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Friday, August 1, 2014 - 1:15pm

Released shortly after his American debut, as "Your Song" was peaking, "Tumbleweed Connection" had no hits, but it's Elton John's best album.


It closed the first side, it's not talked about much, but I haven't been able to get it out of my head since my college buddy told me he was in the process of selling his father's gun, a World War II artifact.

It's unfortunate that Elton's voice is not what it once was, but as soon as you hear the mellifluous notes on this track you melt. That's how great he was, why he still sustains today, because he could write (with Bernie Taupin's help), play and sing. Qualities that were seen as necessary forty years ago but somehow are not seen to be required today.

Yes, Elton's a classic.

And even though you'll rarely hear this song today, those who know "Tumbleweed Connection" cherish it, as they do the other ten cuts.

Yes, all killer and no filler!

Friday, August 1, 2014 - 12:21pm

Earlier this week, an absurd number of people tuned in to watch an even more absurd TV movie called Sharknado 2: The Second One, and if you were paying close attention, then you might’ve heard a little ditty called “(The Ballad of) Sharknado.” The song was initially introduced in the first film, but in order to help keep the budget down, they decided to utilize it again in the sequel, which has caused somewhat of a resurgence in people’s appreciation of the track, and we’re anticipating that it’ll get a further boost when SyFy airs an encore of Sharknado 2. on Saturday evening.

In anticipation of the inevitable backlash, we decided we’d cater to those of you who are now or eventually will grow tired of hearing “(The Ballad of) Sharknado” by providing you with a playlist of 30 other ballads, all taken from our digital catalog. It’s a ridiculously diverse group of folks – you get Alice Cooper, George Benson, Big Star, Freddie and the Dreamers, Bad Company, Jerry Jeff Walker, Toy Matinee, and Prince, to name just a few of the names included therein – but we’ll guarantee you this much: it’s not as ridiculous as Sharknado 2.

Friday, August 1, 2014 - 12:08pm
Jerry Garcia

Here at Rhino, when we put together pieces about people’s birthdays, we generally open with a one-liner that teases at the identity of the birthday boy or girl without actually telling you their name outright, but there’s no point in beating around the bush about it being Jerry Garcia’s birthday, because there are millions of Deadheads around the world who treat it like it’s a proper holiday.

And why wouldn’t they? Whether you’re a Grateful Dead devotee or not – although if you’re not, this probably wouldn’t be the best forum for you to admit that – they changed the musical landscape in a very real way, building one of the largest, most consistent fanbases in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, and as the public face of the band (even if that face spent most of its time buried underneath a bushy beard), the late Mr. Garcia was responsible for a big chunk of that success.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 9:56am

Today marks the 56th birthday of the second most famous musician ever to emerge from Duluth, Minnesota, but while Bob Dylan may have the advantage when it comes to overall fame, when it comes to drumming, we’re sure of this much: he’s no Bill Berry.

Born in 1958, William Thomas Berry’s family bounced around a bit during his younger years, jumping from Minnesota to Wisconsin when he was three, Wisconsin to Ohio right around when he hit double digits, and – just as Bill was entering high school – finally settled in Macon, Georgia for the long haul. That’s where Berry first crossed paths with future R.E.M. bandmate Mike Mills and built a friendship which would soon take the two young men to Athens, Georgia, to fulfill their rock ‘n’ roll destiny…or something like that, anyway.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 9:32am
cilla black

50 years ago today, Cilla Black released “It’s for You,” the second of three tunes that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote and passed along to her rather than recording them as Beatles songs.

In his book The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film, Richie Unterberger observed that “Love of the Loved,” the first of the Lennon/McCartney tracks compositions gifted to Black, “was something of a clean-out-the-closet throwaway,” but the same couldn’t be said of “It’s for You,” which – per no less of an authority than Sir Paul himself (in Barry Miles’ Many Years from Now) – was written specifically for her by the duo.

And merely writing it for Black wasn’t enough for them, apparently: both John and Paul managed to make it to the recording session for the song on July 2, 1964 – with Paul playing piano on the track, too – even though they’d only just arrived back in London from Sydney, Australia a few hours earlier.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 4:00pm
Digital Roundup

New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:

Theodore Bikel, An Actor's Holiday / Folk Songs Of Israel / Jewish Folk Songs / Songs Of A Russian Gypsy / Folk Songs From Just About Everywhere / Bravo Bikel! - Theodore Bikel Town Hall Concert / Songs Of Russia Old And New / From Bondage To Freedom / A Harvest Of Israeli Folksongs / The Best Of Bikel / Theodore Bikel On Tour / Young Man and a Maid: Goodness gracious, we’re tired just from typing all of those album titles, but if you’re a fan of Theodore Bikel’s substantial discography, we can only imagine how thrilled you are to see a dozen – that’s twelve, count ‘em, twelve – of his albums being added to our digital catalog. For many of you, Bikel may be best known as an actor, so this is certainly a wonderful time to dig in and explore some of the material he’s recorded over the years. Granted, if this is your first exposure to his work, it’s only inevitable that the best starting point is The Best of Bikel, but from a historical standpoint, consider how daring it was for Bikel to record Songs of a Russian Gypsy in 1958, when Americans were still in full “Better Dead than Red” mode. As album titles go, if there’s one that most exemplifies truth in advertising – not just for the record’s contents but, indeed, for Bikel’s entire career – it’s Folk Songs from Just About Everywhere: any one of these albums will provide you not only with a musical education but with a cultural one as well…or, in other words, start listening!