Here at Rhino, when we put together pieces about people’s birthdays, we generally open with a one-liner that teases at the identity of the birthday boy or girl without actually telling you their name outright, but there’s no point in beating around the bush about it being Jerry Garcia’s birthday, because there are millions of Deadheads around the world who treat it like it’s a proper holiday.
And why wouldn’t they? Whether you’re a Grateful Dead devotee or not – although if you’re not, this probably wouldn’t be the best forum for you to admit that – they changed the musical landscape in a very real way, building one of the largest, most consistent fanbases in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, and as the public face of the band (even if that face spent most of its time buried underneath a bushy beard), the late Mr. Garcia was responsible for a big chunk of that success.
Today marks the 56th birthday of the second most famous musician ever to emerge from Duluth, Minnesota, but while Bob Dylan may have the advantage when it comes to overall fame, when it comes to drumming, we’re sure of this much: he’s no Bill Berry.
Born in 1958, William Thomas Berry’s family bounced around a bit during his younger years, jumping from Minnesota to Wisconsin when he was three, Wisconsin to Ohio right around when he hit double digits, and – just as Bill was entering high school – finally settled in Macon, Georgia for the long haul. That’s where Berry first crossed paths with future R.E.M. bandmate Mike Mills and built a friendship which would soon take the two young men to Athens, Georgia, to fulfill their rock ‘n’ roll destiny…or something like that, anyway.
50 years ago today, Cilla Black released “It’s for You,” the second of three tunes that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote and passed along to her rather than recording them as Beatles songs.
In his book The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film, Richie Unterberger observed that “Love of the Loved,” the first of the Lennon/McCartney tracks compositions gifted to Black, “was something of a clean-out-the-closet throwaway,” but the same couldn’t be said of “It’s for You,” which – per no less of an authority than Sir Paul himself (in Barry Miles’ Many Years from Now) – was written specifically for her by the duo.
And merely writing it for Black wasn’t enough for them, apparently: both John and Paul managed to make it to the recording session for the song on July 2, 1964 – with Paul playing piano on the track, too – even though they’d only just arrived back in London from Sydney, Australia a few hours earlier.
New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:
Theodore Bikel, An Actor's Holiday / Folk Songs Of Israel / Jewish Folk Songs / Songs Of A Russian Gypsy / Folk Songs From Just About Everywhere / Bravo Bikel! - Theodore Bikel Town Hall Concert / Songs Of Russia Old And New / From Bondage To Freedom / A Harvest Of Israeli Folksongs / The Best Of Bikel / Theodore Bikel On Tour / Young Man and a Maid: Goodness gracious, we’re tired just from typing all of those album titles, but if you’re a fan of Theodore Bikel’s substantial discography, we can only imagine how thrilled you are to see a dozen – that’s twelve, count ‘em, twelve – of his albums being added to our digital catalog. For many of you, Bikel may be best known as an actor, so this is certainly a wonderful time to dig in and explore some of the material he’s recorded over the years. Granted, if this is your first exposure to his work, it’s only inevitable that the best starting point is The Best of Bikel, but from a historical standpoint, consider how daring it was for Bikel to record Songs of a Russian Gypsy in 1958, when Americans were still in full “Better Dead than Red” mode. As album titles go, if there’s one that most exemplifies truth in advertising – not just for the record’s contents but, indeed, for Bikel’s entire career – it’s Folk Songs from Just About Everywhere: any one of these albums will provide you not only with a musical education but with a cultural one as well…or, in other words, start listening!
Let’s get small, while this wild and crazy guy shows us that comedy is not pretty. Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Martin!
35 years ago today, Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers, and Tony Thompson, along with singers Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin, released an album which kicked off with one of the greatest grooves of Chic’s career while promising – and absolutely delivering – “Good Times.”
1979 was a busy year for Edwards and Rogers – that’s also when they wrote and produced Sister Sledge’s We Are Family album – but when you’re capable of writing songs as strong as those that seemed to pop out of their pens every time they turned around, why not keep busy? Risqué was Chic’s third album, and while it only provided them with one top-40 hit (“My Forbidden Lover” just missed the cut at #43, but “My Feet Keep Dancing” wasn’t even close, stalling out at #101), it’s hard to complain too vociferously when that one hit tops the pop charts, the R&B charts, and the dance charts, not to mention the fact that a sample from the song resulted in the greatest success the Sugarhill Gang ever had (“Rapper’s Delight”).