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Harry Nilsson - All Time Greatest Hits (1989)

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I must confess that I've never listened to the late  Harry Nilsson  very often outside of his long string of hit singles. After all, who has the time to listen to every album ever recorded except for maybe  Stephen Thomas Erlewine of  AllMusic . I never owned any of Nilsson's albums until I paid $2.00 last week for All Time Greatest Hits at a local country fair. Before that, I only ever bought one of his 45s - his first big hit, "Everybody's Talkin'" way back in 1967. The few Nilsson albums I've sampled pieces of were quite inconsistent, so for casual fans this twenty song collection is definitely the way to go. All of his huge hits are included on this set along with a few minor ones.  What is most noticeable about Nilsson is his eclecticism. While he does not sound like The Beatles their influence is obvious. Listening to the pop-rocker reminds me of the group's  White Album,  because just like the Fabs, Nilsson was not contented to work within a de

Almost Hits: Dolly Parton - Jolene (1973)

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Dolly Parton's "Jolene" went all the way to the #1 spot on both the Canadian and American country charts, but on Billboard's US Hot 100 it only climbed to #60. Despite that, it is Parton's most covered song.  In a 2018 interview the country queen revealed she wrote both "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You" on the same day. I'd call that a very good day. Both songs appear on the album pictured here. The song's interesting backstory is revealed in its first verse. " Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,  I'm begging of you please don't take my man.  Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,  Please don't take him just because you can." Parton and her new husband, Carl Dean, were in a bank when a gorgeous, red-headed teller flirted with him. This upset the soon-to-be legend so she wrote a song about the incident. Its  lyrics never address whether or not Jolene really intended to steal Dean from her. T he record's name and the ha

Buried Treasure: Seamus Kelleher - September Skies (2006 & 2007)

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Due to all of the bad news of the last two years the sad events of September 11, 2001 may have receded deep into the recesses of a lot of people's minds. But, on this twentieth anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters, and the heroics of the passengers on United 93, I believe it's time to discuss one of the saddest songs you'll ever hear. Seamus Kelleher  was known around the Philadelphia area as an excellent rock guitarist when he was a member of the now disbanded, locally popular, Celtic-rock quintet, Blackthorn. He left the band in 2011 to pursue his own muse and released two solo albums, both of them favorably reviewed here . Kelleher is quite eclectic. He's versatile on both acoustic and electric guitars. Not only can he play the the hard driving blues-rock of Rory Gallagher, he also covers slide guitarist Elmore James. On his second album, Another Side of Town , he gets mellow and topical with " Streets of London ," a folk song by

Last Albums: Janis Joplin - Pearl (1971)

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In the majority of  cases recording artists' most revered and  famous records are made early in their careers. Later, many of them will "jump the shark" - as the saying goes - or recede into the background as pop music tastes change. Unless you're a diehard fan of a particular artist many listeners will not even know what an artist's last album is. Beginning today, I'm hoping to change that by running a brand new, occasional series named Last Albums .   To qualify as a last album it must have been recorded as a set of new material that was intended to be released to the public as a complete album but not necessarily the last one. Live albums, greatest hits or "best of" collections and compilations will not be included, nor will posthumous releases of leftover tracks cobbled together to make a final album. The first one, covered below, has become a blues-rock classic. __________________________________________ Janis Joplin only made four studio album

Josephine Johnson - Double High Five (2021)

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Josephine Johnson has released three full length albums prior to  Double High Five , her totally satisfying, brand new, six song EP. In addition to releasing some really fine music the indie folk-rocker also deserves great praise because she is completely the master of her domain.  " I’m not 25, I’ve never been married, I put myself through school, and I book my own shows–I’m the roadie, the writer, the singer, doing exactly what I want to do." Johnson has a Nashville address but she is constantly on the road teaching music in Georgia, South Carolina and California where she received an MA in English from Humboldt State University. Last year she played 220 gigs despite the pandemic and she can also boast about being an accomplished ukulele player. The EP is partly inspired by a busted relationship but Johnson's songs sound as if they were born out of love rather than sadness. The varied and vibrant arrangements allow you to feel empathy for Johnson while you're being

R. I. P. Charlie Watts (1941 - 2021)

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This is not going to be one of my better pieces of writing because anything I say today about Charlie Watts would just be redundant. You can already find everything you need to know about him all over the blogosphere yet I would feel remiss if I didn't acknowledge his passing in some way.  Watts was always my favorite member of The Rolling Stones and his death yesterday is one that bothers me a lot. Maybe, it's because of how iconic The Stones became during what is now the first era of classic rock. Admittedly, I was never the band's biggest booster although I do like their music enough to have read Keith Richard's autobiography . On the other hand, I've always been a fan of big band jazz so why I got rid of The Charlie Watts Orchestra's Live at Fulham Town Hall CD from 1986 is a mystery to me. It's out of print now and only available as a collector's item . I should've replaced it years ago. As written over and over the last two days, jazz was alwa

The Everly Brothers, Auto-Tune, & Harmonies

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The article below was originally written after the passing of Phil Everly in 2014. It has been updated slightly as a tribute to his older brother, Don, whose death was announced yesterday. With the death of Don Everly much has been written about The Everly Brothers over the last couple of days. Another generic tribute seems unnecessary so it's time to approach his recent passing from a different direction. Everly's death brings to mind what a lost art form pop-rock singing has become. There are plenty of stars today with a lot of talent but they don't often get a chance to show off their stuff. Digital processing of the human voice has removed the need for many singers to possess a great set of pipes and if the vocals you're currently listening to on the radio sound a lot like a computer you understand what I mean. The Everly Brothers were from a time when rock 'n roll was in its infancy and still developing. Even though rock was looked upon as music for te

Almost Hits: The Sugar Bears - You Are The One (1971)

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Please, please, please don't send me to musical prison for liking a song based on Sugar Bear, an advertising creation manufactured to sell the breakfast cereal, Sugar Crisp (eventually renamed Golden Crisp to avoid any references to sugar when the sweetener suddenly fell out of favor). Sugar Bear became so popular that a TV show was built around him that sold product related toys and Christmas ornaments. Crass commercialism all the way! In 1971 record producer Jimmy Bowen - with some good singers and songwriters - released cardboard cut-out records on the back of Sugar Crisp cereal boxes - five in all.  The song featured four group members:  Sugar Bear, Honey Bear, Shoobee Bear, and Doobee Bear. Bowen also recorded a commercially released album,  Presenting The Sugar Bears , with a group that included songwriters Mike Settle , formerly of The New Christy Minstrels and The First Edition;  Baker Knight , who wrote "The Wonder of You" - a hit by Elvis Presley; and Kim Car