50 years ago today, Sammy Davis, Jr. released an album which found him collaborating with Sam Butera and the Witnesses, a collaboration which resulted in one of the strongest full-length efforts in Davis’s discography.
When the Feeling Hits You came at a time in Davis’s career when he was pretty darned prolific: it was one of four albums he released during the course of 1965, remarkably enough, with the others being If I Ruled the World, The Nat King Cole Songbook, and Sammy’s Back on Broadway, but despite delivering so much work in so short a time, he wasn’t making much headway on the singles charts. In fact, it had been 10 years since his last top-10 hit (“Something Got to Give,” in 1955), which is kind of surprising when you consider how familiar a face he’d become in Hollywood, having spent most of his time since the start of the ‘60s on the silver screen, appearing in “Ocean’s 11,” “Sergeants 3,” “Convicts 4,” “Robin and the 7 Hoods,” and several other films that didn’t have numbers in their titles.
We’re not sure if Ruth Brown would’ve been 87 today or if that actually would’ve happened back on January 12 – it all depends on which source you check – but either way, we figured it wouldn’t be a bad thing to pay tribute to the late “Queen of R&B” today.
Born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1928, Brown was the oldest of seven children and a graduate of the relatively-recently segregated I.C. Norcom High School, and while her father may have made ends meet as a dockhand, he was also the director of the choir at the Brown family’s church, so music was in the air throughout Ruth’s youth. When she decided to take up a career as a singer, however, she went in a decidedly more secular direction, performing in nightclubs and USO shows, using the work of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Dinah Washington as her template. By the late 1940s, she’d started performing with Duke Ellington – it’s amazing what kind of gigs you can get when you’re managed by Cab Calloway’s sister (Blanche Calloway) – and in 1948 Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson came to see her perform in Washington, DC, which eventually led to Brown auditioning for Atlantic Records.
From the first solo album, when the Velvets were not yet savored history and no one was expecting much.
Yes, I was hooked by the initial track, "I Can't Stand It," but I was closed by the final track, "Ocean," it's the one that made me a Lou Reed fan.
Released in 1972, it's best if you listen to it in those circumstances, alone, in the dark, preferably on headphones with all your modern digital devices turned off. It doesn't take much to get it, but if you give it your full attention, let it wash over you, you'll be fully rewarded.
This is how it used to be, when it was about the album, when we believed our artists put their all into the long player and the...last track was as important as the first.
66 years ago today, the only original member of the Ramones to be born outside of America first entered the world. Fortunately for punk rockers everywhere, Tommy Erdelyi – otherwise known as Tommy Ramone – moved with his family to Forest Hills, New York when he was four years old, thereby putting him in position for the eventual formation of a foursome of bruddas who would change music forever.
Tommy played in the Tangerine Puppets with John Cummings, the future Johnny Ramone, before taking a behind-the-scenes gig that would look good on any artist’s résumé: serving as assistant engineer on Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies album. Later, Tommy would put his knob-twiddling skills to work on his own, producing Tim, the major-label debut by The Replacements, an album which provided MTV viewers with one of the least interesting and yet most awesome videos of the mid-1980s.
33 years ago today, Depeche Mode released their fourth single, a little ditty which served as the record buying public’s first taste of their second-full length effort (A Broken Frame) and, perhaps more crucially at the time, the first song to emerge from the band’s camp since Vince Clarke had decamped to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet.
“See You” is certainly catchy enough, but let’s face it: it’s also pretty slight. Still, the masses liked the music – it hit #6 on the UK singles chart – and slight or not, it was substantial enough to serve as confirmation that Martin Gore, who’d stepped up as the band’s predominant songwriter when Clarke hit the road, knew his way around a pop hook.
We’re back! Did you miss us? Or did you even notice we were gone? (Given that we haven’t had a Digital Update for you since December 17, we sure hope you noticed.) A lot has happened since we were last together, including a very sad loss which, as it happens, ties directly into this week’s additions.
New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:
On December 22, the world of music lost the great Joe Cocker, who had the kind of unique voice that is likely never to be duplicated. Cocker had a substantial back catalog, with 22 studio albums to his credit, and three of those efforts – all of them from the mid-1980s – have at last made their way into our digital catalog.
Link Wray and Peter Sarstedt. Roy Orbison and Bongos Ikwue. Harlan T. Bobo and Ricky Nelson. Just a few of the pairings that make up this late-month Jukebox, whetting the appetite for next month's two-part series delving into the origins of American soul, c&w and early rock & roll. Dig in, the quarters are on us.
In 1987, Gotti skated, Gretsky scored, Diane left the bar, Maggie made it three, Cherry hit the freezer, Barbie went up the river, Ollie took the stand, and Squeaky skipped the joint. Oh, and there was some music too. That’s where Dr. Rhino comes in...enjoy!