After skipping last Sunday due to a short hiatus, I’m thrilled to be back with The Sunday Six and hope you’ll join me for another trip with the music time machine. As always, our journey will include six stops in different decades. Let’s do it!
Weather Report/Cannon Ball
Easing us into today’s trip are jazz fusion dynamos Weather Report, a band I’ve really come to dig. Austrian keyboarder Joe Zawinul, who is regarded as one of the creators of jazz fusion, co-founded Weather Report in 1970 with saxophone maestro Wayne Shorter. Cannon Ball, a Zawinul composition, appeared on the group’s sixth studio album Black Market, released in March 1976. This was their first album to feature the amazing Jaco Pastorius who played electric fretless bass on two tracks, one of which was Cannon Ball. Other Weather Report members on this particular tune included Narada Michael Walden (drums) and Alex Acuña (congas, percussion). The group’s most successful album Heavy Weather was still one year away. They would record seven more records thereafter before disbanding in 1986.
Buddy Holly/Peggy Sue
Our next stop takes us back to February 1958 and one of my all-time favorite early rock & roll tunes: Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly. During his short seven-year career, this bespectacled young man from Lubbock, Tx. wrote and performed amazing songs, creating a legacy that lasts to this day. Holly also was one of the early adopters of the Fender Stratocaster. His 1957 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show with his band The Crickets helped popularize the legendary electric guitar. Peggy Sue, co-written by Crickets drummer Jerry Allison and producer Norman Petty, appeared on what technically was Holly’s first eponymous solo album. For contractual reasons, his previous record, The “Chirping” Crickets, was credited to The Crickets, though the same band played on both releases. Holly may not have had Elvis Presley looks, but this man was a true rock & roll star!
Katrina and the Waves/Cry to Me
Time to slow things down by traveling to March 1985 and a great tune by Katrina and the Waves. Initially called The Waves, the British-American band is best known for their 1985 hit Walking On Sunshine, which interestingly went unnoticed when they first recorded it for their December 1983 debut. But things changed dramatically with a re-recorded version that became the lead single of the band’s eponymous third studio album from March 1985. That record also included Cry to Me. Like Walking On Sunshine, it was penned by Kimberley Rew, the group’s lead guitarist and backing vocalist. Katrina and the Waves would make, well, waves one more time in May 1997 when they won the Eurovision Song Contest with Love Shine a Light. But they were not able to follow up that success with another hit. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Katrina Leskanich left in 1998 after several disagreements with her bandmates, leading to the group’s dissolution in 1999.
Let’s return to the present and a furious rock & roll tune by Umbilicus – ‘who?’ you may wonder. I had the same reaction until I came across Hello Future the other day and was immediately hooked! According to this post and interview on Maximum Volume Music, Umbilicus came together in the summer of 2020. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz noted their love of rock and roll from the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, citing Grand Funk, Bad Company and Steppenwolf among his influences, along with lesser-known bands like Sir Lord Baltimore and Lucifer’s Friend. Umbilicus also include Taylor Nordberg (guitar), Vernon Blake (bass) and Brian Stephenson (vocals). Hello Future, credited to all four members of the band, is from their debut album Path of 1000 Suns, which came out in September 2022. Damn!
The Band/The Weight
No Sunday Six can exclude the ’60s, so we shall set our time machine to July 1968 and a timeless classic by The Band: The Weight, off their debut studio album Music from Big Pink. Officially, the Canadian-American group was formed the previous year in Toronto, Canada, but its origins go back to 1957 when it was called The Hawks and backing Toronto-based rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. From 1965 to 1967, the group was Bob Dylan’s touring band and also recorded various sessions with the maestro. By the time of Music from Big Pink, The Band featured Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals), Garth Hudson (organ, piano, clavinet, saxophone), Richard Manuel (piano, organ, vocals), Rick Danko (bass, fiddle, vocals) and Levon Helm (drums, tambourine, vocals) – the line-up that would stay in place until they first broke up in 1978. The Weight, written by Robertson, also became a single in August 1968, backed by the 1967 Dylan song I Shall Be Released.
Delbert McClinton/Everytime I Roll the Dice
And once again another music trip is coming to an end. For our final stop, we go to April 1992 and Never Been Rocked Enough, a studio album by Delbert McClinton. Shout-out to Cincinnati Babyhead who digs and effectively introduced me to the roots artist from Texas. BTW, Clinton hails from the same town as Buddy Holly. Blending country, blues, soul and rock & roll, McClinton has been active since 1957. Long before recording as a singer, he became an accomplished harmonica player. McClinton was prominently featured on Hey! Baby, a 1962 no. 1 hit for fellow Texan Bruce Channel. It took him until the mid-’70s to establish himself as a solo artist. In 1980, his rendition of Jerry Lynn Williams’ Giving It Up for Your Love reached no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, his only top 10 hit. Here’s Everytime I Roll the Dice, the excellent opener of the above-mentioned 1992 album, co-written by Max Barnes and Troy Seals.
Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist of the above tracks. Hope there’s something you like!
Sources: Wikipedia; Maximum Volume Music; YouTube; Spotify