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Friday, December 12, 2014 - 3:32pm
Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World

"Dirty City"
Steve Winwood

Steve can shred quite nicely thank you, as anyone who's seen him tear apart "Dear Mr. Fantasy" recently is aware. But despite killing it live, despite putting out one of my favorite albums of the twenty first century, "About Time," independently, doing everything right, the man was fading in impact. So, he signed with Columbia and put out the mainstream album "Nine Lives" to almost no effect in 2008. That's right, rather than stretching out and testing limits Winwood did it their way and few cared. However, there are two killers on "Nine Lives," the opening cut "I'm Not Drowning" and this, where Clapton positively wails.

Friday, December 12, 2014 - 2:07pm
Remembering Ian

29 years ago today, the world of music lost one of its great sidemen and the members of the Rolling Stones lost not only their pianist of choice but also one of their best friends.

Born on July 18, 1938 in Fife, Scotland, Ian Andrew Robert Stewart was actually the first person to respond to Brian Jones’s May 1962 ad in Jazz News to form a rhythm and blues group – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn’t actually join until June – and he remained part of the band for a year, until Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ manager, declared that there were too many people in the band and that Stewart didn’t find the image, anyway. Thankfully, Stewart was provided the option to remain in the fold as the band’s road manager – a gig which he accepted – and to play piano on subsequent studio recordings, which he did all the way through 1983’s Undercover. (You can hear him on “She Was Hot” and “Wanna Hold You.”) As Richards said in the 2003 book According to the Rolling Stones, Stewart “might have realized that in the way it was going to have to be marketed, he would be out of sync, but that he could still be a vital part. I'd probably have said, 'Well, fuck you', but he said 'OK, I'll just drive you around.' That takes a big heart, but Stu had one of the largest hearts around."

Friday, December 12, 2014 - 11:48am
Dionne Warwick

Do you know who’s turning 74 today? Or, failing that, do you know the way to San Jose? Because Dionne Warwick’s been trying to find her way there for 46 years now, so if you provided her with that information, you could probably avoid having to spend money on a proper birthday present.

Born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1940, Marie Dionne Warrick – no, that’s not a typo, she eventually changed it – was born into a family of singers: her mother, aunts, and uncles were members of the gospel group The Drinkard Singers. Eventually, Dionne followed suit, appearing with the group when they made local TV appearances in the 1950s, but by 1958 she had joined forces with her sister Delia, a.ka.. Dee Dee, Judy Clay, and Cissy Houston to form The Gospelaires, who evolved into the Sweet Inspirations. It didn’t take long for the group to build a reputation for their harmonies, which in turn led them into a lucrative career as background vocals, singing with Solomon Burke, the Drifters, Ben E. King, and many others.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 4:23pm
The Scaffold

46 years ago today, The Scaffold – a British band featuring Mike McGear, otherwise known as Paul McCartney’s brother – earned a #1 UK single (and a #1 Irish single and a #1 Australian single) with a song that had very little chance of ever becoming a #1 single anywhere other than a British territory because…well, quite frankly, it’s just that British.

Derived from a folk song entitled “The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham,” The Scaffold’s biggest hit praises the wonders of a “medicine” – although the word “elixir” probably comes a bit closer to an accurate description – created by the aforementioned Ms. Pinkham, a.k.a. Lily the Pink, and details the various things the compound is capable of curing within the song’s verses. Although having Mike McGear in the band no doubt helped The Scaffold’s profile considerably, the backing vocalists on the song certainly didn’t hurt things any – they include Elton John, Graham Nash, and Tim Rice – nor did the fact that Jack Bruce of Cream played bass on the track.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 2:20pm

21 years ago today, INXS released the second single from their 1993 album, Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, a duet which found the Australian-born band teaming with an unlikely vocal partner yet pulling off the pairing relatively well.

The idea of bringing Michael Hutchence and Ray Charles together was a plan borne out of happy coincidence, although the idea of having Hutchence sing with a few other folks for the album was very much planned. "Michael and I had written two songs in particular with vocal duets in mind,” wrote INXS keyboardist Andrew Farriss, in the liner notes to the band’s two-disc anthology, Shine Like It Does. “One was the title track (with Chrissy Hynde), and the other was ‘Make Your Peace.’”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 4:39pm
Digital Roundup

New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:

Thompson Twins, “Bombers in the Sky,” “Come Inside,” “Come Inside/The Saint,” “Groove On,” “Play with Me (Jane),” “Play with Me (Jane)/The Saint,” “Sugar Daddy,” and “The Saint”: You may recall how, a few months back, we chatted with Tom Bailey about how Thompson Twins’ final two studio albums, Big Trash and Queer, had been added to our digital catalog at long last, but now we’ve got eight – count ‘em – eight new additions that’ll make fans of the Twins kick up their heels and get ready to hit the dancefloor. Whether you need them all will depend on how much of a Thompson Twins fan you consider yourself to be, since there’s obviously a bit of title duplication in the midst of the list (that’s because of how the singles were released, of course), but they’re here if you want them, so…you’re welcome!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 3:43pm
Dr. Rhino's Picks

What were you doing in 1970? Dr. Rhino was still a twinkle in his father’s eye, but elsewhere, people were recording some great tunes. Here’s a few from the year that also gave us the first episode of All My Children, the Ford Pinto, and Fred Durst.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 1:23pm
Meg White

We may not have heard much from Meg White since the White Stripes called it a day in 2011, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not still going to make a point of wishing her a happy birthday on the day she hits the big 4-0.

Born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, Megan Martha White met her future husband and bandmate Jack White – then still known as Jack Gillis – while she was working at Memphis Smoke, a restaurant in Royal Oak. (Yes, that’s right: he took her name when they got married…and he kept it even after they divorced in 2000.) Jack was the musician of the couple, however, and a drummer at that, but he told Rolling Stone that when she stepped behind his kit one day and started playing, “It felt liberating and refreshing; there was something in it that opened me up.” As such, the duo began playing together under the name The White Stripes, with their live performances featuring only three musical elements – guitar, drums, and vocals – and their visual presentation featuring only three colors: red, white, and black. Oh, right, and they also presented themselves as being siblings rather than each other’s spouses, even after they were divorced.