Thursday, August 31, 2006

Farm Aid Fills Out the Bill With Some Classic Artists

This year's edition of Farm Aid is set for September 30th in Camden, NJ. Principals Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews will be joined by a diverse group of artists both old and new, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Steve Earle and Allison Moorer, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Arlo Guthrie, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Los Lonely Boys and polka man and perennial Grammy winner Jimmy Sturr. We'll keep you informed if any media outlets such as CMT will be covering the event this year.
  • The Beatles have been allowed to pursue litigation against EMI for lost royalties of $57 million and to reclaim rights to all their master recordings. EMI has vowed to appeal the ruling.
  • Reprise will be releasing a six-disc boxed set of the Bee Gees early recordings on November 7th. The set will be comprised of the Gibb's first three albums along with outtakes and alternate recordings.
  • Brian May of Queen is ticked at a certain social site who shall remain nameless (because this column runs there) because three separate blogs have appeared claiming to be May's writing. Meanwhile, a celebration of Freddie Mercury's 60th Birthday in his hometown of Zanzibar, Tanzania is being protested by the local Muslim community who does not want the primarily Islamic island associated with Mercury or his lifestyle.
  • In country music news, the Country Music Association announced its nominations today for the 40th CMA Awards. The complete list of nominees is here. Of note from the world of vinyl are nominations in the category of Musical Event of the Year for Merle Haggard (on Gretchen Wilson's "Politically Uncorrect", Dolly Parton (on Brad Paisley's "When I Get Where I'm Going", and Bon Jovi (with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland on "Who Says You Can't Go Home."
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame also announced this year's inductees. Harold Bradley will go in as "Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980", Sonny James for "Career Achieved National Prominence Between World War II and 1975" and George Straitt, still a powerful force on the charts, for “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present."
  • The Village People's policeman, Victor Willis, has vowed that he will enter a treatment program for drug abuse as part of his plea deal for a possession charge.
  • Rockabilly singer and songwriter Jumpin' Gene Simmons has died. He was 69. Simmons recorded for Sun Records, worked with Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley and the Bill Black Combo and wrote Tim McGraw's first hit "Indian Outlaw." In 1964 his single "Haunted House" reached #11 (Hi Records).
  • Also passing is Sanders Barber, Jr., founder and lead singer of the doo-wop group The Condors.
  • R&B singer Bettye LaVette is touring again. LaVette had a top 10 R&B hit in 1962 with "My Man - He's a Lovin' Man" and was part of the cast of the Broadway show "Bubblin' Brown Sugar." in Vancouver has a short article on her current tour.
  • Lee Rocker, former bassist for the Stray Cats, is also out on the road supporting his Rockabilly album "Racin' the Devil." More information on Rocker is available in this article in the Rockford, IL. Rock River Times.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Britain Picks Their All-Time Favorite Albums

Recently, BBC2 and the UK Charts Company asked people to vote on their favorite albums that reached #1 over the 50-years of the British album charts. 220,741 people voted with the following being the Top 10:
  1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Beatles
  2. Thriller - Michael Jackson
  3. The Joshua Tree - U2
  4. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
  5. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
  6. Revolver - Beatles
  7. Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Simon & Garfunkel
  8. Abbey Road - Beatles
  9. A Night At the Opera - Queen
  10. The White Album - Beatles
They also asked for the favorites of those albums that didn't reach #1 on the album charts:
  1. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
  2. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars - David Bowie
  3. Bat Out of Hell - Meat Loaf
  4. Pet Sounds - Beach Boys
  5. The Wall - Pink Floyd
  6. Hunky Dory - David Bowie
  7. The Bends - Radiohead
  8. Nevermind - Nirvana
  9. The Stone Roses - Stone Roses
  10. Blood On the Tracks - Bob Dylan
In other categories, Queen's Greatest Hits was voted favorite greatest hits album and the soundtrack to the movie Evita was the favorite soundtrack.

The complete list is here.
  • Van Morrison will be releasing his first live DVD on October 16th. The two-disc set will have two complete shows, his 1974 show at the Montreux Jazz festival and his 1980 show from the same site.
  • Sinatra fans get a treat on November 7th when Rhino releases a new box set comprised of five complete Las Vegas shows dating from 1961 to 1987.
  • Did you know...Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, member of the Roots and drummer/producer with such artists as Jay-Z and Fionna Apple is the son of Lee Andrews of the Hearts fame ("Long Lonely Nights").

Monday, August 28, 2006

A History of Charted Music

For those lucky enough to have XM satellite Radio, they are currently in the midst of playing every Top 40 charting record from 1930 to 2000, in order. This mammoth undertaking has been going for a number of days and is currently approaching the late-60's on Channel 6. Once the 60's are done, the program will switch to Channel 7 for the 70's and so-on.

This is not your normal countdown type show. They have literally thousands of records that are being played, uniterrupted by commercials and include songs of significant contribution that may not have made the Top 40.

For those who don't subscribe to XM, there is a way to listen. The latest AOL Instant Messenger, AOL Triton, includes 20-plus XM stations for free. Among those are the stations for the 50's through the 80's.

  • Soul Man Sam Moore is releasing a new album today in conjunction with Rhino records. Join him on "Overnight Sensational" are such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, Sting, BeBe Winans, Jon Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, Wynonna and, in his final performance, Billy Preston. Songs covered include "I Can't Stand the Rain," "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)," "You Are So Beautiful," and "It's Only Make Believe." Moore, 70, was half of the legendary Sam & Dave of "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'" fame. He said he wanted to make a record that brought performance back in an era where production has more influence. Randy Jackson produced.
  • Barry Manilow, who won an Emmy last night for his PBS concert special, had successful hip surgery yesterday. Recovery is expected to take six to eight weeks.
  • Richie Havens is still going strong. Here's a nice article from the San-Diego Union Tribune. While we're posting links, here's an article on Steely Dan and their current tour from the Cincinnati Post.
  • If you weren't feeling old today before now, Alexa Ray Joel, daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkly, opened the other night for Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers. Believe it or not, she's 20.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Soloman Burke Returns With His First Country Album

Solomon Burke has been recording sweet soul music since his 1961 debut single "Just Out of Reach (of My Two Open Arms)" and many of his recordings were infused with a bit of a country music influence (Reach was actually a country flop), but it has taken 45 years for him to release a true country album. "Nashville" hits the streets on September 26th from Shout! Factory and will contain songs by Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch, Don Williams, George Jones and Tom T. Hall. Included are duets with Parton, Welch, Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin.

Other news from the artists of the vinyl era:
  • Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson passed away on Wednesday at the age of 78. While mainly popular as an amazing trumpet player and for his big band, Ferguson did hit the pop charts in 1977 with his version of the Rocky theme.
  • Linda Ronstadt has cancelled her fall tour plans due to "non-emergency" but quickly scheduled, unspecified surgery. She will recover for an undetermined amount of time with her two children.
  • First it was Steven Tyler with throat problems and now Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton is being treated for throat cancer. He will be skipping the early dates on the next tour for radiation treatments.
  • Elton John has vowed that he is going to make a hip-hop record. Next thing he'll want to do is be on Dancing With the Stars.
  • Here's an excellent article from The Age in Australia on the revival of soul singer Betty Harris' ("Cry to Me") career down under and how, because of sampling on the new Christina Aguilera album, she has the potential of making money that she never would have seen from her original 1960's record contract. It's a store lived by too many of the great R&B singers of that age.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Return of a Classic Songwriter

In the mid-1960's, PF Sloan was mainly known as a songwriter, composing such hits as "Eve of Destruction", "A Must to Avoid", "Midnight Confessions". "Where Were You When I Needed You", "You Baby" and "Secret Agent Man." Although he had a fine voice, Dunhill kept him busy writing instead of promoting his recordings.

The next thirty years were filled with health problems that found Sloan signing away his publishing rights. Today, though, he's back with his first album since the late-60's called "Sailover" and his first-ever tour. The tour starts tonight in Philadelphia and the complete story of the comeback is in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Around the vinyl world:
  • The Rolling Stones are back on the road in London after a week of cancelled shows to let Mick Jagger's throat infection resolve.
  • Willie Nelson is rallying congress to ban the killing of horses for the sale of meat. Horsemeat is not marketable in the US, but three plants still produce the meat to export to Europe and Asia. Bill HR 503 should go to vote on September 7th.
  • The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum in Augusta, GA has been renamed The James Brown Arena.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Honoring Philadelphia's Musical Heritage

Kenneth Gamble, who co-founded Philadelphia International Records and wrote such hits as "Love Train", "Me & Mrs. Jones" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" wants to have Philadelphia recognized as the Home of Rhythm and Blues. The plans include an R&B influenced shopping district and the National Center for Rhythm & Blues which would house a concert hall, school and museum.

While this would be great for Philadelphia, we think that it takes a lot away from the contributions of Detroit, Chicago and, especially Memphis. Over 25% of the members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are from the Memphis area and the contributions of Stax Records most certainly outweigh those of Philadelphia International and (arguably) Motown.

Stax has recently opened The Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis where you can see hundreds of pieces of memorabilia or attend the Stax Music Academy. Their home page is at You can also revel in the music of Memphis over the net at

  • What style of music is growing the fastest? In radio, they will tell you either rap or country, but in the world of magazines, it's Classic Rock. Classic Rock magazine had the largest jump in circulation for the first half of 2006, with an increase in readership of 26.4%.
  • For those who can't get enough books on Elvis, a new one has hit the shelf; however, this one's a little different. "Me and a Guy Named Elvis" by Jerry Schilling and Chuck Crisafulli talks about the 23-year friendship between Schilling and Presley. The emphasis is on the human side of Elvis rather than the rumors and scandals.
  • Speaking of Elvis, Cirque Du Soleil had so much success with their Beatles show that they will be assembling an Elvis show for the Mirage's CityCenter Hotel and Casino. Don't buy your tickets yet, though. It's not scheduled to open until late-2009.
  • Paul Stanley of Kiss is releasing his second solo album (the first was back in 1978 on that fateful day when each of the Kiss members released solo LPs at the same time). "Live to Win" is due on October 24th.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Classic Vinyl Artists Come to Reality TV

Fox has announced the contestants for their new reality show "Duets" along with some of the artists that they will sing with. On that list are a number of artists familiar to collectors of vinyl like Belinda Carlisle, Taylor Dayne, Peter Frampton, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson, and Dionne Warwick.
  • In the slightly creepy department, Concord Records and Starbuck's Hear Label will be releasing an album of music played by Count Basie and Ray Charles. Never mind that they are both dead and never recorded together. That doesn't stop anyone today. They will be using a mid-70's concert recording by Charles and new instrumentation by the Count Basie orchestra to create these "new" recordings.
  • Country singer Johnny Duncan died Monday of a heart attack at the age of 67. Duncan's career included 25 Top 40 Country hits, ten of which hit the Top 10 with three going to number one (Thinkin' of a Rendezvous, It Couldn't Have Been Any Better and She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bead (Anytime)).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Elvis' Ed Sullivan Appearances Come to DVD

It's Elvis Week in Memphis and one of the pieces of news that has come out is that Image Entertainment will be releasing the three complete Ed Sullivan shows when Elvis appeared. Details are a little sketchy at this moment, with the release date being listed as either November or January, depending on the source. One rumor says the disks will include the following:
  • September 9, 1956 show with Elvis singing "Don't Be Cruel", "Love Me Tender", "Ready Teddy" and "Hound Dog." The show is hosted by Charles Laughton and also has an appearance by the Vagabonds.
  • October 28, 1956 show with Elvis singing "Don't Be Cruel", "Love Me Tender", "Love Me" and "Hound Dog."
  • January 6, 1957 show with Elvis singing a Medley of "Hound Dog", "Love Me Tender" and "Heartbreak Hotel" along with full versions of "Don't Be Cruel", "Too Much", "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again" and "Peace in the Valley."
  • Many extras with interviews of Sam Phillips, Gordon Stoker (Jordinaiers) and others, home movies and a filmed performance from August 1955.
In other news of the vinyl world:

  • Elton John's sequel to "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" will be called "The Captain and the Kid" and will hit stores September 19th.
  • Candi Staton had 28 R&B hits between 1969 and 1986, including "Young Hearts Run Free." Her career faltered with addiction and abuse until 2004 when a British label put out a compilation of her recordings. The success of the album has led to the release of her first country-soul record in many years with "Her Hands." A complete story from the Philadelphia Inquirer can be found here.
  • The man Elvis Costello called the "missing link between Jackie Wilson and Al Green" is spending some of his time with his ministry and some of his time recording his first album in 30 years. Howard Tate was originally the singer for the Bill Doggett band and then had a short run on the R&B charts in the mid-60's with songs like "Ain't Nobody Home" and "Look at Granny Run, Run." Since that time he has run the full length of life with major loss, addiction and finally finding God and his ministry. A chance meeting in 2001 reunited him producer Jerry Ragavoy. The full story can be found at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
  • A couple of states have recently passed legislation making it illegal to tour using a groups name without permission or an original member. The reason for these new laws was obvious this past weekend at the Butte-Silver Bow Fair where Redbone headlined. Unfortunately, the real Redbone was playing in Wisconsin at the same time. Ron Kurtz, long-time manager of the group, is staring an investigation.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ray Davies to be Honored

Ray Davies of the Kinks will receive BMI's Lifetime Achievement Award on October 3 in London. The award recognizes artists who have had "a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers."

  • It looks like the music industry is taking a tip from the DVD makers and are going to put out new versions of product at intervals to try to get fans to "double-dip." The latest is Bruce Springsteen who will release "We Shall Overcome -- The Seeger Sessions -- American Land Edition" on October 3rd. It's the same as the last version but with five new songs.
  • Donna Summer has signed a new recording deal with Sony BMG label Burgundy. The first album of the deal should be out in 2007 with mostly originals and possibly a cover of a Marvin Gaye tune. Summer and Gaye were supposed to record some duets before Gaye's death.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Jerry Lee Lewis will release an album that was five years in the making, "Last Man Standing," on September 26th. Guests on the album include Bruce Springsteen, John Fogarty, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Neil Young.

  • Tony Bennett definitely keeps busy in his spare time. When not singing, he is an accomplished painter whose work "Central Park" is no in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Like Lewis, Bennett is also recording an album of duets to celebrate his 80th birthday and has been chosen to receive the Billboard Century Award, their highest honor for creative achievement.
  • Kiss fans marched outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland demanding that the band be inducted into the hall. They first became eligible in 1999. On the other hand, you can see how much Gene Simmons is worried about it starting tomorrow night as his reality show premiers on A&E.
  • Arthur Lee, the leader of the 1960's band Love, passed away last Thursday from Leukemia. He was 61.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

After 28 Years, A New Eagles Album?

Joe Walsh has hinted that the Eagles are moving closer to finishing their first studio LP since 1979's "The Long Run."

Per his comments, the basic tracks have been laid down and people are off writing lyrics now. As Walsh said (tongue-in-cheek), "it'll be nice to have some new songs to play, 'cause we're sick of the old ones!"

As the vinyl turns:
  • Doug Fieger, lead singer for The Knack, underwent brain surgery on Thursday to remove two brain tumors. He's expected to make a full recovery.
  • Barry Manilow took on the 50's with his last LP and had his first number one album in many years. Now, he's tacking a whack at the 60's on October 31st with the release of "The Greatest Songs of the 60's." He recorded over 100 songs for the album and has be whittling it down, throwing out songs that didn't really fit his style. Look for Burt Bacharach songs and "Can't Help Falling in Love" among others.
  • Country singer and pop crossover artist Freddy Fender ("Before the Last Teardrop Falls," "Wasted Days and Wasted Night") has been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.
  • On this date in 1963, the Beatles played their last date at Hamburg's Cavern Club, while Capitol records (the eventual home of the Beatles) released the Beach Boys "Surfer Girl."
  • On this date in 1974, Bruce Springsteen was the opening act in New York.......for Anne Murray.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Video Killed the Radio Star

I'm sure pretty much everyone knows since it's been all over the news, but MTV turns 25 today. Happy Birthday MTV and, please, take the M out of your name if you aren't going to play anymore videos.
  • Aretha Franklin will receive the Award of Excellence from the United Negro College Fund. Believe it or not, she is the first female artist ever to win the award.
  • Cher is planning on auctioning off more than 700 items from her home in October. Items include a c.1865 Gothic Revival brass bed, about 200 pieces from her wardrobe and costume collection and a night sleeping in Cher's bed. Southeby's is handling the auction.