Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday This And That

Got this the other day from Howard Kaylan ... an exclusive excerpt published in Rolling Stone from his brand new book coming out April 16th ... and it sounds like a winner! (Kaylan talks about his career in The Turtles, life as one half of Flo And Eddie, working with the genius of Frank Zappa, and much, much more.  In this installment, he talks about the time The Turtles were invited to perform at The White House ... not your average gig ... especially if your pre-show activities consist of snorting cocaine off Abe Lincoln's desk!)  Check it out!  (kk)  
Click here: Rolling Stone Mobile - News - Music: Howard Kaylan Storms the White House in 'Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turt    

Hi Kent,
Regarding the changes to the way Billboard compiles their charts: 
Does not Billboard publish their charts primarily to appeal to the record industry and to induce them to place advertisements? 
Think back to December, 1962, when Christmas titles appeared on the Hot 100 for the last time. Such titles were relegated to some sort of separate Christmas only chart commencing the following year. Billboard’s purpose was to allow more current product to be listed in the Hot 100 – regardless of whether or not it got more radio plays or sold more copies than a Christmas 45. 
A similar thing with the album chart some years later. “Catalog” albums were transferred from the Top 200 to a separate “Catalog” only chart, thus freeing up slots for new industry product on the main chart. 
Certainly we record fans use the Billboard charts for “statistical” analysis of the past. I’m just not sure that Billboard holds those charts in the same high regard. 
Mike Edwards   

I agree with you 100% about WLS. I don't listen anymore unless I'm still awake at 11 PM and Biondi is on. But even then, it doesn't sound like he is allowed to play the music he'd like to play. A real shame!  
It was great to see comments from two of my favorite DJs, Jim Shea and Jeff James, from the "glory days" of Y103.9. I loved listening to that station -- those guys connected with the listeners, and it was fun!
Dan Crabtree
Wheaton, IL   

Hey Kent,
Through half the night, a song by Frankie Avalon, "I'll Wait For You", was going through my head. Why, I don't know. Even though I've always liked Frankie, I've never bought any of his albums. My older brother had a few of them, and played them a lot, in the old days. When I turned my computer on this morning, I had to go to Youtube, to listen to the song. What really stood out to me, was the backup vocals. They were perfectly balanced. Do you know if anyone has written a book about all those unheralded singers, who sang backup on hit records? I sure would like to know who they were. You can find some of them, on album liner notes, but most of the time, they are left out.
- John LaPuzza

Even Frankie Avalon's two #1 Hits seem to have disappeared from the airwaves lately, now that radio acknowledges the dawn of the music era as "anything after The Beatles". 
As for you background singers inquiry, maybe it's just a coincidence but we just ran a blurb about a brand new documentary saluting some of the background singers that have made this music so priceless over the years. I don't know if it ventures back QUITE this far ... I kinda doubt it ... but, much like the studio musicians we've saluted so many times over the years, these folks were often the unsung heroes in the recording studio ... which is REALLY an oxy-moron when singing is exactly what they did!  

Here again is some info on this upcoming special, supplied to us by FH Reader Tom Cuddy:  
Backup Singer Documentary 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Set for Summer Release  
After Sundance premiere, film is picked up by the Weinstein Company's label Radius    
Several years ago, former A&M Records head Gil Friesen was stoned at a Leonard Cohen concert when he became fixated on Cohen's backup singers. 

The result of Friesen's musings is Twenty Feet From Stardom, a documentary that explores the culture of such supporting singers. Friesen once quipped to its director, Morgan Neville, that the movie was "the most expensive joint I ever smoked," and the final product premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival.  
"This is a story about people whose fingerprints are all over the music we know but we have no idea who they are," Neville, a self-described "hardcore music geek," tells Rolling Stone. His other credits include Troubadours, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and Johnny Cash's America. He is currently at work on a film about the rivalry between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. 
Friesen, who passed away from cancer in December, saw the final film before his death and knew it would premiere at Sundance. It was purchased last week by the Weinstein Company's label Radius-TWC and, according to Neville, is set for a summer release.  
"You could have talked about Nashville, you could have talked about girl groups. . . To me, the interesting story was the rise of these black voices from the church into the studios and onto vinyl," says the director. "What was Lou Reed singing about [in "A Walk on the Wild Side"]? This is what he was singing about." 
The film includes interviews with artists who are notable for their use of backup singers, including Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Sting. Many well-known supporting vocalists are also interviewed, including Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear, Gloria Jones and Dr. Mable John. 
These performers – who Neville says "can often sing circles around lead singers" – have produced a soulful, harmonic blend for decades, one derived from the Motown, rock and R&B of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 

"There was really kind of a heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s," Neville explains. "The Brits were coming and they were pale white guys and they thought, 'Hey, if I am really into R&B and soul, why don't I just invite black singers to come onstage with me?'" 
In Twenty Feet, Neville also explores the psychology of standing in the shadows of super-stardom and the lack of individual identity – which, depending on the singer, can feel like bliss or purgatory. He also looks at how relatively recent changes in the recording business – including lead singers recording their own backing tracks – caused the backup singer scene to dry up. 
"I asked them, 'When do you think it changed?' And one singer said, 'In 1993,'" Neville says. "Hip-hop, grunge in the 1990s – all those things were going on as well as changes in taste, business and technology." What hasn't changed is the talent of these artists – and soon, their story will be told.

Just a side note for a topic that you might want to cover someday: How some songs really lost their 'sound' when they were transferred to CD. I know ALL did to some degree but certain songs became totally different in feel, as well as sound! Johnny Nash's "Hold Me Tight" is one in particular, as it seems to have lost it's drum. I remember hearing the song on a Jukebox in '68 and it shook the whole building but when radio stations began switching over to CD's , it was like a totally different song! I actually bought the 45 of it on ebay to make sure I was remembering correctly and it was the song as I recalled it. Bob Shannon (CBS-101FM) used to do 'Turntable Tuesday'- play a few actual vinyl records during the show. It was pretty interesting to hear some sounds that due to CD's, have disappeared.
John Evanich III  
Stratford, CT
Our readers could probably provide a never-ending series on this topic ... so we'll open the door to discussion ... and then reel it in down the road.  (kk)     

Record Store Day, now in its 6th year as an event in support of the independent record community worldwide, named Jack White as its official ambassador last week. Now the event has also announced the unveiling of its Official Poster for 2013.  
The poster was made from a photo of Jimi Hendrix that was shot in a small record store in New England by Ira Rosen right before the release of Are You Experienced. Jimi was a fan of record stores and spent the morning shopping for some of the latest releases at the time.
Of Record Store Day’s usage of the image for their official poster, Jimi’s sister, Janie Hendrix says, "It's entirely appropriate that an image of Jimi Hendrix is on the official Record Store Day poster. He was an avid music fan and record collector himself and, of course, his recordings are among the most enduring and cherished of all time. Jimi's musical legacy and influence grow with every passing year so, in a sense, he makes Record Store Day last much, much longer than 24 hours." 
Only 5,000 copies of the poster will be made. The image is a 24” x 36” poster printed on heavy paper and will be gratis to Hendrix fans at fully participating record stores in the United States. Fans should contact their local store the week of Record Store Day for details. 
Also, exclusively for Record Store Day 2013, Experience Hendrix will issue a limited edition individually numbered 7" vinyl single featuring the original mono mixes of "Hey Joe" b/w "Stone Free" which have been unavailable since their original 1966 release.  
People, Hell and Angels, an essential new album premiering twelve previously unreleased studio recordings ('68 - '70) completed by Hendrix will be available at independent record stores starting on March 5, 2013. 
Record Store Day is managed by the Department of Record Stores and is organized in partnership with the Alliance of Independent Media Stores (AIMS), the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) and celebrates the culture of independent record stores by playing host to in-store events/performances, signings and special product releases on a global scale. 
Record Store Day takes place annually on the third Saturday of April. 
Record Store Day Sponsors: ADA, Beck's, CALIF, Clarks Originals, Crosley Turntables, Disk Union, ERA, Furnace MFG, InGrooves/Fontana, NARM, RED, Redeye Distribution, Sony Music, Universal Music Distribution, Warner Bros. Records, WEA    

From Spinner ... and all over the news these past few days:
Here we go again. Over five years after their one-off reunion concert and a few months removed from releasing that show in theaters and on DVD, Led Zeppelin might make yet another comeback, if Robert Plant is to be believed.
The singer hinted at the possibility of a reunion next year in an interview with
Australia's "60 Minutes," as Rolling Stone reports. Recently, guitarist Jimmy Page said that a reunion tour never happened because Plant "was busy," and now the frontman is leaving the door wide open for more shows.
"[Jimmy and bassist John Paul Jones] are Capricorns. They don't say a word. They're quite contained in their own worlds and they leave it to me. I'm not the bad guy," Plant said in the interview. "You need to see the Capricorns -- I've got nothing to do in 2014."
The one-off reunion show took place in December, 2007, at London's O2 arena and the recording of it was released in multiple formats in 2012. At the time, Page and Jones -- who also performed with late drummer John Bonham's son at the concert -- were up for a tour but it never materialized. They explored replacing plant with Steven Tyler or Myles Kennedy but ultimately abandoned the idea.
Plant, for his part, has been making folkier music, first with Alison Krauss and then with his Band of Joy. In 2011, he said he was so focused on his new sound that he "almost can't relate" to Zeppelin anymore. Whether or not this change of heart leads to something or just came about from frustration of years of answering the question, we'll just have to wait and see.

Here's another hot new release.  (You just can't have too many Motown repackages now can you???)  kk

Here's a great Motown track you don't hear much anymore ... Marvin Gaye's Pop Chart debut "Stubborn Kind Of Fellow" from 1962.