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Monday, July 28, 2014 - 4:36pm
Mono Mondays

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that there was once a time when instrumental artists could find significant chart success on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s not as though it’s completely unheard of nowadays, but if you look back at the number of instrumentals that hit the charts during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and follow that number through to present day…well, we’d hate to use the word “plummet” to describe how quickly it drops off, but it really is a spot-on description. (Then again, given that the majority of those instrumentals were by Kenny G, maybe it’s for the best.)

Thankfully, this week’s Mono Monday release is a reminder of the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B instrumentals, when bands could get their groove on without having to worry about dealing with the ego of a frontman…unless you consider Booker T. Jones to be the frontman of The M.G.s, since his first name and initial come in front of theirs. When you listen to Green Onions, though, Booker T.’s organ playing may be prominent, it’s far from the only memorable instrumental performance going on in the grooves of the album: you’ve got also got Steve Cropper’s guitar, Al Jackson, Jr.’s drums, and Lewie Steinberg’s upright bass, too. In short, this is just all-around great music…and there’s not a single word to be found anywhere.

Monday, July 28, 2014 - 4:22pm

Between late 1979 and early 1980, four brothers from Ohio took their band into a studio in Detroit and laid down some serious funk, and 34 years ago today, Warner Brothers put that funk out, throwing their substantial corporate weight behind Zapp’s claim that, if given the chance, Larry, Lester, Roger, and Terry Troutman were more than capable of providing listeners with “more bounce to the ounce.”

It’s fair to say that Zapp might never have come to prominence were it not for the assistance of Bootsy Collins and his brother, Catfish, who – in addition to their membership in Parliament-Funkadelic – were also tight with the Troutman family. After the Collins brothers invited the Troutman brothers to visit United Sound Studios in Detroit, Zapp wrote and recorded the demo for the “More Bounce to the Ounce,” which George Clinton persuaded the band to present to Warner Brothers.

Monday, July 28, 2014 - 3:59pm
Aquarium Drunkard Presents

Townes Van Zandt has had many acolytes over the past 40 years, but it's Lyle Lovett who grabbed, and held, my attention. A lover, and performer, or various genres - from country, jazz, blues and Tejano - to standards from the American Songbook, Lovett, to the causal observer, may not immediately connect the Van Zandt dots. But they are there, and none more so than on Lovett's 1998 double record, Step Inside This House, his tribute to fellow Texan songwriters, prominently featuring the music of Townes.

This week's playlist pulls from the first seven Lovett albums, beginning with 1986's self-titled and closing out with the aforementioned Step Inside This House, from 1998. A mighty twelve year stretch. Also included is Lovett's take on the standard "Blue Skies", culled from his Smile collection, which gathers cuts from his various soundtrack work.

Friday, July 25, 2014 - 4:00pm
Mary Mary

48 years ago today, the Monkees recorded their version of Michael Nesmith’s “Mary, Mary,” which would go on to appear as a track on their sophomore effort, More of the Monkees.

The Monkees were not, however, the first artist to release the song: that honor went to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, who – in releasing their version on their East-West album in August 1966 – beat Nesmith’s own band to record store shelves by almost six months. (More of the Monkees didn’t street until January 7, 1967.)

Friday, July 25, 2014 - 3:41pm
Doobie Brothers

41 years ago today, the Doobie Brothers released the second single from their 1973 album, The Captain and Me, introducing generations of radio listeners to a town in Texas while simultaneously misinforming them about where samurai come from.

It’s relatively common knowledge that the band took their name from a friend’s suggestion – “You guys smoke so much pot, you should call yourselves the Doobie Brothers” – but there’s an unsubstantiated claim on Wikipedia that they got the titles of their demos from whatever cigarettes songwriter Tom Johnston was smoking at the time. We’re a bit doubtful of this assertion, as the only place we can find it is in discussions about “China Grove,” which was reportedly originally entitled “Parliament,” but, hey, maybe somewhere in the Warner Brothers archives there’s a demo for “Listen to the Music” that’ll never be found because the tape box is still labeled “Viceroy.” (We’ll get an intern on that right away.)

Friday, July 25, 2014 - 12:28pm


Some songs emanate from the speaker and stop you in your tracks, vacate all other thoughts and have you asking WHAT'S THAT?

Like "Laugh, Laugh."

You've got to know, by time we reached the end of '64 an entire generation was addicted to the radio. It's kind of like today, but instead of a transistor now it's a smartphone. And a transistor only did one thing, play radio, and we only listened to music.

Sure, "Laugh, Laugh" was reminiscent of the English sound, but it would have been a hit in any era, like "Walk Away Renee" it's forever, because of the haunting sound...

From the initial notes you were enraptured, as if you were descending into a subterranean spot where all truth would be revealed.

"I hate to say it but I told you so
Don't mind my preaching to you"