28 February 2011

Tina Turner Back in the Day

I just found this photo -- one that takes me back to some fond memories. I had no idea what was going on in her private life at the time, I just knew she was producing rocket-fueled rock and R&B in 1970. She was one of my favorite singers right into her lean years in the late seventies. And then, boom, she was a solo mega-star.

Love ya' Tina.

24 February 2011

Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay"

As the Allmusic Guide puts it so well, "It was never supposed to be like this: '(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay' was supposed to mark a beginning of a new phase in Otis Redding's career, not an ending." Posthumously released in January of 1968 after Otis' death in a plane crash in December of 1967, this radio-friendly change of pace for Redding was immediately added to R&B radio station playlists.

Redding co-wrote the song with guitarist/producer/songwriter Steve Cropper. It's easy to fall under the spell of Otis' vocal so don't miss Cropper's subtle guitar work.

Dock of the Bay was the first posthumous number one single in U.S. chart history. The tune shot to number one on the Billboard R&B charts and number four on the magazine's pop charts. Moreover, the song has lasted. BMI named it the 6th most performed song of the 20th century. I saw evidence of this just recently, when a great cover of the tune got a big round of applause from a seemingly disinterested audience at a bar happy hour. It's part of the culture now, and I can't see it going anywhere. Otis and Steve, thanks for this classic.

[This post also contains information from Wikipedia's page on the song.]

18 February 2011

"This One Goes Out to the One I Love"

R.E.M. The One I Love, from Document (1987)

I've always liked this one, and the minute I put it one while preparing this post, the one I love over there on the sofa started singing along. That makes this one a keeper for sure.

13 February 2011

Bill Withers: "Ain't No Sunshine" (live, 1972)

Bill Withers, Ain't No Sunshine (live, 1972)

The guitar player at the bar last Thursday played a cover of this song, then said, "When was the last time you heard that one?"

Me, in response, "It never leaves my head."

Here is Withers performing his Grammy-winning 1971 hit.

07 February 2011

"Wait a Minute! That's the Same Song": Derek and the Dominoes, Buddy Holly and the Crickets

Back Cover of the Layla LPs (1970)
(not pictured: Eric Clapton, Carl Radle, Duane Allman, Bobby Witlock, Jim Gordon)

Buddy Holly and the Crickets (1957)

As I started my adventure into rock 'n' roll in 1970, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970) was one of the first important albums I owned. And I had completely missed Buddy Holly, a fading 50s memory to the newcomers like me. Gradually though, I learned more about Derek and the Dominoes as well as picking up little bits of information on Buddy Holly and his band The Crickets.

But it wasn't until I purchased a comprehensive Buddy Holly anthology last year that a connection clicked between the Layla album and Buddy Holly.

The experts out there will know this often covered Chuck Willis tune, but maybe I can make what was a startling connection me for a few folks out there.

On side four of the Layla double LP, there's a cover of the song It's Too Late. Derek and Co. cover the song in straight-ahead Clapton blues rock arrangement. I always liked the cut but had no idea of its history.

I was quite surprised as I listened to the Buddy Holly anthology Gold and I started to recognize the lyrics of one song but couldn't place them. Then it hit me. Buddy Holly had covered the very same song but in his pioneering Texas style of 50s rock. It's Too Late appeared on Holly's 1958 EP Rave On.

Below you can listen to the two covers in the order I was exposed to them: 1970 then 1958.

It's Too Late Derek and the Dominoes (1970)

It's Too Late Buddy Holly and the Crickets (1958)

01 February 2011

Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma: "Slumber My Darling" (Stephen Foster)

Here is a beautiful "old school" folk song reinterpreted by folk's best modern vocalist with a world class string ensemble.

Beautiful Dreamer, a 2005 compilation album of Stephen Foster's work, won the Grammy that year for Best Traditional Folk Album. Here are Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma performing Slumber My Darling -- their track appearing on this all-star collection.