Monday, December 1, 1997

Robbie Williams charted with “Angels”

Angels

Robbie Williams

Writer(s): Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan (see lyrics here)


Released: December 1, 1997


First Charted: December 13, 1997


Peak: 53 US, 25 RR, 10 AC, 21 A40, 4 UK, 18 CN, 40 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.8 UK, 2.13 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 260.61 video, 309.32 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Robbie Williams first gained fame in the British boy band Take That in the early ‘90s before striking out on his own in 1996. As a solo artist, he has topped the UK singles chart seven times. However, “Angels,” which peaked at #4, is his best-selling single. In a VH1 poll in the UK, this was voted the best song which should have topped the charts. SF At the 2005 Brit Awards, it was voted the best song of the previous 25 years. WK

Irish Independent called it an “epic ballad” WK and ShortList’s Dave Fawbert called it a “genuinely brilliant song.” WK Billboard magazine’s Larry Flick praised the song as a “sweet ballad that never gets sappy.” He said “the lyric is thoughtful and ear-grabbing, and his smoky, crisp vocal is a sheer delight. All that and a chorus to kill for.” WK

The song is about loved ones who’ve died and come back as guardian angels to offer protection and affection. In 2005, Britons voted it the song they most wanted played at their funerals. WK Detractors referred to Williams as “a glorified cabaret singer” and attacked this song as his attempt at a mainstream song in a Britpop style. SF

Williams claimed he wrote the song with collaborator Guy Chambers about his aunt and uncle. He said they were inspired to write the chorus by watching a water fountain while sitting outside a cafĂ©. However, Irish singer/songwriter Ray Heffernan says he wrote the son in 1996 after his partner had a miscarriage. By chance, he met Williams in a Dublin pub and showed him the song and the two of them recorded a demo of the song. Williams then said and Chambers significantly rewrote the song. Williams’ management paid Heffernan £7,500 (about $10,000 in U.S. dollars) for the rights to the song.


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First posted 10/15/2021.

Tuesday, November 25, 1997

Yes Open Your Eyes released

Open Your Eyes

Yes


Released: November 25, 1997


Peak: 151 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

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

  1. New State of Mind [6:00] (single, --)
  2. Open Your Eyes [5:14] (9/22/97, 33 AR)
  3. Universal Garden [6:16]
  4. No Way We Can Lose [4:56]
  5. Fortune Seller [5:00]
  6. Man in the Moon [4:41]
  7. Wonderlove [6:06]
  8. From the Balcony [2:43]
  9. Love Shine [4:37]
  10. Somehow, Someday [4:47]
  11. The Solution [5:25]
  12. The Source [16:21]

All songs written by Anderson, Howe, White, Squire, and Sherwood.


Total Running Time: 72:06


The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals)
  • Steve Howe (guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, banjo)
  • Chris Squire (bass, backing vocals, harmonica)
  • Alan White (drumers, percussion, backing vocals)
  • Billy Sherwood (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, recording, mixing)

Rating:

1.885 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)

About the Album:

In 1996 and 1997, Yes released a pair of albums known as Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension 2. Both were double albums which included live material from 1996 along with new material. The lineup featured Anderson, Squire, Howe, White, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The albums were produced by Billy Sherwood.

Sherwood met Chris Squire in 1989. The Yes lineup at that time featured Squire, Anderson, White, Tony Kaye, and Trevor Rabin. Anderson reunited with Yes bandmates’ Howe, Wakeman, and Bill Bruford while Rabin focused on solo work. Squire, White, and Kaye recruited Sherwood as a possible Yes member, but he was uneasy about replacing Anderson as a frontman. He did, however, contribute to Yes’ 1991 Union album and played guitar and keyboards on the band’s 1994 tour in support of Talk.

Sherwood and Squire formed a strong writing partnership and toured as the Chris Squire Experiment in 1992. They were developing songs for an album to be called Chemistry when Sherwood was enlisted for Yes, becoming an official member in 1997 after Wakeman left the group. Two of the songs the pair had developed for that project, Open Your Eyes (originally called “I Wish I Knew”) and Man in the Moon, were re-worked for Yes.

Sherwood then sent tapes of early versions of Wonderlove, Love Shine, New State of Mind, and Universal Garden to Anderson, who liked the songs, recorded vocals for them, and sent them back to Sherwood. White then recorded new drum tracks and, as Sherwood said, “all of a sudden it had that [Yes] flavor.” WK Howe, who came in toward the album’s completion, has said he and Anderson had little input on the songs, WK although they did contribute From the Balcony.

While Sherwood served as the band’s primary keyboardist, the album also included work from Russian keyboardist Igor Khoroshev as a guest on a few songs. He was brought on board at the request of Anderson and Howe, who’d heard tapes of him. He then joined the band on their 30th anniversary 12-month world tour and became a full member after the tour.

The album was poorly received, becoming one of their least successful commercially. Entertainment Weekly’s Chuck Eddy criticized Yes as “neither as self-indulgent nor as magnificent as they’re capable of being.” WK Stereogum was even harsher, saying it was “written at a child’s level of musical sophistication.” WK

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First posted 7/25/2021.

Friday, November 21, 1997

50 years ago: Thelonious Monk recorded “Round Midnight”

‘Round Midnight

Thelonious Monk

Writer(s): Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams, Bernie Hanighen (see lyrics here)


Recorded: November 21, 1947


First Charted: --


Peak: -- (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2.5 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Jazz is often romanticized as the sound of the city at night when the bustle has died down…but few of its composers ever managed to capture that last call feeling, and none did it quite like Thelonious Monk.” NPR “Round Midnight” is, according to JazzStandards.com, “the most-recorded jazz standard written by any jazz musician.” JS Jazz legend Herbie Hancock called it “a cornerstone in the whole evolution of jazz.” NPR It has even been called the “National Anthem of Jazz.” JS

Pianist Thelonious Monk wrote the “darkly beautiful ballad with an after-hours feel” JS around 1940 or 1941. Monk’s producer, Harry Colomby, claims an early version may have been written as far back as 1936 when Monk was 19. WK In the book Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, Thomas Fitterling says he wrote it even earlier when he was 18. JS

Regardless of when he wrote it, Monk didn’t copyright it until September 24, 1943 under the title “I Need You So” with lyrics he wrote. WK He didn’t record it himself until November 21, 1947, WK by which time it was already well known NPR Trumpeter Cootie Williams recorded the song on August 22, 1944, after being persuaded by pianist Bud Powell. WK There are different accounts as to whether or not Williams modified the song, but he ended up with a writing credit. JS

New lyrics were added by Bernie Hanighen, a songwriter and producer, and published on November 27, 1944, under the title “Grand Finale.” WK Jackie Paris introduced this new vocal version in 1949. JS In 1946, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie embellished the song JS with a new intro that was originally the end of his arrangement of “I Can’t Get Started.” WK It became a standard part of the song. JS

Miles Davis recorded the song several times in the ‘50s and it became one of his signature songs. WK His “show-stopping performance of the song at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival” JS was considered a major turning point for the song, Davis, and the world of jazz in general because it introduced the song to the jazz public at large. JS By the end of the ‘50s, the song “was firmly entrenched as a jazz standard” NPR thanks to Davis and versions by Dexter Gordon and Sarah Vaughan. NPR


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First posted 4/21/2021.

Tuesday, November 18, 1997

John Mellencamp released The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988 compilation

First posted 9/17/2020.

The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988

John Mellencamp


Released: November 18, 1997


Recorded: 1978-1988 + 1 new song


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


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


Genre: classic heartland rock


Tracks: (1) I Need a Lover (2) Ain’t Even Done with the Night (3) Hurts So Good (4) Jack and Diane (5) Crumblin’ Down (6) Pink Houses (7) Authority Song (8) Lonely Ol’ Night (9) Small Town (10) R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (11) Paper in Fire (12) Cherry Bomb (13) Check It Out (14) Without Expression


Total Running Time: 58:51


Rating:

4.340 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

A Brief History:

Born in Seymour, Indiana, on October 7, 1951, John Mellencamp became one of the most important figures in heartland rock, a subset of classic rock which embraced Midwestern values. He first recorded under the name Johnny Cougar and later as John Cougar and eventually under his given name. He first found success with “I Need a Lover” in 1978 and had his major commercial breakthrough with 1982’s chart-topping American Fool and hit singles “Hurts So Good” and “Jack and Diane.”

From 1982 to 1987, Mellencamp recorded four multi-platinum, top-10 albums, each yielding at least two top-10 hits, including “Pink Houses,” “Small Town,” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” Those years are represented on this page, which covers seven studio albums, some of which have devoted DMDB pages (click on links below). All have brief snapshots on this page.

The Studio Albums:

Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the The Best That I Could Do are noted. Song titles are followed by the names of writers in parentheses, the song’s length in brackets, and then the date the song charted and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.


A Biography (1978):

This was the third album recorded by John Mellencamp, then known as Johnny Cougar. It didn’t get released in the U.S. because of poor sales of his 1976 debut, Chestnut Street Incident. His second album, The Kid Inside, was recorded in 1977, but wasn’t released until after the success of 1982’s American Fool. The song “I Need a Lover” became a top-ten hit in Australia and was included on his next American album, John Cougar.

  • I Need a Lover (1978, 28 US, 5 AU)


John Cougar (1979):

This was Mellencamp’s first album with Riva Records and his first to be released under the name John Cougar. The album included “I Need a Lover” and a re-worked version of “Taxi Dancer,” both songs initially featured on A Biography, which wasn’t released in the U.S. The single “Miami” hit #31 in Australia and “Small Paradise” hit #87 in the U.S., but neither song was featured on The Best That I Can Do.


Nothin’ Matters and What if It Did (1980):

Mellencamp (still going by the name John Cougar at the time) followed up the success of “I Need a Lover” with two more top-40 hits from this album. “This Time” hit #27 and “Ain’t Even Done with the Night,” featured on The Best That I Can Do, became Mellencamp’s first top-20 hit.

  • Ain’t Even Done with the Night (1/31/81, 17 US, 44 AR, 15 CN)


American Fool (1982):

John Cougar hit the big time with American Fool, which hit the top of the Billboard album chart in the U.S. and gave him two top-10 hits as well as a top-20 hit with “Hand to Hold Onto,” the latter of which isn’t on The Best That I Could Do.

  • Hurts So Good (4/24/82, 2 US, 1 AR, 3 CN, 5 AU, sales: ½ million)
  • Jack and Diane (6/26/82, 1 US, 3 AR, 25 UK, 1 CN, 7 AU, sales: ½ million)


Uh-Huh (1983):

After the success of American Fool, Mellencamp came right back the next year with another multi-platinum, top-10 album featuring two more top-10 hits and another top-20 hit.

  • Crumblin’ Down (10/15/83, 9 US, 2 AR, 9 CN, 42 AU)
  • Pink Houses (10/29/83, 8 US, 3 AR, 15 CN, 69 AU)
  • Authority Song (2/18/84, 15 US, 15 AR, 41 CN, 93 AU)


Scarecrow (1985):

While it didn’t top the album chart (it peaked at #2), Scarecrow matched the five-million mark in sales he’d previously reached with American Fool. With three top-10 hits, this was his most successful album in terms of singles.

  • Lonely Ol’ Night [3:45] (8/17/85, 6 US, 1 AR, 37 AC, 7 CN, 32 AU)
  • Small Town [3:41] (9/14/85, 6 US, 2 AR, 13 AC, 53 UK, 13 CN, 80 AU)
  • R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. [2:54] (9/14/85, 2 US, 6 AR, 36 AC, 67 UK, 7 CN, 18 AU)


The Lonesome Jubilee (1987):

For the fourth time, Mellencamp delivered a top-10, multi-platinum album with at least two top-10 hits.

  • Paper in Fire [3:53] (8/15/87, 9 US, 1 AR, 86 UK, 3 CN, 13 AU)
  • Cherry Bomb [4:49] (9/5/87, 8 US, 1 AR, 12 AC, 5 CN, 20 AU)
  • Check It Out [4:20] (2/6/88, 14 US, 3 AR, 96 UK, 10 CN, 22 AU)


The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988 (1997):

After 1996’s Mr. Happy Go Lucky, John Mellencamp left Mercury Records for Columbia. Naturally Mercury wanted to capitalize on the singer’s years with them and released a compilation. However, the set inexplicably opted to ignore the 1989-1996 years. The fact that they opted to have the set stop after 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee makes some sense in that it marked the end of his multi-platinum days, but considering that all his 1989-1996 studio albums reached platinum status and produced a fair amont of hits as well, it seemed obvious that there should be a second volume.

Still, there’s no arguing with what’s here. There are nine top-10 hits, including his #1 hit Jack and Diane from 1982. Even then, though, with a running time just shy of an hour, there’s room for four or five more cuts and stay under the CD cap length. The most notable absences include “This Time,” “Hand to Hold Onto,” “Rain on the Scarecrow,” and “Rumbleseat,” all top-40 hits in the U.S.

The set also includes one new song, Mellencamp’s recording of the Terry Reid song “Without Expression.” It makes for an odd edition as it was recorded a decade after everything else on the compilation. An archival recording, B-side, live cut, or alternate version of a song would have made more sense.

  • Without Expression (11/29/97, 25 AR, 14 CN)


Notes: The Japanese edition of the album included “Miami” and “Under the Boardwalk.”

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Tuesday, November 4, 1997

Shania Twain released Come on Over

First posted 3/27/2008; updated 12/3/2020.

Come on Over

Shania Twain


Released: November 4, 1997


Peak: 2 US, 150 CW, 111 UK, 15 CN, 120 AU


Sales (in millions): 20.0 US, 3.34 UK, 40.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! [3:53] (11/15/97, #18a US, 3 UK, 4 CW, 16 AC, gold single)
  2. I’m Holdin’ on to Love to Save My Life [3:30] (7/8/00, #17 CW)
  3. Love Gets Me Every Time [3:33] (10/4/97, #25 US, 1 CW, gold single)
  4. Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) [3:35] (11/15/97, #40 US, 5 UK, 6 CW)
  5. From This Moment On (with Bryan White) [4:43] (11/15/97, #4 US, 9 UK, 58 CW)
  6. Come on Over [2:55] (11/15/97, #43a US, 6 CW)
  7. When [3:39] (6/13/98, #18 UK)
  8. Whatever You Do, Don’t! [3:49]
  9. If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask! [4:04]
  10. You’re Still the One [3:34] (1/24/98, #2 US, 10 UK, 1 CW, 1 AC, platinum single)
  11. Honey, I’m Home [3:39] (11/15/97, #1 CW)
  12. That Don’t Impress Me Much [3:38] (12/12/98, #5a US, 3 UK, 8 CW, 8 AC)
  13. Black Eyes, Blue Tears [3:39]
  14. I Won’t Leave You Lonely [4:13]
  15. Rock This Country [4:23] (1/15/00, #30 CW)
  16. You’ve Got a Way [3:24] (6/19/99, #42a US, 13 CW, 6 AC)

All tracks written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange.


Total Running Time: 60:06

Rating:

4.051 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The come-from-nowhere success of Shania Twain’s previous album, The Woman in Me, proved that the world was ready for a combination of traditional instruments, girl-power themes, and dance-pop dynamics. Whether Twain is a modern-day Dolly Parton or a country music Spice Girl is a matter of perspective. But with her third album, she accentuates the sing-along choruses and simple dance rhythms while downplaying the country elements.” MM

The album became the best-selling country album of all-time, as well as the best-seller by a woman and by a Canadian. WK Powered by eight country top-ten hits, including three #1’s, Come on Over spent a whopping 50 weeks atop the country chart. The album received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Country Album. The song You’re Still the One landed four nominations, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Song, and Best Female Country Vocal Performance, winning the latter two. The album’s power was still kicking a year later when she won each of those two awards again – but this time for Come on Over and Man! I Feel Like a Woman! respectively.

“The emphasis is on fun rather than depth, of course.” MM Like The Woman in Me, this album was powered by “quite radio-friendly” songs MM produced and co-written by “Mutt” Lange. The man who Twain married in 1993 brought the same sensibility for catchy hits as he’d done producing iconic rock albums for Bryan Adams, AC/DC, the Cars, Def Leppard, and Foreigner. Entertainment Weekly “praised the album for successfully incorporating a substantial rock influence without losing its country sensibilities.” WK


Notes:

An international version of the CD was released in 1999 that contained some remixes of the original tracks and a different track listing.

Review Sources:


Related DMDB Page(s):

Tuesday, September 23, 1997

The Rolling Stones’ Bridges to Babylon released

Bridges to Babylon

The Rolling Stones


Released: September 23, 1997


Peak: 3 US, 6 UK, 2 CN, 19 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.1 UK, 4.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock veteran


Tracks:

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

  1. Flip the Switch [3:28] (11/22/97, 14 AR, 26 CN)
  2. Anybody Seen My Baby? (Jagger/ Lang/ Mink/ Richards) [4:31] (9/20/97, 45 RR, 2 AA, 3 AR, 22 UK, 1 CN, 58 AU)
  3. Low Down [4:26]
  4. Already Over Me [5:24]
  5. Gunface [5:02]
  6. You Don't Have to Mean It [3:44]
  7. Out of Control [5:02] (8/17/98, 51 UK)
  8. Saint of Me [5:15] (11/1/97, 94 US, 7 AA, 13 AR, 26 UK, 24 CN, 100 AU)
  9. Might As Well Get Juiced [5:23]
  10. Always Suffering [4:43]
  11. Too Tight [3:33]
  12. Thief in the Night (DeBeauport/ Jagger/ Richards) [5:15]
  13. How Can I Stop [5:53]

Songs written by Jagger/ Richards unless indicated otherwise.


Total Running Time: 61:20


The Players:

  • Mick Jagger (vocals, guitar, percussion)
  • Keith Richards (guitar, vocals, bass)
  • Ronnie Wood (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Charlie Watts (drums)

Rating:

3.413 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“It’s no use comparing Stones albums to Exile on Main Street anymore; the world’s greatest rock & roll band clearly substitutes finances for passion these days. But compared to, say, Soul Asylum or the Black Crowes, the band still produces worthwhile records.” AZVoodoo Lounge confirmed that the Stones could age gracefully, but it never sounded modern; it sounded classicist.” AMG

Bridges to Babylon finds the Rolling Stones swaggering towards the millenium with a record that confidently asserts that rock & roll is far from a young person’s game. Don Was returns behind the boards, and joining him at Mick Jagger's behest are uber-technophiles The Dust Brothers. Rather than leaping headlong onto an ill-fitting bandwagon, The Stones wisely gild their rock & roll lily with subtle electronic nuances.” CD Additional collaborators like “Beck, the Beastie Boys, and Danny Saber (of Black Grape)…give the veteran group an edge on their explorations of drum loops and samples.” AMG

“Of course, the Stones are the Stones, and no production is going to erase that, but the group is smart enough – or Keith Richards is stubborn enough – to work within their limitations…As a result, Bridges to Babylon sounds like the Stones without sounding tired. The band is tight and energetic, and there’s just enough flair” in the “noirish mood” CD of “the sultry Anybody Seen My Baby?, the menacing Gunface, and the low-key, sleazy Might as Well Get Juiced, to make them sound contemporary.” AMG

The latter features “swooshing laser sounds” CD while “Anybody Seen My Baby?” includes a sampled rap, both of which offer “present-day window dressing for a legacy deeply rooted in rhythm and blues.” CD “Anybody Seen My Baby?” was released as the lead off single and received a nomination for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Album.

“But the real key to the success of Bridges to Babylon is the solid, craftsman-like songwriting. While there aren’t any stunners on the album, nothing is bad.” AMG “The Stones stop long enough to cleverly acknowledge their past by dropping a harp playing the main riff of ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ into the mid-tempo Out of Control.” CD Rockers like that, Flip the Switch and Low Down, along with “the closing Keith Richards suite all give Bridges the edge over the Stones’ spotty previous Voodoo Lounge.” CD

Richards’ winners include “and the slow-burning How Can I Stop.” AZ He “remains the soul of the Stones. His riffing and his endearing rasp continue to stand out.” CD “His crooning” CD on “the reggae workout You Don’t Have to Mean ItAZ and “the emotive one-two punch of Thief in the NightCD and “the slow-burning How Can I StopAZ “shows Keef to be a closet romantic camouflaged by a bad-ass strut.” CD

There are also ballads like Already Over Me and “Saint of Me to revel in their bad-boy persona.” CD They “cap off another fine latter-day Stones record.” AMG “The Stones don’t deserve our indifference just yet.” AZ

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 10/25/2021.