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Music

Tapestry (1971)

Carole King was already one of rock’s most successful songwriters. But no one could have predicted that when she finally started singing her own songs, she would create one of the best selling albums of all-time by a female vocalist, especially when her only previous album had not climbed higher than #84 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tapestry has sold more than 25 million copies and is considered one of the top 50 albums ever released by a rock artist.

A Look at Some of the Best of the “One-and-Done” Recording Acts

This catchy little pop tune was part of the British Invasion that took over world radio in 1964.

The band was originally called the Sheratons. They were performing at the Mildway Tavern in London when a young songwriting duo approached them. Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley offered the group several tunes. The group jumped at the chance as they were about to audition for record producer Joe Meek.

The group passed the audition and Meek decided to use one of the Howard Blaikley songs, “Have I the Right?” as the group’s first single.

Just as most of were embarking on life as full-fledged adults, Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young penned this Hallmark card of song, encapsulating the life of tranquil bliss we all imagined ourselves living once we settled down with our "one true love."

"Our House" was featured on Dejé Vu, the album that saw Neil Young formally join what had been the superstar trio of David Crosby, Steven Stills and Graham Nash. It was written by Nash about his relationship with singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. The two were living together in L.A. The couple had stepped out for breakfast. After the meal, Mitchell spotted a vase she liked on Ventura Boulevard. When they arrived back at home,the weather had turned chilly. Nash remarked, "Why do I light the fire and you put some flowers in the vase you just bought."

Struck by his own words, he went over to the piano and an hour later, "Our House" had been composed.

As few, if any of us, ever achieved the idyllic existence promised in the lyrics of the song, it may be comforting to know that Nash and Mitchell didn't either. The couple split up before the year was out.

Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan

What if you had been able to tell your 13-year old self that Bob Dylan would one day win the Nobel Prize for Literature? Do you think then your English teacher would have let you do your book report on Dylan’s latest album?

Maybe not. But there’s no question that Dylan was on an incredible hot streak in the mid-sixties, one that saw him release 3 albums that cemented his transition from folk to rock and put him in the very forefront of the contemporary music scene.

That trio of albums began with Bringing It All Back Home, continued with Highway 61 Revisited, and reached the pinnacle with the 1966 release of one of the first double albums in rock history, Blonde on Blonde.

In 1965, Michael Brown was a 16-year old classically trained musician who had formed a rock band (like many classically trained young men and women of the day). He also had become infatuated with a young girl. His problem was the young girl was dating the bass player in his band.

So Michael Brown did what many young men facing hopeless romantic prospects did. He wrote a song about her (with help from co-authors Bob Calilli and Tony Sansone). Here’s where Michael and the rest of those lovesick boys part company.

Brown’s band was the Left Banke, the girl was named Renée Fladen and the song he wrote about her was “Walk Away Renée.”

Most of us know the situation in Northern Ireland has been tense for decades.  That tension bubbled over into tragedy on January 30, 1972, when a group of unarmed civil rights activist, protesting Britain’s practice of imprisoning suspected Irish radicals without trial.

British troops opened fire on the crowd, killing 13. As you might expect, British investigators bought the soldiers’ claims of “self-defense” and exonerated them.

A little over 10 years later, the Irish rock band U2 wrote a song about it for their album War.

U2’s front man, Bono, claims the song is not meant to be partisan, just a simple plea for peace and calm.

BTW – In 2010, the British government finally accepted responsibility for the massacre, calling it “unjustifiable.”

A singer who landed 16 songs in the Top 40 and 4 in the Top 10… 22 songs in the British Top 40… a songwriter who penned Top 10 hits for 3 other artists… an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… yet he is almost forgotten today.

He is Gene Pitney.

Pitney was born in 1940 in Hartford, Connecticut. By high school he was singing with a local doo-wop group called the Embers. By 1959, he was recording with a young woman named Ginny Arnell under the name Jamie & Jane.

Pitney also started working as a songwriter and actually had his first success there, writing “He’s a Rebel” for Darlene Love & the Blossoms (recording as the Crystals), “Rubber Ball” for Bobby Vee and “Hello, Mary Lou” for Ricky Nelson.

More than anything, the Who craved success in America. Despite overwhelming success in their native England, the band had trouble selling records in the States. They had reached the American Top 10 with their singles “I Can See for Miles” and “Magic Bus,” but their album sales were abysmal with many of their early releases languishing in the cutout bins for a buck or two.

Concept albums had been all the rage since the release of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper LP. Yet the Who’s own concept album The Who Sell Out could get no higher than #48 on the Billboard LP chart. Clearly, the Who needed something more.

Then Pete Townsend had the brilliant idea to write a “rock opera.”

The Doors (1967)

Was there ever a debut album as brilliant as the Doors?

Recorded in the summer of 1966, released in January of 1967 and on almost every rock radio station and Baby Boomer’s turntable during the “Summer of Love,” the album spawned the monster hit “Light My Fire” and helped reshape the parameters of rock radio, killing the 45 single and paving the way for longer album cuts to finally start getting airplay.

There is not one wasted track on the album. Side 1 open with “Break on Through,” establishing the album’s goal. The energy continues unabated through the appropriately-titled last track, “The End.”

Now it can be told (or actually, it was already told in the pages of 16 Magazine)!

Here's a little known band from the east cost that called themselves the Hassles. Despite being snappy dressers, they never made it. Well, all excpet for their keybaord player. 2nd from the left, a scrappy young kid named Billy Joel.

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