Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday 45 RPM Records!

Happy Birthday and welcome back to an old friend, the 45 rpm record officially turned 60 years old on March 31. British trade journals are reporting that single song 45rpm records are now outselling their CD counterparts and many American bands are now releasing music via this historic audio medium.

The 45rpm record was initially introduced in 1949 by RCA Records as a smaller, more durable replacement for the heavy 78 shellac-based records of the time. The 45 was created by RCA as a competitive move against one their rival record companies, Columbia, which had just introduced the new microgroove 33 1/3 rpm LP. The number 45came from taking 78 and subtracting Columbia's new 33 to equal the 45. Record companies and consumers alike faced an uncertain future as to which format would survive the 78rpm or the 45rpm; in what was known as the “War of the Speeds.” In 1949 Capitol and Decca started issuing the new LP format and RCA relented and issued its first LP in January 1950. But the 45 rpm was gaining in popularity and Columbia issued its first 45s in February 1951. Soon other record companies saw the mass consumer appeal the new format allowed and by 1954 more than 200 million 45s had been sold.

So On March 31, 1949, RCA Victor released "Texarkana Baby" b/w "Bouquet of Roses" by Eddy Arnold. The first 45rpm record to hit the Billboard charts was "A -- You're Adorable" by Perry Como, listed on the charts on May 7, 1949. The next week, the year's biggest hit appeared on the Billboard charts -- "Riders In The Sky (A Cowboy Legend)” by Vaughn Monroe. The first 45rpm records were monaural and as stereo sound became more prevalent and popular in the 1960s, almost all 45rpm records were manufactured in stereo.

The historical and commercial significance of the 45rpm record has varied over time, the technological developments in recorded music and according to the audience of the particular artists and musical genres. In general, 45 records were more important to the music acts who sold music to the younger audiences (mostly teenagers) who tend to have limited financial resources and shorter attention spans. That said, the golden age for the 45rpm record was in the 1950s and 1960s in early development of rock music. They were affordable and allowed artists the freedom of releasing a single song as opposed to a whole LP. Conversely, some singles helped to launch the sales of the albums that the musicians were promoting.

The length of the songs also evolved. In the 1950s, it was common for songs to be anywhere from two to two and a half minutes long and in the 1960s; the three minute single became the norm. This length was very convenient and fit the AM radio format very well. Millions of demo records were sent out to radio stations with specific instructions as to which song was supposed to be the ‘hit single,’ although there were some DJs that played the ‘B’ sides and those songs became hits. Elvis Presley was one of the first artists to release the ‘double-sided single’, meaning that both songs would ultimately end up on the charts. The Beatles followed suit and were also one of the first recording artists to push the envelope, so to speak and commonly had songs over the three-minute norm. In fact, there are some singles that had to be edited by radio stations and shortened to fit their particular formats. Don McLean’s 1972 hit “American Pie” is an example, the single was split up into two parts on the 45. The Beatles broke new ground in 1968 with their over seven minute epic “Hey Jude.”

The sales of the 45s were recorded on the record charts in most countries in a Top 40 format and these charts were often published in magazines (Billboard), television shows (American Bandstand) and radio programs often had the Top 40 countdown shows (Casey Kasem).

Nowadays, they still manufacture 45 rpm records, but on a much smaller scale than decades ago. Indie bands, r&b artists and punk bands love the format; it makes the music affordable for their target audience and, after all these years, are still highly sought after by collectors. Happy Birthday to an old friend, here’s for many more!

Sales of 45rpm Records:

Over 11 million copies
“Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight” - Elton John

Over 8 million copies
“We Are the World” - USA for Africa

Over 4 million copies
“Hey Jude” - The Beatles
“Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" - Elvis Presley
"I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston
"Low" - Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
"Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" - Los Del Rio
"Whoomp! (There It Is)" - Tag Team

Over 3 million copies
"Apologize" - Timbaland presents OneRepublic
"Disturbia" - Rihanna
"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" - Bryan Adams
"Eye of the Tiger" - Survivor
"Gangsta's Paradise" - Coolio featuring L.V.
"Hot N Cold" - Katy Perry
"How Do I Live" - LeAnn Rimes
"I Kissed a Girl" - Katy Perry
"I'll Be Missing You" - Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112
"I'm Yours" - Jason Mraz
"Just Dance" - Lady Gaga featuring Colby O'Donis
"Live Your Life" - T.I. featuring Rihanna
"Love Me Tender/Any Way You Want Me" - Elvis Presley
"Stronger" - Kanye West
"Viva la Vida" - Coldplay

Classic Rock Videos

Looking Glass - Brandy

Bird & Animal Names In Rock & Roll History- part five

As we continue our series of “bird” and “animal” names in rock & roll history, let’s explore some more famous groups and names that contain “birds.”

In the early 1960's, Missouri native Billy Swan wrote a hit single for Clyde McPhatter called “Lover Please” and spent the rest of the decade working as a roadie, engineer’s assistant and songwriter, writing material for Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings and Mel Tillis.

After moving to Memphis to continue writing songs and later relocating to Nashville, Swan supported himself as a recording assistant, but quit the job during the recording of Bob Dylan’s album “Blonde On Blonde” and gave his job to Kris Kristofferson. Swan went on to produce Tony Joe White’s hit single “Polk Salad Annie.” He also toured and played with Kris Kristofferson.

But Swan’s main claim to fame is his number one hit in 1974 called “I Can Help,” a song he wrote after receiving a little RMI organ as a wedding present from Kristofferson and then wife, Rita Coolidge. It went to number one on both the pop and country charts in 1974, and the accompanying album of the same name also topped the country list. After a few years, Swan returned to Kristofferson’s band and played with them until 1992.

However, taking time out from his still-active career as a session and backup musician, Swan recorded a new album at the original Sun studios, “Like Elvis Used to Do,” in 2000. In 2002, he teamed up with the Eagles’ Randy Meisner and Alan Rich, on a self-titled album from the aptly named Meisner, Swan & Rich.

One of the most successful rock groups of the 70's, the Eagles blended country, folk and rock into a stellar career that produced five number one Billboard hits. The group’s original members, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Henley were all session players and group veterans (Leadon had been with the Flying Burrito Brothers and Meisner founded the band Poco) and were assembled as back up musicians for Linda Ronstadt’s album “Silk Purse.”

Signed by Asylum Records, the Eagles released a self-titled album in 1972 which included the hit singles “Take It Easy” (written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey), “Witchy Woman” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and brought the “California sound” to the world. With their passionate, articulate harmonies, superstardom awaited, as fans clamored for more.

The second Eagles album, “Desperado” (1973) emphasized an “outlaw” image, but was not as successful as the first release. They added guitarist Don Felder on the third album, “On The Border” which went gold in three months and produced the number one Billboard hit “Best Of My Love.”

In 1975, the Eagles released “One Of These Nights,” a breakthrough album that mixed sappy, yet fulfilling ballads with pure rock and pop. The public loved the music, evidenced by the hit singles “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Take It To the Limit” and of course the title track, which peaked at number one on the Billboard charts.

In 1976, the Eagles released a “Greatest Hits” album that has sold well over fifteen million copies, but suffered the loss of guitarist Leadon, who was replaced by former James Gang leader, Joe Walsh. In 1977, the Eagles released the powerful and expressive LP, “Hotel California,” which added the title song as a number one hit to their already impressive resume. In 1977, Meisner left the group and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, but it took the group almost two years to complete their next album, “The Long Run.” The wait paid off, as the Eagles scored another number one hit, “Heartache Tonight” and top ten hits, the ballad “I Can’t Tell You Why” as well as the title track. They followed this with a live tour and release, but the group disbanded in 1981 and swore they would get back together “when hell freezes over”.

But that is not the end of the story, because hell must have frozen over and the group reformed and released the aptly named LP “Hell Freezes Over” in 1994. The album rehashed all their earlier hits and also included a new song called “Get Over It,” which reached the Billboard Top 40 and was well received by adoring Eagles fans.

In the next article, we will again explore “bird” names, but this time we will focus on the “Crows” of the rock and roll era.

This Date In Music History- March 31


Pat McGlynn- Bay City Rollers (1958)

Paul Ferguson- Killing Joke (1958)

Mick Ralphs- Bad Company (1948)

Sean Hooper- Huey Lewis and the News (1953)

Thiis Van Leer- organ, flute- Focus (1948)

Al Goodman- The Moments (1947)

Tony Brock- Tubes (1954)

Al Nichol- Turtles ("Happy Together") (1946)

Partridge Family cast member and stepmother of David Cassidy, Shirley Jones was born in Smithton, Pa in 1934. She's named after Shirley Temple, you know.

John D. Loudermilk ("Tobacco Road)("Indian Reservation") (1934)

Herb Alpert, best known for blowing his trumpet and having a woman dressed only in whipped cream on one of his album covers, was born today in Los Angeles in 1935.

AC/DC's Angus Young was born in 1959.

They Are Missed:

The late Jon Jon Poulos of the Buckinghams ("Don't You Care") was born in 1948.

The late, late, late composer Franz Joseph Haydn was born in 1732. He is known for helping to develop the Classical style.

O'Kelly Isley of The Isley Brothers died of a heart attack in 1986 (age 48).

Mexican American singer Selena was murdered in 1995 (age 23) by the president of her fan club Yolanda Saldívar. Warner Brothers made a film based on her life starring Jennifer Lopez in 1997.

Country musician 'Lefty' Frizzell was born in 1928 (died July 19, 1975)


In 2004, Usher's Confessions album went straight into the charts at #1, selling a whopping 1.1 million copies in its first week of release.

Chuck Berry released the seminal single "Johnny B. Goode" in 1958. It became his fifth top 10 single, peaking at #8.

Jimmy Page escaped being knifed when a fan rushed the stage at a Page and Plant gig at Auburn Hills, Michigan in 1995. The fan was stopped by two security guards, who he knifes instead. After his arrest, he told police that he wanted to kill Jimmy Page because of the Satanic music he was playing.

Cher kicked off her Heart of Stone world tour at the Starplex Amphitheater in Dallas, Texas in 1990. The 55-date tour grossed over $70 million.

The Official Beatles Fan Club closed in 1972.

In 1973, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon entered the Billboard albums chart for the very first time. Has it left yet?

Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar live on stage for the first time when he was appearing at The Astoria London in 1967. It was the first night of a 24-date tour with The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdink.

Kenny Loggins started a three week run at #1 on the US singles chart with “Footloose,” the theme from the film with the same name.

Prince's "Sign O' The Times" LP was released in the U.S. in 1987.

Guns N' Roses released their single "Patience" in 1989.

Human Touch” and “Lucky Day,” both by Bruce Springsteen were released in 1992.

In 2001, Whitney Houston and husband Bobby Brown were banned for life from Hollywood's Bel Air hotel after wrecking their room. Hotel workers said a TV was smashed, two doors were ripped of their hinges and the walls and carpets were stained by alcohol. It was reported that Whitney called in her lawyers to plead with the hotel management not to call the police. The suite was so badly damaged it had to be shut for five days for repairs. Remember, just say no to drugs….

Music News & Notes

Join A Rock Band

Want to be in Smashing Pumpkins? The band will be holding an open call for drummers on April 10th in Los Angeles. Interested parties should send background info (presumably a brief bio), photographs (presumably of themselves) and performance links via e-mail to pumpkinsdrummer@gmail.com.

The Pumpkins announced the departure of longtime drummer Jimmy Chamberlin in a late-afternoon press release on Friday, March 20. On the 24th, Chamberlin blogged about the split saying:

“I can no longer commit all of my energy into something that I don’t fully possess. I won’t pretend I’m into something I’m not. I won’t do it to myself, you the fan, or my former partner. I can’t just, ‘Cash the check’ so to speak.’ ”


Metric Announce US Tour Dates

Metric have announced the first tour dates behind the release of their fourth full-length studio album Fantasies starting with June 4 in Seattle at Showbox. Additionally, the band announces that starting tomorrow, March 31, fans can buy the album via iTunes ahead of the April 14 street date. A full album preview is also available at the band's website.

FantasiesCoverFantasies is already attracting a lot of attention with the first single, "Help I'm Alive," debuting at #1 on the FMQB Top 25 Singles Chart for US Specialty beating out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Decemberists which also impacted the same week. The track, which was a #1 single in Canada, has been receiving accolades from the press world- wide with NME saying it's "A beautifully constructed, shiny, shimmying pop belter - one butterfly that's bound to cause a hurricane", and the Washington Post writing it "is an impossibly infectious exercise in '90's pop nostalgia. Springy, clattery, improbably happy, it's like the best Veruca Salt/Breeders collaboration that never actually happened."

Beyond "Help I'm Alive" Fantasies is loaded with compelling pop songs, with Metric's unique skew and many are finding fans all over a wide array of media. Grey's Anatomy featured the song "Front Row" on an episode earlier this month, and the song "Sick Muse" was heard on KCRW's highly influential "Morning Becomes Eclectic."


In 2008, Los Angeles based composer and producer Joerg Huettner, who has worked on the soundtracks of such films as "The Ring II" or "Batman Begins" for Hollywood star-composer Hans Zimmer, created exclusive music for the art exhibition “Labyrinth” at Strychnin Gallery Berlin, presenting Canadian artist Richard A. Kirk.

The entrancing ambient-electronica instrumental album that is the soundtrack to the "Labyrinth" exhibition has now been released as a 45 minute-long gapless album that is available as a 6-panel Digipack CD with a 12-page poster-fold booklet through Strychnin Gallery or the usual online download centers (iTunes, Amazon, Magnatune.com).

Besides intruiging down-tempo instrumental music, the digipack is a work of art in and of itself: its cover features Richard A. Kirk's work “The Riddle” and the beautifully designed album also contains additional art work by Kirk, as well as an excerpt from a novel by writer Tim Mizelle, which is based on and inspired by Kirk's art.


Lucinda's Econ Stimulus Package For Her Fans

Lucinda Williams is giving back to her fans. While she doesn't control the ticket prices for her shows, she is giving everyone who attends a discount at the merchandise table of $7 on clothing and $5 on CDs.

"I understand that this may only be a small gesture and in no way solves the problem long term, but I feel that it is important to try and do something to make it a little easier during this time."