We turn to the Dead this week. It has been nearly 45 years since their iconic date at the Fillmore East venue in New York. Listen to the tracks recorded on the night and released as Road Trips Volume 3 No. 3 - including three sets, one acoustic and the other two electric. Enjoy!
39 years ago today, the pinnacle of the Billboard Top 200 was graced by the presence of Led Zeppelin for the fifth time in the band’s career.
(Get it? Graced by the presence? Ha! We kill us!)
Released in 1976, Presence was somewhat of a turning point in Led Zeppelin’s career, or at least that’s how Jimmy Page has come to see it: he’s referred to the record as being the band’s “most important,” owing to the fact that they managed to bring it to fruition even though they were going through some pretty rough stuff at the time.
40 years ago today, James Taylor released his sixth studio album, an effort which earned the singer-songwriter a pair of significant chart hits, one of which remains one of his signature songs to this day.
James Taylor was unquestionably a familiar musical commodity by the time he released Gorilla in 1975, but he was arguably just as well known by that point for his general celebrity, having married fellow singer-songwriter Carly Simon a few years earlier. In fact, one might even argue that he was more known for the latter by that point, given that his previous album, 1974’s Walking Man, had delivered disappointing commercial returns.
"Find the end of the rainbow
Fly wherever the winds blow
Laugh at life like a sideshow
Just what you need to make you feel better"
John Miles never broke through in America, but he's a star in my book, because he sings lead on "(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether"!
At the risk of ruining your Friday, we must regrettably inform you that the world of music lost a true R&B legend today: Ben E. King, the man behind “There Goes My Baby,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” and the immortal “Stand by Me,” has died at the age of 76.
Born Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, North Carolina on September 28, 1938, the future Mr. King moved up the east coast to Harlem when he was only nine years old, but the change in locale ultimately proved fortuitous for the singer: in 1958, he became a member of a doo-wop group known as the Five Crowns, who found themselves selected by manager George Treadwell to replace the members of The Drifters that he’d fired. As the new lead singer of The Drifters, King’s voice was soon emerging from radios all around America, singing such instant classics as “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” and “There Goes My Baby,” which King co-wrote with Lover Patterson, George Treadwell, Jerry Lieber, and Mike Stoller. Unfortunately, a contract dispute led King to depart the group’s ranks, but it all worked out in the end, as that’s when he adopted his stage name, embarked on a solo career, and started to create musical magic with “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand by Me.”
1979 straddles an interesting time in music. Disco was on the wane, rock was chasing its tail, and new wave was peeking around the corner.Sadly, this playlist eschews these genres and explores the 12 volume audio series, where Vincent Price teaches you how to cook. Just kidding…I went the rock/disco/new wave route.
32 years ago today, a certain bunch of soul boys from the western world ascended to the top of the UK Singles chart for the first – and, to date, only – time in their career with a track which is seen as their signature song by most of their mainstream fans.
Written by Gary Kemp and recorded in 1982, “True” was the third single released from the band’s third album, which – what are the odds? – was also entitled True. As its lyrics suggest, the song was at least in part designed as a tribute to the music of Motown, with specific mention made of Marvin Gaye, who was still alive at the time it was written. (We don’t know if he ever actually heard it, unfortunately, but we can’t imagine he wouldn’t have been pleased by the reference to “listening to Marvin all night long.”) The song was also partially inspired by the funny feelings Altered Images singer Clare Grogan caused in Kemp whenever she came near him, with some of the lines adapted from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, a copy of which Grogan had given to Kemp. Although he never mentions her by name, Kemp wrote in his autobiography, I Know This Much, “I read it as though she were reading it to me. It slipped beneath my skin and the words bubbled up inside, percolating through me I would send them back in song.”
Turning 67 years old today is a gentleman best known for being the guitarist and a founding member of Detroit rock gods MC5, but in more recent years he’s also had a solo career that’s earned him a considerable amount of critical acclaim. Oh, and in between those things, he also did a two-year stint at the Lexington Federal Prison in Kentucky, so if there’d been any doubt in your mind that Wayne Kramer is a proper rock ‘n’ roll bad-ass, that tidbit ought to have taken care of it.
MC5 came into existence as a result of the friendship between Kramer and fellow guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith, who’d been friends with Kramer since the two had been teenagers. At first, the guys each had their own band, but they eventually opted to join forces, and by the time they recorded their debut album – 1969’s Kick Out the Jams, the title track of which remains an all-time classic to this day – lead singer Rob Tyner, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson filled out the MC5 lineup. After two more albums – 1970’s Back in the USA and 1971’s High Time – for which the critical acclaim was not backed up by equivalent sales figures, MC5 was dropped by their label, and although they stuck together for a bit longer, they broke up after a final performance in Detroit on New Year’s Eve 1972, one which Kramer left early because he was so upset at how few people even cared they were calling it quits.