Friday, April 23, 2010

Asia’s Omega released

Omega

Asia


Released: April 23, 2010


Peak: -- US, 135 UK, -- CN, -- AU


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


Genre: heritage rock


Tracks:

  1. Finger on the Trigger
  2. Through My Veins
  3. Holy War
  4. Ever Yours
  5. Listen, Children
  6. End of the World
  7. Light the Way
  8. Emily
  9. I’m Still the Same
  10. There Was a Time
  11. I Believe
  12. Don’t Wanna Lose You Now


The Players:

  • Geoff Downes (keyboards)
  • Steve Howe (guitar)
  • Carl Palmer (drums)
  • John Wetton (vocals/ bass)

Rating:

3.983 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)


Quotable:Omega is undeniably – and reliably – Asia being Asia.” – Bret Adams, All Music Guide

About the Album:

When prog-rock superstars John Wetton, Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, and Carl Palmer formed Asia back in 1982, their self-titled debut was a blockbuster, followed quickly the next year by Alpha. That was it for the original lineup, although Downes kept the moniker alive through many incarnations over the years. It wasn’t until 2006 that the original foursome opted to regroup for a reunion tour and the 2008 album Phoenix.

Two years later, yet another album emerges from the original lineup, making their reunion period now longer than their original ride together! The album “is a conscious effort to shake up Asia’s style a bit while remaining true to the band’s DNA of soaring pop songs dazzlingly performed by virtuosos. Wetton’s resonant voice (infinitely layered in chorus harmonies – an Asia trademark) and tastefully effective bass guitar, Howe’s spidery, fluid guitar lines, Downes’ richly versatile keyboard parts, and Palmer’s booming rhythmic bedrock [drums] are still in place, but producer Mike Paxman has stripped the sound down a smidgen in spots.” BA

In regards to the suggestion that the album title of Omega means that this is Asia’s swan song, Wetton said, “The title…as any fan of the band will tell you, is 'very Asia' (as is the album, by the way). It no more means ‘final’ than Alpha means ‘the first’ (which it wasn’t). It’s a great sounding/looking word, and a bookend to Alpha. In many ways, musically and conceptually, the two albums share commonality.” WK

Finger on the Trigger (originally recorded by Wetton and Downes for their Icon project in 2006) and Holy War are spirited hard rock volleys. Through My Veins is slyly catchy. Listen, Children is a cheery feel-good song sparked by uplifting lyrics and Downes and Howe’s smooth tradeoffs at the end.” BA

Light the Way and I Believe both sound huge thanks to the ‘80s production feel wholly appropriate for Asia; in fact, ‘I Believe’ would have fit nicely on either Asia or Alpha.” BA

“The brooding There Was a Time is a highlight, and it’s enhanced by a complex arrangement. Emily, a song about unrequited love for a lesbian, is the unremarkable bonus track included on the digipack first pressing of Omega.” BA

Phoenix has better songs overall than Omega – probably due to the initial excitement and creative surge spawned by the reunion – but Omega satisfies, and longtime fans will enjoy it. Omega is undeniably – and reliably – Asia being Asia.” BA

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 6/24/2010; updated 8/6/2021.

100 years ago: “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” hit #1

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Billy Murray & the Haydn Quartet

Writer(s): Edward Madden, Gus Edwards (see lyrics here)


First Charted: April 9, 1910


Peak: 19 US, 13 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)


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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Edward Madden crafted the words for “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” around Gus Edwards “somewhat dreamy music that lends itself to soft shoe.” RCG Its “moon-June-croon rhymes” are “cliché by today’s standards,” RCG but were representative of the Tin Pan Alley era which dominated music in the early 1900s.

The song first surfaced on stage in a performance by Lillian Lorraine and was also a vaudeville hit by Georgie Price in the School Boys and Girls revue. JA-29 In 1910, three versions of the song charted. The Peerless Quartet and Ada Jones each got to #2, but Billy Murray’s recording with the Haydn Quartet hit #1.

As big as their song was – it spent 9 weeks at the summit – it wasn’t the biggest hit for either Murray or the Haydn Quartet. In 1909, the Haydn Quartet peaked at #1 for eleven weeks with “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnett.” Murray’s biggest hit was just around the corner – just a couple months later, his take on “Casey Jones” with the American Quartet would also spend eleven weeks on top. PM

“Silvery Moon” proved to have stamina beyond that year, however. In 1942, the song enjoyed a revival with Ray Noble’s #12 version PM and the song resurfaced again in 1953 when Doris Day and Gordon MacRae sang it in a film of the same name. The song has also become a glee club and barbershop quartet standard. RCG


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Billy Murray
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Haydn Quartet
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • RCG RimChiGuy.com The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954 (1986). Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 481.


First posted 4/23/2012; last updated 12/27/2021.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

50 years ago: Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway

Bye Bye Birdie

Charles Strouse (music), Lee Adams (lyrics)

The Musical

Opened on Broadway: April 14, 1960


Number of Performances: 607


Opened at London’s West End: ?


Number of Performances: ?


Movie Release: April 4, 1963

Cast Album


Charted: July 18, 1960


Peak: 12 US


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: show tunes


Soundtrack


Charted: April 27, 1963


Peak: 2 US


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: show tunes


Songs on Cast Album:

  1. Overture
  2. An English Teacher
  3. The Telephone Hour
  4. How Lovely to Be a Woman
  5. Put on a Happy Face
  6. Normal American Boy
  7. One Boy
  8. Honestly Sincere
  9. Hymn for a Sunday Evening
  10. One Last Kiss
  11. What Did I Ever See in Him?
  12. A Lot of Livin’ to Do
  13. Kids
  14. Baby, Talk to Me
  15. Spanish Rose
  16. Kids (Reprise)
  17. Rosie


Songs on Soundtrack:
  1. Overture (Bye Bye Birdie – Main Title)
  2. How Lovely to Be a Woman
  3. The Telephone Hour
  4. Put on a Happy Face
  5. Honestly Sincere
  6. Hymn for a Sunday Evening
  7. One Last Kiss
  8. One Boy
  9. Kids
  10. A Lot of Livin’ to Do
  11. Rosie and Bye Bye Birdie (End Title Finale)

Rating:

3.783 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings for cast album and soundtrack combined)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Show:

“Here is pure pleasure. Bye Bye Birdie, with a book by Michael Stewart, managed to satirize the Elvis Presley craze, racial prejudice, the generation gap, the Shriners, and so on, while retaining a thoroughly plausible air of innocence. The cast is ideal: Dick Van Dyke has an easy charm and faultless timing as pop songwriter Albert, who faces disaster when his meal ticket, the hip-swiveling teen idol Conrad Birdie (Dick Gautier), is drafted. Chita Rivera is sensational as Albert’s exasperated assistant/girlfriend, Rosie. As Kim, the winsome teenager chosen to kiss Birdie in a televised farewell, Susan Watson shows why she was a top Broadway ingenue in her day. Paul Lynde, as Kim’s harried dad, is the least likely husband and father imaginable but is hilarious nonetheless.” CA

Birdie was the making of composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams, for good reason. This is the rare Broadway score in which the comedy numbers retain their humor. Among the comedic highlights are The Telephone Hour, in which a horde of teenagers gossip about the budding romance in their midst; Healthy, Normal American Boy, in which Albert and Rosie feed outrageous lies about Conrad to the press; Hymn for a Sunday Evening, a paean to Ed Sullivan’s insanely popular TV variety show, complete with Lynde’s priceless reading of the line, ‘Ed, I love you!’; Kids, the parents’ cri-de-coeur; and Spanish Rose, in which Rivera is a campy delight (‘I’Il be more Español than Abbe Lane!’). Add a couple of songs that became standards (Put on a Happy Face, A Lot of Livin’ to Do) and what more do you need? Robert Ginzler’s orchestrations keep the tone light and bright throughout. This recording is essential to any Broadway collection.” CA

About the Movie:

“Irving Brecher’s screenplay altered the show’s plot to the point of terminal silliness, adding such complications as a troupe of snooty Russian dancers and a super-effective pep pill. But Strouse and Adams did come up with a kicky new title tune, delivered with gusto by Ann-Margret’s Kim, played as a voluptuous teenager. Van Dyke is still charming and Lynde is still a riot, but a game Janet Leigh isn’t an acceptable substitute for Rivera; the role of Rosie has lost much of its humor along with the songs An English Teacher, ‘Healthy, Normal American Boy,’ and ‘Spanish Rose.’ The soundtrack recording doesn’t replace the Broadway album, but it’s fun if you’re an Ann-Margret fan.” CA


Notes: A CD reissue adds a bonus track featuring Charles Strouse discussing the show and singing “Put on a Happy Face.”

Resources and Related Links:


First posted 12/23/2021.