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


Tracks:

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)

Rating:

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


Awards:

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: Music Maker Inductees (September 2019)

Originally posted 9/22/2019; last updated 5/21/2021.

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 music maker inductees. These are the top ten female artists according to the DMDB.

Mariah Carey (1970-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Ada Jones (1873-1922)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Madonna (1958-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Dolly Parton (1946-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Diana Ross (1944-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.

Tina Turner (1939-)

Inducted September 2019 as a “Top 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. Read more.
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50 years ago: The Band released their self-titled sophomore album

The Band

The Band


Released: September 22, 1969


Peak: 9 US, 25 UK, 2 CN, 18 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Genre: folk rock/Americana/roots music


Tracks:

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

  1. Across the Great Divide (Robertson) [2:53]
  2. Rag Mama Rag (Robertson) [3:04] (2/14/70, 57 US, 50 CB, 44 HR, 14 CL, 16 UK, 46 CN)
  3. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Robertson) [3:33] (10/18/69: B-side of “Up on Cripple Creek,” 7 CL, 10 CN)
  4. When You Awake (Robertson, Manuel) [3:13]
  5. Up on Cripple Creek (Robertson) [4:34] (10/18/69, 25 US, 26 CB, 27 HR, 4 CL, 10 CN)
  6. Whispering Pines (Robertson, Manuel) [3:58]
  7. Jemima Surrender (Robertson, Helm) [3:31]
  8. Rockin’ Chair (Robertson) [3:43]
  9. Look Out Cleveland (Robertson) [3:09]
  10. Jawbone (Robertson, Manuel) [4:20]
  11. The Unfaithful Servant (Robertson) [4:17]
  12. King Harvest Has Surely Come (Robertson) [3:39]


Total Running Time: 43:50


The Players:

  • Rick Danko (bass, vocals)
  • Levon Helm (drums, vocals)
  • Garth Hudson (organ)
  • Richard Manuel (piano, vocals)
  • Robbie Robertson (guitar)

Rating:

4.251 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

One of the most celebrated Americana albums in history was recorded by a band who was 4/5 Canadian. TL As The Hawks, they supported Bob Dylan on tour during his infamous switch to electric. They also recorded with Dylan, resulting in a bootleg series known as The Basement Tapes which eventually saw official release in the mid-1970s. In 1968, The Band released its first album, Music from Big Pink. It was a “ramshackle musical blend and songs of rural tragedy” AMG which “defined the back-porch rootsiness that remains a central inspiration for the ‘alternative country’ movement.” TL In fact, at the time of the album’s release, Time magazine declared The Band “the new sound of country rock.” RV

That second outing “was a more deliberate and even more accomplished effort” AMG featuring “even better songwriting and ensemble playing.” NRR Part of this was attributed to The Band’s laid-back style of “passing their instruments around like it was a hootenanny.” TL “The arrangements were simultaneously loose and assured, giving the songs a timeless appeal.” AMG The performances are marked by Levon “Helm’s (and occasionally Manuel’s) propulsive drumming to Robertson’s distinctive guitar fills and the endlessly inventive keyboard textures of Garth Hudson,” AMG who “manipulates his Lowrey organ in ways that continue to boggle the ear.” RV It was “all topped by the rough, expressive singing of Manuel, Helm, and Rick Danko that mixed leads with harmonies.” AMG

As Bruce Springsteen stated in the documentary Once Were Brothers, any of the three were capable of leading a group. OB Interestingly, though, it isn’t really any of the vocalists who were “the leader of the Band,” but Robbie Robertson, who took the reins here as the writer or co-writer on all 12 songs. He proved to be a “superb storyteller.” RV Though Canadian, he “tackled the astonishing scope of this American life” TL with lyrics painting “portraits of 19th century rural life (especially Southern life, as references to Tennessee and Virginia made clear), its sometimes less savory aspects treated with warmth and humor.” AMG Some have even called this a concept album because of “the songs focusing on people, places, and traditions associated with an older version of Americana.” WK He keyed in on “a series of American archetypes from the union worker in King Harvest Has Surely Come and the retired sailor in Rockin' Chair to, most famously, the Confederate Civil War observer Virgil Cane in The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” AMG

The Band’s Americana sound was crafted by a mix of “rock ‘n’ roll with country, bluegrass, rhythm-and-blues, and even gospel.” NRR By creating a sound which was “deliberately against the grain,” NRR The Band offered “an image of America largely absent in the popular music of its time.” NRR

“The album effectively mixed the kind of mournful songs that had dominated Music from Big PinkAMG with “the achingly wistful Whispering PinesTL and When You Awake with “rollicking uptempo numbers” AMG like “the joyful hoedown Rag Mama RagTL “and Up on Cripple Creek.” AMG

Helm takes the lead on the most notable songs – “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “Rag Mama Rag,” as well as Jemimah Surrender.” Richard Manuel takes the lead for “King Harvest Has Surely Come,” “Whispering Pines,” “Rockin’ Chair,” Across the Great Divide, and Jawbone. Meanwhile, Rick Danko is the lead vocalist for “When You Awake,” “Look Out Cleveland,” and “The Unfaithful Servant.” Helm said in the Classic Albums documentary that they’d each try out the vocals on the songs and the group would decide which worked best. CA


Notes: A 2000 reissue added six alternate takes and an outtake of the song “Get Up Jake,” which had been released as a B-side.

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First posted 9/22/2012; updated 7/15/2021.