January’s Top Five Picks

I have decided to provide you with my musical summary for this month. It contains some new vinyl as well as old. This is basically what I have been spending the most of my time listening to this month. I’m finding that it is quite an eclectic selection.

1. Buddy Holly, The Story of Buddy Holly and The Great Buddy Holly

This month I read a biography over Buddy Holly entitled Not Fade Away by John Gribbin. ThisMI0001766933 book touches very briskly on the surface of Holly’s career, but it has really sparked my interest. I have had these two records for awhile and had not listened to them before. I also learned many interesting facts about Holly from the documentary The Real Buddy Holly Story. It was produced by Paul McCartney after The Buddy Holly Story movie came out but was filled with inaccuracies. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CwnEdqkNaY.

2. Rosanne Cash, The River and The Thread

Rosanen-Cash-The-River-The-ThreadThis album was released just a few weeks ago on January 14th. It has quickly become one of my favorite albums. Rosanne and her husband, John Leventhal, wrote all the songs on the album. The songs are intended to be third person narratives over their travels throughout the south while Rosanne was helping the University of Arkansas restore her father’s childhood home. With my highest regards, I suggest this album.

3. Michael Jackson and The Jacksons, Bad and Victory

In my previous post I mentioned finding a vintage picture disk of The photo 1Jackson’s Victory. It’s a bit addicting. It sounds like a relative of Michael Jackson’s Thrillerbut it’s not nearly as Epic. After listening to this album I had to bust out my favorite Michael record, Bad. It just doesn’t get much better then “Dirty Diana,” “Just Another Part of Me,” and “Bad.”

4. Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose

This album has also quickly become one of my favorite albums. I find something new about it every time I listen to it. Jack White amazes me how he can resurrect artists, keeping both their tradition and updating them to today.  Read my full review here:

A Bouquet, https://vinylvortexok.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/a-bouquet/

5. Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, A Star is Born

A+Star+Is+Born+Barbra+Streisand++Kris+KristofIt’s obvious if you follow the blog, that I have been listening to this album lately. I just wrote a full review. To be honest though, I’m not a fan of the whole album. My favorite tunes are “The Woman in The Moon” and Streisand’s finale. Just scroll down a story and you can find my full opinion.

Honorable Mentions: The Beatles, Jan and Dean, and Anita Bryant.

This is what has been spinning on my turntable this month. How about yours? Please let me know what you’ve been listening to in the comments!

Spinnin’ and Spinnin,’

Gabe

Weekend Record Finds . . . Last Weekend

Last weekend I made my rounds at local record shops and flea markets. I’ve become more and more picky about what I will purchase so I’ve actually been saving a lot of money lately, but this weekend I found some pretty interesting finds. It made me want to visit Gary, Indiana.

My first find came at a flea market over in Midwest City. I don’t make my way over to photo 1this area often, to be honest it was only my second time visiting this market. There are a couple decent record booths and I decided it had been long enough for them to turnover enough for there to be new vinyl.

In their “New Arrivals” bin there were a substantial amount of picture discs. I am a sucker for picture discs. It was a tough decision between the Barry Manilow and Jacksons record, but they eventually won the Victory. The Jacksons released victory in 1984 under the Epic label. I didn’t notice this at the time of purchase, but there are actually 6 Jacksons on the cover. After a little research, I found that this is the only record where all 6 Jackson brothers are included.

This album was a hit, but it had a contentious background. The brothers, who hadn’t work together in years and had significant solo work (Michael had just released Thriller), hit some traction in the decision making process. That is why all the album art is done by an artist. No Christmas cards went out from the Jackson family that year.

photo 3After leaving the flea market I decided to visit The Rink in Bethany. They always have a good record selection, their just not organized well so you have to have quite a bit of free time to get through the bins. I did not find any success in the bins, but I decided to give the rest of the antique store a look. While I was looking through their glass cases I found an interesting “Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5” greatest hits picture disk!

I quickly asked to see it. The album is comprised of the signature Jackson 5 hits. But the picture disc was not the only treat in this package. It also came with a foldout poster and, more importantly, a glove! I couldn’t resist this Motown gem, although I had every song off the album. You just don’t get a new dancing glove with every record purchase. My last dancing glove had just worn out and now I had found a two for one special!

Spinnin’ and Dancin,’

Gabe

Dumbed Down Music, Decent Film, and Streisand, Oh My!

The tale of A Star is Born is a classic story that has been told three times in movie form. First, there is the 1937 version which, to my knowledge, did not contain any musical numbers. Years later in 1954 Judy Garland saddled into the role of the budding star, Esther, and nearly won an Oscar for her performance (my personal favorite). Then came 1976 and Streisand gave us her take of this understated character.

Although, this movie did not go as planned from the very beginning. For starters, Barbra decided that 1-a-star-is-born-barbra-streisand-1976-everettshe wanted Elvis Presley to play the role of John Norman Howard, a distressed singer who falls in love while creating a new superstar. Presley wanted to play the role, but his manager became angry when Barbra went around him and straight to Elvis to make the pitch. There are chains of command Ms. Streisand!

There was a string of other actors considered for the male lead including Marlon Brando, Neil Diamond, and Mick Jaggar. I am not positive how Kristofferson came into play, but he was nearly the movie’s saving grace. Oddly, his drunkenness throughout the movie made it bearable. I think he role played this character on and off screen.

Now there is two ways to looking at this film. One lens is through the film itself, the other is through it’s soundtrack.

The film itself is decent with overwhelming musical performances by Streisand. In fact, every notable musical sequence throughout the film belonged to Streisand and her portrayal of Esther. Kristofferson was just a necessity to make the film. Thank goodness he was there, especially through those horrendous outfits.  A sweater at a hot summer concert? A bow tie in a recording studio? Dandruff in a wedding?

A+Star+Is+Born+Barbra+Streisand++Kris+KristofThe soundtrack is where my love lies. I like every song off the album, but my particular favorites are “Watch Closely Now,” “Queen Bee,” and “The Woman in the Moon.” The first was introduced by Kristofferson, but was later redone in the film by Ms. Streisand. The latter was Streisand’s alone and contains some very creative lyrics and “Moon” is seductively sassy. Of course on every Streisand “Greatest Hits” collection you’ll see “Evergreen.” The one song she solely wrote the music to.

So the music was great, the film was alright, and Streisand was a star to be reckoned with. I feel the soundtrack and movie was an attempt by Streisand to make herself relevant in a time where her vocal style was waining. She had some control over each aspect of the movie and soundtrack where she was a producer. Her vocals soar, while Kristofferson seemed to be pushed to the corner. Now Kris is no Barbra, but he has his own chops.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that Streisand is one of the greatest talents of the 20th and 21st century, but this movie was just plain egotistical. Kristofferson said that Streisand cured him from the movies.

Even all her clothes she choose herself….from her closet….watch the credits.

Dang it! I hate it when I have oversized dandruff.

Dang it! I hate it when I have oversized dandruff.

Oh, and another reason Elvis didn’t join the cast, he wanted top billing and Streisand wouldn’t stand for that.

Lastly, It was just painful to watch Barbra in this role. It demeaned her acting skills, and sometimes her vocals.There just seems to be a hint of desperation. Her vocals are great, but sometimes overly simplified. Her acting was good, but she could do better.

In the end a star was not born.

A star clearly existed.

Spinnin’,

Gabe

We Have a Treble Emergency

In recent months, I have taken a big plunge into the beginnings of rock and roll. I have been watching many documentaries, reading books, and listening to many albums. I find the origin of rock and roll very intriguing, but I’ve never been stopped in mid spin.

Then I listened to a Buddy Holly album my mom found at Goodwill.Buddy_Holly_cropped

During Holly’s short lifetime, he was only able to make three albums. His posthumous discography is much larger then what he actually was able to see. My album came out closely after his death. The Buddy Holly Story is a collection of Holly’s biggest hits the way the public heard them (I say this cause there is many different versions produced through the years).

My first song to hear sung by Buddy was “Raining in My Heart.” He recorded this with an 18-piece orchestra. This was a big change for him musically. He is famously known as the one who created the two guitars, bass, and drum setup. I would have never guessed he was out of his comfort zone in this recording. To say the least, this track had me hooked.

MI0001766933The album then goes into many of his more rock and roll sounding hits, “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be The Day.” Both songs have intriguing stories behind them, but I especially am fond of the latter. Buddy and the Crickets went to see The Searchers starring John Wayne. Mr. Wayne repeatedly states in the movie “That will be the day.” Thus Buddy went over to the Crickets drummer’s home, J.R., and asked him to write a song with him. J.R. was not a lyricist, so he replied “that will be the day,” and a legendary song was born.

There are many other songs I love on this album including “Everyday,” “Rave On,” “Heartbeat,” and “It’s So Easy.” Although the thing that really intrigued me about Buddy initially was the versatility in the songs and his style. He is famous for his “hiccups,” but he also was able to switch song styles nearly effortlessly. He was originally a country artist, but where is that material?

After I did further reading on Buddy, I was not only amazed by his versatility, but his legacy. I did not realize just how trailblazing he really was. He brought changes to almost every aspect of a musical performer. For example when he played guitar, he did not play one or two strings at a time, but all six. He created a style all his own, both vocally and in his appearance. As mentioned before, he even created a common instrumental setup that is still widely used today.

Yet, he died when he was a mere 22 years old. Had Buddy even reached his full Music. Personalities. pic: circa 1957. American singer, songwriter and pioneer of rock Buddy Holly (1936-1959) who with his group "The Crickets" was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1950's. Buddy Holly tragically died in a plane crash in 1959.potential? My answer is no. He had much further to go, and in my prediction would have remained a top act through the 70’s.

Through my research I have heard it said, that February 3, 1959, the day Buddy’s plane crashed, was the day the music died. Although we lost a significant leader, I disagree and believe that Buddy would as well. Music cannot die, for its innovation is immortal. The thing is though; Buddy gave us tons to go off of. To say the music died the day he did is a slap in the face to him.  He gave life to some of the best music that we will ever hear. Unfortunately after the plain crash, his physical body didn’t matter anymore, but oh boy, he would want us to think it over and then rave on.

Ravin’ and Spinnin,’

Gabe

Elvis is More Than a Set of Coasters

To be completely honest, I did not realize that today was Elvis’ birthday. Oddly, I was reading about his involvement with Buddy Holly at the time I found out. I then figured that he deserves a post since he is the King of Rock and Roll.

This isn’t going to be over one album. Actually, I don’t have many of Elvis’ trailblazing downloadalbums. I have a couple of reissues and a lot of his later recordings, nevertheless, I’ve always been a fan. Recently I have begun to do research on the origins of Rock and Roll and the history of Rockabilly and Elvis is at the forefront.  This has made me realize a different depth of what it means to be a trailblazer or simply a popular artist.

When what we call Rock and Roll today came on to the scene in the 1950’s they didn’t have a name for it.  It contained bits of R&B, hillbilly music, gospel, country music, and some crazy new guitar riffs. It was a melting pot of every genre spiced with innovation. There were many who helped move this music in, but Elvis has risen as the icon of that movement. Without the Rockabilly movement music would sound drastically different today.

download (1)I now see a larger picture.  Elvis may be dead, and he may have quit recording Rockabilly later in his career, but all this is alive today. His style is still heard in the likes of many artists today. His aggressive stage presence and “movements” are still being imitated. His songs have been covered by almost every artist under the sun. His career demands respect.

Unfortuantly, I now feel that Elvis’ legacy has been trivialized through various forms of memorabilia and marketing schemes.  I can walk into almost any music store (or Wal-Mart) and at least find a set of playing cards with his likeness or a set of coasters with his album covers. I can adorn my fridge with every image he ever posed for and I can decorate a full Christmas tree with different figures depicting his likeness. I have even seen Elvis themed underwear.

So for this post I would like us to remember what the King of Rock and Roll was, a ElvisPresleyAlohafromHawaiitrailblazer in its most prominent form, an innovator, and someone who pushed the envelope. When I listen to Elvis’ voice I hear someone who wasn’t scared of the mainstream and what they deemed acceptable or normal, but I hear someone who wanted to move music a little further and create a new canvas of music for artists to paint on.  He asked what if and then he did.

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Okie Fun Fact: Elvis’ number one record, “Heartbreak Hotel,” was co-written by an Oklahoman from Comanche, Mae Boren Axton.