The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random songs at a time

Spring has officially arrived – Yay, finally, as it’s been a long and lonely winter! I’m also happy to report that with today’s installment, The Sunday Six has hit its first mini-milestone: This is the 10th post in the weekly recurring series that celebrates the beauty of music from different periods and genres, six random tunes at a time. I think I found a nice set of tracks I hope you will like.

Sonny Rollins Quartet/My Reverie

Let’s kick things off with some amazing saxophone action by American tenor sax player Sonny Rollins. I have to give a shoutout to fellow blogger Cincinnati Babyhead, who recently posted about Tenor Madness, a studio album Rollins released in 1956 as the Sonny Rollins Quartet. In addition to him, it also featured Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (double bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums) – what a cool name, Philly Joe Jones – I love the flow! Oh, and there was this other fellow called John Coltrane, who joined the band on tenor sax for the album’s opener and title track. The track I’m featuring is called My Reverie. Apparently, the first jazz recording was by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra in 1938, featuring Bea Wain on vocals, with lyrics by Clinton. The music is based on Rêverie, a piano piece by French classical composer Claude Debussy, dating back to 1890. This really goes to show there’s such a thing as truly timeless and beautiful music!

The Horace Silver Quartet/Song for My Father

Let’s shake up things a bit on The Sunday Six with another another instrumental and another jazz track back to back. And, nope, Donald Fagen or Walter Becker are not Horace Silver’s father or otherwise related to the American jazz pianist, composer and arranger. But Becker and Fagen both loved listening to jazz. Undoubtedly, they also got inspired by the intro of Song for My Father. Somehow, it became the introductory riff of Steely Dan’s 1974 single Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, their most successful U.S. single, peaking at no. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Whether consciously or unconsciously, to me, this looks a bit like yet another case where a credit should have been given to the original composer. Perhaps Messrs. Becker and Fagen lost his number! Silver who began taking classical piano lessons as a child was active between 1946 and 2004. Initially, he started as a sideman before leading mainly smaller jazz groups. In the early ’50s, he became a co-founder of The Jazz Messengers, which at first he ran together with drummer Art Blakey. After leaving the band in 1956, Silver formed his own five-piece combo, which he led into the 1980s. He continued to release albums until 1998. In 2007, it became known that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He passed away in June 2014 at the age of 85. Song for My Father, composed by Silver, is the title track of an album he released with his band in late 1965. Great tune!

Jackson Browne/Shaky Town

I trust Jackson Browne needs no introduction. The American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1966 is one of my all-time favorite music artists. I dig both his vocals and his songwriting. I also have something in common with him: We were both born in the lovely town of Heidelberg, Germany. He went on to become a rock star. I ended up playing bass in two bands in my late teens and early ’20s with short-lived ambitions to become a professional musician. It’s probably a good thing it didn’t happen (though never say never! 🙂 ), and I’m a daddy though not rocking in the U.S.A. Instead, I get to enjoy listening to great music by fantastic artists and giving my two cents as a hobby blogger – not such a terrible thing, after all! The one Jackson Browne album I keep coming back to is Running on Empty, his fifth studio release that appeared in December 1977. When I had that aforementioned dream to become a professional musician, I actually envisaged sounding like Browne on Running on Empty, notably, not like The Beatles – true story. I was tempted to go with the title track. Instead, perhaps somewhat ironically, I decided to pick a tune that’s not by Browne: Shaky Town. The song was written by guitarist Danny Kortchmar, who has worked with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Neil Young, Carly Simon and not to forget Carole King. Kortchmar also provided harmony vocals. And check out that sweet lap steel guitar by the amazing David Lindley.

The Church/Under the Milky Way

The Church are an alternative rock band from down under, formed in Sydney in 1980. Their debut album Of Skins and Heart appeared in April 1981. Since then, the band that remains active to this day, has released 16 additional studio albums. Their most recent one, Man Woman Life Death Infinity, came out in October 2017. I covered it here at the time. But it was their fifth international breakthrough album Starfish from February 1988, which brought the Aussie band on my radar screen. I just love the sound, and it remains one of my favorite ’80s records. Here’s the fantastic lead single Under the Milky Way. It was co-written by the band’s bassist and vocalist Steve Kilbey and his then-girlfriend and guitarist Karin Jansson, founder of alternative Australian rock band Curious (Yellow). The atmospheric sound and Kilbey’s distinct vocals still give me good chills.

George Harrison/Blow Away

What’s better than enjoying some sweet slide guitar? You guessed it – more sweet slide guitar action! One of the artists I’ve always admired in this context for his unique tone is George Harrison. I don’t know of any guitarist who got that same sweet slide sound. Blow Away was first released in February 1979 as the lead single from Harrison’s eighth, eponymous studio album that came out a few days later. Written by him, it became one of eight top 20 mainstream hits Harrison had in the U.S., peaking at no. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. It did even better in Canada, hitting no. 7, one of his nine top 10 hits there. The recording features former Sly and the Family Stone member and session drummer Andy Newmark. Nuff said – let’s get blown away!

Elton John/Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll)

Time to wrap things up. How about kicking ass with some good ole rock & roll Elton John style? Ask and you shall receive! I guess Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll) is more of a deep track. As usual, the lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin, while Sir Elton composed the music. According to Songfacts, the tune is a “throwback to music of the late ’50s and early ’60s when lots of songs were about dance crazes and teenage girls.” Songfacts also quotes John from a 1973 interview with now-defunct American rock magazine Circus, in which he reportedly characterized the tune as “a cross between surfing music and Freddie Cannon records” that was intended “to end the ‘Crocodile Rock’ thing.” Sounds like John had hoped it would help people forget about that latter tune. While it’s a great song that appeared on his masterpiece Goodbye Yellow Brick Road from October 1973, it’s fair to say Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll) was completely overshadowed by other tunes from the album, such as Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, Bennie and the Jets, Candle in the Wind and of course the title track. John also didn’t release it as a single.

Source: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube

23 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

    1. Thanks, Graham. Not giving credit where credit is clearly due is such an unfortunate practice in the music industry. It really makes me sad that some of my longtime music heroes like Led Zeppelin and Steely Dan have engaged in this.

      Sure, some of it can happen unconsciously. After all, professional musicians listen to plenty of (other) music. And that’s quite okay and in fact desirable. It helps shape them.

      Please, just don’t be a dick when somebody points out you clearly borrowed from their work. I keep coming back to Stairway. In my opinion, it remains the greatest rock song of all time, even though Zep clearly borrowed from Spirit’s “Taurus.”

      With money being at stake, I guess I’m pretty naive here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wonder if there is a point where it’s OK to throw in a quick quote from another piece. Like how the solos in Roxy Music’s ‘Remake/Remodel’ quickly reference The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’. The ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’ lick probably falls under that for me. Gaucho and Stairway are much more fundamental and deserve a writing credit IMO.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I guess there can be a gray area. I hadn’t known about this Roxy Music tune. The reference is very short and kind of burried. I feel the Horace Silver part is much more prominent in “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” in large part because it’s right at the beginning.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Nicely arranged playlist, Christian. I can take jazz in small doses and really enjoyed that 2nd tune. Yes, I wonder why Steely Dan didn’t give credit where credit was due. Brand new music for me from The Church. Sounds good! I also enjoyed the steel guitar in the Browne song. Of course I love Geo’s song. It’s one that always brightens my day. The Elton song isn’t familiar but know I must have heard it as I’ve listened to that album before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it. The Elton John tune is from the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album and definitely a deeper cut.

      Did you know about that Steely Dan intro? I learned about it coincidentally a few years ago. I had completely forgotten about it until the other day when I stumbled upon the Horace Silver piece. While I enjoy jazz, I don’t listen to it very often.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No I had no idea about the Steely Dan intro. I like some jazz. A friend of mine made me a fan of The Barry Harris Trio years ago when he took me to see them live in Chicago. A memorable experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, I had not heard of The Barry Harris Trio but just saw a YouTube clip. Looks like these guys have been around forever! Harris is 91 and apparently is still active, both as a musician and a teacher – incredible! How long ago was your show?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Max! George Harrison may not have been a Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton, but nobody else managed to get that sweet slide guitar tone. I just don’t get tired of it.

      As for Sonny Rollins, I’m not a jazz connoisseur, but I do love the saxophone. It was really CB who drew me to Rollins.

      Also, perhaps interestingly, while I had heard of the Horace Silver tune before in the context of Steely Dan’s “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number”, the track literally popped up on Apple Music after I had finished listening to Sonny Rollins’ “Tenor Madness” album. So I guess I have to thank Apple’s algorithm here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He was his own guy…it’s harder to cop his tone than many others.

        I like sitting back and listening to jazz through headphones…it takes you on a journey.


  2. Good stuff Christian. Takes are in store for both the Silver and Church albums. I dig them both big time. Joe Henderson is playing the sax on HS cut. He’s no slouch either. Lots of great recordings. I’m digging this set right now. Very cool.
    I dont do much reading up on albums but I think the SD guys would have given a nod to Horace somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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