Happy Sunday and welcome to another trip, leaving these crazy times behind and visiting the great world of music, including six tunes in different flavors from different decades. All aboard our magic time machine, fasten your seatbelt, and off we go!
Chick Corea/Crystal Silence
Today’s journey starts in September 1972 with beautiful music by Chick Corea, off his first self-titled album with his then-newly formed jazz fusion group Return to Forever. The jazz pianist had started his professional and recording career in the early ’60s as a sideman for Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Stan Getz and Miles Davis. He also had launched his solo career in 1966 and released more than 10 albums under his name. In fact, technically, Return to Forever appeared as a Chick Corea record. The band of the same name had multiple line-ups over their long on-and-off run that ended with Corea’s death from cancer in February 2021 at the age of 79. In addition to Corea (electric piano), at the time of their eponymous debut album, the group featured Flora Purim (vocals, percussion), her husband Airto Moreira (drums, percussion), Joe Farrell (flute, soprano saxophone) and Stanley Clarke (bass). Check out the gorgeous Corea composition Crystal Silence – the combination of Farrell’s saxophone and Corea’s Fender Rodes is just mesmerizing!
Marc Cohn/Walking in Memphis
Let’s move on to February 1991 and a song I instantly fell in love with when I heard it for the first time back in Germany: Walking in Memphis, the biggest hit for American singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, off his eponymous debut album. The tune was also released separately as the album’s first single in March of the same year. Cohn’s signature song reached high positions on various U.S. charts, including no. 7 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock and no. 13 on the Hot 100. The single also did well on mainstream charts elsewhere, including Canada (no. 3), Australia (no. 11), the UK (no. 22) and Germany (no. 25). This was pretty much mirrored by the performance of the album, for which Cohn won the 1992 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. He has since released five additional albums, which charted as well but could not match the success of the debut. After taking a break between 1998 and 2004, Cohn remains active to this day. In August 2005, he cheated death when he was shot in the head during an attempted car-jacking in Denver, Colo. Sadly, these types of incidents and even much worse happen in the U.S. all the time, yet nothing ever seems to change!
Cream/Sunshine of Your Love
Time to pay a visit to the ’60s and what may well be called the ultimate British supergroup: Cream. During their short career of less than two and a half years, the power trio of bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker recorded four albums featuring some of the best blues rock, psychedelic rock and acid rock coming out of the UK during that time period. Sunshine of Your Love, credited to Bruce, Clapton and lyricist Pete Brown, began as a bass riff Bruce came up with after he had attended a concert by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in London in January 1967. The tune first appeared on Cream’s sophomore studio album Disraeli Gears in November 1967. It was subsequently released as a single in the U.S. and the UK in December 1967 and September 1968, respectively. Two months after the UK single had come out Cream dissolved. Given the bad fights between Bruce and Baker, which also turned physical, it’s a miracle they lasted that long and nobody was killed.
Dire Straits/Brothers In Arms
Our next stop is May 1985, which saw the release of Dire Straits’ second-to-final album Brothers In Arms. I still well remember when it came out, in part because it was among the first all-digitally recorded albums and sounded absolutely amazing. I guess it’s fair to say Brothers In Arms is best known for Money For Nothing, which became the British group’s most commercially successful single. While it’s certainly a good tune, I feel it was heavily over-exposed on the radio. I also think there’s more to the album than its mega-hit. One of the tunes I’ve always liked is the title track. Like Money For Nothing, it was written by Mark Knopfler, though Sting who provided the falsetto vocals also received a writing credit for Money For Nothing. Brothers In Arms also appeared separately as a single, but it didn’t match the other tune’s chart performance. It came very close in New Zealand where it peaked at no. 5, just one spot below Money For Nothing.
Let’s speed things up a few notches with one of my all-time favorite classic rock & roll songs. In order to do that we shall travel back to March 1958 when Chuck Berry first released Johnny B. Goode as a single. Written by Berry, it became one of his best-known tunes, though amazingly it didn’t reach the top of any chart – really mind-boggling from today’s perspective! But it came close in the U.S. where it peaked at no. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart. It also climbed to no. 8 on the mainstream pop chart. Johnny B. Goode was also included on Berry’s third studio album Chuck Berry Is On Top, together with other classics like Carol, Maybellene, Little Queenie and Roll Over Beethoven. While Berry didn’t invent rock & roll, it’s fair to say rock & roll wouldn’t have been the same without him.
And once again another music journey is reaching its final destination. For this pick, we jump back to the present and a band I had not heard of before until a few weeks ago: CVC, which NME in this review describes as a Welsh psych-rock band. Also known as Church Village Collective, they were founded three years ago. It amazes me time and again how music groups have websites that don’t provide any background whatsoever! At least there’s a Spotify profile, which notes the six-piece named themselves “after the sleepy Welsh town they come from” and “are influenced by Snoop Dogg, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Super Furry Animals and Red Hot Chili Peppers.” CVC are Francesco Orsi (vocals), David Bassey (guitar, vocals), Elliot Bradfield (guitar, vocals), Daniel ‘Nanial’ Jones (keyboards), Ben Thorne (bass) and Tom Fry (drums). This brings me to Hail Mary, a nice tune from the band’s full-length debut album Get Real.
Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist featuring the above tunes. Hope there’s something here you dig!
Sources: Wikipedia; NME; YouTube; Spotify