Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rock/Pop Tidbits

About the same time that Ringo Starr received an offer from Brian Epstein to join the Beatles, he was also asked to join another Liverpool group called Kingsize Taylor and The Dominoes. Ringo chose the one offering the best wage...25 pounds a week.

Debbie Boone's 1977 hit "You Light Up My Life" became a multi-million selling smash that stayed at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 for ten weeks, becoming a far bigger hit than any of the 38 Top 40 songs her father, Pat Boone ever had.

The tapes for Don McLean's first album were rejected by 34 record companies before Mediarts agreed to release it in 1970. His next LP, "American Pie" would be considered a rock and roll classic and sell millions of copies.

The band Wild Cherry, who had a number one disco hit with "Play That Funky Music" in 1976, took their name from a box of cough drops.

The Miracles first number one hit, 1970's "Tears Of A Clown", was actually taken from an album that was released three years earlier. The song was issued as a single when record executives wanted another "tears" song to follow "Tracks Of My Tears" and found that the group had already recorded one.

Although many fans assumed that the Shirelles were named for their lead singer Shirley Owens, the members of the group say that this is not true. The girls came up with the name while they were still in high school and Doris Kenner was singing most of the lead vocals.

The next time you see the movie Back To The Future III, be sure to look for ZZ Top in a cameo roll. They play in the band that is performing in the Hill Valley party scene where Doc asks Clara to dance. That's drummer Frank Beard who twirls his snare drum around as the band breaks into song.

Due to his horrible singing voice, drummer Keith Moon was banned from the studio while the rest of The Who were recording vocals.

When Diane Renay's mother was pregnant with her, a gypsy fortune teller told her, "you're gonna have a daughter and your daughter one day is going to be a star." That prediction came true in 1964 when 17 year old Diane reached #6 on the Billboard chart with "Navy Blue".

James Brown placed 99 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart. 44 of them made the Top 40, but none ever reached number one.

When a snippy journalist complained that AC/DC had made ten records that all sounded alike, Angus Young was insulted. “He’s a liar,” he quipped. “We have made eleven albums that all sound the same.”

During the 1989 invasion of Panama, it is reported that U.S troops blasted AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” at top volume to try and drive Manuel Noriega out of the Vatican Embassy. After he heard that their music was being used as psychological torture, Brian Johnson wryly said, “I guess now we won’t get to play for the pope.”

While still a struggling young musician, Billy Joel recorded a pretzel commercial with Chubby Checker.

In October, 1963, when New York disc jockey Murray “the K” Kaufman played five records for his audience to vote on, The Beatles’ “She Loves You” came in third, behind a Four Seasons single and something called “Coney Island Baby” by The Excellents.

Iggy Pop of the Stooges was famous for his on-stage antics. After playing a concert in New York, he actually ran out of things to do onstage, so he pulled out his pecker. “I didn’t know what to do with it,” he explained. “So I zipped it back up and walked off.” Also, while in New York, he met David Bowie. After a long night of partying he declared: “The only good rock was a dead rocker,” and promptly smashed a beer bottle over his head and passed out.

Upon meeting the band Pink Floyd for the first time, a record company executive asked them "Which one's Pink?"

Terry Jacks recorded his 1974 number one hit, "Seasons In The Sun" in 1973, but the master tape sat on a shelf in his basement for more than a year. One day, a newspaper delivery boy heard Terry playing it and asked if he could bring some friends by to listen to it. Their enthusiasm convinced Jacks to release it on his own label and it soon topped the record charts in the US, Canada, and the UK and sold over six million copies worldwide.

It’s well known that Elvis loved animals. Why he even owned a pet chimpanzee that he named Scatter. Presley taught the primate to drink bourbon and pinch women’s behinds. For a while, the pampered chimp ate at the dinner table with a knife and fork. Why, he was even chauffeured around in a Rolls-Royce. But all good things must come to an end, as Scatter became nasty and was banished to his cage. The poor chimp finally died from cirrhosis of the liver.

Classic Album Cover Art- Nivana In Utero

Nirvana In Utero

In Utero is the third and final studio album by the American grunge band Nirvana and was released on September 21, 1993 by DGC Records. The album's abrasive and aggressive sound was a departure from the polished production of the band's breakthrough second album, Nevermind (1991), due in part to the selection of recording engineer Steve Albini. The subject matters of the songs included dysfunctional family, cancer, issues of privacy, and abortion.

The music was recorded quickly (two weeks) with very few studio embellishments, and the song lyrics and album packaging incorporated medical imagery that conveyed frontman Kurt Cobain's outlook on his publicized personal life and his band's newfound fame. In fact, soon after the recording was completed, rumors circulated in the press that DGC might not release the album in its original state, as the record label felt that it would not be a commercial success. Nirvana publicly denied the statement, instaed stating that they were not fully satisfied with the sound Albini had captured. But, Albini declined to alter the album any further so Nirvana hired Scott Litt to make minor changes to the album's sound and remix the singles "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies".

Upon release, In Utero entered the Billboard 200 chart at #1 and received critical acclaim as a drastic departure from Nevermind. The record has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA, and has sold more than four million copies in the United States alone.

The art director for In Utero was Robert Fisher, who had designed all of Nirvana's releases on DGC Records. Most of the ideas for the artwork for the album and related singles came from Cobain. Fisher stated that "[Cobain] would just give me some loose odds and ends and say 'Do something with it.'

The cover of the album is an image of a Transparent Anatomical Mannikin, with angel wings superimposed. Cobain created the collage on the back cover, referred to as "Sex and woman and In Utero and vaginas and birth and death," which includes fetuses and body parts lying in a bed of orchids and lilies. The collage had been set up on the floor of Cobain's living room and was photographed by Charles Peterson after an unexpected call from Cobain. According to Peterson, "one Sunday afternoon, Kurt calls me up, and is like 'Hey, I want you to take that picture now.' I rummaged for whatever film I had in the fridge, and went over." The album's track listing and re-illustrated symbols from Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects were then positioned around the edge of the collage.

Retail chain stores Wal-Mart and Kmart refused to sell the album. The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart claimed it did not carry the album due to lack of consumer demand, while Kmart representatives explained that the album "didn't fit within our merchandise mix". Truth be told, both the retail giants feared that customers would be offended by the artwork on the album's back cover. DGC issued a new version of the album with reworked packaging to the stores in March 1994. This version featured edited album artwork, and listed the name of "Rape Me" as "Waif Me."


Interestingly, the original title for "In Utero" was supposed to be "I Hate Myself And Want to Die," sharing its title with a song that was planned for the album. The phrase had originated in mid-1992 from one of Cobain's journal entries, and was meant as humor. It was Cobain's response whenever someone would ask him "how are you?" The tentative album title would be changed after band mate Novoselic convinced Cobain that "I Hate Myself And Want to Die" could potentially result in a lawsuit. The band considered the title "Verse Chorus Verse," a title shared with "Verse Chorus Verse" and an earlier working title of "Sappy". The final title was taken from one of Courtney Love's poems and is a Latin term meaning "in the uterus." Nice one Courtney.

After the recording sessions were completed, Nirvana sent unmastered tapes of the album to several individuals, including the president of DGC's parent company Geffen Records Ed Rosenblatt and the group's management company Gold Mountain. When asked about the feedback he received, Cobain told Michael Azerrad, "The grown-ups don't like it." He said he was told his songwriting was "not up to par", the sound was "unlistenable" and that there was uncertainty that mainstream radio would welcome the sound of Albini's production.

In Utero was released on September 13, 1993 in the United Kingdom, and on September 14 in the United States; it was initially only available in vinyl record and cassette tape formats, with the American vinyl pressing limited to 25,000 copies

Time's Christopher John Farley stated in his review of the album, "Despite the fears of some alternative-music fans, Nirvana hasn't gone mainstream, though this potent new album may once again force the mainstream to go Nirvana."

Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke wrote, "In Utero is a lot of things – brilliant, corrosive, enraged and thoughtful, most of them all at once. But more than anything, it's a triumph of the will."

Ben Thompson of The Independent commented that in spite of the album's more abrasive songs, "In Utero is beautiful far more often than it is ugly", and added, "Nirvana have wisely neglected to make the unlistenable punk-rock nightmare they threatened us with"

Rolling Stone ranked it at number 439 on its list "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time."

The album was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 1994 Grammy Awards.

In 2004 Blender ranked it at number 94 in its "100 Greatest American Albums of All Time" list and in 2005, Spin placed it at number 51 on its "100 Greatest Albums 1985-2005" retrospective.

Bird and Animal Names In Rock and Roll History-part twenty-nine

Let’s continue our ongoing article series about ‘bird’ and ‘animal’ group names in rock and roll history, again picking up where we left off, exploring indie bands with the word ‘wolf’ in the title.

In the vein of Throbbing Gristles and Black Flag, the Michigan trio called Wolf Eyes creates hypnotic electronica mixed with early industrial noise and rock.

Initially a solo vehicle for Nate Young (formally of Nautical Almanac, Beast People and Minisystems) he recruited fellow musician Aaron Dilloway (of Galen, Couch and the Universal Indians) to join him in the rock-riffed electronica. In 2000 the duo added drummer John Olson (also from the Universal Indians) and they did a series of limited-edition collaborations as Wolf Eyes With Spykes, one of the many an aliases of Olson's. From then on they were known as the trio Wolf Eyes.

The group has released over 100 recordings in their relatively short lifespan, on labels such as Bulb Records, Troubleman Unlimited, Fusetron, and Sub Pop, as well as on Olson's American Tapes label, Dilloway's Hanson Records, Mike Connelly's Gods of Tundra label and Nate Young's AA Records.

Most Wolf Eyes recordings are released as lathe cuts, cassettes or CD-rs, with their first major release called "Dread," which was released in 2001. Mike Connelly replaced Dilloway in early 2005 and the band has continued to tour and self-release their unique brand of electronic and acid drenched industrial noise, firmly establishing themselves as the trailblazers of a genre.

The Montreal three-piece indie electro/shout punk band, We Are Wolves is comprised of Alex Ortiz (bass, guitar, vocals), Vincent Levesque (keyboards, beatbox, vocals) Antonin Marquis (drums and vocals). The trio released their electrifying debut, "Non-Stop Je Te Plie en Deux," on Fat Possum Records in September 2005. They describe their sound as “a post-punk landscape with analogue trees. Like rock after the postmodern explosion."

Nameless until 2002, the group got their name when Alexander showed up band practice wearing a home-made shirt with a skull spitting a synth displaying the inscription, 'We Are Wolves'. At that moment they decided to name the band We Are Wolves.

The band have toured extensively across their native land, Canada, the US and Europe and their second album, "Total Magique," was released September 4, 2007, with a new label Dare To Care Records. They have toured with groups such as Gossip, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and The (International) Noise Conspiracy.

The band have been busy lately recording their third album and wowing audiences with their undeniable sound, or as Pitchfork put it:

“You want sleek, un-perverted dance music, go to a disco. These guys only pump out the vilest of the male condition.”

Indie-pop band Wolfie is from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and their origins date to the fall of 1991, when bassist/singer Joe Ziemba and singer/guitarist Mike Downey first met while attending high school together. After varied musical excursions for the pair, in late 1996 Ziemba's girlfriend, singer/keyboardist Amanda Lyons, joined the group, and upon her arrival the quartet rechristened themselves Wolfie. The band debuted a year later with the single "Don't Turn It Off," and in 1998 they released the effervescent full-length "Awful Mess Mystery." The LP "Where's Wolfie" followed in the spring of 1999, followed by “Tall Dark Hill” in 2001. The band was active from 1996 to 2001 and toured nationally over the years before dissolving.

Members went on to form The Like Young, Beaujolais, The National Splits, The New Constitution, and Mathlete, and Wolfie members Joe and Amenda Ziemba also had a side project, Busytoby. Mike Downey went on to pursue a solo career overseas.

Seasons of the Wolf was formed in October of 1988 by Wes Waddell (vocals), Barry "Skully" Waddell (guitarist/producer), and Dennis Ristow (Keyboards/studio-engineer). Throughout numerous personnel changes, there has been one constant- hell-driven heavy metal guitars and searing vocals.

In 1998, the band's 1st and 2nd albums were marketed to over 500 college radio stations in the US and in the fall of 1998 songs such as "Victim Of Darkness" and "October Moon" made it into top ten at 70 college radio stations. The main riff of "October Moon" was used in a MTV Dennis Rodman video. In the fall the next year the cuts "Lost In Hell," "Interstellar," and "Witchfinder" made it into heavy rotation on several more college stations and also into top ten charts.

Currently Seasons of the Wolf works with seven horror/sci-fi film companies and their songs and music appear in the soundtracks of nine films including: "The Seekers" - "Time Enough"/The Alien Conspiracy - "Betrayal" - "Goregoyles" - "Underbelly" - "The Van" - "Evil Ever After" - "BloodStained Bride" - and "Dead Things." Also, according to the band's MySpace page, they were in the studio recording the 5th release for early 2009.

Formed in 2002, Wolf & Cub are a four-piece band from Adelaide, Australia and their music is predominantly psychedelic with elements of funk. One aspect of the band's music that makes them unique is their use of two drummers which allows the percussive elements of their music to feature more prominently alongside the guitar.

The band released their debut self-titled EP through the Melbourne label Dot Dash in late 2004 and quickly built up a dedicated live following, expanded by show-stealing performances at the Big Day Out festival. In Australia, the band graced stages with TV on the Radio, The Killers, The Music, Wolfmother, Queens of the Stone Age and Death from Above 1979.

Work on their debut album, which had begun in April 2005, was completed in 2006. "Vessels" was released in Australia in September of 2006 and generated a positive response. After switching drummers,the band released the "One to the Other" EP, (produced by Chris Colonna from Bumblebeez) in June 2008. Their most recent album, "Science and Sorcery," was released in April of 2009.

In our next article, we will finish up the ‘wolf’ indie band name and move on to bands that fit our criteria- bands with bird and animal names.

Wolf Eyes Tidbits:

John Olson also performs in Dead Machines with his wife Tovah Olson.
Nate Young performs solo as Hatred and with Steve Kenney and Alivia Zivich in the visual music group Demons.

Wolf Eyes' first two major tours were with Sonic Youth and Andrew W.K.

We Are Wolves Tidbits:

In September 2008, We Are Wolves won a GĂ©meaux Award for the Best TV Musical Theme for theme.

The song "Psychic Kids" is featured on the video game Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and the song "Fight and Kiss" is featured on the video game Need for Speed: ProStreet.

Seasons of the Wolf Tidbits

Among the infuences Seasons of the Wolf list: Black Sabbath - Iron Maiden - Judas Priest - Thin Lizzy - Montrose - Deep Purple and according to htier MySpace page " Slayer - King Diamond - Mercyful Fate // and tons more from 3 decades of hardrock and heavy metal music. Also draws inpiration from Horror and Sci-Fi film soundtracks.

Wolf & Cub Tidbits

Wolf & Cub band members: Joel Byrne - vocals, electric guitar, percussion, Joel Carey - drums/percussion, Thomas Mayhew - bass guitar, Marvin Hammond - drums/percussion, saxophone

Their band name comes from a comic from Japan called "Lone Wolf and Cub"

Copyright 2009 Robert Benson

Music News & Notes

Weezer Choose Dog Photo for Cover of Raditude and Discover Unlikely Fan

Weezer have unveiled the cover art for their upcoming album, "Raditude," which will perhaps be known as the beige album (based on the color of the carpet and the dog). Frontman Rivers Cuomo first spotted the image when National Geographic ran it as the winning entry of a reader-submitted photo contest. The frontman contacted the photographer, Jason Neely, and asked if he could use the portrait of his jumping pup (named Sidney) for the band's new disc. Neely's response? "Sidney is a big Weezer fan."


UK Beatles' List

Britain's Music Radar polled their readers asking them to name the greatest Beatles albums with the top album being Revolver. For years, it would have been automatically presumed that Sgt. Pepper would top any poll but things seem to be trending away from that landmark album. What is surprising in this vote is that Sgt. Pepper came in at an unexpected number 4.

Here is how they came out (remember that these are the British releases).

2.Abbey Road
3.Beatles (White Album)
4.Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
5.Rubber Soul
6.Magical Mystery Tour
7.A Hard Day's Night
9.Let It Be
10.Please Please Me
11.Yellow Submarine
12.With the Beatles
13.Beatles For Sale


Official Cover Art for Norah Jones' 'The Fall'

Norah Jones has put out the artwork which will be featured in the front cover of her new album titled "The Fall". Appearing alongside a St. Bernard, she is captured donning a white strapless long dress and black top hat.

A follow-up to Jones' second album "Not Too Late", "The Fall" is plotted to be made available for purchase across United States on November 17. This record will witness her "experimenting with different sounds and a new set of collaborators, including Jacquire King, a noted producer and engineer who has worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits and Modest Mouse among others."

This Date In Music History-September 13


Dave Quincy - Manfred Mann (1939)

David Clayton-Thomas - Blood Sweat and Tears (1941)

Ray Elliot - Them (1943)

Peter Cetera - Chicago (1944)

Don Was - Was Not Was (1952)

Randy Jones (the cowboy) - Village People (1952)

Steven John Kilbey - The Church (1954)

Joni Sledge - Sister Sledge (1956)

Dave Mustaine - Megadeth/Metallica (1963)

Stephen Perkins - Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros (1967)

Joe Rooney - Rascal Flatts (1975)

Fiona Apple (1976)

They Are Missed:

In 1996, Rapper Tupac Shakur died from the injuries suffered in a drive-by shooting six days earlier in Las Vegas. Shakur was hit by four bullets as he rode in a car driven by the head of Death Row Records, Marion "Suge" Knight, who suffered a minor wound. Neither he nor anyone in Shakur's entourage of at least 10 cars provided any leads to investigators. He was 25.

Bill Monroe, the "father of bluegrass," was born in Rosine, KY in 1911 (died September 9, 1996).

Singer Mel Torme, also know as the "Velvet Fog," is born in Chicago, IL in 1925 (died June 5, 1999).

In 1997, singer Jimmy Witherspoon died. His 1949, single, 'Ain't Nobody's Business,' reached #1 on the R&B charts


Chubby Checker's "The Twist" goes to #1 the first time in 1960 (it will return to the top in 1962)

In 1960, the US House of Representatives officially made the practice of payola — in which record companies paid disc jockeys to play certain records — illegal.

In 1960, a campaign was started in the UK to ban the American hit ‘Tell Laura I Love Her' by Ray Peterson. The song was being denounced in the press as likely to inspire a teen-age "glorious death cult." The story told of a lovesick youngster who drives in a stock car race to win the hand of his sweetheart. He crashes and just before dying, groans out the words of the title.

In 1964, New York DJ Murray the K hosted the conclusion of the ten day rock & roll extravaganza at Brooklyn's Fox Theatre, held to compete against the Animals ten day run at Brooklyn's Paramount Theatre. Acts on the Fox bill included Marvin Gaye, the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas, the Contours, the Supremes, the Searchers, the Temptations, Jay & the Americans, the Dovells, the Newbeats, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Shangri-las and the Ronettes. The Fox show outdrew the concurrent Paramount show.

The Beatles released the single, "Yesterday" / "Act Naturally" in 1965. This is also the day they won their first Grammy — for Best Group and for their A Hard Days Night LP.

The Beach Boys reached #1 with "Help Me Rhonda" in 1965.

In 1967, the Beatles formed an electronics company called Fiftyshapes, Ltd. appointing John Alexis Mardas (Magic Alex) to be the company's director. Alex claimed he could build a 72-track tape machine, instead of the 4-track at Abbey Road (this never materialized). One of his more outrageous plans was to replace the acoustic baffles around Ringo Starr's drums with an invisible sonic force field. George Harrison later said that employing Mardas was "the biggest disaster of all time."

Santana's debut album entered the LP chart in 1969.

Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" was released in 1969. It turned out to be his final #1 single.

In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band, featuring John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Alan White, made a surprise live debut at the Rock n' Roll Revival Concert in Toronto. The concert was recorded for the live album, "Live Peace in Toronto." Also on the bill were the Doors, Chicago, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Alice Cooper.

Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" LP entered the charts in 1975.

The Isley Brothers went to #1 on the US album charts in 1975 with "The Heat Is On."

Jackson Browne had the first #1 album of his career in 1980 with the platinum Hold Out, his first LP in well over two years.

"Sports" by Huey Lewis and the News was released in 1983. It went to #1.

Berlin went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1986 with the Giorgio Moroder written and produced 'Take My Breath Away'. On the B side, The Righteous Brothers 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', both songs were featured in the film 'Top Gun'

In 1991, Geffen Records threw a party to launch Nirvana’s single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ The band ended up being thrown out of their own party after starting a food fight.

Here’s the likely reason The Who’s Roger Daltrey wasn’t in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Actor Johnny Depp trashed his New York hotel room in 1994. The cops were called. In an adjacent room Daltrey endured the raucous. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I give him a 2, because it took so bloody long," says the singer. "The Who could have done the job in one minute."

Mariah Carey started a three week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1997 with 'Honey', her 12th US #1 and third single to debut at #1.

Lauryn Hill started a five week run at #1 on the US album chart in 1998 with 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.'

The home where Jimi Hendrix grew up in Seattle was saved from demolition in 2005 after a new location was agreed at the last minute. The James Marshall Hendrix Foundation and the City of Seattle agreed to renovate the building into a community centre opposite the cemetery where the guitarist was buried in 1970.

In 2005, Green Day's acclaimed "American Idiot" was certified quadruple platinum (4 million copies) by the Recording Industry Association of America. '94's "Dookie" is the band's only album to move more units.