Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bird & Animal Names - part nineteen

As we continue our article series about “bird” and “animal” band names and individuals in rock and roll history, let’s again focus on the dog’ names.

One of the most peculiar sounding band names of the 1960s psychedelic era was the Texas group called Bubble Puppy. The band was formed in 1966 in San Antonio, Texas by Rod prince and Roy Cox on the concept of dual lead guitars that would dominate the music. After a few line up changes, the final crew was a settled with Prince and Todd Potter on lead guitars, Cox on the bass and David Fore on the drums. The band signed a recording contract with the Houston-based International Artists record label and the group’s live debut was as the opening act for the Who.

The band’s odd name is supposedly taken from a fictitious children’s game in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The acid-flavored group charted one song, the rousing psychedelic cut called “Hot Smoke & Sassafras,” (#14 on the Billboard Top 40 charts in 1969) which is reported to be a misheard line borrowed from an episode of the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies. The band also released their only full-length album “A Gathering Of Promises” in 1969 (worth $100-200 to record collectors according to record price guides).

However, the group has internal conflicts with their record label and they dissolved their relationship in 1970. The band signed with Nick St. Nicholas of Steppenwolf as their manager and moved to Los Angeles. Their name was changed to Demian (after Herman Hesse's 1919 novel, at the suggestion of their manager's wife); this was to avoid contractual difficulties with their previous record company but also because the former name appeared to link them with bubblegum music. The group released one self-titled album in 1971 on the ABC-Dunhill record label. The album flopped leading to financial difficulties and ultimately the demise of the band.

Born in Long Beach, California in 1971, Snoop Doggy Dogg (his mother nicknamed him Snoopy due to his love of the comic strip Peanuts) is one of the most successful rap artists in history. In and out of prison after high school and a member of a local Crips gang, he was convicted of cocaine trafficking and also was arrested on charges of being an accomplice to murder. These charges, his lifestyle and the violence that his lyrics implied certainly strengthened the release of his debut album“Doggystyle.”

The album “Doggystyle” entered the charts at the number one position, partly fueled by Snoop’s relationship and collaboration with fellow rapper/producer Dr. Dre (they had rapped together for the film “Deep Cover”) and the high anticipation of the work (it is the first debut album ever to enter the charts at number one). But Snoop was no stranger to the rap crowd, having played a significant role in Dr. Dre’s album “The Chronic” (Death Row Records 1992). The album (Doggystyle) also bore a resemblance to Dre’s release, but proved to be popular despite the similarities, both musically and production wise. Songs like the single “Who Am I (What’s My Name),” use nearly the same samples and bass lines as “Dre Day” and the single “Gin And Juice” helped keep the album at the top of the charts with its dynamic mix of “gangsta rap,” violent lyrics and west coast g-funk.

However, Snoop Dogg’s arrest on murder charges help fuel the popularity of the “gangsta rap” boon and its consequent lifestyle. That is up for debate, but it sure did not hurt his cause, with the rapper exploiting his impending trial by releasing a short film (directed by Dr. Dre) based on the “Doggystyle” song “Murder Was The Case.” The soundtrack debuted at the number one position in 1994. In February of 1996, Snoop Dogg was cleared of all charges and began working on his sophomore release.

The album “Doggfather” took three years to produce and during that time the lifestyle of “gangsta” life was a whirlwind of controversy, from the violent lyrics, disrespect of women, to the lifestyle itself, with many notable rap industry deaths (including Snoop’s friend Tupac Shakur) and the indictment of Death Row Records cofounder Suge Knight (racketeering charges). Dr. Dre also left in 1996 due to a contract dispute. But this release was not as successful as the debut, the album “Doggfather” was very successful in its own write. Working with the same g-funk territory, colossal rhythmic funk and soul as well as Snoop Dogg’s continuing improvement in his rapping and rhyming, the album exemplified Snoop’s maturation as one of rap music’s finest artists.

Snoop Dogg left Death Row records, dropped the “Doggy” from his name and moved over to Master P’s No Limit Imprint label. His next two releases “Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told” (number one pop record and R & B record in 1998) and “No Limit Top Dogg (number two pop and number one R & B record in 1999) showed Snoop’s maturation and skill as a music maker and producer. Snopp Dogg had continued success with his subsequent releases, 2000's “Tha Last Meal” and the albums “Paid the Cost to be da Bo$$” “R & G (Rhythm & Gangsta)”- The Masterpiece and 2006's “Tha Blue Carpet Treatment” proved that Snoop Dogg belongs with the elite in the rap industry.

In late 2007 he recruited two hip-hop veterans — New Jack Swing legend Teddy Riley and West Coast hero DJ Quik - and formed the production team QDT Muzic. The team oversaw Snoop's 2008 album Ego Trippin' which included the single "Sensual Seduction". He has formed his own production company, produced an x-rated film and despite a myriad of legal issues, stays very active in the rap and film industries.

Bubble Puppy Tidbits:

The members of Bubble Puppy continued to be active in the music industry after the band's demise. Potter and Prince played with the band Sirius through the late 1970s, and Fore drummed with the Texas punk rock band, D-Day, co-writing their cult hit, "Too Young to Date.”

In 1984, the original Bubble Puppy lineup reunited for performances and recordings, released as the LP, “Wheels Go Round.”

Roy Cox founded The Blues Knights and issued a CD "Before I Go" in 1999. He also formed the NYC Outlaws in September 2007.

Snoop Dogg Tidbits:

In July 2007, Snoop Dogg also made history by becoming the first artist to release a track as a ringtone prior to its release as a single, "It's the D.O.G."

In February of 2009, Snoop Dogg announced a first-of-its kind global deal that will bring the entertainers’ personality to television in a new variety talk show, “Dogg After Dark,” and his music to fans with a new album release and into the best-selling music video game Rock Band®.

In 2004, Snoop appeared on the Showtime series The L Word as the character "Slim Daddy", a combination of Slim Shady and Puff Daddy.

Snoop Dogg also played the drug dealer-turned-informant character of Huggy Bear, in the 2004 remake film of the 1970s TV-series of the same name, Starsky & Hutch.

He has appeared as himself in an episode of the Showtime series "Weeds," and made an appearance on the hit TV shows Entourage and Monk, for which he recorded a version of the theme, in July 2007.

In December 2007, his reality show Snoop Dogg's Father Hood premiered on the E! Channel. Snoop Dogg joined the NBA's Entertainment League.

Snoop was filmed for a brief cameo appearance in the television movie “It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie” (2002), but his performance was omitted from the final cut of the movie.

Snoop founded his own production company, Snoopadelic Films, in 2005. Their debut film was “Boss'n Up,” a film inspired by R&G starring Lil Jon and Trina.

Copyright Robert Benson 2009

Music News & Notes

Arctic Monkeys Unveil Flesh-Flashing Artwork

Arctic Monkeys have unveiled the controversial artwork to their upcoming new single 'Crying Lightning'.

Released as an iTunes download next Monday, July 6, and physically on August 17, the single cover features semi-naked (nipples and all), ultra-flexible girls balanced on a drum.


Brooks & Dunn Releasing Hits

Brooks & Dunn, the most awarded duo in country music, are set to release their third greatest-hits compilation late this summer.

GAC reports that the career-spanning '#1s ... and then some' will be released on September 8 and will feature a whopping 30 tracks, 23 of which have topped the country charts. The duo's first four singles, taken from their debut album 'Neon Moon' are featured on the new collection as well. All four of those singles reached No. 1 on the country chart.

In addition to previous hits, the album will also feature two new tracks, 'Indian Summer' and 'Honky Tonk Stomp.'


New Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Album

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will release their first new album in five years on September 22 via NGDB Records. Speed of Life features the core band of Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were Americana long before anyone knew what roots music was. They formed in 1965 in southern California when the duo of Hanna and Bruce Kunkel hooked up with Les Thompson, Fadden and Jackson Browne at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Los Angeles. They played folk and jug-band music in the area for a few months until Browne left and McEuen joined the group.

In early-1967, the group signed with Liberty Records and released their self-titled debut. The single Buy For Me the Rain reached number 45 nationally and the album charted in the lower regions of the top 200.

Their followup albums, Richochet and Rare Junk did not do well and personel changes led to their demise in mid-1969. McKuen, Fadden, Hanna., Thompson and Jim Ibbotson reformed the group less than a year later and put out what would become their breakthrough album, Uncle Charlie and His Song Teddy. The lead-off song, Mr. Bojangles, sped up the charts to number 9, becoming their biggest pop hit.

Jackson Breaking Music Sales Records

Since Michael Jackon's untimely death, his music is setting all-time sales records, whether it be a physical format or a download. Check out these stats:

Three of his collections - “Number Ones,” “Essential Michael Jackson” and “Thriller” - are the three top-selling albums in the US, according to figures released yesterday by Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks record sales. For the week ending Sunday, Jackson sold a combined 415,000 albums. It’s an impressive number considering he sold only 10,000 records the week before. All three outsold what will be the number one album on the regular album chart, the Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. It sold only 88,000 copies. This is the first time a catalog album has outsold the top album on the regular Top 200.

Jackson’s “Number Ones” set - which is a half-decade old - sold 108,000 copies. At, Jackson holds the top 10 spots for CD sales - with indie rock kings Wilco’s new “Wilco (the Album)” coming in at a lowly 11th. On eBay, copies of “Thriller” on vinyl run from $10 to $999.99

Since Jackson’s death, 2.3 million tracks have been downloaded in the US, dominating both iTunes and Amazon mp3 sales. The downloads were enough to break records on Billboard’s digital album chart, where Jackson currently holds six of the Top 10 slots with 167,000 downloads of “Thriller,” 165,000 of “Man in the Mirror” and 158,000 of “Billie Jean.” No artist before had ever sold over 1 million.

Unbelievable, but this shows his music is legendary and stands the test of time as older fans relive their past and new fans get a taste of the "King of Pop" for the first time.


Jackson left an ‘endless’ supply of music that could be released for years

Michael Jackson had a mountain of unreleased recordings in the vault when he died — music that is almost certain to be packaged and repackaged for his fans in the years to come.

The material includes unused tracks from studio sessions of some of Jackson’s best albums, as well as more recently recorded songs made with Senegalese R&B singer and producer Akon and Black Eyed Peas frontman

“There are dozens and dozens of songs that did not end up on his albums,” said Tommy Mottola, who from 1998 to 2003 was chairman and CEO of Sony Music, which owns the distribution rights to Jackson’s music. “People will be hearing a lot of that unreleased material for the first time ever. There’s just some genius and brilliance in there.”

The details of who owns Jackson’s unreleased music and concert footage are not entirely clear. Sony Music declined to comment. A person involved with the label who requested anonymity said no new projects or compilations are being planned yet.


Top Selling Albums of All Time

•Michael Jackson - Thriller - 100 –109 million

•AC/DC - Back in Black - 45 million

•Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon - 45 million

•Meat Loaf - Bat out of Hell - 43 million

•Eagles - Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) - 42 million

•Various artists - Dirty Dancing - 42 million

•Whitney Houston / Various artists - The Bodyguard - 42 million

•Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Phantom of the Opera - 40 million

•Backstreet Boys - Millennium - 40 million

•Bee Gees / Various artists - Saturday Night Fever - 40 million

•Fleetwood Mac - Rumours - 40 million

•Shania Twain - Come on Over - 39 million

•Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV - 37 million

•Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill - 33 million

•The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 32 million

•CĂ©line Dion - Falling into You - 32 million

•Mariah Carey - Music Box - 32 million

•Michael Jackson - Dangerous - 32 million

•The Beatles - 1 - 31 million

•Celine Dion - Let's Talk About Love - 31 million