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Monday, August 18, 2014 - 5:01pm
Happy Birthday Dennis

Today marks the 64th birthday of Dennis Elliott, a gentleman best known for his work behind the drum kit for Foreigner throughout the years of their greatest commercial successes. You may well know a bit of his work from before that era, even if you never knew you were listening to him.

Born in London’s Peckham district in 1950, Dennis Leslie Elliott was playing drums with his family’s band when he was still in single digits, but it took ‘til his late teens before he entered the studio for the first time, playing with a groovy psychedelic soul group called Ferris Wheel. From there, it was onto a four-album stint with a jazz-rock group called If, after which he turned up as part of Ian Hunter’s band, playing on Hunter’s self-titled album – yes, the one featuring “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” – as well as the not-nearly-as-iconic effort, Overnight Angels… and it’s probably just coincidence, but that’s right about the time he went off and joined Foreigner.

(Actually, it’s probably not coincidence at all, though it’s not because the album turned out less than spectacularly: if you can trust Foreigner’s Wikipedia page, Mick Jones happened upon Elliott at one of Hunter’s recording sessions. Thing is, we’re not sure if we can trust it, since we’ve never read it anywhere else, and it seems like someone could very easily have gotten Mick Jones of Foreigner confused with Mick Jones of The Clash, who co-produced Hunter’s 1981 album, Short Back ‘n’ Sides. But we’re hoping to talk to Mr. Jones – the one from Foreigner – sometime in the near future, so we’ll be sure to ask him if it’s accurate or not.)

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 4:41pm
Mono Mondays

This week’s Mono Monday release is one of the more underrated albums in Iron Butterfly’s back catalog, which is to say that it’s an album that’s not In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

That’s the problem with having a signature album: it doesn’t take long for history to start treating that album as the only thing you ever released that was worth a damn. If you look back, though, you’ll see that Metamorphosis actually featured the second biggest chart hit of Iron Butterfly’s career: “Easy Rider (Let the Wind Pay the Way),” which made it to #66 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Originally released on August 13, 1970, Metamorphosis came on the heels of the possibly misguided decision to release follow two top-10 albums – the aforementioned In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which came out in 1968, and Ball, which hit stores in ’69 – with a live album. Maybe it was intended as a stop-gap measure between studio albums, maybe it was because the band’s concerts were somewhat legendary and they wanted to try and share the experience with fans who hadn’t yet seen them, but while Live may have made it to #20 on the Billboard Top 200, it also came out only four months before Metamorphosis, which means that it very likely served to dilute the studio album’s sales.

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 2:13pm

The stock one-liner about the ‘60s (which, perhaps appropriately, can’t seem to be attributed to anyone definitively) is that if you remember them, you weren’t there. Maybe that’s why so many people claim to have been at Woodstock, even though – as Bill Goodykoontz observed in his piece in The Arizona Republic – “if everyone who said they went to Woodstock had actually gone, the crowd would have numbered in the millions.” At the very least, though, it’s confirmed that way, way more people turned up at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, and while it’s a fair bet that there probably were quite a few actual attendees who have absolutely no recollection of the experience, it turns out that a number of them did walk away with some significant memories of the event.

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 1:56pm

34 years ago today, The Cars released an album which saw the band stepping outside of their usual sound to try something a little bit different. Was it a creative success? Well, let’s just say the results were a little touch and go at times.

Yeah, we’re not apologizing for that joke. But we’ll at least give you a minute to get that groan out of your system.

The Cars’ self-titled debut album was – and remains – about as good as new-wave rock ‘n’ roll gets, and while the second album, Candy-O, may not be as solid from top to bottom, it’s still a solid album that starts and finishes as strongly as anything in their catalog, thanks to opening with “Let’s Go” and wrapping up with “Dangerous Type.” Listening to Panoram, though, can be somewhat of an eyebrow-raising experience for those expecting straight-ahead upbeat pop tunes, growing increasingly moreso right around the halfway point…or, in other words, it’s probably no coincidence that the album’s three singles – “Touch and Go,” “Gimme Some Slack,” and “Don’t Tell Me No” – are, respectively, the second, third, and fourth songs of the album.

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:53am

"Simon Says"
1910 Fruitgum Company

The first bubblegum hit and I absolutely HATED IT!

This was '68, "Disraeli Gears" was making an impact, as was underground FM radio, and we were subjected to this drivel on AM radio? We were going BACKWARDS!

Come on, Simon Says was made for first graders, everybody soon outgrew it, now there's a song about the stupid game? And at this time no one had an FM radio in the car.

Utter drivel.

But it's funny, it's got no legs, people don't remember this as the first bubblegum hit, it's faded into obscurity.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 4:01pm
Happy Birthday David Crosby

Today marks the 72nd birthday of a man who took us eight miles high, almost cut his hair, and – although he’s long since cleaned up his act – lived so hard for so long that he’s right up there with Keith Richards as someone you can’t quite believe is not only still with us but, indeed, is still singing his heart out on a regular basis. (It might be best if he tried singing something else out for a while, though, given recent events.)

Born in Los Angeles in 1941, David Van Corlandt Crosby may be a musical legend, but he might well have had a career in Hollywood if he’d followed in the footsteps of his father, Academy Award-winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby (Tabu, High Noon). In fact, David actually started out at Santa Barbara City College as a drama student, but in the end he opted to drop out and pursue music instead.