Thursday, March 29, 2012

The All-Time Top 100 Albums According to Billboard

Billboard magazine has long been the leading authority in the music industry when it comes to charting music. They provide a means of gauging quantifiable success of music. The DMDB has aggregated five different Billboard lists which measure the best albums of all time based on various factors such as weeks on the chart, weeks at #1, and sales. See the resources at the bottom of the page. But now – here’s the list:

1. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
2. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)
3. Whitney Houston/various artists The Bodyguard (soundtrack, 1992)
4. Carole King Tapestry (1971)
5. The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
6. Bee Gees/various artists Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack, 1977)
7. Garth Brooks Ropin’ the Wind (1991)
8. Whitney Houston Whitney Houston (1985)
9. MC Hammer Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990)
10. Pink Floyd The Wall (1979)

11. The Beatles Abbey Road (1969)
12. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)
13. South Pacific (cast album, 1949)
14. West Side Story (soundtrack, 1961)
15. Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984)
16. My Fair Lady (cast album, 1956)
17. The Sound of Music (cast album, 1959)
18. Dirty Dancing (soundtrack, 1987)
19. The Music Man (cast album, 1957)
20. Hair (cast album, 1967)

21. Paula Abdul Forever Your Girl (1988)
22. Gigi (soundtrack, 1958)
23. Mary Poppins (soundtrack, 1964)
24. The Kingston Trio At Large (1959)
25. Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)
26. Andy Williams Days of Wine and Roses (1963)
27. Mariah Carey Mariah Carey (1990)
28. REO Speedwagon Hi Infidelity (1980)
29. Santana Supernatural (1999)
30. Henry Mancini Music from Peter Gunn (soundtrack, 1959)

31. Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)
32. Foreigner 4 (1981)
33. Mariah Carey Music Box (1993)
34. E Greatest Hits (1974)
35. Eagles Hotel California (1976)
36. Elvis Presley G.I. Blues (soundtrack, 1960)
37. Harry Belafonte Calypso (1956)
38. Elvis Presley Blue Hawaii (soundtrack, 1961)
39. Billy Ray Cyrus Some Gave All (1992)
40. The Police Synchronicity (1983)

41. The Monkees More of the Monkees (1967)
42. Vanilla Ice To the Extreme (1990)
43. James Horner Titanic (soundtrack, 1997)
44. Men at Work Business As Usual (1982)
45. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
46. The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night (soundtrack, 1964)
47. George Michael Faith (1987)
48. Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
49. The Monkees The Monkees (1966)
50. Judy Garland Judy at Carnegie Hall (live, 1961)

51. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987)
52. Grease (soundtrack, 1978)
53. Backstreet Boys Millenium (1999)
54. Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet (1986)
55. Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive! (1975)
56. The Kingston Trio Sold Out (1960)
57. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream & Other Delights (1965)
58. Around the World in 80 Days (soundtrack, 1957)
59. Whitney Houston Whitney (1987)
60. Elvis Presley Elvis Presley (1956)

61. Mitch Miller & His Gang Sing Along with Mitch (1958)
62. Def Leppard Hysteria (1987)
63. The Beatles Meet the Beatles! (1964)
64. Lionel Richie Can’t Slow Down (1983)
65. Miami Vice (television soundtrack, 1985)
66. The Lion King (soundtrack, 1994)
67. Lawrence Welk Calcutta! (1961)
68. Enoch Light/Terry Snyder & the All Stars Persuasive Percussion (1960)
69. Footloose (soundtrack, 1984)
70. Hootie & the Blowfish Cracked Rear View (1994)

71. Usher Confessions (2004)
72. Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985)
73. No Doubt Tragic Kingdom (1995)
74. Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
75. The Beatles The Beatles (aka ‘The White Album’) (1968)
76. The Singing Nun The Singing Nun (1963)
77. Phil Collins No Jacket Required (1985)
78. Eric Clapton Unplugged (1992)
79. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass What Now My Love (1966)
80. The Eagles The Long Run (1979)

81. Creedence Clearwater Revival Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
82. The Kingston Trio Here We Go Again! (1959)
83. John Cougar Mellencamp American Fool (1982)
84. Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
85. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
86. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
87. South Pacific (soundtrack, 1958)
88. Metallica Metallica (1991)
89. Garth Brooks No Fences (1990)
90. The Sound of Music (1965)

91. Pearl Jam Ten (1991)
92. Kenny G Breathless (1992)
93. Camelot (cast album, 1960)
94. Patsy Cline 12 Greatest Hits (1973)
95. Peter, Paul & Mary Peter, Paul & Mary (1962)
96. Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits (1980)
97. Exodus (soundtrack, 1961)
98. Nirvana Nevermind (1991)
99. Johnny Mathis Johnny’s Greatest Hits (1958)
100. Mario Lanza The Student Prince (1954)

Resources and Related Links:

  • Billboard’s “Top 100 Albums of All Time” (11/1/94)

    This special list was compiled for the magazine’s 100th anniversary issue.

  • Billboard’s Biggest #1 Albums in U.S. Chart History (11/15/10)

    List especially created by Dave’s Music Database. Ranks albums in the rock and pre-rock era based on weeks at #1. Sources: Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums, 1955-2009 (7th edition) and Top Pop Hits 1940-1954.

  • Billboard’s 100th anniversary issue. “Top 100 Albums All-Time” (1994)

  • Billboard’s “Albums of Longevity” (page 969) from Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums, 1955-2009 (7th edition: 2010)

    Top 50 list of albums which have charted more than 175 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart.

  • Billboard’s “Best Selling Albums” (page 970) from Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums, 1955-2009 (7th edition: 2010)

    A list of all albums certified by the RIAA to have sold 10 million or more copies.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Top 100 Albums According to the BBC

Over the years, the BBC has released a few best-of album lists. When averaged together into an aggregate list, here are the resulting top 100 albums of all-time according to the BBC:

1. The Beatles: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
2. The Beatles: The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968)
3. U2: The Joshua Tree (1987)
4. Radiohead: OK Computer (1997)
5. Oasis: Definitely Maybe (1994)
6. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
7. The Verve: Urban Hymns (1997)
8. The Beatles: Revolver (1966)
9. Oasis: What's the Story Morning Glory (1995)
10. R.E.M.: Automatic for the People (1992)

11. The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
12. Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (1975)
13. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
14. The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969)
15. Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)
16. The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead (1986)
17. Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks (1975)
18. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
19. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On (1971)
20. David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

21. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (1968)
22. Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
23. The Clash: London Calling (1979)
24. The Who: Who’s Next (1971)
25. Paul Simon: Graceland (1986)
26. Kate Bush: Hounds of Love (1985)
27. Velvet Underground & Nico: Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
28. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run (1975)
29. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland (1968)
30. Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell (1977)

31. Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells (1973)
32. Blur: Parklife (1994)
33. Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
34. The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses (1989)
35. Radiohead: The Bends (1995)
36. Nirvana: Nevermind (1991)
37. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (1977)
38. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)
39. Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill (1995)
40. Massive Attack: Blue Lines (1991)

41. The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)
42. The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street (1972)
43. Primal Scream: Screamadelica (1991)
44. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1979)
45. Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms (1985)
46. U2: Achtung Baby (1991)
47. Queen: A Night at the Opera (1975)
48. Joni Mitchell: Blue (1971)
49. Joy Division: Closer (1980)
50. The Pixies: Doolittle (1989)

51. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? (1967)
52. Leftfield: Leftism (1995)
53. Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
54. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II (1969)
55. Dido: No Angel (1999)
56. Pulp: Different Class (1995)
57. Madonna: Ray of Light (1998)
58. Jeff Buckley: Grace (1994)
59. Spice Girls: Spice (1996)
60. Portishead: Dummy (1994)

61. Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
62. The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (1969)
63. R.E.M.: Out of Time (1991)
64. The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
65. Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure (1973)
66. Love: Forever Changes (1967)
67. David Bowie: Hunky Dory (1971)
68. Lou Reed: Transformer (1972)
69. AC/DC: Back in Black (1980)
70. Nick Drake: Bryter Layter (1970)

71. John Lennon: Imagine (1971)
72. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti (1975)
73. The Clash: The Clash (1977)
74. The Band: The Band (1969)
75. Carole King: Tapestry (1971)
76. Prince: Sign 'O' the Times (1987)
77. Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures (1979)
78. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (1970)
79. Patti Smith: Horses (1975)
80. Television: Marquee Moon (1977)

81. Eagles: Hotel California (1976)
82. Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978)
83. Paul McCartney & Wings: Band on the Run (1973)
84. The Prodigy: The Fat of the Land (1997)
85. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
86. David Bowie: Aladdin Sane (1973)
87. Oasis: Be Here Now (1997)
88. Scissor Sisters: Scissor Sisters (2004)
89. Coldplay: X & Y (2005)
90. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

91. The Strokes: Is This It (2001)
92. Madonna: Like a Prayer (1989)
93. Madonna: Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005)
94. Coldplay: Parachutes (2000)
95. Neil Young: Harvest (1972)
96. Michael Jackson: Bad (1987)
97. Manic Street Preachers: Everything Must Go (1996)
98. Green Day: American Idiot (2004)
99. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica (1969)
100. David Gray: White Ladder (2000)

Resources and Related Links:
  • BBC News The Music of the Millenium (1/24/98)

    Top 100 ranked list. No commentary.

  • BBC News Top 50 Albums of Last 50 Years (6/02).

    Ranked list. No commentary. Link goes to an article about the list and includes a dead link which supposedly links to the entire list.

  • BBC Radio 2 Music Club Top 100 Albums (8/28/06)

    Top 100 ranked list of voters’ favorite #1 albums on the UK Album Chart, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UK album chart.

  • Stuart Maconie’s Critical List (2006)

    BBC radio show in which Maconie presented albums which he suggested every popular music aficionado should have in their collections.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Top 50 Composers from Broadway and the Early 20th Century

In celebration of the births of two of Broadway’s most celebrated composers (Stephen Sondheim: March 22, 1930; Andrew Lloyd Webber: March 22, 1948), the DMDB presents this list of the top Broadway composers of all time. Earlier this month, the DMDB presented its list of The Top 100 Songwriters of the Rock Era, so this list includes songwriters and composers from the first half of the 20th century in addition to Broadway composers to make this a companion to that earlier list. Without further ado:

The Top 50 Composers from Broadway and the Early 20th Century

George Gershwin

1. George Gershwin
2. Richard Rodgers
3. Stephen Sondheim
4. Andrew Lloyd Webber
5. Oscar Hammerstein II

Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

6. Irving Berlin
7. Cole Porter
8. Leonard Bernstein
9. Jerry Herman
10. Alan Jay Lerner

Stephen Sondheim

11. Tim Rice
12. Frederick Loewe
13. Cy Coleman
14. Frank Loesser
15. Stephen Schwartz

Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice

16. Jerome Kern
17. Sheldon Harnick
18. John Kander
19. Charles Strouse
20. Lee Adams

Irving Berlin

21. Marvin Hamlisch
22. Harold Arlen
23. Jerry Bock
24. Betty Comden
25. Adolph Green

Cole Porter

26. Jule Styne
27. Ira Gershwin
28. Richard Adler
29. Jerry Ross
30. Fred Ebb

Leonard Bernstein

31. Woody Guthrie
32. Lorenz Hart
33. E.Y. “Yip” Harburg
34. John Phillip Sousa
35. Burton Lane

Jerry Herman

36. Harold Rome
37. Kurt Weill
38. Johnny Mercer
39. Bob Merrill
40. Noel Coward

Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe

41. George M. Cohan
42. Alan Menken
43. Richard Sherman
44. Robert Sherman
45. Dorothy Fields

Jerome Kern

46. Pete Seeger
47. Jonathan Larson
48. Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter
49. Fats Waller
50. Irving Caesar

Resources and Related Links:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DJ Alan Freed hosted the first rock ‘n’ roll show: March 21, 1952

The first Moondog Coronation Ball was held in Cleveland. The event is generally considered the first rock ‘n’ roll show in the U.S. Featured acts included a mix of black and white performers intended to attract a racially mixed audience. Among the acts were Paul Williams’ Hucklebuckers, Tiny Grimes’ Rockin’ Highlanders (featuring Screamin’ Jay Hawkins), The Dominoes, and Danny Cobb. At the time, nearly all performances, radio stations, and record labels were racially segregated.

DJ Alan Freed, who conceived and promoted the event, is credited with coining the term “rock and roll.” The event took its name from “Moondoggers” – the nickname he gave his listeners. Freed came to Cleveland’s WXEL-TV in April 1950 and began his late-night, rock-n-roll-themed Moondog show on WJW radio in July 1951. He went to New York in 1954 and left the business in 1959 after involvement in a payola scandal. He died in 1965 at age 43.

The event, held at the Cleveland Arena, proved a bit of a fiasco as promoters continued selling tickets long after they’d reached the venue’s roughly-10,000 seat capacity. At least some of the additional tickets have been attributed to counterfeiting. It was estimated that 20,000 fans showed up. When they couldn’t get in, the crowd broke down the doors to storm the arena. Local authorities shut down the concert after the first song for fear of rioting.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fun.’s “We Are Young” hits #1: March 17, 2012

Updated 11/30/2018.

image from

We Are Young

Fun. with Janelle MonĂ¡e

Writer(s): Nate Ruess/Andrew Dost/Jack Antonoff/Jeffrey Bhasker (see lyrics here)

Released: 9/20/2011

First Charted: 12/17/2011

Peak: 16 US, 12, 2 AA, 12 MR, 11 UK, 11 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 7.00 US, 1.29 UK, 10.28 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 597.72

Streaming *: 200.00

* in millions


While they won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2013, Fun. had been around since 2008, releasing their debut in 2009 and the follow-up, Some Nights, which garnered them their Grammy, in 2012. The song that put them on the map was “We Are Young,” a mix of power pop and alternative rock with an indie spirit which “captures the moments of youthful exuberance that come with a memorable night out.” SF Lead singer Nate Ruess said the lyrics were inspired by “my worst drinking night of all time.” SF

This song and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” were hailed for returning rock to the pop charts. Rolling Stone’s Steve Knopper touted the song’s “sprightly pop-novelty feel” WK while his compatriot, Jody Rosen, described it as “rollickingly catchy” and “emo self-deprecation that leavens the bombast.” WK’s Bill Lamb said the song “carries a hook in the chorus that is likely to stop many listeners dead in their tracks.” WK All Music Guide’s Tim Sendra notes Ruess “provides a very human core that grounds things even as the music builds to ornate crescendos.” AMG

Interestingly, the song didn’t become a hit until after landing a Chevrolet ad in Super Bowl XLVI and getting covered for American TV show, Glee. PJ Bloom, the latter’s music supervisor, noted, “Glee doesn’t break bands, we celebrate existing pop success – that’s our core model.” WK He changed his mind after hearing the song once, later calling it one of the “pinnacle song moments of the entire series.” WK

The song was propelled to the top of the pop charts, logging seven weeks of digital sales of more than 300,000 – the first to do so. WK It was the first song since Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” to log seven weeks with 120 million radio impressions WK and was the most listened to song on Facebook in 2012. SF It was also featured in another ad in Super Bowl XLVII – this time a Spanish language version of the song for Taco Bell.

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.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Fair Lady opened on Broadway: March 15, 1956

My Fair Lady is “the crowning achievement” AZ for lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. Some consider it to be “the most perfect stage musical ever.” CL “It boasts a magnificent score…witty, intelligent, beautiful, and romantic.” NRR This is “a collection of performances that long ago became a ubiquitous and indispensable fixture of American musical theater.” AZ

The musical was an updated version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, a story about “the mythic Greek figure who falls in love with his sculpture.” TM In My Fair Lady, the story focuses on “the relationship between an elocutionist” R-C and “pre-World War I London flower girl Eliza Doolittle, who aspires to a better accent and the social advantages that will come with it.” R-S Its 2,700 performances “gracefully spanned the Eisenhower and Camelot eras, then begat a wildly popular film version, whose 1965 Best Picture Oscar capped the show’s decade of prominence.” AZ

The cast album “captures landmark performances by Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway.” NRR Andrews was a “twenty-year-old revelation” ZS as “the fairest of all ladies,” ZS making the “loverly…score soar” ZS with her “glorious voice and emotional range.” ZS Harrison is “effortlessly charming” ZS in his recreation of the stage role as “Professor Henry Higgins (he had also appeared in the film adaptation of…Pygmalion.” R-S

“The show yielded an astounding number of songs that became standards, including the luminous I Could Have Danced All Night and I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” TM Among the other gems in this “embarrassment of riches,” AZ including On the Street Where You Live, The Rain in Spain, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, and Why Can’t the English?.

For the movie version, Harrison and Holloway were back again, but Andrews wasn’t deemed enough of a star although “embarrassingly, by the time the movie opened, Mary Poppins had made her more than enough of a star to do so.” R-S Audrey Hepburn stepped into the role with the singing voice dubbed by Marni Nixon, who “was an accomplished Hollywood voice ghost, having previously sung for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Rosalind Russell in Gypsy.” R-S

Ultimately the soundtrack paled to the cast recording, which was considered critically and commercially more successful. The cast recording sold 8 million copies in the U.S. and topped the Billboard charts for 15 weeks. It also spent 19 weeks atop the UK charts.


Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Producer Rick Rubin was born: March 10, 1963

Rick Rubin was “dubbed ‘the king of rap’ two decades ago by the Village Voice,” DL for his role as one of “the key figures behind the commercial and artistic rise of hip-hop.” AMG He was called “the most successful producer in any genre” UT by Rolling Stone and “the most important producer of the last 20 years” WK by MTV. In 2007, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. WK

“The barefoot Buddha with the woolly salt-and-pepper beard” UT has “amassed a discography that’s more than 90 albums long, a catalogue that’s sold in excess of 100 million.” DL Esquire magazine says Rubin is “one of the few industry giants with the confidence to just let artists be themselves.” WK Rubin says his role is “to inspire and challenge artists to do their best work, and to do it for the sake of the work as opposed to the ends.” UT Daron Malakian of System of a Down says, “Production with Rick doesn’t mean you're going to sit in a studio. It might mean you go to a record store or to the beach. Or you go for a drive. You bond as people first.” DL

He was born on March 10, 1963, in Long Island, New York. He grew up there in an upper-middle class neighborhood and “his parents hoped their only child would become a doctor or a lawyer.” DL Rubin “enrolled at NYU and had every intention of applying to law school until rap got in the way.” DL “Enamored of what he considered to be black punk rock, Rubin was a regular at hip-hop clubs throughout New York but was disappointed by most of the studio recordings coming out of the burgeoning rap scene.” DL As he said, “I started making records I wanted to hear. I didn’t know it was a viable job’.” UT

“In 1984 Rubin produced his first single, It’s Yours, for T La Rock and Jazzy Jay. Within two months the spartan song – built around beats, rhymes and little else – was one of the biggest rap hits in New York. Among those taking notice was Russell Simmons, a music promoter from Queens who also managed his kid brother’s group, Run-D.M.C. Simmons was shocked to discover that ‘It’s Yours’ – which he'd declared the ‘blackest’ song he’d ever heard – was produced by a Jewish kid from Long Island.” DL

Rubin and Simmons “founded Def Jam in 1984” AMG “operating the company out of Rubin’s dorm room.” AMG One of the first hits was LL Cool J’s Radio in 1985. Rubin’s style of “fusing rap with heavy rock” WK would also be a trademark of his early work. “It was Rubin’s idea to have Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith collaborate on a cover of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way…a production credited with both introducing rap-hard rock to mainstream ears and revitalizing Aerosmith’s career.” WK

“Rap broke worldwide in 1986” AMG on the strength of Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell, on which that song was featured, and the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, the first rap album to top the Billboard charts. DL He would later produce what has been called the best rap album of all time, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988).

By late 1988, Rubin’s relationship with Simmons was suffering. Rubin left Def Jam, moved to the East Coast, formed Def American, and turned his attention back to rock. “In 1991…Rubin…produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ breakthrough effort, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.” AMG The album’s monster hit Under the Bridge, grew out of “an entry [Rubin] discovered in one of lead singer Anthony Kiedis’s notebooks. It was a poem about overcoming heroin addiction, and Rubin talked the reluctant singer into presenting it to the band.” DL

In 1993, Rubin “officially dropped the ‘Def’ prefix from the label’s name” AMG and “Def American became American Recordings. Johnny Cash’s career-reviving album of the same name would signify Rubin’s greatest career achievement aside from launching rap into the mainstream. By bringing his stripped-down approach to “the sound of veteran singers and bands, [Rubin] could help them break out of the commercial rut they were currently in.” WK “Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ sorrowful tune, Hurt, would become the defining song of his later years.” WK

Rubin worked a similar magic for Neil Diamond, who had “created a cabaret image by drifting from his emotional core as a singer/songwriter,” UT but Rubin “ranks alongside Paul Simon.” UT 12 Songs “was the crooner’s best-reviewed work in decades…[it] also resonated with fans, reaching the No. 4 Billboard ranking – Diamond’s highest chart position in 25 years.” DL

He won the Grammy for Non-Classical Producer of the Year for his 2006 work with, among others, the Dixie Chicks, who won the Grammy for Album of the Year for Taking the Long Way. The next year he was named co-chair of Columbia Records. In 2009, he won another Grammy for Producer of the Year. He took home the award again in 2012 for work on Adele’s 21, which also won the Grammy for Album of the Year. 15 of his albums rank in the DMDB’s top 1000 of all time.


Resources and Related Links:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Top 100 Songwriters of the Rock Era

This list was originally posted on the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page on July 1, 2010 and then updated on March 9, 2012, aggregating 36 different sources (see resources at bottom of page).

Despite attempts to gather a wide variety of lists, the emphasis of the lists still heavily largely on singer/songwriters from the rock era, giving short shrift to Broadway, early 20th century writers, and classical composers. As such, I have created two other lists – Composers from Broadway and the Early 20th Century and The Top 50 Classical Composers. However, here’s the list of rock-era songwriters:

Bob Dylan

The Top 100 Songwriters of the Rock Era

1. Bob Dylan
2. John Lennon/ Paul McCartney
3. Paul Simon
4. Bruce Springsteen
5. Pete Townshend
6. Neil Young
7. Mick Jagger/ Keith Richards
8. Elton John/ Bernie Taupin
9. Joni Mitchell
10. David Bowie

John Lennon and Paul McCartney

11. Leonard Cohen
12. Brian Wilson
13. Carole King
14. Led Zeppelin: John Bonham/ John Paul Jones/ Jimmy Page/ Robert Plant
15. Ray Davies
16. Sting
17. Stevie Wonder
18. Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett/ David Gilmour/ Nick Mason/ Roger Waters/ Richard Wright
19. Chuck Berry
20. Van Morrison

Paul Simon

21. Tom Waits
22. Billy Joel
23. Jerry Leiber/ Mike Stoller
24. Kurt Cobain
25. U2: Bono/ Adam Clayton/ The Edge/ Larry Mullen, Jr.
26. Elvis Costello
27. Lamont Dozier/ Brian Holland/ Eddie Holland
28. Burt Bacharach/ Hal David
29. Smokey Robinson
30. James Taylor

Bruce Springsteen

31. John Fogerty
32. Jim Morrison
33. Lou Reed
34. Morrissey
35. Kris Kristofferson
36. Don Henley
37. Bob Marley
38. Prince
39. Gerry Goffin
40. Queen: John Deacon/ Brian May/ Freddie Mercury/ Roger Taylor

Pete Townshend

41. Dolly Parton
42. Michael Jackson
43. Nick Cave
44. Jackson Browne
45. Randy Newman
46. Peter Gabriel
47. Kenneth Gamble/ Leon Huff
48. R.E.M.: Peter Buck/ Bill Berry/ Mike Mills/ Michael Stipe
49. Buddy Holly
50. Neil Diamond

Neil Young

51. Eric Clapton
52. Barry Mann/ Cynthia Weil
53. Roy Orbison
54. Jeff Barry/ Ellie Greenwich
55. Doc Pomus/ Mort Shuman
56. Joe Strummer/ Mick Jones
57. Willie Nelson
58. George Harrison
59. Glenn Frey
60. James Brown

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

61. Thom Yorke/ Jonny Greenwood
62. Little Richard
63. Eddie Vedder
64. Cat Stevens
65. The Bee Gees: Barry Gibb/ Maurice Gibb/ Robin Gibb
66. David Crosby
67. Isaac Hayes/ David Porter
68. Neil Sedaka
69. Jimmy Webb
70. Paul Anka

Elton John and Bernie Taupin

71. David Byrne
72. Curtis Mayfield
73. Boudleaux Bryant/Felice Bryant
74. Lionel Richie
75. Stevie Nicks
76. Carly Simon
77. Noel Gallagher
78. Diane Warren
79. Al Green
80. Phil Collins

Joni Mitchell

81. Robbie Robertson
82. Sam Cooke
83. Loretta Lynn
84. Otis Redding
85. Chuck D
86. Fats Domino/ Dave Bartholomew
87. Tom Petty
88. Chrissie Hynde
89. Frank Zappa
90. Barry Manilow

David Bowie

91. Jim Croce
92. Otis Blackwell
93. Beck
94. Phil Spector
95. Patti Smith
96. Jimi Hendrix
97. Paul Westerberg
98. Richard Thompson
99. Marvin Gaye
100. John Mayer

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Fifth Dimension charted with “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”: March 8, 1969

In the rock era, only two Broadway musicals have produced #1 singles: Louis Armstrong’s title song from Hello, Dolly! and a medley of two songs from the 1968 hippie musical Hair. BR1 The latter would never have happened if Billy Davis, a member of the Fifth Dimension, hadn’t lost his wallet in a New York City cab. SJ The passenger who found the wallet and called Billy was one of the producers of Hair. To show his gratitude, Billy invited the man and his wife to see the Fifth Dimension in concert. The producer, in turn, invited the group to a performance of Hair. BR1

Before the group even left the theater, they knew they should record “Aquarius.” BR1 When they suggested it to Bones Howe, their producer, AMG his response was that “It’s half a song…it needs something on the back end.” BR1 The group paired the song with “Let the Sunshine In,” also from the play. SJ The resulting medley not only became the biggest hit of 1969 WHC but the “biggest and most lasting record” AMG of the Fifth Dimension’s career.

“Aquarius” is based on the idea that by the close of the 20th century, mankind would enter an age of enlightment. BB100 That concept and the song’s astrological references were perfectly suited to the hippie vibe of 1969. AMG Such ideas may seem dated today, but the song’s overall message of unity is timeless. AMG


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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bruce Springsteen releases his “Occupy” album Wrecking Ball: March 6, 2012

“There will be those that believe a millionaire rock star singing about poor people and hard work, as Bruce Springsteen so passionately does on his powerful new album Wrecking Ball, to be the height of hypocrisy. But to do so would be both shortsighted and uninformed. First, as a pedigreed Jersey shore rat raised in economically depressed Freehold, N.J., Springsteen knows a thing or two about economic frustration. And, secondly, anyone who has seen Springsteen perform at any one of thousands of shows over the past 40 years, with or without his E Street Band, is well aware that he packs his lunch pail every night and welcomes overtime.” BB

On his 17th album, Springsteen “soars on familiar strengths: passion, roadhouse swagger, muscular melodies and a fighting spirit.” UT “With its gritty portrayal of the danger at hand when lives are lived on the edge of collapse,” BB Ball explores “familiar working class territory, but with a vigor and fearlessness not seen since 2002’s equally-inspired The Rising.” BB While “The Rising will always be remembered as Springsteen’s ‘9-11 album’, …Wrecking Ball will go down as his ‘Occupy album’,” PM Ball working the same territory as Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ celebrating the possibilities of the American Dream while acknowledging the pain of its failures.” AV

Springsteen has always been adept at creating “specific character vignettes that speak to larger social concerns,” PM but here his protagonists “are less elusive about whom to blame for their troubles…taking on the real culprits unambiguously.” PM “On a tear to raze Wall Street and raise Main Street, Springsteen grapples with Everyman frustration and dread” UT and the devastation brought on by “Wall Street greed and corruption.” WK It is “his angriest and most politically pointed [work] to date.” UT

The album has largely been reported to be “‘wild’ and ‘experimental’” PM and, indeed, it is “very rock and roll with unexpected textures, loops, electronic percussion, and an amazing sweep of influences and rhythms, from hip-hop to Irish folk rhythms.” WK The album is notable for its inclusion of Clarence Clemons’ last work with Springsteen and the E Street Band before his death in June 2011. WK The album features other E Street Band members and special guests Tom Morello and Matt Chamberlain, WK but mostly “relies on players from 2006’s We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, Wrecking’s closest cousin in his catalog.” UT

First single, We Take Care of Our Own, “serves as the album’s moral compass.” BB It is one of Springsteen’s classic “scathing message songs that sound patriotic, an irony lost on nearly everyone who hears them.” PM

“The whisper-to-a-scream title track,” AV Wrecking Ball, was penned in 2009 in honor of the closing of Giants Stadium and was performed live during the supporting tour for Working on a Dream. WK It “takes on a whole new life in the context of this record.” BB as “a raging state of the union address enveloped in rootsy folk-rock.” UT

Land of Hope and Dreams dates back to 1999’s E Street Band reunion tour WK. It has been reworked into “a brighter, peppier take…and when Clarence’s unmistakable sax (one of just two appearances on the album) busts out of the bridge, it’ll bring you to your knees.” PM It is “a broad, anthemic slice of Americana” BB which has been called “one of Springsteen’s finest modern originals.” PM

Check out the DMDB web page for Wrecking Ball for a more extensive track-by-track review and videos of more songs.

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