Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time
It’s hard to believe another Sunday is upon us when it feels like the previous one only passed a couple of days ago! In any case, I hope everybody is spending a nice weekend. To make it even better, once again, I’d like to invite you to join me on another music time travel journey!
Our first stop today only takes us back a few years, to September 2019, and the second-to-most-recent studio album, Spectrum, by Japanese jazz pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara. Professionally known as Hiromi, she started her recording career in April 2003 and has since released 11 additional studio albums. Hiromi blends diverse musical genres, such as post-bop, progressive rock, classical music and pop, and is known for her virtuosic technique and energetic live performances. Off the above album is her lovely rendition of The Beatles’Blackbird.
Fats Domino/Ain’t That a Shame
Next, we set our magical music time machine to April 1955 and a song that makes me smile every time I hear it: Ain’t That a Shame by the incredible Fats Domino, who first released the classic as a single. Credited to his birth name Antoine Domino, as well as prominent New Orleans music artist and producer Dave Bartholomew, the tune also appeared on Domino’s March 1956 debut album Rock and Rollin’ with Fats Domino. Man, I love how that song swings. You don’t hear that type of music much these days and, yes, that’s a shame!
Bob Marley and the Wailers/Could You Be Loved
Now that we’re all movin’ and groovin’, let’s kick it up a notch and travel to the early ’80s and a Jamaican who was instrumental in popularizing reggae all over the world: Bob Marley. Creatively borrowing from a 1971 John Lennon quote about Chuck Berry, if you tried to give reggae another name, you might call it Bob Marley. Here’s Could You Be Loved, the best-known track from Uprising, the 12th studio album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, released in June 1980. Sadly, it turned out to be the final release during the life of Bob Marley who passed away in May 1981 at age 36 from melanoma that had spread to his lungs and brain.
B.B. King/The Thrill Is Gone
The time has come for some blues. When I think of that genre, B.B. King is among the first artists who come to mind. One of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, King never showed off when playing his beloved Gibson ES-355, a semi-hollow body electric guitar he called “Lucille”. Here’s The Thrill Is Gone, off King’s December 1969 studio album Completely Well. Co-written by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951 and first recorded by Hawkins that year, The Thrill Is Gone became a major hit for King in 1970. With its lush and somewhat trippy string arrangement, it may not be what you traditionally associate with the blues, but it’s one heck of a gem!
Golden Smog/Red Headed Stepchild
Our next stop takes us to the ’90s and Golden Smog, an alternative country supergroup formed in the late ’80s by members of Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Run Westy Run, Wilco and The Honeydogs. After releasing their debut EP On Golden Smog in December 1992, which entirely consisted of covers, the group came out with their first full-length album of original songs in 1995, Down By the Old Mainstream. Red Headed Stepchild was co-written by Dan Murphy and Marc Perlman, of Soul Asylum and The Jayhawks, respectively, who like the band’s other members used pseudonyms for the credits.
Bruce Springsteen/Prove It All Night
You know and I know that once again we need to wrap up another trip with the magical music time machine. We also still need to pay a visit to the ’70s. Let’s do both with The Boss! Prove It All Night, penned by Bruce Springsteen, is a track from Darkness on the Edge of Town, his fourth studio album that came out in June 1978. Like its legendary predecessor Born to Run, the album was recorded with the E Street Band and as usual released under the Bruce Springsteen name only. Well, they don’t call him boss for nothing!
Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist of the above goodies. I enjoyed being your imaginary music time travel guide and hope we all do this again next Sunday!
Here we go again: Another Monday brings another installment of The Follow-Up! The idea of this recently introduced feature is to supplement my weekly new music revue Best of What’s New with short takes of new music I missed or didn’t cover for other reasons.
Taj Mahal – Savoy
When music artists put out Christmas albums or Great American Songbook cover compilations, one could be forgiven to wonder whether they’ve run out of ideas, especially if they’re in the later stages of their careers. To me, this is definitely not the case when it comes to Savoy, the latest release by Taj Mahal, which appeared on April 28.
While I had known the name for many years, it wasn’t until May 2017 and TajMo, his dynamite collaboration album with Keb’ Mo’, that I started paying closer attention to Taj Mahal (born Henry St. Claire Fredericks Jr.). I quickly realized he’s much more than “just a blues artist” and yet his renditions of tunes by the likes of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Benny Golson took me by surprise. Not only do his vocals work beautifully but the musical arrangements beam with vibrancy!
The album is an homage to the Savoy, the iconic ballroom in New York’s Harlem where Mahal’s parents met in 1938 to see Ella Fitzgerald, backed by the Chick Webb Orchestra. Why don’t we hear it from the man himself, in the spoken introduction to Stompin’ At the Savoy, a 1933 jazz standard written by Edgar Sampson and first popularized by Chick Webb and Benny Goodman. The lyrics were subsequently added by Andy Razaf.
Okay, Follow-up posts are meant to be short takes, so let’s highlight one more track: Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby, a song co-written by Louis Jordan and Billy Austin, and first recorded by Jordan in October 1943.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, according to this AllMusicreview, Mahal’s fine backing band features Danny Caron (guitar); John Simon (piano), Mahal’s longtime friend who talked him into recording the album; Ruth Davies (bass); and Leon Joyce, Jr. (drums), along with backing vocalists Carla Holbrook, Leesa Humphrey, and Charlotte McKinnon, as well as a neat horn section.
Lucinda Williams – Stolen Moments
Stolen Moments is the second excellent track by Lucinda Williams from her upcoming album Stories from a Rock N Roll Heart, scheduled for June 30. Released on April 21, the song was written as a tribute to Tom Petty who passed away in October 2017 – man, I can’t believe it’s been already five and half years!
“Tom was a down-to-earth, sweet, loving person, and I miss his music but I miss him more,” said Williams, according to this JamBasereview. “I wrote this song after he passed away. I was just heartbroken, and I’m still reeling.” Admittedly, I started welling up after reading that statement. Check out how great this tune sounds!
Stolen Moments follows the lead single New York Comeback, which appeared on April 4, featuring Bruce Springsteen and his wife and E Street Band member Patti Scialfa. I previously covered it here. I’m really looking forward to Stories from a Rock N Roll Heart, which is shaping up to be a great album!
Ever since I sawLucinda Williams open up for Bonnie Raitt in Philadelphia last June, I’ve been wanting to take a deeper dive into her music. This post is a first attempt to further explore the singer-songwriter who has been active since 1978. Over a 45-year-and-counting career, Williams has released 14 studio albums with no. 15, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, scheduled to drop June 30. I recently featured the excellent lead single New York Comeback in a Best of What’s Newinstallment.
Before getting to some music, I’d like to provide some background. From Williams’ website: Lucinda Williams’ music has gotten her through her darkest days. It’s been that way since growing up amid family chaos in the Deep South, as she recounts in her candid new memoir, Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I told You [Crown, April 25, 2023 – CMM].
Over the past two years, it’s been the force driving her recovery from a debilitating stroke she suffered on November 17, 2020, at age 67. Her masterful, multi-Grammy-winning songwriting has never deserted her. To wit, her stunning, sixteenth studio album, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, brims over with some of the best work of her career. And though Williams can no longer play her beloved guitar – a constant companion since age 12 – her distinctive vocals sound better than ever.
“I’m singing my ass off,” she told Vanity Fair in February, following her first European tour since 2019. The love emanating from audiences and her musical family onstage and in the studio exemplify the healing power of music, says Williams. In 2020, she spent a week in intensive care, followed by a month in rehab before returning home. The blood clot on the right side of her brain impaired the left side of her body’s motor skills, forcing her to relearn some of the most basic of activities, like walking.
In July 2021, she played her first gig, opening for Jason Isbell at Red Rocks. She began seated in a wheelchair, but soon she was upright. “Just the energy of the audiences being so welcoming and warm and the band playing so great and being so supportive gave me so much strength,” Williams relates. “I figured, ‘Hell, all I have to do is stand up there and sing. How hard can that be?”
Williams got into songwriting and music at an early age. She started writing as a six-year-old and was playing guitar by the time she was 12. Five years later, she found herself on stage in Mexico City for her first live performance, together with her friend and banjo player Clark Jones. This was followed by gigs in Austin and Houston, Texas in her early 20s. In 1978, a then-25-year-old Williams move to Jackson, Miss. and recorded her debut album Ramblin’ on My Mind, which appeared the following year.
Williams first gained critical acclaim with her third, eponymous studio album from 1988, which was voted the 16th best album of the year in The Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop critics poll. Lucinda Williams has since been viewed as a leading work in the development of the Americana movement. In 1998, Williams broke through into the mainstream with Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Her fifth album topped the aforementioned Pazz & Jop poll and won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. It also became her first album to chart on the Billboard 200, climbing to no. 68.
Time for some music! I’m going to highlight six tunes, followed by a Spotify playlist featuring these and additional songs from all of her albums. Kicking it off is a great rendition of Robert Johnson’s Ramblin’ on My Mind, the title track of Williams’ above-mentioned 1979 debut album, which she recorded together with guitarist John Grimaudo.
After two blues, country and folk-oriented albums, Lucinda Williams started to embrace a more Americana and roots rock-oriented sound on her third, eponymous album. Here’s Changed the Locks, which also became the album’s first single. Like all except one tune, it was penned by Williams. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers covered this song on their 1996 soundtrack album She’s the One.
This brings me to Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Williams’ acclaimed fifth album. It featured guest appearances by Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle who in addition to Williams served as one of the producers, along with Ray Kennedy who was working with Earle at the time, as well as Roy Bittan, best-known as longtime keyboarder of Bruce Springsteen’sE Street Band. While the recording process was drawn out, in part due to some tensions between Earle and Williams who ended up bringing in Bittan to finish the album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road overall became her most successful album to date. Here’s the great opener Right in Time – love the guitar sound on that cut!
Next, let’s jump to October 2008 and Little Honey, Williams’ ninth studio album. It featured guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Susanna Hoffs, Matthew Sweet and Charlie Louvin. Little Honey earned a nomination for the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, the category’s inaugural year, which was won by Levon Helm for Electric Dirt. Here’s the excellent opener Real Love, which also appeared separately as a single. Penned by Williams, with backing vocals by Hoffs and Sweet, the roots rocker was also featured in the 2007 American comedy-drama The Lucky Ones.
In September 2014, Williams released her 11th studio record Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, the first on her own label Highway 20 Records. The double album debuted at no. 13 on the Billboard 200, becoming one of Williams’ highest-charting on the U.S. mainstream chart. It also won the 2015 Americana Music Award for Album of the Year. Once again, there were various guests, including Jakob Dylan, Tony Joe White, Ian McLagan and Elvis Costello, among others. Here’s the great Burning Bridges, penned by Williams.
Fast forward to April 2020 and Good Souls Better Angels, Williams’ 14th and most recently released studio album. Another widely acclaimed album, it earned Williams yet another Grammy nomination, for Best Americana Album. Here’s When the Way Gets Dark. Like all except one other track on the album, it was co-written by Williams and Tom Overby who also served as producer, along with Williams and Ray Kennedy.
Last but not least, here’s the aforementioned Spotify playlist featuring the above and some other Lucinda Williams tunes. This artist is a true treasure! Hope you have as much fun listening to her music as I had putting together this post. I’m really looking forward to her new album, which based on the lead single sounds very promising.
Sources: Wikipedia; Lucinda Williams website; YouTube; Spotify
A selection of newly released music that caught my attention
Happy Saturday and welcome to another Best of What’s New installment. To me, my last music revue feels like it just happened rather than a week ago. Anyway, all picks except for the final tune, which I say upfront is the gem here, are from albums that came out yesterday (April 7).
Blondshell is the moniker of Los Angeles-based indie pop rock-oriented singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum. After starting out in 2016 with a more pop-focused project named BAUM, Teitelbaum began writing more rock-oriented music during the COVID-19 pandemic. This culminated in the launch of Blondshell in June 2022 with her single Olympus. Teitelbaum followed it up with two other singles, Kiss City and Sepsis, in July and August, respectively. In December, she signed with independent label Partisan Records and is now out with her eponymous debut album. Here’s the opener Veronica Mars, which first appeared as a single in December. Like most tracks on the album, it was solely written by Teitelbaum. The building guitar sound that explodes into hard-charging rock at around 54 seconds into the song provides an intriguing contrast to Teitelbaum’s mellow vocals.
Ruston Kelly/Holy Shit
Singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, who I first covered in July 2020, was born in Georgetown, S.C., grew up in Wyoming, Ohio and is now based in Nashville. He got into music at a young age and, according to Wikipedia, had a full album in high school with songs like “Bluebird” and “I’m Leavin’”. After signing a publishing deal with BMG Nashville in 2013, he co-wrote the song Nashville Without You recorded by Tim McGraw for his studio album Two Lanes of Freedom, which appeared in February that year. In 2017, Kelly released his debut EP Halloween. His first full-length album Dying Star came out the following year. Holy Shit is track from Kelly’s third and latest album The Weakness. Good tune!
Wednesday/Hot Rotten Grass Smell
Wednesday are a band from Ashville, N.C., who started out in 2017 as a songwriting project by guitarist Karly Hartzman. While attending college in Ashville, she met vocalist Daniel Gorham and recorded with him yep definitely, the first album as Wednesday. The moniker was inspired by British alternative rock band The Sundays, who were active from 1988 to 1997. Subsequently, Hartzman formed another group, Diva Sweetly. When her bandmates didn’t want to make shoegaze, she assembled new members for Wednesday and released their sophomore album, I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone, in February 2020. This brings me to the group’s new album Rat Saw God, which is their fifth. In addition to Hartzman (guitar, vocals), it features MJ Lenderman (guitar, backing vocals), Xandy Chelmis (lap steel), Margo Schultz (bass) and Alan Miller (drums). Here’s the opener Hot Rotten Grass Smell, credited to the entire band.
Lucinda Williams/New York Comeback
I’m particularly excited about my last pick for this week, New York Comeback by Lucinda Williams, the lead single single from her upcoming album Stories From a Rock n Roll Heart. Released on April 4, the great tune features Bruce Springsteen and his wife and E Street Band member Patti Scialfa. Williams first entered my radar screen in June 2022 when I saw her open up for Bonnie Raitt in Philadelphia, a great concert you can read more about here. In November 2020, Williams suffered a stroke from which she has recovered, though during the aforementioned gig, she still seemed to have some mobility challenges and did not play guitar. Stories From a Rock n Roll Heart, set for release on June 30, is Williams’ 15th studio album and the first since her stroke. According to this review by Consequence Sound, the album was recorded during her stroke recovery: At the time, she wasn’t able to write songs using her guitar and continued collaborating with her husband/manager Tom Overby while also bringing in singer-songwriter Jessie Malin to co-write three tracks and flesh out melodies. Williams’ longtime road manager, Travis Stephens, also co-wrote six songs on the album. Man, I love New York Comeback, which is credited to Williams, Overby and Malin, and I can’t wait to hear more music from the album!
Of course, the post wouldn’t be complete with a Spotify playlist featuring the above and some additional tunes!
Bruce Springsteen released his anticipated new album of soul and R&B covers on Friday, November 11. First revealed by Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner in mid-September and formally announced by Springsteen at the end of that same month, Only the Strong Survive is his 21st studio album. If you follow The Boss, you may have seen reviews to date have been mixed. While I feel some of the criticism is fair, overall, I think Springsteen has delivered an enjoyable album.
Only the Strong Survive comes two years after Letter to You (October 2020), and is Springsteen’s second all-covers collection since We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (April 2006). Springsteen made the album at his Thrill Hill Recording studio in New Jersey “in early lockdown during “off hours”, as reported by Pitchfork. Perhaps that explains in part why producer Ron Aniello played nearly all instruments (drums, bass, percussion, guitar, vibes, piano, organ, glockenspiel, keyboards, farfisa). Springsteen himself mostly provided lead vocals and also played some guitar.
The number of other contributors was limited. Most notable is the now 87-year-old Sam Moore, one half of legendary Stax duo Sam & Dave. Other listed contributors include backing vocalists Soozie Tyrell, Lisa Lowell, Michelle Moore, Curtis King Jr., Dennis Collins and Fonzi Thornton, as well as The E Street Horns and Rob Mathes who provided string arrangements. Notably absent were soul fan Steven Van Zandt, who came up with the great horn arrangement for Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, and other members of the E Street Band. Again, perhaps it’s a reflection of the circumstances, or Springsteen simply wanted to leave no doubt the album was a solo effort.
“I wanted to make an album where I just sang,” he stated. “And what better music to work with than the great American songbook of the Sixties and Seventies? I’ve taken my inspiration from Levi Stubbs, David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin, the Iceman Jerry Butler, Diana Ross, Dobie Gray, and Scott Walker, among many others. I’ve tried to do justice to them all—and to the fabulous writers of this glorious music.”
Time to get to some of the goodies. Let’s kick it off with Soul Days, written by Jonnie Barnett and recorded by Dobie Gray as the title track of his 2001 studio album – perhaps not the most obvious choice if Springsteen’s goal was to highlight ’60s and ’70s soul music. That said, I think it’s a great rendition. It’s also one of two tunes featuring Sam Moore on backing vocals. Just like with the other tracks on the album, Springsteen evidently did not aim to remake any of these songs – appropriate for an album that pays homage.
Another tune I think came out really well is Do I Love You (Indeed I Do). It was written by Motown producer Frank Wilson, who also recorded it as a single in 1965. But Berry Gordy felt lukewarm about Wilson’s singing. More importantly, he wanted his producers to focus on producing rather than becoming recording artists. None of the pressed copies of the single were formally released and apparently are now prized items among collectors. Yes, the strings on Springsteen’s cover are perhaps a bit lush, but the tune has that infectious Motown beat that wants you to be dancing in the street. I also think Springsteen’s raspy vocals work rather well. Of course, he does get a little help from a potent backing choir. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) also became the album’s first single on September 29.
Turn Back the Hands of Time, co-written by Jack Daniels and Bonnie Thompson, was first released as a single in February 1970 and became the second major hit for blues and soul singer Tyrone Davis. Again, Springsteen does a nice job of delivering a faithful cover.
For the most part, Springsteen chose to cover tunes that aren’t known very widely, which I think was a smart choice. While his raspy vocals go well with the rock-oriented music he usually makes, the reality is his vocal range has limitations. One of the exceptions is I Wish It Would Rain, which became a no. 4 hit for The Temptations in 1967 on the Billboard Hot 100 and one of their numerous ’60s tunes to top the R&B chart. It was penned by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong and Rodger Penzabene. Taking on the mighty Temptations is gutsy, but once again Springsteen does a commendable job. He even throws in some falsetto. The backing vocals are excellent as well.
The last track I’d like to call out is the second tune featuring Sam Moore on backing vocals: I Forgot to Be Your Lover. Co-written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones, Bell recorded and first released the beautiful soul ballad in late 1968. The tune reached no. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at no. 10 on the Hot R&B Singles chart.
Only the Strong Survive appears on Columbia Records. It was engineered by Rob Lebret and executive-produced by long-time Springsteen collaborator Jon Landau. Following is a Spotify link to the album.
“My goal is for the modern audience to experience [the music’s] beauty and joy, just as I have since I first heard it,” Springsteen explained. “I hope you love listening to it as much as I loved making it.”
Throughout his entire career, Springsteen has included soul songs in his sets, so I feel there can be no doubt his proclaimed love for this music is genuine. Could some of his picks have been different? Sure. Is it odd he had Sam Moore as a guest and didn’t cover a Sam & Dave tune? Perhaps. Or that there weren’t any members of the E Street Band, especially since he will be touring with them next year? Not necessarily, given the album came together during COVID lockdown.
One important aspect is Springsteen picked songs that work well with his voice. Together with great backing vocals and musical arrangements that largely stay faithful to the original songs, Only the Strong Survive is a pleasant listening experience. Another question is how the album will be remembered in the context of Springsteen’s overall catalog. Time will tell.
Sources: Wikipedia; Pitchfork; Bruce Springsteen website; YouTube; Spotify
Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time
Welcome to another Sunday Six! I don’t know about you, but after a very busy week on the work and other fronts, I really needed this weekend. And what better way to relax on a Sunday morning (in my neck of the woods) than doing some time travel into the wonderful world of music. For folks in other geographic locations, this also works during other times of the day and night, so hope you all are going to join me. As usual, we do this six tunes at a time.
John Jenkins, Clifford Jordan and Bobby Timmons/Cliff’s Edge
When I came across Bobby Timmons in a post on fellow blogger Bruce’s Vinyl Connections, I immediately decided to earmark the American jazz pianist for a Sunday Six. Timmons who helped create a style called soul jazz started his career in Philly in the early ’50s. From July 1958 to September 1959 and February 1960 to June 1961, he was a sideman in Art Blakey’sJazz Messengers. In between, he was part of Cannonball Adderley’s band. His first album as leader or co-leader, Jenkins, Jordan and Timmons, appeared in 1957. Sadly, Timmons passed away from cirrhosis in March 1974 at the young age of 38. Let’s listen to Cliff’s Edge, a composition by jazz tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, included on the above-mentioned album Timmons recorded with Jordan and alto saxophonist John Jenkins. They were backed by Wilbur Ware (bass) and Dannie Richmond (drums) – my kind of music to kick off a Sunday morning!
Nick Moss & The Flip Flops/Heavy On My Mind
Our next stop takes us to the current century and great blues by Chicago blues and electric blues artist Nick Moss, another artist I had not heard of until recently. Active since 1990, Moss has released 11 studio and two live albums to date. After playing bass in the groups of blues guitarists Buddy Scott and Jimmy Dawkins, as well as The Legendary Blues Band, formed by backing musicians of Muddy Waters, Moss switched to lead guitar. In 1998, he launched his solo career with debut album First Offense, which was re-released in 2003, billed as by Nick Moss and the Flip Tops. That same year saw the group’s compilation Count Your Blessings. Here’s the great opener Heavy On My Mind. Yeah, baby, that’s what I call a neat blues shuffle!
Far Too Jones/Close to You
Time to pay a visit to the ’90s with a great tune by Far Too Jones, an American rock band from Raleigh, N.C. From their AllMusicbio: Comprised of singer Christopher Sprull, guitarists Jason Marks and Dave Dicke, bassist Alan Callahan, and drummer Scott MacConnell, Far Too Jones emerged from Raleigh, NC, quickly becoming one of the Southeast region’s most popular touring bands. A year after issuing their self-titled debut CD in mid-1995, they released Crawling Out from Under; a follow-up EP, Plastic Hero, yielded the local hit “Falling Back Down,” the success of which resulted in a deal with the Mammoth label. Picture Postcard Walls, Far Too Jones’ Mammoth debut, appeared in 1998. Shame and Her Sister was issued two years later. This brings me to Close to You, a track from the group’s aforementioned Picture Postcard Walls album released in June 1998. Credited to the entire band, the tune reminds me a bit of Hootie & the Blowfish.
Blood, Sweat & Tears/Spinning Wheel
Recently, on fellow blogger Dave’s A Sound Day, I declared 1969 as my favorite year in music. After looking at other Turntable Talk contributions, frankly, any other year between 1965 and 1975 would have been a great choice. One of the many great tunes released in 1969 was what became one of the best-known tracks by jazz rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears: Spinning Wheel, released in May 1969 as the second single from their eponymous sophomore album that had come out in December 1968. The tune was penned by David Clayton-Thomas who became the group’s lead vocalist in 1968 and remained in that role until 2004 with a few breaks in between. Blood, Sweat & Tears were originally formed in 1967 by Al Kooper (keyboards, vocals), Steve Katz (guitar, vocals), Jim Fielder (bass) and Bobby Colomby (drums). Subsequently, they were joined by Fred Lipsius (alto saxophone, piano) who recruited Dick Halligan (keyboards, trombone, horns, flute, backing vocals), Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Jerry Weiss (trumpet, flugelhorn, backing vocals). Apparently, a version of Blood, Sweat & Tears is still around and is about to wrap up a tour, though none of their original members are part of the current lineup. Let’s get that wheel spinning – what a groovy tune!
Aretha Franklin/Freeway of Love
Our trip continues in the ’80s via road, but not any road. We shall take the Freeway of Love in a pink Cadillac with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, one of my favorite vocalists of all time. Franklin had the amazing ability to take pretty much any tune, great and perhaps not as great, and turn it into a decent song. Sure, when you think of Franklin, I Say a Little Prayer, (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman, Think and R-E-S-P-E-C-T likely come to mind before Freeway of Love; but I’ve always enjoyed that tune from her 13th studio album Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, which came out in July 1985. Co-written by Jeffrey Cohen and Narada Michael Walden and produced by the latter, Freeway of Love features the great Clarence Clemons, the then-saxophonist from Bruce Springsteen’sE Street Band. It gave Franklin her first top 5 hit on the U.S. mainstream Billboard Hot 100 (no. 3) since 1973’s Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do), which reached the same position. Yes, Freeway of Love can’t deny its ’80s production, but it still rocks!
Joe Cocker/The Letter
Once again we need to wrap up another journey, and this time, we’ll take an aeroplane, coz we ain’t got time to take no fast train. In August 1970, Joe Cocker released the live album Mad Dogs & Englishmen, which among many other gems included his rendition of The Letter. Similar to Aretha Franklin, once a tune received the Joe Cocker treatment, usually, it turned into something better. That certainly is the case with this song, which was written by American country musician, songwriter and record producer Wayne Carson and first recorded by U.S. rock band The Box Tops. They released it as their debut single in August 1967, topping the mainstream charts in the U.S. and Canada, and climbing to no. 5 in the UK – that’s what I call leaving a good first impression! While Cocker’s rendition couldn’t match that performance, it still gave him his first top 10 single in the U.S., reaching no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached the same spot in Canada. In his native Britain, the tune peaked at a more moderate no. 39. Here’s the live version from Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Technically, the single was a studio, non-album recording, but that shall not bother us!
Following is a Spotify playlist featuring all of the above tunes. Hope there’s something you dig!
Time for another installment of this infrequent feature, in which I republish select content that first appeared in the earlier stage of the blog when I had fewer followers. The following post about my favorite saxophone players originally appeared in November 2017. I’ve slightly edited it and also added a Spotify playlist at the end.
In Appreciation Of The Saxophonist
A list of some of my favorite saxophone players and solos
Music instruments have always fascinated me. I also have a deep appreciation for musicians who master their gear. Oftentimes, I wish I would have learned more than just the guitar and the bass. For regular readers of the blog or those who know me otherwise, none of this should come as a big surprise. I’ve written a bunch of posts on some of the gear I admire, from guitars like the Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul and Rickenbacker 360/12, to keyboards like the Hammond B3, as well as some of my favorite drummers and bassists. One of the coolest instruments I haven’t touched yet is the saxophone.
Let me address the big caveat to this post right away: Since I know next to nothing about jazz, I’m focusing on genres that are in my wheelhouse: rock, blues and pop. While many of the saxophonists I highlight come from the jazz world, it’s still safe to assume I’m missing some outstanding players. On the other hand, where would I even start, if I broadened the scope to jazz? With that being out of the way, following is a list of some of favorite saxophonists and sax solos.
Update: Since subsequently I’ve started to explore the jazz world, mostly in my Sunday Six feature, I’m going to add some tracks in the Spotify playlist featuring some additional outstanding jazz saxophonists.
I imagine just like most readers, I had never heard of this British saxophonist until I realized he was associated with a ’70s pop song featuring one of the most epic sax solos: Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. The breathtaking performance put Ravenscroft on the map. He went on to work with other top artists like Marvin Gaye (In Our Lifetime, 1981), Robert Plant (Pictures At Eleven, 1982) and Pink Floyd (The Final Cut, 1983). Ravenscroft died from a suspected heart attack in October 2014 at the age of 60. According to a BBC News story, he didn’t think highly of the solo that made him famous, saying, “I’m irritated because it’s out of tune…Yeah it’s flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best.” The same article also noted that Ravenscroft “was reportedly paid only £27 for the session with a cheque that bounced while the song is said to have earned Rafferty £80,000 a year in royalties.” Wow!
The American jazz saxophonist and composer, who started his career in the late ’50s, played in Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet in the 1960s and co-founded the jazz fusion band Weather Report in 1971. Shorter has recorded over 20 albums as a bandleader and played as a sideman on countless other jazz records. He also contributed to artists outside the jazz realm, including Joni Mitchell, Don Henley and Steely Dan. For the latter, he performed a beautiful extended tenor sax solo for Aja, the title track of their 1977 gem.
The American saxophonist, musician and actor was best known for his longtime association with Bruce Springsteen. From 1972 to his death in June 2011 at age 69, Clemons was a member of the E Street Band, where he played the tenor saxophone. He also released several solo albums and played with other artists, including Aretha Franklin, Twisted Sister, Grateful Dead and Ringo Starr and His All-Star Band. But it was undoubtedly the E Street Band where he left his biggest mark, providing great sax parts for Springsteen gems like Thunder Road, The Promised Land and The Ties That Bind. One of my favorite Clemons moments is his solo on Bobby Jean from the Born In The U.S.A. album. What could capture “The Big Man” better than a live performance? This clip is from a 1985 concert in Paris, France.
The American West Coast jazz musician was primarily known for his work as a tenor and soprano saxophonist. Among others, Amy served as the musical director of Ray Charles’ orchestra for three years in the mid-60s. He also led his own bands and recorded under his own name. Outside the jazz arena, he worked as a session musician for artists like The Doors (Touch Me, The Soft Parade, 1969), Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Carole King (Tapestry, 1971). One of the tunes on King’s masterpiece is the ballad Way Over Yonder, which features one of the most beautiful sax solos in pop I know of.
The English saxophonist, who started his professional career in 1964, has worked as a session musician with many artists. A friend of David Gilmour, Parry is best known for his work with Pink Floyd, appearing on their albums The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), The Division Bell (1994) and Pulse (1995). He also worked with Procol Harum guitarist Mick Grabham (Mick The Lad, 1972), John Entwistle (Mad Dog, 1975) and Rory Gallagher (Jinx, 1982), among others. One of Parry’s signature sax solos for Pink Floyd appeared on Money. Here’s a great clip recorded during the band’s 1994 Division Bell tour.
Albert Ronald “Ronnie” Ross was a British jazz baritone saxophonist. He started his professional career in the 1950s with the tenor saxophone, playing with jazz musicians Tony Kinsey, Ted Heath and Don Rendell. It was during his tenure with the latter that he switched to the baritone sax. Outside his jazz engagements during the 60s, Ross gave saxophone lessons to a young dude called David Bowie and played tenor sax on Savoy Truffle, a track from The Beatles’White Album. In the 70s, his most memorable non-jazz appearance was his baritone sax solo at the end of the Lou Reed song Walk On The Wild Side. I actually always thought the solo on that tune from Reed’s 1972 record Transformer was played by Bowie. Instead, he co-produced the track and album with Mick Ronson. According to Wikipedia, Bowie also played acoustic guitar on the recording.
The American saxophonist was a founding member of Chicago and played with the band for 51 years until earlier this year (2017) when he officially retired due to a heart condition. In addition to the saxophone, Parazider also mastered the flute, clarinet, piccolo and oboe. Here is a clip of Saturday In The Park and 25 Or 6 To 4 from Chicago’s great 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction performance, which features Parazaider on saxophone.
Thomas Neal Cartmell, known as Alto Reed, is an American saxophonist who was a member of The Silver Bullet Band since it was founded by Bob Seger in the mid-70s. He toured with Seger and the band for 40-plus years, starting with Live Bullet in 1976. Reed has also performed with many other bands and musicians like Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad, Little Feat, The Blues Brothers and George Thorogood. Among his signature performances for Seger are the saxophone solo in Old Time Rock And Roll and the introduction to Turn the Page. Here’s a great live clip of Turn the Page from 2014.
Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr., known by his stage name Junior Walker or Jr. Walker, was an American singer and saxophonist whose 40-year career started in the mid-1950s with his own band called the Jumping Jacks. In 1964, Jr. Walker & The All Stars were signed by Motown. They became one of the company’s signature acts, scoring hits with songs like Shotgun, (I’m a) Roadrunner, Shake And Fingerpop and remakes of Motown tunes Come See About Me and How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). While Walker continued to record with the band and solo during the ’70s and into the early ’80s, one of his most memorable performances resulted from his guest performance on Foreigner’s 1981 album 4. His saxophone solo on Urgent is one of the most blistering in pop rock. Walker died from cancer in November 1995 at the age of 64.
No list of saxophonists who have played with rock and blues artists would be complete without Bobby Keys. From the mid-1950s until his death in December 2014, this American saxophonist appeared on hundreds of recordings as a member of horn sections and was a touring musician. He worked with some of the biggest names, such as The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker. Some of these artists’ songs that featured Keys include Don’t Ask Me No Questions (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping, 1974), Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (John Lennon, Walls And Bridges, 1974) and Slunky (Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton, 1970). But he is best remembered for his sax part on Brown Sugar from the Stones’ 1971 studio album Sticky Fingers.
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The original post, which was published on November 11, 2017, ended here. Here’s the previously mentioned Spotify list featuring all of the above and some additional saxophone greats.
Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time
Is it really Sunday again? What happened to the bloody week? Okay, let’s try this again: Happy Sunday and I hope everybody had a great week and is enjoying an even better weekend! Nearly anything you can do gets better with great music, so I invite you to join me on another time travel trip. As usual, I’m taking you to six different stops. Are you in? Let’s go!
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane/In a Sentimental Mood
What do you get when combining jazz piano great Duke Ellington and saxophone dynamo John Coltrane? Well, Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, a collaboration album released in January 1963, and the first stop on our journey today. Jazz artists love to team up, and this record is one of many collaborative efforts Sir Duke undertook in the early 1960s, which also included artists, such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Max Roach and Charles Mingus. Rather than a big band setting, it placed Ellington in a quartet, which in addition to Coltrane featured Jimmy Garrison or Aaron Bell (bass) and Elvin Jones or Sam Woodyard (drums). My specific pick is In a Sentimental Mood, which Ellington had composed more than 25 years earlier in 1935, with lyrics written by Manny Kurtz. I guess Ellington’s manager Irving Mills was in the mood for a percentage of the publishing and gave himself a writing credit!
The Jayhawks/Martin’s Song
Our next stop takes us to September 1992 and Hollywood Town Hall, the third studio album by The Jayhawks. Since “discovering” them in August 2020, I’ve come to dig this American alt. country and country rock band. Initially formed in Minneapolis in 1985, The Jayhawks originally featured Mark Olson (acoustic guitar, vocals), Gary Louris (electric guitar, vocals), Marc Perlman (bass) and Norm Rogers (drums). By the time Hollywood Town Hall was released, Rogers had been replaced by Ken Callahan. After four additional albums and more line-up changes, the group went on hiatus in 2004. They reemerged with a new formation in 2019, which still includes Louris and Pearlman. Going back to Hollywood Town Hall, here’s the album’s great closer Martin’s Song, penned by Olson and Louris.
Stephen Stills/Right Now
How ’bout some ’70s? Ask and you shall receive! My pick is Stephen Stills – yep the guy who co-founded Canadian-American rock band Buffalo Springfield with that Canadian fellow Neil Young in 1966, and two years later got together with David Crosby and Graham Nash to form Crosby, Stills & Nash. In 1969, they added Young, became Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, played Woodstock and released the classic Déjà Vu in March 1970. Following CSNY’s success, Stills launched a solo career, just like the other three members of the group. In late 1971, he teamed up with Chris Hillman (formerly of The Byrds) to form the band Manassas. The group also included Al Perkins (steel guitar, guitar), Paul Harris (keyboards), Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels (bass, backing vocals), Joe Lala (percussion, backing vocals) and Dallas Taylor (drums). Their eponymous debut from April 1972 was the first of two studio albums the group released, as Stephen Stills/Manassas – I assume for name recognition reasons. Plus, Stills wrote or co-wrote all except one of the tunes. Right Now is among the songs solely penned by him – love that tune!
Paul Simon/You Can Call Me Al
In August 1986, Paul Simon released what remains my favorite among his solo albums: Graceland. Evidently, many other folks liked it as well, making it Simon’s best-performing album, both in terms of chart success and sales. It also won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year (1987) and Record of the Year (1988) – confusing titles! While the first honors an album in its entirety, the second recognizes a specific track. Graceland features an eclectic mixture of musical styles, including pop, a cappella, zydeco, isicathamiya, rock and mbaqanga. The album involved recording sessions in Johannesburg, South Africa, featuring local musicians. Therefore, it was criticized by some for breaking the cultural boycott of South Africa because of its policy of apartheid. One can only imagine what kind of firestorm a comparable activity would likely unleash nowadays with so much polarization boosted by social media! If I would have to pick one track from the album, I’d go with You Can Call Me Al, an infectious tune that among others features a crazy bass run by South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo.
Let’s keep the groove going with guitarist, songwriter, actor and (unofficial) music professor, the one and only Steven Van Zandt, aka Little Steven or Miami Steve. Van Zandt gained initial prominence as guitarist in various Bruce Springsteen bands, such as Steel Mill, Bruce Springsteen Band, and, of course, the mighty E Street Band. In 1981, Van Zandt started fronting an on-and-off group known as Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. The following year, while still being an official member of the E Street Band, he released his debut solo album Men Without Women, credited as Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. In April 1984, just before the release of the Born in the U.S.A. album, Van Zant officially left and recorded a series of additional solo albums. After a brief stint in 1995, he permanently rejoined Springsteen’s backing band in 1999. He also got into acting, which most notably included his role as mafioso and strip club owner Silvio Dante in the American TV crime drama series The Sopranos. This finally brings us to Soulfire, his sixth solo album from May 2017. The great title track was co-written by Van Zandt and Anders Bruus, the former guitarist of Danish rock band The Breakers. Here’s a cool live version!
And once again, we’re reaching our final destination of yet another Sunday Six excursion. For this one, let’s go back to the ’60s with some raw garage rock by The Sonics – coz why not! Formed in Tacoma, Wa. in 1960, they have often been called “the first punk band” and were a significant influence for American punk groups like The Stooges, MC5 and The Flesh Eaters. Cinderella is a track from the band’s sophomore release Boom, which appeared in February 1996. The tune was written by Gerry Roslie, the group’s keyboarder at the time. The line-up on the album also included founding members Larry Parypa (lead guitar, vocals) and his brother Andy Parypa (bass, vocals), along with Rob Lind (saxophone) and Bob Bennett (drums). Based on Wikipedia, The Sonics still appear to be around, with Roslie, Lind and Larry Parypa among their current members.
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a Spotify playlist of the above tracks. Hope there’s something for you!
Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time
Happy Sunday! I always look forward to putting together this weekly recurring feature, which allows me to explore music from different styles and decades without any limits, except keeping it to six tracks I dig. Are you ready to accompany me on another excursion? Hop on and let’s go!
Mose Allison/Crespuscular Air
Today our journey begins in November 1957 with Local Color, the sophomore album by Mose Allison. Shoutout to Bruce from Vinyl Connection whose recent post about the American jazz and blues pianist inspired me to include him in a Sunday Six. According to Wikipedia, Allison has been called “one of the finest songwriters in 20th-century blues.” Let’s just put it this way: Pete Townshend felt Allison’s Young Man Blues was good enough to be featured on The Who’sLive at Leeds album released in February 1970. John Mayall was one of the dozens of artists who recorded Allison’s Parchman Farm for his 1966 debut album with the Blues Breakers, Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. Allison’s music has also influenced many other artists, such as Jimi Hendrix, J. J. Cale, the Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones and Tom Waits. Here’s Crespuscular Air, a mellow jazz instrumental composed by Allison and included on the above-mentioned Local Color – the same record that featured Parchman Farm.
Our next stop takes us to February 1995, which saw the release of Steve Earle’s fifth studio album Train a Comin’. I’m still relatively new to Earle but have quickly come to appreciate his music, which over the decades has included country, country rock, rock, blues and folk. Train a Comin’, while not a commercial or chart success, was an important album for Earle who had overcome his drug addiction in the fall of 1994. The bluegrass, acoustic-oriented album was his first in five years and marked a departure from the more rock-oriented predecessor The Hard Way he had recorded with his backing band The Dukes. Goodbye, penned by Earle, is one of nine original tunes on Train a Comin’, which also includes four covers.
For this next pick, let’s go back to February 1976. While I’ve known the name Boz Scaggs for many years, mainly because of his ’70s hits Lowdown and Lido Shuffle, I’ve yet to explore his music catalog. Scaggs started his career in 1959 in high school as vocalist in Steve Miller’s first band The Marksmen. The two musicians continued to play together in a few other groups, including Steve Miller Band. After staying with the group for the first two albums, Scaggs secured a recording deal for himself and focused on his solo career. Georgia, a smooth groovy song written by Scaggs, is included on his seventh solo album Silk Degrees, which is best known for the aforementioned Lowdown and Lido Shuffle. Now 78 years, Scaggs still appears to be active and has released 19 solo albums to date.
Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne/You’re a Friend of Mine
Are you ready for some ’80s music? Yes, You’re a Friend of Mine definitely can’t deny the period during which it was recorded, but it’s such an upbeat song – I love it! It brought together dynamite saxophone player Clarence Clemons and legendary singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. Co-written by Narada Michael Walden and Jeffrey Cohen, the tune was released in October 1985 as the lead single of Clemons’ solo debut album Hero, which came out in November of the same year. By that time Clemons had best been known as the saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen’sE Street Band, which “The Big Man” had joined in the early ’70s. Sadly, Clemons who also appeared in several movies and on TV died of complications from a stroke in June 2011 at the age of 69. Man, what an amazing sax player. He could also sing!
The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
All right, time to jump back to the ’60s and some psychedelic rock by an artist who I trust needs no introduction: Jimi Hendrix. Voodoo Child (Slight Return), written by Hendrix, was included on Electric Ladyland, the third and final album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience released in October 1968. The tune also appeared separately as a single, first in the U.S. at the time of the album and subsequently in the UK in October 1970, one month after Hendrix had passed away in London at the age of 27. Prominent American guitarist Joe Satriani has called Voodoo Child “the greatest piece of electric guitar work ever recorded.” Regardless of whether one agrees with the bold statement, it’s a hell of a song. Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of my favorite electric blues guitarists, included an excellent cover on his 1983 sophomore album Couldn’t Stand the Weather.
Shemekia Copeland/It’s 2 A.M.
Time to wrap up another Sunday Six with a real goodie. Since I recently witnessed part of a live gig of Shemekia Copeland and reviewed her new album Done Come Too Far, this great blues vocalist has been on my mind. Shemekia, the daughter of Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, started to sing as a child and by the time she was 16 knew she wanted to pursue a music career. After high school graduation in 1997, Copeland signed with Chicago-based independent blues label Alligator Records and recorded her debut album Turn the Heat Up!It’s 2 A.M., written by Rick Vito, is the excellent opener of her sophomore album Wicked that came out in September 2000. I could totally picture The Rolling Stones play this song. Check it out!
And, of course, I won’t leave you without a Spotify playlist featuring the above songs.
What I’ve Been Listening to: Dire Straits/Making Movies
Featuring Dire Straits in my most recent Sunday Sixinstallment reminded me of Making Movies, which next to their eponymous debut is my favorite album by the British rock band. I also recalled a dedicated post from December 2017 and thought it would be worthy to republish. Here is a slightly edited version that features an added Spotify link.
What I’ve Been Listening To: Dire Straits/Making Movies
Dire Straits’ third studio album is crown jewel of their catalog
This week’s official announcement that Dire Straits are among the 2018 inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame reminded me of their great music. While the British rock band is best remembered for their 1985 masterpiece Brothers In Arms, I’ve always been more drawn to their earlier work.
I think Dire Straits’ eponymous first studio album was a great debut. The standout Sultans Of Swing remains one of my all-time favorite guitar-driven rock songs to this day. Communiqué was a fine sophomore release that largely mirrored the sound of its predecessor, for which the band was criticized. And then in October 1980 came what in my opinion is one of their best records: Making Movies.
The album kicks off with Tunnel Of Love. From the beginning, this tune has a very different feel compared to previous Dire Straits songs. Instead of Mark Knopfler’s signature Fender Stratocaster, the tune opens with E Street Band keyboarder Roy Bittan playing a part of Carousel Waltz from Carousel, a 1945 musical by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein (book and lyrics). The instrumental then blends into a short piano bridge before Knopfler comes in on guitar, together with the rest of the band.
The sound and Knopfler’s singing are more dynamic throughout the record than on the previous two albums. Clocking in at 8:11 minutes, the tune is the band’s longest to date. Its ups and downs further add to the dynamic. The track ends with a great extended melodic guitar solo that blends into a gentle piano outro. It’s just beautifully executed. But enough already with the words, here’s a clip.
Next up is Romeo And Juliet, another highlight on the album. One of the song’s key characteristics is the 1937 National Style “O” resonator guitar Knopfler plays. The same guitar is featured on the front cover of the Brothers In Arms album. Like in the opener, Bittan’s piano adds beautiful texture.
According to Wikipedia, the lyrics were inspired by Knopfler’s failed romance with Holly Vincent who led the American punk pop band Holly and The Italians. Apparently, the song has been covered by a wide range of artists including Indigo Girls and The Killers. Who knew?
Skateaway, the third track on the album, is another musical standout. The song’s chorus includes the lines from which the album’s title is derived: She gets rock n roll a rock n roll station/And a rock n roll dream/She’s making movies on location…The tune’s accompanying video, which featured musician Jayzik Azikiwe (1958-2008) as Rollergirl, became popular on MTV. Rollergirl, don’t worry, DJ, play the movies all night long.
For the last tune I’d like to call out let’s go to Side two (speaking in vinyl terms): Solid Rock. It’s an uptempo rocker with a great groove. I wish the honky tonk style piano one can hear in the beginning would also be prominent in other parts of the song. It’s easy to see why the track became a staple during Dire Straits’ live shows.
Making Movies was recorded at the Power Station in New York between June and August 1980. The album was co-produced by Knopfler and Jimmy Iovine, who had a major impact on the record’s sound. Knopfler reached out to Iovine after he had listened to his production of Because The Night by Patti Smith, a co-write with Bruce Springsteen. Iovine had also worked on Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Springsteen’s third and fourth studio records from 1975 and 1978, respectively. In addition, he brought in Bittan who enriched the sound of the recordings.
At the time of the album’s release, Dire Straits’ members in addition to Mark Knopfler included John Illsley (bass, backing vocals) and Pick Withers (drums, backing vocals). Mark’s younger brother David Knopfler left the band during the recording sessions. His guitar tracks, which had almost been completed, were re-recorded by Mark, and David was not credited on the album. The sessions continued with Sid McGinnis on rhythm guitar. Shortly before the record’s release, Hal Lindes (guitar) and Alan Clark (keyboards) joined Dire Straits as permanent members.
During an interview with Rolling Stone for their 100 Best Albums of the Eighties, which ranks Making Movies at 52, Iovine said, “I think he [Knopfler] wanted to take Dire Straits to that next step, especially in terms of the songs, and to have the album really make sense all together, which I think it does. It’s a really cohesive album. He stunned me, as far as his songwriting talents. The songs on that album are almost classical in nature.”
Commenting on the recording sessions for Making Movies, Bitton told Rolling Stone, “We went in and really took time to capture the emotion and paint the picture…They were not very straightforward songs. The subtleties of emotion that he was trying to capture was something real special — it reminded me of Bruce, you know?”
Making Movies was a success, especially in Europe, where it peaked at no. 4 on the UK Albums Chart and topped the albums charts in Italy and Norway. In the U.S., it climbed to No. 19 on the Billboard 200. Eventually, the album reached platinum certification in the U.S. and double-platinum in the UK.
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The original post, which was published on December 17, 2017, ended here. Nothing more to add except a Spotify link to the album:
Sources: Wikipedia; Rolling Stone; YouTube; Spotify