Friday, June 30, 2017

Kate Bush - The Kick Inside (1978)

“The Kick Inside” by Kate Bush (1978)

Release Date: February 17, 1978
Produced by Andrew Powell
Genre: Art-Rock, Art-Pop, Baroque Pop
Label: EMI (UK), Harvest (US and Canada)
Chart Positions: #1 (Netherlands), #2 (New Zealand, Belgium), #3 (UK, Australia, France), #4 (Norway), #8 (Sweden), #21 (Germany), #37 (Japan), #95 (Canada)
Certifications: 3xPlatinum (Canada), Platinum (UK, Netherlands, Australia), Gold (New Zealand)

Singles: “Wuthering Heights” #1 (New Zealand, UK, France, Italy, Ireland, Australia, Holland), #3 (Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil), #4 (Belgium), #6 (Sweden), #7 (Norway, Poland), #8 (Switzerland), #11 (Germany), #17 (Austria), #108 (US), “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” #1 (France), #3 (Ireland), #6 (UK), #22 (Australia), #23 (Netherlands), #36 (New Zealand), #85 (US)
Singles Certifications: "Wuthering Heights" Platinum (New Zealand), Gold (UK, Australia)

While attending a Catholic girls' school in South East London, in the mid-1970s, Kate’s family produced a demo tape with over 50 of her compositions, which was turned down by record labels. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd received the demo from Ricky Hopper, a mutual friend of Gilmour and the Bush family. Impressed with what he heard, Gilmour helped the sixteen-year-old Bush get a more professional-sounding demo tape recorded that would be more saleable to the record companies. Three tracks in total were recorded and paid for by Gilmour. The tape was produced by Gilmour's friend Andrew Powell (who would go on to produce Bush's first two albums) and sound engineer Geoff Emerick. The tape was sent to EMI executive Terry Slater. Slater was impressed by the tape and signed her.

Bush released her debut album, “The Kick Inside,” on February 17, 1978 when she was 19 years old, but some of the songs had been written when she was as young as 13. The production included efforts by several progressive rock veterans, including Duncan Mackay, Ian Bairnson, David Paton, Andrew Powell, and Stuart Elliott both of The Alan Parsons Project, and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.

Six different varieties of the album's cover are known and is Bush's only album to have a different cover in the UK, the U.S., Canada, Yugoslavia, Japan and Uruguay (the Uruguay cover being the rarest and most expensive - an example sold on eBay for over $400).

The Kick Inside Original British Album Cover

“The Kick Inside” was an immediate hit throughout the world reaching the Top 10 in several countries in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, including #1 in Netherlands and #2 in New Zealand. Despite this success the album failed to chart in the US.

EMI originally wanted the more rock-oriented track "James and the Cold Gun" to be her début single, but Bush insisted that it should be "Wuthering Heights". Even at this early stage of her career, she had gained a reputation for her determination to have a say in decisions affecting her work. Kate stated, "I felt that to actually get your name anywhere, you've got to do something that is unusual." The song was not initially inspired by Emily Brontë's novel but by a television adaptation, although Bush read the novel later in order to (in her own words) "get the research right." Bush reportedly wrote the song within the space of just a few hours late at night. The guitar solo is by Ian Bairnson, formerly of Pilot. In the mid-'70s, they had a #5 hit in the US with "Magic" and a chart topper in the UK with "January." Two music videos were created to accompany "Wuthering Heights". In one version, Bush can be seen performing the song in a dark room filled with white mist while wearing a white dress (which was the UK release); in the other, the singer dances in an outdoor environment while wearing a red dress (which was done for the American release). "Wuthering Heights" was officially released in early 1978 and entered the top forty in the official singles chart in the United Kingdom at number twenty-seven on 18 February, and quickly rose to number one three weeks later dethroning ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" from the top spot. Bush became the first female artist to have a self-penned number one hit in the UK. The single release unwittingly pitted Bush against another female vocalist also charting with her first UK hit: Debbie Harry with her band Blondie and their single "Denis". Amid much public discussion about the two singers' merits, Bush came out on top, while Blondie stalled at number two. Success was not limited to the UK and became a huge hit throughout the world having reached #1 in Italy, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. It also reached the top ten in many other countries including South Africa, Brazil, Poland and others. Despite it’s universal popularity the song only made it to #108 in the US. The single was certified Gold by the BPI for sales of 500,000 in the UK. Pat Benatar covered “Wuthering Heights” for her 1980 album “Crimes of Passion.”

"Withering Heights" (1978)

The album's second single, "The Man with the Child in His Eyes", was released and reached number six in the UK charts. Though not quite as big a hit as “Wuthering Heights,” the song was fairly successful making it to #1 in France and #3 in Ireland. The song tells of a relationship between a young girl and an older man. She sees him as an all-consuming figure; he's wise yet retains a certain innocent quality. He's a very real character to the girl, but nobody else knows if he really exists. Kate wrote the song because of a quality she saw in most of the men that she knew, how they are all little boys inside and how wonderful it is that they managed to retain this magic. Although the song was first released on her debut album The Kick Inside, it was actually recorded in 1975 when Kate was only 16 years old. It was recorded at David Gilmour's expense at London's Air Studios. The song was Kate’s first to make it into the Billboard’s US Top 100 reaching #85. Along with this song David Gilmour was also listed as the Executive Producer of "The Saxophone Song."

Three other singles were released over the world during next two years: "Them Heavy People", "Moving" (which reached number one in Japan) and "Strange Phenomena." “Them Heavy People” was released as a single in only the UK and Japan (under the title “Rolling the Ball” and reached #3 in Japan). “Moving” was released only in Japan while “Strange Phenomena” released only in Brazil.

Bush wrote, “Moving” for her dance teacher Lindsay Kemp. It's about how a person discovers free expression. "Strange Phenomena" speaks about déjà vu, synchronicity and how coincidences sometimes cluster together in seemingly meaningful ways.

“Kite” one of the most popular tracks from the album was used as the b-side to “Wuthering Heights.”

Fan favorite, “Oh To Be In Love” opens gently but soon gives way to diverse style which manages to blend sixties Britpop, robotic Japanese and the British brass band feel into the musical accompaniment as Kate delivers sublime vocal melodies and exquisite displays of range and tone. Kate's brother Paddy Bush played mandolin on this song as well as doing backing vocals on "Them Heavy People."

Kate Bush (1978)


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bar-Kays - Flying High On Your Love (1977)

“Flying High On Your Love” by The Bar-Kays (1977)

Release Date: November 1977
Produced by Allen Jones
Genre: Soul/Funk
Label: Mercury Records
Chart Positions: #47 (US). #7 (US R&B)
Certifications: Gold (US)

Singles: “Let’s Have Some Fun” #102 (US), #11 (US R&B), “Attitudes” #22 (US R&B)

“Flying High On Your Love” is the seventh studio album released by The Bar-Kays in November 1977. It was the first album by the band to be certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of more than 500,000 copies in the United States. Song for song, it is considered by many fans to be the Bar-Kays' best album overall.

The Bar-Kays delivered a juicy set of funk movers accented by disco beats along with a splash of smooth groove quiet storm ballads. “Flying High On Your Love” offered a tremendous mix of R&B.

The Bar-Kays were fully committed to their funk forbears while never taking their eyes off the shifting musical climate. Thus, they were able to make the leap from funk to disco in a way that almost no other bands could match. The Bar-Kays' late-'70s sounds, then, were not one or the other, but a seamless blend of both. A fine mix and a glorious achievement.

The first single from the album, “Let’s Have Some Fun,” stomps the disco beat down with some pretty heavy funk riffing garnered the band a good amount of airplay on funk, soul and R&B radio stations around the US. The song reached #11 on the US R&B charts and bubbled under the Billboard Top 100 making it to #102. The song is still played on funk and disco station on a regular basis.

"Let's Have Some Fun" (1977)

“Attitudes,” the second single was less popular reaching #22 on the US R&B charts and missing the pop charts all together. “Attitudes” is one of those cozy warm funk-filled slow jam ballads that should have charted much higher and belongs alongside songs such as the Commodores’ “Just To Be Close To You.” The song grooves smoothly with a nice funk bass line and a touch of brass that makes the song the perfect blend to spend some time sipping wine in front of a warm fireplace with the one you love.

The opening track “Shut The Funk Up,” despite not being released as a single achieved a good amount of airplay in nightclubs as well as R&B radio stations. Many feel this should have been a single. The song grooves with a funk slide that moves with the disco sounds of the day. A near perfect disco song accented with the funk horn trio of Charles "Scoop" Allen, Harvey "Joe" Henderson, and Frank "Captain Disaster" Thompson and dominated by vocalist Larry "D" Dodson's call to "get on up or just shut the funk up," it's immediately apparent that disco never sounded so good -- or so funky.

The album closes with a compelling quiet storm of funk and horns wrapped with a slow dance disco rhythm. “”Flying High On Your Love” burned up the dance floor during the slow dance section of the night. A favorite not only in dance clubs but also R&B radio. This is another song many fans felt would have been a great single and definitely a strong way to close an album full of gems.

The following is a review from Billboard Magazine's November 19, 1977 issue. The album was one of Billboard's Recommended LPs of the week:
This group seems to have mellowed both vocally and instrumentally. At the same time it maintains it's strong energetic force with horns still the dominating instrument. Vocals and instruments are also clearer and more identifiable. Tunes range from ballads to uptempo numbers. Best Cuts: "Standing On The Outside," "Can't Keep My Hands Off Of You," "Let's Have Some Fun," "Flying High On Your Love" 

Bar-Kays (1977)


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Camel - Mirage (1974)

“Mirage” by Camel (1974)

Release Date: March 1, 1974
Produced by David Hitchcock
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Deram, Gamma, Janus
Chart Positions: #149 (US)
Singles: No single releases

“Mirage” is the second studio album for the British progressive rock band Camel and was their first to make it on the charts anywhere in the world. The album made it to #149 in the US. Oddly enough the album did not chart in the UK. Despite it’s low charting in the US and lack of chart action in any other part of the world “Mirage” has gone on to be a Camel classic.

With the album “Mirage,” Camel begin to develop their own distinctive sound, highlighted by the group's liquid, intricate rhythms and the wonderful, unpredictable instrumental exchanges by keyboardist Pete Bardens and guitarist Andy Latimer. Camel also distinguish themselves from their prog rock peers with the multi-part suite "Lady Fantasy," which suggests the more complex directions they would take a few albums down the line. Also, Latimer's graceful flute playing distinguishes several songs on the record, including "Supertwister," and it's clear that he has a more supple technique than such contemporaries as Ian Anderson.

"Mirage" established Bardens and Latimer as the band's main songwriters, showing off their solid musicianship with a leaning toward a tricky and complex time signature.

The classic Camel lineup occupied a unique niche in progressive rock, specializing in fluid, spacey ensemble workouts – rarely as flashy as Genesis, never as bombastic as Emerson Lake and Palmer. "We're considered a progressive band, by default, really," guitarist-flautist Andy Latimer told Will Romano for his 2010 book Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. "I always thought that people like Yes and King Crimson and ELP were much more obscure than Camel. They were probably better players and consequently got into much more complicated material, which made it even. . . less accessible." The quartet's second album, Mirage, fulfills their debut’s scattered promise, with Latimer and keyboardist Pete Bardens leading the rhythm section through breezy instrumentals (the contemplative "Supertwister") and expansive multi-part suites (the Lord of the Rings–themed "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider").

Mirage is a well rounded, jazz, folk, metal fantasy-themed progressive rock album of the highest order yet it failed to enter the UK album charts and only just crawled into the US billboard 200. Perhaps its to do with the bands endorsements of cigarettes that had something to do with its lack of publicity and therefore lack of sales?

Right from the start the album was problematic. You see the band didn’t get their name from the humped, spitting creature that roams the deserts but from the cigarettes they smoked and there lies the problem because not everyone shared their love of the cancerous weed, particularly the American music industry.  The bands website has the full details but from a marketing point of view, cigarette endorsements, even in the 70s were a disaster. What was even worse was the iconic camel cigarette logo cover on the USA version of album had to be scrapped and replaced with a ridiculous cover of a muscle flexing camel with wings.

Side one opens with Freefall (5mins 55sec) featuring Andy Latimer's stunning guitar and some super fast drumming from Andy Ward. The lyrics and the vocals are a little tame in this track but it’s all backed up with an ensemble of rock/jazz guitar and organ work creating a genuinely bright and interesting start to the album. The quality of Latimer's playing is a significant strength to the album either on flute or guitar. His skills were recognized at the prog rock music awards in 2014 when he was awarded for his lifetime achievement.

Up next is one of the highlights of prog rock "Supertwister "(3mins 20 sec)

This kicks off with Latimer on flute and an exciting percussion back drop with ground breaking use of bottles and aerosols providing the rhythm and ends with probably the greatest ending to a record in the world (I should have used a Carlsberg for this picture but we only had Tetley)

"Supertwister" (1974)

We’re now into the last track, three part 9 mins 18sec of Nimrodel, Procession and The White Rider which all combine to form one song.  A slow intro leads onto church bells ringing and crowds cheering before leading to the JR Tolkien Lord of the Rings inspired “White Rider” , featuring echoing guitar solos similar or better than Dire Straits Mark Knopfler coupled with Peter Bardens mini moog, organ, and celeste . There’s even sections where the mini moog takes centre stage very similar to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and also sections where the Mellotron gets an airing. Don’t know what a Mellotron is? "It’s the instrument used in the introduction of Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever," Paul McCartney has explained.

Earthrise (6mins 50secs) starts with some howling wind sound effects to set the scene and the mini moog is providing the “vocals” for an instrumental that just doesn’t need lyrics to tell the story. A real belter of a rock song for you to let your hair down to, Doug Ferguson laying a base with his bass (what else!)

Track two side two is Lady Fantasy at a very healthy 12mins and 59 seconds – not quite 13 minutes (which would be unlucky I guess) “Listen very carefully my words are about to unfold”

This is pure prog, all over the place, up and down, varied and magical with a large helping of full heavy metal mixed with elegant guitar, organ and Celeste solos (a Celeste is a small keyboard instrument). The track builds and builds before finally heading for a mellow “Dire Straits” finale.

Mirage is pure poetry, I can play it again and again and never get bored of it.

Camel (1974)


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carol Douglas - The Carol Douglas Album (1975)

“The Carol Douglas Album” by Carol Douglas (1975)

Release Date: 1975
Produced by Roger Greenaway, Meco Monardo
Genre: Disco, R&B, Soul
Label: Midland International Records
Chart Positions: #177 (US), #49 (Sweden)
Certifications: N/A

Singles: “Doctor’s Orders” #1 (Canada), #2 (Spain), #4 (Ireland, France), #5 (Italy), #6 (New Zealand) #7 (UK), #10 (Belgium), #11 (US), #16 (South Africa), #31 (Australia), #37 (Germany), #80 (Japan), A Hurricane Is Coming Tonite” #81 (US), #79 (Canada), “Will We Make It Tonight” (No chart data)

Carol Douglas was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1948. She is the daughter of Minnie Newsome, a jazz performer who has been cited as the inspiration for the Cab Calloway classic "Minnie the Moocher." The late, great R&B singer, Sam Cooke, was Carol’s cousin.

“The Carol Douglas Album” was her debut album released in early 1975 shortly after the release of her smash hit “Doctor’s Orders.” The album was an impressive pre-disco effort which helped pave the way for many subsequent albums by dance-driven R&B acts.

Carol’s debut album hit the scene with much anticipation of becoming a big hit on the power of the single “Doctor’s Orders,” that did not happen as it only reached #177 in the US and #49 in Sweden. However the lack of commercial success for the album does not take away from the well-produced gem of pleasant listening.

The liner notes on the album list Ed O’Loughlin as the producer of the song (and the album). But it was actually Meco Menardo that produced the hit song (and it’s album). The story is a bit confusing as to the erroneous listing of production credit. Meco had developed a music production company called Disco Corporation of America (DCA), the company took off pretty quick. They produced several disco hits including the cross over hit “Never Can Say Goodbye” by Gloria Gaynor. With all the work DCA was doing it turns out that one of Meco's business associates failed to handle certain business obligations in proper fashion. This caused unnecessary problems with artists and others and although not serious resulted in Meco being barred from producing for one year. This became evident when Meco produced Carol Douglas' hit Doctor's Order's, but was not allowed to be given credit as producer. The only credit he received was for arranging "Baby, Don't Let This Good Love Die." Of course we remember Meco for his 1977 disco rendition of the Star Wars theme, which reached #1 around the world. Famed disco producer, arranger and conductor arranged three songs for the album. John Davis had a few minor disco hits in the late 70s including “Ain’t That Enough For You” and “Love Magic.”

The lead single “Doctor’s Orders” was Carol’s first and only legitimate hit. She had other singles reach the lower regions of the charts but none that were actually hits. Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway and Geoff Stephens wrote the song. Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway are best known for songwriting collaborations on classic hits such as "You've Got Your Troubles", the transatlantic million selling songs, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" and "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" Geoff Stephens is also a co-writer of the hit “There’s A Kind Of Hush (All Over The World).”

“Doctor’s Orders” was first recorded by a singer named Sunny, whom with her singing partner Sue, was hired to sing with the group Brotherhood of Man in 1969. Brotherhood of Man had a huge hit in 1970 with the song “United We Stand.” Sue and Sunny left the group in early 1973 and they pursued a career as a singing duo and respectively as solo artists. Sunny was the first person to record “Doctor’s Orders” as she had maintained a friendship with the song’s writer Roger Greenaway, who was also a member of Brotherhood of Man. Sunny’s version, was a bit faster and had a country twist to it. The song was a sizeable hit for her in the UK and Ireland, but it was not until seven months later that the song finally became a worldwide smash hit. It was Carol Douglas’ discofied version that sent the song up the charts all around the world. It charted in Canada (#1), US, UK, Japan, South Africa and almost everywhere else in the world. Not only was it a pop hit but Carol Douglas crossed over to other genres taking the song to #2 on the US Disco chart, #9 on the US Hot Soul Songs chart and #42 on the US Easy Listening chart.

"Doctor's Orders"

The second single from Carol Douglas “A Hurricane Is Coming Tonite” charted in the US and Canada but did not make it much higher than #80. The song was written by Allan Kenneth Bernstein and Ed O’Loughlin. Bernstein wrote the songs “This Girl Is a Woman Now” (a hit for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap) and “After The Lovin’” (Made popular by Engelburt Humperdinck. O’Loughlin was listed as the album’s producer but was actually a songwriter and arranger on the album.

The third single “Will We Make It Tonight” did not chart and was written by Mark Barkan (who wrote several hits for Petula Clark, Leslie Gore and Little Peggy Marsh) and Rajah Heyworth (who also co-wrote the song “A Friend In Need” with Mark Barkan for Carol Douglas).

Carol Douglas (1975)


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Heart - Little Queen (1977)

“Little Queen” by Heart (1977)

Release Date: May 14, 1977
Produced by Mike Flicker
Genre: Hard Rock, Folk Rock, Classic Rock
Label: Portrait
Chart Positions: #9 (US, Netherlands), #22 (Australia), #34 (UK, Germany), #44 (Sweden)
Certifications: 3xPlatinum (US), 2xPlatinum (Canada)

Singles: “Barracuda” #1 (France, South Africa), #2 (Canada), #8 (Germany), #11 (US), #14 (Sweden), #15 (Australia), #16 (Austria), #29 (Netherlands), #30 (Belgium), 334 (New Zealand), “Little Queen” #58 (Canada), #62 (US), “Kick It Out” #67 (Canada), #79 (US), “Love Alive (No chart data)

Little Queen is the second studio album released by the American rock band Heart. It was released in May 1977 on Portrait Records.

Heart intended Magazine to be the official follow-up album to the debut Dreamboat Annie. However a contract dispute with their label Mushroom Records, resulted in the group signing with the newly formed Portrait Records, a division of CBS Records (now Sony/BMG).

The Mushroom contract called for two albums and the label took the position that they were owed a second one. On that basis, Mushroom attempted to prevent the release of Little Queen and any other work by Heart. The dispute dragged on and ended with the court deciding that Heart was free to sign with a new label but added that Mushroom was indeed owed a second album.

Little Queen was released 14 May 1977 and Magazine was re-released 22 April 1978. With the hit single "Barracuda", Little Queen outsold Magazine handily, eventually achieving 3x Platinum status.

After acquiring a substantial following with Dreamboat Annie, Heart solidified its niche in the hard rock and arena rock worlds with the equally impressive Little Queen. Once again, loud-and-proud, Led Zeppelin-influenced hard rock was the thing that brought Heart the most attention. Two sisters – Ann and Nancy Wilson – take over hard rock, led by Ann's supreme pipes and Nancy's ax-picking finesse. While "Barracuda" and "Kick It Out" are the type of sweaty rockers one thought of first when Heart's name was mentioned, hard rock by no means dominates this album. In fact, much of Little Queen consists of such folk-influenced, acoustic-oriented fare as "Treat Me Well" and "Cry to Me."

Led Zeppelin influences abound, from Wilson's "Summer-of-My-Smiles" phrasing on "Dream of the Archer" down to guitarist Roger Fisher's Page-ish intro on "Go On Cry" and his ferocious riffing on "Barracuda" and the title track. The latter are the roughest and best tracks on record.

Written by Ann and Nancy Wilson together with guitarist Roger Fisher and drummer Michael DeRosier the lead single “Barracuda” is an aggressive early try at heavy metal, but some refer to it as a heavy hard rock number notable for a galloping guitar riff and its use of natural harmonics. Upon its release "Barracuda" became Heart's second top-20 hit in the U.S., peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has become the band's signature song and is a staple on American classic rock radio playlists. In other parts of the world it was a much bigger hit reaching #1 in South Africa, #2 in Canada and #8 in Germany.

Barracuda (1977)

Ann Wilson revealed in interviews that the song was about Heart's anger towards Mushroom Records' attempted publicity stunt involving her and her sister Nancy Wilson in a made-up incestuous affair. The song particularly focuses on Ann's rage towards a man who came up to her after a concert asking how her "lover" was. She initially thought he was talking about her boyfriend, band manager Michael Fisher. After he revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy, Ann became angry and went back to her hotel room to write the original lyrics of the song. Producer Mike Flicker added that Mushroom was so obtuse in the contract negotiations that Heart decided to discard the album they were working on, Magazine - which the label still released in an unfinished form - and instead sign with the newly formed Portrait Records to make another record, Little Queen. As Flicker put it, "'Barracuda' was created conceptually out of a lot of this record business drama. Barracuda could be anyone from the local promotion man to the president of a record company. That is the barracuda. It was born out of that whole experience."

“Little Queen” was released as the second single from the band's second album Little Queen in 1977. The song is a midtempo rock and roll number similar in style to Heart's past hit "Magic Man." Though the song has become a classic tune for Heart fans it did not fare well as a single charting at #62 in the US and #58 in Canada.

“Kick It Out” another hard rocker was the band’s third single from the album charted even lower than “Little Queen” while the smooth rocking folk-tinged fourth single “Love Alive” missed the charts completely.

Album highlight “Dream of the Archer” displays the band’s versatility with a medieval sort of mood.

In it's May 21, 1977 issue Billboard Magazine featured "Little Queen" as one of four Spotlight Albums in their new release section. The following is the review that appeared:
Following it's phenomenal debut album and single success on the small Mushroom label, Heart's switch to the small-roster CBS Portrait label finds the Northwestern sextet irrefutably proving that sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson can sing, write and play rock with all the hard drive and mystically lush overtones Fleetwood Mac is renowned for. Heart's music has complex textures and turbulent energy. The Wilson ladies are complete rockers without putting on any fake pseudo-macho butchiness. The Mike Flicker production brings lavish to the string-picking and synthesizer virtuosity of this brilliant group. 
Best Cuts: Barracuda, Little Queen, Dream Archer

Heart (1977)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Car)(1977)

“Peter Gabriel” by Peter Gabriel (1977)

Release Date: February 25, 1977
Produced by Bob Ezrin
Genre: Progressive Rock, Art Rock, Prog Rock
Label: Charisma, Atco
Chart Positions: #1 (Holland), #5 (Norway, France, Italy), #7 (UK), #8 (Sweden), #9 (Germany, Netherlands), #10 (Austria), #25 (Australia), #30 (Canada), #38 (New Zealand, US)
Certifications: Gold (UK, France, Germany)

Singles: “Solsbury Hill” #3 (France), #9 (Poland), #11 (Holland), #13 (Austria, Netherlands, UK), #14 (Belgium), #16 (Germany), #45 (Australia), #68 (US), #92 (Canada), “Modern Love” (No chart data)

Peter Gabriel is the first studio album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel and the first of four with the same eponymous title. Released on 25 February 1977, it was produced by Bob Ezrin (Ezrin is best remembered for producing Alice Cooper’s classic albums through the 1970s and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”). Gabriel and Ezrin assembled a team of musicians, including King Crimson main-man Robert Fripp, to record the album. Upon the album's release, Gabriel began touring with a seven-piece band under his own name.

The album was recorded in the wintertime in Toronto where Bob Ezrin was based at the time. Gabriel got to know the area by riding a bicycle from place to place.

This album is often called either Peter Gabriel 1 or Car, referring to the album cover by London artist Peter Christopherson when he was associated with the London artists group Hipgnosis. The car was a Lancia Flavia owned by Hipgnosis founder Storm Thorgerson. One of the first ideas Gabriel had for the cover was to use mirrored contact lenses. It took him a while to find someone that would make the lenses for him. Gabriel said, "They were painful to wear, but the effect was fantastic."

Peter Gabriel's first self-titled album served as his creative exodus from Genesis (no pun intended ... OK, kinda). It's a purposefully eclectic, anything-flies approach to songcraft, venturing from hard-hitting rock ("Modern Love") to quirky art-rock (the vastly underrated "Moribund The Burgermeister") to pastoral folk-pop (the lovely "Solsbury Hill," which serves as a thinly veiled kiss-off to his former band) to, umm, barbershop quartet crooning ("Excuse Me"). No other Gabriel album is quite so diverse in stylistic content. Overall, Car is a fascinating first chapter.

Peter Gabriel commented on his website: “I really wanted the first record to be different from what I’d done with Genesis so we were trying to do things in different styles. A bit of barbershop, which Tony Levin helped with, there were more bluesy things, a variety of songs and arrangements that were consciously trying to provide something different than what I’d done before.”

Peter Gabriel’s debut solo single was “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel has said of the song's meaning, "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go." Former bandmate Tony Banks acknowledges that the song reflects Gabriel's decision to break ties with Genesis, but it can be also applied in a broader sense. The song was a huge hit in Europe having reached the Top 20 in France, Poland, Holland, Netherlands, UK, Belgium and Germany. In the US the song only reached #68.

"Solsbury Hill" (1977)

Built around an acoustic guitar riff, this song is much more simple and toned-down from his extravagant work with Genesis. At one point Gabriel was going to leave the song off of the album but in the end decided to include it. Gabriel considers “Solsbury Hill one of his favorites. It's almost always included in his live shows. Solsbury Hill is located near Bath, England, where Gabriel would often walk or jog.

The second and final single, the surging rocker “Modern Love, ” failed to chart anywhere despite a music video that was made to promote the song. The video was shot in a shopping mall that was in the process of being built. Most of the video is filmed on a moving escalator (which Gabriel felt was very “in the future” at the time).

One of the album’s popular cuts “Slowburn” takes Peter Gabriel back to familiar ground with elements of his earlier orchestral work with Genesis.

In the song "Down The Dolce Vita" Gabriel introduces the characters Aeron and Gorham who set out on a journey across the sea. They would become part of Gabriel's story of Mozo, a mercurial stranger who would come and go, changing people's lives. Mozo would show up again in "On The Air," "Exposure," "Red Rain" and "That Voice Again."

One of the most interesting songs, lyrically, is "Here Comes The Flood." Gabriel is speaking about a mental flood, "a release, a wash over the mind." He presents an image of a society where people can read each other's minds. Gabriel says the song was inspired by a dream he had.

Peter Gabriel Advertisement (March 5, 1977)

Peter Gabriel (1977) Mirrored Contacts


Monday, June 12, 2017

Kool & The Gang - Wild And Peaceful (1973)

“Wild and Peaceful” by Kool & The Gang (1973)

Release Date: September 1973
Produced by Kool & The Gang
Genre: Funk, R&B
Label: De-Lite
Chart Positions: #33 (US), #53 (Canada)
Certifications: Gold (US)

Singles: “Funky Stuff” #6 (Brazil), #17 (UK), #29 (US), #58 (Japan), “Jungle Boogie” #3 (Brazil), #4 (US), #29 (Canada), #45 (Germany), “Hollywood Swinging” #6 (US), #15 (Canada), #25 (Japan)
Singles Certifications: "Jungle Boogie" (Gold US), "Hollywood Swinging" (Gold US)

Kool and the Gang hit the scene in 1969 producing a sound that was heavily jazz and funk influenced. By 1973 their sound had changed radically dropping the jazz vibes and trading it in for an R&B funk sound more true to the genre. Wild and Peaceful is the fourth studio album released by the funk band Kool & the Gang, and is their commercial breakthrough album. The album was released in 1973 and was hugely successful on the Billboard R&B chart reaching #6 and charting for 36 weeks. It also reached #33 on the Pop charts, making it the band's first entry into that chart's Top 40.

By 1973, funk music was in high swing. The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, the originator and founder of funk, continued to keep funk going with his albums and singles such as “I Got Ants in My Pants,” “Stoned to the Bone” and his smash tune with Fred Wesley & The JBs, “Doing It to Death.”  Other groups and artists kept the funk going strong, including Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkdadelic, The Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Ohio Players, Cymande and Mandrill, among others. But there was one group that had been on the music scene for a while but was about to break open into the mainstream with their new album. The group is Kool & the Gang.

“Wild & Peaceful,” was released in September 1973 and became an instant hit and was popular at both house parties and underground clubs (which would soon be more commonly known as discos). There were songs you could dance your butt off to and songs you could relax to. The album has what the group called “The New York Sound.”

The first single release “Funky Stuff,” was Kool and the Gang’s first Top 40 hit reaching #29 and their first to make it into the US R&B charts top ten making it to #8. “Funky Stuff” which opens with the shrill sound of a party whistle and goes into a mid-tempo groove highlighted by horns, guitars and the celebratory sounds of party whistles and the catchy chorus of “can’t get enough of that funky stuff” and the “whoa whoa whoa” hook. (Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin even stated “can’t get enough of that funky stuff” in her 1976 scorcher “Something He Can Feel.”)

The horn led - jazz tinged, “Jungle Boogie” is noted for the Tarzan yell heard at the song's end and the grunting, panting, and the scatting heard throughout and was the second single release and is the single that set Kool and the Gang on fire. This song went all the way to #4 on the US singles chart their first of many twelve 10 hits. The song also made it to #2 on the US R&B chart and remains one of the five biggest hits of their entire career. The song sold more than a million copies and was certified Gold by the RIAA on February 2, 1974.

"Jungle Boogie" is the best remembered of the early Kool & The Gang hits up there with the best work by Parliament and Barry White. The song not only received heavy radio airplay but was hugely popular in dance clubs and house parties.

The main spoken vocals on "Jungle Boogie" were performed by then-roadie, Donald Boyce, who became better known as "The Boogie Man." Boyce's vocals on the hit were so popular he was invited to sing back-up and perform "vocal effects" on a number of Kool & The Gang singles, including "Spirit of the Boogie," "Open Sesame," and "Slick Superchick." Boyce performed with the band from 1973 to 1977.

Finally the third single from the album “Hollywood Swinging” was another huge Top ten hit reaching US #6 and was their first #1 hit on the R&B charts. The song was their second Gold certified single. “Hollywood Swinging” kept the hard funk groove going featuring lead vocals by band’s keyboardist, Ricky West, in which he sang about being inspired of becoming a part of a band after seeing a Kool & the Gang concert. The cut’s celebratory horns and its “hey hey hey, whatcha got to say” hook, along with its steady groove, made for some serious partying. The song is anchored by Robert "Kool" Bell's circus-funk bass line when blended with the rest of the outstanding musicianship turns this song into a memorable song for the generations.

Hollywood Swinging (1973)

Rick West was a driving force in creating the track, which tells the story of seeing Kool & the Gang live onstage and wanting to become "a bad piano-playing man." Ronald Bell explained: "Rick wrote the verses, and it's a true story. We did play in Hollywood [to record Live at P.J.s] and he was taken by it. But while it was a true story, it was really for everybody. As kids, Kool and I used to go see John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Art Blakey, all the jazz greats. We looked up to them and wanted to 'get into a band'."

“Hollywood Swinging” packs appropriate punch and became a favorite of the brit-funkers. Jungle Boogie demonstrated the exceptionally tight groove of bassist 'Kool'’ and drummer 'Funky' George Brown. Quentin Tarantino made it the main title theme of Pulp Fiction in 1995 and the world suddenly realized that Kool and The Gang had a life before their Celebration hit-making years.

Album highlight “More Funky Stuff” takes off where “Funky Stuff” left off at with horns, guitars and the “la di da di da” chant. “More Funky Stuff” was the b-side of the single “Funky Stuff” and received moderate airplay in clubs and radio.

The title track, "Wild and Peaceful" changes the pace of the album, this sit back and chill number showcases the band's deep jazz roots and their ability to produce a top notch month groove. The song received a fare amount of airplay on jazz stations and still does to this day.

Kool & The Gang (1973)


Friday, June 9, 2017

Bread - Baby I’m-a Want You (1972)

“Baby I’m-a Want You’” by Bread (1972)

Release Date: January 1972
Produced by David Gates
Genre: Soft-Rock, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening
Label: Elektra
Chart Positions: #3 (US), #9 (Canada, UK), #23 (Australia)
Certifications: Gold (US)
Singles: “Baby I’m-a Want You” #1 (Canada), #3 (US), #5 (Brazil), #8 (France, Australia), #14 (UK), “Everything I Own” #5 (US), #6 (Canada), #12 (Australia), #32 (UK), “Diary” #15 (US), #20 (Canada), #32 (UK)

“Baby I’m-a Want” was Bread’s fourth studio album released in January 1972. By this point in time Bread had 4 top ten hits with their fifth on the way. They were moving into peak of their career with “Baby I’m-a Want You,” which contained 3 Top 15 hits and was their best selling and highest peaking album in the US and Canada.

“Baby I’m-a Want You” featured Bread at their peak showcasing both their soft and hard sides. Yes, Bread had a hard edge to them in some of their tracks such as “Mother Freedom” with its crunchy James Griffin guitar solo. They alternate fast songs with slow ones and in doing so help to get the overall effect of expression in-the-round, which their earlier albums lacked. The superb soft rocker "Baby I'm-A Want You" made a brilliant opening which set the tempo for the album. The songs range from wistful sentimentality ("Diary") to spirited protest ("This Isn't What the Government," a poor man's "Taxman" with an anti-war slant).

There is no doubt as to Bread's musicianship, for all its members are accomplished and respected studio musicians. Robb Royer left the group before recording “Baby I’m-a Want You” (though his presence is felt due to a couple of tracks he co-wrote with James Griffin), replaced by the versatile Larry Knetchel. This slight realignment makes this one of Bread's strongest records.

The lead single “Baby I’m-a Want You” was released a few months before the album and reached #3 in the US and #1 in Canada. The song was a big hit throughout the world including Top Ten in France, Australia and Brazil. Written by keyboardist and singer David Gates, who says, "I had written the song on piano, and when we recorded it on piano, it had no life. I went home demoralized, because I knew it was a good song. So I tried it on guitar and raised it a whole key, then redid it. It made all the difference in the world." “Baby I’m-a Want You” was certified Gold by the RIAA for US sales.

The second single “Everything I Own” was released a few days after the album and zoomed into the Top 10 in the US, Canada and Australia. The song is a classic known by many music lovers and has been recorded by many musicians including Boy George who took the song to #1 in the UK in 1987.  David Gates wrote “Everything I Own” in honor of his father after he passed. If you listen to the words, 'You sheltered me from harm, kept me warm, gave my life to me, set me free,' it says it all."

"Everything I Own" (1972)

The third and final single “Diary,” was another beautiful and heart-touching song. It wasn’t quite as big a hit as the two previous singles but it did reach #15 in the US and #20 in Canada. This song is about a boy who is in love with a girl. He finds her diary and reads it, only to find out she is in love with someone else. Bread keyboard player David Gates made up the story. The unusual sound that plays through the track is a guitar run through a synthesizer.

Bread 1972


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Crystal Gayle - When I Dream (1978)

“When I Dream” by Crystal Gayle (1978)

Release Date: June 2, 1978
Produced by Allen Reynolds
Genre: Country, pop, blues, jazz
Label: United Artists
Chart Positions: #52 (US), #25 (UK), #50 (Canada)
Album Certifications: Platinum (US), Gold (Canada), Silver (UK)

Singles: “Talking In Your Sleep” #11 (UK, Canada), #18 (US), #1 (US Country, Canada Country), #3 (US Adult Contemporary, Canada Adult Contemporary), “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For” #1 (US Country, Canada Country), #16 (Canada Adult Contemporary), #22 (US Adult Contemporary), “When I Dream” #84 (US), #3 (US Country), #20 (US Adult Contemporary), “Heart Mender” #58 (US Country), “Hello I Love You” #4 (South Africa)
Singles Certification: “Talking In Your Sleep” (UK Silver)

Best Tracks: ALL TRACKS – Solid from start to finish

When I Dream is the fifth studio album by American country and pop music singer Crystal Gayle. It was released on June 2, 1978 at the height of her career. It was her second consecutive album to reach #2 on the US Billboard Country Music charts. Two singles from the album reached #1 on the Country Singles chart: "Talking in Your Sleep" (also a Top 20 Pop hit) and "Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For".  

By now it was evident that Crystal Gayle was a powerhouse all of her own. She did not need to ride on the coattails of her sister, the legendary Loretta Lynn. Crystal had the talent and the style to make even if she did not come from country music royalty.

See more on Crystal Gayle @ The Crystal Gayle Resource Center:

The album achieved a gold disc the year it was released but was certified platinum by the RIAA in 1982. It was also Gayle's second album to chart in the UK, where it reached #25, and was awarded a silver disc by the BPI. In Canada the album was a huge hit being certified Gold and made it to #1 on Canada’s country music album chart. The album was #2 on the US country music chart.

As a result of the album’s success Crystal Gayle in January 1979 Crystal was given an American Music Award for Favorite Country Female Artist and the Top Female Vocalist Award by the Academy of Country Music. She also received two Grammy Award nominations for the song “Talking in Your Sleep” in the Best Country and Western Vocal Performance by a Female. As well she received two Country Music Association (CMA) Awards nominations for Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year and the song “Talking In Your Sleep” received a nomination for Song of the Year by the CMA.

The lead single “Talking In Your Sleep” was written by Bobby Woods and British songwriter Roger Cook. Roger Cook had been well known in the UK as one of the lead vocalists with the group Blue Mink who achieved four Top Ten hits in the UK. Cook also co-wrote “Hello I Love You,” “Let Your Feelings Flow,” “Hollywood,” “Livin’ In These Troubled Times” and “Tennessee” all of which were recorded by Crystal Gayle. Roger Cook was a renowned songwriter that co-wrote the million selling hits “You Got Your Troubles” (The Fortunes), “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” (The Hillside Singers, The New Seekers) and “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress (The Hollies). Songwriter Bobby Woods co-wrote hits for country music artists Billy “Crash” Craddock and Billie Jo Spears. One of his best known compositions is “What’s You Name, what’s Your Number” which was a 1977 hit for the Andrea True Connection. Cook also co-wrote the songs “Half The Way” and “He Is Beautiful To Me” both recorded by Crystal. The teams of Bobby Woods and Roger Cook wrote the song “Keepin’ Power” which showed up on Crystal’s 1981 album “Hollywood Tennessee.”

The song “Talking In Your Sleep” was a huge hit shortly after “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” It was a sophisticated pop ballad sung beautifully by Crystal. It made it to #18 in the US and #11 in both the UK and Canada. On the country music charts it was #1 in both the US and Canada and reached #3 on the Adult Contemporary charts in both the US and Canada. It was awarded a Silver certification in the UK for sales of more than 200,000 copies.

"Talking In Your Sleep" (1978)

The handclapping “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For” was the album’s second single. The song did not make it to the pop charts but continued Crystal Gayle’s run of #1 hits on the country music charts reaching the top in the UK and Canada. The upbeat song adorned with a great session of handclaps and electric guitar chords received a fair amount of play in country and western bars across the US throughout the later 70s and 80s.

The third single “When I Dream” brought Crystal back to the lower reaches of the pop charts peaking at #84 on the US Billboard chart. It also made it to #3 on both the US and Canadian country music charts. This song is considered a classic amongst Crystal Gayle fans.

The forth and last single “Heart Mender” made it to #58 on the US country music chart.

Crystal’s rendition of the classic torch song “Cry Me A River” (a hit in 1955 for Julie London) is an album highlight and was used as the b-side for the single “Why Have You Left The One You Left me For.” Many fans have felt the song could have been a great a-side single for Crystal.

“The Wayward Wind” a hit in 1956 for Gogi Grant (in the US) and Tex Ritter (in the UK). Crystal took the song smf gave it her own twist an album highlight popular with fans.

“Paintin’ This Old Town Blue” a bluesy jazz influenced tune stands out on the album.

The album closes with Crystal’s intimate recording of Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone.” Johnny first recorded this song back in 1958 with his nephew Roy Cash, Jr.  Crystal Gayle’s tender rendition features a glistening doubled tracking of her lead vocals.

Crystal Gayle (When I Dream open album gatefold cover) 1978

Crystal Gayle July 1978 Billboard Magazine Article


Friday, June 2, 2017

Electric Light Orchestra - Face The Music (1975)

“Face The Music” by Electric Light Orchestra (1975)

Release Date: September 1975
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Genre: Symphonic Rock, Art Rock
Label: Jet (UK), United Artists (US)
Chart Positions: #8 (US), #7 (Italy), #11 (Netherlands), #30 (Australia), #31 (Canada), #41 (Sweden), #251 (Japan)
Certifications: Gold (US, Canada)

Singles: “Evil Woman” #2 (France), #6 (Canada), #8 (Switzerland, New Zealand), #10 (US, UK, Ireland), #20 (Denmark), #21 (Netherlands, Norway), #23 (Australia), “Strange Magic” #10 (France), #14 (US), #20 (Canada), #38 (UK), #85 (Australia), “Nightrider” (No chart data)

ELO's fifth studio album, “Face The Music,” was released in 1975 and was the first to be recorded in Musicland Studios Munich, which was producer, songwriter, musician Giorgio Moroder’s studio. The band featured a new line-up with bassist Kelly Groucutt and cellist Melvyn Gale replacing Mike de Albuquerque and Mike Edwards respectively. New member Kelly Groucutt sang lead vocals on "Poker" and "Down Home Town" (while Lynne sang harmony) as well as one of the verses in "Nightrider." (Usually, Lynne sang all lead vocals.)

At the time of recording “Face The Music,” Jeff Lynne was generating songs at a breakneck pace. ELO's formula first jelled into a sleek hit-making machine with this album on which Jeff Lynne's producing chops first matched his songwriting prowess. Lynne and ELO were well on their way to becoming full-fledged superstars.

“Face the Music” begins with the minute-and-a-half intro of “Fire on High” containing everything from a chanting church choir performing Handel’s “Messiah” to a backward masking message courtesy of drummer Bev Bevan, who declares, “The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back, turn back, turn back, turn back.” Along with similar uses of the technique sprinkled throughout the album, these reversed snippets were clearly a shot at allegations that Eldorado‘s title track included backward Satanic messages. Snippets of Messiah by Handel can be heard during the album opening as well.

It’s no secret that the biggest influence on ELO frontman Jeff Lynne was the Beatles. He created the group with the purpose of filling the void left in the wake of the 1970 breakup of the Fab Four. But Lynne went in the opposite direction of his idols; he initially focused on the experimental elements the Beatles tried out on their later albums and then built a collection of songs that made for a more streamline work deeper into the band’s career.

The first single “Evil Woman” was one of the most respectable chart hits of its era, and one of the best songs that Lynne ever wrote. He wrote the song on a piano at Musicland studios on the last days of recording, writing it with in 30 minutes. The line "There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in," was inspired by the Beatles song, "Fixing a Hole." Originally the song was slated as filler for “Face The Music” but ended up being released as a single and was the band’s first solid hit worldwide.

“Strange Magic” quickly followed “Evil Woman” onto the charts and was another big hit. The second single from the album showed off Jeff Lynne’s writing in a more ethereal and dreamy vein.

"Strange Magic" (1975)

“Nightrider” was the third single release and was a tip of the hat to Lynne's first major band, The Nightriders. Despite ELO's rising popularity, the song failed to chart. The song was also included as the B-side on ELOs 1977 US hit single "Do Ya".

“Fire On High” was played quite a bit on FM radio stations across the US that many thought it was single. The song has gone on the achieve notoriety and has been used numerous times as background "bumper music" for radio commercials and sporting events over the years. The song was the UK B-side to the band's 1976 worldwide hit single "Livin' Thing", issued in blue vinyl. It was also later included — in an edited form minus the backwards vocals — as the flip side of the United States hit single "Sweet Talkin' Woman" in 1978.

The dreamy ballad “One Summer Dream” closes the album with an ethereal emotion and beautifully sung by Jeff Lynne. An edited version of the song was used as the b-side to the 1978 hit single “Mr. Blue Sky.”

In the January 1, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine Charley Walers' review of the album appeared as follows:
Face the Music is more fine work from the Electric Light Orchestra, which rather quietly has evolved into a most consistent septet. Leader Jeff Lynne remains one of a few Sixties rockers who has developed a new and more adventurous style with a minimum of chaff in the process. In this setting he has successfully integrated a recognizable string trio (an achievement in itself) with his own melodic strings, producing a stately music without being stuffy or saccharine. Nor do the cellos and violin seem a mere afterthought. All eight compositions are strong and fully realized: "Poker" with its hard rock guitar explosions, the oddly workable C&W flirtation "Down Home Town" and an instrumental with lavish but spirited orchestration. The seven outdo themselves, however, on "One Summer Dream," a beautiful and evocative tune sung touchingly by Lynne. A trifle sentimental perhaps, but lyrically and musically, it displays more emotion (not to mention pure ability) than one ordinarily hears from a rock group. Most importantly the song, and the rest of Face the Music as well, reiterates that rock can be complex, ambitious and "arty," yet still remain rock. 

The following is Billboard Magazine review of "Face The Music": 
 Another beautiful set from the seven Brits who helped pioneer the merger of classical and rock on a mass basis. Divided fairly equally into smooth, flowing melodies fronted by equally relaxing singing and easy rockers, the guitar, vocals and writings of Jeff Lynne remain dominant. New to the group, however, is Kelly Groucutt, who handles bass and takes over on lead vocals from time to time. With a softer voice than Lynne's, Groucutt provides the balance that has been missed in past albums. Guitars, violins and cellos melt together easily under Lynne's production, and the unlikely combination works as well as anything the band has ever done. Musically, a truly beautiful LP. Best cuts: "Waterfall," "Evil Woman," "Poker," "Down Home Town."
- Billboard, 1975.
Electric Light Orchestra (1975)

Electric Light Orchestra + ELO