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The Tonight Show Band With Doc Severinsen (1986)

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Doc Severinsen made dozens of albums with various outfits while working for Johnny Carson and leading The Tonight Show Band from 1967 until Carson retired in 1992, but it took the trumpeter until 1986 to take his TV band into the studio to record a very good album, The Tonight Show Band With Doc Severinsen . Severinsen led a large, high energy group of nineteen musicians if you count the boss who was the primary soloist on nine of the thirteen tracks. While Severinsen and his men don't break any new ground, much of the CD is loaded with extremely well-played, modern arrangements of old 30s and 40s big band standards, including instrumental hits of trombonist Tommy Dorsey ("I'm Getting Sentimental Over You"), clarinetist Artie Shaw ("Begin The Beguine"), and vibraphone player Lionel Hampton ("Flying Home"). The set also includes three Benny Goodman classics, "King Porter Stomp," "Don't Be That Way,&quo

Almost Hits: Spacehog - In The Meantime (1996)

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In 1996, Spacehog, a British one-hit wonder formed in New York City had a #32 hit with "In The Meantime," their very first single. The track was the group's commercial peak and they never came close to the top 40 again. It was also their highest charting single in their native UK. Resident Alien , the debut CD "In The Meantime" was pulled from was just moderately successful too, rising only as high as #49 on the US album chart. Each of Spacehog's two succeeding albums failed to make the top 100 and by 2002 the band was over except for a shortlived reunion in 2013 that produced a final album that earned little recognition. In a 2018 interview  composer and lead singer Royston Langdon discussed the single's opaque lyrics with Songfacts , "It's me trying to reach people. It's using some kind of metaphor of a worldly or inner-worldly search for the end of isolation, and the acceptance of one's

Last Albums: Arthur Alexander - Lonely Just Like Me (1993)

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The R & B world seems to produce all-star level talent who should be legends but instead perform for many years - often decades - in undeserved obscurity. Many never found an audience even among the genre's own fans. Such is the case with hard luck Arthur Alexander who died in 1993 before Lonely Just Like Me could make him a star. Alexander's resume contained a few minor hit records in the early 60s but he is mostly known for one song. Beatles fans will surely recognize him as the composer of "Anna" a song they covered on their very first album, Please Please Me , all the way back in 1963 before America and their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show . Lesser known is "Soldier Of Love" a Beatles cover that only appears on their  Live At The BBC double set. The Rolling Stones released "You Better Move On" as part of  their 1964 eponymous EP and "Sally Sue Brown" was reworked by Bob Dylan for his 1988 album, Down In Th

Billy Joel - Turn The Lights Back On (2024)

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Billy Joel has been a constant presence on the arena rock scene all during the 21st Century highlighted by his monthly, ten year residency at Manhattan's Madison Square Garden that is coming to an end in 2024. On the other hand, hearing new music from the mega-star has become extremely rare. Joel's last full album of pop-rock music was the mediocre River Of Dreams in 1993. After that, he composed a dozen, classical piano pieces for Fantasies & Delusions , a CD featuring solo performances played by Richard Joo that was released in 2001. Since then, the rocker has only delivered two additional songs: "All My Life" in 2007 - a love song to his third wife, Katie Lee - and " Christmas In Fallujah " a tune he wrote but never recorded and gave to a young singer-songwriter, Cass Dillon , to record. After those two efforts Joel released nothing for seventeen years. Happily, the drought has ended with the song he performed recently

People! - I Love You (1968)

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Some bands have unusual backstories. People! - yes, the exclamation point is part of their name - could be the only rock band in history that suffered from serious personnel issues due to religious differences. People! were a one-hit wonder from San Jose, CA who had a #14 hit with "I Love You," a cover of a Zombies song written by the British Invasion band's bass player, Chris White. Lead singer Larry Norman - already a devout Christian - joined the psychedelic rock sextet in time to add his vocals to this fun single released on Capitol Records. It's success allowed People! to record a full album that included a song he brought to the band, "What We Need is a Lot More Jesus and a Lot Less Rock & Roll" written by country singer Wayne Rainey that was also covered by Linda Ronstadt. The LP was not a hit. Just as "I Love You" was gaining momentum - a year after the Summer of Love - most of the group became devotees o

Is Creedence Clearwater Revival's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" Cultural Appropriation?

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Like a lot of people over the last decade in our perpetually divided nation it's not always easy for me to discuss controversial topics, especially ones that shouldn't - in my opinion - be so contentious. It's the reason I avoid writing about social and political issues. However, today I'm breaking my self-imposed rule for only the second time in the nineteen year history of this blog. In the Twenty-first century, most Americans are viewed by each side as either being too far to the left or too far right, and we often formulate our opinion of a person's political beliefs based on a single position they hold without exploring what else he or she may have to say. I'm probably guilty of it myself. As an alternative to  X/Twitter , this past July I joined a new online platform born in February 2023. It's called Spoutible and in a lot of ways it's very different from Elon Musk's misadventure. Spoutible

Brinsley Schwarz - Thinking Back: The Anthology 1970 - 1975 (2023)

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I've written about Brinsley Schwarz before, but in case you're not familiar with them a little history may help you fully understand the significance of the recently released box set, Thinking Back: The Anthology 1970 - 1975 . It contains all sixty-eight tracks from Brinsley Schwarz's seven studio albums including It's All Over Now that was recorded in the mid-70s but not released until 1988. Pub-rock is frequently mentioned as the precursor to punk, but personally I don't hear it in the music of Brinsley Schwarz even with the knowledge that someone possessing a punk sensibility like the young Elvis Costello was obsessed with the British quintet. The view from here is that garage-rock and power-pop describe the band's music far more accurately. The group's lineup for their first two LPs included the guitarist they are named after,  Brinsley Schwarz , and keyboard player Bob Andrews. Billy Rankin pla

Muireann Bradley - I Kept These Old Blues (2023)

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Almost as often as aficionados of classical music do, blues fans are willing to listen to updated versions of ancient compositions originally written or recorded by the old masters. Perhaps this is because many of them were produced on old, scratchy, well-worn, 78 RPM records, so new, clean, high-fidelity interpretations are welcome. One of the young talents resurrecting old blues is newcomer Muireann (pronounced " moor -un") Bradley from County Donegal, Ireland. This talented young lady just turned seventeen and recently released her twelve song debut album, I Kept These Old Blues , that was recorded over a three year period with just her voice and her very accomplished acoustic guitar work. The teenager learned to love the blues from her father, John Bradley, who you could say is besotted with the music of the country-blues artists from as long as a hundred years ago. Muireann elaborat