Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Asia released Silent Nation

First posted 4/20/2008; updated 9/9/2020.

Silent Nation

Asia


Released: August 31, 2004


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


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


Genre: rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. What about Love? (2004, --)
  2. Long Way from Home (2004, --)
  3. Midnight
  4. Blue Moon Monday
  5. Silent Nation
  6. Ghost in the Mirror
  7. Gone Too Far
  8. I Will Be There for You
  9. Darkness Day
  10. The Prophet
  11. Rise


The Players:

  • Geoff Downes (keyboards)
  • John Payne (vocals/ bass)
  • Guthrie Govan (guitar)
  • Chris Slade (drums)

Rating:

3.362 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

About the Album:

Asia’s eighth studio album marked a few closed chapters for Asia. On the most superficial level, this was Asia’s first studio album in which the name did not begin with the letter ‘A.’

It was ironic that the band could be so consistent in naming their albums, but do such a bad job of retaining personnel. After three albums anchored primarily by the band’s original supergroup lineup of guitarist Steve Howe (only on the first two albums), vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, and keyboardist Geoff Downes, the band shifted gears into the duo of Downes and vocalist John Payne backed by a revolving door of guitarists and drummers. For this effort, Downes/ Payne retained the services of Govan and Slade, who amongst the previous album’s slew of guests, had essentially served as session musicians.

It was the end of the Downes/ Payne era, however, that marked a much more significant closure. Asia’s 2008 Phoenix album marked the reunion of the original four members that formed the supergroup behind 1982’s multi-platinum, #1 self-titled effort.

Meanwhile Payne, Govan and drummer Jay Schellen, who had joined Asia to start working on an album tentatively titled Architect of Time, formed GPS. Along with Spock’s Beard keyboardist Ryo Okumoto, they released the 2006 album Windows to the Soul. Later, with Erik Norlander on keys instead, Payne, Govan, and Schellen would call themselves “Asia Featuring John Payne.”

As for the Silent Nation album itself, it “features some of their most progressive material,” PA but is “something of a disappointment.” PA While the ‘80s albums have “a rather overcooked production,” PA “this album goes completely the other way and it almost has no real production value at all. It’s as if…the band didn’t really mix the album to any great degree.” PA

“The other flaw…is that some of the material is rather below par. What about Love?…falls rather flat as an opening track despite the welcome presence of a Hammond organ and a fairly organic sound. It has…the feel of an ‘80s power ballad in the manner of Whitesnake or Def Leppard…Ghost in the Mirror and Gone Too Far continue this relative lethargy, being disappointingly average AOR fodder.” PA

“Some of the other AOR songs are better – Long Way from Home... [has] a great chorus and a wonderful lead vocal from John Payne that has real sincerity throughout. I Will Be There for You is a slightly better attempt at a power ballad, although is far from original.” PA

Midnight is the most progressive…with its churning Hammond organ introduction, some neat harmonies and a rather twiddly mid-section where Downes gets to show off a bit on the synthesiser. Blue Moon Monday is an intriguing number that nevertheless, feels a bit underdeveloped, perhaps owing to the bare-bones production job. Still, the track’s essential quality remains.” PA

“The band have proved themselves to be capable of more than this – indeed, even the releases that followed this, such as the Wetton/Downes album Icon and the GPS…album Windows to the Soul, showed their talents to better effect. Unfortunately, however, this slightly disappointing effort looks likely to be the last word from the John Payne era of Asia.” PA

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, August 21, 2004

50 years ago: Mario Lanza’s The Student Prince hit #1 for 1st of 42 weeks

First posted 4/7/2008; updated 9/29/2020.

The Student Prince

Mario Lanza


Opened on Broadway: December 2, 1924


Charted: July 10, 1954


Peak: 142 US, 5 UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 0.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: operetta


Tracks:

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

  1. Orchestral Introduction
  2. Serenade (4/22/55, 15 UK)
  3. Golden Days
  4. Drink, Drink, Drink (aka “The Drinking Song”) (10/16/54, 21 US, 13 UK)
  5. Summertime in Heidelberg
  6. Beloved
  7. Gaudeamus Igitur
  8. Deep in My Heart, Dear
  9. I’ll Walk with God (2/18/55, 18 UK)

Rating:

4.229 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“Sigmund Romberg’s celebrated operetta The Student Prince opened on Broadway on December 2, 1924, the first of 608 performances that were only the beginning of decades-long success for the musical story of Prince Karl Franz and his thwarted love for the waitress Kathie in Heidelberg. The original production occurred long before the vogue for original Broadway cast albums struck in the 1940s, but when it did, the record labels organized studio-only casts to record the score. Columbia and RCA Victor had versions out in 1947, …Mercury released one in 1949” AMG and “Decca belated got into the act” AMG in 1950.

MGM released a film version in 1954 that featured the singing of Mario Lanza. It “was one of Lanza’s greatest achievements, with the tenor producing some of his most ardent and poetic singing” AZ on what is “generally regarded as being among Lanza’s finest renditions of English-language songs.” WK “The highlights are undoubtedly the joyful Drinking Song; the inspired I’ll Walk with God; …Serenade; and the passionate Beloved – arguably Lanza’s best recording of an English song.” AZ

“‘Beloved’ and ‘I’ll Walk with God’…are not by Sigmund Romberg, the original composer of The Student Prince, but were written especially for the film version by Nicholas Brodszky and Paul Francis Webster.” WK Also, “The Student Prince was recorded in 1952, with one remake (‘Beloved’) in May of 1953.” WK

The soundtrack recording differs from the movie. “For contractual reasons, the singing of soprano Ann Blyth,.” WK “Lanza’s vocal partner on the actual soundtrack” AZ was replaced in the movie with “soprano Elizabeth Doubleday, who appears with the tenor on two tracks here…Doubleday’s contribution was recorded separately, with the disconcerting result that on Deep in My Heart, Dear, she sings both the soprano and the tenor parts in the middle of the song. Lanza’s only contribution on this number is the magically phrased opening, which RCA clumsily repeats at the end.” AZ

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, August 7, 2004

50 years ago: The Crew-Cuts Hit #1 with “Sh-Boom”: August 7, 1954

First posted 8/7/2011; updated 3/13/2021.

Sh-Boom

The Chords

Writer(s): William Edwards, Carl Feaster, Claude Feaster, James Keyes, Floyd McRae (see lyrics here)


First Charted: July 3, 1954


Peak: 5 US, 3 HP, 17 CB, 2 RB (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 12.32 video, -- streaming

Sh-Boom

The Crew Cuts


First Charted: July 10, 1954


Peak: 19 US, 3 HP, 17 CB, 3 HR, 12 UK, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 16.7 video, -- streaming

Awards (The Chords’ version): (Click on award for more details).

Awards (The Crew Cuts’ version): (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Doo-wop classic” JA “Sh-Boom” “seems fated to have been stumbled across on a street corner or in a subway station.” MA Member James Keyes destroys the myth, however, saying, “we never sang on the street corner, period. The Chords rehearsed at each other’s houses and over at P.S. 99 in the Bronx.” SJ

Still, in the history of doo-wop, The Chords, came closer than any other group to being discovered on a street corner. Joe Glaser, who worked with leading black talent agency Associated Booking, saw them harmonizing as they walked into a subway station. MA He gave them a card and when they came to his office, his associate, Oscar Cohen, took them over to Atlantic Records. SJ

Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler “immediately snapped the group up, because its harmony style seemed tailor-made for the new style of R&B then finding a market among white teenagers.” MA The group had worked together several years MA and expressed a fondness for “any good singers,” SJ basing their sound on R&B harmony groups like the Ravens and the Orioles, but also on white jazz and swing groups like the Modernaires and Four Freshmen. SJ

The Crew-Cuts, “a white group with the closely cropped hair,” TY did their own sanitized version of the song, crafting what has been called “the first rock and roll number 1 hit.” JA At the time, it was common for white artists to remake popular songs originally recorded by R&B artists. However, proving their song still had an audience, The Chords’ original still went top 5 on the pop charts – an “unprecedented achievement.” SJ


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Chords
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Crew Cuts
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 171.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Pages 374-5.
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 170.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 160.