Thursday, August 9, 2018

J. Geils Band - Sanctuary (1978)

“Sanctuary” by J. Geils Band (1978)

Release Date: November 1978
Produced by Seth Justman, Joseph Wissert
Genre: Rock, Classic Rock
Label: EMI

Chart Positions: #49 (US), #53 (Canada)
Certifications: Gold (US)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“One Last Kiss” #6 (France), #35 (US), #58 (Canada), #74 (UK)
“Take It Back” #67 (US), #94 (Canada)
“Sanctuary #47 (US)

 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: “One Last Kiss,” “Take It Back,” “Sanctuary,” “Wild Man,” “Just Can’t Stop Me”

“Sanctuary” was J. Geils Band’s 8th studio album (10th album overall including live albums). It was their first to have 3 songs make it on to the US singles chart. After having achieved success with Atlantic Records, J. Geils Band switched over to EMI to produce their three most successful albums of their career.

“Sanctuary” was the band’s tightest sounding record in years. They produced a leaner and cleaner sound as they play up the keyboards more than in their past albums, giving the album an overall contemporary sound.

The first single release “One Last Kiss,” although not their highest charting hit, received a fair amount of airplay and put J. Geils Band in the minds of music listeners across the US. The hooky hit single was their first Top 40 since 1974’s “Must Of Got Lost.”

The second single “Take It Back” hints at what was to come in 1981 when J. Giles Band entered the realm of commercial pop and had their biggest hits with “Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame,” “Take It Back” was a very distant prototype for those songs.

“Sanctuary,” the album’s third single just barely missed the Top 40 making it to #47 on the US chart. The song sports a Rolling Stone feel that is inescapable. This may have been a good direction to further explore.

Stand out track “Wild Man” continues with that Mick Jagger Rolling Stones vibe and begins with a dramatic keyboard opening. “Just Can’t Stop Me” brings in a glam feel with it’s “Rebel Rebel” sounding opening working into a rough jam band sound.

J. Geils Band


Friday, July 27, 2018

Bruce Springsteen - Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973)

“Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” by Bruce Springsteen (1973)

Release Date: January 5, 1973
Produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos
Genre: Rock, Heartland Rock, Folk Rock, Classic Rock
Label: Columbia

Chart Positions: #35 (Sweden), #41 (UK), #60 (US), #71 (Australia), #181 (Japan)
Certifications: 2xPlatinum (US), Gold (Australia), Silver (UK)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“Blinded By The Light” (No chart data)
“Spirit In The Night” (no chart data)
 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A

Best Tracks: All Tracks – Solid album from beginning to end

Trivia: This is where it all started for Bruce Springsteen. It was a humble start as the album only made it to #60 in the US and #41 in the UK. But the critics loved him as they called him a “daring new artists” with comparisons to Bob Dylan. It would take another 2 ½ years, with the release of “Born To Run,” before the public realized the genius of Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen and his first manager Mike Appel recorded the album at the low-priced, out-of-the-way 914 Sound Studios to save as much as possible of the Columbia Records advance and cut most of the songs in a single week.

There was a dispute not long after the record was recorded—Appel and John Hammond preferred the solo tracks, while Springsteen preferred the band songs. As such, a compromise was reached—the album was to have five songs with the band ("For You", "Growin' Up", "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" "It's Hard to be a Saint in the City", and "Lost in the Flood") and five solo songs ("Mary Queen of Arkansas", "The Angel", "Jazz Musician", "Arabian Nights", and "Visitation at Fort Horn").

However, when Columbia Records president Clive Davis heard the album, he felt that it lacked a hit single. As such, Springsteen wrote and recorded "Blinded by the Light" and "Spirit in the Night". Because pianist David Sancious and bassist Garry Tallent were unavailable to record these songs, a three-man band was used—Vini Lopez on drums, Springsteen on guitar, bass, and piano, and the previously missing Clarence Clemons on saxophone. These two songs bumped "Jazz Musician", "Arabian Nights", and "Visitation at Fort Horn", leaving a total of seven band songs and two solo songs. The album was originally slated to be released in the fall of 1972, but it was moved back to early 1973 to avoid the pre-Christmas crush.

Both "Blinded by the Light" and "Spirit in the Night" were released as singles by Columbia, but neither reached the US charts. Manfred Mann's Earth Band released a version of "Blinded by the Light" on their album The Roaring Silence, which reached #1 on both Billboard's Hot 100 and the Canadian RPM chart. This recording of "Blinded by the Light" is Springsteen's only number one single as a songwriter on the Hot 100. His best showing on the Hot 100 as a performer was in 1984, with "Dancing in the Dark", which peaked at number two for 4 weeks.[4] Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. first charted in the United Kingdom on June 15, 1985, in the wake of Springsteen's Born in the USA tour arriving in Britain; it remained in the top 100 for ten weeks.

According to Springsteen, “Blinded By The Light” came about from going through a rhyming dictionary in search of appropriate words. The first line of the song, "Madman drummers, bummers, and Indians in the summers with a teenage diplomat" is autobiographical—"Madman drummers" is a reference to drummer Vini Lopez, known as "Mad Man" (later changed to "Mad Dog"); "Indians in the summer" refers to the name of Springsteen's old Little League team; "teenage diplomat" refers to himself. The remainder of the song tells of many unrelated events, with the refrain of "Blinded by the light, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night".

"Blinded by the Light" was the first song on, and first single from Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Springsteen's version was commercially unsuccessful and did not appear on the music charts.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band's recording of the song changes the lyrics. The most prominent change is in the chorus, where Springsteen's "cut loose like a deuce" is replaced with "revved up like a deuce." This is commonly misheard as "wrapped up like a douche" (the V sound in "revved" is almost unpronounced, and the S sound in "deuce" comes across as "SH" due to a significant lisp). Springsteen himself has joked about the controversy, claiming that it was not until Manfred Mann rewrote the song to be about a feminine hygiene product that it became popular.

Blinded by the Light (1973)

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band also released their version of “Spirit In The Night” which made it to #40 on the US Billboard singles chart. The song was originally featured on their 1975 album “Nightingales and Bombers” and was released as a single to moderate success. After the huge success of “Blinded By The Light”, they re-recorded the and rereleased as a single in 1977.

Although "Spirit in the Night" was one of the last songs written for the album, it did grow out of an earlier version of the song that Springsteen had played live prior to receiving his recording contract. The lyrics themselves describe a group of teenagers — Wild Billy, Hazy Davy, Crazy Janey, Killer Joe, G-Man and Mission Man, who is the person in the song telling the story — going to a spot called "Greasy Lake" near "Route 88" for a night of freedom, sex, and drinking. But their escape to the freedom of Greasy Lake is short-lived, the emphasis is on the friends' togetherness. The lyrics of the song echo the Crazy Jane poems of Irish poet William Butler Yeats.
The follow-up album to “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.,” “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle,” features a song entitled "Wild Billy's Circus Story".

In an attempt to capitalize on the success of “Blinded By The Light” and to a lesser degree “Spirit In The Night,” Manfred Mann’s Earth Band” recorded and released a third song, “For You,” from “Greetings For Asbury N.J.” They only made it to #106 in 1981 with the song.

The lyrics of “For You” are about a woman who has attempted suicide. She does not need the singer's "urgency" even though her life is "one long emergency" as Springsteen sings in the chorus (along with "and your cloud line urges me, and my electric surges free"). The singer is committed to doing anything to save her and admires her ability to hang on. Once again, the lyrics are evocative of images and not details.

The following review was written by Lester Bangs for the July 5, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine:
Remember P.F. Sloan? Sure you do. It was back when every folk rocker worth his harmonica holder was flushed with Dylan fever and seeing how many syllables he could cram into every involuted couplet. There was Tandyn Almer, of "Along Comes Mary" fame ("The psychodramas and the traumas hung on the scars of the stars in the bars and cars" -- something like that), and David Blue had his own Highway 61 too, but absolutely none of 'em could beat 'ol P.F. He started out writing surf songs, but shook the world by the throat with his masterpieces "Eve of Destruction" and "Sins of a Family," and all his best material was just brimming with hate.

Boy howdy, the first thing the world needs is a P.F. Sloan for 1973, and you can start revving up yer adrenaline, kids, because he's here in the person of Bruce Springsteen. Old Bruce makes a point of letting us know that he's from one of the scuzziest, most useless and plain uninteresting sections of Jersey. He's been influenced a lot by the Band, his arrangements tend to take on a Van Morrison tinge every now and then, and he sort of catarrh-mumbles his ditties in a disgruntled mushmouth sorta like Robbie Robertson on Quaaludes with Dylan barfing down his neck. It's a tuff combination, but it's only the beginning.

Because what makes Bruce totally unique and cosmically surfeiting is his words. Hot damn, what a passel o' verbiage! He's got more of them crammed into this album than any other record released this year, but it's all right because they all fit snug, it ain't like Harry Chapin tearing right-angle malapropisms out of his larynx. What's more, each and every one of 'em has at least one other one here that it rhymes with. Some of 'em can mean something socially or otherwise, but there's plenty of 'em that don't even pretend to, reveling in the joy of utter crass showoff talent run amuck and totally out of control:

"Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat/In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat" begins the very first song, and after that things just keep getting more breathtakingly complicated. You might think it's some kinda throwback, but it's really bracing as hell because it's obvious that B.S. don't give a shit. He singshoots his random rivets at you and you can catch as many as you want or let 'em all clatter right off the wall which is maybe's where they belong anyway. Bruce Springsteen is a bold new talent with more than a mouthful to say, and one look at the pic on the back will tell you he's got the glam to go places in this Gollywoodlawn world to boot. Watch for him; he's not the new John Prine.

This review showed up in Billboard Magazine – February 1973
“The comparisons with Dylan as far as lyrics are concerned will be inevitable, but this new artist proves himself highly original and able to run the gamut from humorous to rather sad songs. Best cuts include "Blinded By The Light," "Growin' Up," "Lost In The Flood," "For You" and "Spirit In The Night." LP should gain strong play from FM stations.”

Bruce Springsteen (1973)


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Joan Armatrading - Joan Armatrading (1976)

“Joan Armatrading” by Joan Armatrading (1976)

Release Date: September 1976
Produced by Glyn Johns
Genre: Rock, Pop, Folk-Rock, Blues
Label: A&M

Chart Positions: #11 (New Zealand), #12 (UK), #52 (Australia), #67 (US)
Certifications: Gold (UK, Canada)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“Love And Affection” #10 (UK), #16 (Ireland)
“Down To Zero” (no chart data)
 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A

Best Tracks: “Love and Affection,” “Water With The Wine,” “People,” “Join The Boys,” “Like Fire,” “Tall In The Saddle”

Trivia: “Joan Armatrading” is Joan’s third studio album and her first to chart anywhere in the world. This is the album that put Joan on the map. The album mixes acoustic work with jazz-influenced material and displays Joan’s range of interest in music. The album was a big hit in the UK reaching #12 accompanied with a Top 10 UK hit “Love and Affection.”

"Love and Affection" 1976

In 1976, Robin Denselow wrote in The Guardian that the album "showed that we now have a black artist in Britain with the same sort of vocal range, originality (in fact even greater originality in terms of musical influences) and lyrical sensitivity" as Joni Mitchell.

Producer Glyn Johns has produced albums for many greats including Steve Miller Band, Eagles, Humble Pie, The Who, Boz Scaggs, Eric Clapton and more. He helped launch Joan Armatrading’s career when he was hired on to produce this album. He remained with her on her next three albums.

Joan signed to A&M Records is 1972 but it wasn't until after A&M gained worldwide rights to Joan's music that they decided to pour a good amount of money and effort into promoting Joan. A 3 1/2 minute film clip of the singer/guitarist performing "Love and Affection." A&M spent an unprecedented nine months promoting Armatrading's self-titled album, which included magazine ads, television spots (such as an appearance on Saturday Night Live) and promo copies of the album sent to every music critic and concert promoter throughout the world as well as a few film clips one of which shows comments from reviews. A&M spent near $300,000 promoting the album before it was even released.

Up to this point, Armatrading had shown that she had a lovely voice and an ear for interesting arrangements, but her work had been steeped in the folk idiom of the early '70s. Her third album changed all that, with producer Glyn Johns bringing in members of Gallagher & Lyle, Fairport Convention, and the Faces to punch up her folksy sound with elements of rock, country, and disco. The result is her most muscular music to date, with Armatrading adopting a swagger that showed her tales of unluckiness in love didn't have to have dire consequences ("Tall in the Saddle," "Water With the Wine"). Of course, it helped that the record featured her best material delivered in a wonderfully expressive voice that can capture the shades between song and speech like a sweeter version of Ian Anderson. "Down to Zero" (which features pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole) and "Love and Affection" are the album's most memorable tracks, the latter breaking into the U.K.'s Top Ten (the album itself made the U.K. Top 20). But what endears this record to fans is the quality of each song; it wouldn't be fair to call anything here filler. The artsy and eclectic "Like Fire," the beautiful ballad "Save Me," and the ingratiating melodies of "Somebody Who Loves You" are just as likely to strike a chord with listeners as the better-known cuts. While Glyn Johns deserves credit for bringing Joan Armatrading's songs into a more flattering setting -- it's not coincidental that the record feels like a polished version of The Who by Numbers -- his real stroke of genius was letting the artist flower to her full potential. For many, this album remains the high point in her catalog.

Joan Armatrading 


Monday, June 25, 2018

Antonio Carlos Jobim - Jobim (1973)

“Jobim” by Antonio Carlos Jobim (1973)
Release Date: January 1, 1973
Produced by Claus Ogerman
Genre: Bossa Nova, Jazz, Latin Jazz
Label: MCA

Chart Positions: N/A
Certifications: N/A
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: N/A
 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: “Aguas de Marco,” “Mantiqueira Range,” “Nuvens Douradas”

“Jobim” is heavily orchestral and more on the easy listening side and less Bossa Nova, but not to fear the album certainly has it’s share of the Bossa Nova sound for which Antonio Carlos Jobim is famous.

“Jobim” was an experiment for Jobim putting less of an emphasis on the bass and rhythmic style of bossa nova and more priority on a bigger symphonic sound. The record lets listeners in on another side of Jobim, a classical interpretation of moody instrumental tone poems for films based on the works of Debussy and Villa Lobos. Jobim continued with his symphonic orchestrations throughout the 70s.

It is the symphonic orchestrations which brings this album to life. Jobim hired Claus Ogerman to produce the album. Ogerman had worked previously with Jobim (since 1963) on a total of five albums before this one and two more afterward. Ogerman also arranged and conducted the orchestral arrangements. Ogerman a famed German composer, conductor and arranger also worked with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and in his later years with Diana Krall. Though he worked mainly with in the jazz genre arranging musicians such as Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and Cal Tjader, Ogerman did foray into pop music and composed arrangements for several pop hits including Solomon Burke's "Cry To Me" and Leslie Gore's "It's My Party," "Judy's Turn To Cry" and "She's A Fool."

Aguas de Marco (1973)

“Aguas de Marco” has grown to become a classic for Jobim. He wrote the lyrics for the song originally in Portuguese and later in English. The inspiration for the song came from Rio De Janeiro's rainiest month. March is typically marked by sudden storms with heavy rains and strong winds.

Antonio Carlos Jobim (1973)


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Barbra Streisand - Superman (1977)

“Superman” by Barbra Streisand (1977)

Release Date: June 1977
Produced by Gary Klein, Charles Calello (produced “My Heart Belongs To Me)
Genre: Pop, Easy Listening, Adult Contemporary
Label: Columbia

Chart Positions: #1 (Canada), #3 (US), #11 (Australia), #23 (Netherlands), #32 (UK), #33 (New Zealand), #44 (Japan), #46 (Sweden)
Certifications: 2xPlatinum (US, Canada), Gold (Australia)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions:
“My Heart Belongs To Me” #4 (US), #3 (Canada) #1 (US Adult Contemporary, Canada Adult Contemporary)
“Superman” #29 (US Adult Contemporary) #18 (Canada Adult Contemporary)
 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: "My Heart Belongs To Me," "Superman," "Cabin Fever," "New York State Of Mind"

Trivia: “Superman” is Barbra Streisand’s 19th studio album (if you include the soundtracks it is her 27th album). At this point in time “Streisand Superman” was her second most successful album worldwide topped only by 1976’s “A Star Is Born” soundtrack. As the years progressed other such as 1980’s “Guilty,” 1985’s “The Broadway Album” and 1997’s “Higher Ground” have outperformed “Streisand Superman.”

Having been released only 7 months after the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, “Superman” follows with a similar pop-rock feel. Two of the song that showed up on the album (“Answer Me” and “Lullaby For Myself”) were written for “A Star Is Born” but did not make it into the movie. Streisand co-wrote “Answer Me” with Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher. Streisand also co-wrote the rock inspired “Don’t Believe What You Said.”

Many have stated Streisand’s cover of “New York State of Mind” fit her so well that it has become the definitive recording. Billy Joel, who wrote the song claimed, “I thought, ‘This is one of the greatest woman singers ever, doing … me? Me?’ I really loved it, though, because it kind of finally made me legitimate in this business to my mother.”

The first single release was the classic ballad “My Heart Belongs To Me” which was a huge success reaching the Top 5 in both the US and Canada. Columbia Records and Barbra put together a “publicity film” for “My Heart Belongs To Me.” It was shown at Columbia’s 1977 convention to industry insiders. Barbra lip-synched to the track. During the musical interlude, she “conducted” the orchestra, then started coughing from the smoke machines, all very comedic. At the end of the video, she spun toward the camera and made a funny face.

My Heart Belongs To Me (1977)

The second single, the title track “Superman,” was released about a year and a half after the album and did not fare to well, but was a moderate hit on Adult Contemporary radio.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)

“Unknown Pleasures” by Joy Division (1979)
Release Date: June 15, 1979
Produced by Martin Hannett
Genre: Post-Punk
Label: Factory

Chart Positions: #1 (New Zealand, Holland), #71 (UK), #82 (Australia), #85 (Italy), #1 (UK Indie Albums)
Certifications: Gold (UK)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: N/A
 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: “She’s Lost Control,” “Disorder,” “New Dawn Fades,” “Shadowplay” but realistically all tracks on this album are outstanding!!!

Trivia: “Unknown Pleasures” is the debut studio album by English rock band Joy Division, released on 15 June 1979 on Tony Wilson's Factory Records. It followed an abandoned session for RCA Records, and was recorded and mixed over three weekends at Strawberry Studios, in Stockport, England in April 1979 with record producer Martin Hannett. The cover artwork was designed by artist Peter Saville.

The album cover perfectly captures the raw emotion and attitude of the album. The ten songs inside, quite simply, are stone-cold landmarks, the whole album is a monument to passion, energy, and cathartic despair.

Factory did not release any singles from the album, and it did not chart (at the time) despite the relative success of the group's non-album debut single "Transmission". “Unknown Pleasures,” which sold more than a million copies worldwide during it's release year, has gone on to receive sustained critical acclaim as a pioneering and influential post-punk album. The album did eventually chart having made it to #1 in New Zealand and Holland.

Though there weren’t any singles released from the album it does include several classic Joy Division tunes including “New Dawn Fades” a song which has been popularized from it’s inclusion in several films such as “Heat,” “House of Wax” and “The Equalizer.” John Frusciante (former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist) has recorded the song and most widely known, Moby, did an outstanding version that received airplay and is one of his best-known recordings.

"New Dawn Fades" (1979)

“She’s Lost Control” has been highly popular, so much, that one would think the song was released as a single. Along with  “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “She’s Lost Control” is Joy Division’s signature tune. A re-recording of the song was released on a 12” single in 1980 with more electronic parts added. This was one of the last recordings released by Joy Division.

Sadly “Unknown Pleasures” is only one of two albums that were completed and released by Joy Division. On the morning of May 18, 1980, lead singer Ian Curtis, watched Werner Herzog's "Stroszek," played Iggy Pop's The Idiot, and then hung himself in the kitchen. This was the end of a band that was on the rise and with only two albums has become one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music.

Joy Division (1979)


Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Stylistics - Let’s Put It All Together (1974)

“Let’s Put It All Together” by The Stylistics (1974)
Release Date: May 1974
Produced by Hugo & Luigi, Thom Bell
Genre: R&B, Philadelphia Soul, Quiet Storm
Label: Avco

Chart Positions: #14 (US), #26 (UK), #4 (US R&B)
Certifications: Gold (US), Silver (UK)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“You Make Me Feel Brand New” #1 (Canada, Brazil), #2 (US, UK), #3 (Australia), #6 (South Africa), #11 (Netherlands), #23 (Belgium), #5 (US R&B), #6 (US Adult Contemporary)
“Let’s Put It All Together” #4 (Brazil), #9 (UK), #18 (US), #8 (US R&B), #26 (US Adult Contemporary)
Singles Certifications: “You Make Me Feel Brand New” (US Gold, UK Silver)
Other Charting Tracks: N/A

Best Tracks: “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “Let’s Put It All Together Again,” “I Got A Letter,” “We Can Make It Happen Again,” “Doin’ The Street”

“Let's Put It All Together is the fourth studio album by The Stylistics and was their best selling album overall.

The album reached #14 on the Billboard 200, their highest ever position on that chart, and #4 on the R&B albums chart. "You Make Me Feel Brand New", which originally appeared in a five-minute version on their previous album, Rockin' Roll Baby, was included in an edited version. This version was released as a single and became a huge hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. It also peaked at #5 on R&B singles chart and #6 on the Easy Listening chart. “You Make Me Feel Brand New” ended up being The Stylistics biggest hit worldwide and was their last to reach the Top 15 in the US. This was written by the Philadelphia songwriters Linda Creed and Thom Bell. Both songwriters made huge contributions to the Philadelphia Soul sound, writing many hits for The Stylistics and The Spinners. Bell also produced this track.

You Make Me Feel Brand New (1974)

The title track, “Let’s Put It All Together,” was also successful, peaking at number #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, their last big hit on that chart, #8 on the R&B singles chart, and #9 on the UK Singles chart. The Hugo & Luigi tracks were arranged and conducted by Van McCoy.

The following review appeared in the May 11, 1974 issue of Billboard Magazine in the Top Album Picks section:
"One of today's finer soul congregations, able to offer a variety of styles both vocally and instrumentally. The falsetto vocals so popular in soul is prominent, but the group is also able to offer lead singers with more traditional sounding vocalizing as well as serving up a healthy dish of harmonizing. Production of Hugo & Luigi is as outstanding as it was 15 years ago. Sure to get Pop and MOR play as well as soul play. Best Cuts: Let's Put It All Together," "You Make Me Feel Brand New," "I Got Time On My Hands." Dealers: Group has been around and is well known. Use step down display if possible."

The Stylistics 1974