Thursday, April 2, 2009

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

In our continuing series about “bird” and “animal” groups and names in rock & roll history, let’s explore a unique section dedicated to birds, namely crows.

One of the first in a number of 1950's “bird groups” (including the Flamingos, the Falcons, Cardinals among others) was the Crows, a one hit wonder doo wop group from New York. Discovered in New York’s famous Apollo Theater in 1952, their most successful single was the song “Gee,” an infectious, cheerful vocal and harmony ditty. That song peaked at number fourteen on the pop charts and number two on the R & B charts in 1954.

A Minneapolis rock/blues band called The Crow, released the hard-rockin’, chest thumping anthem “Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” in late 1969, a song that peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard Top 40. Unfortunately, even with the earnest and engaging vocal theme, the group was unable to hit the charts again.

The Black Crowes are an American, blues-oriented hard-rock jam band that have sold well over 20 million albums. With a vintage Rolling Stones/Faces sound, the Black Crowes emerged from Georgia as brothers Chris and Rich Robinson and the rest of the band achieved national prominence with a cover of an Otis Redding tune called “Hard To Handle” from their debut album “Shake Your Money Maker.” The band also hit the Top 40 with an acoustic ballad from the same LP called “She Talks To Angels.” Their timeless sound and mixing full-throttle rockers with acoustic and soulful ballads served them well as they released several multi platinum albums in the early 1990's. Much as the Stones used Chuck Berry’s influence and sound, the Black Crowes use the Stones, Faces and Humble Pie influences to deliver an eclectic mix of pure, articulated rock and roll.

The Adam Duritz led Counting Crows come in with a different, yet successful level, mixing angst-filled lyrics, twisting melodies and Duritz’s expressive vocals to attain a national following. The band took its name from a divination rhyme about the crow, heard by Duritz in the film Signs of Life. The rhyme is used at the end of the song "A Murder of One" on the album August and Everything After: "Well I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow / Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there, counting crows / One for sorrow, two for joy / Three for girls and four for boys / Five for silver, six for gold / Seven for a secret never to be told." In the poem, the act of counting crows is particularly useless.

The band's debut album “August and Everything After,” produced by T-Bone Burnett, was released in late 1993. The San Francisco rock group reached the Billboard Top Ten in 1994 with the infectious hit “Mr. Jones” and they continue to have modest success entertaining fans with somber ballads, inventive jangling guitar work and Duritz’s continued lyrical tales of muted joy.

Sheryl Crow came into her own in 1993 after spending years as a backup singer for Don Henley, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Michael Jackson, among others. Working with veteran Los Angles studio musicians, this Missouri native hit the charts running with an exceptional debut album called “Tuesday night Music Club.” The album won Crow the 1994 Best New Artist Grammy Award. The release, a melodic mix of gritty blues rock, not only showcased her song writing abilities with the song “Leaving Las Vegas” and “All I Want To Do,” (which stayed on the Billboard Top 40 for an impressive twenty-seven weeks, peaking at #2 for six weeks) but also Crow’s adventurous, bluesy voice.

In her self-named next release (1996) as well as subsequent releases, Crow relies upon the previous mentioned attributes and mixing playful pop energy, social commentary and friendly roots-rock, she continues to add to her legacy as an inspiring, talented songstress.

In our next article in the series (number seven), we will continue to explore more “bird” and group names and artists in rock & roll history.

The Crows Tidbits

When The Crows started out in 1951, practicing sidewalk harmonies, the original members were: Daniel "Sonny" Norton (lead); William "Bill" Davis (baritone); Harold Major (tenor); Jerry Wittick (tenor); and Gerald Hamilton (bass). In 1952, Wittick left the group and was replaced by Mark Jackson (tenor and guitarist).

They were discovered at Apollo Theater's Wednesday night talent show by talent agent Cliff Martinez, and brought to independent producer George Goldner who had just set up tiny new indepent Rama Records label.

The Crows were the first group signed and the first to record for the small label. The first songs they recorded were as back-up to singer and tenor Watkins. The song "Gee" was the third song recorded during their first recording session, on February 10, 1953.

Crow Tidbits

Crow was formed in 1967 by singer David Wagner, guitarist Dick Wiegand, bassist Larry Wiegand, keyboardist Kink Middlemist, and drummer Harry Nehls under the name South 40, which was used until the group went national.

In 1969, Crow’s debut album Crow Music was recorded. The single "Evil Woman (Don’t Play Your Games With Me)" made the Billboard Hot 100 Top 20 that fall.

Black Crowes Tidbits

The band has toured with acts such as Aerosmith, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Who, AC/DC, The Grateful Dead, and Neil Young.

The Black Crowes released their first studio album, "Shake Your Money Maker," in 1990. On the strength of singles "Hard to Handle", "She Talks to Angels", "Jealous Again", "Twice as Hard", "Sister Luck", and "Seeing Things", their debut album received multi-platinum certification and eventually sold over three million copies.

Buy Black Crowes Music

Counting Crows Tidbits

Counting Crows, and Adam Duritz in particular, have become renowned for the energetic, passionate nature of their live performances. Duritz frequently extends and rewrites songs live, adding extra verses or alternate middle sections and/or endings, sometimes fitting most of another of the band's other songs into the middle of the first.

The band has drawn deep in covering artists such as Rod Stewart, Fairport Convention, Pure Prairie League, The Rolling Stones, Jackson C. Frank, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Oasis.

The band actively encourages the recording of its concerts and the distribution of the resulting bootleg recordings. The band hosts a trading network on its website to enable fans to swap concert recordings. Sale of fan recordings for profit is prohibited; fans must either trade bootlegs for other bootlegs or pay for blank media, postage, and packaging.

Buy Counting Crows Music

Sheryl Crow Tidbits

After graduating from college, Crow worked as a music teacher at the Kellison elementary school, in Fenton, Missouri.

Crow toured with Michael Jackson as a backup vocalist during his Bad World Tour from 1987-1989.

In 1992, Crow recorded her first attempt at her debut album with Phil Collins' producer Hugh Padgham. The self-titled debut album was slated to be released on September 22, 1992, but was ultimately rejected by her label.

Crow had been involved with the Scleroderma Research Foundation (SRF) since the late 1990s, performing at fund-raisers and befriending Sharon Monsky.

Crow was featured in the February 21, 2008 issue (#1046) of Rolling Stone. The article discusses how the singer beat cancer and returned with Detours. Rolling Stone says "Detours is Crow's most powerful and most personal record yet."

On May 11, 2007, Crow announced on her official website that she had adopted a two-week-old boy named Wyatt Steven Crow.

Buy Sheryl Crow Music

Look for this feature every Tuesday and Thursday!

Glass Houses: Who Wants Vinyl? I Do

Loved this article and want to thank Debbie for allowing me to reprint it:

Vinyl is back. While I might not be able to get every release I want on vinyl, I will be able to get some from most every record label. Why am I happy? My daughter bought an iPod Touch the other day. Now, the wireless network is down in my house, and I don’t know why. It will likely take hours and several phone calls to figure it out. For what? So she can listen to compressed MP3 files? If that’s not bad enough, she’ll have to go on the computer (when it’s finally working again), to find out information on the songs--that is, if she can find the info at all.

Gail Marowitz, who was nominated for a Grammy this year for her art work on Aimee Mann’s @#%&! Smilers (SuperEgo Records) shared with me a recent experience she had. "I was on looking at the page of an artist I like. That artist recommended another artist; I went to that artist’s page listened to three songs, liked them, and downloaded them. There’s a duet with a guy … don’t know who he is … no liner notes … no PDF booklet on iTunes. It became a frustrating experience because I liked the music and I couldn’t do what I did my whole childhood which was put a record on a turntable, open the gatefold [or flip to the liner notes side of the sleeve], and read about everyone who played on the album. I couldn’t get the lyrics either. It’s like driving blind. Since I was so interested in the artist, I found the experience frustrating."

I tried to get someone from iTunes to talk to me about this subject, but they said they had no one who could go on record. So, where am I leading with this latest round of MP3-bashing? It’s not that I don’t enjoy the convenience of MP3, but often I want more! I want a choice! Obviously, I’m not alone. According to Billboard, in 2008 there was a record number of vinyl albums sold, with nearly 1.9 million--more than any other year since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. The top-selling vinyl set of 2008 was Radiohead's In Rainbows, with 26,000, but Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III and Coldplay’s Viva La Vida did pretty well too.

Why is vinyl making this unexpected comeback? Admittedly, it can never truly compete with MP3s in a generation born into the portable age, but at least, with the record labels all committing to releasing at least some titles on vinyl, the long-adored physical format is no longer a retro-fad, but rather a formidable niche. Of course, many audiophiles never gave up on vinyl. (There is another group of audiophiles that are looking at high-definition as the future, but that’s another story, as I discussed last month). I’ve sat through many Audio Engineering Show (AES) panels where hatred of not only MP3s, but all things digital, was everywhere. So my true question is, who wants vinyl? Can it just be the audiophiles?

I spoke with Steve Sheldon, president, Rainbo Records, who has been in the media manufacturing business for many years. While Rainbo manufactures CDs, they never stopped pressing vinyl. He says, there is way more to the story than audiophiles. That market never went away, and there has always been the nostalgia market as well: those consumers who have been buying new records and replacements for the LPs they already had. However, real growth in vinyl has been with those aged 18-24 who are buying this "new thing" called the record. "They do play the albums, but I don’t think sound is a big part of why they are buying them. The people I talk to, play the album once, then upload it to their portable players. They like owning and handling the cover," he said.

The growing vinyl business, however, does not mean it is really an opportunity for newcomers wanting to press product. There are nine record pressing plants left. Rainbo is one of the largest along with United Record Pressing. Generally, capacity at those nine plants is enough to handle demand, he said. "Last year was tough. We were running about a 10–week backlog, but that was, in part, because all of the labels jumped on the bandwagon at the same time. That seems to have evened out and I think all of us are now able to keep up with demand as companies reasonably space out releases." Another reason for the backlog this past summer had to do with raw materials shortages. There are only two suppliers of vinyl and they hadn’t ramped up for the surprise demand at that point.

Back in May and June, Sheldon says Rainbo was getting 20 different releases at once from one customer. "Also, at that time, customers were overanxious and probably overpressing as well. Many of the order sizes were up in the 20 or 30,000 piece range. Now, a lot of customers are in the 1-5000 units range. However, it’s not only about limited editions, he says, there are quite a few re-orders.

Despite the steadying growth, unavailability of manufacturing equipment is one deterrent in getting into the vinyl manufacturing business today. Sheldon says Rainbo’s newest press is 32 years old! "We haven’t been able to buy parts since the 1980s. We’ve been making our own parts. If it’s not a part that we can make, then we change it around. It would be expensive to develop a machine. Although the record business is good, I don’t think it would be good enough…it’s not like a company is going to build 1000 presses and then sell them all." Even if you managed to get a press, there is the learning curve, in terms of making the disc. It’s not an exact science like manufacturing a CD or a DVD. It’s more of "craft," he says. Rainbo has trained new workers, but there are people at the plant that have making albums for the last 25 years, Sheldon says.

What is the real issue here? It comes down to choice. David Sidebottom, mobile and music specialist at Futuresource Consulting, told me recently, "It's all about treating every release individually to maximize impact and sales potential, and to satisfy the fan base." When you look at studies from companies like Gartner Consulting who says CD production should stop now! It’s unnerving. Not all consumers are created equal. We all have likes and dislikes and those likes and dislikes change depending on situations. Instead of squelching any format, it’s beneficial to all to see how the formats can work together. Vinyl was killed long before consumers were ready for it to go.

Sheldon shared a story. He said that in the heyday of CDs, people were always amazed that he was still manufacturing vinyl. Now the tables have turned, so to speak. "I recently went to a party and someone asked…what do you do for a living? I said, ‘I make vinyl and CDs.’ His response was…’you still make CDs? I haven’t bought a CD in years!’"

Debbie Galante Block (debgalante at is a freelance writer based in Mahopac, N.Y.
Reprinted By Permission

Classic Rock Videos


Music News & Notes

Daltry Says Moon Would Have Quit for the Beach Boys

Roger Daltry, who is touring Australia with the Who, told the Courier Mail that Keith Moon would have dropped out of the group in a heartbeat if he could have drummed for the Beach Boys.

"He was a mad Beach Boys fan. He would have left the Who at the drop of a hat to join the Beach Boys. Even at our height, when the Beach Boys were on their way down and the Who were at the top of the world, if the Beach Boys had asked him to drum for them, he would have gone. We used to do Barbara Ann for Keith to keep him happy."


VAN HALEN's Classic Debut Released On 180-Gram Vinyl - Apr. 1, 2009

As part of their ongoing vinyl reissue series, Warner/Rhino on Tuesday (March 31) quietly released VAN HALEN's groundbreaking self-titled 1978 debut record on 180-gram vinyl.

One of the most explosive and accomplished hard rock albums ever produced, VAN HALEN's 1978 self-titled debut altered perceptions of what the guitar could do and it set the template for the sound of rock and roll for the next decade. From the instrumental blow-out of "Eruption" and the gritty pop of "Feel Your Love Tonight", to the strutting riff of "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" and the grandiose reworking of THE KINKS' "You Really Got Me", VAN HALEN amply demonstrates the drive, showmanship and musicianship that would turn them into rock revolutionaries!

"Van Halen" vinyl reissue details:

* Mastered from the original analog master tapes by Kevin Grey at Acoustech Mastering, using half-speed mastering for superior sound
* Pressed on high-quality 180-gram (180g) weight vinyl for longer life and superior sound
* Features all-original artwork and packaging

Most experts agree that the richness and depth of the original master tapes is truly captured only on vinyl. This should sound better than both the original vinyl, and the remastered CD.

For more information, visit


Neil Young To Reissue Time Fades Away

In a stunning decision, Neil Young has announced that he will be re-releasing "Time Fades Away" on June 2. This decision pushes back the release on The Neil Young Archives Volume 1 which had been scheduled for this release date.

The announcement comes after a 4 year campaign by fans to have "Time Fades Away" re-released after being out of print since the mid-1980's. The online petition campaign began in February 2005 and has received over 15,000 signatures thus far.

In a statement, Neil Young said:

"My fans have spoken. They want to hear "Time Fades Away" after being out of print for so long. And in order to satisfy my fans, I'm going to re-release the album in it's original format only -- vinyl.

As far as the Archives go, well they've waited this long, so they can wait a little while later. It was a tough decision because I never really cared that much for the album. But after hearing all the complaints about the Archives Box set and trying to address them, I feel that re-releasing "Time Fades Away" is my only option to placate my fan base."

The statement goes on to say that the vinyl album will also be available as a deluxe version with new music videos for each song. The videos will be included on a VHS tape in the deluxe version along with the original lyrics sheet that the 1973 release contained.


Holly Golightly reissues on CD and Vinyl

Three classic Holly Golightly albums get the re-issue treatment from Damaged Goods on May 11, 2009 with ‘Painted On’ and the two live albums ‘Down At Ginas At 3′ and ‘Up The Empire’ to be released on digipack CD and 12” vinyl.

PAINTED ON~Release date – May 11th

This is a reissue of Holly Golightly’s third proper album which was originally released in 1997 on the Sympathy label in the USA, now finally available on digipak CD and 12” LP vinyl.

‘Painted On’ is one of Holly’s favourite albums and it features some of her regular live favourites including “A Length Of Pipe” and “I Let My Daddy Do That” which she now plays along with Lawyer Dave in her current incarnation as Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs.

UP THE EMPIRE~Release date – May 11

This is a reissue of Holly Golightly’s first ever live album which was originally released in 1998 on the Sympathy For The Record Industry label in the USA, now finally available on Digipak CD and 12” LP vinyl once again.

‘Up The Empire’ was Holly’s first live albums and it features thirteen tracks that was apparently recorded in the summer of 1997 at Bridgetown’s premier nightspot, The Empire Ballroom and features some of her regular live favourites she’s still playing today including “Won’t Go Out” and “You Ain’t No Big Thing Baby”.

DOWN GINA’S AT 3~Release date – May 11

‘Come on in, put your cigarettes out and have a dance’ kicks off this reissue of Holly Golightly’s second live album which was originally released in 2004 on CD only on the Sympathy For The Record Industry label in the USA, now finally available on a double 12” LP vinyl for the first time and dusted down for a Digipak CD.

‘Down Gina’s At 3’ was recorded at the start of their US tour in 2004 and released by the end of it!

This is pretty much the line-up which recorded Holly’s classic ‘Truly She Is None Other’ album - featuring Bruce Brand on Drums, Eric Stein on lead Guitar and Jack Lawrence on Bass while Ko And The Knockouts appear on the encore tracks.


Girl In A Coma Music

Girl in a Coma's debut album, Both Before I'm Gone, was released in 2007, but the trio was successful in releasing three hit singles and touring off the 10-track CD through 2009 — they're just that good (and dedicated to fans). They finally took a break to write and record a new album, which now has a title and a release date. Trio B.C. will come out on Blackheart Records on June 2.

Of the title, the band says:

"We chose Trio B.C. as the album title because it was the name of [sisters Phanie and Nina's] grandfather's tejano band way back in the 50s. He was our first musical influence . He would play us guitar and sing and we would love to watch him in the garage with a cold beer in his hand playing his records and sing along like he meant it. His passion is our inspiration. We hope to make people feel that way about our music."
The band stuck with Joan Jett's label for their sophomore release, and even have Jett and her co-hort Kenny Laguna producing tracks for the album. They also worked with Gabe Collins, who has done tracks for Gwen Stefani and U2 and Gabriel Gonzalez, who worked on Both Before I'm Gone. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

The album will also include the band's first song in Spanish: “Ven Cerca." The song is a cover a Los Spitfires song.

June may still be months away, but GIAC aren't leaving us high and dry — they are releasing the Hiding My Trail EP on vinyl and digital formats on April 21. Having the two tracks ("Only I" and "A Conversation"), I can vouch that it's not much of a departure from songs like "Say" and "My Cell" — which is a good thing. Girl in a Coma have a great handle on their dark pop-rock style, and it allows them to appeal to all different kinds of crowds, including gay ladies who not only appreciate the basslines from out member Jenn Alva, but the insatiable hooks and layered instrumental that makes them so much more than a Joan Jett pet project or "girl band."

As for Trio B.C., fans will definitely not be disappointed. Punk with tinges of bluegrass, goth-rock and rockabilly, the album is definitely worth the wait.

This Date In Music History-March 2


Keren Woodward – Bananarama (1961)

Emmylou Harris (1947)

Leon Russel (1941)

Greg Camp- Smash Mouth (1967)

David Robinson- The Cars (1953)

Tony Fredianelli- Third Eye Blind (1969)

They Are Missed:

Born on this day in 1952, Leon Wilkeson, bass, Lynyrd Skynyrd (died on July 27, 2001).

Rob Pilatus, one half of pop duo Milli Vanilli was found dead in a Frankfurt Hotel room in 1998 after taking a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol. Milli Vanilli won the 1989 best new artist Grammy after hits like 'Blame it on the Rain' and 'Girl, You Know It's True,' selling 30 million singles and 14 million albums.

The late Marvin Gaye was born in 1939.

One of the greatest jazz drummers of all time, Buddy Rich died in 1987 (age 69) due to complications caused by a brain tumor. The self-taught prodigy started drumming when he was only 18 months old, and his incredible rhythmic sense influenced just about everyone who picked up a pair of drumsticks afterward. Rich worked with many acts including, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey's band, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson.

Edwin Starr ("War") died of a heart attack in 2003.


The Black Crowes performed in Knoxville, TN in 1999. One of the concertgoers later sued the band for $385,000 in a claim that he had suffered significant hearing loss at the show. Apparently, he couldn’t have just got up and left…..

Janis Joplin was at #1 on the US album charts in 1971 with “Pearl.”

The Beach Boys recorded "I Get Around" in 1964. Brian Wilson got so fed up with his father's criticism that he fired him as their manager.

Freddie & the Dreamers recorded "Do The Freddie" in 1965.

Johnny Cash recorded "I Walk The Line" in 1956.

Frank Sinatra cuts his classic anthem "My Way” in 1969.

Steve Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group to form Traffic in 1967.

In 1967, the Beatles finished recording the legendary album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

John Lennon and Yoko Ono held a news conference in New York in 1972 to discuss their appeal of the Immigration Department's decision to deport John.

Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Duke Ellington, "Sir Duke," was released in 1977.

Ringo Starr released his best solo effort and biggest chart success, “It Don’t Come Easy” in 1971. (Written by Ringo and produced by George Harrison)

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours” was #1 in the U.S. in 1977 (less than two months following its release). The album stayed on the chart for over a year-and-a-half.

In 1978, Cheap Trick performed at Tokyo's Budokan Hall before a wildly enthusiastic audience. “Live at Budokan” eventually sells over three million copies and is Cheap Trick’s best seller.

David Lee Roth left Van Halen in 1985. This is the very definition of a ‘bad move.’ He was replaced by Sammy Hagar who’s actually with the group longer.

U2’s fifth studio album, "The Joshua Tree," makes its debut at #7 on the U.S. album chart in 1987.

Nirvana’sSmells Like Teen Spirit” was certified platinum by the record industry in 1992.