Hey, kids, remember how we hooked you up on Record Store Day by releasing 180 Gram: Alternate Takes from GP and Grievous Angel? We know that we thrilled a lot of Gram Parsons fans when we did that – heck, it made us pretty happy, too! – but we also know that a lot of those same fans have been wondering when we were going to offer the same treatment to the albums from which those alternate takes originated in the first place. If you’re one of those fans, then you need wait no longer: the “when” is “now.”
Make no mistake, there’s a lot to be said for Parsons’ work with the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers (it might not be part of our catalog, but we’d never deny the brilliance of The Gilded Palace of Sin), but you really just can’t go wrong with the one-two punch of GP and Grievous Angel. Listening to the vocal interplay between Parsons and Emmylou Harris on songs like GP’s “A Song for You” and “That’s All It Took” will take you to the verge of something approximating a religious experience, and don’t even get us started on the cover of “Love Hurts” the duo does on Grievous Angel, which is just too lovely for words.
When discussing singer-songwriters who started their careers in full creative bloom and stayed the course for several albums, you can’t chat about the ‘70s without citing Jackson Browne, but while his self-titled debut in 1972 was outstanding and 1973’s For Everyman can in no way be viewed as a sophomore slump, it’s often been said – and it’s not hard to understand why – that it’s Browne’s third album, 1974’s Late for the Sky, where he first truly soars.
With cover art inspired by René Magritte’s painting "L'Empire des Lumieres,” Late for the Sky may not have earned Browne any traction on the Billboard Hot 100 – neither “Walking Slow” nor “Fountain of Sorrow,” the two songs released as singles, even so much as charted – but when Bruce Springsteen calls an album your masterpiece, Martin Scorsese borrows its title track for use in Taxi Driver, and Rolling Stone includes it on one of their lists of the 500 greatest albums of all time…well, all we’re saying is that Browne probably hasn’t been bothered by Late for the Sky’s lack of hit singles in many moons, if he ever was to begin with.
Yesterday, the music world lost one of its great songwriters, not just of the Brill Building era (although he certainly qualifies in that particular category) but of all time. Gerry Goffin was 75, but over the course of three-quarters of a century, he collaborated with numerous writers – among them Barry Goldberg, Barry Mann, Michael Masser, Russ Titelman, and, of course, Carole King, to whom he was married from 1959 to 1968 – and composed more hit singles than most people even realize.
If you’re a regular visitor to our website, then you know that we generally offer an installment of our Digital Roundup column on Wednesdays, but you’re caught us on a slow week: we’ve only got a single item joining our digital catalog. As such, we’re bypassing the column in favor of shining a solo spotlight on this item, but to our way of thinking, it more than deserves the individual attention, given that this one release actually includes 11 – count ‘em – 11 albums.
When the news broke last week that British comedian Rik Mayall had passed away, we here at Rhino instantly did more or less exactly the same thing that everyone else did: we started running through our favorite quotes from The Young Ones. (It’s probably no surprise that “Dear Mr. Echo” came up, given that we went out of our way to cite it in our “happy birthday” post to Ian McCulloch.) After that, though, we started running through some of our other favorite Mayall moments, and while we can’t quite recall if it came about before Bottom or after Drop Dead Fred, but you can bet that it didn’t take long for us to bring up Bad News.
Americans who came of age in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and watched MTV religiously on Sunday evenings will be familiar with a series called The Comic Strip Presents…, which featured not only Mayall and a few of his Young Ones cohorts but also Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Probably best described as a comedy anthology series, for lack of a better phrase, The Comic Strip Presents… featured numerous different tales over the course of its run, but it’s easily arguable that none of them made quite as much impact as the story of the fictional heavy metal band known as Bad News.