Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kenny Rankin Dies Of Lung Cancer

by Robert Benson

In a remarkable music career that spanned more than three decades, singer/songwriter Kenny Rankin endeared himself to many of his constituents who loved and respected his work. Sadly, Rankin passed away on June 9, 2009 from complications relating to lung cancer. Rankin, a native New Yorker, was sixty nine years old.

Although he may not have been a household name, Kenny Rankin was a musician’s musician who released thirteen studio albums during his career; ranging from folk, jazz and pop, reaching the Billboard album charts several times. Rankin’s warm singing style and soft sound appealed to music lovers across many genres, but his was his raw emotion and energy that made him so popular among his peers.

"My interpretation of the songs is purely emotional," Rankin explained. "We've all experienced disappointment and heartache, and that's what I draw upon. When I sing “A Song for You” and “Where Do You Start?” or “She Was Too Good to Me,” I’m really hurting for the people in the song. I never change lyrics, because when I select a song it's usually because of how the lyric impacts me. I've been accused of straying from the melody, but when I sing I'm feeling, not thinking."

Rankin grew up in the multicultural section of New York’s Washington Heights and was introduced to an eclectic array of music, from Afro Cuban to Top 40 radio, from jazz to Brazilian. As a teenager, he signed with Decca Records and cut a handful of singles with little success. In 1965, Rankin played guitar on Bob Dylan’s LP “Bringing It All Back Home.” This appearance and a combination of other studio work and exposure plus industry contacts and an appearance on The Tonight Show landed him a recording contract with Mercury Records. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson was so impressed with Rankin; he contributed liner notes to Rankin’s first album, 1967’s “Mind Dusters.” Rankin would go on to make over twenty more appearances on the show.

The LP introduced his song “Peaceful,” which has been covered by numerous artists (Helen Reddy hit #2 on the Adult Contemporary charts and #12 on the pop charts in 1973) and the album’s mix of original songs and creative remakes of other material would serve him well on his subsequent releases such as “Family” (1970), “Like A Seed” (1972), “Silver Morning” (1975) and “Inside” (1976). In fact, Rankin's own unique gift for reworking classic songs such as the Beatles' "Blackbird," which he recorded on the “Silver Morning” album, so impressed Paul McCartney that he asked Rankin to perform his interpretation of the song when McCartney and John Lennon were inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Rankin's insightful songwriting talents have been widely recognized by his peers. For example, his song "In the Name of Love," inspired a very memorable version by songstress Peggy Lee, while his song "Haven't We Met" has been recorded by a number of popular jazz and pop artists including Carmen McRae and Mel Torme.

His 1976 release, the critically acclaimed “The Kenny Rankin Album” was recorded live in the studio and paired him up with a sixty piece orchestra that was arranged and produced by the legendary Don Costa. The duo teamed up again in 1980 for the album “After The Roses.” Throughout the eighties, Rankin concentrated his efforts on live stage shows, Brazilian music, and pop and jazz standards.

Rankin continued to cut pop-flavored jazz and had been preparing to record an album of new material when he became ill a few weeks ago. Recording sessions scheduled with producer Phil Ramone were canceled as his health began to deteriorate.

"That he was still at the top of his game is one of the saddest parts of his passing for me," Denny Stilwell, president of Mack Avenue Records, said in a statement. "He performed the new material in our office over the last few months and his voice was still in its finest form — he sounded absolutely amazing. Our hearts and prayers are with his family."

Rankin summed up his career in a quote from his official website.

"I just feel privileged that I've been allowed to continue in my craft, and I've been encouraged by all the positive feedback I've gotten from people over the years. When someone tells you a song changed their life, or inspired them to look at things in a slightly different way, well, you can't ask for a better reward than that."

That is what songs and music are supposed to do. Rest in peace Mr. Rankin.

Studio albums

Mind-Dusters (1967)
Family (1970)
Like a Seed (1972)
Inside (1975)
Silver Morning (1975)
The Kenny Rankin Album (1976)
After the Roses (1980)
Hiding in Myself (1988)
Because of You (1991)
Professional Dreamer (1994)
Here in My Heart (1997)
A Christmas Album (1999)
A Song for You (2002)

Classic Rock Videos

Deep Purple - Burn

Mr. Music ~ with Jerry Osborne

I am continuing our new feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2008), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the exclusive rights to reprint his great column.


DEAR JERRY: I've been thinking about how many Rock Era singers fronted a group before launching a solo career, which leads to my question:

While still with their group, did it ever happen that both the lead singer and the group were in the Top 10 at the same time with competing songs?

I once read how the Crickets and Buddy Holly had simultaneous hits, and it seems either John Lennon or Paul McCartney could have done so while still with the Beatles.

A few other possibilities that come to mind are: Brian Wilson (Beach Boys); Diana Ross (Supremes); Tony Williams (Platters); John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival); Smokey Robinson (Miracles); Michael Jackson (Jackson 5); Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones); Clyde McPhatter (Drifters); and Eric Burdon (Animals).

Some of these guesses must be right.
—Lex Gulick, Green Bay, Wisc.

DEAR LEX: Then it may surprise you to learn just one of your suggested possibilities managed to reside in the Top 10 at the same time as his group: Buddy Holly.

This uncommon incidence lasted for only one week in mid-January 1958, when “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly) and “Oh Boy” (Crickets) held spots No. 4 and No. 10 respectively.

An even more impressive occurrence than “Peggy Sue” and “Oh Boy,” both of which are really by Buddy Holly and the Crickets, is one involving Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons.

While still a Season in good standing, and with their “C'mon Marianne” at No. 9 (July 22, 1967), Frankie's “Can't Take My Eyes off You” held the No. 2 position. Coincidentally, those rankings represent the survey peak for both singles.

This is not to say some of your solo and group guesses did not have hits at the same time, just not ones in the Top 10.

For example, in early September of 1972, both “Ben” (Michael Jackson) and “Lookin' Through the Windows” (Jackson 5) were in the Top 30, at No. 26 and No. 27 respectively.

Likewise, both “Instant Karma” (John Lennon) and “The Long and Winding Road” (Beatles) held Top 40 positions for one week in May 1970, though never together in the Top 10.

As for Wilson, Fogerty, Ross, Jagger, McPhatter, Robinson, and Burdon, they either charted in a week when their group did not, or after they left the group seeking solo success.

Despite some downright incredible recordings, such as “Sleepless Nights” and “When You Return,” none of Tony Williams' Platterless platters charted.

DEAR JERRY: One of the satellite Blues channels occasionally plays “Wang Dang Doodle,” but they credit it only to Ko Ko Taylor.

Clearly there is a male singer with her on this track.

On YouTube I found a vintage black-and-white video of this song, probably from a mid-'60s TV appearance, and she is accompanied by Little Walter. However, he only plays harmonica while Taylor does all the singing.

Though he does not sing on this performance, is Little Walter still the man dueting with Ko Ko on the hit single?
—Austin Jones, Baltimore, Md.

DEAR AUSTIN: The writer of “Wang Dang Doodle” (Checker 1145) is Willie Dixon, and his is the second voice you hear on the original recording.

Dixon is also the producer of this December 7, 1965 session, which, despite his being another Checker artist, does not include Little Walter.

On “Wang Dang Doodle,” Taylor is shown as Ko Ko, though more often you'll see her as Koko.

IZ ZAT SO? For singles sales, of the 40 all-time top groups and duets only one did not have a member, especially their lead singer pursue a solo career at some point: the Four Tops, and their legendary lead vocalist, Levi Stubbs (1936-2008).

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this quartet is, since their first record (1956), they never had a personnel change due to anything other than the death or incapacitation of a member.

No one left the Tops to join another group or to spin solo.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission


Toll-Free: (800) 246-3255
"Rockin Records" is now on sale- call with the code "CVR" and receive $6 off your purchase

Jerry Osborne's "Rockin' Records" has long been the most popular record guide. Now with 1,104 pages, it is by far the biggest record guide we've ever made. It is regarded throughout the industry as the best available guide, and it is the one accepted by all the major insurance companies.

Call today with the code "CVR" to receive your discount!

New Vinyl Releases

More new vinyl record releases:

Aerogramme: Aerogramme (8-LP vinyl box set)
Anti-Flag: People Or the Gun (vinyl)
Blank Dogs: Under and Under (vinyl)
Cake: Motorcade of Generosity (reissue) (vinyl)
The Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca (vinyl)
Dolly Varden: Dumbest Magnets (vinyl reissue)
Dredg: The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion (vinyl)
The Faint: Mirrir Error (vinyl)
The Field: Yesterday and Today (vinyl)
Frank Black: Show Me Your Tears (vinyl reissue)
Guided by Voices: Alien Lanes (vinyl reissue)
Here We Go Magic: Here We Go Magic (vinyl)
Holly Golightly: Down Gina's at 3 (vinyl reissue)
Holly Golightly: Painted On (vinyl reissue)
Holly Golightly: Up the Empire (vinyl reissue)
Iggy Pop & James Williamson: Kill City (vinyl reissue)
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (2-LP vinyl picture disc edition)
Joan Of Arc: Flowers (vinyl)
Jon Hopkins: Insides (vinyl)
Lady Gaga: LoveGame - Remixes (vinyl)
Liechtenstein: Survival Strategies in a Modern World (vinyl)
Little Boots: Illuminations EP
Mike Snow: Mike Snow(vinyl)
Mos Def: The Ecstatic (vinyl)
Pelican: Ephemeral EP (vinyl)
Public Image Limited: The Flowers of Romance (vinyl reissue)
Public Image Limited: Second Edition (vinyl reissue)
Quest for Fire: Quest for Fire (vinyl)
Regina Spektor: Laughing With EP
Ron Sexsmith: Cobblestone Runway (vinyl reissue)
Sonic Youth: The Eternal (2-LP vinyl)
White Hills: Heads on Fire (vinyl reissue)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Zero: Remixes (vinyl)

Hip-O Select Packaging Five Miracles Albums (Plus Extras) on Two CDs

Hip-O Select has really become one of the premier American companies for the reissue of great early rock and R&B. That tradition continues with the release of Depend on Me: The Early Albums by the Miracles.

On one 2-CD set, you get the Miracles' first five albums, three of which have never been on CD, along with five bonus cuts. Also included are all of the album covers (front and back), track annotations and an essay by historian Stu Hackel.

The albums include Hi, We’re The Miracles, Cookin’ With The Miracles, I’ll Try Something New, The Fabulous Miracles (aka You've Really Got a Hold On Me) and Recorded Live On Stage. The bonus cuts include two non-LP singles Mighty Good Lovin’ and The Feeling Is So Fine and rare single versions of The Only One I Love and Shop Around. For the latter, there is the “slow” regional version that’s appeared on compilations, but for this set we’ve tracked down an earlier alternate pressing that has not been heard in nearly 50 years.

They are taking pre-orders now on the Hip-O Direct site with an expected release date of June 19. This album is limited to 5,000 copies.


Vinyl Collective News

My friend in vinyl, Virgil Dickerson has just posted a "Huge Restock" list, so stop by and get some great vinyl!

A WILHELM SCREAM “Career Suicide” LP green vinyl
AS FRIENDS RUST “S/T” 8″ clear vinyl
BEN WEASEL “Fidatevi” LP
CHOKING VICTIM ìNo Gods No Managersî LP
COMMON RIDER “Last Wave Rocker” LP
CURSIVE ìDifference Between Housesî LP
DISTILLERS “Sing Sing Death House” LP
DR. DOG “Easy Beat” LP
DR. DOG “Fate” LP
GOGOL BORDELLO ìSuper Taranta!î dbl LP red vinyl
HANK WILLIAMS III “Straight To Hell” dbl LP
HOPESFALL “No Wings To Speak” 10″
JANE’S ADDICTION “Nothing’s Shocking” LP
JARVIS COCKER “Further Complications” LP
JEJUNE/ LAZYCAIN split 7″ blue vinyl
JENA BERLIN “Quo Vadimus” LP
JENA BERLIN “This Is Yours as Much as It Is Mine” 7″ red vinyl
JOAN OF ARC “Flowers” LP
LUCERO ìAttic Tapesî LP + 7″
METALLICA “And Justice For All” 180 gram 4xLP limited edition vinyl
MILLENCOLIN “Pennybridge Pioneers” LP
MR. T EXPERIENCE “Love Is Dead” LP blue marble vinyl
MR. T EXPERIENCE “Revenge is Sweet and So Are You” LP 180 gram vinyl
MXPX ìPanicî LP (Gold Vinyl)
ONE WIN CHOICE “Define/Redefine” 7″ clear vinyl
OSKER “Treatment 5″ LP
POISON THE WELL”Tear From The Red” LP picture disc
RANCID “Let The Dominoes Fall” dbl LP
RANCID “Let’s Go” dbl 10″ white vinyl
RILO KILEY “Execution Of All Things” LP
RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology” 7″
SLIPKNOT “All Hope Is Gone” dbl LP
STREET DOGS “State Of Grace” LP red vinyl
THE BOUNCING SOULS “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” LP
THE EXPLOSION “Sick Of Modern Art” LP gold vinyl
THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM “Great Expectations” 7″ import
THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM “The 59 Sound” LP black vinyl
THE HORRORS “Primary Colours” LP
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES ìJackknife To A Swanî LP green vinyl
THE OFFSPRING “Smash” LP re-mastered orange vinyl
THE WEAKERTHANS “Reconstruction Site” LP
TIGER ARMY “Music From Regions Beyond” LP
WILCO “Sky Blue Sky” 180 gram dbl LP + CD
YOUNG WIDOWS / MELT-BANANA split 7″ (YW 7″ series)

U2’s Bono and the Edge Discuss “Spider-Man” Musical

U2 spoke to Italian fansite about Bono and the Edge’s upcoming Broadway show "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark," which will transport the legendary Marvel superhero from the pages of comics to the stage. With seven months before the curtain rises on preview performances, the singer and guitarist, who wrote the music and lyrics for the musical, discussed why they got involved with the project and the parallels between rock stars and comic book heroes.

Music News & Notes

THE BLACK CROWES To Release New CD, Give Away Free Second Album - June 9, 2009

THE BLACK CROWES will release their new studio CD, "Before the Frost..." , on September 1, 2009. A second album, titled "…Until The Freeze", will be given away for free exclusively through a unique download code which is included in "Before The Frost…" as a "thank you" to their fans for two decades of continued support.

"Before the Frost..." and its corresponding free album, "…Until The Freeze", were recorded over a series of five nights at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York. Although both are studio albums, all the new material was performed and recorded in front of an intimate audience of the band's fans, making them a part of THE BLACK CROWES musical history.

The innovative technique of inviting fans into the studio to become part of the process during recording is a rare experience.

"Before the Frost..." features eleven new and previously unreleased BLACK CROWES songs, including "Good Morning Captain", "I Ain't Hiding", "Been a Long Time (Waiting on Love)", and other original songs that will serve to spotlight the bands ability to make emotional connections through their music. The free album "…Until The Freeze" is a nine-song collection featuring eight new original BLACK CROWES songs plus a cover version of the STEPHEN STILLS classic "So Many Times".

A limited-edition vinyl release of "Before The Frost…Until The Freeze", featuring all 20 tracks, will also be available on September 1, 2009.

Chris Robinson conceived the concept of "Before the Frost...Until The Freeze". "I think we fulfilled a musical commitment to continue on the golden road of artistic independence," he said. "Approaching 20 years into our careers, we still are ambitious enough to push ourselves to create something unique that we have never done before."

"Before the Frost…Until The Freeze" was produced by Paul Stacey and will be released through THE BLACK CROWES' label, Silver Arrow Records, and Megaforce Records.

THE BLACK CROWES are: Chris Robinson (vocals), Rich Robinson (guitar, vocals), Steve Gorman (drums), Sven Pipien (bass), Adam MacDougall (keyboards) and Luther Dickinson (guitar).


Self-Titled Killswitch Engage New LP

Killswitch Engage will be releasing their new self-titled album on June 30, 2009, much to the excitement of metal fans everywhere. Declared by Revolver Magazine as one of the most anticipated albums of 2009, Killswitch Engage composed this record with a brand new producer (Brenden O'Brien, who has worked with AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen), in an out-of-their-element studio, with a surprising emergence of musical ideas.

Another exciting part of this record release is the fact that it will be released on double vinyl, which is joining the new wave of going back to the roots of listening to pure music, especially heavy metal. Pre-order the album at the Killswitch Engage Web site, and you will not only get a discount on the disc, but hooked up with your choice of a couple packages. These packages range from $29.99 to $44.99, and include the album with posters, limited edition t-shirts designed by the band, and enrollment into the KSE fan club.