Stars on 45 Medley – Stars on 45 – 1979

June 20, 2013

Stars on 45 MedleyIn 1979, Dutch band Stars on 45 began a short-lived phenomenon—the pop medley—with their hit; Stars on 45 Medley.

a band we’d forgotten

I confess, I’d forgotten about this song, until I heard it while I was out driving today—you may quite rightly ask what two-bit radio station I was listening to. In actual fact, the station was only playing it because, they claimed, it had been released 40 years ago today. That’s not quite true, it was released in December 1979.

what i didn’t know

Stars on 45 was a Dutch band that kicked off in early 1979. In the USA they were known as Stars On, and in the UK they were known as Starsound.

What I didn’t know was that Stars on 45, a manufactured band made up of studio session musicians, was the brainchild of Jaap Eggermont, drummer of the 70s band, Golden Earring.

Stars on 45 recreated hit songs, running them together to form catchy medleys. The idea was adopted by other bands, notably Hooked on Classics.

stars on 45 fax

  • Stars on 45 was released in December 1979.
  • The track listing for Stars on 45 was; Stars on 45 Intro / Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45. In other words, Shocking Blue, The Archie’s, and eight Beatles songs.
  • The official title of the track was; “Medley: Intro Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45.” That makes it the longest titled song to ever appear on Billboard’s Top Ten. (The reason for the long title was copyright requirements for the use of The Beatles’ songs)
  • Stars on 45 , peaked at #2 in the UK in April 1980 and #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 20, 1981.
  • The success of Stars on 45 Medley led to a follow-up single, Stars on 45 Medley 2. It featured: Good Day Sunshine/My Sweet Lord/Here Comes the Sun/While My Guitar Gently Weeps/Taxman/A Hard Day’s Night/Things We Said Today/If I Fell/You Can’t Do That/Please Please Me/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Stars on 45. It peaked at #67 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and the Stars on 45 phenomenon was over.

stars on 45 medley – stars on 45 – 1979 – video

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Let it Be –The Beatles – 1970

June 6, 2013

Let it be The Beatles 1970 single coverFrom the 12th and last Beatles’ album, the title track, Let It Be, is rated amongst the best songs of all time.

what can i say?

What can one really say about The Beatles that hasn’t already been said? All I know is this, as time goes on, I’ve come to an ever increasing appreciation of how fabulous the Fab-Four really were. The songs they produced, particularly later in the band’s career, are as great today as they ever were.

let it be fax

  • Credited to Lennon-McCartney, Let It Be was written by Paul McCartney.
  • Let It Be was released on 6 March 1970, The Beatles’ final single before Paul stunned the world with the announcement that he intended to leave the band.
  • Paul once said the idea for the song came from a dream he had about his mother, Mary. In it she told him, “It’ll be all right, just let it be.”
  • There are two different versions of Let It Be. The single version features Linda McCartney on backing vocals, in her only known contribution to any song by The Beatles. The album version was remixed by Phil Spector. It has less backing vocals, and features George’s fantastic guitar solo. Billy Preston plays the keyboards.
  • In the book, The 100 Best Beatles Songs: An Informed Fan’s Guide by Stephen J. Spignesi and Michael Lewis, a survey was taken to establish “The Fan’s Top Ten.” Let It Be came in at #1. It’s also considered to be one of the greatest songs of all time. Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ranked Let It Be at #20.
  • The Beatles on the roofLet It Be won two Academy Awards in 1971. One for Best Original Song Score, and one for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.
  • Notable covers have been produced by: Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin, John Denver, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Joan Baez, Ray Charles, and Leo Sayer. Aretha Franklin’s version was actually released before The Beatles’ version was.
  • Let It Be lyrics.

let it be – the beatles – 1970 – video

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A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash – 1969.

May 30, 2013

 Johnny Cash-A Boy Named Sue-1970-single coverThe magnificent Johnny Cash hit #1 on the US singles chart only once.  It was in 1969 with the novelty country song, A Boy Named Sue.

american idol?

If ever I catch a glimpse of American Idol or X-Factor or one of the other Simon Cowell talent shows, I always think of people like Johnny Cash and Neil Young and Lucinda Williams and Macy Gray and Joe Cocker; people who are/were fantastic artists, uniquely talented, prodigious songwriters (well, not Joe), but with voices that, on the face of it, would appear quite uncommercial; and I wonder what the judges would have said to them if they auditioned for the show.

Johnny Cash 1It’s not that people on the Cowell-shows are lacking a tuneful voice. And it’s not that they don’t have talent. But, truly great artists have something more. There is a certain x-factor (‘cuse the pun) setting them apart from the rest. Johnny Cash is a case in point—a man whose music and personality are truly captivating.

san quentin i hate every part of you

On February 24th 1969, Johnny gave a concert for the inmates of San Quentin prison. It was recorded and became his 31st album release. His 30th album being the fabulous live Folsom Prison album.

A short while before the San Quentin concert, Johnny was handed the words of a poem written by comic poet, Shel Silverstein. He thought he’d try it out on the inmates. They loved it. The song was released as a single and became a hit around the world, peaking at #2 on the US singles chart.

sue trivia

The poem, A Boy Named Sue, was inspired by humourist Jean Shepherd, a close friend of Shel Silverstein, who was often taunted as a child because of his feminine-sounding name.

a boy named sue fax

  • A Boy Named Sue was a poem written by Shel Silverstein.
  • JOhnny Cash 4Johnny Cash recorded it for his Live At San Quentin album on February 24, 1969.
  • Peaking at #2 on the US singles chart, A Boy Named Sue was Johnny’s highest charting hit—his only top ten single in the US. He did, however, have numerous top ten and #1 hits on the Country charts.
  • Shel Silverstein also released a recording of “Boy Named Sue” in the same year as Johnny.
  • When originally released, the song was censored. The words, “son of a bitch” were bleeped over and the final line was edited to remove the word “damn”.
  • Shel Silverstein later wrote a follow-up named to A Boy Named Sue, called, The Father of a Boy Named Sue, telling the story from the point of view of Sue’s aging father.
  • A Boy Named Sue lyrics.

a boy named sue – johnny cash – 1969 – video

a boy named sue – shel silverstein – 1969 – video

the father of a boy named sue – shel silverstein – video

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One Toke Over the Line – Brewer and Shipley – 1970

May 23, 2013

Brewer and Shipley-One Toke Over the Line-1970They got in trouble with the US Vice-President, but that didn’t stop Brewer and Shipley going One Toke Over the Line back in 1970.

can you remember when…?

Does anyone remember this song? I remember hearing it as a kid. I knew it was about drugs, but it never occurred to me that anyone would get upset anyone. But people did.

It was banned on some radio stations and, apparently, Spiro Agnew, the Vice-President at the time, put Brewer and Shipley on subversiveness watch, just to make sure they weren’t using this song to plot the downfall of the free world.

Mike Brewer said:

Brewer&Shipley2The Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew, named us personally as a subversive to American youth, but at exactly the same time Lawrence Welk performed the crazy thing and introduced it as a gospel song. That shows how absurd it really is. Of course, we got more publicity than we could have paid for.

still going strong

Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley are another of those artists who, after all these years, are still together making music.

Hailing from Kansas City, they played with many well-known artists, including Stephen Stills, Bruce Springsteen, Black Sabbath, and Jerry Garcia.

They turned out six albums in the late 60s and 70s, and then another three in the 90s. Of all the music they’ve produced, however, One Toke Over the Line is, by far, the best known and most successful.

one toke over the line fax

  • Brewer&Shipley3One Toke Over the Line was released in 1970 from the album Tarkio. The album featured Paul Butterfield on electric guitar and Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar.
  • One Toke Over the Line spent 14 weeks on the US single charts, peaking at #10.
  • The first chapter of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, contains the chorus of One Toke Over the Line. Raoul Duke’s attorney, Dr. Gonzo, sings “One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line,” while the two of them drive to Las Vegas. The song is also included on the soundtrack of the movie.
  • One Toke Over the Line is also an addiction status in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.
  • Mike said of the song:

We wrote that one night in the dressing room of a coffee house. We were literally just entertaining ourselves. The next day we got together to do some picking and said, ‘What was that we were messing with last night?’ We remembered it, and in about an hour, we’d written ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ Just making ourselves laugh, really. We had no idea that it would ever even be considered as a single, because it was just another song to us. Actually Tom and I always thought that our ballads were our forte.

  • Some radio stations refused to play this song because of the drug references, but not everyone understood that meaning. In 1971, the song was performed on the Lawrence Welk Show by a wholesome looking couple Gail Farrell and Dick Dale, who clearly had no idea what a toke was. Lawrence, at the conclusion of the performance of the song, remarked, without any hint of humor,  “There you’ve heard a modern spiritual by Gail and Dale.”  Mike and Tom heard about the performance and searched for the footage, but didn’t see it until the clip showed up on YouTube 2007 (see video clip below).
  • One Toke Over the Line lyrics.

one toke over the line – brewer and Shipley – 1970

one toke over the line – gail and dale – 1971

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Sail on Sailor – The Beach Boys – 1973

May 9, 2013

From an album that was almost never released, comes The Beach Boys’ 1973 song, Sail on Sailor.

Beach boys 1who doesn’t like the beach boys?

Come on! Everyone likes The Beach Boys, don’t they? They’re one of those groups that, even if you don’t cotton onto their particular musical style, you gotta appreciate their musicianship and what they have contributed to music.

Holland

Several years ago, I bought an album by The Beach Boys named, Holland. I thought it was great. I played it over and over only to later discover that it was panned by critics and almost didn’t get released! So much for my tastes in music!

Holland was the band’s 19th album. It was recorded in The Netherlands. It seems the band’s manager, Jack Rieley, thought a change of scenery would bring fresh inspiration and maybe even pull Brian Wilson out of his depression – it didn’t!

Turns out everyone became real homesick. They wrote and laid down the tracks as quickly as they could and headed home.

reject!

Warner Bros weren’t impressed. The album was rejected for not having any potential hit-singles.  In response, the band dropped the weakest song—We Got Love—and pulled out an old song, Sail on Sailor. They got Blondie Chaplin to take on the lead vocals and the single was born.

sail on sailor fax

  • Sail on Sailor was the first track on the Beach Boys’ 19th album, Holland. It was the last track to be recorded.
  • It was released as a single in 1973, with Only With You on the flip side.
  • Sail on Sailor initially peaked at #79 on the singles charts. When re-released in 1975 it made it to #49.
  • The lead vocals on Sail on Sailor feature Blondie Chaplin.
  • Sail on Sailor has been covered by: Sting and Lulu, Golden Earring, Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield, Jimmy Buffett, Mark Ronson and Sean Lennon, and Ray Charles.
  • Sail on Sailor featured in the Martin Scorsese movie, The Departed,
  • Sail on Sailor lyrics.

sail on sailor – the beach boys – 1973 – video

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Laughter in the Rain – Neil Sedaka – 1975

May 2, 2013

Neil Sedaka Laughter in the Rain 1975 Corny and sentimental, but I like it! Neil Sedaka’s 1975 hit, Laughter in the Rain.

an apology and a confession

Okay, for those of you who are fans of a heavier persuasion, I apologise in advance for this week’s song. But I also have a confession to make—I’ve always been a bit of a Neil Sedaka fan.

Then while out diriving the other day, this song came on the radio—haven’t heard it for a while, but still remembered all the words and sang along full volume – well, who wouldn’t?

In the US, this was Neil’s comeback single. He’d had 11 Top-40 hits from 1960-1963, but couldn’t score a hit after the British Invasion. His fortunes were so bad in the US that this song was at first released only in England, where it was included on an album called Overnight Success. When it was released in America, it re-ignited Neil’s career and he had six more Top-40 hits by 1977.

74 and still going – but not so strong…

Neil is 74 years old now. He began his career in 1957 and, in the years since, has written or co-written over 500 songs; some he recorded himself some were hits for other artists.

In all he had eight #1 hits around the world:

  • “Oh! Carol – (Italy), 1960
  • “Calendar Girl” – (Japan), 1961
  • “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (1962 version) – 1962
  • “La Terza Luna” – (Italy), 1963
  • “Laughter in the Rain” – 1975
  • “The Immigrant” – 1975
  • “Bad Blood” – 1975-76
  • “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (1975 version) – 1976

neil trivia

It has been suggested that the words,

Oh Carol

I am but a fool

Darling I love you

Though you treat me cruel

make up what is perhaps the worst-ever rhyme in a popular song.

laughter in the rain fax

  • Laughter in the Rain was recorded and released in 1974. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 1, 1975.
  • Neil Sedaka wrote the music for Laughter in the Rain. The lyrics were written by Phil Cody who said of the song:

Neil had a house in Forestburgh, New York, which is up in the Catskills. We were going to go up there and spend a few days in the summertime and just woodshed. The thing is that I’d met a new love and I didn’t want to go up there. And when I got there, I was kind of hostile to the whole process. I’ve never said anything to Neil about this, but as I think about it, I wanted to just get the songs written and get back to the city and my new girlfriend.

So we got together on a morning and Neil sat down and played me the changes and the melody to ‘Laughter in the Rain.’ I just sat there with a blank stare on my face. I had nothing. I had totally nothing. I excused myself, and I went out and took a walk. We were up in the country so I just took a walk and I sat down in a field near a golf course, smoked a joint, and watched some deer frolicking. I spent about an hour and a half, two hours out in the sun just kind of nodding off under a tree. I got myself up a couple of hours later and walked my way back, and Neil was there. I sat down, picked up a yellow pad of paper and in five minutes I had most of the song done.

  • Laughter in the Rain was recorded at Clover Studios in Los Angeles with the musicians who played on many of James Taylor’s hits, including, Russ Kunkel and Danny Kortchmar on guitars, Levon Sklar on bass, and Brenda Russell singing backup.
  • Laughter in the Rain was covered by Donny Osmond on his 2007 album Love Songs of the ’70s.
  • People have often commented on the similarities between Laughter in the Rain and Ray Davies’, Waterloo Sunset (1964).
  • Laughter in the Rain lyrics.

laughter in the rain – neil sedaka – 1975 – video

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Three of the best… R.I.P.

April 25, 2013

Recently we’ve said farewell to three men who were a part of the 70s music scene; this week we pay tribute to them.

Richie Havens (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013)

Richie HavensRichie Havens had been around almost forever. He was at Woodstock, performed through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and right up until early 2012.

In all that time the closest Richie ever came to having a hit record was in 1971 when his version of The Beatles, Here Comes The Sun peaked at #16 on the American singles chart. He also released covers of Lady Madonna and 10CC’s, I’m Not in Love.

Although never mainstream, Richie was a greatly respected singer-songwriter and guitarist with a unique rhythmic guitar style.

His best known original song was Freedom—a song that came about by accident. He was the first performer at Woodstock and performed for almost three hours—mainly because many of the acts scheduled to perform after him were delayed in reaching the festival location because of traffic chaos. He was called back for several encores and, when he ran out of songs, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual Motherless Child, that improvisation became his well-known song, Freedom.

Richie was an environmental activist and was passionate about educating young people about environmental issues.

Richie stopped touring in March 2012 due to health concerns. He died of a heart attack on April 22, 2013.

Richie Havens – Freedom at Woodstock 1969 – Video

Dave McArtney (5 April 1951 – 15 April 2013)

Dave McArtney 2Readers from outside of New Zealand may not have heard of Dave McArtney, but done this end of the globe he and his fellow Hello Sailor members are rock royalty.

With Dave on guitar and occasional vocals, Hello Sailor formed in 1975, produced two albums, and disbanded in 1980.  They have reformed for the odd concert a number of times since. He was the lead vocalist on Hello Sailor’s iconic hit, Gutter Black.

Dave McArtney 1After Hello Sailor, Dave went solo with Dave McArtney and The Pink Flamingos. A bit of musical whiz, he returned to university as an adult student and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature, majoring in Renaissance poetry before completing a Masters of Arts (Music) degree 2013.

Dave had battled cancer for some time and died in his home in Point Chevalier, Auckland on 15 April 2013.

Hello Sailor – Gutter Black – 1977 – Video

Storm Thorgerson (28 February 1944 – 18 April 2013)

Storm ThorgersenDark-side-of-the-moon-Storm ThorgersenStorm Elvin Thorgerson (great name!) was an English graphic designer best known for his iconic album cover work, notably the cover of Pink Floyd’s albums and especially, The Dark Side of the Moon.

He also designed covers for albums by:

  • 10cc

Greatest Hits

Mirror Mirror

  • Audioslave

Audioslave

Technical Ecstasy

  • The Cranberries

Bury the Hatchet

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Mr. Love Pants

  • Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel

  • Genesis

…And Then There Were Three…

  • David Gilmour

About Face

David Gilmour in Concert DVD

Houses of the Holy

Presence

In Through the Out Door

  • Steve Miller Band

Bingo!

Let Your Hair Down

  • Muse

Absolution

  • Mike Oldfield

Earth Moving

  • Alan Parsons

Try Anything Once

On Air

The Time Machine

A Valid Path

  • Powderfinger

Golden Rule

  • Rainbow

Difficult to Cure

Bent Out of Shape

  • Styx

Pieces of Eight

Cyclorama

  • Wishbone Ash

No Smoke Without Fire

That’s a pretty impressive list.

Then come his music videos which include:

  • Paul Young – Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)
  • Rainbow – Street of Dreams
  • Robert Plant – Big Log
  • Yes – Owner of a Lonely Heart
  • Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t It Be Good

The Riddle

Wide Boy

Don Quixote

  • David Gilmour – Blue Light

All Lovers Are Deranged

Learning to Fly

The Dogs of War

High Hopes

Storm suffered a stroke in 2003. He recovered but was later diagnosed with cancer, which eventually led to his death on 18 April 2013.

Pink Floyd – Learning to Fly – 1987 – video

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