Happy Sunday and welcome to another excursion into the beautiful world of music. For most folks in the U.S., daylight savings began last night, so just in case, don’t forget to adjust your clocks. Should you feel a bit tired since you lost one hour of sleep, music is a great remedy. All aboard the time machine and let’s go back, Jack, do it again!
Today, our journey begins in October 1967 to commemorate the great Wayne Shorter who sadly passed away on March 2 at the age of 89. Frankly, had it not been for fellow blogger Music Enthusiast and his related tribute, I guess I would have missed it! Unlike Jeff Beck or Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder Gary Rossington, who we lost on March 5, it seems Shorter’s death didn’t get comparable media attention. While Wayne Shorter wasn’t a guitarist, the jazz saxophonist and composer was a true rock star in my book. In addition to being a sideman playing with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, Shorter started his recording career as a bandleader in 1959 with Introducing Wayne Shorter – the first of more than 20 additional albums he released in that role. In 1970, Shorter became a co-founder of Weather Report, co-leading the jazz fusion band with Austrian keyboarder Joe Zawinul until their breakup in 1986. After leaving Weather Report, Shorter continued to record and perform until his retirement in 2018 after a nearly 70-year career! Let’s celebrate this great musician with one of his best-known compositions that has become a jazz standard: Footprints, which first appeared on Shorter’s 10th solo album Adam’s Apple released in October 1967. He was backed by Herbie Hancock (piano), Reggie Workman (bass) and Joe Chambers (drums).
Dirty Honey/California Dreamin’
I realize smooth saxophone jazz may not be the best remedy to wake up if you’re really tired. Let’s travel to the current century and kick up the speed a few notches with music by one of the most exciting contemporary rock bands I know: Dirty Honey. Founded in 2017, this Los Angeles-based group reminds me of bands like Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and The Black Crowes. Dirty Honey are Marc Labelle (vocals), John Notto (guitar), Justin Smolian (bass) and Corey Coverstone (drums). To date, they have released a self-titled EP (2019) and debut album (2021), as well as a bunch of singles. Here’s California Dreamin’, the kickass opener of their full-length debut, which came out in April 2021. Or are we actually listening to a moniker of The Black Crowes when they were at their peak? Damn, feel free to play along with air or real guitar!
Sting/All This Time
Okay, time for a little breather with Sting and All This Time. This beautiful tune, off the ex-Police frontman’s third full-length solo album The Soul Cages, takes us to January 1991. The Soul Cages is a concept album revolving around the 1987 death of Sting’s father, which led the English artist to develop writer’s block. The scary episode lasted several years, explaining the relatively long 4-year gap to its predecessor …Nothing Like the Sun. Soul Cages also was Sting’s first solo album to feature guitarist Dominic Miller who would become a longtime collaborator appearing on most of Sting’s albums thereafter, including his most recent The Bridge from November 2021. Like all except two tracks on The Soul Cages, All This Time was solely written by Sting.
Danny & The Juniors/At The Hop
Let’s put on our classic rock & roll dancin’ shoes and pay a visit to the year 1957. That’s when American doo-wop and rock & roll vocal group Danny & The Juniors scored their biggest hit single At The Hop. The group from Philadelphia was formed in 1955 and originally included Danny Rapp, Dave White, Frank Maffei and Joe Terranova. At The Hop was co-written by Artie Singer, John Medora and White. The seductive honky tonk piano-driven tune became the group’s only no. 1 single in the U.S., topping both the mainstream pop and R&B charts. Danny & The Juniors may have had only one hit but they certainly made it count. White and Terranova passed away in March 2019 and April 2019 and the ages of 79 and 78, respectively. Let’s join in the dance sensations that are sweepin’ the nation at the hop – ’50s rock & roll doesn’t get much better!
Tracy Chapman/Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
We’re four tunes into our current journey and haven’t featured the ’80s yet. My proposition this week is Tracy Chapman and one of her best-known songs from her eponymous debut album that came out in 1988. I still remember when the folk singer-songwriter seemingly out of nowhere burst on the scene in April that year with Fast Car, the album’s first single, and became an overnight sensation. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution, the record’s opener, was the second single released in July 1988. While it didn’t match the chart success of Fast Car, the tune was just as ubiquitous on the radio back in Germany. I dug Chapman’s music so much that I bought a songbook of the album for acoustic guitar. Given her relatively deep vocals, I was able to reasonably sing her tunes. While Chapman has not been active for many years, she has not officially retired from music. I believe her most recent “public appearance” was the night before the November 2020 U.S. Presidential elections on Late Night with Seth Myers with a clip of her performing Talkin’ ‘about a Revolution, asking Americans to vote. Man, this tune still gives me chills – so good!
Lynyrd Skynyrd/Free Bird
Once again, it’s time to wrap up another music time travel. And what could possibly be a better final stop than Free Bird, the epic Lynyrd Skynyrd track that closed out their debut album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), released in August 1973. Co-written by the southern rock icon co-founders Allen Collins (guitar) and frontman Ronnie Van Zant (lead vocals), the 9-minute-plus gem features the late Gary Rossington on rhythm and slide guitars. Rossington also was among the band’s co-founding members. He cheated death twice. In 1976, he was in a car accident, hitting an oak tree while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Luckily, nobody else got hurt in that accident. Rossington also survived the horrific plane crash on October 1977, which took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant, Skynyrd guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist and Steve’s sister Cassie Gaines, as well as three others. Rossington played with the band’s current touring version until his death and was their only remaining original member.
Here’s a Spotify playlist of all the above goodies. As always, I hope there’s something you dig!
Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; Spotify