38 years ago today, Led Zeppelin’s concert film The Song Remains the Same had its world premiere at Cinema I in New York City, finally bringing to fruition an idea that had first crossed the band’s mind way back in 1969.
Within a year of their initial founding, the members of Led Zeppelin had been interested in filming one of their live performances for documentary purposes, with their manager, the one and only Peter Grant, convincing them that the big screen was the only appropriate place for a band of their sound and stature. Initial efforts in 1970 at the Royal Albert Hall failed to meet the band’s standards (although that footage has since been revisited, remastered, and included on the 2003 double-disc Led Zeppelin DVD), but they decided to take another shot at it in ’73, during the course of the band’s three-night stint at Madison Square Garden.
David T. Walker covering Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay", Bobby Womack's take on "California Dreaming," and The Brymers doing "House of the Rising Sun" - three covers out of twenty tracks this week. The remainder of the set spans 40 years of (kinda?) popular music and a cross-pollination of genres weaving in and out of one another.
This week’s Mono Monday release is perhaps best known for being Ray Charles’ final offering during his tenure with Atlantic Records during the late 1950s and early 1960s, but while one might expect it to feel slightly schizophrenic, given that it features a dozen songs recorded during various sessions over the course of his time on the label, some of which are covers and some of which are originals, The Genius Sings the Blues is actually one of the strongest efforts from that era of Charles’s career.
The whole affair kicks off with Charles’ take on Louis Jordan’s “Early in the Mornin’,” with other covers including Sam Sweet’s “The Midnight Hour,” Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones’s “Feelin’ Sad,” Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On,” and “(Night Time Is) The Right Time,” a song which, despite having been originally recorded by Roosevelt Sykes way back in 1937, quickly became one of Charles’s signature songs. The original material has its merits as well, including such tracks as “Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I),” “Ray’s Blues” and companion piece “Mr. Charles’ Blues,” “I Believe to My Soul,” “Nobody Cares,” “Some Day Baby,” and “I Wonder Who.”
34 years ago today, Dire Straits released Making Movies, an album which failed to change the band’s then-declining chart fortunes in the US – their debut hit #2, but their sophomore effort, Communiqué, only climbed to #11, and this one topped out at #19 – but provided them with their third consecutive top-five album in the UK.
Making Movies was co-produced by Dire Straits frontman and songwriter Mark Knopfler with Jimmy Iovine, a pairing which came about as a result of Knopfler being so smitten by the sound of Patti Smith’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night.” In addition to his own work on the album, Iovine also helped the band secure E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan for the Making Movies sessions, which definitely added a new element to the Dire Straits sound.
50 years ago today, Manfred Mann found themselves atop the Billboard Hot 100 for the only time in their career, but if you’re only going to hit the top spot once, then it might as well be with a song as instantly memorable as “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.”
Written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, a duo well known for their work in and around the Brill Building, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was originally recorded by an American group called the Exciters, under the title “Do-Wah-Diddy,” but while they didn’t find the same degree of success with the song as Manfred Mann did, they did make it onto the Hot 100 with their version, if only to the #78 spot. Still, it was high enough to bring the song a certain amount of attention, ultimately resulting in Manfred Mann – who’d broken into the UK top five with “5-4-3-2-1” but were still struggling to find consistent success with their own material – taking a shot at the song themselves.