Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Is Time Running Out for These Rockers? (Part Three)

Now we move to the 1970s. It doesn't seem that long ago until I count the years, realizing that in two years it will be a half-century since we embarked on that memorable decade. Times flies, whether you're having fun or not.

I thought the early to mid '70s produced some of the best music in rock history. While some may disagree, and I respect differing opinions, what started great didn't end well with the emergence of disco. But I digress.

We've gone through Pre-British Invasion and Post-British Invasion musicians. Now let's look at some acts who should be given considerable attention by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since those in power are now dipping into the '80s and '90s.

As noted in previous post, credit artist(s) websites, Wikipedia, All-Music, and other music-related sites as sources as well as some personal recollections and reflections:

So here goes.

The 1970s:

The Alan Parsons ProjectThe Alan Parsons Project was primarily the work, inspiration, and imagination of Alan Parsons and the late Eric Woolfson (who passed away in 2009). The group recorded 10 albums, beginning with "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" in 1975, my introduction to their music. While noted for their theme albums, the APP had six Top 40 singles including No. 3 "Eye in the Sky" in 1982. Parsons is a noted studio engineer, having worked on The Beatl
es' "Abbey Road" and "Let It Be" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." Woolfson sang most of the team's records and was also a composer and pianist. They were truly a dynamic duo.



Bad Company—A true supergroup, Bad Company was singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke from Free, guitarist Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople, and bassist Boz Burrell from King Crimson. Rodgers has one of the great voices in rock while Ralphs ranks among the best guitarists. The group was known for its albums, with four of its first five reaching the top five in the album charts. Among the memorable singles were "Can't Get Enough," "Feel Like Makin' Love," and "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy."




Bread—David Gates and company were a soft-rock band that came out of California, producing some ballads that have stood the test of time. Bread recorded 12 Top 40 singles including chart-topper "Make It With You" in 1970. They fared even better on the Billboard Easy Listening chart with No. 1s "If," "The Guitar Man," and "Sweet Surrender." They could rock too, with tunes like "Truckin'" and "Mother Freedom." The Rock Hall has been too hard on soft-rock bands and artists.


Eric CarmenCarmen had early success with The Raspberries ("Go All the Way" and three other Top 40 hits), but it was as a solo performer that he really displayed his vocal prowess. He had eight Top 40 songs including No. 2 "All By Myself," No. 3 "Make Me Lose Control," and No. 4 "Hungry Eyes." He also wrote "Almost Paradise," a big duet hit for Loverboy's Mike Reno and Heart's Ann Wilson that was featured in the move "Footloose." I like some of his lesser hits, notably "I Wanna Hear It From Your Lips" and the Beach Boys-inspired "She Did It."


The CarpentersRichard and Karen Carpenter are the epitome of soft rock. Richard's arrangements and Karen's heart-felt vocals produced timeless classics. They had 20 songs reach the Top 40 including three No. 1s: "(They Long to Be) Close to You," "Top of the World," and "Please Mr. Postman," and five at No. 2. They even had a "power ballad" ("Goodbye to Love," featuring a scorching guitar solo by Tony Peluso) that drew the ire of a few fans but still hit No. 7. Sadly, Karen died in 1983 of heart failure, resulting from her battle with anorexia. By the way, the brother and sister sold more than 90 million records, which isn't soft.


Jim CroceCroce was at the top of his game when he tragically died in an airplane crash in 1973, at the age of 30, with guitarist Maury Muehleisen. Croce had been performing since the mid-1960s, but didn't chart any songs until No. 8 "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" in 1972. He followed that with seven more Top 40 songs including chart-toppers "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle." Croce had a sense of humor but could poignant tunes such as "Time In a Bottle" and "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song." I don't know about you, but "Time In a Bottle" brings tears to my eyes, especially when I think about what more Croce may have done in his life. He was an original storyteller.

The Doobie Brothers—In the previous post, I mentioned Johnny Rivers as an artist I would have considered a shoo-in for the Rock Hall. I feel the same about the Doobies. They were huge in the '70s (and still tour in 2018) with their high-intensity musicianship and great vocals. The Doobies had 16 Top 40 songs over a 20-year period including "Black Water" in 1974 and "What A Fool Believes" in 1977 reaching the top spot. The early Doobies featured Tom Johnston as lead vocalist, and after his departure, the soulful Michael McDonald became the primary singer. The Doobies could rock "(Listen to the Music" and "Rockin' Down the Highway"), roll ("Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)), and do some soul ("Real Love"). And they've sold more than 40 million records during their long run.

Foreigner—Brits Mick Jones, Ian McDonald, and Dennis Elliott and Yanks Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood, and Ed Gagliardi formed Foreigner in 1976. The debut album sold more than 4 million copies and produced hits such as "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold As Ice," and "Long, Long Way from Home." In all, they've had 16 Top 40 songs including soaring "I Want to Know What Love Is," a No. 1 in 1984. Foreigner has sold more than 80 million records worldwide. Another super group that has been overlooked for too long, eligible since 2002.

Jethro Tull—I'm also puzzled that Jethro Tull, which has been eligible for the Rock Hall since 1993, hasn't been inducted. They have one of the most dynamic artists in vocalist/flutist Ian Anderson, and have recorded some of the best progressive music in rock history. Perhaps they've been overlooked because of their lack of hit singles? "Living in the Past,"  hitting No. 11 in 1969 and "Bungle In the Jungle" at No. 12 in 1974 are their only Top 40 hits. But they made up for it with 14 Top 40 albums, with "Thick as a Brick" in 1972 and "A Passion Play" in 1973 reaching No. 1. They sold more than 60 million records. Maybe the Moody Blues will open the hallowed doors for them.

Little River Band—This Australian band has sold more than 30 million records, charted 13 Top 40 hits in the U.S. Billboard magazine noted that the LRB was the only act to have a Top 10 hit on the American charts from 1978 to 1982. The No. 3 hit, "Reminiscing," written by Graham Goble and one of John Lennon's favorite songs, has been recognized as one of the most played tunes on American radio (5 million plus). "Lady" has also been popular with more than 3 million plays on the airwaves. The group has already been inducted in Australia's music hall of fame. I saw
them in concert in the 1990s, with most of the original members, and they were excellent. By the way, Glenn Shorrock is a standout singer.


Kenny LogginsLoggins has a sterling resume as a singer and songwriter. His first major success came with Jim Messina in Loggins and Messina, selling 16 million records and posting three Top 40 hits. As a solo artist, he has 14 Top 40 songs including No. 1 "Footloose" in 1984. As a songwriter, he teamed with Michael McDonald for the Grammy winning "What A Fool Believes" and "This Is It,"and "Whenever I Call You Friend" with Melissa Manchester (also a big duo hit for him with Stevie Nicks). He still performs with country-rock group Blue Sky Riders. Loggins has sold more than 25 million records in his illustrious career.

Carly SimonSimon has recorded 13 Top 40 hits including No. 1 "You're So Vain" in 1972. Her debut album, "Carly Simon," won a Grammy for best new female artist. The album included my favorite song by her, "That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be," a tune that doesn't paint a rosy picture about marriage. She wrote "Let the River Run," featured in the movie, "Working Girl," which garnered Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy awards. Although known for her singing, Simon was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994. 

I'm sure I've missed a few (dozen). Who would you recommend?

Until the next time. . . .








Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is Time Running Out for These Rockers? ( Part Two)

Now we move on to those artists who began making their mark after the first British invasion. Some sold tons of records, several were influential, and a few were late bloomers. But I believe they are all deserving of a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As noted in the first  post, credit goes to artist websites, Wikipedia, All-Music, MusicVF, various music websites, and maybe an observation from yours truly who grew up in this era of great music.

So here goes.

Post-British Invasion:

The AssociationThe Association had seven Top 40 hits and two No. 1s ("Cherish" and "Windy") during the 1960s. The group featured multiple vocalists and great harmonizing,  resulting in variety of records such as "Along Comes Mary," "Requiem for the Masses," "Six-Man Band," and "Time for Livin'"). I thought The Association rivaled Rock Hall inductees The Byrds, The Rascals, and  The Lovin' Spoonful and hopefuls The Turtles, The Grass Roots, and Paul Revere and the Raiders (see below) as great American bands.


Blood, Sweat & Tears—This jazz-rock group was formed by Al Kooper. They're noted for their mix of brass and basic rock instruments. Seven Top 40 and one No. 1 ("Spinning Wheel"),  Blood, Sweat & Tears really hit their stride with vocalist David Clayton-Thomas, whose debut on the second eponymous-titled album garnered five Grammy Awards and sold more than 10 million records.




The Grass Roots They had 14 Top 40 hits from 1966-72, and selling more than 20 million records worldwide. The Grass Roots featured standout vocals from Rob Grill and Warren Entner. Their biggest hits were No. 5 "Midnight Confessions," No. 8 "Let's Live for Today" and No. 9 "Sooner or Later." P.F. Sloan and Steve Bari were contributors in the early years.


The Guess Who—The Canadian group, featuring keyboardist/vocalist Burton Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman, hit the Top 40 13 times including No. 1s "American Woman." and "No Sugar Tonight" in 1970. The Guess Who could produce lovely ballads ("These Eyes") psychedelic ("Friends of Mine"), and smooth rockers ("No Time" and "Undun") and simple rockers ("Clap for the Wolfman") and socially-conscious songs ("Hand Me Down World" and "Share the Land"). One of the great rock bands, like the Moody Blues, they should have been inducted years ago.



Tom Jones—The multi-talented knight (in 2006) has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, hitting the UK charts with 36 Top 40 hits and U.S. charts with 19. His baritone belts out rock, jazz, country, dance—whatever in equal measure. If there's room for Bobby Darin, then Tom Jones should be in the club.





Al Kooper—He made his mark as a musician, producer, and founder of Blood, Sweat & Tears. You can hear him play the organ on Bob Dylan's classic "Like a Rolling Stone." Kooper also teamed with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills for the million-selling "Super Session" in 1968. He also rediscovered The Zombies' masterpiece, "Odyssey and Oracle," for the masses.




The Kingsmen—This Oregon garage band recorded the classic and controversial (FBI investigation into lyrics) "Louie, Louie" in 1963, a No. 2 on the charts that is considered one of the great songs in rock history. The group followed up with hits such as "Money," "Little Latin Lupe Lu," "The Jolly Green Giant," and "Annie Fanny." I saw the group in 1964 at Club 68 in Lebanon, Ky. They made rock and roll fun.


Procol Harum—Gary Brooker and his bandmates recorded one of rock's biggest hits in "A Whiter Shade of Pale" in 1967. Procol Harum generally falls under the progressive rock genre, but the group plays soul, blues, and rock. Remember "Conquistador," recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 1972? Procol Harum was previously nominated for the Rock Hall in 2012. Maybe next time!



Paul Revere and The Raiders—Only the Beatles and Rolling Stones sold more records in the 1960s than Paul Revere and the Raiders. The band recorded "Louie, Louie" in 1963 but didn't make a national splash until "Steppin' Out" in 1965. They had 15 Top 40 hits including No. 1 "Indian Reservation" in 1971. They appeared on TV a lot in the '60s ("Where the Action Is," "Happening '68," and "It's Happening"), and wore some silly outfits, but the Raiders were a solid band. I rate Mark Lindsey was one rock's great vocalists.



Johnny RiversRivers is one artist I thought would be a shoo-in for the Rock Hall. He was huge in the 1960s, with 13 Top 40 songs including chart-topper "Poor Side of Town" from 1964-68. His "At the Whiskey a' Go Go" in 1964 is one of rock's best live albums. In all, he has 17 Gold records, charted 29 hits, won two Grammy Awards, and sold more than 30 million records. He still puts on a rockin' show.







Spirit—This underrated band from Los Angeles fused elements of jazz and progressive rock, making it one of the most innovative and original groups of the 1960s and '70s. And they could rock as well, as demonstrated by "I Got a Line on You" in 1968.  Led by guitarist Randy California, Spirit cut some outstanding albums from  1968-72.





Steppenwolf—When I listen to metal music, I give credit for the term to Steppenwolf's "heavy metal thunder" line in their counterculture anthem, "Born to be Wild." The band had eight Gold records and six Top 40 hits. While most folks remember "Born to be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride," it's gritty tunes such as "The Pusher" and "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam" and "Monster" that reveal the band's power. They've been overlooked way too long.






Three Dog NightThree Dog Night was a powerhouse group from 1969-74, with 21 Top 40 hits including three No. 1s. They sold more records (40 million) than anyone during that time. The group, featuring the voices of Chuck Negron, Danny Hutton, and Corey Wells, brought attention to songwriters such as Laura Nyro ("Eli's Comin'"), Harry Nilsson ("One"), Hoyt Axton ("Joy to the World") and Randy Newman ("Mama Told Me Not to Come"). The group is still touring, with several of the original members including Hutton and standout guitarist Michael Allsup. Wells and keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon passed away in 2015. I saw the group several years ago at the now demolished-Executive Inn in Owensboro, Ky., and they put on an outstanding show. I recommend their DVD, "Live with the Tennessee Symphony" to get a feel for their musicianship. It seems like they're being punished for being so successful.


The TurtlesThe Turtles had nine Top 40 hits including the timeless No. 1 "Happy Together" in 1967. The California group, led by vocalist Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (Flo and Eddie), could have been even bigger but refused to give in to record-company demands. Check out their "Battle of the Bands" CD to see how versatile they were.  Flo and Eddie still tour as headliners on the popular "Happy Together Tour." 

Any groups or artists you think have been overlooked? 

Next: The '70s Rockers

Until the next time. . . . 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Is Time Running Out for These Rockers? (Part One)

This year's inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced last month. The Moody Blues finally got in, nearly 30 years after becoming eligible. Others include rockers Bon Jovi, The Cars, and Dire Straits—groups who established their fame in the 1980s. The remaining inductees are Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

I had almost given up hope on the Moodies gaining entrance since the Rock Hall hasn't been overly kind to progressive-rock acts. But there was still a glimmer when, in the past couple of years, ELO and Yes were inducted.

But what about the artists from the 1950s, '60s and '70s? Has time run out on them? I've compiled a list of those I think have been overlooked and deserve recognition. You may not agree with the list. And to be honest, there are a few that I didn't especially follow (we all have different music tastes), but still believe they are worthy candidates (with some notes courtesy of  artist websites, Wikipedia, All-Music, and other music sites).

Pre-British Invasion (with some overlap):

Paul AnkaThe Canadian-American singer and songwriter recorded 31 Top 40 hits over 40 decades including three that reached No. 1 in the U.S.—"Diana" in 1957, "Lonely Boy" in 1958, and "You're Having My Baby" in 1974. Among the song he wrote include "She's A Lady" for Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra's "My Way." He continues to perform today. And he's an author, penning "My Way: An Autobiography" in 2014.









Connie Francis—She recorded 29 Top 40 hits in the 1950s and '60s, including two chart-toppers. Worldwide sales estimated at 200 million. Francis was named the top female artist by various trade publications for six consecutive years, beginning in 1958. And the 80-year-old songstress still performs and has recently published a memoir, "Among My Souvenirs: The Real Story."









Jan and Dean—The California beach sound duo had 15 Top 40 songs including the No. 1 "Surf City" in 1963. Jan Berry and Dean Torrance were the hosts of the "T.A.M.I. Show" in 1964, a movie that included The Rolling Stones, Leslie Gore, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas and several other top acts. Dean wrote a memoir about their career in "Surf City: The Jan and Dean Story."









Cliff Richard—The British musician has sold more than 250 million records worldwide in his 60-year career. The knighted (in 1995) singer has sales of more than 21 million singles in the United Kingdom and ranks as the third-top-selling artist in UK Singles Chart history, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Although Richard hasn't received similar acclaim in the U.S., he had a No. 6 hit in "Devil Woman" in 1978 and No. 7 in 1979 with "We Don't Talk Anymore."



Tommy Roe—He had nine songs in the Top 40 including "Sheila" and "Dizzy" at No. 1. While performing in England in the early 1960s, he was the headliner in a tour that included The Beatles. Roe is often labeled a "Bubblegum" artist but his resume includes songs such as a great rendition of  "Stagger Lee" in 1971, a Top 25 hit. And besides, isn't "Bubblegum" a genre that should be recognized as well? 





Bobby Rydell—He had 19 Top 40 hits in the '60s including "Wild One" and "Volare." Rydell  was a co-star in the movie, "Bye Bye Birdie," the enviable role of Ann-Margret's boyfriend, Hugo Peabody. He received a double-organ transplant in 2012, but that hasn't stopped him from a busy performance schedule that includes "The Golden Boys" tour with Frankie Avalon and Fabian. He's also been a vocal advocate for organ donation.


Neil SedakaHis career started in 1957, and since that time he has sold millions of records as an artist (20 Top 40 songs and three No. 1 hits). Sedaka has written or co-written over 500 songs (a Brill Building alum) for himself and others including "Stupid Cupid" (Connie Francis) and  "Love Will Keep Us Together" (Captain & Tennille). His long and prolific career has spanned seven decades.











The Shadows—They are the third most successful act in the UK singles chart, behind Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. The Shadows and Cliff Richard & the Shadows each have had four No. 1 selling EPs. Their big instrumental hit was "Apache" in 1960. And Hank Marvin is one helluva guitarist. You might call them the British counterpart of The Ventures (Rock Hall inductees in 2008).








Bobby VeeAccording to Billboard magazine, Vee registered 38 Hot 100 chart hits, ten of which reached the Top 20. He had six gold singles in his career including No. 1 "Take Good Care of My Baby."  Vee got his big break when he was asked to fill in after Buddy Holly was killed in a tragic plane crash in 1959 that also claimed the lives of the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. One of his early, and brief, bandmates was Bob Dylan. Vee, whose last name was Velline,  died in 2016 of complications from Alzheimer's disease.









Bobby VintonFrom 1962 through 1972, Vinton had more Billboard No.1 hits (four) than any other male vocalist, including Elvis and Sinatra. He had 29 songs in the Top 40 in his career. The multi-talented musician, a graduate of Duquesne University, is known as "The Polish Prince."








The next installment is Post-British Invasion.

Until the next time. . . .








Saturday, January 13, 2018

Making Progress on Manuscript


I'm back in the writing mode in 2018, working on the third book in the "John Ross Boomer Lit Novel" series.

I've written every day since Jan. 1, except for one day, and honestly, I got so busy with other things that it slipped my mind. Poor excuse, but the truth. I've been writing at different times of the day, but the most productive is in the mornings.


Ken Follett
While I'm not going to set a timetable for completing the first draft, I do plan for this novel to be around 75,000 words. Perhaps fewer. And I plan for it to be published this year. I believe that most readers prefer shorter works (yes, there are exceptions but I'm not Ken Follett or Stephen King).  





Time is of the essence for readers and there are too many books and too little time to read as much as we'd like, and too many other things vying for their attention. Furthermore, James Patterson seems to be doing well with shorter works.





Stephen King
My last novel, "Darkness Beyond the Light," clicked in at around 94k words. "Old Ways and New Days," the first book in the series. was about 85k. My longest book was "Foolish Is the Heart," which had 101k words. The shortest, "The Touch," had about 75k.


We'll see how it goes.

***

Now on to something else. I've given away several books in Goodreads and Amazon promotions. Lots of authors do the same. The purpose is promotion. 

John Grisham
Another goal is for reviews. I'm asking readers out there to help out your favorite authors by leaving ratings and/or reviews of their books. Especially when you've received them in giveaways. Many authors, especially the indies, have to spend their own dime, and it can be costly.


Richard Ford
So when an author is spreading the love by giving away a new release, I'm asking the recipient to do the same by writing a review (it can only be two or three sentences) and rating on your favorite book sites. Furthermore, if you really, really love the book, tell your friends and fellow readers because word of mouth is probably the best promotion for authors.
Anne Tyler

I recall back in the early '90s when a friend (Cam) raved about John Grisham. I searched for his books (I believe he had written only two at the time) and became a life-long fan.  The same goes for the late Sue Grafton.






Bobbie Ann Mason


I've done the same with contemporary writers I like such as Richard Ford and Anne Tyler; Kentucky authors Bobbie Ann Mason, Bill Noel, Christopher Helvey, Steve Flairty, Crystal Wilkinson, Tom Wallace, and others; and new finds such as Joanna Foreman. 

Crystal Wilkinson
So, readers, I'm asking you to spread your love of reading by writing reviews and telling others about your favorite authors and books.

Until the next time. . . . 





Bill Noel

Steve Flairty
Joanna Foreman
Christopher Helvey
Tom Wallace