Friday, June 28, 2019

Prince’s Originals released

First posted 6/28/2019.

Originals

Prince


Released: 6/7/2019


Recorded: 1981-1991


Peak: # US, # UK, # CN, # AU


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


Genre: R&B/funk


Quotable: --


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Sex Shooter (Prince) [3:06] (Apollonia 6, 8/31/84, #85 US, #7 RB)
  2. Jungle Love (Prince/Morris Day/Jesse Johnson) [3:04] (The Time, 9/22/84, #20 US, #21 CB, #6 US)
  3. Manic Monday (Prince) [2:51] (Bangles, 1/25/86, #2 US, #3 CB, #10 AC, #43 AR, #2 UK, #2 CN, #3 AU; Prince, 6/23/19)
  4. Noon Rendezvous (Prince/Sheila E.) [3:00] (Sheila E, 1984 album cut)
  5. Make-Up (Prince) [2:27] (Vanity 6, 1982 album cut)
  6. 100 MPH (Prince) [3:30] (Mazarati, 5/17/86, #19 RB)
  7. You’re My Love (Prince) [4:24] (Kenny Rogers, 1986 album cut)
  8. Holly Rock (Prince/Sheila E.) [6:38] (Sheila E, 1985 single)
  9. Baby, You’re a Trip (Prince) [5:51] (Jill Jones, 1987 album cut)
  10. The Glamorous Life (Prince) [4:12] (Sheila E., 6/2/84, #7 US, #9 CB, #9 RB, #96 UK, #3 CN, #11 AU)
  11. Gigolos Get Lonely Too (Prince) [4:41] (The Time, 10/5/82, #77 RB)
  12. Love…Thy Will Be Done (Prince/Martika) [4:07]
  13. Dear Michaelangelo (Prince/Sheila E.) [5:22]
  14. Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me? (Prince) [5:56] (Taja Sevelle, 1987 single)
  15. Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince) [4:40] (The Family, 1985 album cut; Prince, 4/19/18)

Review:

“By the mid-1980s, Prince was dominating the charts” AZ not just as a performer, but “with songs he’d composed and recorded for others.” AZ He “was fiercely protective of his songs – if you ventured to cover his material, it had to be on his terms.” BB “Instead of handing others rough sketches to build on, Prince delivered fully fleshed-out tracks, leaving very little up for interpretation.” BB Sometimes those demos would guide other artists through the recording process, and at other times”Prince’s original demo recordings would be used as master takes on their albums, with only minor alterations to the instrumentation and a replacement of the vocal tracks.” AZ

Prince’s new posthumous album, Originals, “features his self-recorded versions of 15 songs made famous by others – and startlingly, some of these ‘demos’ sound full-fledged enough to dominate the charts themselves.” BB “Some of these Prince-assisted acts, like Vanity 6, Apollonia 6 and the Time, were curated protégés…Others, like [Sinéad] O’Connor and the Bangles, were formidable artists with or without his songs. But they all share the presence of the fastidious, ultra-prolific Purple One hovering in the background of their legacies.” BB

Originals pulls back the curtain to reveal the origins of these familiar songs, in addition to deeper album cuts such as Vanity 6's Make-Up, Jill Jones’ Baby, You're a Trip, and Kenny Rogers’ You’re My Love. The album also features Prince's majestic original 1984 version of Nothing Compares 2 U, released in 2018 as a standalone single.” AZ

”Sex Shooter”

Recorded by Apollonia 6 for Apollonia 6 (1984).

“What’s different? Vocals. A carnal rocker from the 1984 classic Purple Rain, ‘Sex Shooter’ was recorded almost solely by Prince under the alias The Starr Company.” BB He recorded it on April 30, 1983 at his Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. PV Plans to include it on Vanity 6’s second album were scrapped when Vanity left the Prince party and his Purple Rain co-star Patricia “Apollonia” Kotero stepped in to front the newly-christened Apollonia 6. Prince seems to have recorded all this himself and simply replaced his vocals with hers. BB

”Jungle Love”

Recorded by The Time for Ice Cream Castle (1984).

“What’s different? Vocals. The Time, a crack combo of Minneapolis soul, pop and funk musicians, was another Prince-curated band that appeared in Purple Rain.” BB Prince wrote the song with Jesse Johnson, although it is credited to Morris Day, who sang lead. Prince recorded it on March 26, 1983 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. PV Time members’ Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis were all in the studio, but it isn’t clear if they contributed to the recording. PV

The Time’s “version of ‘Jungle Love,’ a four-on-the-floor joint that hit No. 20” BB and spent a whopping 57 weeks AZ “on the Billboard Hot 100.

”Manic Monday”

Recorded by the Bangles for Different Light (1985).

“What’s different? Vocals, instrumentation, production.” BB Prince recorded this “gorgeous, ‘60s-tinted pop gem” BB on February 4, 1984 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. It was initially intended for Apollonia 6, but Prince sent it to the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs after catching them at an early Los Angeles show. PV They stayed close to Prince’s original arrangement, BB but re-recorded most of the song – although Brenda Bennett and Jill Jones’ backing vocals can still be heard on it. PV The Bangles reached #2 on the Hot 100 and its parent album also hit the runner-up slot.

”Noon Rendezvous”

Recorded by Sheila E. for The Glamorous Life (1984).

“What’s different? Vocals, instrumentation, production. Prince and drum legend Sheila E. co-wrote this song about their relationship at the time.” BB He initially recorded it on February 13, 1984 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. PV Sheila E’s version “is full of squelchy period synths; Prince’s piano-led demo is more intimate and restrained, a ballad for the wee small hours.” BB Her version was released as the third single from her debut album, but didn’t chart.

”Make-Up”

Recorded by Vanity 6 for Vanity 6 (1982).

“What’s different? Vocals, instrumentation, arrangement.” BB Prince wrote this song for Vanity 6, “a girl group with Denise Matthews (or ‘Vanity’) at the helm.” BB This “winking list of cosmetic products from blush to base” was what Prince biographer called “the raunchier, female expression of his sensibility.” BB The basic tracking was laid down in the summer of 1981 at Prince’s Kowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The song was a B-side for the group’s singles “He’s So Dull” and “Drive Me Wild.” PV

”100 MPH”

Recorded by Mazarti for Mazarati (1986).

“What’s different? Vocals. Led by Prince and the Revolution bassist Brownmark, Mazarati wasn’t a wholesale creation of Prince like others on this list. Still, their sole charting song, ‘100 MPH,’ was written and almost completely recorded by him. Sans lead vocals by Sir Casey Terry and backing vocals by the rest of Mazarati, the two versions are virtually identical.” BB Prince initially recorded it at Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Eden Prairie, Minnesota in June 1984. PV

”You’re My Love”

Recorded by Kenny Rogers for They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To (1986).

“What’s different? Vocals, production, instrumentation.” BB Country singer Kenny Rogers was looking for material for his new album and Prince gave him this “scrap from his vaults” BB which he’d recorded in March 1982 at his Kiowa Trail Home Studio. PV “While Rogers’ band played it in an adult-contempo style fitting his voice, it hews strongly to Prince’s demo.” BB The song, which was credited to the Prince pseudonym of “Joey Coco,” was released as the B-side of Rogers’ “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine” single with Ronnie Milsap.

”Holly Rock”

Recorded by Sheila E. for the Krush Groove soundtrack (1985).

“What’s different? Vocals. It doesn’t get more 1985 than this.” BB “Holly Rock” is “a high-energy rap…plucked from an aborted song by the Family” BB (“Feline”) PV “to soundtrack the film Krush Groove, a loose dramatization of the story of Russell Simmons and Def Jam Recordings. Sheila E. was cast in the movie as a love interest for Simmons; in the original scene, the music is identical to Prince’s version, but the lovably dated pep is all her.” BB Prince recorded his version on April 24, 1985 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California “amid the highly productive sessions that yielded a lot of songs for Parade. PV

”Baby, You’re a Trip”

Recorded by Jill Jones for Jill Jones (1987).

“What’s different? Vocals.” BB Prince recorded the song on July 8, 1982, at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. PV When Jill Jones signed to Prince’s label, Paisley Park Records, she added this song to her eponymous album, overdubbing her vocals alongside Prince’s guide vocals. PV It was also released as the B-side of her single “For Love.”

”The Glamorous Life”

Recorded by Sheila E. for The Glamorous Life (1984).

“What’s different? Vocals, extra instrumentation.” BB Prince recorded it at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, on December 27, 1983. PV Like “Manic Monday,” it was intended for Apollonia 6, until Prince “swiped it away – this time, for his lover and collaborator Sheila E. Its two versions begin with a saxophone wail from Larry Williams; the ensuing music is roughly identical, too, except for some extra rimshot percussion from E.” BB She released her version as the lead single for her debut album of the same name and it hit #7 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the dance charts.

”Gigolos Get Lonely Too”

Recorded by The Time for What Time Is it? (1982).

“What’s different? Vocals.” BB Although this “ballad about a male escort craving true love” BB was solely written by Prince, it was credited to Morris Day when it appeared on The Time’s second album. PV The basic tracking for this completed demo likely occurred at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 1982 PV and then Day’s vocals were substituted for Prince’s. BB The Time hit #77 on the R&B chart when the song was released as the third single from What Time Is It?

”Love…Thy Will Be Done”

Recorded by Martika for Martika’s Kitchen (1991).

“What’s different? Vocals. This spare, emotive ballad is a clear highlight of Originals. Besides Martika’s lead vocals, the two versions are about flush with each other.” BB Prince recorded it in January 1991 at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota. PV Her version was “a top 10 hit in France, Australia, the UK and the USA.” AZ

”Dear Michelangelo”

Recorded by Sheila E. for Romance 1600 (1985).

“What’s different? Vocals, production, arrangement. Recorded in between dates on the 1985 leg of the Purple Rain tour with Prince on all instruments, ‘Dear Michelangelo’ is a highlight of Sheila E.’s Romance 1600. Prince’s original demo sounds drier and funkier; befitting a song about the gardens of Florence and the colors of dreams.” BB He recorded it in January 1985 at Master Sound in Atlanta Georgia while there for the Purple Rain tour. PV “E.’s version of ‘Dear Michelangelo’ is ethereal and mellow without dampening Prince’s hook.” BB

”Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me?”

Recorded by Taja Sevelle for Taja Sevelle (1987).

“What’s different? Vocals, production, arrangement.” BB Chronologically, this is the earliest track from this album, PV dating back to 1976, a year before Prince’s debut album For You. BB He made a demo “on a basic cassette recorder, featuring some lyrics that were changed or removed for later recordings.” PV In the summer of 1978, he recorded it twice at his France Avenue Home Studio in Edina, Minnesota – once with himself on vocals and once with Sue Ann Carwell. In June 1981, he recorded the version featured on this album at Hollywood Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, California. PV

He started from scratch on the song in April 1982,e ventually submitting it to Michael Jackson to use on his album Bad. PV When it wasn’t used, Prince gave it to Minneapolis singer/songwriter Taja Sevelle. She simply replaced her vocals for his and released it on her 1987 self-titled debut and as a single in early 1988. PV It failed to chart, but Sevelle did have a Hot 100 hit with “Love is Contagious.” BB

”Nothing Compares 2 U”

Recorded by The Family for The Family (1985).

“What’s different? Vocals, production, arrangement. This ode to Prince’s housekeeper had many lives: as an obscurity by the Family, a No. 1 hit by Sinéad O’Connor, and here, the 1984 demo that started it all. Play all three chronologically, and you hear a clear progression: from Prince’s stripped-down ballad to the Family’s warbling, synthesized take to O’Connor’s emotive hit version. After O’Connor made ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ a hit, Prince made an about-face. He introduced it to his live sets for the first time – and performed it over 400 times until his death.” BB

He recorded it on July 15, 1984 at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. PV A live version with shared lead vocals with Rosie Gaines was released on The Hits 1 in 1993. The original 1984 version that appears on this album was released as a single in April 2018. PV


Review Source(s):

Reactions: 
No comments: Links to this post

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Top 100 Singers of All Time

First posted 7/17/2012; updated 6/27/2019.

This list has been updated several times, most recently in 2012. I’m the first to admit it still has flaws. Best-of-all-time lists notoriously focus on the rock era and not all time, so if you had a career prior to 1955, good luck making this list. Crooners like Bing Crosby and Perry Como are out of luck. Still, greats like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Nat “King” Cole manage to fight their way onto a mostly rock-and-roll list. These lists also favor white men who fronted rock bands in the 1960s and ‘70s so kudos to Aretha Franklin, Hank Williams, Bob Marley, Patsy Cline, Howlin’ Wolf and others who are talents so massive they couldn’t be ignored. Anyway, here’s the list:


The Top 100 Singers of All Time

Queen’s Freddie Mercury, image from telegraph.co.uk

1. Freddie Mercury
2. Robert Plant
3. Jim Morrison
4. Janis Joplin
5. Aretha Franklin
6. Mick Jagger
7. Axl Rose
8. Kurt Cobain
9. Elvis Presley
10. John Lennon

Even though the sources behind this list heavily favor white male singers who front rock bands, the list makers still showed “Respect” to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Image from ugospel.com.

11. Bono
12. Roger Daltrey
13. Stevie Wonder
14. Paul McCartney
15. Steven Tyler
16. Frank Sinatra
17. Roy Orbison
18. Marvin Gaye
19. Michael Jackson
20. Whitney Houston

Hey, list makers! How about a little more love for The King of Rock and Roll? Many of the names on this list wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. Image from fanpop.com.

21. David Bowie
22. Iggy Pop
23. Ray Charles
24. Sam Cooke
25. Bob Dylan
26. Otis Redding
27. Mariah Carey
28. Tina Turner
29. Morrissey
30. Elton John

Divas like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera show they deserve a place on this rock-heavy list.

31. Thom Yorke
32. Bjork
33. Billie Holiday
34. Van Morrison
35. Ella Fitzgerald
36. Al Green
37. Eddie Vedder
38. Dusty Springfield
39. Christina Aguilera
40. Bruce Dickinson

To those list makers who didn’t include greats like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James – what were you thinking? Image from music-wallpapers.net.

41. Patsy Cline
42. Bruce Springsteen
43. Karen Carpenter
44. Chris Cornell
45. Luther Vandross
46. Stevie Nicks
47. Matt Bellamy
48. James Brown
49. Celine Dion
50. Bob Marley

R&B legends like James Brown, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke make the list. Image from johannasvisions.com.

51. Paul Rodgers
52. Steve Perry
53. Bon Scott
54. Jeff Buckley
55. Liam Gallagher
56. Michael Stipe
57. Prince
58. Gladys Knight
59. Smokey Robinson
60. Neil Young

Pre-rock era crooners didn’t get a lot of love from the listmakers, but some singers like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Nat “King” Cole couldn’t be denied. Image from queens-politics.com.

61. Tony Bennett
62. Nat “King” Cole
63. Johnny Cash
64. Debbie Harry
65. Ian Gillan
66. Maria Callas
67. John Lydon
68. Joni Mitchell
69. Joe Strummer
70. David Lee Roth

Country stars like Johnny Cash, George Jones, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams made the cut even without rock and roll credentials. Image from abcnewsradioonline.com.

71. George Jones
72. Little Richard
73. Brian Wilson
74. Mike Patton
75. Etta James
76. Howlin’ Wolf
77. Rod Stewart
78. Ian Curtis
79. Tom Waits
80. Mary J. Blige

Howlin’ Wolf makes the list, but where’s all the other blues greats? Come on, list makers! Image from worldofarmonica.blogspot.com.

81. Nick Cave
82. Lou Reed
83. Nina Simone
84. Joey Ramone
85. Hank Williams
86. Billie Joe Armstrong
87. Patti LaBelle
88. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
89. Jackie Wilson
90. Anthony Kiedis

World music gets almost no love from the list makers, but at least Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley and Pakistan’s Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan make the list. Image from aarkangel.wordpress.com.

91. Ozzy Osbourne
92. Patti Smith
93. Levi Stubbs
94. Jon Bon Jovi
95. Michael Hutchence
96. Meat Loaf
97. Sylvester “Sly Stone” Stewart
98. George Michael
99. Barbra Streisand
100. Dave Grohl

Despite the shortcomings of lists such as these, don’t let that take away from rock gods like Robert Plant, Jim Morrison, and Mick Jagger who absolutely belong on this list. Image from thehelplessdancer.wordpress.com.


Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame: Inductees

First posted 6/23/2019.

The Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame was established in 2010 and the first induction ceremony was held on August 17, 2013. Since then, it has become an annual event celebrating singers, songwriters, groups, producers, radio personalities, night club owners, and other individuals (and even places and companies) which have significantly contributed to the R&B field. Here are the inductees from 2013-2019:


A

  • Al Abrams (2016) Public Relations
  • Barbara Acklin (2017) Singer & Songwriter
  • The Andantes (2014) Vocal group
  • Jazzi Anderson (2015) Radio Host
  • Louis Armstrong (2017) Musician, Band Leader
  • Freddie Arrington (2013) Master of Ceremonies, Leo's Casino Night Club

B

  • Hank Ballard & The Midnighters (2015) Vocal group
  • Band Of Gypsys (2019) Band
  • The Bar-Kays (2015) Band
  • JJ Barnes (2015) Singer
  • Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly (2015) Singer
  • Robert Bateman (2016) Song Producer
  • Marcus Belgrave (2018) Musician
  • Al Bell (2015) Songwriter
  • Jerry Bell (2013) Singer
  • Ken Bell (2018) Radio Personality
  • Al Benson (2017) Radio Host, Promoter, Civil Rights Activist
  • Bert's Warehouse (2017) Entertainment Complex
  • Robert "Bumps" Blackwell (2019) Producer
  • Janie Bradford (2015) Songwriter
  • Wade Briggs (Butterball Jr.) (2017) Radio Personality
  • James Brown (2013) Musician, singer, dancer
  • Ruth Brown (2017) Singer
  • Jay Butler (2015) Radio Host
  • Jerry Butler (2015) Singer/songwriter

C

  • Call and Post (2013) Publication
  • Carl Carlton (2017) Singer
  • Gene Chandler (2014) Singer
  • Ray Charles (2015) Musician, bandleader
  • Chubby Checker (2014) Singer
  • The Chi-Lites (2013) Vocal group
  • Tony Clarke (2015) Singer
  • The Clovers (2013) Vocal group
  • Dennis Coffey (2017) Studio Musician
  • Bootsy Collins (2016) Funk Legend
  • The Contours (2015) Vocal Group
  • L.C. Cooke (2015) Singer
  • Sam Cooke (2013/2015) Singer, songwriter, record label executive
  • Henry Cosby (2019) Songwriter/Producer
  • Larry Cotton (2013) Journalist
  • Carolyn Crawford (2017) Singer

D

  • Don Davis (2019) Producer
  • Melvin Davis (2015) Singer
  • Sammy Davis Jr. (2017) Singer
  • Dazz Band (2013) Band
  • Bert Dearing (2017) Nite Club Owner
  • The Delfonics (2014) Vocal group
  • Detroit Emeralds (2015) Vocal Group
  • Bo Diddley (2017) Singer
  • Fats Domino (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • The Dramatics (2013) Vocal group
  • The Drifters (2018) Vocal Group
  • Ernie Durham (2017) Radio Host
  • The Dynamic Superiors (2013) Vocal group

E

  • The Elgins (2018) Vocal Group
  • Enchantment (2013) Vocal group
  • Ahmet Ertegun (2017) Record Label Executive
  • Charles Evers (2017) Civil Rights Activist, politician

F

  • The Fabulous Peps (2015) Vocal group
  • The Falcons (2016) Vocal Group
  • The Fantastic Four (2014) Vocal group
  • Eddie Floyd (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • Foody (2017) Radio Personality
  • The Four Tops (2013) Vocal group
  • Aretha Franklin (2015/2019) Singer, songwriter
  • Alan Freed (2017) Radio Host
  • The Funk Brothers (2014) Musicians

G

  • Marvin Gaye (2014) Singer
  • Fred Goree (2017) Radio Personality
  • Macy Gray (2014) Singer
  • Guy (2019) Vocal Group

H

  • Bill Haley (2017) Singer, Band Leader
  • Isaac Hayes & Hot Butter Soul (2017) Singer & Group
  • Jimi Hendrix (2016) Rock Legend
  • The Hesitations (2013) Vocal group
  • Billie Holiday (2017) Singer
  • Brenda Holloway (2018) Singer
  • Eddie Holman (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • Whitney Houston (2014) Singer
  • H-Town (2019) Vocal Group
  • Cathy Hughes (2016) Entertainment Mogul
  • Ivy Jo Hunter (2018) Songwriter & Producer

I

  • The Impressions (2017) Vocal Group
  • International Sweethearts Of Rhythm (2016) Band

J

  • Chuck Jackson (2015) Singer
  • Joe Jackson (2014) Promoter, manager
  • Michael Jackson (2014) Singer
  • Millie Jackson (2015) Singer
  • Little Willie John (2013) Singer
  • Little Willie John (2016) Songwriter
  • Robert Johnson (2017) Singer
  • Louis Jordan (2017) Bandleader, musician, Singer

K

  • Eddie Kendricks (2019) Singer
  • Herb Kent (2016) Radio Legend
  • B.B. King (2014) Singer
  • Gladys Knight & The Pips (2017) Vocal Group

L

  • Lady Champagne (2019) Singer
  • Denise LaSalle (2015) Singer
  • Bettye LaVette (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • Laura Lee (2015) Singer
  • Leo's Casino (2013) Historic Venue (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • Gerald Levert (2013) Singer
  • Pat Lewis (2015) Singer
  • Little Anthony & The Imperials (2018) Vocal Group
  • Little Richard (2015) Singer
  • Miller London (2016) Sales & Marketing Mogul

M

  • The Mad Lads (2015) Vocal Group
  • Skip Mahoney & The Casuals (2017) Vocal Group
  • The Manhattans (2017) Vocal Group
  • Tim Marshall (2013) Radio host, educator
  • Martha and the Vandellas (2013) Vocal group
  • The Marvelettes (2013) Vocal group
  • Mary Jane Girls (2019) Vocal Group
  • Johnnie Mae Mathews (2015) Singer, songwriter, producer
  • Clay McMurray (2018) Producer & Engineer
  • Stephanie Mills (2019) Singer
  • The Miracles (2015) Vocal group
  • Dorothy Moore (2015) Singer
  • Melba Moore (2015) Singer
  • Motown Records (2018) Record Company
  • Sylvia Moy (2017) Songwriter & Producer

N-O

  • Norm N. Nite (2014) Author, Radio Host
  • The Ohio Players (2013) Band
  • The O'Jays (2013) Vocal group
  • Johnny Otis (2017) Bandleader, musician, Singer

P-Q

  • Little Junior Parker (2015) Singer
  • Ray Parker Jr. (2019) Singer
  • Freda Payne (2017) Singer
  • Peaches & Herb (2018) Vocal Group
  • Phil Perry (2019) Singer
  • Wilson Pickett (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • Michael J. Powell (2017) Producer & Musician
  • Elvis Presley (2015) Singer
  • Lloyd Price (2019) Singer
  • Prince (2016) Singer & Songwriter

R

  • Otis Redding (2013) Singer
  • Della Reese (2017) Singer, actress
  • Martha Reeves (2015) Singer
  • Sir Mack Rice (2016) Singer & Producer
  • Jimmy Roach (2019) Producer/Songwriter
  • Smokey Robinson (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • Sugar Chile Robinson (2016) Child Prodigy
  • The Royal Jokers (2016) Vocal Group
  • Ruby & The Romantics (2013) Vocal group
  • The Rude Boys (2019) Vocal Group
  • David Ruffin (2013) Singer
  • Jimmy Ruffin (2015) Singer
  • Bobby Rush (2015) Singer
  • Mitch Ryder (2017) Singer

S

  • Sam & Dave (2018) Vocal Group
  • Little Jimmy Scott (2013) Jazz artist
  • Rena Scott (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • Shades Of Blue (2015) Vocal Group
  • Donnie Simpson (2015) Radio Host, TV music host
  • Sly, Slick & Wicked (2013) Vocal group
  • Sounds of Unity and Love (S.O.U.L.) (2013) Band
  • The Spinners (2015) Vocal group
  • Edwin Starr (2013) Singer
  • Stax Records (2015) Record Company
  • Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg (2017) Radio Host, Minister
  • Mickey Stevenson (2016) A&R Director
  • The Supremes (2013) Vocal group
  • Sweet Inspirations (2014) Vocal group

T

  • Johnnie Taylor (2015) Singer
  • Temptations Review Featuring Dennis Edwards (2015) Vocal Group
  • The Temptations (2013) Vocal group
  • Jeff & The Atlantics (2017) Band
  • Ike Turner (2015) Singer/Songwriter/Musician
  • Spyder Turner (2015) Singer
  • The 20 Grand (2015) Night club, concert venue
  • Henry Tyler (2015) Radio Host
  • The Tymes (2019) Vocal Group

U-V

  • The Undisputed Truth (2015) Vocal Group
  • Upbeat (TV series) (2013) TV Show
  • The Valadiers (2017) Vocal Group
  • The Velvelettes (2016) Vocal Group

W-X-Y-Z

  • Dionne Warwick (2016) Singer & Songwriter
  • David Washington (2019) Radio Personality
  • Gino Washington (2015) Singer
  • Henry Washington (2018) Promoter
  • Keith Washington (2019) Singer
  • Muddy Waters (2015) Singer/Musician
  • RJ Watkins (2015) Radio Host
  • WDIA (2015) Radio Station
  • Mary Wells (2017) Singer
  • Kim Weston (2013) Singer
  • Jerry Wexler (2017) Record Label Executive
  • The Whispers (2014) Vocal group
  • Nat D. Williams (2017) Radio Host
  • Jackie Wilson (2013) Singer
  • Stevie Wonder (2019) Singer
  • Richard "Popcorn" Wylie (2018) Producer, songwriter, Singer

Resources/Related Links:

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Act Inductees: June 2019

Originally posted 3/22/2019.

January 22, 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the DMDB blog! To honor that, Dave’s Music Database announces its own Hall of Fame. This month marks the second batch of act inductees. The first batch were the top 10 acts of all time, according to Dave’s Music Database. These are the next ten. They are:


David Bowie (1947-2016)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Glam-rock singer/songwriter born David Robert Jones 1/8/1947 in Brixton, London, England. Died 1/10/2016 in New York City. Became David Bowie 9/15/65 to avoid confusion with the Monkees’ Davy Jones. (v – Kon-Rads; Reds & Blues; King Bees: 11/63 to 8/64; Manish Boys: 8/64 to 4/65; Davy Jones: 65; Lower Third: 3/65 to 1/66; The Buzz: 2/66 to 12/66; solo: 66-; Tin Machine: 89-92). Produced Mott the Hoople (“All the Young Dudes”) and Lou Reed (Transformer) in 1972.

Henry Burr (1882-1941)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Traditional pop tenor singer born Harry H. McClaskey on 1/15/1882 in St. Stephen, Brunswick, Canada. Died 4/6/1941. The #1 ballad singer of recorded music’s 1890-1930 pioneer era. He was performing publicly by the age of 5. He was discovered in 1901 by the Metropolitan Opera baritone Giuseppe Campanari and moved to New York in 1902. The tenor singer used multiple pseudonyms, including Henry Burr and Irving Gillette, to record for various labels. In addition to his work as a soloist (1903-28), he recorded with the Columbia Male Quartet (1904-07), Peerless Quartet (07-28), Columbia Stellar Quartet (15-?), and the Sterling Trio (16-22). He also recorded duets with Albert Campbell. He sang on an estimated 12,000 recordings, far more than any other vocalist in history.

Ray Charles (1930-2004)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

R&B singer born Ray Charles Robinson on 9/23/1930 in Albany, GA. Died 6/10/2004. Well known for integrating multiple genres into his music. To Greenville, FL while still an infant. Partially blind at age 5, completely blind at age 7 (glaucoma). Studied classical piano and clarinet at State School for Deaf and Blind Children, St. Augustine, FL, 1937-45. With local Florida bands; moved to Seattle in 1948. First recordings were in the King Cole Trio style. Formed own band in 1954. Singer/actor Jamie Foxx won the Academy Award for Best Actor portraying Charles in Ray!

Arthur Collins (1864-1933)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Pioneering recording artist known as “The King of the Ragtime Singers.” He was born 2/7/1864 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died 8/3/1933. This baritone singer specialized in African-American dialect songs performed on vaudeville and in minstrel shows. He worked as a soloist (1898-1920), with the Big Four Quartet (01), with Byron Harlan (01-18), and with the Peerless Quartet (09-18).

Bob Dylan (1941-)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Folk-rock singer/songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player born Robert Allen Zimmerman on 5/24/1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. Took stage name from poet Dylan Thomas. He went to New York City in 1960 and worked in folk clubs in Greenwich Village. He signed to Columbia Records in October 1961. Member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys (88-91). Gained a reputation as one of rock music’s greatest lyricists with his political and socially-conscious songs, even winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his lyrics.

Byron G. Harlan (1861-1936)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Tenor singer born Byron George Harlan on 8/29/1861 in Kansas. Died 9/11/1936. Worked as a ragtime and minstrel singer and balladeer, recording as a solo artist (1899-1919), in a duo with Arthur Collins (01-18), and with the Big Four Quartet (01) and Columbia Comedy Trio (07). He was friends and neighbors with Thomas Edison.

Guy Lombardo (1902-1977)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Jazz/big band leader and violinist Gaetano Alberto “Guy” Lombardo was born on 6/19/1902 in London, Ontario, Canada. He died 11/5/1977. He and his brothers formed the Royal Canadians in 1924, billing themselves as “the sweetest music this side of heaven.” Led the only dance band ever to sell more than 100 million records. Lombardo was called “Mr. New Year’s Eve” because of nearly a half-century of his band’s radio and television broadcasts to ring in the new year.

Prince (1958-2016)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer born Prince Roger Nelson on 6/7/1958 in Minneapolis, MN. Died 4/21/2016. Self-taught musician. Named for the Prince Roger Trio, led by his father. Own group, Grand Central, in junior high school. Self-produced first album in 1978. Founded own label, Paisley Park, in 1985. Starred in several movies including 1984’s Purple Rain. Formed back-up group The Revolution in 1984 and New Power Generation in 1990.

Bruce Springsteen (1949-)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

Rock singer/songwriter and guitarist born Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen on 9/23/1949 in Freehold, NJ. Known as “The Boss.” Worked local clubs in New Jersey and Greenwich Village in the mid-60’s. Has recorded and toured solo and with the E Street Band off and on from 1972 forward.

Stevie Wonder (1950-)

Inducted June 2019 as a “Top Twenty All-Time Act.”

R&B singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer born Stevland Hardaway Morris né Judkins on 5/13/1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. He was a child prodigy who was blind since shortly after his birth. He signed with Motown at age 11; initially doing backup work. He started recording in 1962 as “Little Stevie Wonder” and became the youngest artist (age 13) to top the Billboard Hot 100 with “Fingertips.” When he turned 21, he reworked his Motown contract for more artistic freedom. He has won 25 Grammys, the most ever by a solo artist.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Compilations: Top 100 All-Time

image from abc.go.com

First posted 3/30/2018. Updated 6/19/2019.

“Greatest hits” packages are maligned entities in the world of music criticism, targeted by haters as cheap, record-contract-fulfilling-repackagings of works better heard in their original presentations. Naysayers argue that gathering up an act’s most commercial product hardly justifies calling a collection “the best of.”

However, compilations serve an important role in music. They are often a casual fan’s entry point to an artist. In some cases, the distillation of an act’s discography into a single collection weeds out the fluff and truly does present the act at its best.

In any event, here is Dave’s Music Database’s collection of the greatest compilations of all-time. DMDB lists are determined by aggregating best-of lists alongside chart data, sales figures, awards, and album ratings. Note: this list is confined to 1 or 2-disc collections. Box sets (3 or more discs) are summed up in a separate DMDB list. When an act has released multiple compilations, only the highest-rated has been listed, unless other compilations cover completely different material. The years covered by the compilation are noted in parentheses followed by the year the collection was released (noted by an r.).


Top 100 Compilations of All-Time

1. Bob Marley & the Wailers: Legend (1973-83, r. 1984)
2. Eagles: Very Best of (includes all of 1976’s Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and 1982’s Greatest Hits Volume 2) (compilation: 1971-2003, r. 2003)
3. The Beatles: 1 (1962-70, r. 2001)
4. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection (1983-90, r. 1990)
5. Elton John: Very Best of (includes all of 1974’s Greatest Hits (1970-90, r. 1990)
6. Abba: Gold: Greatest Hits (1973-82, r. 1992)
7. Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (1936-37, r. 1990)
8. Queen: Greatest Hits (aka “We Will Rock You”) (1973-81, r. 1981)
9. Elvis Presley: 30 #1 Hits (1956-77 + a 2002 remix, r. 2002)
10. Simon & Garfunkel: Greatest Hits (1964-70, r. 1972)

11. Michael Jackson: Number Ones (1978-2003, r. 2003)
12. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Chronicle: Their 20 Greatest Hits (1968-72, r. 1976)
13. The Rolling Stones: Hot Rocks 1964-71 (1964-71, r. 1971)
14. Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume I & II (1973-85, r. 1985)
15. U2: Best of 1980-1990 (1980-89, r. 1998)
16. Hank Williams: 40 Greatest Hits (1947-53, r. 1978)
17. Howlin’ Wolf: Moanin’ in the Moonlight/Howlin’ Wolf (aka “The Rocking Chair Album”) (1951-62, r. 1962)
18. Garth Brooks: The Hits (1989-93, r. 1994)
19. Sly & the Family Stone: Anthology (includes all of Greatest Hits) (1967-73, r. 1981)
20. Patsy Cline: 12 Greatest Hits (1957-63, r. 1973)

21. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Greatest Hits (1976-93, r. 1993)
22. Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty-Eight (1955-64, r. 1982)
23. Kenny Rogers: Greatest Hits (1977-80, r. 1980)
24. Journey: Greatest Hits (1977-87, r. 1988)
25. New Order: Substance (1981-87, r. 1987)
26. Carpenters: The Singles 1969-1981 (includes all of The Singles 1969-1973 (1969-81, r. 2000)
27. Eminem: Curtain Call: The Hits (1999-2005, r. 2005)
28. Bessie Smith: The Essential (1923-33, r. 1997)
29. Paul Whiteman: Masterpieces (1920-27, r. 2015)
30. Bruce Springsteen: Greatest Hits (1975-95, r. 1995)

31. Bon Jovi: Cross Road (1982-94, r. 1994)
32. Billy Murray: Anthology: The Denver Nightingale (1903-40, r. 2018)
33. Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady (1977-79, r. 1979)
34. Guns N’ Roses: Greatest Hits (1987-94, r. 2004)
35. Glenn Miller: Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (1939-42, r. 1945)
36. Queen: Greatest Hits 2 (1981-91, r. 1991)
37. Celine Dion: All the Way…A Decade of Song (1991-99, r. 1999)
38. Mariah Carey: #1’s (1990-98, r. 1998)
39. Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits (1975-88, r. 1988)
40. Al Green: Greatest Hits (1971-73, r. 1975)

41. Sam Cooke: The Man and His Music (1951-65, r. 1986)
42. Eurythmics: Greatest Hits (1982-89, r. 1991)
43. Lionel Richie: Back to Front (1977-92, r. 1992)
44. The Police: Every Breath You Take – The Singles (1978-86, r. 1986)
45. The Who: Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy (1964-70, r. 1971)
46. Bob Dylan: Greatest Hits (1962-66, r. 1967)
47. Eric Clapton: The Cream of Clapton (1966-81, r. 1995)
48. David Bowie: Best of Bowie (European version, 1969-2002, r. 2002)
49. R.E.M.: In Time: The Best of R.E.M. (1988-2003, r. 2003)
50. Steve Miller Band: Greatest Hits 1974-1978 (1973-1978, r. 1978)

51. The Temptations: Anthology (1964-72, r. 1973)
52. Arthur Collins: The King of the Ragtime Singers (1902-16, r. 2014)
53. Phil Collins: Hits (1981-98, r. 1998)
54. Bing Crosby: The Definitive Collection (1931-57, r. 2006)
55. Barbra Streisand: Memories (aka “Love Songs”) (1974-81, r. 1981)
56. Bryan Adams: So Far So Good (1983-93, r. 1993)
57. Johnny Mathis: Johnny’s Greatest Hits (1956-58, r. 1958)
58. Buddy Holly: 20 Golden Greats (1956-58, r. 1978)
59. John Denver: Greatest Hits (1969-72, r. 1973)
b 60. Roy Orbison: For the Lonely - 18 Greatest Hits (1956-65, r. 1989)

61. Aerosmith: Greatest Hits (1973-79, r. 1980)
62. Guy Lombardo: The Band Played On: 25 Number One Hits! (1927-50, r. 2002)
63. The Byrds: Greatest Hits (1965-67, r. 1967)
64. The Doors: Best of the Doors (1966-71, r. 1987)
65. George Michael: Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of (1984-98, r. 1998)
66. Robbie Williams: Greatest Hits (1997-2004, r. 2004)
67. Ray Charles: Anthology (1955-68, r. 1988)
68. Johnny Cash: The Legend of… (1955-2003, r. 2005)
69. The Supremes: Anthology (1962-76, r. 1986)
70. Rod Stewart: Greatest Hits (1971-78, r. 1979)

71. James Taylor: Greatest Hits (1969-76, r. 1976)
72. Charlie Patton: Founder of the Delta Blues (1929-34, r. 1995)
73. Blondie: Best of (1976-80, r. 1981)
74. Muddy Waters: His Best 1947-55 (includes all of Best of, compilation: 1947-55, r. 1997) 75. Van Morrison: Best of (1965-89, r. 1990)
76. Neil Young: Decade (1966-76, r. 1977)
77. Henry Burr: Anthology: The Original King of Pop (1903-28, r. 2005)
78. Willie Dixon/various artists: The Chess Box (1951-69, r. 1988)
79. Nirvana: Nirvana (1988-94, r. 2002)
80. Madonna: GHV2 (1991-2000, r. 2001)

81. Sting: Fields of Gold – The Best of (1985-94, r. 1994)
82. Pink Floyd: Echoes: The Best of (1967-94, r. 2001)
83. Whitney Houston: The Greatest Hits (1984-2000, r. 2000)
84. Pet Shop Boys: Discography – The Complete Singles Collection (1985-91, r. 1991)
85. Shania Twain: Greatest Hits (1994-2004, r. 2004)
86. Bob Seger: Greatest Hits (1972-94, r. 1994)
87. John Lennon: The Collection (1969-80 r. 1982)
88. James Brown: 20 All Time Greatest Hits! (1956-76, r. 1991)
89. Janis Joplin: Greatest Hits (1967-71, r. 1973)
90. Led Zeppelin: Remasters (1969-79, r. 1992)

91. The Doobie Brothers: Best of the Doobies (1972-76, r. 1976)
92. Paul McCartney: All the Best! (1970-87, r. 1987)
93. The Beach Boys: Endless Summer (1962-65, r. 1974)
94. Janet Jackson: Design of a Decade 1986/1996 (1986-95, r. 1995)
95. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Greatest Hits (1989-2003, r. 2003)
96. Sade: Best of (1984-93, r. 1994)
97. Dire Straits: Money for Nothing (1978-85, r. 1988)
98. Prince: Very Best of (1979-92, r. 2001)
99. Jimi Hendrix: The Ultimate Experience (1966-70, r. 1992)
100. Tina Turner: Simply the Best (1973-91, r. 1991)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Bruce Springsteen released Western Stars

First posted 6/19/2019.

Western Stars

Bruce Springsteen


Released: 6/14/2019


Charted: --


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: rock


Quotable: “??”


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Hitch Hikin’ [3:37]
  2. The Wayfarer [4:18]
  3. Tucson Train [3:31] (5/30/2019)
  4. Western Stars [4:41] (6/14/2019)
  5. Sleepy Joe’s Café [3:14]
  6. Drivin’ Fast (The Stuntman) [4:16]
  7. Chasin’ Wild Horses [5:03]
  8. Sundown [3:17]
  9. Somewhere North of Nashville [1:52]
  10. Stones [4:44]
  11. There Goes My Miracle [4:05] (5/17/2019)
  12. Hello Sunshine [3:56] (4/26/2019)
  13. Moonlight Motel [4:16]

Review:

Bruce Springsteen’s last studio album, 2014’s High Hopes, was “a loose assemblage of covers, unreleased tracks, and new versions of already-existing songs,” CS more “a collection of odds and ends” CS Since then, Bruce wrote his Born to Run memoir and a sort-of companion run of sold-out Broadway shows in which he revisited his past via stories and songs. Western Stars therefore stands as Springsteen’s first “proper” album since 2012’s Wrecking Ball. It marks his return to “his mastery of the long form on wax.” CS It “is a gorgeous love letter to the idea of songs providing salvation, a credo that has animated his four-decade-plus recording career.” EW

Wrecking Ball, High Hopes, and Western Stars were produced by Ron Aniello, who also “plays bass, keyboard, and other instruments. Patti Scialfa provides vocals and contributes vocal arrangements on four tracks. The musical arrangements include strings, horns, pedal steel and contributions from more than 20 other players including Jon Brion (who plays celeste, Moog, and farfisa), as well as guest appearances by David Sancious, Charlie Giordano, and Soozie Tyrell.” AZ Springsteen did most of the recording at his home studio in New Jersey, but some additional work was done in California and New York. AZ

Comparison to Previous Works

pa “After a decade of albums that aimed for bigger targets and wrapped their intentions in songs that sometimes didn't fit their messages, and vice versa, Western StarsUCR is “an album with the consistency in theme and tone” CS that “yields some of the most charming material of the venerable star’s career.” EQ “The California country-tinged, cinematic endeavor sees the Boss reflecting, embracing the dark corners of his mind while introducing a slew of West Coast personas and an army of strings and horns.” EQ

The album is anchored by “the 69-year-old’s weathered burr — still one of American music’s most singular instruments, but a bit gnarled by time.” EW He also employs a “spare but emotional vocal style here [that] uncovers shades he hasn't used in years or sometimes ever before.” UCR “When the album coalesces, as it often does, it’s Springsteen's most satisfying since 2002’s The Rising.” UCR “On their own, the album’s songs are good, but together they gain more meaning and resonance.” UCR It “conjures a specific place and time – especially in its orchestrations.” UCR

Springsteen called this “a return to my solo recordings featuring character driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements.” AZ While Western Stars shares the “bleakness [that] runs through solo albums Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad,” EQ this is “a lush, gorgeous record that sounds unlike anything Springsteen has recorded in the past.” UCR It differs from his previous solo efforts which are “a take on the early 60s folk revival” GN with him assuming the role of an “acoustic balladeer who tries to channel the spirit of Woody Guthrie, with political references updated but affected twang intact.” SL

Late ‘60s/Early ‘70s Southern California Pop

“Springsteen has long been a master of nostalgia and here he shifts his sonic touchpoints back to the sounds that floated through his early years.” EQ He channels late ‘60s/early ‘70s Southern California pop – “not the widely mimicked Laurel Canyon folk-rock style, but the more orchestrated, Nashville-influenced manner of Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell, with dashes of Harry Nilsson and Burt Bacharach.” SL “But because it’s Springsteen, both the arrangements and the character-driven stories possess a cinematic sweep that’s far more dramatic than the music of his reference points.” CS

Orchestration

The “luscious orchestrations [are] heavy on the strings and French horn, cooing female backing vocals, guitars that shimmer and quiver with tremolo effects, mournful pedal steel.” GN The arrangements are “unlike anything in his catalog. Springsteen albums are usually grand affairs but he’s never made one that sounds so vast and luxurious throughout.” PF The orchestration “is more panoramic than emotionally demonstrative [which] leads Springsteen in pleasantly unfamiliar directions, but seldom so far afield as to be jarring.” SL These “purposefully anachronistic arrangements – recalling jukeboxes, FM radios, sepia-toned montages, faded memories – carry an elegiac tone. It’s been a long time since popular music sounded like this, and it ties these characters to an era as much as a place.” PF

Themes

“Placing intricately detailed portraiture on massive musical backdrops has been a Springsteen trademark for years, of course, and Western Stars continues this legacy, transforming the enormous into the intimate.” EW “A press release characterized the songs as encompassing a “range of American themes, of highways and desert spaces, of isolation and community and the permanence of home and hope.” AZ Hot Press’s Pat Carty described the album as a “heartbreaking yet life-affirmingly beautiful record – both elegiac and warm, a trick few others, if any, could pull off.” WK

“Geographically, Western Stars is closest to The Boss’ last solo(ish) record, 2005’s Devils & Dust. But where that album turned its gaze toward Southwestern people and places to convey a sense of despair,” CS Western Stars conjures “the Utopian romance of the Western frontier, but, because this is a Bruce Springsteen album, it’s encountered mainly in brokenness and loss.” SL The album is populated by “a ghost town of broken male narrators” PF “who haunt its mountains and canyons” PF and “find themselves run over by a world that’s long-since sped past.” EQ They are “old and restless, lost and wandering,” PF “in search of or, more often, on the run from their dreams.” SL These men are “alone with their never-ending work and shortening timelines,” PF “ruminating on how things have changed, not just for the worse, but in ways none of them anticipated.” GN

“Hitch Hikin’”

Slate’s Carl Wilson considers the song reminiscent of Tom Waits “Ol’ ’55,” “with the music loping along like a pickup truck rolling through town.” SL Sung from the persona of “a drifter with nowhere to go,” PF the song celebrates “a time when a young person could trust that thumbing it on the highway was a safe and benign way to get from point A to point B and discover a little of America along the way.” SL

This “slow-burner” EW “becomes epic” CS thanks to the ”gradually swelling orchestration adding gravitas to the images the narrator collects during his travels.” EQ We are invited “into the backseats of three cars, whose drivers stand in for the pillars of Springsteen’s career. There’s a father, a trucker headed toward a big open highway, and a solitary racer in a vintage model from 1972, which also happens to be the year that Springsteen scored his record deal with Columbia.” PF

“The Wayfarer”

This song “depicts an almost identical narrator, [but] it stands out for its acceleration in momentum” CS and “tragic-triumphant conclusion.” PF “Springsteen reframes his wanderlust in a series of confessions. He acknowledges that put in his position most people would be happy with what they have. He knows his worries are nothing new.” PF

“Springsteen powers the orchestration with the E Street staples of organ, palm-muted guitar, and sun-dappled piano from actual former E Streeter David Sancious,” CS “who played the virtuosic piano solo in 1973’s ‘New York City Serenade.’” PF “His jazzy touch on the keys offsets the thump of Springsteen’s acoustic guitar and the earthy twang of his baritone, as open-hearted and desperate as it has ever sounded.” PF Springsteen’s “wife and frequent collaborator, Patti Scialfa, lifts the song even higher with her arrangement of celestial backing vocals.” CS

“Tucson Train”

“The lush arrangements of…the heart-eyed ‘Tuscon Train’” EW make for “an immediately classic-sounding Springsteen tale of yearning.” SL The protagonist “may be struggling with a pill addiction, but the joyous clatter of steam-engine percussion and horns that sound birthed from the Grand Canyon are enough to convince [the listener] that he and his life partner are going to be alright in their new town.” CS

He fled to “San Francisco to operate a crane in Arizona anticipating – with excitement and perhaps trepidation – the arrival of his ex-lover on the 5:15 train. He’s found some kind of contentment working hard in the Southwest, and here comes the person with whom he ‘fought hard over nothing…till nothing remained.’ Has he actually changed enough to handle it? The song ends on the ominous ticking of the clock.” SL

“Western Stars”

The pun of the “lamenting” EQ title track “refers not only to the nocturnal sky out past the Rockies but to celebrities from TV and movie Westerns.” SL The protagonist was once “a bit player in cowboy movies” CS who has been “reduced to hawking Viagra on TV and retelling his stories for anyone who’ll buy him a drink.” GN He “will likely die with that fact that he was once ‘shot by John Wayne’ [in a movie] as his most memorable claim to fame.” EQ

“On weekends he likes to head out to the desert to watch Mexican charros compete in rodeo events – another kind of ‘Western stars.’ Other nights he might flirt with some ‘lost sheep from Oklahoma’ in an L.A. bar, animal imagery that intersects menacingly with the previous line about a coyote crossing the narrator’s front porch “with someone’s Chihuahua in its teeth.” SL

“Sleepy Joe’s Café”

The album “works, almost without exception,” EQ although the “boot-scooting” EW “‘Sleepy Joe’s Café’ might ring a touch too whimsical for anyone who hoped another Springsteen solo effort would mean a return to the haunted prairies of Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad.” CS The song “understandably tries to break up the torrent of poignancy with something more upbeat,” SL but it contrasts with the rest of the album cuts.

It “is a vaguely Latin-style accordion groover” SL that recall Springsteen’s “party-setting throwback songs” UCR populated by “hope-filled characters.” EW A “World War II vet…opens a restaurant outside of San Bernardino,” CS “an idealized oasis…where working folk of all stripes can dance their cares away.” SL “It’s a concept similar to The Rising’s ‘Mary’s Place,’ but the milquetoast world music arrangement and bland lyric make it eminently skippable.” SL “The E Street Band could have turned it into something more driving and potent.” GN

“Drive Fast (The Stuntman)”

Western Stars is marked by “moments of transcendent loveliness…[such as] the shivering instrumental coda” GN of the “simmering ‘Drive Fast (The Stuntman).’” EW The narrator, a former stuntman, has been “beaten up by the job and the life it affords.” EQ He waxes “wistful about his long-past daredevil glories and the girl who got away.” SL He “‘was looking for anything, any kind of drug to lift me up off this ground’ and found love on a B-movie set.” EW

The song starts and ends with “a couplet that’s one of Springsteen’s recent best:” SL “I got two pins in my ankle and a busted collarbone/ A steel rod in my leg, but it walks me home.”

“Chasin’ Wild Horses”

This song “prescribes its title as a means of counterbalancing pain; the arrangement grows more romantic as the chorus hardens into a routine.” PF

“Sundown”

“For those wild spirits who worked 9 to 5 and somehow survived till the night, there’s ‘Sundown,’ a tour through a bittersweet twilight where you long for companionship.” PF

Springsteen embraces an “occasional tendency towards schmaltz.” GN On songs like “There Goes My Miracle” and “Sundown,” “he slathers on the high-camp strings and transforms his voice into a croon, denuded of the usual Springsteen grit.” GN

“Somewhere North of Nashville”

This “sparse miniature” SL “sounds unfinished” UCR when put in the context of an “artist famed for his highway-spanning, syllable-spilling epics and his marathon concerts.” SL It “is among the shortest, starkest things that Springsteen has ever recorded: an acknowledgment of how quickly a song – and life – can pass by.” PF

His rasp is “in full Steve Earle effect” SL as he sings “in a defeated growl” PF about “a failed country songwriter wondering if any of the sacrifices he made in his youth were worth it.” PF He gave up “love to pursue fame in Music City, where he fails more or less instantly.” SL (“I traded you for this song.”) Now he’s splitting town with ‘nothing but this melody, and time to kill,’ and precious few prospects of recovering what he’s squandered.” SL

“Stones”

“The coda of ‘Stones’ gives his stoic vocals an emotional counterpoint by way of a twisty, insistent violin solo.” EW

“There Goes My Miracle”

“The brokenhearted, string-laden ‘There Goes My Miracle’ certainly recall the era of Bacharach and Webb” EW although it can be viewed as a “schmaltzy” EQ song which “wandered in by accident from Working on a Dream, Springsteen’s misfired attempt a decade ago to catch up with more current pop. While the melody has potential, the repetitively anodyne lyrics should be ashamed to keep company with the other songs on this album. And Springsteen strains for a bravura vocal that he maybe (maybe) could have managed in the 1980s, but not with his more worn and surgically compromised instrument in this century.” SL

“Hello Sunshine”

The album’s lead single “epitomizes the record’s California country template.” SL The “hardened narrator” PF “looks for redemption on barren streets.” EW The song “recalls ‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues,’ the 1972 hit by the otherwise little-known singer-songwriter Danny O’Keefe. But Springsteen’s take is a reversal” SL as he “considers how to escape the isolation he can’t help cultivating” EQ (“You fall in love with lonely, you end up that way”) instead of “contracting an addiction to melancholy.” SL

It “seems to be about transcending the severe depression Springsteen went through several years ago, and the destabilizing effects of his own chronic restlessness.” SL (“You know I always liked that empty road/No place to be and miles to go/But miles to go is miles away.”) He told Esquire, “I have come close enough to [mental illness] where I know I am not completely well myself…I’ve had to deal with it a lot over the years, and I am on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel; otherwise I can swing rather dramatically and…the wheels can come off a little bit.” EQ “In this sense, it serves as the bridge between the album’s broader themes and his personal life.” SL

“Moonlight Motel”

The album closer is “an understated, fingerpicked ballad in which weekends of youthful erotic trysts at a stop ‘on a blank stretch of road/ Where nobody travels and nobody goes’ give way to years of ‘bills and kids and kids and bills.’” SL The “forlorn protagonist rouses himself from his ‘lonely bed’” SL and finds himself taking “a bottle of Jack out of a paper bag” SL and “glumly surveying the boarded-up” GN motel which was “an old rendezvous spot for him and an ex.” EQ

The song evokes the line “It’s better to have loved” from “Ulysses,” a 19th-century Tennyson poem from which Springsteen has previously drawn. PF The title of Western Stars also appears in the poem. “It’s easy to see why Springsteen finds resonance in these…defining works by a grief-stricken poet wondering if our brief, complicated lives are worth the legacy we leave behind. ‘Ulysses’ is narrated by a hero approaching old age, returning from a long journey only to realize he felt more fulfilled on the road. So he heads out again, ‘to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’ And stay alive, if he can.” PF


Review Source(s):

Reactions: 
No comments: Links to this post

Heavy Metal Albums – Top 50

First posted 7/1/2011. Updated 6/14/2019.

Originally posted on the DMDB Facebook page on 7/1/11.

Here are the best heavy metal/hard rock albums, according to Dave’s Music Database. 20 lists of “heavy metal” and/or “hard rock” albums were compiled to create the aggregate list below. Note: this is a revision of a note originally posted on Facebook on 3/12/2010. See the original here.

1. Guns N’ Roses...Appetite for Destruction (1987)
2. Iron Maiden...The Number of the Beast (1982)
3. AC/DC...Back in Black (1980)
4. Van Halen...Van Halen (1978)
5. Black Sabbath...Paranoid (1970)
6. Metallica...Master of Puppets (1986)
7. Slayer...Reign in Blood (1986)
8. Metallica...Ride the Lightning (1984)
9. Metallica...Metallica (1991)
10. Def Leppard...Pyromania (1983)

11. Def Leppard...Hysteria (1987)
12. AC/DC...Highway to Hell (1979)
13. Ozzy Osbourne...Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
14. Kiss...Destroyer (1976)
15. Judas Priest...British Steel (1980)
16. Motörhead...Ace of Spades (1980)
17. Metallica...Kill ‘Em All (1983)
18. Black Sabbath...Master of Reality (1971)
19. Megadeth...Rust in Peace (1990)
20. Kiss...Alive! (1975)

21. Black Sabbath...Black Sabbath (1970)
22. Slayer...Seasons in the Abyss (1990)
23. Judas Priest...Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
24. Bon Jovi...Slippery When Wet (1986)
25. Deep Purple...Machine Head (1972)
26. Metallica...And Justice for All (1988)
27. Pantera...Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
28. Iron Maiden...Iron Maiden (1980)
29. Skid Row...Skid Row (1989)
30. Alice in Chains...Dirt (1992)

31. Led Zeppelin...Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
32. Queensrÿche...Operation Mindcrime (1988)
33. Dio...Holy Diver (1983)
34. Iron Maiden...Powerslave (1984)
35. Aerosmith...Toys in the Attic (1975)
36. Anthrax...Among the Living (1987)
37. Korn...Korn (1994)
38. Mötley Crüe...Dr. Feelgood (1989)
39. Megadeth...Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986)
40. Megadeth...Countdown to Extinction (1992)

41. Soundgarden...Batmotorfinger (1991)
42. Van Halen...1984 (1984)
43. Iron Maiden...Piece of Mind (1983)
44. Led Zeppelin...Led Zeppelin II (1969)
45. Motörhead...No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith (1981)
46. Led Zeppelin...Led Zeppelin I (1969)
47. Slayer...South of Heaven (1988)
48. Judas Priest...Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
49. Aerosmith...Rocks (1976)
50. Pantera...Cowboys from Hell (1990)