Enter Birthday Boy: Lars Ulrich, drummer and founding member of Metallica, turns 51 years old today.
Born in Gentofte, Denmark in 1963, Ulrich and his family moved to the US in 1980, but by that point he’d already been entranced by hard rock for the better part of a decade, having fallen in love with the stuff after attending a Deep Purple concert in 1973. That love got even more intense – in more ways than one – when he discovered Diamond Head in 1981, going so far as to travel from San Francisco to London to see them in concert, and as soon as he got back home, he promptly put an ad in the paper in search of musicians to form a band. One of those who responded was James Hetfield, and…well, you can probably figure out what happened after that.
When you think December, you tend to think of the holidays, but if you were living in the UK in December 1976 and had even a passing interest in popular music, then your daily waking thoughts were likely less about what presents you were going to get and more about what the next Sex Pistols controversy was going to be.
It was one hell of a December for the Pistols, starting with the very first day of the month, when the band made their infamous appearance on the UK talk show Today, hosted by Bill Grundy. Surely you know the story: Johnny Rotten made the mistake of muttering “shit” under his breath, which was bad enough, but then Steve Jones started getting riled up when Grundy began to act flirtatious with Siouxsie Sioux, who’d come onstage with the band, and when Grundy made the mistake of suggesting that Jones “say something outrageous,” Jones happily acquiesced, dropping a couple of F-bombs and assuring that the Sex Pistols would make the cover of The Daily Express. (The headline of their story will likely sound familiar: “The Filth and the Fury.”) The producer and director of Today were fired as a result of the incident, Grundy earned a two-week suspension, and the Pistols suddenly found several dates on their upcoming tour canceled, but EMI stood behind the band, saying, “We feel that in many cases the media deliberately provoked this act; in no way does this affect the group’s relationship with EMI.”
As 2014 comes to a close, we’re slowing down with our digital releases – don’t worry, we’ll pick back up again in 2015 – but since we’ve kept you coming back Wednesday after Wednesday for our weekly Digital Roundup, we thought we’d round up a list of our some of our favorite and funkiest albums to be added to our digital catalog this year, just in case they slipped by you when they were originally introduced.
Faze-O, Breakin’ the Funk: If you’ve never before entered into the land of Faze-O, they spent the late ‘70s bringing their brand of funk straight out of Dayton, Ohio, and to keep their music infused with as much of their home state as possible, they generally spent their time in the studio with the Ohio Players’ Clarence Satchell manning the production board. Although best known for their 1977 debut, Riding High, thanks to its oft-sampled title track, their third and final full-length effort is easily just as fun and funky.
Claudia Lennear, Phew: Although she’s only released a single solo album in her 40+ years as a singer, if you’ve seen the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, then you know that Claudia Lennear has been plenty busy behind the scenes, working with Delaney and Bonnie, Humble Pie, and Ike and Tina Turner, hitting the road with Joe Cocker for his famed Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, serving as one of Leon Russell’s Shelter People, and appearing at the unforgettable Concert for Bangla Desh. Oh, right, and she also apparently helped inspired both the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and David Bowie’s “Lady Grinning Soul.” After you listen to Phew, though, you’ll wish she’d spent more time making her own music.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.