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Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 12:12pm
Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Madonna, "Like A Virgin"

31 years ago today, Madonna ascended to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the very first time. Spoiler alert: she's had a few more since then.

After earning two top-10 hits from her self-titled debut album ("Lucky Star" and "Borderline"), Madonna had already become a ubiquitous presence on MTV, but little did anyone know just how much more exposure she was poised to receive from the network…and, no, that wasn't intended as a double entendre, but it's not a bad one, now that you mention it.

Monday, December 21, 2015 - 12:35pm
Lisa Taylor, Secrets of the Heart

Lisa Taylor, Secrets of the Heart: The music business is a fickle mistress, and there are occasions when an artist who seems to have all the necessary requirements to make it big - up to and including a major label deal - nonetheless ends up virtually nowhere. What's arguably even more frustrating, however, is when the artist succeeds just enough to make you relatively certain that their next album is going to be their big breakthrough…and then they vanish. That's basically the story of Lisa Taylor, who got her start as a member of Rose Royce, managed to score three solo hits on the Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart - “Secrets of the Heart” (#41), “Did You Pray Today?” (#40), and “Don't Waste My Time” (#94) - and then…poof! Well, not completely poof: she subsequently joined a group called Colour Club for an album, and then she retreated to singing backup vocals. Granted, they were backup vocals for Elvis Costello and Patti LaBelle, but given Taylor's talent, it's just a shame that she wasn't properly appreciated in her own right.

Monday, December 21, 2015 - 12:25pm
Happy 55th: Ornette Coleman, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation

55 years ago today, saxophonist Ornette Coleman released one of the seminal jazz albums of the 1960s as well as one with a title that helped name a musical movement.

Coleman had already fired a musical warning shot of sorts earlier in 1961, when he released his album entitled This Is Our Music, and it's in no way hyperbolic to say that the music he was making at the time was out of step with the jazz movement of the day in the best possible way. Free Jazz, however, was something else entirely, with Coleman performing with a double quartet, one in each stereo channel.

Monday, December 21, 2015 - 12:22pm
Aquarium Drunkard

Townes Van Zandt has had many acolytes over the past 40 years, but it's Lyle Lovett who grabbed, and held, my attention. A lover, and performer, or various genres - from country, jazz, blues and Tejano - to standards from the American Songbook, Lovett, to the causal observer, may not immediately connect the Van Zandt dots. But they are there, and none more so than on Lovett's 1998 double record, Step Inside This House, his tribute to fellow Texan songwriters, prominently featuring the music of Townes.

Friday, December 18, 2015 - 12:33pm
Linda Ronstadt

It’s a funny old day around Rhino HQ when our two big releases for the week are Pantera and Linda Ronstadt, but that’s the kind of variety we pride ourselves on having in our catalog.

At the end of August, we released a new 30-track best-of set by Ms. Ronstadt, one by the name of Classic Linda Ronstadt: Just One Look, and we issued it digitally and on a 2-CD set. (You can read the details about it by clicking right here.) Something we neglected to mention at the time, however, was that a vinyl release of the set would be arriving in short order, but in a sense that’s not the worst thing in the world: instead of waiting with baited breath from the end of August ‘til today for the vinyl to arrive, now we can just say, “Hey, guess what? It’s here now!”

Friday, December 18, 2015 - 12:22pm

If you’re a Pantera fan, then you may remember our post from late October when we talked up the release of History of Hostility, a nine-track compilation designed as a primer for those who’ve heard great stuff about Pantera but never knew exactly where to start with their back catalog.

Of course, what existing Pantera fans probably remember most about that post is not so much the information about the primer itself, since they probably already have copies of all nine of those tracks, but the announcement that we’d also soon be releasing The Complete Studio Albums 1990-2000, a new set which includes Cowboys From Hell (1990), Vulgar Display Of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994), The Great Southern Trendkill (1996), and Reinventing The Steel (2000).

Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 11:32am
Paul Rodgers
Paul Rodgers turns 66 today, which got us to thinking about a way to pay tribute to the birthday boy, and we came up with the idea of spotlighting six of Rodgers' past musical projects. As we continued thinking about it, however, the idea of having three sixes in such close proximity to each other made us feel uncomfortably devilish, which is why we decided to up the number of projects to seven. Fortunately, Rodgers has so many different musical facets to his career that it wasn't exactly challenging to fill out our list with an additional entry.
Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 10:27am
Happy 40th: Jean-Luc Ponty, Upon the Wings of Music
40 years ago today, Jean-Luc Ponty released his debut album for Atlantic Records and, in doing so, effectively began his solo career in earnest.

If you’re looking at Ponty’s discography and noticing that he actually released his debut album, Jazz Long Playing, in 1964, well, this is true. There is a difference, however, between releasing albums and actually having a proper career, and in Ponty’s case, he didn’t truly start to earn recognition amongst the masses until after he began playing with other artists and earning acclaim for his live performances.