The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Sunday is fun day and I’d like to invite you to join me on another trip through space and time to explore great music from different eras. Rest assured the flux capacitor and the time circuits work, and I’ve already set the coordinates for the first destination the magical music time machine shall visit. Off we go!

Woody Herman and His Orchestra/Early Autumn

Today, we begin our journey in a studio in December 1947 to witness the recording of a beautiful jazz instrumental by Woody Herman – of course, without disrupting the space-time continuum! The American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, singer and big band leader was active from the mid-1930s until his death in 1987. This recording of Early Autumn, composed by Ralph Burns and Herman, featured Stan Getz (tenor saxophone) and Terry Gibbs (vibraphone), together with Herman (alto saxophone) and his band.

The Heavy Heavy/Miles and Miles

Let’s go back to the future, which really is the present, with a great tune by The Heavy Heavy, a UK-based five-piece band. Led by Will Turner and Georgie Fuller, they “create the kind of unfettered rock-and-roll that warps time and space, sitting at the reverb-drenched collision of psychedelia and blues, acid rock and sunshine pop” according to their Bandcamp page – sounds like a perfect fit for our trip! Miles and Miles, written by Turner, is from their debut EP Life and Life Only released in June 2022.

Led Zeppelin/Stairway to Heaven

Next, let’s set the time circuits to November 1971 and what I would consider the greatest rock tune of all time, on most days: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, off their untitled fourth studio album, aka. Led Zeppelin IV. ‘No Beatles song?’ you may wonder. ‘And a band he constantly has called out for borrowing from other artists without giving credit?’ I know, I know. To be clear, I still think Messrs. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page should have put their big egos aside and admitted that Stairway’s intro clearly sounds like Spirit by Taurus (the part in question starts at 45 seconds). It wouldn’t have taken away anything from Stairway, nothing whatsoever! This masterpiece brilliantly builds from an acoustic into a full-blown metal tune, featuring one of the best rock drum parts I know, by the amazing John Bonham. And, yes, the song hasn’t exactly suffered from obscurity on classic rock radio stations, so let’s get it over with!

Marshall Crenshaw/What Do You Dream Of

Time for a dose of great power pop! To get it, we shall travel to July 1996, which saw the release of Miracle of Science, the seventh studio album by Marshall Crenshaw. When thanks to a recent post by fellow blogger Rich Kamerman I started listening to Crenshaw, I came across What Do You Dream Of and earmarked this tune right away for a Sunday Six. Crenshaw, who has been active since the early ’80s, is best known for hit songs, such as Someday, Someway, Cynical Girl and Whenever You’re on My Mind. But he has written many other gems including this one!

The Byrds/You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere

You know we simply can’t skip the ’60s as long as I man the controls of the magical time music machine. Today’s destination of this decade shall be August 1968. That’s when The Byrds fully embraced country on their sixth studio album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, thanks to Gram Parsons. Initially conceived by band leader Roger McGuinn as a double LP that would span American popular music ranging from (early) bluegrass to (then-current) electronic music, Sweetheart of the Rodeo became the first widely recognized country rock album. One of my favorite tracks is You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, penned by Bob Dylan in 1967 in Woodstock, N.Y. during a self-imposed isolation following his motorcycle accident the year before. The maestro himself recorded the tune in September 1971. It was included on his second compilation Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II, released in November of the same year.

The Alarm/Sixty Eight Guns

Once again, we’ve reached the sixth and final stop. This one takes us to Feb 1984 and Sixty Eight Guns by The Alarm. Fellow blogger Max from PowerPop first brought the Welsh rock band and this great tune to my attention a year ago, and Rich Kamerman reminded me of them a few weeks ago. Ya see, Robert and Jimmy, giving credit is simple – just man up and do it! Co-written by the group’s Eddie Macdonald (bass, guitar, vocals) and Mike Peters (vocals, guitar, harmonica), the catchy song is from their debut album Declaration. If you made it grungy, it could be a Green Day tune.

As usual, I’ll leave you with a Spotify playlist of the above goodies and hope I’ll see you again next Sunday for another trip!

Sources: Wikipedia; The Heavy Heavy Bandcamp page; YouTube; Spotify

The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

It’s Sunday and I hope you’re feeling groovy. Once again, I’d like to invite you to accompany me on another excursion to visit music from different decades in different flavors. As always, the time machine will make six stops. Fasten your seatbelts and off we go!

Bob Brookmeyer & Stan Getz/A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

Our first stop takes us to the fall of 1961. That’s when jazz musicians Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone, piano) and Sten Getz (saxophone) got together for a studio album appropriately titled Recorded Fall 1961. Brookmeyer, who began playing professionally in his teens in the 1940s, was a pianist in big bands led Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, before focusing on valve trombone beginning in the early 1950s. Over a 50-year-plus recording career, he has released numerous albums as leader or co-leader and worked as a sideman for Manny Albam, Gerry Mulligan and Jimmy Giuffre, among others. Getz first gained prominence in the late 1940s playing in Woody Herman’s big band. Influenced by João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim, the tenor saxophonist also helped popularize bossa nova in the U.S. Recorded Fall 1961 was the fourth of six albums on which Getz and Brookmeyer worked with each other. The record also featured Steve Kuhn (piano), John Neves (double bass) and Roy Haynes (drums). Here’s their beautiful rendition of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, a British romantic popular song written in 1939 and published the following year, with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin.

Lenny Kravitz/Low

For this next tune, let’s jump 57 years forward into the current century. In September 2018, Lenny Kravitz released his 11th studio album Raise Vibration, his most recent to date. Following challenges in his early career, where some clever music industry officials told him he didn’t sound “black enough” while others opined his music embraced too many influences of artists like Led ZeppelinJimi Hendrix and The Beatles, the American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actor has established himself with more than 40 million records sold worldwide and multiple awards. After Kravitz had finished the supporting tour of his 2014 album Strut, he was uncertain about his musical direction. At the same time, he rejected the advice from others to collaborate with producers and songwriters who know how to score hits. Low turned out to be the catalyst that spurred the artistic creativity that led to Raise Vibration, which I previously reviewed here. Like most other tracks on the album, the groovy tune was solely written by Kravitz. The “oohs” in the song are posthumous vocals by Michael Jackson.

The Guess Who/These Eyes

These Eyes by The Guess Who is a tune I must have earmarked for a Sunday Six several months ago, but for some reason, I didn’t use it until now. The Canadian rock band’s origins go back to 1958 when Winnipeg singer and guitarist Chad Allan formed a local group called Allan and the Silvertones. In January 1965, the band, then called Chad Allan & The Expressions, released their debut album  Shakin’ All Over. The group’s cover of the Johnny Kidd & the Pirates song also became their fourth single. The band’s American label Quality Records thought it would be clever to disguise their name by crediting the tune to Guess Who? Not only did the publicity stunt work but it also gave birth to their new name. These Eyes, co-written by band members Randy Bachman (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Burton Cummings (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, flute except), appeared on The Guess Who’s fourth studio album Wheatfield, which came out in March 1969. It was also released as a single and became the group’s highest-charting tune in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time, reaching no. 6. In Canada, it climbed to no. 7, marking their fourth top 10 hit. The Guess Who are still around as a touring act, including original drummer Garry Peterson, and maintain a fairly busy touring schedule.

Traffic/Riding High

If you brought up traffic in May 1994, our next stop, I think most folks would have assumed you were referring to cars, not the English rock band that had broken up for the second time in 1974. Following the reunification of the surviving members of Traffic for a one-off tour in 1994, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi decided to revive their writing collaboration. They had maintained a working partnership since Traffic’s second break-up, with Winwood playing at least on one track of most of Capaldi’s solo albums. This resulted in Far From Home, an album they released as Traffic. Between the two of them, Winwood and Capaldi played nearly all of the instruments. Here’s the groovy opener Riding High, which all except one of the other tracks was co-written by the partners. Unfortunately, Capaldi passed away in January 2005 at the age of 60.

Crosby, Stills & Nash/Wasted On the Way

By the 1980s, it’s fair to say the greatest days of Crosby, Stills & Nash were behind them. This doesn’t mean they had lost their ability to sing in sweet perfect harmony and record great songs. One example I was reminded of the other day is Wasted On the Way, a beautiful tune penned by Graham Nash. It was included on CSN’s fourth studio album Daylight Again, released in June 1982. While it generally didn’t match the performance of the predecessor CSN, both in terms of chart placement and sales, Daylight Again did pretty well, especially in the U.S. where it climbed to no. 8 on the Billboard 200 and sold one million copies by January 1993, gaining Platinum certification. They went on to release four additional albums, including two with Neil Young. This harmony singing is just sheer magic!

Television/Friction

And this, my friends, once again brings us to the sixth and final stop, in the ’70s. American punk-era rock band Television first entered my radar screen last year when fellow blogger Max from PowerPop featured Marquee Moon, the cool title track of their debut album that came out in February 1977. On that same record was another tune titled Friction. In fact, I could have picked pretty much any other song from that great album. Like Marquee Moon, Friction was written by Tom Verlaine, the group’s frontman, lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboarder. Technically, Television are still around, though their status looks in doubt with the death of Verlaine from cancer on January 28 this year.

Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist featuring all the above tracks. Hope there’s something you dig!

Sources: Wikipedia; The Guess Who website; YouTube; Spotify

The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

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.

Chuck Berry/Johnny B. Goode

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.

CVC/Hail Mary

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

The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, whatever time it is in your neck of the woods when reading this. It’s Sunday morning in lovely Central New Jersey, U.S.A., and I’m ready to take you on another journey visiting music of the past and the present. Hop on board!

Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd/Samba de uma Nota Só

To get us all into the groove without coming on too strong, I’d like to start today’s music time travel in 1962 with a beautiful bossa nova. Samba de uma Nota Só (one note samba) was penned by Brazilan composer Antônio Carlos Jobim with Portuguese lyrics by Newton Mendonça. There are also English lyrics, which were written by Jon Hendricks. The tune was first recorded by Brazilian bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto and included on this studio album O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor released in 1961. Samba de uma Nota Só gained wide popularity the following year when it appeared in February on the Grammy-winning Jazz Samba, a bossa nova album by American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and U.S. jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd. Hitting no. 1 on the U.S. pop albums chart, Jazz Samba “marked the beginning of the bossa nova craze in America,” according to Wikipedia.

Bette Midler/Wind Beneath My Wings

Our next stop are the ’80s and a pick that may surprise some of you. Wind Beneath My Wings was co-written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley. The ballad has been recorded by various artists, such as Sheena Easton, Colleen Hewett, Lou Rawls and Gladys Knight and the Pips. But the recording that will always remain special to me is the rendition by Bette Midler, included in the November 1988 soundtrack for the motion picture Beaches, in which the American actress and vocalist also co-starred. ‘What’s the big deal?’, you may wonder. Wind Beneath My Wings was the song my dear wife and I chose for the first dance at our wedding. With our recent 25th wedding anniversary, this love song has been on my mind. Midler’s rendition became the most successful version, hitting no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning the 1990 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Midler is a great vocalist and these lyrics are just beautiful!

The Districts/Long End

Let’s jump to the present with a tune by The Districts, which I find pretty seductive: Long End. The group was founded in 2009 in Lititz, Pa. by high school students Rob Grote (vocals, guitar), Mark Larson (guitar), Connor Jacobus (bass) and Braden Lawrence (drums). Here’s more from their Apple Music profile: The Districts are an American indie rock band whose work embraces the organic sounds of classic rock and indie folk while incorporating an adventurous side that recalls alternative rock of several eras, ambitious pop, and noisy experimentation that grew more eclectic with time. The unifying thread behind it all is the emotive vocals and thoughtful lyrics of Rob Grote, who is fearless when it comes to sharing his feelings about relationships or the world around him. The rootsy and more direct era of the Districts’ music was documented well on their 2014 debut Telephone, while 2017’s Popular Manipulations found them in a more energetic and experimental mood. 2020’s You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere reflected a cooler and more layered sound, with keyboards playing a bigger role in the arrangements; 2022’s Great American Painting was more guitar oriented, but maintained the polished tone of its immediate precursor. Penned by Grote, Long End is a tune from Great American Painting, which came out on March 11.

The Doobie Brothers/Rockin’ Down the Highway

Time to step on the gas with some great ’70s rock by The Doobie Brothers, a band I’ve always loved for their catchy tunes and great harmony singing. It’s quite amazing the group from San Jose, Calif., which was founded in 1970, is still around. The current line-up features two co-founders, Patrick Simmons (guitar, banjo, flute, vocals) and Tom Johnston (vocals, guitar, harmonica), and longtime member John McFee (guitar, violin, pedal steel guitar, harmonica, vocals). Since 2019, Michael McDonald (vocals, keyboards, mandolin, accordion) who first had joined the band during a 1975 tour to fill in for Johnston, is back in the fold. All four will be part of the Doobies’ upcoming tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Actually, it’s “only” 47 years, considering the group’s hiatus between 1982 and 1987, but still a pretty amazing run. And they remain a compelling live act, as I was fortunate to witness firsthand in July 2018. Rockin’ Down the Highway, penned by Johnston, is from the group’s sophomore album Toulouse Street, released in July 1972 – just a great rocker!

Pearl Jam/Jeremy

Our next stop are the early ’90s and music by Pearl Jam, who are considered one of the leading bands in the grunge and alternative rock genres. I can’t deny the fact I largely ignored contemporary music in the ’90s and know very little about bands and artists who started out in that decade. Pearl Jam were founded in Seattle in 1990 as Mookie Blaylock by Stone Gossard (rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals) and Jeff Ament (bass, backing vocals), who had played together since the mid-80s in two grunge and rock bands, along with Mike McCready (lead guitar), Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar) and Dave Krusen (drums). By the time their studio debut Ten appeared in August 1991, they had changed their name to Pearl Jam. While the album wasn’t an immediate success, it reached no. 2 on the Billboard 200 in late 1992. Jeremy, with lyrics by Vedder and music by Ament, was one of three hit singles off Ten. The intense song was inspired by a newspaper article Vedder had seen about a high school student who had shot himself in front of his English class. Ament, Gossard, McCready and Vedder remain part of Pearl Jam’s current line-up, which since 1998 has also included drummer Matt Cameron.

Young Guv/Couldn’t Leave U If I Tried

Once again we’ve reached the final stop of yet another zig-zag music excursion. For this last pick, I’d like to go back to the present and Young Guv, a solo project of Toronto-based guitarist and vocalist Ben Cook I first featured last month. Cook was a co-founder of Canadian hardcore punk band No Warning that was initially formed in 1998 under the name As We Once Were. After the band’s break-up in late 2005, he joined another local hardcore punk cheerfully named Fucked Up. In 2015, Cook released his solo debut album Ripe 4 Luv, the first of four that have appeared to date under the Young Guv moniker. Cook’s Young Guv music is power pop-oriented and as such very different from his hardcore punk roots. Couldn’t Leave U If I Tried, co-written by Cook, Ryan Gavel and Thom Yorke, is from Young Guv’s latest album Guv III that came out on March 11. That jangly Byrdsy sound is right up my alley!

Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist of the above tunes.

Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; The Doobie Brothers website; YouTube; Spotify

The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Another Sunday is upon us, which means time again for a new journey to celebrate the music of the past and present in different flavors, six tunes a pop. Before we get to that, just a quick reminder to readers in the U.S. that as of 2:00 a.m. this morning, we’re back to daylight savings time, except for Hawaii and Arizona (sans the Navajo Nation who observes DST). While I won’t get into debating the merits of DST, I like the fact that it reminds me we’re one step closer to spring.

Stan Getz and João Gilberto/Girl from Ipanema

I love the saxophone, so I’m always looking for great players I could feature in The Sunday Six. The other day, I came across Stan Getz. When I started reading about him, it didn’t take long to get to Brazilian jazz writer and guitarist João Gilberto and a song I’ve always loved: Girl from Ipanema. The popular bossa nova tune was written in 1962 by Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, with Portoguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. American lyricist Norman Gimbel subsequently wrote the English lyrics. Brazilian bossa nova singer Pery Ribeiro first recorded the tune in 1962, but it was the rendition by Getz and Gilberto, featuring Gilberto’s wife Astrud Gilberto (nee Astrud Evangelina Weinert) on vocals, which became a hit. Appearing on the album Getz/Gilberto from March 1964, Girl from Ipanema climbed to no. 5 on the mainstream charts in the U.S. and Canada, reached no. 8 in New Zealand and peaked at no. 29 in the UK. Feel free to groove along!

Sade/Your Love Is King

Let’s stay on the smooth side with smooth operator Sade (nee Helen Folasade Adu) and the British group that carries her name, who make their second appearance on The Sunday Six. Once again, I decided to pick a tune from their great debut album Diamond Life, released in July 1984: Your Love Is King, which first appeared in February that year as the lead single. The tune was penned by Sade together with saxophonist Stuart Matthewman who remains a member of the group to this day. The single made a strong debut in the UK where it surged to no. 6. It also did very well in New Zealand (no. 2) and Ireland (no. 7). In the U.S., the best performance was on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart (no. 8). By comparison, it only got to no. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, the picture in the UK and U.S. was reversed for Smooth Operator. What probably is Sade’s best-known and my favorite tune reached no. 19 in the UK and no. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Ramones/I Wanna Be Sedated

Time to speed things up with American punk rock pioneers Ramones. Unlike the title may suggest, I think it’s safe to assume I Wanna Be Sedated won’t put you to sleep. While the Ramones, formed in New York in 1974, never achieved any significant commercial success, they still became highly influential in the punk rock genre. In fact, according to Wikipedia, they are often cited as the first true punk rock group. I Wanna Be Sedated, written together by co-founders Dee Dee Ramone (bass), Joey Ramone (lead vocals) and Johnny Ramone (guitar), appeared on the band’s fourth studio album Road to Ruin, which came out in September 1978. At the time, Marky Ramone (drums) rounded out their line-up. The song also became the b-side to the single She’s the One, released in parallel with the record, one of the group’s numerous non-charting singles. I find this a pretty catchy tune and wonder whether it may have had more success as an A-side.

4 Non Blondes/What’s Up

The next stop on our music journey are the ’90s and what must be one of the best-known tunes of that decade. Yes, What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes certainly hasn’t suffered from under-exposure, but it’s what I would call an epic tune I continue to enjoy. I was reminded of the song when I caught it on the radio the other day while driving my car. Luckily, it’s not exactly a 911 but a sexy Japanese compact SUV, so when you hit the accelerator, nothing overly dramatic happens – probably a good thing when you listen to a kickass tune like this. If I see this correctly, 4 Non Blondes were largely a one-hit-wonder. They only released one studio album, Bigger, Better, Faster, More!, in October 1992. What’s Up was penned by the group’s lead vocalist and main songwriter Linda Perry. The band, which was active from 1989 to 1994, at the time of What’s Up also featured Roger Rocha (lead guitar), Christa Hillhouse (bass) and Dawn Richardson (drums).

The Cars/Sad Song

Every time it comes to The Cars, I feel that while I hardly know anything about the American new wave and pop rock group, I am familiar with a good deal of their songs. The group was mainly active between 1976 and 1988. During that period, they recorded six of their seven studio albums and scored 13 top 40 hits in the U.S. alone. Their biggest was Drive from July 1984, which climbed to no. 3 in the U.S., Ireland and Switzerland, and reached the top 10 in many other countries. I decided to pick a tune from their reunion and final album Move Like This, which came out in May 2011: Sad Song. Written by frontman Ric Ocasek, who passed away in September 2019, it was one of the group’s few singles that didn’t make the Billboard Hot 100. Sad Song did reach no. 33 on the Mainstream Rock chart. This sounds like classic Cars. Perhaps a more cheerful title would have helped.

Julian Lage/Emily

And once again we have reached the final stop of this music excursion. Hope you’ve enjoyed the trip. I will leave you on a quiet and relaxing note with beautiful guitar jazz by Julian Lage. Borrowing from a June 2021 post when I featured him for the first time, according to Apple Music’s profileLage has been widely acclaimed as one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation. The New York-based musician boasts a long resume as a desired sideman with artists as diverse as Gary Burton, Taylor Eigsti, John Zorn, Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge, Eric Harland, and Fred Hersch, to name just a few. Equally important is his reputation as a soloist and bandleader. He is equally versed in jazz, classical, pop, and show tunes, and has spent more than a decade searching through the myriad strains of American musical history via an impeccable technique and a gift for freely associating between styles, tempos, keys, and textures that adds to his limitless improvisational spirit. Emily, composed by John Mandel and John Mercer, is a track from Lage’s most recent album Squint, released in June 2021. Check out his beautiful tone!

Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a Spotify playlist featuring the above tunes.

Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; YouTube; Spotify

The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random songs at a time

It’s an overcast and rainy weekend in my neck of the woods (central New Jersey), but this shall not take away any of the fun to present another eclectic set of six tunes, especially given The Sunday Six is hitting a mini-milestone today with its 20th installment. Plus, if the weather is a mixed bag in your area as well, it’s a perfect opportunity to listen to some music. And in case conditions are perfect to be outdoors, just take the music with you! 🙂

Dave Holland/Grave Walker

Kicking us off today is some brand new funky jazz by an old hand: Dave Holland, an English double bassist, composer and bandleader who has been active for five decades. Holland started out teaching himself how to play the ukulele as a four-year old, followed by the guitar and the bass. At the age of 15, he quit school, initially wanting to play pop before discovering jazz. Holland subsequently received a full-time scholarship for London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. By age 20, he was a busy student and musician, who frequently performed at London’s premier jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. In 1968, Miles Davis saw Holland and invited him to join his band to replace Ron Carter. For the next two years, he worked with Davis and appeared on the albums In a Silent Way and Bitches’ Brew. His first record as a bandleader, Conference of the Birds by Dave Holland Quartet, appeared in 1973. In addition to Davis, Holland has worked with numerous other jazz artists, such as Thelonious Monk, Anthony Braxton, Stan Getz and John Abercrombie. According to his website, Holland’s “playing can be heard on hundreds of recordings, with more than thirty as a leader under his own name.” This brings me to Grave Walker, the great funky opener of Holland’s new album Another Land, which came out on Friday (May 28), featuring guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Obed Calvaire. Groovy and great sound, baby!

Sam & Dave/Hold On, I’m Coming

Let’s keep on groovin’ and jump back 55 years to March 1966. That’s when Stax recording artists Sam & Dave released their new single Hold On, I’m Comin’. Co-written by the songwriting team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, this gem became the soul duo’s first no. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. It also was the title track of Sam & Dave’s debut studio album, which was released the following month. According to Wikipedia, Steve Cropper, lead guitarist of Stax house band Booker T. and the M.G.s, said the song’s title came out of a verbal exchange between Porter who was in the restroom at the Stax studio and an impatient Hayes who yelled for Porter to return to their writing session. When Porter responded, “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” they both thought this would make for a great song title and completed the tune within an hour. It’s amazing what bathroom breaks can do!

Squeeze/Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)

Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) may be one of only a handful of Squeeze songs I’ve heard but, hey, you don’t have to be an expert about a band to recognize a great power pop tune. When I came across the song in the process of researching this post, it was an easy decision to include. Co-written by Squeeze rhythm guitarist and vocalist Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the band’s lead guitarist and keyboarder, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) is from their third studio album Argybargy released in February 1980. It also appeared separately as a single in April that year. To my big surprise, the tune only climbed to no. 44 in the UK and didn’t chart in the U.S. at all. BTW, Squeeze, which were initially founded by Difford and Tilbrook in March 1974, are still around, though they had some breaks in-between. The current incarnation has been active since 2007, released three new albums to date, and still includes Difford and Tilbrook.

Deep Purple/Pictures of Home

It’s time to push the pedal to the heavy metal coz why not? In this context, I couldn’t think of a better choice than Deep Purple, my all-time favorite hard rock band. The combination of Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar and Jon Lord’s roaring Hammond B3 still excites me. Pictures of Home is a track from Deep Purple’s sixth studio album Machine Head that came out in March 1972 and is their Mount Rushmore, in my view. Just about everything about this song is cool: The intro by Ian Paice, who is a beast of a drummer; the great main guitar riff by Ritchie Blackmore; Jon Lord’s sweet B3 work; Ian Gillan who was at the top of game as a lead vocalist; and let’s not forget about Roger Glover’s pumping bass and his neat short solo starting at about 3:40 minutes. Like all other tracks on the album, Pictures of Home was credited to all members of the band.

Mariah Carey featuring Trey Lorenz/I’ll Be There

Mariah Carey? Yep, you read that right! Have I lost my mind? I hope that’s not the case. Before causing too much confusion here, I generally don’t listen to Mariah Carey. However, together with Christina Aguilera, I believe she’s one of the strongest female contemporary vocalists. Then there’s I’ll Be There, a tune I loved from the moment I heard it first from The Jackson 5 as part of a Motown box set. It must have been in the early ’80s. Credited to Berry Gordy, producer Hal Davis, Bob West and Willie Hutch, I’ll Be There was released in late August 1970 as the lead single of the Jackson 5’s third studio album ingeniously titled Third Album that appeared two weeks later. Carey’s cover, which I think is even more compelling than the original, was included on her MTV Unplugged EP from June 1992. Apart from Carey’s strong rendition of Michael Jackson’s part, I’d like to call out R&B singer Trey Lorenz who does an amazing job singing Jermaine Jackson’s lines. It’s really the outstanding vocal performance that convinced me to feature this rendition.

3 Doors Down/It’s Not My Time

Just in case that previous tune shocked you, or perhaps did the opposite thing and put you in a sleepy mood, let’s finish this installment on a rock note: It’s Not My Time by 3 Doors Down. Formed in 1996 in Escatawpa, Miss., they broke through internationally with their first single Kryptonite from January 2000. Originally, that song had been recorded as a demo for a local Mississippi radio station. From there, it was picked up by other radio stations and became popular, topping Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and eventually reaching no. 3 on the Hot 100. Subsequently, 3 Doors Down signed with Republic Records and recorded their debut album The Better Life. Appearing in February 2000, it continued the band’s remarkable streak of success, climbing to no. 7 on the Billboard 200, charting in many other countries, and becoming their best-selling album that only the in the U.S. sold more than 5 million copies. It’s Not My Time is from 3 Doors Down’s eponymous fourth studio album from May 2008. Like all other songs on the record, the tune is credited to four of the band’s members at the time: Brad Arnold (lead vocals), Matt Roberts (lead guitar, backing vocals), Chris Henderson (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Todd Harrell (bass). Greg Upchurch (drums) completed their line-up. 3 Doors Down are still active, with Arnold, Henderson and Upchurch remaining part of the current formation.

Sources: Wikipedia; Dave Holland website; YouTube