1967, they joined an eclectic roster of pop stars (Petula Clark, The Association), folksingers (Chad Mitchell, Peter Paul and Mary), comedy titans (Bob Newhart, Allan Sherman), MOR artists (The Anita Kerr Singers, Rod McKuen), and one forward-thinking psychedelic rock band (Grateful Dead). The group defied easy categorization, and over the course of four albums merged pop, MOR, rock, and even dashes of folk and comic whimsy
The story of the band Fancy began with Chip Taylor's "Wild Thing." Captivated with Jimi Hendrix's fiery take on the classic popularized by The Troggs, producer Mike Hurst (The Springfields, Cat Stevens, Shakin' Stevens, Showaddywaddy) began to imagine the song as sung by a woman. He dialed up both the sex and the funk for a slower, breathier, and more salacious version of the pop-rock staple. Guitarist Ray Fenwick, bassist Mo Foster, drummer Henry Spinetti, keyboardist Alan Hawkshaw, and
"Hey Clockface, keep those fingers on the dial," Elvis Costello implored on the jaunty, jazz-flavored title track of his 2020 album. "You said you'd be a friend to me, but time is just my enemy and it is hurting me so..." Despite his pleas, time has been rather good to Costello's artistry. Though initially branded an "angry young man" - and indeed, he channeled the punk zeitgeist early on with his fast and furious compositions - Costello has been able to travel wherever his muse takes him.
Who says that classy adult pop is a thing of the past? The California pop-rock sound is in gorgeous full bloom on Jeff Larson and Jeddrah's New Moon, available everywhere today on digital/streaming services as well as physical CD from Japan's Vivid Sound label. The first (but hopefully not the last) full-length collaborative album between the two artists, New Moon is collaborative in every sense. Larson, a mainstay of the West Coast scene who's worked extensively with America and recently
Today's Short Takes looks at some nice things we've missed over the past few months from Cherry Red! Yorkshire-born singer-songwriter Tasmin Archer has only released three full-length studio albums in nearly thirty years, but there's no doubt that she has practiced "quality over quantity." The title of her first LP, 1992's Great Expectations, might have been tongue-in-cheek as Archer exceeded all expectations. The opening track and first single, the rhythmic ballad "Sleeping Satellite,"