31 years ago today, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb – collectively known as the Bee Gees – added another notch to their belt by having one of their compositions top not only the Billboard Hot 100 but also the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart as well.
With a title on loan from an Ernest Hemingway novel, “Islands in the Stream” ended up being the gift that keeps on giving, not only for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, who turned the song into a platinum-selling single that topped CMT’s 2005 poll of the best country duets of all time, but for the brothers Gibb as well, who have also seen the song covered by Barry Manilow and Reba McEntire (on Manilow’s 2007 album, The Greatest Songs of the Eighties), Feist and The Constantines (on the deluxe edition of Feist’s album, The Reminder), Michael Scott and Jim Halpert, a.k.a. Steve Carell and John Krasinski, on The Office, and Wayne Brady on How I Met Your Mother. You may also recall that “Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are),” by Pras featuring Mya and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, heavily borrowed from the song for its chorus.
New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:
Today’s Digital Roundup consists of a trio of soundtracks – one from the ‘60s, two from the ‘70s – by two masters of movie music, and since both guys are pretty great in their own right, we’ll do things the only fair way and start off alphabetically.
Lalo Schifrin, Boulevard Nights – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: The first of two efforts by the great Lalo Schifrin, a man who secured street cred with jazz fans in the ‘50s and ‘60s by working with guys like Dizzy Gillespie and Xavier Cugat but earned pop culture immortality in 1966 by writing the theme to Mission: Impossible. Boulevard Nights isn’t necessarily Schifrin’s most well-known film score, and if we’re to be completely honest, it isn’t one of his best, either, but it’s very much an artifact of its time, which is to say that if you were shaking your groove thing to the dying gasps of disco and spent a fair amount of your time getting the funk out, then you’ll probably dig it. (It also helps if you like George Benson, who takes lead vocals on the first track, “Street Tattoo.”)
This week’s Picks are a tribute to Elektra Records. We’ve got tracks by The Stooges, The Doors, Jobriath, Bread, and a bunch of other swingin’ numbers. Come on and visit the house that Jac built.
It's nearly Halloween. If there was ever a time to celebrate the sonic aesthetics of the world of filmmaker/composer John Carpenter...well, this is it. Halloween (1978), Escape from New York (1981), Prince of Darkness (1987), Dark Star (1974), The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982) and beyond.
Go ahead -- rev up those dark synths and play this while you pass out the candy. Trick or treat.
29 years ago today, the Pet Shop Boys released their debut single...again.
If you’re at all familiar with the origins of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe and how they came to join forces and become the Pet Shop Boys, then you may already know this story, but during the duo’s earliest days, they crossed the pond and recorded the better part of a dozen songs with famed producer Bobby Orlando in New York. On April 9, 1984, “West End Girls” saw its initial release on Bobcat Records, and while it wasn’t a huge hit by any stretch of the imagination, it nonetheless became a club hit in L.A. and San Francisco and caught a few ears in a few other countries as well. Still, it ultimately wasn’t much more than a blip on the radar for most music fans.
We’ve been teasing it for awhile – most notably within our interview with Greg Dulli a few weeks ago – but at last it’s finally here: Gentlemen at 21, a reissue of the 1993 album which, in addition to taking the Afghan Whigs from the indie-rock ranks and giving them a chance to enjoy the major-label lifestyle, is also one of the strongest efforts in the band’s back catalog.
As you might expect, this reissue includes the original 11 tracks from Gentlemen, all newly remastered, but you also get a variety of rare B-sides, live performances, and – here’s the bit that’ll really excite the fans – the eight original demos for the album that were recorded at John Curley’s Ultrasuede studio in Cincinnati, Ohio (“If I Were Going,” “Gentlemen,” “Be Sweet,” “Debonair,” “When We Two Parted,” “Fountain and Fairfax,” “What Jail is Like,” and “My Curse”), as well as a pair of instrumental rough mixes that were done at Ardent Studios (“Now You Know” and “Brother Woodrow”).