Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Classic Rock Videos

STEVIE WONDER-Superstition

Bird & Animal Names in Rock & Roll History

Throughout music history there have been many bands that have adopted an "animal" or "bird" monikers to represent their band and their sound. Some artists even have a last name that fits into this category and in this continuing article series we will explore some of the unique "animal" and "bird" names and the diverse music that has been created by these groups or individuals.

As I prepared for this project, I did not realize the amount of bands and artists who fall into the category. There are so many new bands like Fleet Foxes, Minus The Bear, Weird Owl and Andrew Bird, Animal Collective, just to name a few, to add to the growing list (which is no particular order). If you have a particular band or artist that fits into this article series, please email me and I can add them to the growing and seemingly endless list. Look for this feature every Tuesday and Thursday. This should be a fun series!

First and foremost and fittingly leading the pack is of course the 1960's group led by Eric Burdon, appropriately called The Animals. The group was one of the first R&B-based bands from the first wave of the British Invasion. With their breakthrough hit “House Of The Rising Sun,” which hit number one on the Billboard charts in 1964, the Animals went on to record several Top 40 hits including: “Don t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” the rebellious “Its My Life” and “Dont Bring Me Down,” among many others. After many personnel changes, the band was renamed Eric Burdon and the Animals and secured Top 40 fame with hits like “See See Rider,” a Top Ten hit, “San Franciscan Nights,” and the spacey psychedelia of “Sky Pilot.”

The popular myth is that their audience called the group “Animals,” thus their name, but actually Burdon and band member John Steel knew of a gang led by a crazy Army vet who called himself “Animal Hog.” He was a symbol of rebellion to the band members and inspired them to name their band the Animals. Eric Burdon recorded two albums with the soul/pop-rock group War and scored a Top Ten hit with the narrative ditty called “Spill The Wine.”

Do you remember a group called the Teddy Bears? The group managed to secure a number one hit with a song called “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” which was written by band member Phil Spector.

In the late 50’s, Spector wanted to break into the music business so he booked a session at the Gold Star Studios. Studio time cost $15 an hour plus an additional $6.00 for a reel of blank tape. But Spector's first obstacle to becoming a recording star and record producer was raising the $40. The first ten came from his mother. He then enlisted the help of some of his friends to contribute the rest. One, a sixteen year old student at Fairfax High School named Annette Kleinbard, contributed the final ten dollars if she could be included in the group. The group picked their name from a very popular tune at the time "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear," which was a US number one hit for Elvis Presley during the summer of 1957.

In the summer of 1958, Spector and his friends recorded a cut called "You Don't Know My Little Pet." In September of 1958, a deejay in Fargo, North Dakota, flipped the single over and played the B-side which was "To Know Him Is To Love Him." Soon orders were flying in for the new song and the Teddy Bears were a national hit, even appearing on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. "To Know Him Is To Love Him" became a number one record, selling more than a million copies before Christmas. So at 17, Phil Spector had written, arranged, played, sung, and produced the best-selling record in the country. Although subsequent releases by the Teddy Bears were well-recorded pop, they did not sell, and within a year of the debut, Spector disbanded the group.

Now a famous “one hit wonder,” the Teddy Bears disbanded, in part, because of Spector’s reluctance to be a performer. The rest is rock and roll history, as he became a world famous record producer, incorporating his “wall of sound” recording production method for such artists as The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers and of course the Beatles (“Let It Be”) among many others.

Ross Bagdasarian created the fictional character band and a multi-million empire centered around three friendly rodents with his novelty act the Chipmunks. Bagdasarian adopted the name David Seville after executives at Liberty Records told him his name was too difficult to pronounce. Seville named the three chipmunks after executives at Liberty Records. Alvin was named after Al Bennett, the president of the company; Simon was named after Bennett’s partner Si Waronker and Theodore was named after Ted Keep, a recording engineer. Seville’s own mischievous son inspired the role of Alvin and Seville was inspired to name the sped up voices of his fictional group, The Chipmunks, after having to stop in Yosemite, California when a chipmunk in the road refused to budge and he had to stop his car.

In 1958, Bagdasarian began experimenting with a novel technique, recording normal vocals, but then speeding up the playback on a tape machine. When the tape was played back at double speed, they would sound a full octave higher in pitch, at normal tempo. The voices of the group were all performed by Bagdasarian and the process yielded the number one hit "Witch Doctor" in early 1958, and the phenomenon snowballed later that year when his Christmas gimmick single “The Chipmunk Song” spent four weeks at the top of the charts.

Although Bagdasarian died in 1972, his son Ross Jr. revived Alvin, Simon, and Theodore in 1979 on Saturday mornings and on the 1980 album Chipmunk Punk. The series became more popular than it was in the '60s, and albums of the Chipmunks singing country, Christmas, rock, and Hollywood favorites were big sellers, though they didn't enjoy chart success.

In the next article we will continue exploring more “animal” groups, including the Turtles and the Monkees.


The Animals:

The original line-up comprised Eric Burdon (vocals), Alan Price (organ and keyboards), Hilton Valentine (guitar), John Steel (drums), and Bryan "Chas" Chandler (bass)and has gone through various incarnations since.

The original Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Their influence can be heard in artists as diverse as The Doors, Joe Cocker, The Cult, Frijid Pink, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Janis Joplin and Fine Young Cannibals and many more.

In 2003, the band's version of "House of the Rising Sun" ranked #122 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Their 1965 hit single "We Gotta Get out of This Place" was ranked #233 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list that was put together in 2004. Both songs are included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The original Animals line-up of Burdon, Price, Valentine, Chandler, and Steel reunited for a benefit concert in Newcastle in 1968.

Chandler died in 1996, putting an end to the full original line-up.

Buy Animals Music

Teddy Bears:

Spector’s inspiration to write the song actually came from a photograph of his father’s tombstone which read “to know him is to love him.”

Kleinbard was involved in an auto accident in September 1959, but recovered and attempted a solo singing career. She had a number of recording contracts, but enjoyed success as a songwriter. She was a co-writer of "The Nights the Lights Went Out In Georgia" a gold record by Vicki Lawrence in 1973 and a country hit for Reba McEntire in 1992. She also co-wrote "Hey Little Cobra" for the Ripchords and "Gonna Fly Now" the theme from the first Rocky movie.

Spector was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a "non-performer" in 1989. He is truly one of the legends of modern pop music.

After the Teddy Bears broke up, Phil Spector moved back to New York, where he worked with Leiber and Stoller in 1960. With Leiber, he co-wrote "Spanish Harlem," a massive hit for ex-Drifter Ben E. King. Spector also played guitar on the Drifters' "On Broadway."

Buy "To Know Him is to Love Him

The Chipmunks & Dave Seville:

In 1959, the Chipmunks (Seville) won three Grammy Awards for Best Recording for Children, Best Comedy Performance, and Best Engineered Record - Non-Classical for the song "The Chipmunk Song." (Was also nominated for Record of the Year, but did not win.)

In 1961, Seville won a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children for the album “Let's All Sing with The Chipmunks.”

As their popularity grew, the Chipmunks' voices were recorded onto audiotape by voice talent talking or singing at half the normal speed. The technique was by no means new to the Chipmunks. For example, the high and low pitched characters in The Wizard of Oz were achieved by speeding up and slowing down vocal recordings.

The Chipmunk’s recorded numerous novelty songs, prime time animated specials, record albums and were featured in a Saturday morning cartoon series.

The words of the song “Witch Doctor” are nonsense: "Oo-ee, oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla, bing-bang." The "Walla Walla" part of the song was just thrown in as a reference to Ross Bagdasarian's uncle who lived in Walla Walla, Washington.

Bird & Animal Band Names Feature

This from the folks at Rolling Stone: their list of the top animal bands (the Beatles were banned for some odd reason as were all 'bug' bands) is listed below. I have recently began a great series of "Birds & Animals Groups in Rock and Roll History" at my new writing assignment, www.musicstack.com. I will try and cover all the bands with a Bird & Animal moniker (mine will include bugs, insects and even fish!), no small feat I will admit, because if you name an animal, there probably has been a group that has used the name. I will start to post the articles here as well, there are a lot of interesting and fascinating stories behind the names!

Rolling Stones' Readers’ Rock List: Animal Bands

1. Animal Collective
2. Eagles
3. The Animals
4. Fleet Foxes
5. Grizzly Bear
6. Modest Mouse
7. Super Furry Animals
8. Cat Power
9. Panda Bear
10. Wolfmother
11. The Monkees
12. Def Leppard
13. Steppenwolf
14. Wolf Parade
15. Phish
16. The Byrds
17. Gorillaz
18. The Turtles
19. The Yardbirds
20. Dr. Dog

Music News & Notes

KAMELOT Keyboardist's SONS OF SEASONS Announce Live Dates For Germany, Reveal Cover Art For Debut Album Special Edition Featuring EPICA Vocalist

SONS OF SEASONS, founded by KAMELOT keyboardist Oliver Palotai, have revealed the cover art for the limited edition version of their debut album, Gods Of Vermin, which is different from the standard edition. It features EPICA vocalist Simone Simons, who also makes a guest appearance on the album.


Elvis Items On Auction Block

Gotta Have Rock and Roll (www.gottahaverockandroll.com) started an on-line auction today for over 500 lots of Elvis Presley owned items and other Elvis memorabilia. The auction runs through March 25.

The top items in the auction:

Lot #506: White Wm. Knabe & Co. Grand Piano Used at Graceland - Minimum Bid $500,000
Lot #001: Elvis' Madison Square Garden Jumpsuit - Blue with Gold Lining - $100,000
Lot #309: Hound Dog Christmas Oil Painting by Ralph Wolfe Cowan - $25,000
Lot #310: Praying Elvis Oil Painting by Ralph Wolfe Cowan - $25,000
Lot #311: Pink Cadillac Oil Painting by Ralph Wolfe Cowan - $25,000
Lot #015: Elvis Presley Signed Seventh Degree Black Belt Karate Card with Fingerprints - $10,000
Lot #011: Elvis Presley Owned and Worn Silver & Turquoise Belt - $8,000
Lot #005: Elvis Presley Owned and Worn Black Pants and Shirt with IC Costume Label - $8,000
Lot #012: Elvis Presley Owned and Worn 14kt Gold and Diamond Owl Ring - $5,000
Lot #013: Elvis Presley Owned and Worn Solid 14kt Gold Diamond Pave Bracelet - $5,000
For those with a little less money, there are a number of Presley albums, press books, lobby cards and other ephemera available for under $100.


Dylan's New LP

Columbia Records has officially announced an April 28 release date for Bob Dylan's 46th album, called "Together Through Life."

The album comes on the heels of the critically acclaimed "Modern Times," "Love and Theft" and "Time Out of Mind" Those three releases have led to a huge career resurgence for the icon, winning multiple Grammys and each selling over a million copies.

The album was recorded late last year and is based on classic styles from the Chess and Sun recordings of the 1950's. In an interview on his sight, Dylan commented.

". . . the old Chess records, the Sun records. . . I think that’s my favorite sound for a record.

"I like the mood of those records - the intensity. The sound is uncluttered. There’s power and suspense. The whole vibration feels like it could be coming from inside your mind. It’s alive. It’s right there. Kind of sticks in your head like a toothache."
In discussing the change in sound from his last album, Modern Times:

"All the Modern Times songs were written and performed in the widest range possible so they had a little bit of everything. These new songs have more of a romantic edge.

"These songs don’t need to cover the same ground. The songs on Modern Times songs brought my repertoire up to date, and the light was directed in a certain way. You have to have somebody in mind as an audience otherwise there’s no point.

"There didn’t seem to be any general consensus among my listeners. Some people preferred my first period songs. Some, the second. Some, the Christian period. Some, the post Colombian. Some, the Pre-Raphaelite. Some people prefer my songs from the nineties. I see that my audience now doesn’t particular care what period the songs are from. They feel style and substance in a more visceral way and let it go at that."


Bad Co Tour?

That one-off performance by Bad Company must have gone pretty well as the band has announced on its website:

"Just announced: Bad Company to tour in 2009! Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke have announced that Bad Co will perform together again. Dates to be announced soon."


ELP Return?

Carl Palmer's website is hinting at a possible Emerson, Lake and Palmer reunion tour.

"2009 is shaping up to be one of Palmer's busiest years in his career, that began with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and spanned four decades plus. In addition to select dates with the Carl Palmer Band, Palmer will return to his drum kit, propelling the powerful sound of the original ASIA. There is also talk of an ELP reunion tour in the fall."


Kid Rock/Lynryd Skynyrd Tour

Following on the heels of their successful “Rock and Rebels” tour together last year, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd will teamup once again for another trek this summer. The tour will kick off June 26th in West Palm Beach, Florida. Tickets for the shows go on sale March 20th at Live Nation’s Website. Like last time, Rock will be backed by the 11-piece Twisted Brown Trucker Band.


Mötley Crüe - Crue Fest 2

Mötley Crüe will be joined by Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool and Charm City Devils on the Crüe Fest 2: The White Trash Circus tour, the band announced at a Fuse TV press conference yesterday (March 16).

The band will celebrate the 20th anniversary of "Dr. Feelgood," its first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, by performing the album in its entirety on the tour, which kicks off July 19 in Camden, NJ and runs through Sept. 5 in Darien Lake, NY.


Thicke Readying New Release

Robin Thicke has made enough progress on his next album to predict a first single this summer with a full-length release in the fall.

"I've got about 15 new (songs)," Thicke told reporters during a Monday conference call to promote his upcoming concert tour with Jennifer Hudson. The big change this time, he said, was working with a variety of different producers rather than helming the set himself.


CATHEDRAL: 'Caravan Beyond Redemption' Reissued On Double Splatter Vinyl - Mar. 16, 2009

Night Of The Vinyl Dead Records has released CATHEDRAL's "Caravan Beyond Redemption" album on limited-edition double splatter vinyl with a gatefold cover. The LP, which was originally released by Earache in 1998, is limited to 500 copies.

CATHEDRAL's latest album, "The Garden of Unearthly Delights", was released in Europe in October 2005 and in North America in January 2006. Produced by Warren Ryker (DOWN, CROWBAR), the CD was said to be the band's "most varied effort so far." Using every stylistic device — from female vocals up to violins — and embedding it all in that typical CATHEDRAL brand of doom, "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" is a treat for every fan of the band, old and new alike. The follow-up to 2002's "The VIIth Coming" once again features the epic artwork of long-standing CATHEDRAL sleeve artist Dave Patchett.

This Date In Music History- March 17


Pattie "Layla" Boyd (former Mrs. George Harrison and Mrs. Eric Clapton-- the one he wrote "Layla" for) turns 64.

Scott Gorham- guitar, Thin Lizzy (1951)

John Sebastian ("Welcome Back" and lead singer of the Lovin' Spoonful) is 65.

Caroline Corr - The Corrs (1973)

Melissa Auf der Maur- Hole, Smashing Pumpkins (1972)

Billy Corgan- Smashing Pumpkins (1967)

Paul Kantner- Jefferson Airplane/Starship (1941)

Jim Weatherly (1943)

They Are Missed:

The late Nat "King" Cole was born in 1919.

Terry Stafford ("Suspicion") died of liver failure in 1996.

The late Zola Taylor of the Platters ("Twilight Time"-- claimed after his death that Frankie Lyman had married her) was born in 1938.

Samuel George, Jr., lead singer of the Capitols ("Cool Jerk") was stabbed to death during a family argument in Detroit in 1982.

Rick Grech, bass player with Family, Blind Faith and Traffic died of kidney and liver failure in 1990.


In 1962, the Shirelles release "Soldier Boy." The single becomes the New Jersey girl group's biggest hit, selling a million copies and going all the way to #1.

The Bee Gees made their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1968. They performed "To Love Somebody" and "Words."

Tangerine Dream formed in 1970.

In 1951, Sam Phillips recorded Howlin' Wolf for Chess Records.

The Champs started a five week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1958 with 'Tequila', a #5 hit in the UK.

In 1997, the RIAA announced that the Eagles' "Greatest Hits" album had tied Michael Jackson's "Thriller" as the all-time best-selling album in the U.S.

In 1976, Bob Dylan's protest song "Hurricane" led to boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's murder case being reopened.

The Grateful Dead released their self-titled debut album in 1967.

In 2000, Dixie Chick Natalie Maines apologized to George W. Bush for comments made earlier in the month. Several radio stations boycotted the group's records after Maines said she was ashamed the president was from her home state of Texas.

Deja Vu,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, was released in 1970. With the addition of Neil Young giving the band a more electric edge, the album goes to #1 and sells more than 7 million copies.

Paul McCartney tops the Rolling Stone rich list in 2003, with earnings of $72 million. Runners-up were the Rolling Stones ($44 million) and Dave Matthews Band ($31 million).

The movie "American Hot Wax" (about influential disk jockey Alan Freed) premiered in 1978.

In 1958, the Coasters recorded "Yakety Yak," which was highlighted by King Curtis's honking sax solo. It hits #1 on both the pop and R&B charts, and King Curtis becomes a mainstay of Atlantic Records' soul and R&B sound.

Eric Weissberg started a three-week run at #1 in 1973 with “Dueling Banjos.” Song taken from the film “Deliverance.”

In 1973, Dr Hook's single “On The Cover Of Rolling Stone” peaked at #6 on the US chart. The single was banned in the UK by the BBC due to the reference of the magazine.

The soundtrack album “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” started a two week run at #1 on the US album chart in 2002.