Monday, August 21, 2017

Playlist for 8/21

Randy Newman - Dark Matter
Nick Lowe - Nick the Knife
Nick Lowe - Abominable Showman
Nick Lowe - Party Of One
Nick Lowe - Rose of England
Nick Lowe - Pinker and Prouder Than Previous
Nick Lowe - Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit
Only Ones - Special View
Peter Perrett - How The West Was Won
Slaid Cleaves - Ghost On The Car Radio
Jim Lauderdale - London Southern
Don Bryant - Don't Give Up On Love
Glen Campbell - Adios
Glen Campbell - Reunion
Glen Campbell - Southern Nights
Glen Campbell - Galveston

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Elvis Presley: 40 Years Later

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", Elvis Presley.  My #1 musical artist whose death in 1977 is still a vivid memory.  Here's where I was on August 16, 1977: watching Star Wars for the 2nd time.  I caught an early show near the place where my Mom worked.  Once the movie was over we got in the car to go home.  So, I put on the AM Top 40 radio station and they are playing an Elvis song.  By this time, I'm just becoming a Billboard magazine subscriber and an avid listener of Casey Kasem's American Top 40.  So, I knew Elvis had a song around the Top 40 at that time called "Way Down".  But it wasn't a big hit.  And I knew my local Top 40 stations never played it.  But the song they were playing was an old one from the '50's.  Very odd.  I changed the station to the other channel: same thing.  Something wasn't right.  Then I searched for a news channel, and there was the announcement:  Elvis Presley was dead.  My Mom and I were stunned.  Can't be true.  When we got home I put the TV on looking for some kind of channel that had more info.  This is 1977.   There's no CNN, no all-news channels, so the pickings are slim.  Eventually, I came across a channel that confirmed the news.

At this point in 1977, Elvis Presley was an afterthought to most people.  He was still touring, making records.  But the records were just average, the tours marred by cancellations and bad reviews, even though they still sold-out.  A few months before he died, three of Elvis' former bodyguards released a scandalous book called Elvis: What Happened?  I remember seeing the book and articles about it on newsstands.  But this was Elvis.  Sure he was overweight.  But a drug addict?  Not possible.  The book was widely dismissed by his hardcore fans at the time, but most of what was in it has proven true.  At the time the bodyguards wanted the book to wake up Elvis.  To bring back the '68 Comeback King.  Maybe it would have worked.  Elvis died just a month after it came out.

What Elvis' death did to me was make me a devoted fan.  That may sound like a strange statement.  But in 1977 I was only 13 years old.  Just beginning to dig deeper into the history of Rock and Roll.  When he died, the only Elvis records I heard were the ones my Dad owned.  And he had quite a few.

And now in 2017, I have all his official studio, soundtrack and live albums.  A bunch of career-spanning box sets, lots of greatest hits titles.  Oh, and can't forget all the Elvis books I've read.  And I buy whatever reissues RCA continues to feed the Elvis faithful.

The generation that first grew up on Elvis has gotten older.  And while Graceland still does robust business (I've been there a few times), I'm always afraid that the music Elvis put out will fade away.  I could be wrong.  I'm grateful that Sirius still has their Elvis channel which I listen to often.

As long as I'm around Elvis Presley will never disappear.   Anything that keeps his memory alive is alright with me.  And I'll always be there to remind newer generations of how important he was.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Elvis Presley Edition - Music Years Of My Life: 1977

This is what I knew about Elvis Presley when I was 13 years old in 1977:

1.  He made a lot of movies.  And they were shown often during the afternoon movie of the week.  Sometimes they would show five in one week.
2.  My Dad had a bunch of his 70's studio albums, plus Elvis' Golden Records  (1958)
3.. Elvis wore lots of jump suits.
4.  Elvis imitators were on TV before 1977.  I saw one on a show months before he died.  
5.  I knew most of his hits, but not much else.  And his Sun Records era was still new to my ears.

The Summer of '77 wasn't a bad time on the charts for Elvis.  He was now charting better on the Country Top 100 then on the Billboard Pop 100.  "Moody Blue" went #1 Country earlier in the year.  And in August, "Way Down" was #1.  But on the Pop charts he couldn't get out of the Top 30.  
That year I got my first job.  Cleaning fireplaces at the Hotel my Mom worked at.  It was mostly weekends and weeks off from school, and it was small change, but I used the extra money to buy albums or movie tickets.
August 16, 1977, happened to be a movie day.  Star Wars was all the rage that summer.  Released in late May, I had already seen it but wanted to experience it again.  As luck would have it, there was a theater in the area of my mom's hotel. 
Getting into the car to go home that afternoon, I did what I normally do and put the radio on.  The Top 40 channel was playing an Elvis song.  Odd, he never got played on it before.  The other station was doing the same.  Something wasn't right.  I kept changing channels and finally landed on a news station.  Elvis Presley was dead.  A jolt.  My mom couldn't believe it.  It couldn't be true.  
The 1977 Elvis wasn't like the ones we remembered.  He was overweight.  That's not the Elvis I knew.  There was a book published in July called Elvis What Happened?  The rag mags had all the gory details.  This is pre-Internet before we knew everything about someones life. 

That day set off my fascination and love for Elvis Presley.  It continues through this day.  He's my #1 artist.  I've been to Graceland three times and each stop is a reminder of all he gave us and what might have been.  It's both a sad and exhilarating tour stop.

One other life changing moment occurred that Summer.  My first trip to Tower Records.  A road trip with friends resulted in a pit stop at a restaurant in a shopping mall.  And what just happened to be across the street?  I even remember the album I bought.  Go For Your Guns by the Isley Brothers which was Top 10 on the album charts.  
I didn't make many more trips until I got my license 5 years later, but that Tower Records would turn out to be the closest one.  Ninety minutes and 45 miles away from home.  Some things you never forgot.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Favorite Elvis Presley Songs 1954-77

On the 40th anniversary of his death, the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", and my #1 musical hero, Elvis Presley, I'm posting my favorite Elvis song for each year that he released a record while he was alive: 1954-77.  One song each year.

1954 - That's All Right
1955-  Mystery Train
1956-  Hound Dog
1957 - Jailhouse Rock
1958 - Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
1959 - A Big Hunk 'o Love
1960 - It's Now or Never
1961 - Can't Help Falling In Love
1962 - Return To Sender
1963 - (You're The) Devil In Disguise
1964 - Viva Las Vegas
1965 - Crying In The Chapel
1966 - Tomorrow Is A Long Time
1967 - That's Someone You Never Forget
1968 - If I Can Dream
1969 - Suspicious Minds
1970 - Kentucky Rain
1971 - It's Your Baby, You Rock It
1972 - Burning Love
1973 - Fool
1974 - Promised Land
1975-  T-R-O-U-B-L-E
1976-  Moody Blue
1977-  Way Down

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rock Hall: First Time Nominated & Inducted (Updated 2017 Eligibles)

Updated for 2017 Eligibles (2018 Ceremony)

They waited forever.  But once on the ballot, they went in first time nominated.  For some acts, like Neil Diamond, who waited 22 years, people wondered why he wasn't nominated earlier.
And there were many others that the NomCom passed over, who eventually got in right away:  The Hollies 20 years, Chicago 21 , Steve Miller 22, Albert King 25,   Little Anthony & The Imperials 23, Dr. John 17, Bill Withers 18, ELO 20, Joan Baez 31, Hall & Oates 16 years. 

 Changing NomCom members helped get some of those nominated. At the 2013 NomCom meeting, new member Questlove was responsible for getting Hall & Oates nominated. Back in 1998 when they were first eligible, it's doubtful that they had an advocate on the NomCom.  New NomCom members means new voices which means new ideas.  Which is why I'm a big advocate in adding and replacing NomCom members every few years. 

So, what artists out there now, will get a first nomination and be inducted immediately? Remember that the voting bloc changes yearly, which could have a bearing on how some of these are elected and in what year they get in.  

I'm also on the lookout for names like Bobby Womack, Bill Withers,  Jimmy Cliff,  Dr. John, Miles Davis, etc. Surprise (to me at least) nominees, that ended up getting inducted their first time. How many more of those types of artists are out there?

The recent wave of Populist-oriented acts getting inducted (Rush, KISS, Chicago, Journey) had an impact on this latest addition of First Time Nominated & Inducted, which has been updated to include 2017 eligibles (2018 ceremony).

A Tribe Called Quest/Wu-Tang Clan - ATCQ's 2016 album, their first in 18 years,  finished 3rd in Village Voice's 2016 Critic's Poll, which proves how viable they remain.  Certainly one of the best loved Rap acts.   WTC are a Rap supergroup who are eligible in 2017 (2018 ceremony).  My guess is ATCQ will get nominated first.  They've been eligible since 2015.  

Bad Company - Classic Rock acts aren't always an easy one to figure (Yes, Deep Purple, KISS-nominated twice) were passed up when first nominated with voters. But with more of his peers being inducted, Paul Rodgers should have all the support he needs.  Not to mention Bad Co.'s had quite a few songs that are Classic Rock staples,  and don't forget Free, which are equally respected. 

Bjork - Though she lacks the U.S. commercial success of Annie Lennox or Cyndi Lauper, Bjork has been a critical favorite since the early 90's.  Her influence on Alt/Indie & Rock artists is pretty wide.  The NomCom will get to her someday.  By then she should be a strong pick.

Carole King/Carly Simon/Stevie Nicks/Tina Turner -  If it ever happened, King would go in right away for  her solo career.  It seems the NomCom decided years ago that her induction as a non-performer in 1990 was good enough.  But there's a push to get her in for her very deserving recording career.  Stevie Nicks is a new name that I've seen mentioned.  Hard to top her Fleetwood Mac hits, but she's had a fine solo run.  It doesn't seem like it will happen, but Tina Turner could also get a good look for her post-Ike years. Carly Simon could be a NomCom surprise pick, and should do very well with the Baby Boomer vote, especially those that love Singer/Songwriters. And besides if Sting can get a nomination for his solo career, these more deserving names should get one as well. 

Commodores/Lionel Richie - All this Rock Hall Populist talk only refers to Rock acts.  What about Populist R&B ones?  True, 70's R&B Vocal Groups/Bands don't do very well with Hall voters.  Mostly because not many have been nominated.  My beloved The Spinners have been nominated, but passed over 3X, and others like Kool & The Gang, the Gap Band, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Ohio Players, Stylistics, can't get on the ballot.   The last one inducted by voters was in 2009,  Little Anthony & The Imperials.  In 2015 the "5" Royales got in as an Early Influence.  The Commodores were one of the biggest crossover bands of the 70's/80's.  On a par, hits wise at least, with Earth, Wind & Fire.  Lionel Richie became one of the 80's biggest Pop stars.  But like Phil Collins, has received only scant critical praise.  As with Genesis though,  current Hall members could reward Richie's longevity, and the Commodores solid catalog of hits all in one vote.       

Cyndi Lauper - Another MTV mainstay.  The image may have taken over how some perceived her music, but the decades have proven that her best records were superb.  And in 2015 she was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

Dire Straits - Here's a name that I've only seen mentioned briefly as a certifiable snub.  But think about some of the current Hall members that Mark Knopfler has worked with. He's one of those well-respected artists that his peers would support. And they were pretty big in the mid-80's.  

Doobie Brothers -  A good old populist Rock band.  Here's how they could go in first time:  still touring, lots of hits played on AOR and Oldies 70's stations, been around forever and many of their fellow 70's inductees would vote for them.  I'm giving them a very slight nod in this newly minted Populist AOR genre over Foreigner. And a wider nod over Boston and Peter Frampton.  But not  Jethro Tull, Dire Straits, Bad Company or the Moody Blues

Eurythmics - An MTV staple, they also crafted many of that decade's most memorable hits. Another NomCom mystery.  Why have they not been nominated?  By now Annie Lennox is as loved as any female singer from any era. 

Foreigner - In 2013, Mick Jones and Lou Gramm were inducted in the Songwriters Hall, so there is some support for them inside the music biz.  Maybe not enough for a first time induction, but not out of the question.  Big selling Classic Rock Act who still get played on multiple radio formats.  Would also do well with current AOR acts are in.

Glen Campbell -  And how about some Populist Country acts?  Campbell is a name I thought about for the Hall in 2013.  A sentimental, but deserving favorite.  I can't believe he rarely gets mentioned among Hall snubs. But remember.  He was never a critical favorite even when he was having hits. But his career has gotten a closer look since his passing.  Campbell's in the Country Hall, was part of the fabulous Wrecking Crew, and also hosted a late 60's/early 70's TV series that helped expand Country's reach (with many Pop/Soul artists as guests). The last Country artist inducted was Floyd Cramer in the sideman category, 2003.  Wanda Jackson, was an Early Influence inductee in 2009, but she started in the Rock field. Campbell would also make a strong Musical Excellence pick.

Harry Nilsson - In a somewhat similar position as Warren Zevon.  Loved by many current Hall of Famers.  Once he's on, he's in. 

Jethro Tull - Like ELP, people tend to forget how popular Jethro Tull were in the first half of the 70's.  And with many of their Classic Rock contemporaries recently going in, they might go right in.  Eligible since 1993. 

Joe Cocker - In the fine 2017 Cocker documentary, Mad Dog With Soul, Randy Newman is puzzled when he's told that Cocker isn't in the Hall.  Billy Joel, in 2014 (same year Cocker died), wrote a letter to the Hall asking them to nominate him - Joel's letter. Fact is, no one can believe he's never been nominated.  One of the last of the Baby Boomer icon's that would be an easy first time inductee.

Johnny Winter - Looking for a Blues act that's respected by many of his Hall peers? When Winter died in 2014 many wondered why he wasn't in the Hall. Unfortunately, he now falls into a category, along with Billy Preston and Joe Cocker, of worthy acts that the NomCom missed while they were alive, but may leave out of the Hall forever.  

Judas Priest/Motorhead - I put these two Metal legends together for a reason.  Seeing that all Fan vote winners have been inducted, it's very possible that these two, when nominated, could top that poll.  So, if both do, does that mean they are automatically are in? Priest's fan base is pretty large, but Lemmy is one of Metal's most loved figures. 

Kate Bush -  While she never was as big in America as she was in England, her stature as one of the best songwriter/performers has only grown in the last twenty years.  Her influence was huge on many female singer-songwriters that emerged throughout the 90's and today. 

Kool & The Gang -  Just expanding on my Commodores post above.  Another Populist R&B acts.   Before they had Pop crossover 80's hits, Kool & The Gang were a pioneering 70's Funk band, who then morphed into a hit-making crossover act in the 80's. In 2018 they will celebrate (pun intended) their 50th anniversary. Look, it's time the Hall nominated some big-selling Old School R&B acts like Barry White, Luther Vandross and the other names I mentioned in my Commodores post.  But seeing how hard it's been for Chaka Khan and of course, Chic, to get in, I have little faith another 70's/80's R&B act like Kool & The Gang would get much love.  But I'll remain hopeful.

Monkees -  It's now just a question of when the NomCom will get permission from Jann Wenner to slot them in on the ballot.  (that last sentence is not sarcasm)

Moody Blues - The Yes snub had me thinking quite a bit about this one.  It's true that the Moody Blues haven't been nominated because critics, and many NomCom members, never liked them.  That was true with the old NomCom. But here comes populism.  With Rush, Yes, Genesis breaking the Prog barrier, the Moody's should go in right away. 

Neil Sedaka - In 2009, Leon Russell, thanks to Elton John, became the first inductee under the newly minted Musical Excellence category.  So, why hasn't Elton thought of pushing another one of his influences (signed him to Rocket Records in the 70's  and sang on Neil's #1 "Bad Blood") into the Hall?  Sedaka's catalog of hits, and longevity, might be enough for the nostalgic vote. But, sadly, the NomCom seems to have moved on from early Rock era performers.  Sedaka is another name that some will think is already inducted.  Eventually early Rock era artists like this, deserving, but left behind by the Hall, will have to go in by a newly minted Veterans Committee (which I've been advocating for years).  Sedaka is also in the Songwriters Hall.  

Neville Brothers/Aaron Neville -  Sometimes the NomCom forgets about artists.  Could be the case here. True, the 3X nominated Meters haven't been able to get in.  But the Neville Brothers are as much of an New Orleans institution as 2011 inductee Dr. John.   Aaron's solo career has been worthy as well. 

Nina Simone - The 2015 Oscar-nominated documentary on her life brought her career back into the spotlight.  So, many thought she would get a nomination based on the critical acclaim from the doc.  So far, it hasn't happened.  But I'm still hopeful and when it does, betting she'll get lots of support. Could also be an Early Influence pick.

Patsy Cline - Her legacy goes beyond the Country market, and into the Pop one, thanks to many crossover hits.  Ex-NomCom member Robert Hilburn was a big advocate for her induction. See my ending sentence from the Glen Campbell entry about Country artists MIA from the Hall.  Another Early Influence Candidate.

Radiohead -  A critically-loved Alt-Rock band that also has a loyal fans.  I think they will sail in when eligible in 2017 (2018 ceremony).  

Rage Against The Machine - Doesn't matter if Tom Morello is on the NomCom, they are another band that gained much acclaim and should do well in the fan vote.  Morello's a popular industry face/voice, and they should get many votes from current Hall members. Eligible 2017 (2018 ceremony). 

Roxy Music - Maybe I'm being too optimistic.  They only had 1 Top 40 record in the U.S. But Bryan Ferry's band was a critical favorite. And are often mentioned as a major snub.  Add them to the list of names most people can't believe have never been nominated (e.g. Cocker, Moody's, etc.)

Soundgarden - Eligible since 2011, which means they've waited as Nirvana and Pearl Jam have been inducted.  Not as popular as those two bands, but still around, and have the catalog to push them in right away.  I'm not sure how Chris Cornell's death will impact a nomination.  But before that I've been thinking they were pretty close to a nomination.  And don't forget NomCom member Tom Morello's Audioslave connection with Cornell.

Todd Rundgren - After Something/Anything, his solo career probably became too esoteric.  Maybe that's hurt him.  But add his Production work to his solo hits, and his case becomes even stronger.  Another candidate for the Musical Excellence slot.

Warren Zevon - Definitely a favorite among many current Hall of Famers.  Once he's on, he's in.

Whitney Houston - If Janet Jackson couldn't get in on her first try, then Whitney might have a hard time as well.  But maybe by the time they nominate her (which could be after Janet and Chaka Khan get in), voters will be more welcome to 80's R&B artists (yeah, I know, slim chance, but I'll keep hoping).  Even one as iconic as Whitney.

Willie Nelson/Kris Kristofferson - Two legendary Country Outlaws. Nelson would be just too big a giant for voters to pass up.   Willie's reach extended over to Rock musicians, who have covered his songs. As I wrote in my Glen Campbell post above, not many Country artists inducted anymore.  He would also be a great Musical Excellence pick.  Speaking of writers.  Kristofferson's legacy rests with the great songs he wrote in the late 60's/70's.  More famous as a songwriter (or actor) he still had a few hit records of his own.  Another name whose music was covered beyond Country acts.  How about the Hall do the right thing for 2018 and nominate or even better, induct Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson in the Musical Excellence category.  

Notes:  Other names that I considered:  Cher/Sonny & Cher, Tom Jones, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Jimmy Buffett

Remember: Current Hall members are still an older voting bloc.  Even though the NomCom would have loved to see the Smiths, Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction and Depeche Mode get in right away, the more conservative bloc of voters might be keeping them out.  So what has the Hall done?  They are starting to seek out newer, younger voters among critics, writers, etc., to try and get those artists from the 80's inducted.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

RIP Glen Campbell

"Wichita Lineman" was one of the first songs I remember hearing coming from my sister's little AM radio.  She had it tuned to Top 40 stations, and in late '68 that song was a big hit.  It has stuck with me decades later.  The song is certainly one of the greatest arranged records.  It's haunting and Campbell's delivery and bass solo are perfect.

Then there was the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran from 69-72.  My parents watched these type of music variety shows (the Johnny Cash & Tom Jones shows also), and I remember seeing the Campbell show quite often.  In fact, my Dad had a couple of his 8-track's that got played often around the house.

Campbell's classic period from 67-77 was also the peak years for the genre called Countrypolitan.  In other words, Country music with traces of Pop/strings/Orchestration, etc.  Purists weren't amused, but the records have outlasted them.  And Campbell, along with Charlie Rich, Anne Murray, etc. was at the forefront of it.

After 1978, Campbell's Pop hits dried up, but throughout the 80's he charted many Top 40 Country hits.  In the decades after, the records slowed down, but in 2008 & 2011 he made two strong albums. The 2014 documentary was often quite heartbreaking as it showed Campbell in the early stages of Alzheimer's and on his farewell tour.

I've been advocating Campbell for a Rock Hall slot for a few years.  He's not only a strong candidate in the performer category, but also as a Musical Excellence pick.  The credentials are there:  his many Pop/Country hits plus his work with the Wrecking Crew in the mid-60's.  And don't forget touring with the Beach Boys during that time.

Below are 20 of my favorite Glen Campbell songs spanning the 60's to the 2010's.

1.  Wichita Lineman
2.  Rhinestone Cowboy
3.  By The Time I Get To Phoenix
4.  Galveston
5.  Gentle On My Mind
6.  Southern Nights
7.  Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In L.A.)
8.  Try A Little Kindness
9.  Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
10.  Guess I'm Dumb
11.  Hand That Rocks The Cradle (w/Steve Wariner)
12.  True Grit
13.  Still Within The Sound Of My Voice
14.  Honey Come Back
15.  It's Only Make Believe
16.  Can You Fool
17.  Bonaparte's Retreat
18.  Highwayman
19.  Sunflower
20.  These Days

Monday, August 07, 2017

Playlist for 8/7

Defiant Ones - (HBO Documentary)
Jason Eady - s/t
Kasey Chambers - Dragonfly
Gov't Mule - Revolution Come Revolution Go
Charley Pride - Music In My Heart
Dinah Washington - Newport '58
Haim - Something To Tell You
Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life
Perfume Genius - No Shape
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