Thursday, September 26, 2019

50 years ago: The Beatles released Abbey Road

Last updated 11/24/2020.

Abbey Road

The Beatles

Released: September 26, 1969

Peak: 111 US, 118 UK, 111 CN, 118 AU

Sales (in millions): 12.0 US, 1.93 UK, 30.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


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

You can check out the Beatles’ complete singles discography here.

  1. Come Together [4:20] (10/18/69, 1 US, 4 UK, 25 AR. 2x platinum single)
  2. Something (Harrison) [3:03] (10/18/69, B-side of “Come Together,” 3 US, 17 AC, 4 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, 2x platinum single)
  3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer [3:27]
  4. Oh! Darling [3:26]
  5. Octopus’s Garden (Starr) [2:51]
  6. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) [7:47]
  7. Here Comes the Sun (Harrison) [3:05] (airplay: 3 million)
  8. Because [2:45]
  9. You Never Give Me Your Money [4:02]
  10. Sun King [2:26]
  11. Mean Mr. Mustard [1:06]
  12. Polythene Pam [1:12]
  13. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window [1:57]
  14. Golden Slumbers [1:31]
  15. Carry That Weight [1:36]
  16. The End [2:19]
  17. Her Majesty [:23]

Songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 47:03

The Players:

  • John Lennon (vocals, guitar)
  • Paul McCartney (vocals, bass)
  • George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
  • Ringo Starr (drums, vocals)


4.718 out of 5.00 (average of 26 ratings)

Quotable: “A worthy last chapter for the greatest band of all” – Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time magazine


About the Album:

In January of 1969, The Beatles were “exhausted and angry with one another after the disastrous sessions for the aborted Get Back LP,” RS500 a project which resurfaced in the spring of 1970 as the Beatles’ official final album, “the messy, joyless Let It Be.” TL John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono were more interested in promoting themselves as “avant garde peacenik performance artists” JI and the group was feuding over who should control the finances. Even their producer, “the normallly unruffled” George Martin, said “I don’t want to be part of this anymore.” JI

As a result, he was surprised when Paul McCartney asked him to help produce a Beatles’ record “like we used to.” JI “Determined to go out with the same glory with which they had first entranced the world at the start of the decade, the group reconvened at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios.” RS500 “Though the break-up was looming, you'd never know it.” TL Martin said, “It was a very happy record. I guess it was happy because everybody thought it was going to be the last.” RS500 It was: “August 20th marked the last time all four members were together in the studio they had made famous.” RS500

The resulting album was “a collection of superb songs” RS500 which showed the group “still pushing forward in all facets of their art.” AMG Abbey Road echoed “some of the faux-conceptual forms of Sgt. Pepper, but featuring stronger compositions and more rock-oriented ensemble work.” AMG It was “cut with an attention to refined detail;” RS500 indeed, it was the group’s “most polished and crafted long player” TL and “the best sounding Beatles’ record.” JI It made for “a fitting swan song for the group.” AMG

“John Lennon veered from the stormy metal of I Want You (She’s So Heavy) to the exquisite vocal sunrise of BecauseRS500 to the “driving funk of Come Together.” TL

“Paul McCartney was saucy (Oh! Darling), silly (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer) and deliciously bitter (You Never Give Me Your Money).” RS500 “Paul’s surging, melodic bass playing alone would make this album a landmark.” TL

“George Harrison also blossomed into a major songwriter, contributing the buoyant” AMG “folk-pop diamond Here Comes the Sun, written in his friend Eric Clapton’s garden after a grim round of business meetings.” RS500 “The supremely melodic ballad Something…became the first Harrison-penned Beatles hit.” AMG Frank Sinatra called the latter “the greatest love song of the last fifty years.” JI

“A series of song fragments edited together in suite form dominates side two.” AZ McCartney wanted an entire album of songs which linked together while Lennon pushed for each song to be separate, “preferably with all of his on one side.” JI They compromised with Lennon’s approach for the first side and McCartney’s concept for most of the second. That grab bag on the second side “might only be a bunch of bits and scraps stuck together, but it still sounds fantastic.” TL “Its portentous, touching, official close (Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End) is nicely undercut, in typical Beatles fashion, by…McCartney’s cheeky Her Majesty, which follows.” AZ

“Whether Abbey Road is the Beatles’ best work is debatable, but it’s certainly the most immaculately produced (with the possible exception of Sgt. Pepper) and most tightly constructed.” AMG Also, “Lennon, McCartney and Harrison reputedly sang more three-part harmony here than on any other Beatles album.” RS500 “A worthy last chapter for the greatest band of all.” TL

Notes: A 2019 deluxe edition of the album added a disc of alternate takes. A super deluxe edition added two discs’ worth.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dave's Music Database Hall of Fame: Act Inductees (September 2019)

Originally posted 9/22/2019.

January 22, 2019 marked the 10-year anniversary of the DMDB blog! To honor that, Dave’s Music Database announced its own Hall of Fame. This month marks the third batch of act inductees. These are the top ten female artists according to the DMDB. Note: click on the name of the act to see the full DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.

Mariah Carey (1970-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

Referred to as the “Songbird Supreme” by the Guinness World Records, the 1990 Best New Artist Grammy winner is known for her five-octave vocal range. The Long Island native is the only artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and is second only to the Beatles with 19 total chart-toppers. Her songs “One Sweet Day” (1995) and “We Belong Together” (2005) rank in the top 10 biggest #1 songs in the history of the Billboard charts.

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

The most honored jazz singer of all time. Discovered after winning the Harlem Amateur Hour in 1934, she was hired by Chick Webb and in 1938 created a popular sensation with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Following Chick’s death in 1939, Ella took over the band for three years. Winner of the Down Beat poll as top female vocalist more than 20 times, she remains among the undisputed royalty of 20th century popular music.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

R&B singer known as “The Queen of Soul.” Her father was a Baptist preacher and Aretha got her start in the church choir, first recording as a gospel artist from 1956-60. Signed with Columbia Records in 1960 and recorded secular music. Went to Atlantic Records in 1966 and Arista Records in 1980.

Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

Blues singer known as the great “Lady Day.” Rivaled only by Ella Fitzgerald among all female jazz singers. Following her difficult early years she was discovered in 1933 by jazz critic John Hammond. She recorded one hit with Benny Goodman, then began her classic 1935-38 association with Teddy Wilson, accompanied by the top jazz musicians in the country. Billie also sang briefly in the late ‘30s with Count Basie and Artie Shaw. The 1972 movie Lady Sings the Blues was based on her life.

Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

R&B/pop singer. Daughter of Cissy Houston and cousin of Dionne Warwick. Began singing career at age 11 with the gospel group New Hope Baptist Junior Choir. As a teen, worked as a backing vocalist for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. Pursued modeling career in 1981, appeaing in Glamour magazine and on the cover of Seventeen. Married singer Bobby Brown on 7/18/92. Starred in the movies The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, and The Preacher’s Wife.

Ada Jones (1873-1922)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

She was born in the UK, but her family movied to Philadelphia when she was 6. She was one of the earliest female singers to be recorded. She made her first recordings in 1893 on wax cylinders for Edison Records. She frequently sang with Billy Murray.

Madonna (1958-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

The best-selling female recording artist of all time. Dance-pop singer and record executive (Maverick Records) known as the “Queen of Pop.” She was known for her boundary-pushing videos, costumes, and overall image. She was also featured in movies, includingEvita (1996) which won her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

Dolly Parton (1946-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

Country singer/songwriter. She has charted more than 100 times on the country chart, making her the top female country artist of all time. One of the few people to receive Oscar, Grammy Tony, and Emmy nominations. She worked with Porter Wagoner as a duo from 1967-76 while also recording solo. Joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1969. She also starred in movies 9 to 5, Steel Magnolias, and more.

Diana Ross (1944-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where she became the lead singer of The Supremes, the best-charting female group in U.S. history and Motown’s most successful act. She left the group in 1970, but continued to have success as a solo artist. She also won a Golden Globe for her performance in Lady Sings the Blues (1972). In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared her the most successful female music artist in history.

Tina Turner (1939-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 10 Female Act.”

R&B/rock singer who found success as half of a duo with Ike Turner, to whom she was married from 1958-76. After a few overlooked solo efforts in the ‘70s, Tina returned with the album Private Dancer in 1984 and launched one of rock’s greatest comeback stories. The 12-time Grammy winner has been called “The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and sold more than 200 million records worldwide.
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Friday, September 20, 2019

50 years ago: The Archies top the chart with “Sugar Sugar”

First posted 12/9/2020.

Sugar Sugar

The Archies

Writer(s): Jeff Barry, Andy Kim (see lyrics here)

Released: May 24, 1969

First Charted: July 19, 1969

Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 22 AC, 18 UK, 13 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.02 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 142.46 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

John I. Goldwater created the Archies comic strip in 1942. In 1968, Filmation Studios created a Saturday morning cartoon based on the strip. Don Kirshner, who’d helmed the Monkees, was hired to supervise music for the series. He hired Jeff Barry, who’d produced “I’m a Believer” for the Monkees, to write songs. Along with Ellie Greenwich, Barry wrote hits such as the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” and Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” Co-writer Andy Kim would land a #1 in 1974 with “Rock Me Gently.”

To perform the song, Kirshner assembled a group of studio musicians. Ron Dante sang lead with accompanying vocals from Kim and Toni White. While working with Kirshner’s Aldon Music, Dante sang demos on multiple songs written by legendary songwriting teams like Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, and Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield. He tried to launch a solo career in 1968 with no success. When Kirshner asked Dante to sing anonymously for scale on the Archies’ records, Dante agreed. BR1

The actual performers on the song were kept a secret. As Wine said, it was a trivia question for years about “what group never appeared together, never went on the road together, never interviewed together…and had #1 song?” SF In fact, it went to #1 in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and the UK. It spent more weeks (22) on the Billboard charts in 1969 than any other song SF and was named song of the year by the magazine.

Dante ended up having two simultaneous top-5 hits with “Sugar Sugar” and “Tracy” by the Cuff Links. He also went on to produce Barry Manilow’s 1975 #1 hit “Mandy” and Pat Benatar’s 1979 top-40 hit “Heartbreaker.” Meanwhile, critics weren’t particularly kind to “Sugar Sugar” although Dante and Barry defended the bubblegum sound as having a large audience. The song gained some credibility when Wilson Pickett covered it in 1970 and took it to #25. BR1

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Archies
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Jeff Barry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 258.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia