During the 2000s, I was busy rocking like a hurricane and stopped paying attention to current music for the most part. However, I would occasionally lift my head from the Rhino archives (and my own navel) to tune into the culture. Here’s what I remember from those fleeting moments.
Kraftwerk, Computer World / Techno Pop / The Mix (Remastered): It couldn’t be more perfect timing for these three albums to be remastered and join Rhino’s digital catalog, given that, starting on March 18, the legendary German electronic band will be performing the first two in their entirety on March 20 as part of their five-night stint at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. 1981’s Computer World may be best remembered for its title track and the single “Pocket Calculator,” but whatever you consider its signature tracks, it’s generally considered to be a highlight of the band’s discography and has often been described as one of the best albums of the 1980s, period. Meanwhile, if 1986’s Techno Pop doesn’t ring a bell, it’s possible it’s because you purchased it when it was still called Electric Café (the change in name – to the band’s original working title for the album – took place when it was reissued in 2009), but the singles “Musique Non Stop” and “The Telephone Call” will probably stand out either way. As for 1991’s The Mix, you won’t be hearing that one live, as it’s a remix album, but for longtime fans who appreciate a good reconstruction and/or reinvention, the 11 tracks are certainly still worth hearing.
66 years ago, a certain sweet baby named James entered the world, one who would go on to see fire, rain, sunny days that he thought would never end, and lonely times when he could not find a friend. On a related note, he also always thought that he’d see you again, but instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s just wish James Taylor a happy birthday, shall we?
Born in Boston Massachusetts in 1948, James Vernon Taylor started his career as a musician by learning to play the cello, but he switched to the guitar in 1960, writing his first song on the instrument at the age of 14. By the summer of 1963, Taylor was playing coffeehouses as part of a folk duo with Danny Kortchmar and went on to serve as a member of several bands over the course of the next few years, but the turning point of his career came when some solo demos that he’d given to Peter Asher ended up being heard by Paul McCartney, resulting in Taylor becoming the first non-British artist signed to the Beatles’ new label, Apple Records.
Late last year, a collection of the best moments from Crossroads 2013, Eric Clapton’s annual guitar festival, was released digitally and on CD, but when one looks at the track listing and the sheer volume of classic songs included therein, it’s hard for an old-school audiophile to avoid dreaming of hearing the whole thing on vinyl. As it happens, though, some of those very audiophiles work here at Rhino, and as a result, the vinyl release of Crossroads 2013 is in stores today!
If you’re one of those Chicago fans who’s been grousing about the fact that the band’s 1975 live album, Live In Japan, has only been available in digital form for the past several years, prepare to be excited: as of today, it’s finally back in print on CD.
Recorded during a three-night stint at the Osaka Festival Hall in 1972 while the band was touring behind Chicago V, Live in Japan has often been described by fans and even the occasional band member (stand up, please, Walter Paradzeider) as sounding significantly better than Chicago’s previous live album, Live at Carnegie Hall, a.k.a. Chicago IV. Unfortunately, the Osaka shows haven’t been heard by nearly as many ears, as Live in Japan initially only saw release in Japan, and while that does make at least a little bit of sense, it’s still surprising that it took until 1996 for the album to earn a Stateside release, and even then only via the band’s own label, Chicago Records.
45 years ago today, Led Zeppelin released their first single, and even though it only made it to #80 on the Billboard Hot 100, it still managed to become a full-fledged rock ‘n’ roll classic.
As the lead track of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut, “Good Times Bad Times” had already made a significant impact on listeners a few months before it found its way onto a 45 – backed with “Communication Breakdown” – and into the lower reaches of the singles charts. The song features guitarist Jimmy Page passing his Fender Telecaster through a Leslie Speaker for the guitar solo, drummer John Bonham kicking out the jams, and bassist John Paul Jones offering a riff which he described in a 2008 Rolling Stone Q&A as the one most difficult one he ever wrote. Once the band threw Robert Plant’s howling vocals on top of it all, there was little question in anyone’s minds that the resulting song was going to leave a lasting impression.