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Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - 11:20am
Rhino Factoids

47 years ago today, the Bee Gees’ Christmas special premiered on ABC – that’s the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, by the way – and caused a minor uproar by daring to blend religion and rock ‘n’ roll. GASP!

Recorded 10 days earlier within the hallowed halls of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, the special in question was entitled How on Earth? and featured the brothers Gibb singing an original composition entitled “Thank You for Christmas” along with a medley of “Mary’s Boy Child,” “Silent Night,” and “The First Noel.” Also on hand for the proceedings was a British folk group known as The Settlers, along noted UK disc jockey Kenny Everett, who delivered the Gospel in his distinctly Liverpudlian accent.

Yes, that’s right: those who tuned in got a bit of the Bee Gees as well as a bit of proper religion. In fact, that’s kind of what caused the uproar, although it wasn’t really anything that could be blamed on Barry, Maurice, or Robin.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 12:13pm
Daft Punk

Nowadays most music fans know Daft Punk for last year’s absurdly – but not inappropriately – popular single, “Get Lucky.” Before that, they were predominantly known for their previous #1 hit, 2001’s “One More Time.” Between those two efforts, however, the helmet-wearing robot rockers released an album that earned them their first two Grammy Awards: one for Best Electronic / Dance Album, one for Best Dance Recording for the album’s lone single, “Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007).”

Yes, the title of the single’s a bit of a tip-off: the album in question was Alive 2007, a recording of the band’s June 14, 2007 concert at Bercy in Paris, and if you’ve never heard this award-winning effort, you’d be hard pressed to pick a better time to delve into it, since we’ve just released a double vinyl edition.

Ah, but wait! We haven’t just released a double vinyl edition. We’ve also released a limited edition version as well, and…well, we don’t mind telling you: it’s pretty awesome.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 11:44am

Hey, remember back in late November when we released the first wave of our Genesis CD reissues – you know, the ones we’re now putting out individually that were originally part of the Genesis 1970-1975, Genesis 1976-1982, and Genesis 1983-1998 collections – and we said that the vinyl versions were going to be following them in a week?

Uh, yeah, that didn’t happen.

Of course, if you went looking for them that week, then you probably already knew that, so we hope you’ll allow us to say that we’re sorry for the slight delay, but as you also probably know, these things do happen sometimes. Fortunately, all’s well now, and the vinyl versions are here at last, so you may now feel free to commence with the belated rejoicing.

Monday, December 22, 2014 - 4:03pm
Bee Gees

65 years ago today, two of the four Gibb brothers – and, in turn, two of the three Bee Gees – were born on the Isle of Man. The fact that both of them are now gone is still rather hard to believe, but the music they left behind…well, actually, that’s pretty unbelievable, too, but in this case, we mean it in a much more positive way.

Robin Hugh Gibb and Maurice Ernest Gibb were born in 1949, with Robin arriving first by 35 minutes, which – and we’re only speculating here – probably came up at least a few times during the course of the fraternal twins’ lives. The Gibbs’ parents spotted their sons’ gift for harmonization early on, but it still doesn’t make it any less eyebrow-raising to learn that Barry, Robin, and Maurice, along with friends Paul Frost and Kenny Horrocks, started their first group, The Rattlesnakes, in 1955. It was a bit longer before they had their first public performance, however, which took place in 1957 and likely never would’ve happened if, while en route to a local theater to mime their way through the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie,” Barry hadn’t accidentally dropped and broken the 45.

Monday, December 22, 2014 - 3:50pm
Joe Cocker

We realize it’s only Monday, but we’re hoping this proves to be the saddest news you have to hear this week, because for music fans, this is some highly heartbreaking information: Joe Cocker, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest interpreters has died at the age of 70 after losing his battle with lung cancer.

If Cocker is remembered for one song above all others, it’s his 1968 take on The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” which he transformed from a pleasant little Ringo-sung number into a full-blown soulful epic, earning a #1 UK single in the process. It took until his 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong,” before he achieved the same feat in the US, but by that point he’d also earned three top-10 hits in the States as well: “The Letter,” “You Are So Beautiful,” and “It’s a Sin (When You Love Somebody).” Mind you, he’d also had his decidedly spastic stage presence parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live by that point, too, which meant that just about everyone with a modicum of hipness knew who Cocker was and, having seen him sing side by side with Belushi, knew that he had a brilliant sense of humor.

Monday, December 22, 2014 - 3:43pm
Linkin Park

13 years ago today, the hard rockers who were recently named 2014’s Biggest Rock Band in the World Right Now by Kerrang! took their first real step toward world domination when they earned their very first #1 on Billboard’s Alternative Rock chart.

Linkin Park found commercial success with their very first album, 2000’s Hybrid Theory, but the success was a gradual one, with the band slowly but surely winning over listeners over the course of the album’s first three singles, “One Step Closer” (released September 28, 2000), “Crawling” (March 1) and “Papercut” (September 2001). Only a few weeks after the release of “Papercut,” though, the decision was made to release “In the End” as a single, but it proved to be a wise move: in addition to topping the Alternative Rock charts, the song shot all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, by far the strongest showing of any of Hybrid Theory’s singles. (“Papercut” hadn’t hit the Hot 10 at all, and neither “One Step Closer” nor “Crawling” had made it out of the 70s.)

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 4:18pm
Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World

1. "Come See About Me"
The Supremes

My favorite Supremes cut!

A Holland-Dozier-Holland composition, it's all about the groove.

I distinctly remember dancing to this at the following year's bar mitzvah parties. That's right, some tracks are so rhythmic they incite us to get up from our chairs and ask Nancy or Betty or Jennifer to dance. And it's not about them so much as us. We hold our heads high in the air as we sing along. At least I did!

2. "I Feel Fine"
The Beatles

The flip side was "She's A Woman," number 7 on this list, and the funny thing is I never dug it back then but it resonates with me now even more than "I Feel Fine"!

It was all about George's guitar, the distortion, the riff, we were banging our heads long before metal came into vogue.

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 3:59pm
Phil Ochs

74 years ago today, one of the great protest singers of the ‘60s was born, although if you’d asked Phil Ochs how he preferred to be described, he probably would’ve told you that he was a topical singer…and that’s fair enough, because lord knows his lyrics were topical.

Born in El Paso, Texas in 1940, Philip David Ochs moved around rather a lot as a child, so he was arguably no more of a Texan than he was a New Yorker or an Ohioan, but it was in the latter state where he was able to take his gift for playing the clarinet and turn it into a spot in the orchestra at the Capital University Conservatory of Music. His skill at playing classical music was soon turned toward performing more modern material, however, as he became fascinated with the sounds of country music and early rock ‘n’ roll.