Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Asia released Silent Nation

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:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 4/20/2008; updated 8/6/2021.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Finn Brothers Everyone Is Here released

Everyone Is Here

The Finn Brothers (aka “Finn”)


Released: August 24, 2004


Peak: -- US, 8 UK, -- CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: adult alternative rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Won’t Give In (8/04, 26 UK)
  2. Nothing Wrong with You (11/04, 31 UK)
  3. Anything Can Happen
  4. Luckiest Man Alive
  5. Homesick
  6. Dismebodied Voices
  7. A Life Between Us
  8. All God’s Children
  9. Edible Flowers (4/05, 32 UK)
  10. All the Colours
  11. Part of Me, Part of You
  12. Gentle Hum

All songs written by Neil and Tim Finn.

Rating:

3.773 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


Quotable: A “trove of unassuming gems” – Elysa Gardner, USA Today


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Everyone Is Here is “the Kiwi brothers'...first collaborative studio album in eight long years,” MO but only “the pair's second full-lengther.” AZ “Alone and together, in and out of Split Enz and Crowded House, New Zealand's most famous songwriting siblings have consistently delivered some of the most memorable moments in troubadour pop.” UT

“Ever since the demise of…popsmiths Crowded House back in the late '90s, [the Finn] brothers…have been content to plough their furrow far from pop's bustling farmstead.” AZ “Like a lot of underappreciated virtues, Neil and Tim Finn's expert pop craftsmanship and glowing harmonies are easy to take for granted.” UT Indeed, “the new material may not be as anthemic and infectious as the old Crowded House favourites” MO and “lacks the full production and grand, Beatlesesque melodic ambitions that saw songs like ‘Weather with You’ and ‘Fall at Your Feet’ become transatlantic radio hits.” AZ Still, the album “possesses the Finn Brothers' stamp,” MO replacing “such scope with a smudged, intimate acoustic style that suits Neil and Tim's songwriting talents almost as neatly.” AZ

“Cutting edge music this isn't. The album sounds similar to previous Crowded House material [especially 1991’s Woodface], but without that vital youthful vigour that made those songs so special.” MO In fact, “Everyone is Here is produced and mixed by the same people, Mitchell Froom and Bob Clearmountain.” MO

“One change that has happened is the lyrics…The brothers are palpably older and have become rather reflective in the process.” MO While lead single Won't Give In “possesses the kind of watered-down Beatles melody that we recognise from…Woodface,” MO it is also blessed with “shimmering lyricism” UT and “a delicate melody with a regular dusty beat that will spark a 1000 lighters.” MO

The “folksy nostalgia” UT of the “confessional Disembodied Voices [is] sepia-tinged as Neil Finn sings: ‘Talking with my brother when the lights went out, down the hallway 40 years ago.’” MO

Edible Flowers is a mid-life crisis waiting to happen. Starting off with melancholy violins and a gently discordant piano, Tim Finn despondently sings: ‘Everybody wants the same thing, to see another birthday.’ He then goes on to declare: ‘Taste the edible flowers scattered in the salad days.’” MO

“There’s also…the more muscular fervor of All God’s Children,” UT “a rocky song with feel-good chord progressions and electric guitars that bring home some much-needed pizzazz.” MO

Luckiest Man Alive is the sort of conscious rock gospel that Stereophonics' Kelly Jones would kill to be able to write, while Anything Can Happen--a billowing, U2-style epic of scintillating guitar and cavernous drum-crashes is seemingly placed to prove that not all is trad chez Finn.” AZ

“So there you have it. Melodic and inoffensive, Everyone Is Here is great for background music.” MO The “uplifting harmonies float from the speakers as an ideal accompaniment to a lazy, hazy summer's day.” MO “It probably won't spawn any MTV-hogging video classics – certainly, that was never the intention – but Finn fans in search of a mellow listen” AZ will find “another trove of unassuming gems.” UT


Notes: “Edible Flowers” was first featured on Neil Finn’s 2002 live collection 7 Worlds Collide.”

Resources and Related Links:


First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/8/2021.

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”

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):

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 It topped the Billboard Best Sellers, Disc Jockey Hits, and Jukebox Hits charts. 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.


First posted 8/7/2011; last updated 9/8/2021.