Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jefferson Airplane chart with “White Rabbit” 50 years ago (6/24/1967)

First posted 4/17/2020.

White Rabbit

Jefferson Airplane

Writer(s): Grace Slick (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 24, 1967

Peak: 8 US, 6 CB, 7 HR, 1 CL, 94 UK, 12 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 83.9 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

This was “one of the defining songs of the 1967 ‘Summer of Love’” SF and “one of the crucial sounds of the late ‘60s freak scene” DT of the psychedelic rock movement. When St. Louis radio station KSHE switched from an easy listening format to rock in 1967, “White Rabbit” was the first song they played to make it clear they “were aligning themselves with the counterculture.” SF

Grace Slick wrote the song while in her first band, the Great Society. The music came to her after taking LSD and listening to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain for hours. SF The “insistent, militaristic rhythms and the way the song gradually builds to its menacing peak” TB were loosely based on the classical piece “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel. SJ

Of course, the lyrics were famously inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She said, “Our parents read us stories like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz…They all have a place where children get drugs, and are able to fly or see an Emerald City or experience extraordinary animals and people….And our parents are suddenly saying, ‘Why are you taking drugs?’ Well, hello!’” RS500

The FCC came down on the song as drug-related and it was banished from the airwaves, but not until the Nixon administration. Slick has said the song isn’t just about drug use, but “about opening up, looking around, checking out what’s happening…Feeding your head is not necessarily pumping chemicals into it.” SJ She’s also said, “I don’t think most people realize the song was aimed at parents who drank and told their kids not to do drugs.” SF

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lionel Richie: Top 30 Songs

image from

Born June 20, 1949 in Tuskegee, Alabama, Lionel Richie is one of chart history’s most successful crossover artists. He first found success as a member of the Commodores in the 1970s and then as a solo artist in the ‘80s. He has landed #1 songs on the pop, R&B, and adult contemporary charts and hit the country chart as well. In celebration of his birthday, Dave’s Music Database presents its list of his top 30 songs of all time, with the Commodores (noted with an *) and as a solo artist. #1 songs are noted as follows: #1 US (Billboard pop chart), #1 AC (Billboard adult contemporary chart), and #1 RB (Billboard R&B chart).

The Top 30 Lionel Richie Songs


1. Endless Love (with Diana Ross, 1981) #1 US, #1 AC, #1 RB
2. Three Times a Lady * (1978) #1 US, #1 AC, #1 RB
3. Hello (1984) #1 US, #1 AC, #1 RB
4. All Night Long (All Night) (1983) #1 US, #1 AC, #1 RB
5. Say You, Say Me (1985) #1 US, #1 AC, #1 RB
6. Truly (1982) #1 US, #1 AC
7. Brick House * (1977)
8. Easy * (1977) #1 RB
9. Still * (1979) #1 US, #1 RB
10. Stuck on You (1984) #1 AC

All Night Long (All Night)

11. You Are (1983) #1 AC
12. Sail On * (1979)
13. Dancing on the Ceiling (1986)
14. My Love (1983) #1 AC
15. Running with the Night (1983)
16. Lady (You Bring Me Up) * (1981)
17. Oh No * (1981)
18. Penny Lover (1984) #1 AC
19. Just to Be Close to You * (1976) #1 RB
20. Ballerina Girl (1986) #1 AC

Dancing on the Ceiling

21. Love Will Conquer All (1986) #1 AC
22. Sweet Love * (1975)
23. Machine Gun * (1974)
24. Do It to Me (1992) #1 RB
25. Se La (1986)
26. Don’t Wanna Lose You (1996)
27. Too Hot ta Trot * (1977) #1 RB
28. Old-Fashion Love * (1980)
29. Slippery When Wet * (1975) #1 RB
30. Deep River Woman (with Alabama, 1986)

* Commodores

Endless Love


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Friday, June 16, 2017

Styx released The Mission

The Mission


Released: June 16, 2017

Peak: 45 US

Sales (in millions): 0.015 US

Genre: classic rock veteran


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

  1. Overture (Tommy Shaw) [1:23]
  2. Gone, Gone, Gone (Shaw, Will Evankovich, James “JY” Young) [2:07] (4/21/2017, --)
  3. Hundred Million Miles from Home (Shaw, Evankovich) [3:39]
  4. Trouble at the Big Show (Shaw, Evankovich, Young) [2:30]
  5. Locomotive (Shaw, Evankovich) [5:03]
  6. Radio Silence (Shaw, Evankovich, Lawrence Gowan) [4:17]
  7. The Greater Good (Shaw, Evankovich, Gowan) [4:10]
  8. Time May Bend (Shaw, Evankovich) [2:30]
  9. Ten Thousand Ways (Shaw, Gowan) [1:22]
  10. Red Storm (Shaw, Evankovich) [6:04]
  11. All Systems Stable (Shaw, Evankovich, Gowan, Todd Sucherman) [0:17]
  12. Khedive (Shaw, Gowan) [2:04]
  13. The Outpost (Shaw, Evankovich, Gowan) [3:51]
  14. Mission to Mars (Shaw) [2:43]

Total Running Time: 42:00

The Players:

  • Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar, mandoline)
  • James “JY” Young (guitar, vocals)
  • Chuck Panozzo (bass)
  • Lawrence Gowan, vocals, keyboards)
  • Ricky Phillips (bass)
  • Todd Sucherman (drums, percussion)


3.826 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

About the Album:

The Mission was the sixteenth studio album from Styx – their first in twelve years. With sales in the U.S. of only 15,000, this was a far cry from the band’s heyday in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with a string of multi-platinum albums. However, All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine says the album “announces Styx’s return in a grand fashion” AMG as “an unapologetic throwback to the band’s late-‘70s prime.” AMG

Tommy Shaw, a member of the band since the mid-‘70s, crafted most of the songs with singer/songwriter Will Evankovich. In 2015, Shaw composed the guitar riff and a few lines for what became Mission to Mars, the closer on the album. WK This evolved into a concept album about a manned space mission to Mars in the year 2033. The website explains that the “fictional sci-fi tale casts Styx members…as the crew of a nuclear-powered spacecraft named the Khedive, and follows their adventures as they try to reach the red planet.” SR

Ooooh boy. That description makes this sound similar to the eye-rolling, overblown theatrical presentation of 1983’s Kilroy Was Here. That story line was conceived by then-bandmate Dennis DeYoung and Shaw has since loudly voiced his opposition to the direction it took the band. There’s some irony in him going down such a similar path.

However, while it is an “overbaked story,” AMG the songs hold up “because Styx craft these operatic rockers so well.” AMG “These songs could be mistaken for prime Styx, and that’s quite a thing to say for a band that is not only firmly within its status as a legacy act, but one that has gone so long without recording new material.” AMG

The lead single, Gone, Gone, Gone “is a callback to the old school style of Styx” SR which even comes close “to the sound they had on Kilroy Was Here.” SR Interestingly, though, it isn’t Shaw or founding member James “JY” Young who takes the lead on the song, but Lawrence Gowan, who stepped in as the replacement for DeYoung in 1999.

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First posted 5/13/2021; last updated 8/1/2021.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

50 years ago: Aretha Franklin hit #1 with “Respect”


Aretha Franklin

Writer(s): Otis Redding (see lyrics here)

Released: April 10, 1967

First Charted: April 29, 1967

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 13 HR, 18 RB, 10 UK, 3 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.14 UK, 1.14 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 72.0 video, 330.7 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Respect” was first recorded by Otis Redding backed by Booker T. & the MG’s along with the Memphis Horns. It was a 1965 top five R&B hit and “considered among the best Southern blues-soul records of the era,” TB but Aretha Franklin transformed it into an anthem for blacks and women and made it her signature song in launching her reign as the Queen of Soul.

Aretha had recorded with Columbia Records from 1960-1966. In her years there, she developed neither a signature sound nor much commercial success. When she jumped to Atlantic Records, she was paired with producer Jerry Wexler, who had worked with Wilson Pickett and Dusty Springfield. He backed her with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, which would become legendary, but was then in their infancy. For “Respect,” initially comprised only of verses and no bridge, Wexler blended a King Curtis’ tenor-sax solo with the studio band playing the chord changes from Sam and Dave’s “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby.” RS500

Also giving the song heft was Aretha‘s addition of the “sock it to me” lines SF and the spelling out of the title, an idea which engineer Tom Dowd attributed to Aretha‘s sister Carolyn, who sang backup on the album. “I fell off my chair when I heard that!” RS500

Aretha defiantly demands respect without playing the part of a victim. As Wexler said, “Aretha would never play the part of the scorned woman.” RS500 Mix that with the gospel flavor of the call-and-response vocal arrangement, and a classic was born. Wexler reported Otis’ reaction to Aretha’s version: “He looked at me with a big grin and said, ‘That girl done stole my song.’” CR

Resources and Related Links:

  • Aretha Franklin’s DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 455.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 164.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SF
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 99.

First posted 6/3/2012; last updated 4/11/2021.