Friday, June 24, 2011

Psychedelic Rock Goes Mainstream: June 24, 1967

Psychedelic rock is a style of music which strives to replicate the experience of mind-altering psychedelic drugs. It grew out of folk- and blues-rock in the mid ‘60s and integrated non-Western sources such as Indian music. New recording techniques and effects also marked the genre. It was a stepping stone to progressive rock, glam rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. PR

June 24, 1967 does not mark the birth of psychedelic rock. It does, however, make for a fitting place to plant the freak flag on mainstream music turf. Several significant recordings made their chart debuts, trumpeting the genre’s full-fledged arrival on British and American shores.

In the U.K., Pink Floyd charted with their second single, “See Emily Play”. That same day Syd Barrett & Co. made their television debut performing it on Top of the Pops. The recording process for the song implemented studio trickery such as backward tapes, echo, and reverb. SP It hit #6 in the UK and makes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

By summer’s end, Pink Floyd released their debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which All Music Guide’s Steve Huey called “one of the best psychedelic albums of all time.” SH

Click photo for more about the album.

On American shores The Beatles debuted on the Billboard charts with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, another landmark psychedelic album. Many within the music industry, including Dave’s Music Database, call it the best album of all time.

Click photo for more about the album.

That same day, Jefferson Airplane debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “White Rabbit.” With references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as a means of relaying the experience of psychedelic drugs, the song could lay claim as the official psychedelic rock anthem. The group was on the bill of the Monterey Pop Festival which unofficially launched the Summer of Love. That moniker has become the go-to term for a transformative time when hippie lifestyles, complete with their own peace mantra and psychedelic soundtrack, converged upon San Francisco.

Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is another “stone cold classic of psychedelia” HS which captured “a moment in the summer of 1967 when, if you were fortunate enough not to have to work for a living and bought into the whole flower power freedom movement, anything seemed possible.” HS The song makes the aforementioned Rock Hall 500 list and is featured in The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999. It topped the list of Britain’s most heard songs in 2009. TS

Certainly the development and proliferation of the psychedelic rock movement cannot be narrowed to one day. However, the convergence several game changers on June 24, 1967, is enough to give one a head trip.

  • HS “Procol Harum Week: A Whiter Shade of Pale” (10/4/09)
  • SH Steve Huey, All Music Guide
  • TS Ted Spangler, American SongwriterBritain’s 75 Most Heard Song List Topped By…Procol Harum?” (4/15/09)
  • PR Wikipedia entry on psychedelic rock
  • SP Wikipedia entry on “See Emily Play
  • Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Yes Fly from Here released

    Fly from Here


    Released: June 22, 2011

    Peak: 36 US, 30 UK, -- CN, -- AU

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

    Genre: progressive rock


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

    1. Fly from Here: Overture (Downes, Horn, Squire) [1:54]
    2. Fly from Here Pt. I: We Can Fly (Downes, Horn, Squire) [6:00] (6/13/11, --)
    3. Fly from Here Pt. II: Sad Night at the Airfield (Downes, Horn) [6:41]
    4. Fly from Here Pt. III: Madman at the Screens (Downes, Horn) [5:17]
    5. Fly from Here Pt. IV: Bumpy Ride (Howe) [2:15]
    6. Fly from Here Pt. V: We Can Fly (Reprise) (Downes, Horn, Squire) [1:40]
    7. The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be (Squire, Gerard Johnson, Simon Sessler) [5:01]
    8. Life on a Film Set (Downes, Horn) [4:57]
    9. Hour of Need (Howe) [3:07]
    10. Solitaire (Howe) [3:30]
    11. Into the Storm (David, Horn, Howe, Squire, Wakeman, White) [6:49]

    Total Running Time: 47:28

    The Players:

    • Benoit David (vocals)
    • Steve Howe (guitar, backing vocals)
    • Chris Squire (bass, backing vocals)
    • Alan White (drums)
    • Geoff Downes (keyboards)
    • Trevor Horn (backing vocals, additional keyboards)
    • Oliver Wakeman (keyboards)


    3.242 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

    Quotable: Good news for fans of 1980 album Drama. Bad news for fans of classic Yes.

    About the Album:

    Fly from Here is the band’s first studio album since the release of Magnification (2001), the longest gap to date between two Yes studio albums.” WK This also marks only the second time in Yes history that Jon Anderson is not the lead singer. He “suffered a series of asthma attacks in 2008 and the band’s 40th anniversary tour was put on hold. Over time, Anderson grew apart from the rest of the band since he wanted to rest and the other guys really wanted to tour. Enter Canadian singer Benoît David who had fronted the Yes tribute band Close to the Edge” JG “for over ten years.” WK

    “The absence of Jon Anderson is well-felt” UR although “the optimistic platitudes found in the lyrics faintly mirror the Anderson poetry of old, even if it comes in a more generic form: ‘Every day that you waste is once more that you’ve lost,’ ‘Turn yourself around / turn your life around / turn your world around / turn this ship around’ and ‘I want to be the one / who always gives you shelter.’ Tolstoy in motion, it is not. Yes’ extended works always promise to be more than a string of unrelated ideas, but just know that this isn’t the ‘Gates of Delirium.’” JG

    The only other time Anderson wasn’t on a Yes album was for 1980’s Drama. Trevor Horn served as the vocalist then and is actually back again, this time in a production capacity. He also produced 1983’s 90125 and 1987’s Big Generator. Incidentally, David “sounds more like Trevor Horn than Jon Anderson.” HD

    This album also marks the return of keyboardist Geoff Downes, whose only other album with Yes was Drama. Oliver Wakeman, the son of longtime Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, toured with Yes in recent years and even contributed some writing and recording on Fly from Here before Downes stepped in to handle “most of the keyboards.” WK The “piano and keyboards are in much more of a supporting role, but Geoff Downes plays very well and adds new layers to the soundscape.” HD His work has also been said to be “less effective and less impressive when compared to the synth job he did for Drama.” UR

    Bassist Chris Squire (the only Yes member featured on all of their albums), guitarist Steve Howe, and drummer Alan White round out the lineup. All three were part of the classic Yes lineup from 1971 to 1979 and the 1980 Drama album, originally assumed to be the band’s last hurrah. However, Squire and White kept the band going through the 1980s with Trevor Rabin on guitar. The trio reunited in 1997 and have worked together since.

    Depending on one’s point of view, “Squire’s bass lines are very strong” HD or “he sounds old and slow.” UR White’s “drumming on the album is surprisingly muted and inoffensive in the mix, and keeps the beat effectively.” HD

    This album also ties to the Drama era because of the title cut which is based on a song from that era. “Downes and Horn had first approached Yes with a demo of their song ‘We Can Fly from Here’ in 1980, prior to joining the band.” WK It was “recorded as a studio demo, and left off Drama, but was performed on the album’s supporting 1980 tour. A live version from that year appears on The Word Is Live (2005). After Yes disbanded in 1981, Horn and Downes recorded another demo of the song (this time as a two-part suite) for possible inclusion on The Buggles’ second album Adventures in Modern Recording (1981) but it was also left off the album.” WK It was, however, included on a 2010 reissue of the album.

    “This new Yes version will mark the first airing of a finished studio recording of Fly from Here, with Parts I and II based on the earlier two parts of the song. According to Squire, the title track will be the band’s eleventh epic piece, their first in 15 years, which clocks in at nearly 25 minutes.” WK The suite is “much more focused on vocals over instrumental passages, but this works in its favor and is surprisingly refreshing. Given its beginnings as a Buggles composition, it makes sense that it’s more vocal-centric.” HD

    It “has a steady rise and fall not unlike Drama’s opener ‘Machine Messiah’, making sure that every note and lyric serves its scene-setting purpose. There’s something about this carefully-measured approach to writing extended progressive rock, one that flies in the face of the more organically-minded elastic forms of Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer, that feels slightly stifling.” JG

    “Steve Howe is less present both compositionally and aurally in this suite…In previous Yes albums he often collaborated with Jon to compose a lot of the songs, so perhaps Jon’s absence is detracting from his contributions.” HD His playing on the piece has been described both as “spectacular” HD and “mediocre, with no standout solo or new technique.” UR

    The suite “begins with an overture that introduces several key motifs of the piece, predominantly those later heard in ‘Madman at the Screens’.” HD The piece is marked by “dynamic and containing contrasting piano and guitar” HD and some “very Drama-esque snare hits accentuate the rhythm.” HD

    “In the next section, We Can Fly, ambient sound effects and soft piano introduce the first vocals on the album.” HD One review says, “Benoit's voice is lifeless, uninspired and boring” UR while another says “Benoit has a truly beautiful voice” HD and that “his harmonies with Chris and Steve also work very well. Anderson purists may dislike the difference in the sound of the vocals without Jon…but…compositional strength…definitely isn’t lacking here.” HD

    “The main chorus, with Chris and Steve providing strong backing vocals, is very impressive and memorable. Not only is this a testament to the skill of the musicians, but Trevor Horn’s excellent production. Trevor creates a very subtle and well-balanced mix that compliments the music perfectly.” HD

    “The second part, Sad Night at the Airfield, begins with understated acoustic guitar and vocals, the melody almost melancholic, but soon builds into a plaintive threnody, a tonal shift which completely alters the feel of the piece, and the song continues to alternate between these two themes.” HD

    Madman at the Screens expands on the themes introduced in the overture with more vocals from Benoit. Along with the vocals, the bass lines and keyboards really carry this section, and it has a more aggressive edge. Concluding the section is the main piano and vocal-led theme from earlier.” HD

    Bumpy Ride is the most progressive section in the suite, though it is very brief.” HD It has moments reminiscent of “‘Tempus Fugit’ on Drama.”

    “In We Can Fly Reprise the chorus from the first section is briefly revisited. The re-emergence of this theme is truly stunning and powerful, concluding the suite beautifully.” HD

    “The second half of Fly from Here is tame and unassuming by comparison. Howe’s distorted power chords and White’s tricky meters largely go into hiding on tracks like ‘The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be’ and ‘Hour of Need’…These songs are representative of Yes’ purgatory state, one that flirts with concise pop forms but is afraid to fully commit to them.” JG

    The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be “is much more acoustic and light. Chris sings lead vocals on this track, and sounds quite good.” HD His “vocal delivery obviously comes from a personal place” JG and “Benoit provides excellent harmony. While it’s not the most amazing composition, the musicianship elevates it to a good track.” HD

    Life on a Film Set is also a reworking of a song from around the Drama era. The Buggles’ reissue of Modern Recording also featured a demo called “Riding a Tide”, upon which “Film Set” is based. WK “Though it probably wasn’t written with Yes in mind, it seems to fit the Squire/Howe/White approach like a glove even if the song isn’t impressively memorable” JG and “seems to meander and ends before it can really get anywhere interesting.” HD

    Hour of Need begins with excellent acoustic guitar and pleasant vocals” HD “Howe’s lyrics…are cynicism without a target – ends justifying means, mouths to feed, so on.” JG

    Solitaire is “an acoustic solo piece by Steve Howe” WK “in the vein of ‘The Clap’ and ‘Mood for a Day’ and is easily as enjoyable as those two songs.” HD It also marks “one of the first Howe solo tracks to be used on a Yes album since 1991’s Union.” JG

    Into the Storm is probably the strongest ensemble song aside from the title track.” HD It’s here where “Yes sounds the most surefooted and perked.” JG “It’s more of an upbeat rocker.” HD “The harmonies between David, Squire and Howe are very enjoyable, and there’s even a catchy synth riff.” HD Howe and the keyboardist (whether its Wakeman or Downes), “match on a theme centered on a broken chord, one that gives the song drive and the album some much-needed momentum. As far as the lyrics go, you can say that humility has finally arrived to Yes: ‘One thing I learned from all these years / as stupid now as we were at first / maybe that’s the way it goes / when you try to change the world.’” JG

    “The entire sound is reminiscent of Drama, yet where Drama had a harder edge, Fly from Here is softer, taking you through sweeping vistas of themes and melodies that will remain ingrained in your mind long afterwards.” HD As one detractor says, though, at least Drama “had some good rock songs. This album…doesn’t have a single good song.” UR “Most Yes fans have been used to bad albums from about 1983 to the present. This is one of the worst.” UR

    However, another reviewer says, “Fly from Here is not a disaster. It has too much enthusiasm for itself to sink like some of Yes’ more embarrassing transitional albums. At the same time, it’s overall less tuneful than The Ladder or Magnification and less moody and compelling than their ‘70s work.” JG However, “the real question is: does this lineup of Yes have potential? They do.” JG

    Notes: The Japanese version includes a second, longer version of “Hour of Need.” In 2018, a new version of the album (known as Fly From Here: Return Trip) was released with Trevor Horn’s vocals instead of Benoit David. The new version also included the previously unreleased track “Don’t Take No for an Answer.”

    Resources and Related Links:

    First posted 6/7/2011; updated 7/25/2021.

    The Beatles’ First Recording Session: June 22, 1961

    Check out these books by Dave Whitaker available through or Amazon.

    Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

    June 22, 1961: The Beatles make their first studio recordings. At that time, the Beatles consisted of – as picture above, left to right – Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Pete Best, and George Harrison. Polydor Records’ Bert Kaempfert asked them to record as the backing band for an English rock and roll singer named Tony Sheridan. Sheridan knew the band from working with them at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, Germany.

    The recording sessions took place not at a recording studio, but on a converted stage at the Friedrick Ebert Halle school in Hamburg, Germany. BB There is some debate as to which recordings actually featured the Beatles, but it is generally agreed that they were present on new arrangements of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”, known respectively as “My Bonnie” and “The Saints”. They also recorded a Sheridan original called “Why (Can’t You Love Me Again)”, a cover of Hank Snow’s “Nobody’s Child”, and Jimmy Reed’s “Take Out Some Insurance on Me, Baby” (sometimes known as “If You Love Me, Baby”). In addition, the Beatles recorded two songs by themselves – “Ain’t She Sweet”, with John Lennon on lead, and “Cry for a Shadow”, an instrumental. An eighth song, a version of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, was also recorded at a later date. Sheridan has reported that they also did “Rock and Roll Music”, “Kansas City”, and “Some Other Guy”. FT

    The first single from the sessions was “My Bonnie”/“The Saints”. It was credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers; the word “Beatles” sounded too much like “peedles”, German slang for “penis”. It was released in two versions in October 1961, hitting #5 BB and selling 180,000 copies in Germany. FT

    The single was released in 1962 in the U.K. and U.S., but didn’t chart until after the Beatles had already hit #1 and the song was re-released. However, it did grab the attention of Brian Epstein, a record store manager in Liverpool. With the Mersey beat sound catching on, the Beatles were becoming increasingly popular. Epstein ordered copies of the single and later sought out the Beatles, famously becoming their manager. Once the Beatles became popular, the songs resurfaced and have been since been released on multiple singles and albums, both officially and unofficially. The most elaborate collection is Beatles Bop – Hamburg Days, but many other cheaper collections exist.

    For more information, check out The Beatles’ DMDB page and their entry in the DMDB music makers’ encyclopedia.

  • BB Recording: My Bonnie
  • BD The Beatles’ Tony Sheridan songs
  • CB The Beatles’ Hamburg Recordings on Record
  • FT The Beatles backing Mr. Twist, Tony Sheridan
  • WK Wikipedia Tony Sheridan recordings
  • Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    “Moves Like Jagger” released – and performed on The Voice

    Moves Like Jagger

    Maroon 5 with Christina Aguilera

    Writer(s): Adam Levine, Benjamin “Benny Blanco” Levin, Ammar Malik, Shellback (see lyrics here)

    Released: June 21, 2011

    First Charted: July 9, 2011

    Peak: 14 US, 16 RR, 17 BA, 15 DG, 7 AC, 12 A40, 2 UK, 110 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

    Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.9 UK, 19.85 world (includes US + UK)

    Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1061.72 video, 1143.12 streaming


    Click on award for more details.

    About the Song:

    Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine were coaches together on the TV talent show The Voice when they released this duet. The song’s release coincided with a live performance on the show. It isn’t really much of a duet, though. Aguilera doesn’t come in until the bridge after two minutes. SF However,’s Bill Lamb said her guest vocal was “simply icing on the cake” and noted the “real vocal chemistry between Aguiera and Levine. WK

    One of the song’s writers, Benny Blanco, also worked on the #1 hit “Tik Tok,” recorded by Ke$ha. The latter song also name-checks the legendary Rolling Stones’ singer with the lyric “We kick ‘em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger.” SF The lyrics in “Move Like Jagger” refer to a man trying to impress a female with his Jagger-like dance moves.

    Levine said “I’ve been a student at the Jagger School of Interesting Movement for 17 years.” He noted that Jagger’s moves are “carefully calculated but slightly spastic, incredible rhythmic experience…and it’s impossible to re-create. Nobody has moves like Jagger.” SF Levine said the song was almost shelved over his nervousness about how Jagger might react to it. The Stones’ frontman said of the song, “It’s very catchy pop, isn’t it?...Only thing is, it puts a bit of pressure on me when I go out dancing.” SF

    The song topped the charts in 18 countries. WK It was the second #1 for Maroon 5 (after “Makes Me Wonder” in 2007) in the U.S. while it was Aguilera’s fifth. WK She became only the fourth female artist to score #1’s in three different decades, the others being Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Britney Spears. WK The song had an interesting run in the UK, peaking at #2 for seven weeks – behind six different songs which debuted at #1. WK


    Related Links:

    Last updated 7/21/2023.

    The Birth of the LP: June 21, 1948

    June 21, 1948: Columbia Records introduced its new 12” long-playing (LP) record at a New York press conference. It rotated at 33⅓ revolutions per minute (rpm) and became the standard for gramophone records. It also became the dominant music format for a large chunk of the second half of the 20th century, eventually succumbing to cassettes and compact discs.

    The Voice of Frank Sinatra is commonly referred to as the first LP and could be called the first genuine concept album. It was originally released in 1946 as a collection (or “album”) of four 78 rpm singles. It was actually released in a 10” format which was introduced at the same time as the 12” format. Also, the Sinatra album was only one of 100 different titles released simultaneously; it was simply the album given the first catalog number (CL 6001).

    The Voice of Frank Sinatra 78 RPM cover (left) and 33⅓ cover (right)

    Columbia’s president Ted Wallerstein was instrumental in the birth of the LP. He envisioned an entire movement of a symphony to be on one side of an album. Hence, the resulting LP format was particularly suited to classical music. This meant that the first official catalog number for the 12” format was actually for Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 64. It was a performance played by Nathan Milstein with the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York and conducted by Bruno Walter.

    By 1949, Capitol Records also began releasing LPs, followed by RCA Victor in 1950. 1949 also marked the first appearance of LPs in Europe thanks to the UK’s Decca Records. Beyond classical music, the first genre to really gain success was cast recordings of Broadway musical, such as 1949’s South Pacific.

  • World’s First LP Record
  • Wikipedia Columbia Records: The LP record 1948-1959 entry
  • Wikipedia Gramophone record entry
  • Wikipedia LP record entry
  • June 21, 1948: Columbia’s Micogroove LP Makes Albums Sound Good
  • Sunday, June 19, 2011

    R.I.P. Clarence Clemons

    Like many of my generation, I discovered Bruce Springsteen in 1984. I knew who he was before that – who could escape “Born to Run” or “Hungry Heart” if they’d ever listened to a radio in the early ‘80s? However, it was the Born in the U.S.A. album which really brought Springsteen to the attention of the pop world through seven top ten hits and inescapable MTV videos.

    Springsteen, however, became an icon not because of chart singles or videos, but through legendary live performances. His stage presence had much to do with the joy and musicianship he shared with the E Street Band. Perhaps no one from that collective has been more beloved than saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who sadly passed away at 7:00 p.m. on June 18, 2011 from complications of a stroke the Sunday before. He was 69.

    Springsteen said of Clemons: “Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.” BS

  • “The stars above just got a little brighter” by Jason Warburg (6/18/11)
  • BS “Bruce Springsteen’s Statement on Clarence Clemons’ Death” (6/18/11)
  • “Clarence Clemons dies” (6/19/11)
  • Thursday, June 16, 2011

    The Monterey Pop Festival: June 16-18, 1967

    June 16-18, 1967: The Monterery Pop Festival was held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. Pete Townshend smashed his guitar, Jimi Hendrix lit his on fire, and the Summer of Love ignited.

    More than 200,000 people turned out for a lineup of 32 performers at what the Encyclopædia Britannica called “the first commercial American rock festival.” It set the template for large rock festivals, most notably 1969’s Woodstock. Included on the bill were future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Animals, Booker T. & the MGs, Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin (as part of Big Brother and the Holding Company), the Mamas and the Papas, Otis Redding, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Who. See the set list here

    Also performing were the Association, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Canned Heat, Country Joe & the Fish, the Electric Flag, Al Kooper, Hugh Masakela, Scott McKenzie, the Steve Miller Band, Moby Grape, Laura Nyro, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lou Rawls, Johnny Rivers, and Ravi Shankar.

    Most of the artists performed for free so that revenue could be donated to charity. The festival boasted an innovative sound system which served as the model for the larger-scale PA systems of the future. The electronic music synthesizer developed by Robert Moog was also introduced at a booth at the festival.

    Read a couple first-hand accounts from festival attendees here and here. Also check out John Bassett McCleary’s summary of Monterey Pop’s place in shaping the hippie counterculture in The Herald.

    Then, in the next best thing to being there, check out the 3-disc DVD collection The Complete Monterey Pop Festival: The Criterion Collection. It extends the 1968 Monterey Pop documentary shot by D.A. Pennebaker. You can also check out the 2-CD collection Monterey International Pop Festival.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Waxing Nostalgic: The Mantras of the Music Geek

    Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on June 20, 2011. See original post here.

    image from

    Paul managed a record store in the early ‘90s. For those unfamiliar with the concept, music was once purchased at actual physical locations on actual physical media. Quaint, isn’t it?

    Anyway, reminiscing around a table at Joe’s Crab Shack, Paul recounted his memory of the resurgence of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” courtesy of Wayne’s World. When the song first charted in 1975, it was a number one in the UK and went top ten stateside. On its second go-round in 1992, it topped the charts again on British soil and bested its original US peak, this time going all the way to #2.

    Paul is a college buddy with whom I shared crab balls – insert joke here – at a mini-reunion over dinner. Also along for the trip down memory lane were Lance and Forrest. This put the four of us in the same place for the first time in 20 years. To picture our motley little crew, think of four athletic frat boys who were – and still are – always the coolest guys in the room. Now imagine exactly the opposite.

    We did the requisite reminiscing about bawdiness and debauchery of days long ago, but I’ll refrain from those tales to protect the guilty. What happened in New York stays in New York.

    Instead, my dear readers, you get to eavesdrop on conversations sparked by questions like “What would your theme song be when you entered a room?” and “What song that you used to love can you no longer stand?” I know. Alert the Center for Disease Control to quarantine these losers so that no one else is infected by their music sickness.

    Even more annoyingly, there is a lesson to be found in all this. Hard to believe, but some people remain clueless as to how to become a music geek. Thanks to the Shack Pack, you can now be privy to the 4 Mantras of the Music Geek.

    Mantra 1: Berate all generations after your own.

    Our crab-eating collective were pre-teens during the first chart run of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, so upon its revival Paul was well-versed in its history. However, the new music-buying generation was not. By the time customer #402 asked him for “That new song from Wayne’s World” Paul was ready to remove someone’s spleen.

    Paul similarly went into spasms confessing, “My four-year-old sings Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ to soothe his infant sister.” I withheld admitting that Selena Gomez’s cover of “Magic”, originally a top 5 US hit by Pilot in the – you guessed it – ‘70s, is one of my kids’ favorites. I boasted instead of their love for the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”.

    Lance also convulsed at Paul’s suggestion that Bob Seger should cue up Lance’s arrival into a room. For a devotee to blues man Buddy Guy, such a suggestion was sacrilege. Besides, it is disturbing to picture Lance sliding across a wood floor in his underwear doing a Tom Cruise Risky Business impression while “Old Time Rock and Roll” blares out of the speakers.

    Still, lyrics about how “today’s music ain’t got the same soul” are apropos. Lance dismissed current music as distracting him from his bid to fully digest the Bob Dylan catalog. “Are you sure you aren’t just making up the name Arctic Monkeys?” he asked when I announced what had most recently downloaded.

    Forrest was already dismissing his own generation’s music at eighteen. He sounded like the grizzled old blues men already populating Lance’s music collection. Forrest was listening to Wilson Pickett in our college years, not Rick Astley. Yeah, “Never Gonna Give You Up” came on before we left the shack.

    Mantra 2: If it sells, it sucks.

    Joe’s Crab Shack offers indescribable ear torture for a gang of geeks whose tastes are rooted in classic rock and the blues. Every 45 minutes or so, the wait staff were tasked with hoofing to chestnuts such as Rose Royce’s “Car Wash”, Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.”, and some weird remix of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” infused with a rap break.

    One might assume that my Crab Crew would compare and contrast those ‘70s disco nuggets with a more acceptable contemporary – like “Bohemian Rhapsody”. That would be a gross misunderstanding of the music geek’s talent for steering conversation to the obscure. I ribbed Forrest about donning a white suit a la Saturday Night Fever with “Stayin’ Alive” soundtracking his entrance. However, he and Lance segued into a discourse on why Queen’s “March of the Black Queen” was superior to the group’s calling-card tune.

    This brings us to the eponymous debut from Boston. Hating that album is almost a mantra by itself. Full disclosure: I still like it, an admission which may get my music aficionado club membership revoked. There isn’t a non-hit to embrace since the entire track listing populates classic rock playlists. This makes band mastermind Tom Scholz a natural target thanks to his proclivity to polish everything with a studio sheen in the name of amassing monstrous commercial success. Forrest relayed this story :“I bitched about that album one time to a guy who turned out to be Tom Scholz’s cousin.” Forrest is still removing bits of sneaker from his mouth.

    Mantra 3: Vinyl is king; all other formats are crap.

    Within five minutes into any conversation, it is mandatory that a music aficionado express undying love for vinyl and denounce all other comers. This obsession is largely focused on sound fidelity, but also nostalgia over the tried-and-true wax disc.

    The Shack Pack reminisced over 45 RPM vinyl singles, the only way to get individual songs in our day. Today record companies whine about digital downloads trumping album sales, but in days of yore Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” single easily outdistanced its parent album at the cash register.

    Record company greed and the arrival of the eight track reversed this trend. In the seventies, every adolescent boy with a Trans Am wanted to blow out his car speakers with Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever.” None of these Detroit City Madman worshippers were doing it with a turntable in their backseats.

    About five seconds after the eight track arrived, the maddening click that interrupted the music, sometimes mid-song, sent execs back to the drawing board. The cassette arrived, offering more portability, recordability, and a slight return to the singles market. However, by the ‘80s, record companies needed to hamstring people like me who spent their middle school years taping songs off the radio. The compact disc, and a chance to sell AC/DC’s Back in Black to customers for the umpteenth time, arrived.

    Mantra 4: The digital age is destroying music.

    The CD reaped huge benefits for the recording industry from the mid -‘80s through the whole of the ‘90s. Then Napster hit. I ranted to my Shack Pack buddies about the record companies’ short-sightedness in wrestling the digital giant to the ground and beating it to a bloody pulp. Latch on to what’s already there, I argued. Tag a reasonable subscription fee to the service. Sit back and reap the benefits of making money from an established brand name – all without reinventing the wheel.

    A music geek realizes that it isn’t just that record company mismanagement has hurt music. Forrest lamented, “it no longer takes any effort to discover music.” Lance agreed, saying “I remember my cousin raving to me about this song he’d heard by Pink Floyd called ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part II.’ We waited around to hear it on the radio; sure enough, it eventually came around again.” This was 1979 when hearing a favorite song wasn’t a YouTube or iTunes click away.


    Maybe everything really does come around again, as the saying goes. The digital age has restored the singles market. “Bohemian Rhapsody” might re-emerge again in Wayne’s World: The Next Generation where we follow Wayne and Garth’s offspring in the new era.

    One thing is certain: music geeks have some maddening mantras. If you stumble across a motley group of 40-somethings at Joe’s Crab Shack, you can pull up a chair and we’ll be happy to explain them in depth. Otherwise, you might be better off heading across the parking lot to Old Chicago’s, instead.

    Clyde McPhatter: An R&B Legend

    Clyde McPhatter, 1932-1972

    June 13, 1972: One of R&B’s greatest singers, Clyde McPhatter, died of a heart attack in a New York hotel room. Only 39, he had struggled for years with alcoholism and depression and was, according to Jay Warner’s On This Day in Music History, “broke and despondent over a mismanaged career that made him a legend but hardly a success.”

    McPhatter fronted two of the most influential groups in R&B history, helping to make him one of the top 1000 music makers of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. From 1950 to 1953, he was a member of the Dominoes. “Sixty Minute Man” was the biggest R&B hit of 1951, AMG topping the Billboard R&B charts for 14 weeks. All Music Guide called it “the first identifiable rock & roll record…by a black group to make the jump from the R&B to the pop charts.”

    It was sung by Bill Brown, but generally McPhatter handled lead vocals, such as on 1952 #1 R&B hit “Have Mercy Baby.” With the group at one point billed as Billy Ward and His Dominoes, Ward collected the lion’s share of the profits. McPhatter wasn’t making enough to live on and quit. Atlantic Records’ co-founder Ahmet Ertegun offered him a chance to form a new group and the Drifters, a name suggested by McPhatter, were born. Ertegun once proclaimed them “the all-time greatest Atlantic group.”

    The Drifters became a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee which, as their Rock Hall bio says, “epitomized the vocal group sound of New York City.” McPhatter saw two more long stays at #1 on the R&B charts with “Money Honey” and “Honey Love,” which was the biggest R&B hit of 1954. AMG

    By 1955, McPhatter left for a solo career, landing R&B #1 songs with 1956’s “Treasure of Love”, 1957’s Long Lonely Nights”, and 1958’s “A Lover’s Question.” The latter was a top 10 U.S. pop hit as well.

    The monstrous success of Motown groups like the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Miracles owe a debt to the blueprint McPhatter forged. Significantly, McPhatter’s own ex-groups enjoyed success with and without him. The Dominoes landed a dozen top ten R&B hits in the 1950s with five different singers. The Drifters used six singers on 25 top ten R&B hits over a twenty-year chart run. The group’s most notable frontmen were fellow DMDB top 1000 music makers Jackie Wilson, who helmed two top ten R&B hits for the Dominoes (“You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down”, “Rags to Riches”), and Ben E. King, who sang lead with the Drifters from 1959-61 on six top ten R&B hits, including “There Goes My Baby” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

    Both men also enjoyed solo success on the R&B and pop charts. Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” and “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” were both top 10 pop hits. King pulled off the same feat with “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand by Me.” The latter makes the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.

    Like so many gifted musicians, McPhatter led a troubled life. However, his legacy remains in tact, thanks to the music and influence he left behind.

    For more information, including special recognitions for acts, songs, and albums, check out individual entries in the DMDB music makers’ encyclopedia for the Dominoes, the Drifters, Ben E. King, Clyde McPhatter, and Jackie Wilson.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Boston: The Band People Love to Hate

    Brad Delp, 1951-2007

    Brad Delp was born June 12, 1951. He was the voice of Boston on four of their five studio albums sporadically released over more than a quarter century before his suicide in 2007. Boston’s most noted accomplishments happened right out of the gate. The 1976 eponymous debut ranks in the NARM/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Definite 200 Albums list and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified it for sales of 17 million, placing it just outside the top 10 best sellers of all time.

    The group’s first single, “More Than a Feeling,” has been dubbed by the Hall as one of the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and has been cited as an instrumental source for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (page 17, The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999).

    So why is Boston such a despised band? The derision seems especially targeted at Tom Scholz, who is referred to at as “the paragon of pretentious studio perfection until Axl Rose took the mantle for all times.” Boston is also mocked for copying a slew of its classic rock counterparts. Ironically the band “reviled by some as the creators of corporate rock” ( began as one of the most DIY efforts in rock history, as MIT graduate Tom Scholz assembled most of the debut album in his basement.

    There’s something about an anal, egotistical task master that just doesn’t scream “rock and roll.” Notorious time delays between albums don’t help. The general consensus is that rock and roll is meant to be immediate; it should be rough around the edges and played live, not tweaked and prodded for nearly a decade in the studio.

    However, most fans like bands just because they like them, not because they pass certain tests. As critic Sarah Rodman says at, “sometimes holding up your lighter, rocking out, and playing air guitar is a fun thing to do. And if you’re going to do it with any band, I would choose Boston over almost any other band from that time period.”

    Click photo for more about the band’s debut album.

    For more information, including special recognitions for acts, songs, and albums, check out individual entries in the DMDB music makers’ encyclopedia for Boston, Brad Delp, and Tom Scholz. Also check out the Boston’s DMDB page for a detailed bio and links to reviews of their albums and related material.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Lady Gaga hit #1 in U.S. with Born This Way album

    Born This Way

    Lady Gaga

    Released: May 23, 2011

    Charted: June 18, 2011

    Peak: 12 US, 13 UK, 11 CN, 12 AU

    Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.05 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)

    Genre: dance pop


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

    1. Marry the Night (6/11/11, 29 US, 14 RR, 27 A40, 16 UK, 11 CN, 88 AU)
    2. Born This Way (2/11/11, 1 US, 1 RR, 22 AC, 7 A40, 3 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU)
    3. Government Hooker
    4. Judas (4/15/11, 10 US, 15 RR, 40 A40, 8 UK, 8 CN, 6 AU)
    5. Americano
    6. Hair (5/28/11, 12 US, 13 UK, 11 CN, 20 AU)
    7. Scheiße
    8. Bloody Mary
    9. Bad Kids
    10. Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)
    11. Heavy Metal Lover
    12. Electric Chapel
    13. You and I (6/4/11, 6 US, 7 RR, 15 AC, 6 A40, 23 UK, 10 CN, 14 AU)
    14. The Edge of Glory (5/9/11, 3 US, 3 RR, 7 AC, 3 A40, 6 UK, 3 CN, 2 AU)

    Total Running Time: 61:07


    3.805 out of 5.00 (average of 34 ratings)

    Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

    About the Album:

    With Born This Way, Lady Gaga nabbed her third consecutive Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, following The Fame in 2010 and The Fame Monster in 2011. The album was hotly anticipated and with more than a million sold in its first chart week in the U.S., it had the largest first-week sales for an album in five years. WK Internationally, it debuted in the top five in every major market.

    Born This Way “is a work of blessed bombast, all arena-size sonics and Springsteenian romanticism, complete with a Clarence Clemons sax solo.” RS’20 “’Over-the-top’ isn’t an insult in Gaga’s world; it’s a statement of purpose.” RS’20 That showed in some of the album reviews. NME’s Dan Martin said “Gaga doesn’t know when to hold back – and it’s a damn good thing.” WK Sal Cinquemani of Slant magazine called it “an exercise in extraordinary excess.” WK Spin said that “excess is Gaga’s riskiest musical gamble, but it’s also her greatest weapon.” WK

    Of course, all the reviews weren’t positive. All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said, “Lady Gaga has channeled her grand ambitions into her message, and not her music. Gaga has taken it upon herself to filter out whatever personal details remain in her songs so she can write anthems for her Little Monsters, that ragtag group of queers, misfits, outcasts, and rough kids who she calls her own.” AMG Her “ambition to marry rock & roll rebellion with her disco beats turns Born This Way into [Madonna’s] Like a Prayer by way of [Meat Loaf’s] Bat Out of Hell.” AMG Los Angeles Times’ Randall Roberts called it “unsubtle aesthetically” WK while The Washington Post’s Chris Richards said “it sounds like reheated leftovers from some ‘80s movie soundtrack.” WK The Independent said that “the broader she spreads her net musically, the less distinctive her art becomes.” WK

    However, the album was commonly commended for its variety of musical styles. While her earlier work consisted primarily of electropop, house music, and dance pop, Born This Way incorporated elements of opera, heavy metal, rock, Europop, new wave, and disco. WK Bloody Mary featured a male vocal choir while” AMG the “thumping, half-in-Spanish” RS’20

    Government Hooker is “a synth-pop jam that includes a come-on on to John F. Kennedy.” RS’20Americano is a mariachi song using guitar and violin. Bad Kids sported electric guitar and a “metal-disco fusion” AMG while saxophone is featured in Hair and The Edge of Glory. WK

    The song Marry the Night, which “glistens with a neon pulse,” AMG “contains church bells, a thumping four on the floor house beat, [and] a funk rock-influenced breakdown.” WK You and I is a country-rock-flavored ballad which samples Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and even features Queen guitarist Brian May. WK Influences for the album included Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Kiss, Pat Benatar, and Iron Maiden. WK

    Thematically, the album voiced strong messages about sexuality and feminism. It also referenced individualism, equality, and freedom. There are also references to notable figures from Christianity, most obviously in the song Judas. That song turns her earlier hit “Alejandro” “into towering gothic disco.” AMG

    The title song became the fastest-selling single in iTunes history WK and topped the charts in nineteen countries. WK It served up a message about how everyone is equal and should follow his or her dream and has “a giddiness to its self-importance.” AMG The “Eurobeat-based” WK “glam-slam title track became an LGBTQ anthem.” RS’20 It bore similarities to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and has also been compared to German electronic band Kraftwerk. WK

    In the end, the album solidifies Gaga’s “standing as something of a pop visionary, although Gaga is a little bit too eager to embrace her role as messiah, letting her skills as a songwriter slide ever so slightly. Gaga’s true gift is her considerable dexterity at delivering the basics. Unlike so many of her peers, she does not cut and paste her tracks digitally, she constructs from the chords up, then accessorizes at will. She doesn’t abandon this sensibility on Born This Way, but she does take it for granted, never pushing her compositions or productions into unpredictable territory.” AMG “This is an album that’s meant to be more: it’s intended to be a soundtrack to a way of life, but it winds up playing as a collection of songs.” AMG

    Resources and Related Links:

    Other Related DMDB Pages:

    First posted 12/3/2011; last updated 4/27/2022.