Monday, January 30, 2012

The Top 50 Phil Collins and Genesis Songs

Phil Collins was born on January 30, 1951. He originally made his name as the drummer with Genesis in the early 1970s, but became the group’s singer after Peter Gabriel left in 1975. Under Collins’ guidance, the prog-rock outfit shifted to a more classic rock sound. Even as Genesis put out monster album after monster album, Collins also nurtured a solo career. In celebration of his b-day, here’s a list of Collins’ biggest songs – both with and without Genesis – as determined by Dave’s Music Database:

1. Another Day in Paradise (1989)
2. In the Air Tonight (1981)
3. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) (1984)
4. A Groovy Kind of Love (1988)
5. You Can’t Hurry Love (1982)

6. You’ll Be in My Heart (1999)
7. One More Night (1985)
8. That’s All (1983) *
9. Invisible Touch (1986) *
10. I Can’t Dance (1991) *

11. Sussudio (1985)
12. In Too Deep (1986) *
13. Follow You, Follow Me (1978) *
14. Easy Lover (with Philip Bailey, 1985)
15. Land of Confusion (1986) *

16. Two Hearts (1988)
17. Separate Lives (with Marily Martin, 1985)
18. No Son of Mine (1991) *
19. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (1986) *
20. Hold on My Heart (1991) *

21. Misunderstanding (1980) *
22. Home by the Sea (1983) *
23. Throwing It All Away (1986) *
24. Abacab (1981) *
25. Take Me Home (1985)

26. Turn It on Again (1980) *
27. I Wish It Would Rain Down (1989)
28. Mama (1983) *
29. Jesus He Knows Me (1991) *
30. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven (1989)

31. Do You Remember? (1989)
32. Man on the Corner (1981) *
33. I Don’t Care Anymore (1982)
34. I Missed Again (1981)
35. No Reply at All (1981) *

36. Paperlate (1982) *
37. Keep It Dark (1981) *
38. Both Sides of the Story (1993)
39. Don’t Lose My Number (1985)
40. Illegal Alien (1983) *

41. Everyday (1994)
42. Hang in Long Enough (1989)
43. Dance into the Light (1996)
44. True Colors (1998)
45. Domino, Part 1: The Last Domino (1986) *

46. Inside Out (1985)
47. That’s Just the Way It Is (1989)
48. Duchess (1980) *
49. Never a Time (1991) *
50. Dance on a Volcano (1976) *

* Genesis songs are marked with asterisks. Only Genesis songs from the post-Peter Gabriel are included in this list.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rihanna and Calvin Harris’s “We Found Love” logged 10th week at #1

Last updated 2/28/2020.

We Found Love

Rihanna with Calvin Harris

Writer(s): Calvin Harris (see lyrics here)

Released: September 22, 2011

First Charted: September 25, 2011

Peak: 110 US, 17 RR, 14 AC, 5 A40, 54 RB, 16 UK, 111 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 9.0 US, 1.8 UK, 12.82 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 881.0 video, 200.0 streaming


About the Song:

Rihanna launched her sixth album with the Calvin Harris-penned, “uptempo electro house song” WK “We Found Love.” The Scottish electro-pop producer had worked with Dizzee Rascal, Kelis, and Kylie Minogue. He’d also had top ten hits on his own in the UK, including the #1 “’m Not Alone” (2009). 2011 marked his first foray onto the U.S. pop charts with his own Feel So Close (#12) and this monster duet with Rihanna. Originally the song was intended for Leona Lewis; Nicole Scherzinger turned it down as well. When it was recorded by Rihanna, her fans pressured Harris on Twitter that “The song better not be rubbish.” SF

Critical reception was mixed. New York magazine’s Amanda Dobbins said “Harris’s electro fingerprints are all over this one – it plays like a straight house track, with some dreamy Rihanna vocals added in over the beat.” WK Idolator’s Robbie Daw called the song’s line “We found love in a hopeless place” the best lyrics in pop music in 2011. WK On the flip side, NME’s Priya Elan said the over-all effect is underwhelming WK and Rolling Stone’s Jody Rosen called it “an inspid tune” and the worst single of her career. WK

The song hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 2011, making for her 20th time in the top 10. She first landed there in June 2005 with “Pon de Replay,” giving her a span of six years and four months to land 20 songs in the top ten, besting Madonna’s record of six years and nine months to accomplish the same feat. SF “We Found Love” spent ten non-consecutive weeks, breaking Rihanna’s previous record of seven weeks on top with “Umbrella.” SF Her 11th trip to the top also became the longest-running U.S. #1 song of 2011, topped the charts in 25 other countries, WK and was the most played song on U.S. radio in 2012. SF

The video was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who’d also done Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” and “S&M.” Rihanna is depicted as “a drug-abusing thrill-seeker in a relationship that quickly spirals downward into addiction and violence.” WK Matsoukas said the video was intended to be a warning about the dangers of addiction and not a reference to the singer’s past experience with domestic violence, but not everyone found the video’s message favorable. Eileen Kelly of the Rape Crisis Centre told the Daily Star that the “video is a disgrace. It sends the message that she is an object to be possessed by mne, which is disturbingly what we see in real violence cases.” SF Despite the controversy, it won the Grammy for Best Short Form Video and MTV’s Video of the Year.

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Aretha Franklin held her first Atlantic Records recording session: January 27, 1967

Aretha Franklin launched her recording career in 1960, releasing her first single for Columbia when she was 18. The song, “Today I Sing the Blues”, reached #10 on the R&B charts and led to a handful of other hits, including two more top tens (“Won’t Be Logn” and “Operation Heartbreak”).

However, she opted not to resign with Columbia when her contract expired in 1966. She’d made nine albums with the company, but didn’t have any money to show for it. Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records quickly signed her and took her to Alabama’s legendary FAME Studios for her first recording session with the new company on on January 27, 1967. Along with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Aretha was joined by Stax Records’ Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill. While she had largely covered standards while with Columbia, Atlantic would help her forge a new direction which allowed her to display her gospel roots and become one of the most important acts in R&B history.

One of her first endeavors at forging her new direction was a blues ballad called “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You”. The song topped the R&B charts for eight weeks, peaked at #9 on the pop charts, and gave Aretha her first gold single. During Aretha’s Atlantic stint, she sent more than 30 songs into the top ten of the R&B charts; 17 of those went to #1.

Aretha’s 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You also featured the classic “Respect”, a #1 pop and R&B song. The album comprised those first legendary recording sessions as well as recording she did in New York City. The “Queen of Soul” had been born.

Awards for Aretha Franklin:

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mahalia Jackson charted with “Move on Up a Little Higher”: January 24, 1948

The Reverend William Herbert Brewster composed “Move on Up” almost as a sermon in which he built up the imagery of a “Christian climbing the ladder to heaven.” WK It was originally intended for one of his religious pageants or passion plays. WK

However, the song also had a strong undercurrent about civil rights for “black Americans’ gradual ascent to economic and social power.” TM The reverend acknowledged that “There were things that were almost dangerous to say, but you could sing it.” TM

When it came to singing it, the task was put to Mahalia Jackson, “The Queen of Gospel.” She was born in New Orleans and, at age 16, moved to Chicago where she joined a Baptist church choir. In 1929, she met Thomas A. Dorsey, a composer often heralded as “The Father of Gospel Music.” Over the next decade and a half, she toured singing his songs.

While she gained a name for herself, it was after signing to Apollo in 1947 that she gained her greatest fame. In her hands, “Move on Up” transcended the boundaries of gospel music and thrust itself upon the secular world as well. It found an audience with whites and blacks alike, reportedly becoming the best-selling gospel song to date. NRR Her singing was accompanied only by the standard church instruments of piano and organ, but her “delivery has the rhythm of preaching and the force of a lightning storm.” TM She blended “the vocal styles of blues singers, such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, with the heartfelt emotion and commitment common to traditional gospel singing.” NRR


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Top 100 R&B Acts of All Time

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Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

With the passings of Etta James (see blog entry here) and Johnny Otis this week, the timing seemed right for a list of the best R&B acts of all time. Besides, today also marks the birthday of Sam Cooke (born January 22, 1931) who I consider the best soul singer of all time. However, the aggregated list says otherwise. Here are the results of 26 consolidated lists with R&B related awards and chart performance also included.

Louis Jordan

1. Stevie Wonder
2. Aretha Franklin
3. Marvin Gaye
4. Michael Jackson
5. James Brown
6. Ray Charles
7. Sam Cooke
8. Smokey Robinson
9. Luther Vandross
10. R. Kelly

The Drifters

11. Whitney Houston
12. Al Green
13. Prince
14. Gladys Knight & The Pips
15. Patti LaBelle
16. Otis Redding
17. Mariah Carey
18. Etta James
19. The Isley Brothers
20. Janet Jackson

Ray Charles

21. Barry White
22. Curtis Mayfield
23. Diana Ross
24. Mary J. Blige
25. Teddy Pendergrass
26. The Temptations
27. The O’Jays
28. Earth, Wind & Fire
29. Chaka Khan/Rufus
30. Boyz II Men

Sam Cooke

31. The Supremes
32. Dionne Warwick
33. The Drifters
34. The Jackson 5/The Jacksons
35. Usher
36. The Miracles
37. Four Tops
38. Kool & the Gang
39. Jackie Wilson
40. Donny Hathaway

James Brown

41. Wilson Pickett
42. Little Richard
43. Beyonce
44. Spinners
45. Alicia Keys
46. Bobby Womack
47. Lionel Richie
48. Louis Jordan
49. Fats Domino
50. Sly & the Family Stone

Marvin Gaye

51. Jerry Butler
52. IsaacHayes
53. The Impressions
54. Parliament/Funkadelic
55. Sade
56. The Dells
57. Chuck Berry
58. Rick James
59. New Edition
60. Babyface

Aretha Franklin

61. Joe Tex
62. Tina Turner
63. Anita Baker
64. Bobby “Blue” Bland
65. LL Cool J
66. The Clovers
67. Ashford & Simpson
68. Solomon Burke
69. Johnnie Taylor
70. Destiny’s Child

Stevie Wonder

71. The Chi-Lites
72. Ruth Brown
73. Commodores
74. Donna Summer
75. Keith Sweat
76. Nat “King” Cole
77. B.B. King
78. Tyrone Davis
79. Aaliyah
80. Joe Simon

Michael Jackson

81. The Platters
82. The Whispers
83. Elvis Presley
84. Robert Flack
85. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
86. TLC
87. Freddie Jackson
88. Bobby Brown
89. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
90. Cameo

Mariah Carey

91. Maxwell
92. Dinah Washington
93. Jay-Z
94. D’Angelo
95. Little Willie John
96. Erykah Badu
97. Ohio Players
98. Brook Benton
99. En Vogue
100. Peabo Bryson

R. Kelly

Friday, January 20, 2012

Etta James: 1938-2011

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Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

Etta James, “one of the great voices of the 20th century who fused R&B with gospel and blues,” RS died January 20, 2012, less than a week shy of her 74th birthday. The Grammy winner was an inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame, R&B Foundation, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her song “The Wallflower (Roll with Me Henry)” (1955), was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and “Tell Mama” (1967) was selected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. However, she may be most associated with wedding favorite “At Last” (1961), a Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, National Recording Registry entry, and one of the top 100 jazz songs of all time according to the DMDB. At his inauguration, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama danced to “At Last” as sung by BeyoncĂ©, who portrayed James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records.

James was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and battled other health problems such as drug addiction, dementia, and hepatitis C. At one point, she ballooned to a reported 400 pounds and then cut that weight in half. Lupe DeLeon, her longtime friend and manager, said “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world…She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always.” CNN

She was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Her teen mother largely abandoned her and never revealed the father’s identity, although James suspected it was famed pool player Minnesota Fats. CNN Johnny Otis, best known for the song “Willie and the Hand Jive”, discovered James when she was 14. She hit #1 on the R&B charts with “The Wallflower”, a song Otis wrote as an answer song to Hank Ballard’s “Work with Me Annie”.

Over the next decade, James charted a dozen top ten hits on the R&B charts, most with Chess Records. Her most successful run on the pop charts was “Tell Mama” with a #23 peak. She discussed her songs with CNN in 2002: “Most of the songs I sing, they have that blue feeling to it. They have that sorry feeling. And I don’t know what I'm sorry about.” CNN

She continued touring until sidelined by illness in 2009. She has been cited as an influence by current British singer Adele. In 2008, Bonnie Raitt told Rolling Stone, “There’s a lot going on [in] Etta James’ voice…A lot of pain, a lot of life, most of all, a lot of strength. She can be so raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next. As raw as Etta is, there's a great intelligence and wisdom in her singing.” RS She also said, “Anybody who has a bluesy side to what they do can point to Etta James as the bridge between R&B, blues and pop singing.” UT

As James told Rolling Stone, “Life’s been rough…But life’s been good. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would live it the exact same way.” RS


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gleeks and Beliebers Rejoice: In Defense of Pop

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on January 18, 2012. See original post here.

image from

Pop music makers like Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry may get the kiss off from critics, but really, what's the harm in getting your pop groove on to their style of music?

In the early ‘90s, I worked in an after school program. I jokingly teased one of the kids about her infatuation with the New Kids on the Block. “They’ll never be as big as the Beatles,” I told her. Armed with this knowledge, she still astonishingly failed to discard her copy of Hangin’ Tough in favor of Abbey Road

By decade’s end, New Kids on the Block was a distant memory, but I still earned my paycheck the same way. I no longer endured tweens singing the praises of “You Got It (The Right Stuff)”. Instead, they regaled me with self-choreographed dances to the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. I’d long since abandoned hope of convincing pre-teens of the better music they were overlooking. After all, how do you tell an eight-year-old her tastes are wrong?

I’m prepared to go a step further. I’m reminded of a famous quotation often attributed to French philosopher Voltaire, although it was actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, as a summary of Voltaire’s attitude. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” For my purposes, I’ll mangle the words to preach that “I disapprove of your music, but I will defend to the death your right to listen to it.”

Truth be told, I have no intention of falling on a sword over someone’s right to load an iPod with Justin Bieber or any other music lumped under disparaging monikers like “bubblegum pop” or “teeny bopper music”. However, there also isn’t any act which I’d fall on a sword to avoid. Well, maybe Celine Dion.

Celine Dion, image from

I once penned a blog entry entitled “The Styx Defense”. I professed that they were my first favorite band, despite routine slamming from critics. My argument was that you love a band regardless of critical status or commercial clout. You love them just because you love them.

As such, I see no benefit in disparaging anyone else’s music. In fact, I consider it offensive when someone shreds another person’s musical tastes. Put another way, here’s a line from my book No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”: “To mock people’s music is to ridicule their souls.”

However, pop music is routinely subjected to ridicule at the hands of snooty critics bent on eviscerating it as unoriginal, disposable, or paint-by-numbers. I recently read an article, “12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music”, posted on by Dave Stopera. The title alone hints at the common bias that pop music will bring about the apocalypse. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.

The reader, however, can practically hear Stopera shake his head in disgust while he thumbs his nose at the Glee Cast, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, Ke$ha, Celine Dion, Creed, and Barbra Streisand. On the flip side, the artists he deems worthy include The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Simon & Garfunkel, and Nirvana.

Katy Perry and Nirvana - together?

So what is it about that first group, which we’ll call the B List, that evokes such scorn while the second group, the A List, are regularly praised? I should point out here that “Katy Perry sucks” or “Led Zeppelin rules” are not valid arguments. More importantly for the purposes of this article, however, is how is it that one of those lists is considered pop—and the other is not?

Lest the critics forget, “pop music” is merely shorthand for “popular music”.  Billboard magazine has long been considered the authority on measuring the musical tastes of the public with its weekly charts. However, Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles (12th edition, 2009), lists the two most successful acts in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart as Elvis Presley and The Beatles. So if anyone wants to rip on pop music, they’ll have to start with The King and The Fab Four.

Elvis and the Beatles, image from

For those who argue “But that was a different time” and “Music just isn’t as good anymore”, I say “Pffft”. Every generation worships its music as sacred and categorizes everything that comes after it as crap. While teenage girls shrieked at Elvis swiveling his hips, parents lamented how times were so much better in the Big Band Era. While The Beatles led the British Invasion, the previous generation’s battle cry was that no one could croon like Frank Sinatra.

It could be argued that charts aren’t the best measure of commercial success. How about sales? According to Wikipedia, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, and Queen have claimed sales of 300 million + for albums and singles. Celine Dion is the first B-lister to show up and not until the next rung, the 200-299 million range.

So if chart success and sales give the edge to the A-Listers, maybe pop music is defined more by genre. The A List is a pretty healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll, while the B List relies heavily on adult contemporary and dance. Still, there are no absolutes here. Creed is rock and roll, but their cred level is on par with Nickelback. On the flip side, Michael Jackson is the quintessential dance-pop artist – and it would be folly to argue that the self-proclaimed “The King of Pop” was anything but.

Michael Jackson, image from

Maybe career longevity is the key; e.g., pop musicians are flash-in-the-pan artists who have a few big hits before disappearing into oblivion. Well, this argument doesn’t work either. Jimi Hendrix may have churned out more posthumous releases than about anyone in history, but his career was pretty much 1966-1970. As dominant as The Beatles were, their chart life as an active group stretched a mere eight years in their native UK and two years less than that in the United States. Simon & Garfunkel called it quits in 1970 after making their first chart appearance only five years earlier. Nirvana exploded on the scene in 1991 and were defunct by 1994.

By contrast, B-Lister Rihanna first hit the Hot 100 in 2005, so she’s already had a longer career than Hendrix, Nirvana, or Simon & Garfunkel. The Black Eyed Peas first charted in 2001 in the US, meaning they’ve outdone The Beatles for years of chart success while an active group. Let’s not even discuss why Barbra Streisand is on the B List, but her ongoing chart career dates back to 1964.

Barbra Streisand, image from

If we can’t use charts, sales figures, genre, or longevity to evaluate what is or isn’t pop, then what criteria is left? Demographics. Readers will likely agree that Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and other B-Listers appeal to a much younger crowd than, well, about anyone on the A List.

Here’s the problem with that. Most acts’ initial audience base is in their teens and 20s. Justin Bieber isn’t the first mop-top to elicit screams from teenage girls. The Beatles practically invented the form after watching the teeny-bopper crowd swoon over Elvis. Since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, record companies have marketed themselves heavily toward youth and young adults because that’s the demographic that buys the most music. Most recording acts experience their greatest success in their earliest years, as well.

Once charts, sales, genre, and demographics are eliminated as markers of what is and isn’t pop music, about the only factor left to separate the B-List from the A-List is snobbery. Look, I own the entire catalogs of most of the A-Listers and only a handful of albums by all of the B-Listers combined. I would much rather listen to Jimi Hendrix than Ke$ha. Here’s the thing, though. Who cares? Why must some music be dismissed as unworthy of an audience?

So you Gleeks and Beliebers rejoice in your music. Employ the Styx Defense if you must, and cast haters aside with the proclamation that you can like what you want and don’t have to defend it. After all, what kind of jerk do you have to be to tell an eight-year-old she’s a loser for listening to New Kids on the Block?

Like whatever music you want to like without shame.
image from

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Benny Goodman performed at Carnegie Hall: January 16, 1938

Check out these books by Dave Whitaker available through or Amazon.

Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

Band leader and clarinetist Benny Goodman, “touted as the ‘King of Swing’ at his peak,” NRR was “the first real jazz musician to capture a mass bourgeois white audience in America.” AZ He was also the first to stage a full jazz concert at Carnegie Hall. SY His publicist, Wynn Nathanson, initially suggested it as a publicity stunt, but after “his film Hollywood Hotel opened to rave reviews and giant lines, he threw himself into the work.” WK It sold out its capacity 2,760 seats at the then-high top price of $2.75 a seat. WK

This snapshot of his “fantastic performance at Carnegie Hall” AZ started with three contemporary numbers, then played a history of jazz, and then a jam session on Honeysuckle Rose, “which found sidemen of the orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie interacting with Goodman's star.” SY Later some “trio and quartet numbers were well-received and a vocal on Loch Lomond by Martha Tilton provoked five curtain calls.” WK

“This concert has been regarded as one of the most siginificant in jazz history” WK and “one of the greatest concerts ever captured on record.” SY This was “a turning point in the way jazz is judged by outsiders.” SY It had “finally been accepted by mainstream audiences.” WK “It is hard to believe that tapes of this momentous event were kept in a closet, forgotten until rediscovered by accident in 1950” SY by Benny’s sister-in-law in a closet in his apartment. WK

The performance “captures Goodman and his orchestra at the peak of their performance.” AZ He is “fronting top performers and appearing before an energetic audience.” NRR His “stellar bandsmen were joined by Lionel Hampton and members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington ensembles for this famous festival of jazz during the height of the swing music era.” NRR

“There are many, many high points, including exciting versions of Don’t Be That Way and One O’Clock Jump, a tribute to the 20 years of jazz that were then on record; …exciting performances by the Trio and Quartet; and, of course, Sing, Sing, Sing with Gene Krupa’s creative (if not too subtle) drumming and Jess Stacy’s remarkable ad lib piano solo.” SY This “belongs in every serious music library, capturing Benny Goodman and the swing era in general at its height.” SY


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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The History of the Dave's Music Database Blog

Check out these books by Dave Whitaker available through or Amazon.

Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

The third anniversary of the DMDB blog is right around the corner (January 22). It has come a long way in three years! That first post, entitled “How to Get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, mocked that institution’s biases with five observations about what will (or won’t) lead to canonization in Cleveland.

A couple weeks later, I put up the post “2009 Grammy Nominees for Album of the Year”. I analyzed the five hopefuls for the big prize and correctly predicted Robert Plant and Alison Krauss would take home the gold for Raising Sand.

I didn’t post again until July. By year’s end, I’d put up a whopping 13 posts. I upped the ante in 2010 with 14 posts. Things didn’t really get moving until mid-way through 2011 when I changed the focus of the blog from essays on music-related topics to more objective snapshots of musical history tied to that particular day.

The second DMDB publication gathered all the essays posted here on the blog. Click on the book cover to go to the DMDB website where you can order the book.

The move paid off in spades. Prior to the thematic switch, my biggest month was September 2009 with 422 hits. I more than doubled that number in June 2011 with the new approach. The numbers have gone up every month since. December 2011 saw more than 7300 hits and January 2012 looks to be on pace to double that number! Over the blog’s three-year life time, it has been seen by more than 31,000 pairs of eyeballs. The top post of all time is “Live Aid: July 13, 1985” with 1500+ hits, more than double the runner-up, “The Top 50 Pink Floyd Songs”.

Graph shows number of hits each month from May 2009 to December 2011.

I haven’t done lots of research to figure out how to garner such numbers and am not entirely certain why my numbers keep growing by leaps and bounds each month. I have followed a few basic tips which I think have made the difference. When I switched from essay to daily history format, that meant two things – I put up daily content and posts were shorter, generally 300-500 words. I also added images and video. However, I think most of my hits have simply come from google searches which land on the key words I’ve connected to each blog.

I don’t know exactly how it has happened, but I’m grateful to everyone who’s either read faithfully since the beginning or merely stumbled across an entry here and there. It has been a great journey and one I plan to continue indefinitely.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jan. 11, 1962: Howlin' Wolf released his second album

First posted November 13, 2008. Last updated September 8, 2018.

Moanin’ in the Moonlight/Howlin’ Wolf (aka “The Rocking Chair Album”)

Howlin’ Wolf

Released: 1959 M, Jan. 11, 1962 R

Years Covered: 1951-58 M, 1957-62 R

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

US: --
UK: --
Canada: --
Australia: --

M Moanin’ in the Moonlight
R Howlin’ Wolf (aka “The Rockin’ Chair Album”)

Quotable: “The cream of Wolf’s Chicago blues work.” – Stephen Cook, All Music Guide

Genre: blues

Album Tracks: M

  1. How Many More Years (8/15/51, #4 RB)
  2. Moanin’ at Midnight (8/15/51, #10 RB)
  3. All Night Boogie (All Night Long) (1953 single)
  4. No Place to Go (1954 single)
  5. Baby How Long (1954 single)
  6. Evil (1954 B-side of “Baby How Long”, #43 RB in 1969)
  7. Forty-Four (1954 B-side of “I’ll Be Around”)
  8. Smokestack Lightning (3/17/56, #8 RB, #42 UK)
  9. I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) (11/10/56, #8 RB)
  10. Somebody in My Home (1957 single)
  11. Moanin’ for My Baby (1958 B-side)
  12. I’m Leaving You (1958 single)

Album Tracks: R

  1. Tell Me (1960 single)
  2. Who’s Been Talking? (1960 B-side of “Tell Me”)
  3. Spoonful (1960 single)
  4. Howlin’ for My Baby (1960, B-side of “Spoonful”)
  5. Wang Dang Doodle (1960 single)
  6. Back Door Man (1960 B-side of “Wang Dang Doodle”)
  7. Down in the Bottom (1961 single)
  8. Little Baby (1961 B-side of “Down in the Bottom”)
  9. The Red Rooster (1961 single)
  10. Shake for Me (1961 B-side of “Red Rooster”)
  11. You’ll Be Mine (1962 single)
  12. Goin’ Down Slow (1962 B-side of “You’ll Be Mine”)

Moanin’ in the Moonlight and Howlin’ Wolf (The Rockin’ Chair Album) were initially released as separated albums, but were paired together in the CD era as one package. Note: the track listing above has been re-ordered based on when the songs were released.

Singles/Hit Songs:

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Howlin’ Wolf’s first two albums, Moanin’ in the Moonlight (1959) and Howlin’ Wolf (The Rockin’ Chair Album) (1962) weren’t so much albums as compilations since both were collections covering several years of Wolf’s career. In the CD era, the two albums have been packaged together as one release.

Moanin’ in the Moonlight served as Howlin’ Wolf’s debut album, gathering a dozen of his Chess singles from 1951 to 1958. “The arrangements and the instrumental accompaniments, particularly the guitar, harmonica and piano, capture the fullest the concept of ‘blue tonality.’” PA

Moanin’ in the Moonlight and How Many More Years, were recorded in July 1951 in Memphis, Tennessee at Sam Phillip’s Memphis Recording Service and, after being sold to Chess Records, were released as singles in August 1951. WK-M The former “is a mood piece which captures the eerie, lonesome atmosphere of an isolated dwelling, is hard to match.” PA The latter, “with its strongly-marked piano figure, changes the pace and atmosphere entirely, for it presents the point of view of the man who finds his nagging wife too much to bear.” PA

All Night Boogie was recorded in Memphis in 1953 and was also sold to Chess Records. It “is an uptempo blues with a rollicking beat which bellies the essential sadness of the theme: that of the man who wakes up and finds his ‘baby’ gone.” PA

The remainder of the songs “were recorded in Chicago, Illinois and produced by either the Chess brothers and/or Willie Dixon.” WK-M Among them is Smokestack Lightnin’, which has probably become the best-known song by Howlin’ Wolf. It is “a powerful side with a world of flavor, presents a picture of anguish as the man asks his ‘baby’ where she stayed during the night.” PA

The collection included a couple of other songs which hit the R&B charts. I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline). was the fourth top-ten R&B single for the Chicago blues singer/guitarist/harmonicist. Evil was initially released in 1954, but didn’t chart until 1969. It “is sung in Howlin’ Wolf’s best shouting style. The lyric is vastly interesting and entertaining – being a catalog of things to be suspicious of, if one is to persevere a happy home. The piano here, particularly the right hand, is of amazing flexibilty.” PA

Howlin’ Wolf’s second eponymously-titled album gathered another dozen previously-released singles, this time from the late ’50s and early ‘60s. “Because of the illustration on its sleeve (by Don Bronstein), the album is often called The Rockin' Chair Album, a nickname even added to the cover on some reissue pressings of the LP.” WK-R

Some of these songs have become well-known covers for other artists, including Koko Taylor’s cover of Wang Dang Doodle (1966, #4 RB). In 1963, Sam Cooke re-recorded The Red Rooster as “Little Red Rooster” (#7 RB, #11 US) and the Rolling Stones recorded it the following year, taking it all the way to #1 in the UK. Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” tapped lyrics from Shake for Me and Back Door Man. WK-R Cream covered Spoonful.

When, in 2012, Rolling Stone named it one of the 500 greatest albums of all time, they described it as “an outrageous set of sex songs written by Willie Dixon.” WK-R In addition to his writing talents, Dixon, who was the Chess house producer, lent his bass-playing talents while Hubert Sumlin played guitar. SC The album, which Mojo magazine ranked as the third greatest guitar album of all time in 2004, WK-R “qualifies as one of pinnacles of early electric blues and is an essential album for any quality blues collection.” SC

Both albums have been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Combined, the two albums capture “the cream of Wolf’s Chicago blues work.” SC

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