Wednesday, December 8, 1976

The Eagles released Hotel California: December 8, 1976

Originally posted 12/8/11. Updated 3/1/13.

left to right: Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner


Release date: 8 December 1976
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Hotel California (2/26/77, #1 US, #8 UK, #10 AC, sales: 0.5 m) / New Kid in Town (12/18/76, #1 US, #20 UK, #2 AC, #43 CW, sales: 0.5 m) / Life in the Fast Lane (5/14/77, #11 US) / Wasted Time / Wasted Time (Reprise) / Victim of Love / Pretty Maids All in a Row / Try and Love Again / The Last Resort

Sales (in millions): 16.8 US, 1.5 UK, 31.4 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 18 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Hotel California proved a major milestone for the already immensely popular Eagles. The departure of Bernie Leadon and the arrival of guitarist Joe Walsh shifted the group’s sound from its original more country-rock leanings to a more straightforward rock sound. Walsh and guitarist Don Felder give the Eagles “arena-rock heft” WR and have much to do with this becoming “the Eagles’ biggest-selling regular album release, and one of the most successful rock albums ever.” WR

Life in the Fast Lane

Nowhere is that stylistic shift more apparent than on Life in the Fast Lane, a song which “drew a line between the band’s country-tinged past and rock and roll future” TL as it “captured coke culture in a catchphrase.” BL

That song was one of six which Don Henley either wrote or co-wrote, signaling another main shift for the Eagles. He was now “the band’s dominant voice, both as a singer and a lyricist.” WR Though his songs, he “sketches a thematic statement that begins by using California as a metaphor for a dark, surreal world of dissipation; comments on the ephemeral nature of success and the attraction of excess; branches out into romantic disappointment; and finally sketches a broad, pessimistic history of America that borders on nihilism.” WR

Those themes are clearly on display on the title track, “a sprawling epic” TL that “framed Hollywood…in terms so impressively vague they seemed mythic.” BL The song had “Satanic undertones that might have been subconsciously cribbed from Jethro Tull’s ‘We Used to Know’ when the bands toured together. As for the warm smell of colitas, fans are split on whether the word is Spanish slang for cannabis buds or an easy lay. Given the band and the era, the safest guess is both.” TL

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Friday, November 19, 1976

Nov. 19, 1976: studio album of Evita released

First posted November 14, 2010. Last updated September 4, 2018.

Evita (studio/cast/soundtrack)

Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice (composers)

Studio Album Released: Nov. 19, 1976

First Stage Production: June 21, 1978

Soundtrack Released: Nov. 12, 1996


Sales (in millions):
US: 1.0 C, 5.0 S
UK: 0.3 SR, 0.6 S
IFPI: 2.0 S
World (estimated): 1.3 C, 18.0 S


Peak:
US: 105 C, 2 S
UK: 4 SR, 11-S
Canada: --
Australia: --

SR Studio Album
C Cast Album
S Soundtrack

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks – Studio/Cast Album:

  1. Cinema in Buenos Aires, 26 July 1952
  2. Requiem for Evita / Oh What a Circus
  3. On This Night of a Thousand Stars / Eva and Magaldi / Eva Beware of the City
  4. Buenos Aires
  5. Goodnight and Thank You
  6. The Lady's Got Potential **
  7. Charity Concert / I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You
  8. Another Suitcase in Another Hall
  9. Dangerous Jade *
  10. A New Argentina
  11. On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada / Don’t Cry for Me Argentina
  12. High Flying, Adored
  13. Rainbow High
  14. Rainbow Tour
  15. The Actress Hasn’t Learned the Lines (You’d Like to Hear)
  16. And the Money Kept Rolling (In and Out)
  17. Santa Evita
  18. Waltz for Eva and Che
  19. She Is a Diamond
  20. Dice Are Rolling * / Eva’s Sonnet *
  21. Eva’s Final Broadcast
  22. Montage *
  23. Lament
* Unique to cast album
** Unique to studio album

Album Tracks – Soundtrack:

Disc 1:

  1. Cinema in Buenos Aires, 26 July 1952
  2. Requiem for Evita
  3. Oh What a Circus (ANTONIO BANDERAS / MADONNA)
  4. On This Night of a Thousand Stars (JIMMY NAIL)
  5. Eva and Magaldi / Eva Beware of the City (MADONNA / JIMMY NAIL / ANTONIO BANDERAS)
  6. Buenos Aires (MADONNA)
  7. Another Suitcase in Another Hall (MADONNA)
  8. Goodnight and Thank You (MADONNA / ANTONIO BANDERAS)
  9. The Lady's Got Potential (ANTONIO BANDERAS)
  10. Charity Concert / The Art of the Possible (MADONNA / JIMMY NAIL / ANTONIO BANDERAS) **
  11. I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You (MADONNA / JONATHAN PRYCE)
  12. Hello and Goodbye (MADONNA / JONATHAN PRYCE / ANDREA CORR) **
  13. Peron’s Latest Flame (MADONNA / ANTONIO BANDERAS) **
  14. A New Argentina (MADONNA / ANTONIO BANDERAS / JONATHAN PRYCE)
Disc 2:
  1. On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada 1 (JONATHAN PRYCE)
  2. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (MADONNA)
  3. On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada 2 (MADONNA) **
  4. High Flying, Adored (ANTONIO BANDERAS / MADONNA)
  5. Rainbow High (MADONNA)
  6. Rainbow Tour (ANTONIO BANDERAS / GARY BROOKER / MADONNA)
  7. The Actress Hasn’t Learned the Lines (You’d Like to Hear) (MADONNA / ANTONIO BANDERAS)
  8. And the Money Kept Rolling (In and Out) (ANTONIO BANDERAS)
  9. Partido Feminista (MADONNA) **
  10. She Is a Diamond (JONATHAN PRYCE)
  11. Santa Evita
  12. Waltz for Eva and Che (MADONNA / ANTONIO BANDERAS)
  13. Your Little Body Is Slowly Breaking Down (MADONNA / JONATHAN PRYCE) **
  14. You Must Love Me (MADONNA) **
  15. Eva’s Final Broadcast (MADONNA)
  16. Latin Chant **
  17. Lament (MADONNA / ANTONIO BANDERAS)
** Unique to soundtrack.

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (JULIE COVINGTON) c (11/12/76) #1 UK
  • Another Suitcase in Another Hall (BARBARA DICKSON) c (2/7/77) #18 UK
  • Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (SHADOWS) c (12/78) #5 UK
  • You Must Love Me s (11/2/96) #18 US, #10 UK, #15 AC, gold single
  • Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (MADONNA) s (12/28/96) #8 US, #3 UK, #21 AC
  • Another Suitcase in Another Hall (MADONNA) s (3/29/97) #7 UK

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Review:

Like they had with Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber presented Evita first as a studio album and then developed it into a stage production. It wasn’t a monstrous hit in the U.S. like the studio version of Superstar had been, but in the UK, it spawned a #1 hit with Don’t Cry for Me Argentina and a top 20 hit with Another Suitcase in Another Hall. R-C

For the opera based on the real-life Eva Peron, Webber “naturally drew upon Latin themes, at least of an ersatz sort (On This Night of a Thousand Stars aped Pérez Prado’s 1955 hit ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’), to add to his taste in pop/rock and affection for Puccini.” R-C For his part, Rice “had a big, rich story to tell about a social-climbing peasant who achieves the highest rungs of power, only to succumb to early death.” R-C He used “the fictional Che (based on Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara), to challenge Evita’s ruthlessness. The subject matter attracted the criticism that it glamorized a fascist, but Rice’s very point was to present a cautionary tale about the deceptive appeal of such a person.” R-C

“The choice of Julie Covington, who could negotiate the musical range of the title role and sing without warmth, was perfect; no stage successor matched her willingness to make Evita unsympathetic C.T. (Colm) Wilkinson's Che was her match, and the rest of the cast sang effectively.” R-C

Twenty years later, Madonna took the lead in the film version. She gambled on it establishing her “as a proper movie star and respected actress.” R-S She “gives a startlingly accomplished and nuanced performance,” R-S but it “is impossible to listen to her without getting the impression that she is trying really hard to be credible.” R-S

As such, the soundtrack “remains curiously unengaging,” R-S although it is “an exquisitely produced and expertly rendered” R-S “audio document of the entire film, since there is no dialogue in the movie.” R-S “Even with the faults, Evita has its merits, including the written-for-film ballad You Must Love Me, and is worth investigating. It just isn't the definitive work that it wishes to be.” R-S


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Friday, October 1, 1976

Bob Seger releases Night Moves: October 1, 1976

Originally posted October 1, 2011.



“Bob Seger recorded the bulk of Night Moves before Live Bullet brought him his first genuine success, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s similar in spirit to the introspective Beautiful Loser, even if it rocks harder and longer. Throughout much of the album, he’s coming to grips with being on the other side of 30 and still rocking.” STE Critic Robert Cristgau said the album is for those no longer in their teens, but that it is still comprised of classic rock and roll riffs in the vein of Chuck Berry or The Rolling Stones. WK Seger “floats back in time, turning in high-school memories, remembering when wandering down Mainstreet was the highlight of an evening, covering a rockabilly favorite in Mary Lou.” STE

“Stylistically, there’s not much change since Beautiful Loser, but the difference is that Seger and his Silver Bullet Band – who turn in their first studio album here – sound intense and ferocious, and the songs are subtly varied. Yes, this is all hard rock, but the acoustic ballads reveal the influence of Dylan and Van Morrison, filtered through a Midwestern sensibility, and the rockers reveal more of Seger’s personality than ever.” STE Rolling Stone reviewer Kit Rachlis said that Seger sounded like Rod Stewart and wrote like Bruce Springsteen. WK In addition, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section lends a hand on 4 of the album’s songs. WK

“Seger may have been this consistent before (on Seven, for example), but the mood had never been as successfully varied, nor had his songwriting been as consistent, intimate, and personal.” STE

“Thankfully, this was delivered to a mass audience eager for Seger, and it not only became a hit, but one of the universally acknowledged high points of late-‘70s rock & roll. And, because of his passion and craft, it remains a thoroughly terrific record years later.” STE




Awards: Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, September 28, 1976

Stevie Wonder released Songs in the Key of Life: September 28, 1976

Originally posted September 28, 2012.

image from revivalist.okayplayer.com


Release date: 28 September 1976
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Disc 1: Love’s in Need of Love Today / Have a Talk with God / Village Ghetto Land / Contusion / Sir Duke (4/2/77, #1 US, #2 UK, #1 RB, #3 AC) / I Wish (12/4/76, #1 US, #5 UK, #1 RB, #23 AC) / Knocks Me Off My Feet / Pastime Paradise / Summer Soft / Ordinary Pain

Disc 2: Isn’t She Lovely (1/8/77, #23 AC) / Joy Inside My Tears / Black Man / Ngiculela-Es Una Historia-I Am Singing / If It’s Magic / As (11/5/77, #36 US, #36 RB, #24 AC) / Another Star (8/27/77, #32 US, #29 UK, #18 RB, #29 AC)

EP: Saturn / Ebony Eyes / All Day Sucker / Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 * US, 0.3 UK, 11.0 world (includes US and UK)

* Because this is a double album, the RIAA certifies it as having sales of 10 million.

Peak: 114 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Thanks to a boatload of Grammys and a slew of hits in the early 1970s, Motown renewed Stevie Wonder’s contract to the tune of an unprecedented $13 million sum. Then two years went by – “an eternity in R&B.” TL However, he spent that time working relentlessly, sometimes logging 48-hour sessions. NRR The resulting album proved well worth it; it “featured more true classics than even most great artists write in a lifetime.” TL

Originally packaged as a double album plus an EP, Songs in the Key of Life, was “Wonder’s longest, most ambitious collection of songs.” AMG It “is a Grand Artistic Statement, meant to demonstrate Wonder’s ability to entertain just about any audience he chooses.” EK It is “like stumbling into a cave full of treasure” JM and not knowing “which piece of gold to stuff into [one’s] pocket first.” JM It “touched on nearly every issue under the sun, and did it all with ambitious (even for him), wide-ranging arrangements and some of the best performances of Wonder’s career.” AMG

Isn’t She Lovely

However, as is generally true of double albums, one can “argue what can get cut to make a lean, mean single album. Songs in the Key of Life could almost be gotten down to fighting weight just by cutting tracks off when they start to drag. Do we need three minutes of baby noises on Isn’t She Lovely,” EK an otherwise lovely celebration of the love for a newborn child? How about “the two-part, smooth-and-rough Ordinary PainAMG where “the second half…sounds like a completely different song?” EK The album showcases “all of Wonder’s most endearing characteristics – intricate and inventive arrangements, the sheer joy of music-making – and all of his most aggravating (mawkishness, a less-than-industrious approach to his lyrics) in one package.” EK “Stevie seems to be vacillating between pure genius and only-slightly-inspired mediocrity—sometimes within the same song.” JM “It’s like one of those giant novelty sundaes that’s free if you can finish it in one sitting. Delicious, but in the end a bit much.” EK It might be necessary to try “skipping by the schmaltzy, whip-creamed tracks and focusing on the funk and jazz fusion-driven scoops of goodness.” JM

As

One long track which holds up well is As, “which builds perfectly over the course of its seven minutes, thanks in large part to one of the most memorable choruses Stevie Wonder ever wrote (which is seriously freakin’ saying something).” EK It “could have/should have been the ‘Hey Jude’ of the 1970s.” EK

Sir Duke

Among highlights are “the torrid fusion jam ContusionAMG and Sir Duke, “a big, brassy hit tribute to the recently departed Duke Ellington.” AMG It ”is not only a delight, but it also something of a statement of purpose for Wonder. It’s telling that he name-checks Basie, Miller, Armstrong, Ellington, and Fitzgerald over, say, Mingus or Miles.” EK “The bumping poem to his childhood, I Wish,” AMG is “one of the most joyous of Stevie’s singles…[which is] really saying something.” EK

I Wish

While not organized as such, Songs in the Key of Life “contains nearly a full album on love and relationships, along with another full album on issues social and spiritual. Fans of the love album Talking Book can marvel that he sets the bar even higher here, with brilliant material like the tenderly cathartic and gloriously redemptive Joy Inside My Tears, …the bitterly ironic All Day Sucker, or another classic heartbreaker, Summer Soft.” AMG

“Those inclined toward Stevie Wonder the social-issues artist had quite a few songs to focus on as well: Black Man was a Bicentennial school lesson on remembering the vastly different people who helped build America.” AMG This “eight-minute tour of Stevie’s prowess as a musician and a lyricist” JM has been called “the apex of the album,” JM but can also be an example of excess. It “starts out great – positive message, bubbling funk, nice flourishes throughout. But as those teachers go on hectoring those poor students (which, by the way, flies in the face of all known pedagogical theories), [one] can’t help wishing they would just knock it off already.” EK

Pastime Paradise

Pastime Paradise examined the plight of those who live in the past and have little hope for the future.” AMG It became the basis for Coolio’s smash rip hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” nearly two decades later. Village Ghetto Land is “a fierce exposé of ghetto neglect set to a satirical baroque synthesizer” AMG while “Saturn found Stevie questioning his kinship with the rest of humanity and amusingly imagining paradise as a residency on a distant planet.” AMG

“If all this sounds overwhelming, it is; Stevie Wonder had talent to spare during the mid-‘70s, and instead of letting the reserve trickle out during the rest of the decade, he let it all go with one massive burst. (His only subsequent record of the ‘70s was the similarly gargantuan but largely instrumental soundtrack Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants).” AMG

Songs in the Key of Life was a powerhouse – a rare moment when a master was faced with a new level of pressure, and responded by taking his game to new heights.” TL


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Saturday, September 11, 1976

Boston charted with “More Than a Feeling”

Updated 1/21/2019.

image from theatlantic.com

More Than a Feeling

Boston

Writer(s): Tom Scholz (see lyrics here)


Released: Sept. 1976


First Charted: 9/11/1976


Peak: 5 US, 4 CB, 4 HR, 22 UK, 4 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 141.0


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Boston’s 1976 self-titled debut album proved to be a classic rock staple with “a sound that was unique and yet somehow familiar.” UCR “The distinctive tone of [Tom] Sholtz’s guitar coupled with the soaring vocals of Brad Delp became the trademark Boston sound.” UCR Critics and the press hated the band, often calling them “corporate rock,” UCR but the 17 million who bought the first album disagreed.

The lead single “More Than a Feeling,” was “an almost sickly sweet ear worm” UCR which served up “a rush of sunshine-laced guitars and vocals” UCR which sometimes blended so seamlessly as to seem to become one. Scholz “wasn’t your average poor struggling rocker; he was an M.I.T. graduate who invented his own effects pedal called ‘The Rockman.’” UCR He worked on the song for five years, recording in his basement WK with equipment he bought with money he earned from a job at Polaroid. SF

The Book of Rock Lists suggests that the song’s riff on the chorus may be an homage to the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.” Scholz has said the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” was the song’s main inspiration. WK In turn, “More Than a Feeling” inspired the riff for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” RS500 Scholz said he didn’t hear the similarity, but that he “consider[ed] it a compliment.” SF

Boston’s website explained that “Feeling” is about “the power an old song can have in your life.” WK The lyrics focus on the writer being discontent with the present and yearning for Marianne, a former lover, whose memory is evoked by an old familiar song. WK

Scholz confirmed there really was a Marianne. When he was 8 or 9 years old, he was “secretly in love” with a cousin who much much older. He also said, though, that the lyrics were about the ending of a school love affair. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.

Awards:


Saturday, September 4, 1976

Abba hits #1 in the UK with “Dancing Queen”: September 4, 1976

Originally posted September 4, 2012.


This content is taken from the The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, available at DavesMusicDatabase.com as a standard book or ebook!

This song has mistakenly been rumored to have been written for the wedding of the King and Queen of Sweden. KL Abba did debut the song at a televised tribute to Sweden’s Queen Silvia and King Gustaf XVI, a day before their marriage on June 19, 1976. SF However, since the song’s origins date to August 1975, TB it hardly could have been written with the nuptials in mind.

The lyrics deal with a visit to a disco, but the song hones in on the joy of dancing. AMG That has aided the song’s durability since it isn’t just tied to disco, but to the greater world of dance-pop music. AMG The song is “arguably the world’s first Europop disco hit” SF with a rhythm inspired by George McCrae’s 1974 “Rock Your Baby.” BBC

Björn Ulvaeus says that when he and Benny Andersson, his co-writer and co-member in Abba, finished mixing the instrumental track, he was so excited he drove all over Stockholm to find someone to listen to the song. He ended up at his sister’s house, playing it over and over. As he says, “We couldn’t believe how good it sounded.” BBC

Neither could the rest of the world. The song topped multiple international charts, BBC notably becoming the group’s biggest of their nine #1 songs in the U.K. and part of an 18 consective top ten singles streak. BR1 In the U.S., the song was the group’s best-selling single LW and only hit to reach the chart pinnacle.


Awards:


Resources and Related Links:
  • DMDB page for “Dancing Queen”
  • Abba’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • BBC BBC Radio 2 “Sold on Song Top 100” (2004).
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 458.
  • KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 222.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 137.
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 163.