Saturday, January 16, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: Bee Gees - Main Course

It has remained a mystery to me for 45 years.  How did the Bee Gees 1975 album, Main Course, come to be the first album I ever bought?  In fact, up to that point, I never even bought a single.  Some of it had to do with the third single from that album, "Fanny", a wonderful slice of Bee Gees style R&B that peaked at #12 in 1975.  
The reason I was able to buy anything back then was a bi-monthly allowance from my Mom.  And money given to me every time I did something good in a football/basketball/baseball game.  What Main Course did open up to me was that albums had many other songs that were just as good as the singles I heard on the radio.  Of course, my sister had albums.  But too often I was more focused on the one or two hits I knew.  Now I'm noticing album tracks.  
It was the start of a long journey that I'm still riding along with today.  One harmless purchase resulted in a record collection that I'm still proud of today.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Best Beatles Solo Songs

First posted this in 2015.  Updated it in 2017.  And now here's another update for 2021. 

I was originally going to rank the Beatles' Top 40 solo songs.  But I thought that wouldn't be fair. McCartney always had the most prolific solo career, even when John and George were alive. Ringo's
solo career bottoms out after 1975, John didn't release anything from 1976-1980.  George stayed active through his entire post-Beatles life.  For the George list, I didn't include any Traveling Wilburys songs as those were mostly a collaborative effort. 

So here's my list of each Beatles' Top 10 solo songs, consisting of album cuts and singles.  

Paul
1.  Jet
2.  Maybe I'm Amazed
3.  Band On The Run
4.  Live and Let Die
5.  Listen To What The Man Said
6.  Silly Love Songs
7.  Let Me Roll It
8.  Take It Away
9.  Let 'Em In
10. With A Little Luck

Ringo
1.  It Don't Come Easy
2.  Photograph
3.  Back Off Boogaloo
4.  Early 1970
5.  Oh My My
6.  Snookeroo
7.  You're Sixteen
8.  No No Song
9.  Wrack My Brain
10. I'm The Greatest

George
1.  My Sweet Lord
2.  Give Me Love
3.  What Is Life
4.  Crackerbox Palace
5.  Blow Away
6.  Got My Mind Set On You
7.  I'd Have You Anytime
8.  All Things Must Pass
9.  All Those Years Ago
10.  Any Road

John
1.  Instant Karma
2.  Imagine
3.  Jealous Guy
4.  #9 Dream
5.  God
6.  Watching The Wheels
7.  (Just Like) Starting Over
8.  Nobody Told Me
9.  Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
10. Mind Games

Bonus Tracks: Best of Paul's Duets & the Traveling Wilburys

Paul
Ebony & Ivory - w/Stevie Wonder
Get It - w/Carl Perkins
Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight - as the Fireman w/Youth
Say Say Say w/Michael Jackson
Sing The Changes - as the Fireman w/Youth
The Girl Is Mine - w/Michael Jackson
What's That You're Doing - w/Stevie Wonder

George
End of the Line - Traveling Wilburys
Handle With Care - Traveling Wilburys
Heading For The Light - Traveling Wilburys

Monday, January 11, 2021

Women & The Rock Hall (A Sequel)

My nominee predictions for the 2020 ballot was an all-Women ballot.  I knew it wouldn't happen.  But when the 16 nominees were announced and a whopping 3, yes 3, women were nominated, mildly surprised, but not shocked, is how I felt.  Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris fired off this beauty when the nominees were announced: “This year there are 16 nominees and three of them are women. That’s just over 18 percent women,” says Harris. “Last year three out of 15 nominees were women, which is 20 percent. The year before that there were 19 nominees and five women, which is 26 percent." There were three 2020 female nominees: Chaka Khan, Pat Benatar, Whitney Houston.  And even worse, the two Non-Performer inductees were, you guessed it, men.  Real progress, Mr. Harris. 

So, what to do about the 2021? We are now at 7.6% of female inductees.  It's pathetic.  The idea of an all-female ballot may seem like a gimmick to some, but I maintain that if you see a problem, fix it.  The Hall hasn't done that.  What are the solutions?  Put more women on the NomCom?  Add more women to the voting rolls? Will women only nominate and vote for women?  No. Nor should we expect that.  But we should also expect the the people running the Hall to not accept ballots that include 3 female nominees. Let alone an inductee class that includes 2 more male non-performers when the list of worthy female choices is a mile long.  

Look, I really didn't want to put out another all-Female ballot.  I was hoping we'd get a bunch of women nominated in 2020.  And I debated whether to put out the same ballot I did last year, but then this powerful piece by Mary Layton appeared from Hall Watchers and I decided that the more we can spotlight one of the Hall's biggest problems, the better. 

And in December, Future Rock Legends posted this excellent, but sobering piece on Women & the Rock Hall.  So, a sequel, if you will to my 2020 piece was born again. This is not a prediction post, but a reminder that many women are being passed up.  Would be be nice if the NomCom woke up this year.  And don't give us another weak-ass 3 women nominee ballot for 2021. 

Last year John Sykes took over as Hall Chairman for Jann Wenner.  Sykes was (still is?) on the NomCom, and what impact he has over the NomCom remains to be seen.

So, here's a Gigantic, Mega, Super-Sized ballot of 40 deserving women from the 1950's-90's.  And why not?  Hell, I'm sure I've missed many other deserving names. What would you do with a big ballot? Let's induct 20.  Isn't it time the Hall did something just a little bit different during induction season?  What I tried to do was shape my final nominations the same way the NomCom does.  Various genres covering different decades.

One thing Evelyn McDonnell pointed out in her 2019 post was that the system of allowing every living Hall inductee a vote needs to change. Her idea that a group of, say 5 band members, would have their percentage reduced to one fifth of a vote, is worth looking at.  But it must be pointed out, that longtime Hall Watchers, have been griping about this particular voting system for years.

I also realize that a year of women only nominees means that long-snubbed acts Kraftwerk and my beloved Spinners would be left out once again.  But blame that on the voters who’ve overlooked those and other slam-dunk nominees. 

Here's the amazing thing about my ballot.  25 of the 40 names have never been nominated.  And I'm definitely including inductees Carole King, Diana Ross & Tina Turner in that statistic.  Also, take a look at my picks in the Early Influence, Non-Performers and Musical Excellence categories.  If the Rock Hall Inductions exist to honor the greatest names that shaped music history, then how are these pioneers not in?

Alanis Morissette - Rolling Stone magazine's recent listing of Top 500 albums had Jagged Little Pill at a lofty #69.  Her breakthrough in 1995 brought forth a unique voice and songwriter. 

B-52's - The party never ended with their mix of New Wave/Surf and 60's Girl Group Pop. Might suffer the same fate as Devo, i.e., seen as too much of a novelty by some voters.  Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson sang and co-wrote on many of their greatest songs.

Bjork - Though she lacked the U.S. commercial success of Annie Lennox & Cyndi Lauper, Bjork's been a critical favorite since the early 90's. Definitely an influence on Alt/Indie singers. 

Carly Simon - From her debut in 1971 through the 90's, she was a steady presence whose autobiographical songs were an inspiration to many female singer/songwriters. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall in 1994. 

Carole King - Inducted with Gerry Goffin as a songwriter in 1990.  But her own recording career demands its just reward. Let's talk influence.  One word: Tapestry.  Hard to believe that she was nominated one time in 1989 as a solo artist.  Inducted into Songwriters Hall in 1987. 

Carpenters - A name like the Carpenters as a viable Rock Hall candidate would have been impossible years ago.  And maybe it still is.  But that was before the word populism reached the NomCom.  Besides, what was dismissed as quaint and soft in the 70's, is now seen as some of the era's best singles. And Karen Carpenter turned into an Alt/Indie icon for many female singers of the 90's onward. 

Chaka Khan - By now her name is a familiar one on the Rock Hall ballot. Nominated last year with Rufus. Now on the ballot twice solo and 4X with Rufus.  It's sad she can't get in, because she was one of R&B's powerful vocalists. 

Chantels - One of the first Girl Groups, most likely chances hurt because they only had 4 Top 40 Pop hits.  But they have been nominated twice before.  The last in 2010. 

Cher - Some will say Sonny has to go in with Cher..  And that's fine.  But solo Cher is where she cemented her icon status.

Cyndi Lauper - She was the perfect advertisement for MTV in the early 80's.  Colorful, brash and her videos were tailor-made for the new medium.  But Lauper was also incredibly talented.  And her combination of powerful vocals and excellent songs made her one of the biggest female stars of the 80's.

Diana Ross - I've probably overused the word Icon to describe certain names that the Hall has snubbed.  Here's another one. Just like Stevie Nicks, Ross also had enormous success as a solo act. 

Dionne Warwick - Burt Bacharach and Hal David should be in as songwriters.  And Dionne, who was the greatest interpreter of the Bacharach/David songbook, should be in as well.  Past her Bacharach/David peak of the 60's she continued to have hits, but veered even closer to the Adult Contemporary world, which may hurt her Hall chances. Some will find her music too mellow for a Rock Hall (something that will keep the Carpenters out), but play those 60's records again and you will hear a unique voice that sounded like no other.

Dolly Parton - The last artist with any Country leanings to be inducted (and nominated) was Linda Ronstadt in 2014.  Dolly Parton is more than just a great singer/songwriter.  She's an Industry all by herself.  Plus her songs have crossed over to the Pop charts and have been covered by Rock and R&B singers. Inducted into Country Hall in 1999 and Songwriters Hall in 2001.

Emmylou Harris - Alternative/Progressive/New Traditionalist Country.  No matter how you label it, Emmylou Harris was a major voice in all of those things.  Her work with Country-Rock pioneer Gram Parsons was just the beginning.  Add her solo albums which began in 1975, and she is more than deserving of an induction.  Inducted into the Country Hall in 2008. 

Eurythmics - Nominated once back in 2018.  Has to be back on the ballot again soon.  Annie Lennox solo career is fine, but it was with Dave Stewart that she was a pioneer.  Inducted into Songwriters Hall in 2020.

Gloria Estefan - With or without the Miami Sound Machine?  Not sure how the NomCom plays this.  Read Nick Bambach's piece on why Estefan belongs for more.  Makes a better case for her induction than I ever could. 

Go-Go's - One of the first great female bands to come from the New Wave/Punk era.  Just a matter of time before they get nominated.

Kate Bush - A surprise (shocking?) nominee in 2018, Bush's catalog dating back to the late 70's has only grown in stature.  An inspiration to many female alternative singers.

Labelle - The Labelle records in the 60's, sound nothing like what they would become.  With Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, they cut a visually electric R&B/Funk/Rock vibe in the 70's.

Lesley Gore - One of the most successful solo singers of the Girl Group sound from the early to mid-60's. 

Mariah Carey - Her chart stats are unassailable.  And she wasn't always a critical favorite.  But once she got out of Whitney Houston's shadow, it was obvious that she was a unique voice and songwriter.  Inducted into Songwriters Hall in 2020. 

Marvelettes - I often think that Motown fatigue is what has kept the Marvelettes out of the Hall.  They've been nominated twice before (2013, '15).  But a Girl Group bias could be at work as well.  But I would advise anyone who's still skeptical to go back and listen to their back catalog.  They belong.

Mary J. Blige - "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul".  Her music straddled the line perfectly between those 2 genres. Has definitely earned her royal crown. 

Mary Wells - Motown's first female star.  Career deserves a reappraisal.  Left Motown in 1964, and never regained that early success.  But what's left behind are some of Motown's best early songs. Nominated twice way back in 1986, '87. 

Pat Benatar - One of the biggest Rock singers during the first part of the 80's.  And turned out to be an influence on many female singers decades later.  Nominated for the first time last year and finished 2nd in the Fan Vote. 

Patsy Cline -   Once she found her calling in the new genre that would be called Nashville Sound she was off and running.  Needless to say, has influenced many Pop and Country female singers.

PJ Harvey - One of the most critically-acclaimed artists since her debut in 1992.  Always challenging the norms of Rock music with her groundbreaking albums. 

Queen Latifah - Salt-N-Pepa were one of the first female rappers to cross over to the Pop charts, while Queen Latifah was the most recognizable solo woman in hip-hop during the first part of the 90's.  And as many have pointed out one of the first who could be labeled a feminist.  But like LL Cool J, I think her acting career has overshadowed her recording legacy.  

Pointer Sisters -  Read this by Nick Bambach.  Explains better than me why they belong.

Roberta Flack - Her 1969 album, First Take, ended up at #451 on the new Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums.  Definitely a pioneer of the Quiet Storm format.  African-American women are not an easy sell for voters.  But Roberta has had a long, acclaimed career. 

Sade - She took the Quiet Storm format that Roberta Flack helped launch, to another level when she broke through in the 80's. Could be a tough sell though, since R&B female singers have a tough time getting in, but her influence continues to grow.

Salt-N-Pepa - When talk comes to the next Hip Hop artist to be inducted, it is usually male names that come up. Why doesn't this trio ever get mentioned?  Here we have one of the first female Rap acts to cross over to the Pop charts and help pave the way for other women who followed them after their mid-90's peak.  

Shangri-Las - See my Marvelettes entry above.  But let me add that their greatest songs, were as a critic said, "Dark, three minute symphonies."

Sheryl Crow - For about 10 years starting in the mid-90's she was Rock's biggest female singer.  Now at age 57, she's being embraced as a Heritage act.  Bonus: she's a friend of the Rock Hall, having performed on induction night a couple of times. Oh, and she just released a new album. I've seen people write that it might be too soon to induct her.  But as a rebuttal I give you one name:  Green Day.

Sinead O'Connor - One of the most admired and influential female voices,  Not afraid to do her own thing, which probably cost her sales wise after "Nothing Compares 2 U".

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Led by Siouxsie Sioux, they were one of the first and most successful punk-goth bands of the late 70's/80's. 

Sonic Youth - Critical favorites don't always get nominated.  Which may explain how these Alternative/Post-Punk/Avant-Garde Indie legends continue to be passed over.  Kim Gordon is now a much revered figure in Indie Rock circles.

Tina Turner - What a disgrace that Tina has not been rewarded for one of the great (greatest?) musical comebacks ever.

TLC - Along with En Vogue, they were the biggest female group of the 90's.  And their music covered many genres: Hip Hop, R&B, Pop. 

X - L.A. Punk legends who paved the way for many other similar bands in the early 80's.  As a singer/writer, Exene Cervenka was a charismatic presence on stage. 

Early Influence
Big Mama Thornton
Carter Family
Ella Fitzgerald
Memphis Minnie

Musical Excellence
Carol Kaye
Sylvia Robinson (co-founded Sugar Hill Records, Had hits as Mickey & Sylvia ("Love Is Strange") & solo)

Non-Performers
Estelle Axton - (Co-founded Stax Records)
Jane Scott (First female Rick critic)
Vivian Carter - (Co-founded Vee-Jay Records)



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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Playlist for 1/10

Elton John - Jewel Box (8 CD's)
Miles Davis - Lost Septet
Jimmy LaFave - Highway Angels..Full Moon Rain
Steve Goodman - Live '69
Chloe x Halle - Ungodly Hour
Mary Lattimore - Silver Ladders
Mary Halvorson's Code Girl - Artlessly Falling
Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind
Caribou - Suddenly
Break It All: History of Rock In Latin America (Netflix Documentary)

Saturday, January 09, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: "Daydream Believer" - Monkees

Right behind "Eight Days A Week" as the first song I remember hearing is "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees.  Again, my sister's small record collection had something to do with this.  She had the .45 of "Daydream Believer" and played it often when it came out in late '67.  The Monkees had an appeal to youngsters the same way the Beatles did.  Their early songs were catchy, easy to sing along with, and the youthful energy that came across from their TV show was inescapable.

My sister's .45 of this song was always one of the most beat up/scratched of the singles she had in her tiny collection.  I was always fascinated by it.  Tried playing it on my own turntable years later and it was so hissy that I couldn't finish it.  Even today when I hear the song, my first reaction is that initial beat up sound of the .45. 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Songs About Elvis Presley (Special Elvis Birthday Edition)

There have been more songs written about Elvis Presley than any other performer.   No surprise, because along with the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, he's one of the most important musicians of all time. But doing research for this post, even I couldn't believe how many songs about Elvis have been released.  I can't claim that all the songs listed below are stellar.  A lot of tribute records can be pretty mawkish, no matter the subject.  But there's certainly many good ones and at the very least, interesting takes on Elvis' legacy.

Billy Burnette - Today Is Elvis' Birthday
Bobby Bare (as Bill Parsons) - All American Boy
Bruce Springsteen - Come On (Let's Go Tonight)
Bruce Springsteen - Johnny Bye Bye
Confederate Railroad - Elvis and Andy
Danny Mirror - I Remember Elvis Presley
Dire Straits - Calling Elvis
Elton John - Porch Swing in Tupelo
Fatboy - What Would Elvis Do?
Frankie Allan - Just A Country Boy
George Jones - King Is Gone
George Michael - John and Elvis Are Dead
Gillian Welch - Elvis Presley Blues
Hayden Thompson - Boy from Tupelo
Janis Martin - My Boy Elvis
J.D. Sumner - Elvis Has Left The Building
Jerry Reed - Tupelo Mississippi Flash
Jim Ford - Story of Elvis Presley
John Fogerty - Big Train
John Hiatt - Riding With The King
John Hiatt - Tennessee Plates
Johnny Earle - Private Elvis
Kacey Musgraves - Velvet Elvis
Kenny Chesney - Jesus and Elvis
Lalo Guerrero - Elvis Perez
Lenny LeBlanc - Hound Dog Man
Link Davis - Trucker from Tennessee
Link Wray - It Was Elvis
Marc Cohn - Walking In Memphis
Merle Haggard - From Graceland to the Promised Land
Mojo Nixon - (619) 239-KING
Mojo Nixon - Elvis Is Everywhere
Neil Young - He Was The King
Odie Palmer - Letter to Elvis
Patty Loveless - I Try To Think About Elvis
Paul Simon - Graceland
Ray Stevens - Mama's In The Sky With Elvis
Ronnie McDowell - King Is Gone
Sonny Fisher - I Miss You Elvis
Stan Freberg - Heartbreak Hotel
Steve Goodman - Elvis Imitators
Unknown (Jimmy Fields) - I Have Returned
U2 - Elvis Presley & America
Wanda Jackson - I Wore Elvis' Ring
Warren Zevon - Jesus Mentioned
Warren Zevon - Porcelain Monkey

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Playlist for 1/3

Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (HBO Documentary)
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Netflix)
Paul McCartney - McCartney III
Pylon - Pylon Box
Elvis Presley - From Elvis In Nashville (Box Set)
From Elvis In Memphis (33 1/3 Book Series) - Eric Wolfson 
Becky Warren - Sick Season
Karen Jonas - Southwest Sky and Other Dreams
Harry Shearer - Many Moods of Donald Trump
Dave Alvin - From A Old Guitar
Luke James - to feel love/d
Bootsy Collins - Power of the One
Black Thought - Streams of Thought Vol. 1- 3
BTS -BE
Avalanches - We Will Always Love You
Mountain - Nantucket Sleighride
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