Wednesday, December 31, 1986

Pop Memories 1890-1954 – Top 100 Artists

image from recordresearch.com

This list is taken from page 623 of Joel Whitburn’s Pop Memories 1890-1954. That book was designed as a companion to the Billboard books which tracked the songs which charted on the Hot 100 from 1955 to the present. The book lists acts alphabetically and all their hits, including peak position and date first charted. This list was created by totaling each act’s chart points.

1. Bing Crosby
2. Paul Whiteman
3. Guy Lombardo
4. Tommy Dorsey
5. Billy Murray
6. Benny Goodman
7. Glenn Miller
8. Henry Burr
9. Peerless Quartet
10. Harry MacDonough

11. Ben Selvin
12. Ted Lewis
13. Al Jolson
14. Sammy Kaye
15. Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan
16. Perry Como
17. Jimmy Dorsey
18. Frank Sinatra
19. Charles Adams Prince
20. The Andrews Sisters

21. Freddy Martin
22. Kay Kyser
23. John McCormack
24. Leo Reisman
25. Isham Jones
26. Rudy Vallee
27. Eddy Duchin
28. American Quartet
29. Dinah Shore
30. Harry James

31. Jo Stafford
32. Haydn Quartet
33. Ada Jones
34. Duke Ellington
35. Louis Armstrong
36. Vaughn Monroe
37. Fats Waller
38. Glen Gray
39. Jan Garber
40. Hal Kemp

41. The Mills Brothers
42. Ruth Etting
43. Byron Harlan
44. Gene Austin
45. Ray Noble
46. Russ Morgan
47. Nat Shilkret
48. Fred Waring
49. Arthur Collins
50. Nat “King” Cole

51. Albert Campbell
52. Artie Shaw
53. George Olsen
54. Horace Heidt
55. Len Spencer
56. Frankie Laine
57. Ada Jones and Billy Murray
58. Enrico Caruso
59. Woody Herman
60. Frank Stanley

61. Marion Harris
62. Cal Stewart
63. The Ink Spots
64. Eddy Howard
65. Ella Fitzgerald
66. Ben Bernie
67. Dick Haymes
68. Walter Van Brunt
69. Patti Page
70. Nora Bayes

71. Dan Quinn
72. Eddie Fisher
73. Bob Crosby
74. Fred Astaire
75. Larry Clinton
76. Cab Calloway
77. Shep Fields
78. Margaret Whiting
79. George J. Gaskin
80. Charles Harrison

81. Doris Day
82. Bert Williams
83. Billie Holiday
84. Teddy Wilson
85. Ozzie Nelson
86. J.W. Myers
87. Ted Weems
88. Wayne King
89. Tony Martin
90. Vic Damone

91. Lewis James
92. Frank Crumit
93. Peggy Lee
94. Vincent Lopez
95. Cliff Edwrads
96. John Phillip Sousa
97. Vess Ossman
98. Connee Boswell
99. Kay Starr
100. Johnny Mercer


Resources:
  • Joel Whitburn (1991). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Record Research: Menomonee Falls, WI. Page 623.

Saturday, December 20, 1986

The Beastie Boys charted with “Fight for Your Right”: December 20, 1986

Originally posted December 20, 2011.

image from imstars.aufeminin.com

The fourth single from the Beastie Boys’ debut album made them a household name. Their goofy wit and party atmosphere endured them to millions – millions who flocked to buy the parent album, Licensed to Ill and give the Beasties the distinction of being the first rap group in U.S. history to hit #1 on the Billboard album chart.

The song – and the success of the album – owed much to the Beasties’ combination of metal and rap. The Beastie Boys were “just three kids from rich New York families who liked black culture.” CR With the help of producer Rick Rubin, they merged the sounds of Led Zeppelin with the style of old school rap. It wasn’t the first time rock and rap had found chart success – just months earlier, Rubin helped Run-D.M.C. get a top 5 U.S. pop hit with their remake of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” – aided by Aerosmith’s own Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.

“Fight for Your Right” was intended as a parody of the kind of “beer-soaked, panty-raiding rock jam that ruled fraternity houses and dingy bars alike.” TB The video, which depicted “the party that is every suburban parent’s worst nightmare” TB played up the parody and garnered it plenty of spins on MTV.

Unfortunately, as member Mike D said, “There were tons of guys singing along to ‘Fight for Your Right’ who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them.” WK In fact, the song was reportedly cut just as a joke. Once the group became superstars thanks to their new frat-boy fanbase, they played up the roles until, according to Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch, they had become their own joke. SF

In time, the group would come to be very respected for their experimental music and ability to merge different genres. Rap group Public Enemy was on board early, even sampling the song for their own 1988 “Party for Your Right to Fight”.

You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party


Awards:



Resources and Related Links:

Friday, December 19, 1986

Judge refuses to reinstate a lawsuit against Ozzy Osbourne’s “Suicide Solution”: December 19, 1986

Originally posted December 19, 2011.



October 26, 1984: 19-year-old John McCullum committed suicide in his home in California. His parents brought a lawsuit against heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne and his CBS record label. The McCullums were convinced that the song “Suicide Solution” from Ozzy’s Blizzard of Oz album, played a part in their son’s death. They claimed the song had hidden lyrics which incited their son to kill himself and that the song urged listeners to “get the gun and try it, shoot, shoot, shoot.” HI Osbourne responded that the song was actually anti-suicide, written in response to a musician who drank himself to death, HI supposedly AC/DC’s Bon Scott. WK

The crux of the lawsuit depended on the idea that while it is legal to express a viewpoint or feeling, it is illegal to directly call for any specific violent responses. Specifically, in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that “expression advocating violent or otherwise illegal behavior only loses First Amendment protection if the expression is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless behavior, and is likely to result in such action.” TJ Because this is hard to prove, similar lawsuits brought against other entertainers have generally failed. On December 19, 1986, a judge in California refused to reinstate the lawsuit.





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Saturday, November 29, 1986

Bruce Springsteen live box set debuted at #1

First posted 2/14/2011; updated 11/16/2020.

Live 1975/1985

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band


Released: November 10, 1986


Recorded: October 18, 1975 to September 30, 1985


Peak: 17 US, 4 UK, 17 CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.1 UK, 12.3 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic heartland rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts. Chart information is for original studio releases for pre-1986 songs. The raised numbers indicate the studio album on which the song was originally featured.

Disc 1:

  1. Thunder Road (1975, 1 CL) 3
  2. Adam Raised a Cain (1978, 42 CL) 4
  3. Spirit in the Night (5/73, 9 CL) 1
  4. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (1973, 9 CL) 2
  5. Paradise by the “C”
  6. Fire (11/22/86, 46 US, 54 UK, 14 AR)
  7. Growin’ Up (1973, 19 CL) 1
  8. It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City (1973, 23 CL) 1
  9. Backstreets (1975, 12 CL) 3
  10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (1973, 4 CL) 2
  11. Raise Your Hand (12/20/86, 44 AR)
  12. Hungry Heart (10/21/80, 5 US, 6 CB, 3 CL, 28 UK, 5 CN, 33 AU) 5
  13. Two Hearts 5

Disc 2:

  1. Cadillac Ranch (3/28/81, 48 AR, 11 CL) 5
  2. You Can Look But You Better Not Touch 5
  3. Independence Day 5
  4. Badlands (8/78, 42 US, 52 CB, 6 CL, 44 CN) 4
  5. Because the Night (12/6/86, 22 AR)
  6. Candy’s Room (1978, 11 CL) 4
  7. Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978, 17 CL) 4
  8. Racing in the Street (1978, 11 CL) 4
  9. This Land Is Your Land
  10. Nebraska 6
  11. Johnny 99 (10/9/82, 50 AR) 6
  12. Reason to Believe 6
  13. Born in the U.S.A. (6/23/84, 9 US, 6 CB, 8 AR, 5 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, gold single) 7
  14. Seeds

Disc 3:

  1. The River (6/13/81, 19 CL, 35 UK) 5
  2. War (11/22/86, 8 US, 18 UK, 4 AR)
  3. Darlington County 7
  4. Working on the Highway 7
  5. The Promised Land (10/78, 21 CL) 4
  6. Cover Me (6/23/84, 7 US, 16 UK, 2 AR, gold single) 7
  7. I’m on Fire (2/16/85, 5a US, 5 UK, 6 AC, 4 AR) 7
  8. Bobby Jean (6/23/84, 36 AR) 7
  9. My Hometown (11/21/85, 6 US, 7 CB, 11 AC, 6 AR, 9 UK, 16 CN, 47 AU, gold single) 7
  10. Born to Run (8/25/75, 23 US, 1 CL, 16 UK, 53 CN, 38 AU) 3
  11. No Surrender (6/16/84, 29 AR) 7
  12. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (1/10/76, 83 US, 5 CL, 82 CN) 3
  13. Jersey Girl

1 Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (1973)
2 The Wild, the Innocent, & the Street Shuffle (1973)
3 Born to Run (1975)
4 Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
5 The River (1980)
6 Nebraska (1982)
7 Born in the U.S.A. (1984)


Total Running Time: 216:13


The Players:

  • Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
  • Roy Bittan (piano, synthesizer, backing vocals)
  • Clarence Clemons (saxophone, percussion, backing vocals)
  • Danny Federici (organ, accordian, glockenspiel, piano, synthesizer, backing vocals)
  • Nils Lofgren (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Patti Scialfa (backing vocals, synthesizer)
  • Garry Tallent (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Van Zandt (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Max Weinberg (drums)

Rating:

4.084 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)


Quotable: --


Awards:

About the Album:

“Long before he sold substantial numbers of records, Bruce Springsteen began to earn a reputation as the best live act in rock & roll. Fans had been clamoring for a live album for a long time, and with Live/1975-85 they got what they wanted, at least in terms of bulk. His concerts were marathons, and this box set, including 40 tracks and running over three and a half hours, was about the average length of a show.” AMG

Anticipation was so high, the album generated over 1.5 million advance orders, the largest dollar-volume pre-order in record business history at that time. WK The album debuted at #1, a feat last seen a decade earlier with Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. It was the first five-record set to reach the top 10 and the first to sell more than a million copies. WK The album was certified for sales of 12 million; U.S. sales were actually 4 million, but the RIAA multiplies that figure by the number of discs in the collection. The only live album certified for more was Garth Brooks’ Double Live at 13 times platinum. WK

“In his brief liner notes, Springsteen spoke of the emergence of the album’s ‘story’ as he reviewed live tapes, and that story seems nothing less than a history of his life, his concerns, and his career. The first cuts present the Springsteen of the early to mid-‘70s; these performances, most of them drawn from a July 1978 show at the Roxy in Los Angeles, present the romantic, hopeful, earnest Springsteen.” AMG

“The second section begins with his first Top Ten hit, Hungry Heart – this is the Springsteen of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, an arena rock star with working-class concerns. After an acoustic mini set given largely to material from Nebraska – songs of economic desperation and crime – comes a reshuffling of Born in the U.S.A., songs in which the artist and his characters start to fight back and rock out.” AMG Surprisingly, ‘Dancing in the Dark,” his #2 hit from that album and highest-charting song of his career, doesn’t make the cut. He does, of course, include his most iconic song, Born to Run, the “unofficial state anthem” AMG of New Jersey.

Reviews were “overwhelmingly positive,” WK but some critics cited the omission of concert highlights such as “Prove It All Night,” “The Fever,” and his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” WK “Fans could rejoice in the seven previously unreleased songs,” AMG which included a cover of Edwin Starr’s War and Fire, a song written by Springsteen and a top-ten hit for the Pointer Sisters in 1979.

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Saturday, November 15, 1986

Nov. 15, 1986: Robert Cray's Strong Persuader hit the charts

First posted May 29, 2008. Last updated September 9, 2018.

Strong Persuader

Robert Cray

Charted: Nov. 15, 1986


Sales (in millions):
US: 2.0
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 2.0


Peak:
US: 13
UK: 34
Canada: 34
Australia: --

Quotable: --


Genre: blues


Album Tracks:

  1. Smoking Gun (11/29/86, #22 US, #2 AR)
  2. I Guess I Showed Her (3/28/87, #28 AR)
  3. Right Next Door (Because of Me) (5/9/87, #80 US, #50 UK, #27 AR)
  4. Nothin’ But a Woman
  5. Still Around
  6. More Than I Can Stand
  7. Foul Play
  8. I Wonder
  9. Fantasized
  10. New Blood

Notes: A 1995 reissue added a bonus live disc.


Singles/Hit Songs:

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

Review:

Strong Persuader, Cray’s fifth studio album, was his mainstream breakthrough, opening up blues to a wider audience than it had received in decades. The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called it “the first album to break out of the genre’s sales ghetto since B.B. King was a hot item” WK and “the best blues record in many, many years.” WK

It was Cray’s “innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic.” BD In his Rolling Stone review, Jon Pareles called it “a version of blues and soul that doesn't come from any one region, building an idiom for songs that tell with conversational directness the stories of ordinary folks.” WK

The album was heavily praised by Christgau for the “fervently crafted” WK “songwriting of his supporting studio team.” WK Pareles gave it props for “intriguing stories about sex and infidelity with disciplined singing, songwriting.” WK

“Cray’s smoldering stance on Smoking Gun and Right Next Door rendered him the first sex symbol to emerge from the blues field in decades.” BDNothing but a Woman boasts an irresistible groove pushed by the Memphis Horns and some metaphorically inspired lyrics, while I Wonder and Guess I Showed Her sizzle with sensuality.” BD

The Village Voice called it the third best album of the year WK and Rolling Stone named it the 42nd best album of the ‘80s. WK


Review Source(s):

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Saturday, October 25, 1986

Bon Jovi hit #1 with Slippery When Wet: October 25, 1986

Originally posted October 25, 2011.




Bon Jovi hit the rock scene in 1984. Their debut chart single, “Runaway”, cracked the top 40 on the pop charts and went top 5 at rock radio. However, the handful of singles which followed over the rest of that album and the next came and went with much less fanfare. It looked like Bon Jovi could well become an also-ran that would be lucky to be remembered beyond the ‘80s.

Then came the monster that was Slippery When Wet. The group tweaked its approach, bring professional songwriter Desmond Child on board. WK It worked – the band went “from minor-league poodle rockers to global superstars” RD thanks to two #1 songs (“You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer”) co-written by Child.

As “Name” was still climbing the charts, Wet found itself at #1 on the album chart. It abdicated the throne to Boston’s Third Stage the next week. After that album’s month-long stay on top, Bruce Springsteen grabbed the gold for seven weeks with his Live 1975-1975 box set. However, by the time “Prayer” became the band’s second #1 song in February 1987, the album returned to the top as well – for an additional seven weeks.

Wet went on to sell 12 million copies domestically and 28 million worldwide. While “lead singer Jon Bon Jovi’s mop of curls and winning smile” WR grabbed the girls’ attention, their “rock-as-mythology” WR attitude also meant “they had identified their audience – young white adolescent males – and were targeting it accurately.” WR “The album contained competent contemporary pop/rock from its Eddie Van Halen-inspired guitar solos to the singer’s enthusiastic, husky wail (which owed a lot to Bruce Springsteen).” WR Overall, the “album contains its fair share” RD of “consistently memorable tunes.” RD and while it “won’t change your world…it will, undoubtedly, rock it.” RD




Awards:
Resources and Related Links:



Monday, October 20, 1986

Crowded House released “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

First posted 10/23/2020; updated 10/25/2020.

Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House

Writer(s): Neil Finn (see lyrics here)


Released: October 20, 1986


Peak: 2 US, 3 CB, 3 RR, 9 AC, 11 AR, 1 CO, 25 UK, 1 CN, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK, 0.4 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 211.3 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

New Zealand-born singer/songwriter Neil Finn got his big break in the late ‘70s when older brother Tim invited him to join his band Split Enz. Over the next few years, Neil assumed co-frontman duties (most notably on 1980’s “I Got You”) and even led the band briefly before its demise when Tim left for a solo career. Neil and the drummer from Split Enz then formed the Mullanes in 1984, which later became Crowded House rounded out by bassist Nick Seymour, whose older brother was Mark, leader of Hunters & Collectors.

The trio released their self-titled debut in August 1986. It was preceded by singles “Mean to Me” and “World Where You Live,” which were minor hits in Australia. Third single “Now We’re Getting Somewhere,” sadly, went nowhere and it looked like Crowded House might be nothing more than an afterthought to the more successful Split Enz. However, the fourth single from the album was a hit. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” reached #2 in the U.S. in April 1987. It also went to #1 in New Zealand and Canada. It was a top-10 hit in Australia, Norway, and the Netherlands.

Finn said he wrote the “majestic ballad” WK on his brother’s piano and that it was “about, on the one hand feeling kind of lost, and on the other sort of urging myself on.” SF In 2016, he said “I’m super pleased and proud that the song that is almost the most identiable for us is, I think, one of my best songs.” SF Seymour said it was “about not giving up hope and succumbing to the effects of the mass media and consumerism.” WK Naturally it was used in commercials for the New Zealand Tourism Commission. SF

The video featured surreal images of household objects floating in the air. Finn plays guitar and walks through the house while his bandmates are doing chores or playing background instruments. At the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, it earned the group a Best New Artist award. It was also nominated for Best Group Video and Best Direction.


Resources and Related Links:

Monday, October 6, 1986

Aha released Scoundrel Days

First posted 1/18/2009; updated 9/10/2020.

Scoundrel Days

A-ha


Released: October 6, 1986


Peak: 74 US, 2 UK, -- CN, 17 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.3 UK, 0.3 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: synth pop


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Scoundrel Days
  2. The Swing of Things
  3. I’ve Been Losing You (9/22/86, 8 UK, 21 AU)
  4. October
  5. Manhattan Skyline (2/16/87, 13 UK)
  6. Cry Wolf (11/24/86, 50 US, 5 UK, 45 AU)
  7. We’re Looking for the Whales
  8. The Weight of the Wind
  9. Maybe, Maybe
  10. Soft Rains of April


Total Running Time: 38:41


The Players:

  • Morten Harket (vocals, guitar)
  • Magne Furuholmen (keyboards, guitar, bass)
  • Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars, drums, percussion)

Rating:

3.938 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)

About the Album:

“While not quite as strong as the band’s debut, Scoundrel Days is still a-ha succeeding as a marketed ‘pretty boy’ band which can connect musically and lyrically as much as any musical sacred cow. The opening two songs alone make for one of the best one-two opening punches around: the tense edge of the title track, featuring one of Morten Harket’s soaring vocals during the chorus and a crisp, pristine punch in the music, and The Swing of Things, a moody, elegant number with a beautiful synth/guitar arrangement (plus some fine drumming courtesy of studio pro Michael Sturgis) and utterly lovelorn lyrical sentiments that balance on the edge of being overheated without quite going over.” AMG

“Although the rest of the disc never quite hits as high as the opening, it comes close more often than not. A definite downturn is the band’s occasional attempts to try and prove themselves as a ‘real’ band by rocking out, as on I’ve Been Losing You; there’s really no need for it, and as a result they sound much more ‘fake,’ ironically enough.” AMG

“Other songs can perhaps only be explained by the need to translate lyrics – We’re Looking for the Whales isn’t an environmental anthem, and neither is Cry Wolf, but both also don’t really succeed in using nature as romantic metaphor.” AMG

“When a-ha are on, though, they’re on – October snakes along on a cool bass/keyboard arrangement and a whispery vocal from Harket; Maybe Maybe is a quirky little pop number that’s engagingly goofy; while Soft Rains of April captures the band at its most dramatic, with the string synths giving Harket a perfect bed to launch into a lovely vocal, concluding with a sudden, hushed whisper. The ‘80s may be long gone, but Scoundrel Days makes clear that not everything was bad back then.” AMG

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Saturday, September 27, 1986

Sept. 27, 1986: Phantom of the Opera opened in London

First posted January 28, 2012. Last updated September 4, 2018.

Phantom of the Opera (cast/soundtrack)

Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/ Richard Stilgoe (composers)

Opened in London: September 27, 1986

Cast Album Released: April 20, 1987

Opened on Broadway: January 26, 1988

Soundtrack Released: Nov. 23, 2004


Sales (in millions):
US: 4.0 c, 4.0 h, 1.0 s
UK: 0.9 c
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 14.1 c+h+s


Peak:
US: 33 c, 46 h, 16 s
UK: 1 3-c, 40 s
Canada: --
Australia: --

C cast album
H cast album – highlights
S soundtrack

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks:

  1. Prologue
  2. Overture h, s
  3. Think of Me h, s
  4. Angel of Music h, s
  5. The Mirror (Angel of Music) h, s
  6. The Phantom of the Opera (Sarah Brightman, 1/11/86, #7 UK) h, s
  7. The Music of the Night h, s
  8. I Remember/ Stranger Than You Dream
  9. Magical Lasso
  10. Prima Donna h, s
  11. Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh
  12. Why Have You Brought Me Here/
  13. All I Ask of You (Sarah Brightman & Steve Harley, 10/4/86, #7 UK) s
  14. All I Ask of You (Reprise) h, s
  15. Entr’acte h
  16. Masquerade h, s
  17. Notes/ Twisted Every Way
  18. Wishing You Were Here Somehow Here Again (Sarah Brightman, 1/10/87, #7 UK) h, s
  19. Wandering Child/ Bravo Monsieur
  20. The Point of No Return h, s
  21. Down Once More/ Track Down This Murderer h, s

h songs on one-disc highlight version
s songs on one-disc soundtrack version

The soundtrack also adds the brand new “Learn to Be Lonely,” performed by Minnie Driver. A special edition, double-disc version of the soundtrack includes film dialogue.

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

Review:

The Phantom of the Opera was originally a 1911 gothic mystery novel by French novelist Gaston Leroux. Ken Hill did a musical version of the book in 1976; ten years later it was adapted again by Andrew Lloyd Webber. “The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, who terrorizes the Paris Opera House.” WK

Initially Webber approached Jim Steinman, best known for collaborating with Meat Loaf on Bat Out of Hell, to write the lyrics because of his “dark obsessive side.” WK When Steinman declined because of commitments to working on Bonnie Tyler’s album, he recruited Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady, Camelot ), who unfortunately died soon after starting on the project. WK Next up was Richard Stilgoe, who also wrote lyrics for Webber’s Starlight Express. However, Webber deemed his lyrics “too witty and clever, rather than romantic” WK so Charles Hart was brought in to rewrite the lyrics. Stilgoe and Hart both got credit on the final version. WK

Phantom opened on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. It celebrated 9000 performances on May 31, 2008 and became “the second-longest-running West End musical of all time, behind Les Miserables.” WK It had similar success after opening in New York in January 1988, becoming “the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, breaking the record held by Lloyd Webber’s Cats.” WK It “won both the Olivier Award and Tony Award as the best musical in its debut years on the West End and Broadway.” WK

The musical has also been named “the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time.” WK The New York production is the “most financially successful Broadway show in history” WK with $600 million grossed. WK The show has played to over 100 million people in 124 cities in 25 countries. WK

Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, who starred in the West End production as the titular character and Christine respectively, also launched the Broadway debut. As such, the London cast album became the official recording and no Broadway version was made. WR Both a two-disc set and a single-disc “highlights” set were made available, each selling 4 million copies in the U.S.

In 2004, Phantom was made into a movie starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom and Emily Rossum as Christine Daaé. It was also released in two editions – the double-disc version was the “the complete, unedited film soundtrack, including dialogue, incidental background music, and sound effects,” WR while the single-disc version was billed as the standard release.

Webber wrote “some extra background music here and there, as well as one new song, and that’s an oddity, too. Minnie Driver, who plays the prima donna Carlotta, had her singing dubbed by Margaret Preece, but she turns up at the end and, over the closing credits, sings Learn to Be Lonely, an irrelevant and musically out-of-place song clearly composed just to have a new tune that would be Academy Award-eligible. The film’s other singers are adequate but no competition to Crawford, Brightman, and their colleagues, and the initial recording remains the one to buy.” WR


Review Sources:

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Saturday, September 13, 1986

The Rainmakers' debut album charted

First posted 3/10/2011; updated 10/3/2020.

The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers


Released: August 1986


Charted: September 13, 1986


Peak: 85 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Genre: roots rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Rockin’ at the T-Dance [3:20]
  2. Downstream [3:31] (1986, --)
  3. Let My People Go-Go [3:38] (3/7/87, 18 UK)
  4. Doomsville [4:29]
  5. Big Fat Blonde [2:56]
  6. Long Gone Long [4:08]
  7. The One That Got Away [2:53]
  8. Government Cheese [2:54]
  9. Drinkin’ on the Job [3:46]
  10. Nobody Knows (Phillips) [3:32]
  11. Information (Clutter) [4:49]

Songs by Bob Walkenhorst unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 39:48


The Players:

  • Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitar)
  • Rich Ruth (bass, vocals)
  • Steve Phillips (guitar, vocals, lead vocal on “Nobody Knows”)
  • Pat Tomek (drums)

Rating:

4.543 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


Quotable: “The guitar power of [Chuck] Berry with the social wit of [Mark] Twain into a unique brand of Missouri rock n’ roll.” – Rainmakers.com


Awards:

About the Album:

The Kansas City, Missouri-based group originally formed in 1983 as a trio comprised of guitarist Steve Phillips, singer/guitarist Bob Walkenhorst, and bassist Rich Ruth. They initially went by the wildly original name of Steve, Bob, and Rich. They gained a following throughout the Midwest and released the album Balls. When they added drummer Pat Tomek, they rechristened themselves the Rainmakers and were signed to Polygram Records.

Their self-titled debut “received positive reviews in the U.S. entertainment media including Newsweek magazine, which dubbed it ‘the most auspicious debut album of the year.” W-B The band made a fan of horror writer Stephen King, who quoted the band’s lyrics in his novels The Tommyknockers and Gerald’s Game. However, their greatest success came overseas. W-B

Walkenhorst said the band were finishing a European tour and reception hadn’t been great. By the last show on December 20, 1986 in Oslo, Norway, the band were just ready to get it over with and go home. To their surprise, they arrived to a sold-out venue with fans singing along to every song. Apparently they had been reviewed in the country’s music magazine and radio there had embraced them. TF

“Let My People Go-Go”

Let My People Go-Go, based on the American Negro spiritual “Go Down Moses,” made it to #18 on the UK charts. W-B The song offers a nod to Little Richard by having God sing his line “a womp bop a lu bop a lop bam boom.” PK The listener is also treated to Jesus Christ quoting the Coasters’ “Charlie Brown” line “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”

“Big Fat Blonde”

“Go-Go” is one of four songs, along with “Nobody Knows,” “Information,” and “the unapologetic Big Fat Blonde,” MA that originated on Balls. The latter was, as Walkenhorst said, “so rude, so sexist that I don’t think anyone could take me seriously.” LR In the song he references a line from a J.D. Salinger story in which “Franny and Zooey ask why people paint, why they write, why they do anything creative…and the answer is, you do it for the fat lady, for an audience, to get recognized.” LR Walkenhorst acknowledges that the song “will follow me around like a cloud all of my life.” LR

“Downstream”

Not only do the Rainmakers reference Little Richard in “Go-Go”, but in Downstream they mention rock-and-roll architect Chuck Berry, as well as Missourians Harry Truman and Mark Twain. The homage to Berry is especially appropriate considering how much the band draws their roots-rock sound from artists such as him, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Bruce Springsteen. SH Walkenhorst said “when I was first getting started, there was nothing more uncool than Creedence…but it has lasted.” JK He also explained that when he first teamed with Steve Phillips, they were both CCR “fanatics – it was the best band that ever existed: hard, powerful vocals yet simple song structures.” LR Walkenhorst also said, “I admire Springsteen a lot…he hasn’t contradicted himself; he’s not acting like a god.” PK

Its also fitting that “Downstream” references Mark Twain. The history page on the Rainmakers’ website describes them as combining “the guitar power of Berry with the social wit of Twain into a unique brand of Missouri rock n’ roll.” RM It’s also been said that their “though-provoking rock and roll…recalls the lyrics of T-Bone Burnett…and the early Rolling Stones.” PK “Cross a more literate John Mellencamp with Webb Wilder and you have this…band sized up.” MA

“Drinkin’ on the Job”

How many bands can offer up “the classic line, ‘The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys,’” MA such as on Drinkin’ on the Job? It was named lyric line of the year by Music Connection. RM The “pun-filled” LR is a good example of Walkenhorst’s “talent for choosing unusual and sometimes controversial subjects…[in] an eye-opening perspective of life, sprinkled with sarcastic humor.” RM In this case, as he says, the song is “about substance abuse, fun that isn’t fun, like the jokes in the song.” LR

The album “sets the bar high with cutting social commentary and memorable tunes.” MA That can be attributed to songs that are “honest. Sung by Walkenhorst in a voice that has ‘a lot of Jaggerisms,’ as well as echoes of ex-Wall of Voodoo vocalist Standard Ridgeway, the B-52’s Fred Schneider, and the Cramps’ Lux Interior, they are full of real-life references and emotions.” LR “Walkenhorst’s lyrics are preoccupied with morality, although he avoids a moralizing tone.” PK Two of the band members’ fathers are preachers, which may explain some of the Biblical imagery throughout the album. Walkenhorst says, “I guess I’m still wrestling with religion, trying to sort things out.” PK

“Government Cheese”

Some, including the liberal New Republic magazine, decided the Rainmakers were a conservative band. Walkenhorst, however, said he though of himself as “an emotional anarchist and more left wing.” PK The song Government Cheese generated controversy for its condemnation of welfare via lines like “Give a man free food and he’ll figure out a way/To steal more than he can eat ‘cause he doesn’t have to pay.” It got the band booed at the label showcase performance in New York, PK but Walkenhorst denied the song was political. “It’s about human weakness: When people take something for free, it’s a whirlpool that sucks you under.” PK

He’s also said the welfare system “causes some people to regress. If you take it away entirely, it’s gonna hurt some people, but you may hurt more by keeping it. It’s a real tough question and the song is a very one-sided answer, just to get people to think about it.” LR

“Long Gone Long”

Nostalgia surfaces on “the gentle reminiscence, Long Gone LongLR which Walkenhorst says “has a lot of the funny episodes that happened in the town where I gew up…It’s not as sentimental as John Cougar or Bryan Adams would have made it, but each incident means something, although the person doesn’t know exactly what at the time it happens.” LR

“Rockin’ at the T-Dance”

On Rockin’ at the T-Dance, Walkenhorst references two tragedies – an incident from 1967 in which three Apollo astronauts died during training and the early ‘80s collapse of Kansas City’s Hyatt walkways, killing people during an afternoon tea dance. He turns the song into a statement about “pride in workmanship.” LR He calls it an “angry song” and says “you have to be responsible for your job.” LR

Final Thoughts

I, for one, think the Rainmakers were fantastic at their job. They never achieved big-time success, essentially being the lifelong artists who still have to maintain a waiter job on the side. However, they turned out witty, fun songs which were often superior to the more successful work of their contemporaries. They pointed a poignant finger at the problems of the world, even if the world’ wasn’t listening.


Notes:

A 2010 reissue added an acoustic version of “Long Gone Long,” a live version of “Doomsville,” and non-album cuts “Carpenter’s Son” and “Rockabilly Standard.”

Review Sources:


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Friday, September 12, 1986

Billie Holiday charted with “Summertime,” the most recorded song in history, fifty years ago today (9/12/1936)

First posted 1/24/2020.

Summertime

Billie Holiday

Writer(s): George Gershwin (music)/ DuBose Heyward/Ira Gershwin (lyrics) (see lyrics here)


First Charted: September 12, 1936


Peak: 12 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards for Holiday’s version:

Awards for Sidney Bechet’s version:

Review:

It has been widely reported and accepted for years that the Beatles’ “Yesterday” is the most recorded song of all time. It isn’t. Not by a longshot. The song has been said to be recorded as many as four thousand times, but a group known as the Summertime Connection says they know of at least 82,000 public performances of “Summertime,” of which more than 67,000 have been recorded. GW

Despite all those recordings, the song astonishingly only charted once in the first 50+ years of recorded music PM when Billie Holiday took it to #12 in 1936. In the rock era, versions by Sam Cooke, Al Martino, the Marcels, Ricky Nelson, and the Chris Columbo Quintet all had minor hits with the song. In 1966, Billy Stewart had a top ten hit with the song. Fun Boy Three hit #18 with it on the UK charts in 1982. Janis Joplin’s blues-rock version with Big Brother & the Holding Company didn’t chart, but is one of the best known versions of the song. SF The song also became a jazz standard, with Sidney Bechet’s being the most popular.

George Gershwin composed the aria in 1934 for folk opera Porgy and Bess, based on the 1926 DuBose Heyward novel Porgy, a top seller about a South Carolina black community. Heyward and his wife Dorothy turned it into a Broadway play and Gershwin, after reading the novel and seeing the play, turned it into a musical, SF with his brother Ira and Heyward contributing lyrics. “Summertime” is sung four times throughout the musical, but most notably as a lullaby to a baby right after the overture.

The song mixed “elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century.” AMG Heyward was inspired by the lyrics for “All My Trials,” a southern folk spiritual lullaby. WK The song has also been considered an adaptation of the African American spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” WK Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim called the lyrics for this and “My Man’s Gone Now” “the best lyrics in the musical theater.” WM


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