Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cover Art Revealed

JOE BONAMASSA - The Ballad Of John Henry Tracklisting, Cover Art Revealed

Nightwatcher's House Of Rock reports that the tracklisting and cover art for hard rockin' blues guitarist JOE BONAMASSA's upcoming studio album The Ballad Of John Henry has been revealed.

Featuring 12 tracks, the Kevin Shirley produced follow up to 2007's Sloe Gin, the album consists of 6 Bonamassa originals coupled with six cover versions, including Tom Waits' 'Jockey Full Of Bourbon', British soulstress Sam Brown's 'Stop!', the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse penned 'Feelin' Good' (covered throughout the years by artists as diverse as Black Cat Bones, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Traffic, Muse and George Michael amongst others), Ike And Tina Turner's 'Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter' and Tony Joe White's 'As The Crow Flies' (famously recorded by the late, great Irish blues guitar legend Rory Gallagher).

The Ballad Of John Henry is tentatively scheduled for release in February 2009 via J&R Adventures worldwide. Bonamassa's last studio album Sloe Gin spent over 10 consecutive weeks at # 1 on Billboard's Blues Album Charts.

The complete tracklisting: 'The Ballad Of John Henry', 'Stop!', 'Last Kiss', 'Jockey Full Of Bourbon', 'Story Of A Quarryman', 'Lonesome Road Blues', 'Happier Times', 'Feelin' Good', 'Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter', 'The Great Flood', 'From The Valley', 'As The Crow Flies'.

Classic Rock Videos

The Doors - People are Strange

Motown Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

written by Robert Benson

As this historic record label commemorates its 50th year in the
music industry, let's learn more about the history of this iconic
music leader:

"One of the principles we had at Motown was that success will come,
but that is not enough," founder Berry Gordy explained. "You had to
be proud of yourself in order to achieve true happiness. And if you
do it right, not only will you be successful, you'll be happy. And
at Motown, we're the happiest people in the world."

His feelings on the meaning of Motown border on the mystical.

"Motown is a magical something that has never been seen before and
will never be seen again. Because the world has changed for the
worse. And to have a company like that is probably impossible now.
It was too simple to be believed."

Berry Gordy is indeed a happy man. He formed the Motown Record
Corporation in 1960 after a year of being called Tamla Records.
And now, fifty years later, the world will help celebrate the
legendary record label with a series of gala events.

Berry Gordy actually started his career in the music industry as a
songwriter for local Detroit musicians such as Jackie Wilson and The
Matadors. In fact, Wilson's single, "Lonely Teardrops" became a
huge hit, but Gordy did not feel that he made as much money as he
deserved and soon Gordy realized that the more lucrative part of the
music industry was in producing and owning the publishing rights.

So, with an $800 loan from family members, Gordy started Tamla
Records, signing his first act, The Matadors (who changed their
name to The Miracles). In fact, The Miracles lead singer, Smokey
Robinson became vice president of the company and many of Gordy's
family also assumed roles in the company.

In 1959, Gordy purchased property that would eventually become
Tamla's "Hitsville U.S.A."studio. The property was modified into
a small recording studio with Gordy moving into the second floor
living quarters. Over the next few years, Motown would go on to own
several more neighboring houses, with administrative offices, mixing
and mastering studios and rehearsal studios.

Success came quickly for the new record label, the first hit single
was Barretts Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" in 1959 (#2 on
Billboard R&B charts) and the first #1 R&B hit was "Shop Around," by
The Miracles in 1960 (which also peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot
100 and was Motown's first million-dollar selling record).

From 1961-1971, Motown Records had 100 Top Ten Hits from such music
artists as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Marvin Gaye,
the Four Tops and the Jackson 5, among others. In addition, the
company operated several other record labels (besides releases on
the Tamla and Motwon labels) including "Gordy," which featured such
acts as the Temptations, the Contours and Martha & the Vandellas,
“V.I.P,” which released music by the Velvelettes and the Spinners.
Another label, "Soul" released recordings by Jr. Walker & the All
Stars, Jimmy Ruffin and Gladys Knight & the Pips. Other labels
included "Workshop Jazz" (which released Jazz music), Mel-o-dy
(country music) and "Rare Earth,” which focused on rock recordings.
Gordy utilized the slogan "The Sound Of Young America" and Motown
acts enjoyed widespread popularity with both black and white

The "Motown Sound" is what made the music appealing. This was a
unique combination of tambourines to accent the back beat, prominent
and melodic electric bass lines, distinctive chord structures and a
call and response singing style that had its origins in gospel
music. Add to this the use of orchestral string sections, bluesy
horns and carefully arranged background vocals and the recipe was

Gordy also surrounded himself with some of the best songwriters and
producers in music at the time, including the songwriting trio of
Holland-Dozier-Holland (brothers Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont
Dozier), Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong, Nickolas Ashford, Valerie
Simpson, Frank Wilson and many others.

The Motown Sound also had a profound influence on other musicians
of the time including Dusty Springfield and the Foundations, among
others. In the UK, the Motown Sound was the basis of the "Northern
Soul" phenomenon.

Adding to Motown's worldwide appeal was Gordy's practice of using a
group of select studio musicians, collectively known as the "Funk
Brothers,” who would record the instrumental tracks for the songs.
Included in this ensemble were keyboard players, Earl Van Dyke,
Johnny Griffith and Joe Hunter, guitarists Joe Messina, Robert
White, and Eddie Willis, percussionists Eddie "Bongo" Brown and
Jack Ashford, drummers Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones and Richard
"Pistol" Allen and the bass playing of James Jamerson and Bob
Babbitt. Much of the Motown Sound was made by the use of over
dubbing instrumentation and the use of two drummers to go along with
three or four guitar lines.

Gordy was also a master marketer, his acts were well-groomed, well-
dressed and their appearances were expertly choreographed. Gordy's
reasoning was that Motown artists were ambassadors for other African-
American artists who sought broad market appeal and thought that
they should act accordingly.

By 1969, Motown began its gradual move from Detroit to Los Angles,
with its main objective to branch out into the television and
motion picture industries. Gordy formed Motown Productions which
provided some very memorable TV specials including TCB with Diana
Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations, Diana! (with Diana Ross) as
well as "Goin' Back to Indiana," with the Jackson 5. Additionally,
after the loss of the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland
(who left because of royalty payment disputes), the company loosened
its productions rules allowing some of the longtime acts the
opportunity to write and produce their own material. The result
was the release of some classic albums such as Marvin Gaye's "What's
Going On"(1971), and "Let's Get It On"(1973) and three fantastic
LP's from Stevie Wonder, "Music Of My Mind" in 1971, "Talking Book"
in 1972 and "Innervisions" in 1973.

In addition to establishing branch offices in New York City and Los
Angles, Motown also produced several hit films, including "Lady
Sings The Blues" and "Mahogany," both starring Diana Ross. Other
Motown films included "Thank God It's Friday" in 1978, "The Wiz," in
1978 and Berry Gordy's "The Last Dragon" in 1985.

Motown continued with its successful musical acts in the late 70's
and into the 80's with acts such as Lionel Richie, The Commodores,
Rick James and DeBarge, among others. Despite this success, by the
mid-1980's Motown was losing money and consequently Gordy sold his
ownership rights in Motown Records to Music Corporation of America
(MCA) and Boston Ventures in June 1988. In 1989, Gordy sold the
Motown Productions operations to Motown executive Suzanne de Passe,
who renamed the company de Passe Entertainment.

Despite major recording starts such as Boys II Men, among others,
during the 1990's the company remained in a state of turmoil.
Numerous executives were appointed by MCA and a multitude of legal
issues plagued the company. But by 1999, Motown was again a driving
force in the music industry with such acts as 702, Brian McKnight,
and Erykah Badu.

Motown's (which has merged with Universal Records to become
Universal Motown Records Group) current roster includes many R&B
super stars such as India Arie, Mya, Kem, Yummy Bingham, Badu, pop
superstar Lindsay Lohan, reggae stars Damien and Stephen Marley and
many more. Additionally, Universal Motown Records Group has
retained Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and the

In Motown, Berry Gordy was able to adeptly blend R&B and Soul with
mainstream pop music to create a "super" record label. This
template can never be duplicated, but the world of music is by far
a better place because of Berry Gordy's visions and unique management.

For more information visit:

50 Years of Motown

This Tuesday, a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Motown records kicks off with the release of Motown: The Complete Number Ones, a 10-disc set with every record that the label and its subsidiaries put at the top of any music chart around the world. What will follow will be a flurry of reissues, salutes, books, documentaries and even a Broadway musical.

The man doing the most celebrating, Barry Gordy, founded the label with an $800 loan from his family on January 12, 1959. Gordy talked to Billboard magazine on what it means to him. "I've been fighting to protect the legacy for 50 years, and now it seems that after 50 years we can go and talk about the real deal, what really happened ... and how it happened, my story and everything that goes with it. And I'm just thrilled that I'm here to enjoy now what I couldn't enjoy while I was doing it."

Included in the new material will be a documentary made by Gordy and Suzanne DePasse, who was responsible for the label's 25th anniversary special. "It's about me and ... not only what I did and how I did it but how I felt doing it and what it was that happened, from my standpoint."

Also look for online podcasts from Universal Music, who is in charge of Motown's older material, special events at the Motown museum in Detroit and that Broadway musical, which should hit the stage in 2010.

Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at's list of the top 50 dirtiest and sexiest album cover art, this time #17 (Gigwise comments in quotes):

17. Die Toten Hosen: ‘Reich & Sexy’ - "At first glance the cover art is just yet another photo of a group of naked models, but then you realise that the band have been interspersed between them. The juxtaposition of the beauties and slightly beastly Die Toten Hosen sets the image off perfectly."