Jonathan Edwards / Seals & Crofts

For most people, Jonathan Edwards is a one-hit-wonder, with the million-selling song “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”.  It entered the Top 40 in December of 1971, and peaked at #4 in 1972.

(Photos are from slides I took at a 1973 concert in Norfolk, VA)

The only reason we got to know more of Jonathan Edwards’ music, is because he opened for Seals & Crofts at a June 1973 concert in Virginia.  When we saw him, Edwards had released two albums…his eponymous album with “Sunshine”, and Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy from 1972.  We already had his single “Sunshine”, so we purchased the album Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy in order to get to know his music before we saw him.

Jonathan Edwards was so good during his portion of the concert.  He was playing one of our favorite styles of music, Country Rock.  It leaned a little to the Country side, and he was using an acoustic guitar instead of a solid body electric.  His preference for things a little more natural shows up in his song lyrics about being a musician.  In “That’s What Our Life Is” he sings…”They said I would shine like the light in a city, I hoped it would be like the moon on the sea.”

His performance was just so confident and enjoyable, we loved it all.  It turned out that he was the best part of the concert that night.  We ended up buying all of the albums he released in the 1970’s.

Above is our Jonathan Edwards playlist (click to enlarge)…which has our favorites from four of his albums…Jonathan Edwards (1971), Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy (1972), Have A Good Time For Me (1973), and Rockin’ Chair (1976).  In addition, there are six songs from the very hard to find Orphan album (1973).  Orphan was a country rock band with friends and colleagues of Jonathan Edwards, including songwriter Eric Lilljequist.  He wrote several songs recorded by Edwards, and also played lead guitar and provided vocals on some of Jonathan’s albums.  Orphan is a solid album with excellent vocal harmonies.

The playlist is included in case you aren’t familiar with this music, and would like some guidance getting to know Jonathan Edwards better.

Through the years, Jonathan Edwards has continued to perform, and has done some acting and film scoring.

(Jim Seals from that 1973 concert at the Scope Arena.)

(Dash Crofts was impressive on the mandolin.)

The main reason we went to the concert was to hear Seals & Crofts.  We had two of their albums…Summer Breeze and Diamond Girl.  The hits from those albums included…”Summer Breeze” (#6), “Hummingbird” (#20), “Diamond Girl” (#6), and “We May Never Pass This Way Again” (#23).

Seals & Crofts sounded great, their singing and playing were first rate.  However, there was something that night that really took away from their performances.  They had a lot of technical trouble.  It seemed during almost every song, they were seeking help with adjustment of the gear or the monitors, and it definitely kept them (and us) from getting deeply into their songs.

It may be unfair, because it was a bad night for them, but we knew if they ever passed our way again, we’d skip their concert.  The only other album we ever purchased by them was their Greatest Hits, that included “I’ll Play For You” (#18), and “Get Closer” (#6).

We left that 1973 concert knowing that Seals & Crofts were talented, but we were wishing they could have simply gotten up on stage and played (with less production) the way Jonathan Edwards had done so well.

The Cars

It’s been 40 years since the world was introduced to the New Wave sound of The Cars.  Or were they Rock?  Pop?  Or maybe even Punk?  The cars had their own sound that mixed elements of all of them.

Elliot Easton (lead guitar), Ric Ocasek (guitar & vocals), Greg Hawkes (keyboards), Benjamin Orr (bass & vocals), David Robinson (drums).

This Boston band’s first album, The Cars, came out in June of 1978, and had three singles that charted…”Just What I Needed” (#27), “My Best Friend’s Girl” (#35), and “Good Times Roll” (#41).  It also had a much-played album cut “Moving in Stereo”.  Despite the modest rankings of the singles, the album grew in popularity.  By the end of 1978 it had gone platinum, it was the #4 ranked album for 1979, and went on to eventually sell over 6-million copies.  Rock radio liked the cars.  When I was programming a Rock station in the late ’80’s, I remember a list of the most-played classic songs on Rock stations, and at the very top of the list was “Good Times Roll”.

Ric Ocasek wrote almost all of their songs, and he had his own distinctively quirky style of singing.  Benjamin Orr also sang some of the leads.  He had a little smoother style, so he often did the ballads.  Keyboardist Greg Hawkes used synthesizers extensively, guitarist Elliot Easton experimented with guitar effects, and David Robinson often used drum programming.  All of that gave The Cars a sound that was called New Wave in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, but the group also featured strong melodies and harmonies that had a wide appeal to radio programmers and listeners alike.

The Cars second album, Candy-O, also went multi-platinum, and featured their biggest hit so far, “Let’s Go” (#14), with the lead vocal by Benjamin Orr.  In 1980, their third album Panorama, was a bit of a let down, even though it did go platinum.

By the end of 1981, The Cars released album number 4, Shake It Up.  The title song made it to #4, helped in part by that newfangled video thing, MTV, which had just started in August of that year.  The Cars were back to multi-platinum, and their biggest album was next.

Heartbeat City was released in March of 1984.  It had five hit singles…”You Might Think” (#7), “Magic” (#12), “Drive” (#3), “Hello Again” (#20), and “Why Can’t I Have You” (#33).  A sixth song, “It’s Not The Night” was #31 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.  The Cars spent a lot of time in the studio for Heartbeat City, and had enlisted the help of producer Mutt Lange.

The video for “You Might Think” is one of the first computer graphic videos, and won the first MTV Video Music Award for “Video of the Year” (in 1984).

After that high point, The Cars only had three more Top-40 singles…”Tonight She Comes” (#7), “I’m Not The One” (#32), and “You Are The Girl” (#17).  In 1987, they had their lowest-selling album Door To Door.  The Cars broke up in 1988.  (There was a reunion album in 2011.)

Above is a photo of my double CD anthology by The Cars from 1995.  It not only has a lot of great songs, it’s one of the coolest album packages ever.  The brightly-colored cardboard sleeve looks like metal-flake car paint, with added fire & pin-striping, and of course the CD’s look like wheels.

The Cars had 15-years of eligibility before they were inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (class of 2018).  It’s a shame the honor couldn’t have come before Benjamin Orr passed away from cancer (at age 53 in 2000).  Cars fans were still happy to see the group get their recognition this year.

As always, there were some music fans who thought their own favorite bands should have been selected instead.  The Cars came up with a very original musical style that was even hard to categorize, and high quality songs with great appeal.  The Cars induction was a good choice.

Three Dog Night / The Guess Who

These two groups had parallel careers.  The Guess Who broke into the Top 40 in April of 1969 with their first Top 10 hit “These Eyes”(#6).  Three Dog Night’s first Top 10 hit, “One”, entered the chart a month later, and made it to #5.

Three Dog Night featured three lead singers…Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, & Chuck Negron.

 The Guess Who…Jim Cale (bass & vocals), Burton Cummings (lead vocals, keyboards & guitar), Garry Peterson (drums), and Randy Bachman (lead guitar & vocals).

Both bands have interesting stories about how they got their names.

Three Dog Night’s name was suggested by Danny Hutton’s girlfriend, June Fairchild, who had read how native Australians used dogs to keep warm.  On an extremely cold night it might take three dogs to keep warm…thus a “three dog night”.  Maybe the name sounded appropriate because of the three lead singers.

In 1965, The Guess Who was actually named Chad Allan & The Expressions.  They had a modest hit with “Shakin’ All Over” that year.  When they released an album, printed on the cover were the words…Guess Who?  It was meant to be a marketing ploy (to add some interest and mystery), but Instead, DJ’s called the band The Guess Who, so the group made it official.

From 1969 to 1975, Three Dog Night had 21 Top 40 hits, 7 million sellers, and 3 #1’s.  Interestingly, each of the lead singers had a #1…Cory Wells with “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, Chuck Negron with “Joy To The World”, and Danny Hutton with “Black & White”.

The band relied on outside songwriters, and knew how to turn the songs into hits.  They used clever arrangements and great harmonies.  Harry Nilsson wrote “One” (#6), Randy Newman wrote “Mama Told Me Not To Come” (#1), Laura Nyro wrote “Eli’s Coming” (#10), Hoyt Axton wrote both “Joy To The World” (#1) & “Never Been To Spain” (#5), Leo Sayer wrote “The Show Must Go On” (#4), and songwriter Paul Williams helped them out with three hits  “Out In The Country” (#15), “The Family Of Man” (#12), & “An Old Fashioned Love Song” (#4).  Paul Williams also wrote big hits for The Carpenters (“We’ve Only Just Begun” & “Rainy Days And Mondays”), and for Kermit The Frog (“Rainbow Connection”).

Some of Three Dog Night’s other significant singles included “Shambala” (#3), “Liar” (#7), and “Easy To Be Hard” (#4).  Although Three Dog Night never had another Top 40 hit after 1975, their hits catalog was so strong that various versions of the band have been touring ever since.

From 1969 to 1975, The Guess Who had 13 Top 40 hits, 3 million sellers, one #1, and a total of six songs that made the Top 10.  While the number of hits for The Guess Who is lower than for Three Dog Night, you could add in another 7 for Randy Bachman’s BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive), and another 2 Top 40 solo hits for Burton Cummings.  So, the number of hits of the two groups is very similar, but Three Dog Night had more hits at the top of the charts.

One advantage for The Guess Who is that Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman were the songwriters for “These Eyes” (#6), “Laughing” (#10), “Undun” (#22), “No Time” (#5), “American Woman” (#1) and “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” (a favorite album cut).  Besides touring, songwriting is the major money maker for musicians.

It seems ironic that this Canadian group’s only #1 hit in the U.S. was the anti-American song “American Woman”.  Maybe it was the line “I don’t need your war machines”  that struck a chord with young Americans who were protesting the Vietnam War.  Besides, it has a great guitar riff by Randy Bachman.

After “American Woman”, Randy Bachman left and formed BTO.  The Guess Who’s songwriting was then done by Burton Cummings and Kurt Winter.  Their significant hits were “Hand Me Down World” (#17), “Share The Land” (#10) and novelty song, “Clap For The Wolfman” (#6) [with spoken bits by DJ Wolfman Jack].

Meanwhile BTO had their seven hits from 1974 to 1976, including “Takin’ Care Of Business” (#12), “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (#1), and “Roll On Down The Highway” (#14).  The main single for Burton Cummings was “Stand Tall’ (#10) in 1976.

I use a combined playlist for these bands, with their songs alternating.  I do the same thing with other bands that are associated in my mind…including The Buckinghams & The Grass Roots, The Yardbirds & The Zombies, and The Police & INXS.  That way, there is a refreshing style change from one song to another, and yet the songs share an era.

The Beatles…Best Songs (“1” is not enough)

It would be a shame if younger or future Beatles fans only knew The Beatles through their album of #1 singles…1.

It’s obviously a very good collection of their songs that were #1 in America or England, with 21 of them topping Billboard in the U.S. (although “Something” lost it’s #1 designation when Billboard later altered their methodology.)  The problem is…The Beatles didn’t release many of their best songs as singles.

Another option is to purchase the Red and Blue albums 1962-1966 and 1967-1970.  They’re decent collections, but at 26 songs and 28 songs respectively, they could be priced like Beatles 1, which has 27 songs.  Instead, they’re priced higher, as double-albums.  And really, are “Old Brown Shoe” and “Octopus’s Garden” among their best songs?  Those were included just to help George and Ringo with royalties.

An interesting analysis of those two collections shows Rubber Soul provided the most songs…8 (6 album cuts + the 2 singles released the same day).  Using that same basic method, Revolver, surprisingly, has only 3 (2 +1), Sgt. Pepper has 6 (4 +2), The White Album has 5 (3 + 2), Abbey Road 4, and Let It Be 3.

What if we created two CD length Beatles albums…Best 1, and Best 2.  They would not be limited to singles or “Greatest Hits”.  A collection like this would be the songs that are so good we never get tired of hearing them.

Best 1:

  1. I Want To Hold Your Hand
  2. I Saw Her Standing There
  3. This Boy
  4. All My Loving
  5. She Loves You
  6. Twist And Shout
  7. A Hard Day’s Night
  8. And I Love Her
  9. Can’t Buy Me Love
  10. If I Fell
  11. Things We Said Today
  12. I’ll Follow The Sun
  13. I’ll Be Back
  14. I Feel Fine
  15. Eight Days A Week
  16. Help
  17. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  18. Ticket To Ride
  19. Yesterday
  20. We Can Work It Out
  21. Day Tripper
  22. Norwegian Wood
  23. Nowhere Man
  24. Michelle
  25. In My Life
  26. Paperback Writer
  27. Eleanor Rigby
  28. For No One
  29. Here, There, And Everywhere
  30. Good Day Sunshine
  31. Penny Lane
  32. Strawberry Fields Forever

The list starts with songs from Meet The Beatles, since that’s how America got to know them, and then catches up with a couple earlier songs, as they charted here.   Only one song was not written by The Beatles, “Twist And Shout”.  It was such a big hit (twice), and it shows the rock style of their roots so well.  Twelve of the songs on this list were not singles.

Best 2:

  1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  2. With A Little Help From My Friends
  3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
  4. She’s Leaving Home
  5. A Day In The Life
  6. Magical Mystery Tour
  7. The Fool On The Hill
  8. All You Need Is Love
  9. Lady Madonna
  10. Hey Jude
  11. Revolution
  12. Back In The U.S.S.R.
  13. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  14. Blackbird
  15. Let It Be
  16. Two Of Us
  17. The Long And Winding Road
  18. Get Back
  19. Here Comes The Sun
  20. Come Together
  21. Something
  22. Because

Thirteen of these 22 songs were not singles during The Beatles era, 1962-1970.  Abbey Road songs are placed last, because those were The Beatles’ final recordings.  Each of these playlists will fit onto a CD.

You can see that some of The Beatles’ hits are not included, and there are certainly many other excellent songs that wouldn’t fit, or that could be substituted to an individual’s taste.

These days we all can make our own “Best Of The Beatles” playlists.  The two playlists above are the CD’s I give out to friends who want to get to know The Beatles better.  From there, they can take their own “Magical Mystery Tour” through The Beatles’ amazing treasure of music.

Addendum:  After publishing this article, I thought maybe Apple Records could simply release a companion album for 1…called 2.  The playlist would be something like this:

  1. I Saw Her Standing There
  2. All My Loving
  3. Twist And Shout
  4. And I Love Her
  5. If I Fell
  6. Things We Said Today
  7. I’ll Follow The Sun
  8. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  9. Norwegian Wood
  10. Nowhere Man
  11. Michelle
  12. In My Life
  13. Good Day Sunshine
  14. For No One
  15. Here, There, And Everywhere
  16. Strawberry Fields Forever
  17. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  18. With A Little Help From My Friends
  19. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
  20. She’s Leaving Home
  21. A Day In The Life
  22. Magical Mystery Tour
  23. The Fool On The Hill
  24. Revolution
  25. Back In The U.S.S.R.
  26. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  27. Blackbird
  28. Here Comes The Sun

It’s more likely people would buy a single album to add as a supplement to 1…so 2 could be an option for Apple Records, and great for new fans.  Twenty-one of these songs were not singles.  Do you know all 28 songs anyway?

Why is it important for future fans to get to know more than The Beatles’ number one hits?  This 2 list has John Lennon’s three most critically praised songs…”A Day In The Life”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and “In My Life”, plus one of his best rockers “Revolution”.  It has some of Paul McCartney’s best love songs, including…”And I Love Her”, “Michelle”, and “Here, There, And Everywhere”, his innovative rocker “Sgt. Pepper”, and his beloved “Blackbird”.  George Harrison only had “Something” on 1, so this list would add two more of his very best songs…”While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes The Sun”.  For Ringo Starr, it’s simply his best-ever performance…”With A Little Help From My Friends”.  And, the list has many more excellent songs that deserve to be heard by future generations.

Although album sales are disappearing, an album like this would be a good guide for future listeners.  They’d be likely to stream these songs if they were in a single album.  It might be hard to convince them to listen to all The Beatles albums.    would go a long way in conveying the musical importance and uniqueness of The Beatles.

Garage Bands

It wasn’t always a garage…sometimes it was a basement, a barn, a porch, or a backyard.  Rock & Roll made kids want to play music, and they had to have someplace to practice.

Almost every band starts out as a “Garage Band”.  Some make it big.  Some have one hit.  Most only play music for the fun of it…and maybe to dream a bit.

The peak of the Garage Band years came from 1963 to 1968.  In 1963, “Louie Louie” (the three-chord #1 hit by The Kingsmen from Portland, Oregon) led the trend.  Who couldn’t learn three chords?  You could probably record it in your garage!  The song was not sung clearly, and the recording wasn’t great, so there was a persistent rumor that the lyrics were “dirty”.  Of course they weren’t, but that didn’t stop some radio stations from banning the song.

The British Invasion increased the desire of young people to play music.  It’s estimated that nearly  200,000 local bands formed in the 1960’s.

Looking back, we can see what artists and songs might fit into the Garage Band label.  Some of the bands had multiple hits, but most were one-hit-wonders who had a spark of creativity.  The majority of Garage Rock songs sound like they could be performed with the classic lineup of guitars, bass, drums, and a keyboard.

In 1972, there was an album called Nuggets that gathered a lot of songs that fit the Garage Band feel.  Some of the songs were national hits, but also included were some hard-to-find regional hits.  I liked the concept, and made my own playlist…60’s Nuggets

  1. Louie Louie…The Kingsmen (’63)
  2. Run Run Run…The Gestures (’64)
  3. Night Time…The Strangeloves (’65)
  4. She’s About A Mover…The Sir Douglas Quintet
  5. Wooly Bully…Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs
  6. Hang On Sloopy…The McCoys
  7. Keep On Dancing…The Gentrys
  8. I Want Candy…The Strangeloves
  9. Hanky Panky…Tommy James & The Shondells (’66)
  10. Dirty Water…The Standells
  11. Gloria…The Shadows of Knight
  12. Lies…The Knickerbockers
  13. Psychotic Reaction…Count Five
  14. Wild Thing…The Troggs
  15. Hey Little Girl…The Syndicate of Sound
  16. My Little Red Book…Love
  17. Time Won’t Let Me…The Outsiders
  18. 96 Tears…? & The Mysterions
  19. Mr. Moon…The Coachmen
  20. Harlem Shuffle…The Fabulous Flippers
  21. Jezebel…The Rumbles (’67)
  22. I Had Too Much To Dream…The Electric Prunes
  23. Pushin’ Too Hard…The Seeds
  24. Little Bit O’ Soul…The Music Explosion
  25. Talk Talk…The Music Machine
  26. Incense And Peppermints…Strawberry Alarm Clock
  27. We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet…The Blues Magoos
  28. Green Tambourine…The Lemon Pipers (’68)
  29. Journey To The Center Of The Mind…The Amboy Dukes
  30. Shapes Of Things To Come…Max Frost & The Troopers    (Songs in chronological order by years…’63-’68)

The songs nearly every local band played are:  “Louie Louie”, “Gloria” by The Shadows of Knight (by Them in the U.K.), “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys, and “Wild Thing” by The Troggs.  Proving that “Wild Thing” was still a good starter song in the ’80’s, our young son chose to play it on his new electric guitar at a school talent show.

(Screen shot of fuzzy video…our son playing “Wild Thing”, and wearing a “See you on The Dark Side Of The Moon” T-shirt”.)

There are some great Psychedelic Rock songs that fit the list: “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, “I Had Too Much To Dream” by The Electric Prunes, “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock, “Green Tambourine” by The Lemon Pipers and “Journey To The Center Of The Mind” by The Amboy Dukes.  Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers did a rocking live cover of “Psychotic Reaction”.

Some Garage Band songs showed signs of early Punk Rock:  “My Little Red Book” by Love, “Hey Little Girl” by The Syndicate Of Sound, “Pushin’ Too Hard” by The Seeds, and “Talk Talk” by The Music Machine.  Those last three all used a half-sung/half-spoken style for the lead vocals.

(Some of my old 45’s from ‘60’s bands in Nebraska, one’s on the list.)

Since the Nuggets idea included some regional hits, I chose three from the area of my youth.  “Mr. Moon”, by The Coachmen from Lincoln & Omaha, sounds a bit like “96 Tears”.  It was a hit in the Midwest, and in various cities like San Francisco & Boston.  “Harlem Shuffle” was a big regional hit for The Fabulous Flippers from Kansas, and “Jezebel” was a Midwestern hit for The Rumbles from Omaha.  The Rumbles had excellent multi-part vocals.  They could nail The Beach Boys’ intricate harmonies live on songs like “Sloop John B”…something out of reach for most local bands.

There are some mainstream hits on the playlist.  “Lies” by The Knickerbockers is one of my favorites.  “Dirty Water” is true Garage Rock by The Standells, and so is “Hanky Panky”, a #1 hit by Tommy James & The Shondells.  “Time Won’t Let Me” hit #5 for The Outsiders,”Little Bit ‘O Soul made it to #2 for The Music Explosion, and “96 Tears” was a #1 hit for ? & The Mysterions.

The Byrds captured the Garage Band era with 1967’s “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”:

So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star,
Then listen now, to what I say.
Just get an electric guitar,
Then take some time and learn how to play.
And when your hair’s combed right
And your pants too tight, it’s gonna be all right.

Then it’s time to go downtown
Where the agent man won’t let you down.
Sell your soul to the company
Who are waiting there to sell plastic ware.
And in a week or two if you make the charts
The girls will tear you apart.

What you paid for your riches and fame,
Was it all a strange game? You’re a little insane.
Play the game and the public acclaim,
Don’t forget what you are, you’re a rock ‘n’ roll star.

The Byrds knew how hard it actually was for bands, and that “making it” might not match a band’s dream.

Hopefully, all those Garage Bands enjoyed their time playing music.  The ones that did have some success sure gave us a great playlist!

Allman Brothers Band / Southern Rock

Since the beginning of Rock & Roll through today, there are elements of Southern Rock in popular music…but the genre really developed and peaked in the 1970’s.

(The Allman Brothers Band…Jaimoe Johansen, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Berry Oakley, Dicky Betts, & Butch Trucks)

Although The Allman Brothers Band released albums in 1969 & 1970, it wasn’t until their 1971 live two-record set, At Filmore East, that the band gained national recognition.  The album contained blues covers, plus their popular originals “Whipping Post” and “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”.  Their music was a mix of rock, blues, and country with a jam-band style.  They had extensive guitar solos by Duane Allman and Richard “Dickey” Betts, and they had the power of two drummers, Jaimoe Johansen and Butch Trucks.  Throw in the bass work of Barry Oakley, and the R&B-style keyboards and soulful lead vocals by Gregg Allman, and you have the premier band of Southern Rock.

Duane Allman had already been a much sought-after session guitarist.  Eric Clapton used Allman on “Layla” after he heard him as the lead guitarist on Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude”.  Duane remained in The Allman Brothers Band, but three months after the release of their live album, he died in a motorcycle accident.  It was October 29th of 1971.  Duane Allman was only 24.

Despite the tragedy, The Allman Brothers Band decided to continue, and they released another double-album, Eat A Peach, in 1972.   It was a success, with a great line-up of songs that included “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”, “Melissa”, “One Way Out”, “Blue Sky” and “Little Martha”.  Of the nine songs on the album, Duane was on all but three.

Tragedy wasn’t done with the band.  A year after the death of Duane Allman, Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident just three blocks from where Allman had crashed his motorcycle.  Oakley died on November 11th, 1972, also at the age of 24.  Again, The Allman Brothers Band carried on.

(The spread-open cover of Brothers and Sisters, featuring Berry Oakley’s daughter, Brittany, and Butch Trucks’ son, Vaylor.)

The Allman Brothers Band added pianist Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams.  In 1973, they released their most commercially successful album, Brothers and Sisters.  The album went to #1 thanks in part to their excellent single “Ramblin’ Man”.  It was their only major hit (#2).  This was also a big album for songwriter/guitarist Dickey Betts.  Besides writing and singing lead on “Ramblin’ Man”, he wrote the popular album cuts “Southbound”, “Jessica” and “Pony Boy”.  The album has sold over 7-million copies worldwide.

The Allman Brothers Band began touring arenas and stadiums, but there was too much tragedy, money, drugs, alcohol, and internal problems.   The band dissolved in 1976.  They reformed briefly in the late 1970’s, and then again in varying forms throughout the following decades.  They were still a popular touring act, but never regained major popularity as a recording act.  Their album A Decade Of Hits 1969-1979 is an excellent collection.

Gregg Allman, who had some solo success…such as a his version of “Midnight Rider” (1974), his song “I’m No Angel” (1987), and his album Low Country Blues (2011)…passed away from complications of liver cancer in May of 2017, he was 69.

Record reviewers in the early ’70’s were calling The Allman Brothers’ music Blues/Rock.  Around 1973 and into the early 1980’s, the number of southern bands grew, and the musical genre became Southern Rock.

Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Marshall Tucker Band were two of the most popular Southern Rock bands of the 1970’s.  Skynyrd had two anthems…”Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird”.  Marshall Tucker’s biggest hits were “Heard It In A Love Song” and “Fire On The Mountain”, and were also known for featuring a flute in their arrangements.  Both bands had more songs that got heavy airplay.  Here’s my iTunes Playlist for some of the Southern Rock songs I own:  (The Allman Brothers Band has a separate list.)

  1. Sweet Home Alabama…Lynyrd Skynyrd
  2. Can’t You See…The Marshall Tucker Band
  3. Hold On Loosely…38 Special
  4. Gimme Three Steps…Lynyrd Skynyrd
  5. Keep Your Hands To Yourself…The Georgia Satellites
  6. Heard It In A Love Song…The Marshall Tucker Band
  7. Midnight Rider…Gregg Allman
  8. Caught Up In You…38 Special
  9. Call Me The Breeze…Lynyrd Skynyrd
  10. The South’s Gonna Do It Again…Charlie Daniels Band
  11. Fire On The Mountain…The Marshall Tucker Band
  12. If You Want To Get To Heaven…Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  13. What’s Your Name…Lynyrd Skynyrd
  14. Back Where You Belong…38 Special
  15. I’m No Angel…Gregg Allman
  16. The Devil Went Down To Georgia…Charlie Daniels Band
  17. Free Bird…Lynyrd Skynyrd

Other artists that could be included here are on different playlists, such as my Country Rock lists.

We never caught any of the major Southern Rock bands in concert, but the music lives on with another generation.  We saw The Tedeschi Trucks Band in Salem.

(Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks…December 2013 in Salem, Oregon)

Their album Revelator won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album.  Derek Trucks is the nephew of Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks.  Derek was a child prodigy on guitar, and was performing in public at age 9.  He  joined The Allman Brothers Band in 1999, and played with them until 2014.   Susan Tedeschi was also a child prodigy on guitar and was in a band by age 13.  The two guitarists met while Tedeschi’s band was opening for The Allman Brothers Band, and they married in 2001.

During the concert, Susan Tedeschi mostly played rhythm guitar while she sang lead vocals…kind of in the style of Bonnie Raitt, but a little harder.  Derek Trucks really impressed us with his guitar solos.  Then just before the concert ended, Susan took the lead guitar part on one song…and just blew us away!  There can’t be many bands with two great guitarists like them.

With new generations of Southern Rock and Blues/Rock musicians, maybe Gregg Allman was right in “Midnight Rider”…”The road goes on forever”.

Lindsey Buckingham told “Go your own way”

What kind of crazy mixed-up world do we live in when Lindsey Buckingham is fired by Fleetwood Mac?

Buckingham was the architect of the sound that made Fleetwood Mac so popular starting in 1975.  After all the success producing their songs, being one of three songwriters & lead vocalists, and playing lead guitar, he quit the group in 1987.   He was replaced by two musicians, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito.

Then after 10 years, he rejoined Fleetwood Mac for their 1997 reunion, “The Dance”.  The group has toured on and off since then, including quite a few years without Christine McVie.

(Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks)

This month, after disagreements about an upcoming tour, Fleetwood Mac dismissed Buckingham, and replaced him with The Heartbreaker’s lead guitarist, Mike Campbell, and Crowded House leader Neil Finn.  Those are two extremely talented musicians who could actually add some new touches to Fleetwood Mac.  Notice how it always takes two guys to replace Lindsey Buckingham.

Update:  Some quotes in Rolling Stone tell us more.

Mick Fleetwood said about the disagreement over the fall tour…“We arrived at the impasse of hitting a brick wall.  We made a decision that we could not go on with him.  Majority rules in terms of what we need to do as a band.

Stevie Nicks said Buckingham wanted to put off the tour for a year, and the band didn’t want to wait.  Fleetwood Mac will be performing songs from the entire history of the band, including before Stevie and Lindsey joined.  Nicks said…“We were never able to do that since 1975, because certain people in the band weren’t interested in doing that.”  Nicks compared the situation to the ending of a long marriage.  “We were never married, but we might as well have been.  This is sad for me, but I want the next 10 years of my life to be really fun and happy.”

(Above, Fleetwood Mac with Neil Finn & Mike Campbell.  Speculation about old Fleetwood Mac songs that could be done on the tour…  “Black Magic Woman” [FM’s is the original version], “Oh Well”, “Albatross”, “The Green Manalishi”,  and “Hypnotized”.)

I’m a fan of Lindsey Buckingham, and own most of his albums.  1992’s Out Of The Cradle is far and away my favorite by him.  Unfortunately, his more recent studio albums have over-produced effects on his voice.  His 2012 live album, Songs From The Small Machine, has some better versions of his later material.

We had tickets for his concert in a fairly small venue in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early 2000’s.  But, when we showed up to see him, we were informed he was not satisfied with the sound system, and had canceled the show.  He has a reputation for sometimes being difficult…although that might be an interpretation of his caring about doing things right.

So…now that Lindsey Buckingham is “Second Hand News”…will the new tour be a success for Fleetwood Mac?  Almost certainly, yes.  There’s plenty of star power with Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, and the rest of this new line-up.  Their first performance will be at a September 21st festival in Las Vegas, and the tour starts October 3rd, and includes 52 shows.

History has shown us bands are their own brands, and not all the original members are needed.  Journey still draws crowds without lead singer Steve Perry.  Foreigner does the same without lead singer Lou Gramm.  Queen is a  success without Freddie Mercury, and many more longtime bands draw crowds without various original members.  Apparently, fans want to hear the hits, and “close enough” versions are accepted.

Back in the late ’80’s, I encountered the opposite phenomenon…lead singers without their bands.  It was an oldies show at a county fair.  Gary Lewis (without The Playboys), Dennis Yost (without The Classics Four),  and Alex Chilton (without The Box Tops) all performed with the same backing band.  At least we heard “This Diamond Ring”, “Traces”, and “The Letter” by the original vocalists.  Because I was with the local radio stations, I had a chance to talk with the singers.  Alex Chilton was the only one who didn’t really want to be there.  He made it obvious he was doing it for the money, as his other critically praised group, Big Star, was never a commercial success.  I certainly got the impression he would have preferred performing new music, instead of oldies.

As for Lindsey Buckingham…it seems a shame that the members of Fleetwood Mac had to “break the chain”.

Nashville…Music from the TV show

The Nashville television show is fiction, but the music is real.

Nashville’s first season of music was produced by Grammy and Oscar winner T-Bone Burnett.  He’s produced some of Country’s best-reviewed and award-winning albums, and he’s done the same for movie soundtracks, including movies by the Coen Brothers.  Burnett doesn’t follow the latest Pop/Country trends, instead, he produces music the way he believes it should sound…which is authentic.

Burnett was assisted by another Grammy-winning musician, songwriter, and producer Buddy Miller.  Miller took over the Executive Music Producer position after the first season…which was in 2012.  Nashville was created by Academy Award winner Callie Khouri, who wrote the screenplay for Thelma & Louise.

So…there were quality artists behind the scenes for both the music and the drama.  The cast had to be talented as actors and as singers.

(Hayden Panetierre,  Charles Esten,  & Connie Britton)

The two lead characters are Rayna Jaymes, a legendary Country star played by Connie Britton (who had been in critically acclaimed “Friday Night Lights”)…and Juliette Barnes, a young successful Country/Pop star played by Hayden Panetierre (who was popular from her role in the TV series “Heroes”).  The beginning of the series was about the competition between these two Country stars.  Both actresses were critically praised for their performances on Nashville.  Hayden is the stronger musical performer, and also has the dance chops to make believable music videos in the show.

Deacon Claybourne, Rayna’s guitarist and love of her life, is played by Charles Esten.  Esten had starred as Buddy Holly in “Buddy” on the London stage in the ’90’s, and appeared as a guest in many TV series…from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to “The Office”.

The show found vocal gold with Clare Bowen (who’s Australian) and Sam Palladio (who’s British).  They play Scarlett & Gunnar, a couple of up-and-coming singer/songwriters.  The duets by these two “When The Right One Comes Along”, “If I Didn’t Know Better”, “I Will Fall” and “Fade Into You” were highlights of the first season.  They were the first two actors cast.  The above photo shows them on the set that duplicates the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.

Even more vocal gold came in the form of two real-life sisters, Lennon & Maisy Stella.  The younger sister, Maisy, auditioned for the part of Rayna’s daughter.  When the producers found out Maisy had a sister, and that they sang beautiful harmonies together on popular YouTube videos, they decided Rayna had two daughters (Maddie &  Daphne) at the ages of these two young stars.  Lennon & Maisy are the daughters of a musical duo popular in Canada, The Stellas.

The love of Juliette’s life is Avery Barkley, played by Jonathan Jackson.  The final major musical character is Will Lexington, played by Chris Carmack.  Both Jackson & Carmack have acting and musical backgrounds, and are good guitarists.

Besides talented music producers and solid actor/vocalists, Nashville’s secret to having a lot of great music over six seasons is that they use many of the real Nashville’s up-and-coming songwriters, some who’ve become better known since the show started.  Contributing songwriters include…Nashville duo The Civil Wars, Kacey Musgraves, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Kate York, Sara Buxton, Steve McEwan, Sarah Zimmerman, Justin Davis, Trent Dabbs, Jake Ethridge, Garrison Starr, and many many more.

The music is fully integrated into the show.  The songs reflect what the characters are experiencing in their lives, especially because they’re supposedly writing the songs.  The shows producers literally sort through thousands of songs to find ones that work.  They also say some songs they find are so good they’ve written scripts in order to work the songs into the show.  One of the stated purposes of the producers of Nashville was to provide new songwriters a way to get their music heard.  Based on interviews with the songwriters, the plan has definitely worked.

(After four seasons on ABC, and two on CMT, Nashville is coming to an end this summer.)

There have been about 40 new recordings released each year.  On my playlists, I select about 23 songs from each season to be on my “Nashville Best Season 1” through “Nashville Best Season 6” playlists…a total of 138 songs.  I’m not a major Country fan, but most of the songs on Nashville are more in the singer/songwriter vein, and some lean to Pop & Rock, because that’s the kind of music the various characters would perform.

I’ve put together some suggestions of songs (accenting the ballads a bit) you could check out on streaming services.  Just Google…Nashville Cast and the title of the song…most are on YouTube.  Or if you’re using Siri or Alexa, just ask them to play the song title and “by Nashville Cast”.

Songs by Clare Bowen & Sam Palladio (as Scarlett & Gunnar)

  1. When The Right One Comes Along
  2. If I Didn’t Know Better
  3. Fade Into You
  4. Something’s Gotta Give

Songs by Lennon & Maisy Stella (as Maddie & Daphne)

  1. A Life That’s Good
  2. Sanctuary
  3. Beautiful Dream (ballad version) [by Lennon]
  4. Come And Find Me (by Maisy)

Songs by Hayden Panetierre (as Juliette)

  1. Telescope
  2. Undermine
  3. Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet
  4. Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again

Songs by Charles Esten (as Deacon)

  1. Sideshow
  2. Friend Of Mine
  3. I Know How To Love You Now
  4. Always Keep On Loving You

Songs by other cast members

  1. Borrow My Heart (Jonathan Jackson with Clare & Sam)
  2. History Of My Heart (Jonathan Jackson)
  3. The Blues Have Blown Away (Connie Britton with Lennon & Maisy)
  4. Surrender (Connie Britton with Charles Esten)

It’s not easy to instantly like songs on the first listen, but give it a try, and maybe you’ll enjoy The Music Of Nashville too.  You certainly don’t need to see the show to appreciate the songs.  “Nashville” is ending, but the music transcends the show.

Pink Floyd…Which One’s Pink?

Pink Floyd is one of the most successful bands in history, but that doesn’t mean all of their fans jumped on the bandwagon right away.  And, the band didn’t make it easy either.

Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, & Rick Wright…1967

Pink Floyd’s name is taken from the names of two bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.  That’s because in 1965, the group planned on being a blues band.  Plans change, and in 1967 they were considered England’s first Acid Rock/Psychedelic band.  Their lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and main songwriter was Syd Barrett.  The band had some success in England in 1967 with a couple of singles…”See Emily Play” (#6 U.K.) and “Arnold Layne” (#20 U.K.), and with their album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (#6 U.K.).  Pink Floyd was also a popular live act in London, and used interesting light shows to heighten the psychedelic effect.

The album and some singles did nothing in the United States, although I do remember hearing “Astronomy Domine” on one of those sampler albums the record labels put out in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.

Then there was a problem that would have ended most groups.  The band’s leader, Syd Barrett, who had been using LSD regularly, suffered a mental breakdown.  He had to leave the band in early 1968.  The band had already added his replacement, David Gilmour, and Roger Waters took on most of the songwriting and the leadership role.

Rick Wright/keyboards, David Gilmour/guitar, Roger Waters/bass, Nick Mason/drums

Although some fans love the band’s early music, the fact is…they released 7 albums that mostly failed in the U.S.  The most successful one barely cracked the top 50, and some didn’t even make the top 200 chart.  If their career had ended there, most people would not have even heard of Pink Floyd.

So, there was no way to predict what happened next:

In 1973, Pink Floyd released The Dark Side Of The Moon, and everything changed.  The album went to #1 in the United States, and went on to sell over 45-million copies worldwide.  It holds the record for most consecutive weeks on the Billboard album chart…741 weeks…that’s over 14 years!  Those continuous sales meant the album kept finding new fans.  Our son, Paul, was born the year the album came out.  He’s a more knowledgeable Pink Floyd fan than I am, and he literally wore through his favorite The Dark Side Of The Moon T-shirt by the time he graduated high school.

There were a lot of reasons why Dark Side was successful.  Instead of extremely long songs with psychedelic or obscure lyrics, the songs are much better melodically, less drawn out (but they still have room to breathe), and the lyrics are purposefully direct and about important aspects of everyday life.  In addition, Pink Floyd had honed the songs in concert for a year before they took them them into the studio.

The Dark Side Of The Moon was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with engineer Alan Parsons, who had worked on Let It Be and Abbey Road for The Beatles.  Upon hearing the album, Capitol Records launched a major advertising campaign.  Since the songs were considered too long to be singles, the label released professionally edited shorter versions of the songs “Money”, “Time” and “Us And Them”.  That helped the group get on more radio stations.  “Money” even had an edited version that changed the “bullshit” line to just “bull”…in case station owners were afraid to offend anyone.  Money, and lots of it, was flowing to the members of Pink Floyd.

There is a great “Classic Albums” film documentary…The Making of The Dark Side Of The Moon.  It features interviews with all 4 members of Pink Floyd, who offer great insights and play instruments to demonstrate some of the parts (a couple of really nice acoustic versions).  The 2003 film is wonderfully edited together…going from live playing, right into the original studio versions.  I bought the documentary, and now it’s for sale on iTunes for only $1.99.

With The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd became the popular and influential band we know today.  Roger Waters was the main songwriter, but all four members contributed some songwriting, and added to the arrangements, particularly David Gilmour’s perfect-for-each-song guitar solos.

Follow up albums include:  Wish You Were Here , #1 in 1975.  It’s nearly as good as Dark Side, is the favorite of Gilmour and Wright, and includes the line from a music executive…”Which one’s Pink?”.  Animals, #3 in 1977.  And the 1979 album…The Wall.

The Wall was another “cultural event” and third #1 album for Pink Floyd.  It had massive sales.  Although it didn’t sell as many units as Dark Side, it officially is listed as having greater sales, because it was a double-album and each unit sold represented 2 albums.  The Wall also contained Pink Floyd’s only #1 hit, “Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)”.  Interestingly, Pink Floyd just had two Top 40 singles, the other being “Money”, but they had plenty of their album cuts played on FM stations…still do.

Maybe all that success was too much pressure, because there was a lot of tension in the band.  Waters even wanted to not include  David Gilmour’s outstanding cut “Comfortably Numb”  in his rock opera The Wall.  The last Pink Floyd album to include Roger Waters is The Final Cut in 1983.  It sold okay, and at the time was considered the band’s last album.

In 1987 David Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason reformed the group and released A Momentary Lapse Of Reason.  It’s a solid effort (I love “On The Turning Away”), and the public responded in a big way to the album and especially the tour.  It continued the Pink Floyd style of elaborate stage productions with big screen videos, laser lights, and giant props.

Another successful studio album from this lineup is The Division Bell in 1994.  There was the live album Pulse in 1995, and their final (nearly all instrumental) album  Endless River in 2014.

My wife and I were lucky to see Roger Waters in concert in Omaha in June of 2007.  It was a stellar large arena show with excellent musicians, and all the production values of a Pink Floyd show, even the famous flying pig.  Waters and his band performed many of the best Floyd songs (he sounded great on “Wish You Were Here”).  Then they presented the entire Dark Side Of The Moon album…while a giant lighted pyramid hung over the sold out audience and beamed more lighting to the stage.

We’ve never seen David Gilmour perform live, except in some videos of his Pink Floyd style concerts.  We do have three of his solo albums, and enjoy his distinctive guitar playing and vocals.

For a band that had so much trouble finding commercial success, Pink Floyd has sold over 250-Million Albums.

Everyone has heard of Pink Floyd.

Ricky Nelson…Not Just A Teenage Idol

Ricky Nelson first became known as a cute kid on his parent’s radio and television show “The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet”.  The TV version of the show started in 1952 when Ricky was 12.

(The Nelsons – Ricky, David, Harriet and Ozzie – a real family and a TV family.)

Ricky Nelson became a popular Rock & Roll singer in 1957, when he was 17.  My family watched the show, and saw Ricky Nelson performing his hits…which started with his cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walking” (#4).  It was somewhat unfortunate that this was his first million-seller, because white artists had been covering songs by black artists, and the black versions were not getting enough airplay.  That trend was deplored by music critics.  Of course Fats Domino had just as big a hit with “I’m Walking” (#4).  Many years later Ricky and Fats even toured together.  After that one hit, Ricky Nelson built his career on original songs, mostly provided by professional songwriters.

(“Teen Age Idol” picture sleeve that was with dad’s records.)

A favorite memory from grade school…one of my classmates, Keith Goins, was a guitar player, and we used to sing Ricky Nelson songs.

Nelson performed in what might be considered the first music videos.  They were played at the end of episodes of “Ozzie & Harriet”, when Ricky would sing his songs.  The videos were production pieces, not just performances.

(He started going by Rick in 1961, but “Ricky” stuck.)

Ricky Nelson’s other Top-10 Hits (nearly all million-selling) included:  “Be-Bop Baby” (#3), “Stood Up” (#2), “Believe What You Say” (#4), “Poor Little Fool” (#1), “Lonesome Town” (#7), “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (#6), “It’s Late” (#9), “Travelin’ Man” (#1), “Hello Mary Lou” (#9), “Young World” (#5), “Teen Age Idol” (#5), “It’s Up To You” (#6), and “For You” (#6).  Those are just some of the 33 Top-40 hits he had from May of 1957 to January of 1964.

Then, Ricky Nelson stopped having hits.

What happened in January of 1964 that could have had such a big impact on his career?  The Beatles happened.

Almost that quickly, teen idols were replaced by British bands and singers.  It wasn’t that teen idol types didn’t still release music, it  just didn’t chart well anymore.  Even Elvis Presley only had one Top-10 hit from the beginning of 1964 to mid 1969.

What eventually got Rick Nelson back on the charts was forming The Stone Canyon Band in 1969.  Rick Nelson’s songs often had a country sound to them, especially “Hello Mary Lou” in 1961, which some people consider early Country Rock.  Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band, focused on that Country Rock sound, even adding steel guitar.  They were on the Top 40 chart in January of 1970 with the Bob Dylan song “She Belongs To Me”, and had a well-reviewed album, In Concert At The Troubadour.  The band included Randy Meisner, who went on to become one of the founding members of Eagles.

Rick Nelson and his band played a Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival concert in Madison Square Garden in 1971, and it didn’t go particularly well.  When they played a newer song, a cover of “Honky Tonk Women” (then a fairly new song by The Rolling Stones), there was booing in the audience.  Nelson left the stage, but was convinced to finish the set.  He stuck to the oldies the audience wanted.  Some audience members said the booing was actually about a police action in the audience, but still, it angered Rick Nelson and he wrote “Garden Party”.

The song went to #6 on the Pop chart, #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and sold over 1-million copies in 1972.  Garden Party tells the story of his experience at Madison Square Garden.  He thought the booing was for not looking like he did back in the early ’60’s, and for not just playing his old hits.  The song also has a lot of clever descriptions of artists who attended or performed at the concert.

Unfortunately, that was the last chart success for Rick Nelson.  Then after a messy divorce in 1982, he was forced to tour, because he needed money.  “I get no rest when I’m feelin’ weary, I gotta pack my bags and go.  I gotta be somewhere tomorrow, to smile and do my show.”…lyrics from “Teen Age Idol”.

It was in 1985 that he released the collection, Ricky Nelson: All My Best.   You can see he embraced the “y” he couldn’t get rid of.

He also launched a comeback tour in 1985.  He didn’t like buses, so he bought a 1944 Douglas DC-3 airplane that was once owned by Jerry Lee Lewis.  The DC-3 was old and unreliable.  On December 31st, 1985, the plane crash-landed northeast of Dallas, Texas.  Nelson and all six members of his band and crew died in the crash.  Rick Nelson was just 45 years old.  There was a false and hurtful rumor that the musicians had been freebasing cocaine, but the official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board said a faulty heater caused the smoke and fire that led to the crash.

One somewhat eerie note…the last song Rick Nelson performed on stage was “Rave On” by Buddy Holly, who also died in a plane crash.

Ricky Nelson wasn’t just a kid who was made into a teen idol.  Sure he had the good looks of a movie star, and did some film work, but foremost he was a musician.  He played guitar, wrote some of his own songs, and he had a great baritone voice with excellent range.  Ricky Nelson brought along other young musicians, such as guitarist James Burton who gained his own fame through the years.  Nelson was also one of the earliest movers in Country Rock in the 1960’s, before it blossomed in the 1970’s.

Ricky Nelson helped make early Rock & Roll popular, and then contributed to its evolution.