If Roberta Flack’s mother or father had written a song to commemorate what took place 75 years ago today, they could’ve entitled it “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”
Yes, it’s an easy joke – we’re quite fond of those, you know – but it’s true: Ms. Flack is celebrating her birthday today, and in turn, we’re celebrating some of the wonderful songs she’s provided to listeners throughout the course of her still-ongoing musical career.
In addition to the aforementioned Ewan MacColl song which she took to the top of the charts in 1972 (and thank you very much, Clint Eastwood, for spotlighting the track in Play Misty for Me), Flack also scored another chart-topper that year with “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” then went on to achieve her third #1 in 1974 with “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Beyond that, she and Donny Hathaway took “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You” into the top five, and Flack took another duet – “Set the Night to Music,” a collaboration with Maxi Priest – into the top 10 in 1991.
Between Rhino Handmade reissuing The Monkees Present and Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork taking the stage together and touring throughout July and August, the summer of 2013 provided Monkees fans a couple of pretty great months. After that, though, the guys went their separate ways – maybe you caught Mr. Nesmith on his solo tour a few months back – so it’s been pretty quiet on the Monkees front.
If you’re in desperate need of a fix, then you’d better check your calendar and see what you’ve got going on between March 14 – 16 that you’re going to have to cancel, because that’s when the Monkees’ Official 2014 Convention – a co-presentation between Then and Now Productions and your friends here at Rhino – takes place in at the Hilton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The two biggest reasons to attend? Both Mr. Dolenz and Mr. Nesmith will be there.
The release of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 self-titled debut album may been a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal (that’s what the All Music Guide says, anyway), but it was the band’s second album – the appropriately-titled Led Zeppelin II – that truly signaled their arrival as a force to be reckoned with on the charts.
I admit it, I got turned on to this track by Rascal Flatts's guitarist, Joe Don Rooney.
Yes, I listened. Come on, who wouldn't?
But the reason Mr. Rooney tracked me down was my love of "Still Feels Good," which still puts a smile on my face today. At least that's what I think.
And at first I was not enamored by the intro, and the verse just seemed a bit too pedestrian, but then...there was that change, that drop down, and THE CHORUS!
Some rules are immutable. If you want to have a hit, you've got to have a hook, something that makes our bodies jump and want to sing along.
The track played through and...I had to hear it again.
There may be a few contenders for the title of Queen of Soul through the annals of music, but if there’s one name that’s always going to come up in everyone’s short list, it’s Aretha Franklin.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942, Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin, was a minister, thereby putting her in close proximity to choirs literally from the day she was born, but his success as a sermonizer earned him a certain degree of celebrity, resulting in close encounters with such gospel singers as Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland, more secular performers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, and even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s arguable that Aretha’s ascent to the throne started when she was 10 years old, as that’s when she took her first solo at New Bethel Church in Buffalo, New York, tackling the hymn “Jesus, Be a Fence around Me,” but the real rise didn’t begin until 1960, when she “went secular,” as it were, and signed to Columbia Records. Aretha’s first single for the label, “Today I Sing the Blues,” hit the top 10 of the R&B charts. Not a bad start.
Today marks 16 years since Beach Boys guitarist and vocalist Carl Wilson, the man who sang lead on Paul McCartney’s favorite song of all time (that’d be “God Only Knows,” of course), went silent.
There’s no denying that Dennis Wilson’s death in 1983 hit Beach Boys fans hard – not only did he die, but Dennis was the only real surfer in the band, and he drowned, for God’s sake – but the loss of Carl, the realization that his sweet, haunting voice was gone for good…well, that’s a tough pill to swallow even now.
Carl’s vocal legacy extended well beyond the Beach Boys: over the years, he accumulated a significant number of credits as a backing vocalist as well. Granted, sometimes he was asked to chime in on a Beach Boys cover, as with David Lee Roth’s take on “California Girls,” while other times it was just to help add a general California-type vibe to a track, like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Hung Up and Overdue.” Mostly, though, it was just because he had a great voice…and even after 16 years, that voice is still missed.