Saturday, December 14, 2019

Peter Cetera - Silent Night (1988)

Front cover of Winter Warnerland  CD & vinyl
For years I've owned Peter Cetera's "Silent Night" a song I obtained from someone I used to know from an old Chicago fan forum. While I like the track quite a bit I knew nothing about it except that it was the product of the former  vocalist and bass player for Chicago.

"Silent Night" is an unusual arrangement for Cetera and his voice is not easily recognizable on this fun track. It's also quite brief, it clocks in at 2:18, and falls squarely into the realm of country music.

Some people consider Cetera's version of this much loved carol to be almost sacrilegious because he quickens the pace of the melody quite a bit, thereby removing much of its spirituality.

Since I've always been the curious type when it comes to music I wanted to find out more about this rarity so I contacted another old fan forum friend who is a big Cetera fan. He didn't have a whole lot of information but he knew enough to allow me to find much of what I needed for this post on Google without a whole lot of effort. (Thank you, sir).

Back cover, click to enlarge
Cetera's "Silent Night" does not appear on his 2004 Christmas album, You Just Gotta Love Christmas. it only appears on a promotional Christmas CD, Warner Wonderland, a limited edition set that was never made available to the public. It was produced by Warner Brothers and less than 2,500 copies were manufactured. It was given to radio stations, record stores, producers, and music journalists as a gift for the 1988 holiday season.

In addition to a host of rare performances, including some unknown and offbeat artists like Pee-Wee Herman, it was also loaded with many respected and popular artists like Randy Travis, Los Lobos, R.E.M., Lou Reed, and Nelson Wilbury (a.k.a. George Harrison). The album also included seasonal jingles and holiday greetings  radio stations could use on the air from Cetera, Reed, Wilbury, ZZ Top, and others.

The set is available on CD and red vinyl from various sellers, many at collector's prices, at Discogs and Amazon.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Musicians On Call: Delivering The Healing Power Of Music

Normally Bloggerhythms takes pride in its carefully written and thought out prose but today's short post is an exception. Instead, because it's Thanksgiving, I'll let the video below do most of the talking to spread the word about Musicians On Call (MOC), a non-profit organization that began their noble mission twenty years ago. MOC is dedicated to bringing both live and recorded music to patients' hospital rooms.

The world hears so many stories about boorish and selfish behavior from entertainers that it's nice to know when the opposite is true. The goal is to bring a little joy to those unfortunate people who are too infirm to leave their beds and maybe facilitate the healing process at the same time.

MOC is getting widespread support from national recording artists, classic and current. Many are major stars. Here are just a few who have generously donated their time to raise money or visit patients. Among them are James Taylor, The Bacon Brothers, John Mayer, Rob Thomas, Seal, Nils Lofgren, Maroon 5, Chris Daughtry, Chicago, Darius Rucker, Bruno Mars, Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley, Def Leppard, Norah Jones, The Black Keys, Tim McGraw, Sting, and many, many more. They have all contributed to MOC's success.

Please share this post with as many people as possible.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Buried Treasure: Various Artists - The First Hot 100 Of The 60s (2016)

The First Hot 100 Of the 60s is a 4 CD set featuring all of the songs, in order, on the Billboard chart for the week of January 4, 1960 starting at #1 and running through #100.

It was only a couple of years earlier, in August 1958, when the first Hot 100 was published and in just two years it became the ultimate guide to the US singles market. At the time of this chart Billboard determined a song's popularity based on sales of 45 RPM singles and radio airplay.

Today, a song's ranking in the United States is based on the total sales of both physical and digital formats, radio airplay, and online streaming. So, it's possible that if the current methods were used in 1960 the chart may have had a very different look. We'll never know.

Hot 100s always included many genres and they usually contain some classic tracks along with a lot of simple-minded dreck. The January '60 chart is loaded with one hit wonders and novelty songs but it was also home to a lot of famous artists and songs that would eventually become standards.

As the new decade dawned the initial wave of rock 'n roll had died out and we were still four years away from The Beatles saving popular music. The top hits of the day were not the sounds people think of when you hear the term "60s music." That moniker is normally used to describe the period that began in February 1964 when the Liverpool quartet clobbered America on the head and took over music stores and radio. This era had more in common with Leave It To Beaver than Woodstock.

The teen idols were well represented by Fabian (twice), Bobby Rydell, Paul Anka, Annette, and Frankie Avalon.

Respected artists who transcended time had records out too. Among them are Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, and Johnny Cash.

Other major stars of the era who fell off the radar completely when the British Invasion and Motown arrived on the scene are on the list too. Little Anthony and The Imperials, The Drifters, Dion and the Belmonts, Connie Francis, Bill Haley & The Comets, Ricky Nelson, and Tommy Edwards all make appearances.

Number 1 this particular week was by country artist Marty Robbins who had recently released one of the genre's early concept albums, Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs. The LP is about the old West and features the the big hit "El Paso." The single went to #1 on the country chart for seven weeks and crossed over to the pop side where it captured the top spot on the Hot 100 too.

In at #12 was Bobby Darin whose only #1 hit ever was sliding down the charts. "Mack the Knife" has become a timeless classic.

You'll find two ridiculous novelties imitating The Chipmunks, both an "A" and a "B," side by a group called The Nutty Squirrels. "Uh! Oh! (Part 2)" ranked #14 and and "Uh! Oh! (Part 1)" checked in at #58.

At #18 was "Smokie, Part 2" by Bill Black's Combo. Black was Elvis Presley's bass player at Sun Records and was one of the early adopters of a Fender Precision bass.

Johnny Mathis owned the #40 spot with "Misty." Originally a jazz piano piece written by Erroll Garner, lyricist Johnny Burke added words and it became one of Mathis's signature songs along with "Chances Are." It got as high as #12.

Another notable entry was "Clouds" by The Spacemen at #52. The single was written and produced by a man named Julius Dixson. At one time the track had lyrics and vocals but for reasons unknown these were removed and the record was issued as an instrumental. It was released on Dixson's own label, Alton Records. It was an R&B #1 but it only got as high as #41 on the Hot 100. This long forgotten track is significant for being the first single released by an African-American owned label to claim the top position on ANY American chart, a whole year before Berry Gordy's Motown label accomplished the same feat. How's that for a bit of trivia?

Jimmy Jones laid claim to the original version of "Handy Man," a song most of us first heard when it was covered by James Taylor in the 70s. This week Jones' hit slid down to #67 but earlier it reached #2 on the pop chart and #3 on the R&B side.

There were several songs left over from the Christmas season. Two that are now considered classics are The Chipmunks' novelty tune (#61 this week) and The Harry Simeone Chorale's "Little Drummer Boy," the original recording that made the chart every year from 1958 through 1962. It peaked at #15 for the just ended holiday season and in January 1960 it was still riding high at #22.

A 34 page booklet accompanies the package and it's loaded with details about every song and artist who appears on the list along with pictures of many of the hitmakers.

Overall, while the package includes some good music many of the songs on it are more interesting as historical artifacts than as stuff we would like to sit down and listen to. Of course, your opinion may differ.

You can buy the entire set here.

If you found this post interesting you may want to see the top 10 Billboard hits for the week JFK was assassinated in 1963.

Several videos follow the track listings below to either satiate your curiosity or add to your life's enjoyment.

Track Listing - Disc 1
1.    #1  El Paso - Marty Robbins
2.    #2  Why - Frankie Avalon
3.    #3  The Big Hurt - Toni Fisher
4.    #4  Running Bear - Johnny Preston
5.    #5  Way Down Yonder In New Orleans - Freddy Cannon
6.    #6  Heartaches by the Number - Guy Mitchell
7.    #7  It's Time to Cry - Paul Anka
8.    #8  Among My Souvenirs - Connie Francis
9.    #9  Pretty Blue Eyes - Steve Lawrence
10.  #10  Go Jimmy Go - Jimmy Clanton
11.  #11  We Got Love - Bobby Rydell
12.  #12  Mack the Knife - Bobby Darin
13.  #13  The Village of St. Bernadette - Andy Williams
14.  #14  Uh! Oh!, Pt. 2 - Nutty Squirrels
15.  #15  Sandy - Larry Hall
16.  #16  Hound Dog Man - Fabian
17.  #17  Scarlet Ribbons - The Browns
18.  #18  Smokie, Pt. 2 - Bill Black's Combo
19.  #19  Not One Minute More - Della Reese
20.  #20  Friendly World - Fabian
21.  #21  In the Mood - Ernie Fields
22.  #22  The Little Drummer Boy - Harry Simeone Chorale
23.  #23  You Got What It Takes - Marv Johnson
24.  #24  First Name Initial - Annette
25.  #25  So Many Ways - Brook Benton

Track Listing - Disc 2
1.    #26  Oh Carol - Neil Sedaka
2.    #27  Be My Guest - Fats Domino
3.    #28  Teardrop - Santo & Johnny
4.    #29  Teen Angel - Mark Dinning
5.    #30  Come Into My Heart - Lloyd Price
6.    #31  Mr. Blue - The Fleetwoods
7.    #32  I Wanna Be Loved - Rick Nelson
8.    #33  Danny Boy - Conway Twitty
9.    #34  Don't You Know - Della Reese
10.  #35  Talk That Talk - Jackie Wilson
11.  #36  Marina - Rocco Granata & the International Quintet
12.  #37  Just Come Home - Hugo & Luigi
13.  #38  How About That - Dee Clark
14.  #39  Swingin' on a Rainbow - Frankie Avalon
15.  #40  Misty - Johnny Mathis
16.  #41  He'll Have to Go - Jim Reeves
17.  #42  Believe Me - The Royal Teens
18.  #43  Dance With Me - The Drifters
19.  #44  Just as Much as Ever - Bob Beckham
20.  #45  The Happy Reindeer - The Singing Reindeer
21.  #46  Bonnie Came Back - Duane Eddy
22.  #47  (New In) The Ways of Love - Tommy Edwards
23.  #48  If I Had a Girl -  Rod Lauren
24.  #49  Mighty Good - Rick Nelson
25.  #50  What About Us - The Coasters

Track Listing - Disc 3
1.    #51  Where or When - Dion & the Belmonts
2.    #52  Clouds - The Spacemen
3.    #53  Mary, Don't You Weep - Stonewall Jackson
4.    #54  Marina - Willy Alberti
5.    #55  (If You Cry) True Love, True Love - The Drifters
6.    #56  No Love Have I - Webb Pierce
7.    #57  Reveille Rock - Johnny & the Hurricanes
8.    #58  Uh! Oh!, Pt. 1 - The Nutty Squirrels
9.    #59  Always -  Sammy Turner
10.  #60  Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko Bop - Little Anthony & the Imperials
11.  #61  Chipmunk Song - David Seville & The Chipmunks
12.  #62  Down by the Station - The Four Preps
13.  #63  A Year Ago Tonight - The Crests
14.  #64  Honey Hush - Big Joe Turner
15.  #65  Lonely Blue Boy - Conway Twitty
16.  #66  Won'tcha Come Home - Lloyd Price
17.  #67  Handy Man - Jimmy Jones
18.  #68  Crazy Arms - Bob Beckham
19.  #69  High School USA - Tommy Facenda
20.  #70  Lucky Devil - Carl Dobkins, Jr.
21.  #71  Let's Try Again - Clyde McPhatter
22.  #72  Baciare, Baciare (Kissing, Kissing) - Dorothy Collins
23.  #73  Seven Little Girls (Sittin' in the Back Seat) - Paul Evans & The Curls
24.  #74  Primrose Lane - Jerry Wallace With The Jewels
25.  #75  This Time of The Year - Brook Benton

Track Listing - Disc 4
1.    #76  Love Potion No. 9 - The Clovers
2.    #77  Climb Ev'ry Mountain - Tony Bennett
3.    #78  Skokiaan - Bill Haley & The Comets
4.    #79  Sweet Nothin's - Brenda Lee
5.    #80  Run, Red, Run - The Coasters
6.    #81  Promise Me A Rose (A Slight Detail) - Anita Bryant
7.    #82  Rockin' Little Angel - Ray Smith
8.    #83  I'm Movin' On - Ray Charles & His Orchestra
9.    #84  Tracy's Theme - Spencer Ross
10.  #85  The Little Drummer Boy - Johnny Cash
11.  #86  Little Things Mean a Lot - Joni James
12.  #87  Riverboat - Faron Young
13.  #88  Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts
14.  #89  God Bless America - Connie Francis
15.  #90  The Sound of Music - Patti Page
16.  #91  I Don't Know What It Is - The Bluenotes
17.  #92  Darling Lorraine - The Knockouts
18.  #93  (I Remember) In the Still of Nite - The Five Satins
19.  #94  Do-Re-Mi - Mitch Miller & The Kids
20.  #95  Little Coco Palm - Jerry Wallace
21.  #96  Deck of Cards - Wink Martindale
22.  #97  One Mint Julep - Chet Atkins
23.  #98  Happy Anniversary - Jane Morgan
24.  #99  Smokie, Pt. 2 - Bill Doggett
25.  #100  One More Chance - Rod Bernard

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Terry Kath Experience (2017)

A surprisingly good documentary, The Terry Kath Experience, received rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and is now available on AXS TV, a cable network that specializes in classic rock programming.

Michelle Kath Sinclair was only two years old when her father, Terry Kath, died accidently playing with a gun he didn't know was loaded at age thirty-two. He was the guitar player for the 70s horn band, Chicago, an outfit that was finally inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Sinclair never knew Kath because she was so young when he died so, in order to fill a big void in her life, she produced this informative and moving documentary.

Before we get deeper into the film some of you fine readers may need to know more about Kath because, except for musicians and many diehard fans, he is not among the more well-remembered classic rockers. Although he unjustly never makes the lists of rock's great guitarists that many music magazines and websites love to compile he was held in high esteem by such axemasters as Jimi Hendrix, Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, and all six of his original bandmates. They agree that Kath was indispensable to their success and that he was the heart and soul of the jazz-rock septet. They even considered breaking up after his passing because everyone knew the group would never be the same and, unfortunately, they were right.

Sinclair covered a lot of ground. In addition to Chicago's surviving members she interviewed Toto's Steve Lukather, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne (ELO) and Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots). She also spoke with family members, including Terry's brother Roy, and her Mom, Camelia, Kath's widow.

Sinclair also interviewed James William Guercio, Chicago's first producer. He was the owner of the Caribou Ranch where Chicago recorded five studio albums from 1973 to 1977. For many of us it was the first time we saw the ranch and studio where the band recorded so many of their big hits.

One of the main themes running through the documentary is Sinclair's search for Kath's favorite onstage shredding device, his Fender Telecaster with pignose stickers pasted all over its body. You'll have to watch the movie to see if she finds it.

The film proves itself to be part Ken Burns because of all the informative movie clips, still photos, and talking heads collected together and, mostly because of the melodramatic search for the missing Telecaster, it's also part reality show. Sinclair did a terrific job of informing viewers of who Kath was, how much his music meant to him, his unfulfilled plans for the future, and most importantly, how highly his friends and family thought of him above and beyond his musical talents.

It's sad that Kath is gone but Sinclair puts so much love and detail into her movie that when it's over we leave it happily remembering the man who treated us to some of the finest rock music ever made. We're also glad to witness his daughter seemingly come to terms with her father's legacy.

Sinclair has succeeded in the entertainment field in multiple ways. Working under the name of DJ Lady Sinclair she is a DJ known for her party mixes. The Terry Kath Experience is her first feature length documentary and she receives credit as both a director and producer. She also has her own podcast.

The first video below features the man himself singing lead on his first composition to make it onto a Chicago LP. Side 1, track 1, of Chicago Transit Authority, the group's very first album from 1969, is "Introduction," one of Kath's best.

The second video is a live take on Kath's greatest studio solo, "25 or 6 to 4," recorded on stage in Japan in 1972.

Related Websites:
The Terry Kath Experience
Chicago the Band
Caribou Ranch Recording Studio
Chicago: An Album By Album Analysis Of The Terry Kath Era (1969 - 1977)
Terry Kath's Solo on "25 or 6 to 4"
DJ Lady Sinclair

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love (2004)

Madeleine Peyroux released her sophomore album, Careless Love, a whopping eight years after her stellar debut. Why it took so long is unknown but when there is that large of a gap betweens records we should expect the follow up to be very, very good. Fortunately, it is.

Just as they did on Dreamland, Peyroux's vocals generate Billie Holiday comparisons but unlike like Lady Day, the former street busker's reach extends far beyond the realm of jazz.

Careless Love has only one self-penned tune and that allows Peyroux to record some excellent cover material. The set starts off with a bang. She uses Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me To The End Of Love" to prove how well she can interpret somebody else's work. Her reading of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," originally found on his legendary Blood On The Tracks LP, is superb. She also covers Hank Williams, as well as the title cut by W. C. Handy, and an old jazz standard "The Lonesome Road."

"Don't Wait To Long," the only original entry, shows Peyroux has great taste in collaborators because her co-writer here is none other than Jesse Harris who wrote a lot of Norah Jones' first album.

Peyroux's band only plays what is necessary so they never become a distraction. They keep everything mellow, never working up a sweat, and their contributions are important to this disc's enjoyment.

If you haven't heard this very good set of songs yet please make sure that you do.

Madeleine Peyroux's official website can be found here.